Looking Back At 2020 And You Know There Were Some Great Moments Honest

An awesome sight Steller's Sea Eagles batteling with White-tailed Eagles.

Even though 2020 was easily our worst year ever for Birdwatching Trips with much of the year closed for business when we look back it was not all doom and gloom.

2020 actually got off to a wonderful start with us welcoming in the New Year in the Highlands of Scotland at the Grant Arms Hotel in Grantown-on-Spey where we had a fantastic time. It was lovely to spend time in a beautiful part of the country with amazing friends and lots of new friends. We also enjoyed wonderful birds of course in the Highlands and adding some very special birds for our 2020 year list, little did we know how small it would be, including Ptarmigan, Crested Tits, Golden and White-tailed Eagles so it was a very promising start! The year then moved up a gear with the first, of many planned overseas trips, as Alan headed for Japan to try and see his most wanted bird – the mighty Steller’s Eagle. Japan proved to be an amazing country far exceeding expectations and the Japanese people are so lovely. The Steller’s Eagles also exceeded expectations with hundreds of these awesome birds enjoyed. Japan has wonderful winter birding and every day of the two week tour provided wonderful moments from Red-crowned Cranes in the snow, Harlequin Ducks, Pallas’s Rosefinches, Daurian Redstarts, Japanese Waxwings, Japanese Murreltes, thousands of cranes of five species in the south and so much more certainly a destination to return to.

Hooded Cranes en mass in southern Japan a mind-blowing sight.

Back in North Wales Birdwatching Trips regulars and lovely friends Barry and Wendy visited for a three day custom tour. With a custom tour we were able to target the species Barry and Wendy particularly wanted to see and they were thrilled with the huge list of birds we enjoyed together just a few of the highlights included – Great Northern Diver, Slavonian Grebe, Fulmar, Cattle and Great White Egrets, Brent Geese, Scaup, Marsh Harrier, Merlin, Black and Red Grouse, Purple Sandpiper, Mediterranean Gull, Kittiwake, Black Guillemot, Short-eared Owl, Dipper, Chough, Crossbill – not bad three days in February!

Black Grouse May 2016 6

Barry and Wendy loved watching Black Grouse displaying fantastic birds.

Into March and COVID-19 was the only topic on everyone’s mind and the first lockdown came into force while we were running a five day “Best of North Wales” Birdwatching Trips tour! It was so sad to have to abandon the tour but we did enjoy some great birds before the virus shut us down. Huge thanks to Bill, Pat, Alun, Keith and Heather for their company so sorry it was cut short.

Wonderful to see these Dotterel walking distance from home here in Llandudno.

There followed long months of lockdown restrictions and many walks on the Great Orme here in Llandudno. We are very lucky to live here, we can see great birds from our living room window and have the Great Orme to enjoy lots more birds right on the doorstep. A few of the from the window highlights in lockdown included – Alpine Swift totally amazing, Great White, Cattle and Little Egrets all seen flying west over Llandudno, Hobby, Red Kite a long awaited new window bird, eight sightings of Ospreys, regular sighting of hunting Peregrines, Chough and seabirds out in the bay – so lucky. The Great Orme itself provided so many wonderful sightings just a few of the highlights were three encounters with Dotterel including finding a flock of eight on the limestone pavements, Ospreys, Ring Ouzels, Whinchats and Black Redstarts. Add to these exciting migrants all the breeding birds including Peregrines, Chough, Black Guillemots and Kittiwakes and our lockdown walks were pretty good! Then in September the situation eased, if only we had known, and things looked like they might be getting much better. We were allowed to start moving about again and started to run some “Tours for Two” to operate in the safest way possible. These new style custom tours proved very popular indeed and we enjoyed a lovely three days with Richard and Julie here in North Wales. Next we ran a “Best of North Wales” tour with just four guests instead of our usual six and this was a brilliant success many thanks to Michael and Elizabeth, Noreen and John for their great company.

Then it was back to “Tours for Two” with Steven and Julie up to the Highlands of Scotland and we had a wonderful time staying at the Grant Arms Hotel. We also enjoyed lots of birds and wildlife including super views of bottle-nose dolphins and a private visit to a re-wilding project that was just amazing even getting to see wild cats that were to be released as part of the project a real privilege to experience Alladale Nature Reserve and huge thanks to everyone who made the visit possible.

A two day “Tour for Two” here in North Wales for Sarah and Bryce was great fun with one day on Anglesey and a day on the mainland of North Wales. The Anglesey day coincided with the appearance of a rare Glossy Ibis at RSPB Cors Ddyga and with some searching and great spotting by Bryce we enjoyed wonderful views of this strange bird feeing amongst the rushes. We enjoyed a wonderful variety of birds and habitats in two days – North Wales has so much to offer.

Then straight into a three day “Tour for Two” Best of North Wales trip with Andy and Sue which was great fun and produced a lot of birds in a wonderful variety of habitats. As a custom tour we were able to include a number of request stops and we visited a burial chamber near Llanrwst, an Atlantic grey seal colony and enjoyed superb views of red squirrels on Anglesey. A huge advantage of custom tours we can include the things you want to see along with lots of great birds! A few of the bird highlights included stunning views of Firecrest, Kingfishers, Spotted Redshank, Dipper, Marsh Harrier and masses of newly arrived geese, ducks and waders and all at a pace perfect for Andy and Sue.

This Hoopoe was one of many star birds on our Yorkshire Tour for Two.

Our next “Tour for Two” saw us heading east to Yorkshire on the 3rd of October with regular guests Mike and Rachel and this tour got off to the perfect start – first stop a Hoopoe! We had set the bar very high indeed but the Yorkshire coast really produced with Red-flanked Bluetail, Barred Warbler, Yellow-browed Warbler, Red-backed Shrike, Dotterel, Long-eared Owl and so much more! What a fantastic time to be on the coast visiting such iconic birding spots as Spurn Bird Observatory, Flambrough Head and RSPB Blacktoft Sands.

Yes we know it is a shocker of a photo but it is our photo of a totally mega bird!

Also in October it was our annual Norfolk House Party week on the north coast but due to COVID-19 it became a “Tour for Two” not six as Barry and Wendy, house party regulars joined us. We could not have picked a better week to have been in North Norfolk the amazing birds just kept coming we were totally spoilt. Being just a few miles away when news of a mega rare bird – Rufous Bush Chat – broke at Stiffkey was mind-blowing! There had never been one of these incredibly rare birds “available“ to see in the UK ever before! Needless to say we were soon headed over there and enjoyed this rusty-tailed rarity out on the saltmarsh where social distancing was easy – so lucky the bird was in an area it could be viewed safely. We also enjoyed three Red-flanked Bluetails, two Pallas’s Warbler, Barred Warbler, Rough-legged Buzzard, Caspian Tern, Grey Phalarope and so much more! Oh some amazing food too, we do love our Norfolk House Parties.

Straight form the house party we had another custom tour in Norfolk, this time a tour for one with lovely American lady Katie. We spent three days enjoying North Norfolk and enjoyed a lot of birds despite some pretty awful weather. A Red-flanked Bluetail at Holme NOA Reserve was one of the first birds we enjoyed where we found a flock of Tundra Bean Geese. Some of the species we enjoyed with Katie but not seen on the house party were Water Rail, Twite and Caspian Gull - birding is different every day. It was a really fun three days and we look forward to more birding with Katie in the future.

Then of course we were back to lockdown and no more tours, very sad indeed. Just as we were starting to get back on our feet, like so many others, it all closed down again. Now at least we know the vaccines are coming and we can look forward to better times, eventually. So it was back to walking the Great Orme for the rest of 2020 and of course we still enjoyed wonderful birds.

We wish you a very Happy New Year and look forward to enjoying wonderful birds with you as soon as it is safe.

Come and join us for a “Tour for Two” – very small group just two guests with two guides, tailor made itinerary, low risk in these COVID-19 times and of course lots of birds and an excellent chance of enjoying them all. Do drop us a line and we can make all the arrangements be it a day trip, two days, three day or as long a tour as you wish. Our recent Tours for Two have visited the Highlands of Scotland, North Wales, Norfolk and the Yorkshire coast and we are planning many more! Let us know where you would like to go and we can put together a proposal perfect for you.

We are so lucky to have so many species and habitats within easy reach here in North Wales 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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