Some Wonderful Birds With In Walking Distance Lockdown 25 January 2021

Today's view from the Great Orme, Llandudno, across Conwy Bay.

A very cold, grey and windy day yesterday when we did not venture very far today looked a little better. We also heard news of some wonderful birds seen on the Great Orme yesterday – Snow Buntings!

So we set off for the far end of the Great Orme in the hope of seeing these scarce birds. The weather was cold with a bitter wind but some sun breaking through. Down at the pier the Great Northern Diver was in the bay and Ruddy Turnstones were on the rusty barnacle covered legs of the pier. A little further along just a few Fulmars at the cliff ledges and it was wonderful to see the pair of Peregrines high above sitting close together not often we see them perched close like this. A male Stonechat popped up close to the Marine Drive and we had lovely views but in the shade it was tough to photograph.

Almost! A bit better light and this could have been a lovely photo!

At the cove the tide was pretty high so not beach for the Atlantic grey seals to haul out on and at first glance it looked as though no seals were present. But a closer look revealed four seals close to the base of the cliff on the tiny beach left by the rising tide. The waves were crashing into the bay and another seal was seen trying to come ashore it was amazing to see the poor animal being thrown around in the breakers like a rag-doll! Eventually the seal made the safety of the beach and seemed totally unfazed by being churned up in the waves. We walked on into that cold wind and began to wonder if it was a good idea? But we kept going and reached the point that gives a great view of the cliffs below the lighthouse. It was lovely to see Common Guillemots on the ledges despite the cold temperatures – spring not so very far away. Plenty of Fulmars here too back and forth to the sheer rock faces.

Taking the old military concrete road up from the Marine Drive we reached the limestone pavement area and enjoyed lovely views of Stonechats this time in sunshine but too far away for the camera. We walked over to the stonewall that borders the sheep fields from the pavement area; this is where the Snow Buntings had been seen the previous day. We walked slowly along the wall scanning the area on both sides but no sign of even one let alone four Snow Buntings. A Song Thrush was unusual out here and a Rock Pipit too and we enjoyed more Stonechats. Reach the bend in the wall we now had a view across Conwy Bay to Snowdonia beyond and the mountains looked impressive with all the recent snow. After a good search of the area still no buntings, only one thing for it, biscuits, home-made too and they soon vanished. A few steps forward peer over the wall and there were the Snow Buntings! The power of a biscuit amazing, these beautiful birds were feeding in grass really close and we enjoyed binocular filling views. Tried a few photos but the long grass kept getting in the way, how can a camera focus one a single blade of grass and not the bird behind it? Also the bright sun was causing problems with the exposure having been set for a shaded Stonechat! Before any of these problems could be overcome a Herring Gull flew low over the birds causing them to spook and fly up and then drop again but just out of sight. Oh well we felt very lucky to have seen these gorgeous birds in walking distance, all be it a very long walk, from home and in sunshine.

Two Red-billed Chough were feeding on the path as we headed for home and we must apologise to our friends Dan and Becky for not recognising them as we were blinded by the low sun – they were in silhouette sorry! Back home for a very late lunch and very pleased with our Snow Buntings a new addition to the 2021 list and such wonderful birds.

Of course a wonderful way to see more birds is to join one of our Birdwatching Trips and learn a lot about the birds you are enjoying too. We have tours suitable for all from beginners to experienced birders that are seeking particular species. Just drop us a line here and we can arrange a perfect custom tour for you!

We look forward to enjoying wonderful birds with you as soon as it is safe.

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