Lockdown Birding Gold On The Great Orme Llandudno 26 April 2020

Fantastic to see a Dotterel within walking distance of home!

A very different dawn this morning, with cloud cover and mist about gone the clear blue skies of recent weeks. Looking out early morning across the roofs of Llandudno there was a feeling of hmmm shall we walk up the Great Orme again in these rather dull conditions? A cup of tea latter and mind was mad up give it a go, late April there could some migrants about with the murky conditions, so off we set.

The weather this morning we almost gave it a miss so glad we didn't!

Turning right we set off on our usual longer route, past the pier, along Marine Drive past the lighthouse and then back over the limestone pavements. At the pier Turnstone present, on the cliffs wonderful views of Fulmars and Rock Pipits, on the sea Black Guillemots and Shags, Stonechats and Linnets showed off by the wall. A lump on the horizon became a Peregrine through the binoculars and as we watched the falcon eased into the air and dropped down to chase a Fulmar. Pretty sure this was not a hunt but the Peregrine just didn’t like the Fulmar in the same air space next it chased a Jackdaw then another Fulmar a grumpy falcon. At one point the Peregrine came so close we could hear the wings beating a fantastic view of this ace raptor.

At the seabird cliffs all species present and correct but just a single Gannet seen offshore today, though the visibility was poor. A text message from our friend Marc on the Little Orme reported few migrants so far we replied with “same here but keep at it..” A few moments later a message from Peter who was also on the Great Orme he had just found a Dotterel! Fantastic news and we puffed up the steep incline past the lighthouse and uphill again onto the limestone pavement where we could see Peter a few hundred yards away. We joined him and tried to get our breath back and steady our hands to hold the bins still. But bad news Peter had lost sight of the Dotterel, oh no were we to miss this rarity by such a small margin? We scanned the area of limestone pavement where the wader had been but just a few Wheatears. Splitting up Peter moved left we moved right and scanned the area carefully nothing it looked like the Dotterel had slipped away.

Spot the Dotterel if they keep still they blend in with the landscape so well!

Then Peter was pointing, we quickly circled round to join him and good news he had seen it again. But it was even then hard to see the Dotterel was stood still in a hollow with just its head visible, thank goodness for the white eyebrow! We could breathe easier now and we moved our position so that we could see the whole bird and soaked up the views. It was a male Dotterel, pale orange below without a black belly that an adult female would show, females are brighter than males in Dotterel. The light was flat grey with the mist coming and going so photos were poor but the views were great. We watched the Dotterel feeding in typical Plover style run stop run stop and then pick up an insect from the short grass amongst the rocks. A wonderful encounter with a rare migrant and just what we hope for on our visits to the Great Orme.

On the walk back the mist came and went and a few Willow Warblers and two Chiffchaffs were in the hawthorns by the stonewall, a Common Whitethroat showed well above the cemetery and a nice surprise of a Tree Pipit on the ground in a small quarry between the cemetery and the tram tracks.

Back home just sitting down to type this blog when all the local Herring Gulls screamed in alarm we rushed to the window and true to form an Osprey was over the town! Great views of this super raptor as it circled over Llandudno amazingly our fifth Osprey this month!

News from our friends across North Wales for Sunday 26 April[ br]
Marc - Richard's Pipit Little Orme - a superb Spring record.

Jonni - 2 Swifts over Glan Conwy.

Simon - 3 Great Northern Divers off Pont Llyfni, west of Caernarfon. We are so lucky to have so many species and habitats within easy reach here in North Wales, and once the world returns to normal, we would love you to join us for one of our Best of North Wales Birdwatching Trips days out. We expect to enjoy a lot of birds during these relaxed pace tours and we can tailor make the day to suit you. We would love you to join us on our Birdwatching Trips in the future just drop us a line to arrange a custom tour and please see our tours pages for set departure trips. If you have any questions at all please fire away here….


We look forward to enjoying wonderful birds in beautiful places with you soon!

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