The Best of North Wales And We Hope You Can Join Us To Enjoy It All




Red-billed Chough just one of the many amazing birds you can enjoy in North Wales.



With the hope that lockdown restrictions will be lifted in the coming months we take a look at what North Wales can offer you as a birdwatching destination here in the UK. April, May and June are arguably the most exciting months to be a birdwatcher in the Northern Hemisphere. It’s the season when our resident birds are boosted by migrant species who have overwintered further south, and wherever you look there are signs of preparation for the next generation. Territories are being claimed, mates are being sought and for the early breeders, the relentless search for food for hungry chicks has already begun. It’s tempting to jump on a plane to explore exciting European destinations for high-octane spring birdwatching but why, when there’s so much to enjoy closer to home. And home for me is North Wales.

Black Grouse May 2016 6

Displaying Black Grouse is one of the most amazing bird spectacles you can see.



I may be slightly biased, but I can’t think of many other parts of the British Isles where you can experience such a wide variety of different habitats and species within a very manageable area. Where else can you be watching mountain specialists such as Ring Ouzel in one location and Puffins in a busy seabird colony in another with breeding Pied Flycatchers in hanging woodlands in-between, and all just an hour’s drive from home? With an early start, I can be up on the wild heather moors before dawn. Stopping the car in the darkness to listen, I can hear a weird bubbling call interspersed with sharp hisses, and as the daylight starts to appear, I see white blobs dotted over a patch of open ground. The visibility improves, revealing some twenty birds gathered here in ones and twos: Black Grouse! Black and dark blue all over, red combs above their eyes, with black lyre-shaped tails held high and a wonderful white dahlia-like unfolding of their undertail coverts displayed behind, these male Black Grouse are practising their dance moves for the lek. They fence forwards and backwards with one another, testing each other’s mettle without coming to blows, and strutting about on sturdy legs like crazed chickens. As the sun rises, a shaft of light spreads over their lekking ground. Light enough to take a photo perhaps? But no! Like vampires seeking shadows, that beam of sunshine is the cue for the Black Grouse to fly off on a whirr of wings as they vanish across the moor.

Lackford Kingfisher 7

Any day you encounter a dazzeling Kingfisher is a day to remember for a very long time.



Heading south from home along the River Conwy, looking for Dipper, Kingfisher and Goosander on the way, I soon reach the ancient oak woodlands of Snowdonia National Park. The contorted branches of the trees are clad in dense moss and lichen that bear testimony to the clean, damp atmosphere of our Celtic rainforest. Arriving early morning, I’m surrounded by birdsong as I explore these mystical upland woodlands for some special breeding birds. I spot movement as a Common Redstart, such a handsome bird, swoops onto a low branch while a dapper male Pied Flycatcher sings high up above his nest-hole. As the season progresses, I come back to listen for the distinctive spinning coin song of a Wood Warbler and am rewarded with a view of this bright little warbler blending in amongst the lime-green leaves. Tree Pipits display in open glades and their delicate pew-pew-pew trill lifts the spirits as the bird performs its descending display flight.


The beautiful mountains of North Wales are home to Ring Ouzels.



The mountains of Snowdonia themselves are a dramatic craggy backdrop to your birdwatching. I love the challenge of scanning the rocky buttresses here for one species in particular: Ring Ouzel. A cross between a Blackbird and a vicar, this smart black bird with a white collar is a shy mountain specialist, preferring the higher elevations well away from human disturbance. But my persistent scanning with binoculars and telescope is often rewarded with the sight of this distinctive bird, sometimes perched on the very tip of a peak, while its plaintive song wafts down to me on the breeze.

South Stack

An hour west from my home, I can be enjoying a completely different bird spectacle at RSPB South Stack nature reserve. Not for the faint-hearted, the coastal path here clings to the edge of the sheer cliffs pounded at their base by the harsh waves of the Irish Sea. Windy conditions along the clifftops are perfect for charismatic Chough and I watch their antics with admiration as they play in the turbulent air before folding their wings to plummet down onto the short grassland where they strut about, probing energetically for insects with their magnificent vermillion bills.

Puffin

We all love to see Atlantic Puffins and we have them in spectacular setting for you to enjoy.



But as spring moves into summer, it is the frenetic seabird colony here that draws me. Squeezed cheek-by-jowl, hundreds of Common Guillemots raise their chicks on vertiginous rock ledges, bickering and arguing as they squash in next to their neighbours; Razorbill pairs cuddle up in secluded corners; Kittiwakes perch like tea cosies on nests hard up against the vertical cliffs; Fulmars wheel and soar on stiff, outstretched wings; while Puffins arrive in a whirr of wings before diving headlong into their grassy burrows. And this bustling scene is observed by a female Peregrine on the lookout for an unwary bird to feed her own growing brood nearby. The noise and smell assault my senses, a world away from the calm grandeur of the stately mountains, or the green seclusion of the oak woodlands.

Wendy Barry and Alan

Come and join our "Tours for Two" in stunning North Wales and enjoy a lot of birds!



These are just some of my birdwatching highlights and I know I’m lucky to have this variety right on my doorstep. There are plenty of exciting birds to see all year round, but at this time of year, the birdwatching in North Wales is simply outstanding and I never want these precious months to end. But don’t just take my word for it, come and see for yourself. Don’t believe what they say, there’s a lot more to North Wales than just sheep and rainy days!

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!

info@birdwatchingtrips.co.uk

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





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