Lockdown Three And A Walk On The Great Orme Llandudno 7 January 2021

Red-billed Chough was one of the very first birds seen on today's lockdown walk.

It was a beautiful sunny, calm, frosty morning so ideal for a walk on the local patch the Great Orme and the hope of some good birds. Turning right out of the door and heading down towards the pier three Red-billed Chough flew along the cliff top above the houses – a wonderful start.

Down at the Llandudno Pier the tide was a long way out and we scanned the rocky shoreline looking for waders. Oystercatchers were easy to spot in the sunshine but Curlew and Common Redshank were harder to see blending in with the colours of the rocks but one bird we expected to see was missing, Ruddy Turnstone. We scanned the legs of the pier where these dapper little waders often feed at low tide but not one to be seen. Not long ago in December we had counted 192 of these waders here, where were they all? At last one Ruddy Turnstone was picked out feeding amongst the rocks at the edge of the sea, but that was it, just the one. Further along the beach, beneath the cliffs of the Great Orme a Little Egret picked its way daintily through the rock-pools with gleaming yellow “socks” on.

Wonderful to see the first Northern Fulmars of 2021 back at the cliffs.

A stiff-winged bird flew along the cliff face – our first Northern Fulmar of the year, amazing how they return to the cliffs once the wind drops, same every winter, and it was lovely to watch in the sunshine. A few minutes later one Fulmar had become five, word had got around that it was a calm day in Llandudno. As we watched these “mini-albatrosses” whizz back and forth we spotted the female Peregrine high up on the skyline and enjoyed frame-filling views through the Leica telescope. We then saw there were two Peregrines – the male was also up here to the left of his mate, superb birds and always a thrill to see.

Scanning the calm millpond-like sea there were very few birds to see, we had hoped with the lack of wind there would be lots to enjoy! A few Shags were diving for fish along with just one Great Cormorant and with more scanning a single Great Crested Grebe and just one Red-throated Diver were picked out. Then a single auk was spotted fairly close to the pier and the scope was soon focused on it – Black Guillemot! A wonderful bird to see and our first of 2021 so very pleasing indeed, the bird was just beginning to moult into its breeding plumage.

On the sheltered sunlit grass slope we picked out five Stonechats, delightful birds to see in these perfect conditions. Two Song Thrushes were here too, not often we see this species on the cliffs especially in December, perhaps part of a cold weather movement? But try as hard as we could, there was no sign of any Rock Pipits on the headland today, strange, in good weather they are usually easy to see, but that is local patch birding for you – always different on every visit!

It was wonderful to watch over one hundred Atlantic grey seals today.

We were amazed to count 102 Atlantic grey seals hauled out on their regular beach, a very high count, and they were engaged in something looking like 'romantic activities' and it was great to watch them interacting right below us. Offshore two harbour porpoises moved east past the headland – calm seas are great for spotting these marine mammals.

Climbing up past the cemetery it began to drizzle and the sun had gone, amazing how the weather changes so fast here. Not many birds on this section but a pair of Red-billed Chough were feeding in a sheep field where more Song Thrushes and a gang of Blackbirds also looked for food, certainly an influx of these birds with the cold weather. Dropping back down towards home we had a nice surprise in the shape of a female Blackcap in a tiny patch of weedy old garden not far above the fish and chip shop! A great addition to our 2021 bird list, 86 species of bird so far, including four new ones today.

Click on the link to come and join us on this morning's walk:

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