Not A Grey Day A Superb Custom Day Birdwatching Trip In North Wales

Grey Phalarope Morfa Madryn 2

Any birdwatching day that starts and finishes with a Grey Phalarope is a good day!

A trip down memory lane today, back to March 2019...

We met Chris and John at RSPB Conwy at 8am for their custom made Birdwatching Trip, we had corresponded with Chris to plan the day and learn of their most wanted species. The list of target birds was impressive including Goshawk, Hawfinch and Crossbill, we do love a challenge!


A good selection of birds enjoyed at RSPB Conwy including Gadwall.

The weather was lovely and we immediately began seeing birds, a pair of beautiful Bullfinches were feeding in the willows near the cars and a Chiffchaff was singing away. Minutes later were watching the wonderful Grey Phalarope on the reserve lagoons; this hyper-active wader was swimming around like a crazy clock-work toy picking insects from the surface of the calm water. Lots of other birds here too, Common Snipe posed in the sunshine, Little Grebes dived for fish as Goldeneye, Teal, Gadwall, Shoveler and Tufted Duck all showed off. Moving south down the Conwy Valley we were soon watching a gorgeous Red Kite soaring above the ridge and so many Buzzards! We had a number of brief views of Hawfinch with at least five birds moving around the area but frustrating views. Then Alan picked out a female Goshawk slowly flapping over, the barrel-chest and deep wing-beats making this hawk look menacing. Then a second Goshawk, this time a male appeared and soared over the trees.

We tried a second Hawfinch sight but only saw one bird flying over, calling its metallic “tick” call. A Great-spotted Woodpecker and a Redwing showed off nicely here and lots more Buzzards.

Ring necked Duck Leica 2

A very handsome duck indeed is a drake Ring-necked Duck and a real rarity in North Wales.

Heading further inland we drove to Cloceanog Forest, stopping to watch and listen to singing Skylarks and Curlews, two of the most wonderful sounds of Spring. In the forest we met other birders looking for the Great grey Shrike, a bird we had been lucky enough to see the previous day, but no one had seen it. We pushed on and were soon enjoying great telescope views of the handsome drake Ring-necked Duck. This rare visitor from North America was loafing about with a small gang of Tufted Duck, nice that it was not diving continuously as on our previous encounters with this bird. Having enjoyed the duck and watched a pair of Great crested Grebes on the same water we moved on again, in search of Crossbills. We parked over-looking a large stand of conifers and no sooner had we got out we noticed a lovely male Wheatear perched on the stone-wall, near the track, brilliant. Again plenty of Buzzards on the wing and Ravens too, Alan spotted a Crossbill on top of a pine and quickly had it in the scope but the Crossbill was quick too and dropped before Chris or John had a chance to see it! A female Goshawk distracted us from Crossbill hunting, this powerful raptor flew slowly over the forest gaining height until very high indeed but allowing us prolonged views. Then back to the Crossbills, we spotted a small group in some bare larch trees, bit distant but good looks with the Leica telescopes. Then a flock of some 200 Fieldfare flew right over us, wonderful sight and sound, some of these Scandinavian thrushes landed in the trees allowing us fine views. Then more Crossbills maybe forty birds flew around calling “chup-chup” with some landing in view giving us much better views.

Wheatear male June 2017 1

Always a real thrill to see the first returning Northern Wheatear of Spring.

What a morning! Time for some lunch so we set off towards a nearby café, we met a car coming towards us and it was a friend of ours, Leon, he had good news, the Great grey Shrike had been found! No mobile phone signal in the forest, we found out later that several people had phoned Alan about the shrike. But now we knew so lunch would have to wait. A few minutes later and we join more of our friends watching this fantastic bird. The Great grey Shrike was on top of a pine, as shrikes as prone to do, and we soaked up the views through the telescopes, an amazing list of super birds already. It really was time for food now, as we ate lunch the birds kept coming with lovely views of Siskins and then a stunning Brambling, well into its breeding plumage, amazing bird. With lunch being late we had to decide how to spend what time remained, Chris and John opted to return to the coast and to have a look on the sea. At Colwyn Bay we quickly found the hoped for Red-throated Divers and Common Scoter and also added Razorbill, Shag and Red-breasted Merganser to our impressive day list.

Great Grey Shrike Holme NOA

Another wonderful species enjoyed on this fantastic day - Great Grey Shrike.

Just time for another look at the wonderful Grey Phalarope at RSPB Conwy to bring the day full circle and this tiny swimming wader delighted us again. We also saw our first Grey Herons of the day and a pair of Wigeon were the last new species for us.

We said good-bye to Chris and John and thanked them for their great company, and for buying lunch very kind, and we all agreed that it had been a superb day packed with amazing birds! Chris and John are already planning their next custom trip with us and we are looking forward to more great birds together!

Come and join us for a custom "Tour for Two" day trip here in North Wales to enjoy the very best birds. Simply drop us an email and we can make all the arrangements, in these COVID-19 times no depoist required and we can take payment on the day. We hope we can run custom Tours for Two day trips here in North Wales from March onwards. Please email us here and we can make all the arragements....

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

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