Four Day Best Of North Wales Custom Birdwatching Trip May 2019

South Stack Lighthouse 2

RSPB South Stack on Anglesey just one of the beautiful places we visited.

We regularly run five day Best of North Wales Birdwatching Trips which provide a wonderful overview of the best birds and habitats in this wonderfully varied corner of the UK. The Marylebone Birdwatching Society, from London, contacted us and asked if we could put together a four day similar tour especially for their group, of course we could!

We picked up the six members of the Society, Glynis, Steve, Francis, Barbara, Jean and Rosie from Llandudno Junction railway station. We have a great train connection with London here in North Wales you can be here in just three hours from London Euston!

A few minutes later we were enjoying the first birds of the trip at RSPB Conwy. We were able to watch Whimbrel and Curlew both feeding on the estuary along with Little Egrets and Shelduck. Lots of birds on the lagoons here including our first local Swifts and we soon built up a great list of birds. We then headed south down the Conwy Valley and a lovely viewpoint overlooking water-meadows and hills opposite. Here we were very lucky indeed seeing a wonderful female Goshawk sparring with Ravens, brilliant! We also watched Buzzards and a beautiful Red Kite.

We then settled the group into the lovely country hotel, Princes Arms in Trefriw, our base for the next three nights. Later met in the bar for drinks and check-list before having the first of many wonderful meals! This hotel really is the perfect base for our North Wales tours.

Black Grouse April snow 3

Seeing Black Grouse displaying in the snow was one of the many highlights.

Day two and it a very start was called for to look for a very special bird indeed, Black Grouse. These spectacular birds put on an amazing display, known as lekking, at dawn so we needed to leave at 4.30am. Everyone was ready on time but the weather was not good, despite a reasonable forecast, it was pouring down. Everyone was up and ready for we decided to give it a go, half an hour later as the snow started we began to doubt not going back to bed! As the light began to come we could see the hills, our destination, ahead covered in snow! Crazy weather for May! Well only one thing for it, plough on and hope the birds would still show. Climbing up the landscape was just white, a winter wonderland, thankfully the road was clear, whew! Amazingly the Black Grouse were doing their stuff despite the return to mid-winter and enjoyed superb views! The male Black Grouse looked even more spectacular than usual against the snow and the sky had now cleared so we could enjoy these oh so special birds in the sun. To add to this very special scene we watched a beautiful male Hen Harrier float over the newly fallen snow, a magical sighting.

Despite the sun it was still very cold up on the moors so we enjoyed hot drinks, from our flasks and snacks, before dropping down into a sheltered valley below the snow-line. Here we enjoyed wonderful birds, a pair of Mandarin, a pair of Dipper, Redstarts, Pied Flycatchers, Tree Pipits, Blackcaps, very showy Garden Warbler and more, just brilliant birding.

Time for a second breakfast we all tucked into a super fry-up that always tastes so good after a wonderful few hours enjoying so special birds.

Next we visited the RSPB Burton Mere Wetlands reserve on the Flintshire – Cheshire border, always lots of birds here. Waders were a real theme of the reserve and we soaked up views of Avocets, Black-tailed Godwits, Common Redshank, Little Ringed Plover and a stunning breeding plumaged Spotted Redshank. Plenty of Little Egrets here and we also enjoyed four Great White Egrets. Just as we were thinking of heading back to Trefriw a friend of ours, Tony and reserve regular, told he just seen a Cattle Egret! We quickly followed Tony down a path and there was a lovely breeding plumaged Cattle Egret feeding amongst a herd of cows, where else? A great end to a day full of amazing birds! When we did the list that evening we were very pleased to find we had enjoyed 93 species and some very special birds too. Day three and after a lovely sunny pre-breakfast walk by the Conwy River in front of the hotel we headed for the Isle of Anglesey. We spent the whole day exploring this beautiful part of North Wales. First stop was a shallow bay where we watched both Sandwich and Arctic Terns fishing a lovely pair of Great crested Grebes. Then RSPB South Stack where the sun shone and we walked across the heath to the cliff tops. Here we had a spectacular view of the seabird colony and the lighthouse below us. We quickly picked out Puffins amongst the hundreds of Common Guillemots and Razorbills on the blue water below us. Wonderful views of these most colourful and comical looking birds were had through our Leica telescopes here and great to share them with other visitors. The cliff ledges were crammed with more Common Guillemots, more Razorbills and Fulmars too. Chough flew over several times and we had good views of one through the telescopes on the cliff tops but rather distant. Then just as we were about to leave a Chough landed on the grass right next to us, wow! What wonderful views of this red legged, red billed crow, we were all thrilled.

Black Guillemot

We enjoyed super views of smart Black Guillemots in Holyhead.

A short drive took us to Holyhead Harbour where we immediately found the hoped for Black Guillemots. These very smart black and white auks showed off on the clam sunlit water and one bird was seen in a nest hole, at least nine birds, brilliant.

Next we took the group to Holyhead McDonald’s, don’t worry we had no intention of inflicting burgers and fries on our guests! Two Hooded Crows were hanging out in the car park and luckily they were just where we hoped they would be! Super views of another special member of the crow family and no wait required.

Up to Cemlyn Lagoon on the north coast of Anglesey and we enjoyed our picnic lunch in the sunshine overlooking the lagoon. Always lots to see and hear at this great nature reserve, managed by the North Wales Wildlife Trust. Hundreds of Sandwich Terns were on the islands in the lagoon and amongst them many Arctic Terns and a few Common Terns. Careful checking of the many Black-headed Gulls produced two Mediterranean Gulls always great to see. Two Golden Plover were roosting on one of the islands and a small flock of Dunlin played hide and seek amongst the rocks. Red-breasted Mergansers were diving in the lagoon where Common Sandpiper and Common Redshank fed at the edge.

We walked out to the headland, stopping to enjoy wonderful close up looks at a Golden Plover and a breeding plumaged Dunlin is a grass field. Sea-watching was rather slow but we were surprised to see a Red-throated Diver fly past along with a Gannet and a few Shags. A small flock of Ringed Plover and Dunlin dropped down right in front us allowing great looks. Atlantic grey seals were around the rocks just offshore where Whimbrel and Oystercatchers roosted.

Time for one more site before we headed back to the hotel, we called in at RSPB Cors Ddyga, a wetland reserve, where we walked the track down to the Cefni River. Great selection of birds here and we loved seeing so many breeding Lapwings on the wet meadows created for them. Ruth picked out a Little Ringed Plover, a rare bird on Anglesey, so a thrill to see here. A male Marsh Harrier hunted over the reserve another rare bird here in North Wales so a great end to a bird filled sunny day. Over the check list back the hotel we totalled up the birds enjoyed, 94 species fantastic!

Our last day, day four, was spent exploring Snowdonia National Park not far from the hotel. Wood Warbler was the target and after hearing at least three birds and having several glimpses one of these gorgeous warblers finally showed off for us. Pied Flycatchers showed well in the same wood and Goldcrest and Treecreeper were new for our list and it was great to see Dipper and Grey Wagtail again on the stream by the wood.

Higher into the mountains we had great views of Common Redstart and luckily found six Twite, very rare birds in North Wales. These lovely streaky finches posed on a slate fence for us allowing great views in the Leica telescopes, two Lesser Redpoll at the same spot were lovely to see too.

Sadly it was time to head for the station and the early afternoon train back to London for the group. Wonderful birds in beautiful scenery, lovely hotel with superb food and a lot of laughs! We hope we can enjoy more birds with this lovely group again. The total bird list for this custom tour was 125 species!

Please email us here to arrange your very own custom trip…..

We look forward to enjoying wonderful birds like these with you soon!

Some of the bird highlights we enjoyed included…. Red-throated Diver, Little Grebe, Great crested Grebe, Fulmar, Gannet, Shag, Great white Egret, Cattle Egret, Mandarin, Red-breasted Merganser, Goosander, Goshawk, Hen Harrier, Marsh Harrier, Red Kite, Red Grouse, Black Grouse, Avocet, Little Ringed Plover, Golden Plover, Whimbrel, Spotted Redshank, Common Snipe, Mediterranean Gull, Kittiwake, Sandwich Tern, Common Tern, Arctic Tern, Common Guillemot, Razorbill, Black Guillemot, Puffin, Cuckoo, Swift, Tree Pipit, Grey Wagtail, Dipper, Common Redstart, Whinchat, Stonechat, Wheatear, Cetti’s Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, Wood Warbler, Goldcrest, Pied Flycatcher, Chough, Raven, Hooded Crow, Siskin, Twite, Reed Bunting

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