One Good Deed Deserves Another A Short Trip Out In Lockdown 6 January 2021

Always an adrenalin rush seeing an adult male Hen Harrier - photo Frank Wildman.

Now the whole of the UK is in tight lockdown our birding is confined to walks from home, the Great Orme at Llandudno mostly, and we are very lucky to have wonderful walks right here.

But today we answered a request for help that took us a little further afield, a friend who lives down the Conwy Valley is shielding so unable to leave home and needed a prescription collecting and delivering to her home. Of course we were very happy to help and it allowed us a change of scene at the same time. Medicine collected we headed south down the Conwy Valley and made a couple of stops to scan the flood plain and this proved very productive indeed! The sun was breaking through the clouds and there was snow on the hills all very scenic and better still no wind. There were lots of Fieldfares about, new for 2021, along with many Redwings and it was brilliant to watch these colourful Scandinavian thrushes feeding in the sunshine. Lapwings, Redshank, Teal and Little Egrets were in the water meadows but the real highlight was a wonderful male Hen Harrier drifting slowly south down the Conwy Valley! What a stunningly beautiful raptor it was, pale grey plumage with wing-tips dipped in black ink and a white rump visible when it turned a real wow moment. This stunning bird of prey dropped lower over a reed-bed and then slipped from view behind a golden-brown curtain of reed just fantastic. Birds really are brilliant, heart pounding joy at seeing this rare and beautiful bird so close to home.

Even as we delivered the medical supplies we enjoyed more birds as we stood in the garden chatting, keeping a very safe distance, Siskins, new for 2021, and lots of Coal Tits were coming to the garden feeders lovely to watch. We had our daily exercise walk just a short distance away near the Conwy River and picked up some more new birds including Nuthatch and Jay but despite a lot of scanning no sign of the hoped for Hawfinch, so we turned to walk back. We had not gone far when we saw a bird high up in a bare tree, looks good, scope on it, yes, Hawfinch! It was a colourful male and luckily he was engrossed in preening and a very thorough job of it he made. This bull-necked finch entertained us for some ten minutes, superb views in the scope, before finally dropping down and was lost to view, what a wonderful encounter with a tough bird to see. Seven new birds for 2021 list and more importantly medicine delivered to keep a lovely friend well, that’s a result!

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