Great Birds Great Weather Great Company Best of North Wales 27 February 2019



Chough

So lucky to have Chough here on the Great Orme at Llandudno.



The morning dawned clear and calm – perfect conditions for our Best of North Wales Birdwatching Trip. Yvonne came over from Cheshire and then we picked up Simon from his Llandudno hotel. Simon was staying at the Bay Tree Hotel which he described as “basic, clean and very good value” we are lucky here that Llandudno has accommodation to suit everyone from four star to basic. We are very happy to assist you in finding the perfect lodgings for you.

We checked the back streets of Llandudno just in case the Rose-coloured Starling had reappeared, not seen for several days, but no sign. Then to the Great Orme, and first stop over-looking Llandudno Pier looking stunning in the early morning sun with calm blue sea. Turnstones were feeding on the legs of the pier, Shags were feeding in the bay and Ravens flew low overhead. Driving further around the headland we stopped to enjoy close views of Fulmars and breath-taking looks at a pair of Peregrines. A beautiful male Stonechat posed in the sun and joined by his mate. Atlantic grey seals were hauled out on their usual beach and a Chough flew right above us. Next stop and masses of birds on the cliffs and on the sea below, where to look! Hundreds of Common Guillemots were lined up shoulder to shoulder on the ledges and many more on the calm water. Plenty of Razorbills too, mostly on the water, and we were very pleased to see three Black Guillemots on the sea and through the Leica telescopes we could even the scarlet-red legs, wonderful birds. Hundreds of Kittiwakes were also back on cliffs here too, none yesterday! Spring is coming for sure.

Stonechat male Gt Orme winter

We enjoyed wonderful views of Stonechats on this bird filled tour.



We then drove south down the Conwy Valley and the sun shone from a clear blue sky – just wonderful. A stop at a view-point over the Conwy River was fairly brief as a gang of workmen were rebuilding a stone-wall complete with a cement-mixer, not ideal for birdwatching! We did see some birds of course and it was another sign of Spring to see Lesser-black-backed Gulls, on the river, newly arrived from north Africa.

Nearby, and with no disturbance, we quickly found THE bird we had hoped to see – Hawfinch. A colourful male of this bull-necked, huge billed finch was on top of a bare birch tree in the sunshine. Through the Leica telescope we enjoyed good views. Then Yvonne spotted another Hawfinch much closer, hidden amongst branches, a really good bit of spotting, luckily the finch moved into view and allowed super looks. At least five, possibly as many as eight, Hawfinch were enjoyed in the sunshine and with no one else in sight. A Redwing was nice to see very few about in this area at the moment and a Nuthatch was singing as Buzzards soaring above.

A fast flowing stream was the next stop but no birds on the rocks here; we walked down stream but no nothing. We walked back to the car park and there was a Dipper mid-stream! The lovely bird was at the bottom of a small waterfall and luckily stayed there. The Dipper was intent on preening and we enjoyed wonderful views. Yvonne even had time to pop to the car and set up here digi-scoping kit and take some wonderful video and stills of the Dipper.

An upland forest next and the views across to the mountains of Snowdonia were worth the visit alone, stunning. We walked a forest track, with open views to our right, and our luck was in. A big muscular female Goshawk soared over the forest against the blue sky and stayed in view for a long time. The Leica telescope again allowed great views of this much sought after raptor, Simon loves birds of prey was very pleased with bird. Two Buzzards and then a pair of Ravens flew close to the big hawk allowing for size comparison and really brought home just how big a female Goshawk is. In contrast we also watched Siskins and Coal Tits here, rather smaller!

We enjoyed a great lunch before heading through the heart of the Snowdonia National Park; the scenery was breath-taking in the still glorious weather. Not many birds on this section but three Goldeneye and a male Stonechat were good to see.

Dropping back down to the coast we visited Aber Ogwen, the mouth of the Ogwen River and a North Wales Wildlife Trust Reserve. The tide was coming in, perfect, pushing lots of waders and wildfowl towards the hide. Three Greenshank waded through the shallow water where hundreds of Redshank fed on the mud, a single Black-tailed Godwit too. A flock of some 200 Dunlin flew in making wonderful shapes as they swirled around before landing with the other waders. Wigeon looked amazing in the afternoon sun and Goldeneye, Eider and Goosander were offshore. Lots of Little Egrets here, with nine birds, roosting on the pool behind the hide, looking wonderful with breeding plumage plumes already in place.

Moving east along the North Wales our next stop was at Llanfairfechan promenade where lots of people were enjoying the warm sunshine, two mad people even swimming in the sea! Luckily the birds we hoped to see were offshore so unaffected by the sun-worshipers. We set up the telescopes and scanned the calm sea almost at once we spotted two Slavonian Grebes not so far offshore. The grebes were another of Simon’s most wanted birds on this day trip so he was delighted to have such good views of these scarce birds. We also enjoyed watching Eider, Common Scoter, Red-throated Divers and Great crested Grebes as ice-cream eating folks wandered past.

Just time for one last stop, a view-point over-looking RSPB Conwy, this spot allows a panoramic view not only over the lagoons of the reserve but the adjacent Conwy Estuary. We quickly boosted our day list with plenty of birds on the pools and the light was perfect for good telescope views. Pochard and Tufted Ducks dived in the deeper water; Shoveler, Gadwall and Coot were also new as was a Little Grebe and a fly-over Grey Wagtail.

We returned at Llandudno at 5pm after a bird-filled beautiful day in lovely scenery with great company.

Simon commented

"Fantastic day out Alan many thanks. I had heard that you were rather good and you did not disappoint!"



Yvonne commented

"Fantastic day thank you to you and Ruth"



We would love you to join us on our Birdwatching Trips please email us here to book your tour or for more information….

info@birdwatchingtrips.co.uk

We look forward to sharing amazing birds and wildlife with you soon!





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