Three Day Best Of North Wales Custom Birdwatching Trips Tour 21 To 23 July 2021




What a fantastic start to a three day custom tour - mega rare Elegant Tern!



Adrian and Ruth have been on a number of our tours previously so we were delighted to hear they were planning to visit North Wales on their way north to Scotland. We agreed a three day “Best of North Wales” would work perfectly giving time to visit the very best sites in this bird filled varied area.



On the 21st July we picked up Adrian and Ruth from the Empire Hotel here in Llandudno – a firm favourite with many of our guests – at 8.30am and headed for Anglesey. An extremely rare Elegant Tern – usually found off the West Coast of the USA – was being seen at Cemlyn Lagoon so that was our first destination on day one. Huge numbers of Sandwich Terns were on the islands in the lagoon and the sight, sound and smell was really something. Lots of Common and Arctic Terns here too many of which were landing on the shingle ridge and beach so close to us just a wonderful experience to be literally surrounded by terns. Then the Elegant Tern was picked out in the vegetation amongst the mass of Sandwich Terns that huge drooping yellow bill making it really stand out. Luckily the rarity was in the mood to show off and even hopped up onto a nest box allowing superb frame filling views – wow! There were also two Black Guillemots out in Cemlyn Bay though rather distant.

We then walked out to Cemlyn Head and had some wonderful birds, first we spotted three breeding plumaged Ruddy Turnstones on a rock and while watching these lovely waders an Arctic Skua swept over them chasing a tern! Amazing, not a bird we expect to see in July the Arctic Skua twisted and turned like a falcon over the flat calm sea – what a thrill. Scanning the open sea offshore we watched Manx Shearwaters skimming over the surface with their distinctive flap, flap glide flight. We were also surprised to see three Atlantic Puffins whirr past another bonus bird. On the rocks just off shore we picked out a Whimbrel amongst Curlew and Oystercatchers and enjoyed watching big Atlantic grey seals hauled out in the hot sunshine.


We were all thrilled to see a Little Owl - library photo.



Back at the car park Ruth, guest one, spotted a Red Kite soaring over the west end of the lagoon – a great record here! A short walk along a lane proved very worthwhile with fantastic views of beautiful Little Owl perched on top of a stone wall in full view! A fantastic morning and we really enjoyed our delicious lunch at Catch 22 in Valley, many thanks Adrian and Ruth for treating us.

A short drive took us to Holyhead Harbour where we enjoyed amazing close views of stunning Black Guillemots including birds coming in with fish to feed their chicks.

Next we visited RSPB South Stack where we quickly spotted one of our main target species – Red-billed Chough – feeding in horse paddocks along the approach road. Parking we were soon again enjoying more Chough at close range and listening to their wonderful calls. At the cliff top view point many of the breeding seabirds had left the cliffs breeding complete but we still enjoyed plenty of birds. In fact Puffins were here in larger numbers than we had ever seen before with some thirty birds on the calm sea below us! We also watched Common Guillemots, Razorbills, Kittiwakes, Rock Pipits and distant views of harbour porpoises.

A quick stop at Beddmanarch Bay where the tide was a long way out and we scanned the vast mudflats for waders but found only Eurasian Curlew and Oystercatchers. We did see four adult Mediterranean Gulls but it was hot the heat haze didn’t allow the best views of these smart looking gulls.

Just time for look at Llyn Penrhyn where again it was so hot feeling like 30C! But the birds were still on the lake and we enjoyed watching Great Crested Grebes, Pochard, Tufted Duck and Gadwall. A pair of Great black back Gulls had two well grown young on the rocky island and we wondered if that had anything to do with the lack of young ducks and grebes.

A super day on Anglesey and what a fantastic selection of birds enjoyed in July a time of year many bird watchers don’t venture out much!

On the 22nd July we again picked up Adrian and Ruth from The Empire Hotel and drove for a few minutes only to reach the cliffs of the Great Orme. We quickly found one of our main target birds – Northern Fulmars on the cliffs just above us, none at South Stack strangely on recent visits. In the bay below us we watched a Black Guillemot on the flat calm sea and it was already very hot. We could hear a Peregrine Falcon calling but could find in on the cliffs, very frustrating, but plenty of Stonechats kept us entertained. Then we spotted the falcon below us on a ledge and enjoyed superb views of this magnificent raptor plucking a bird. It was amazing to look down on a Peregrine and to be able to watch it plucking and eating its prey. The calls continued and we soon realised that the bird we were watching was not the one calling, a second Peregrine was nearby. Then the second raptor flew in and landed near the first bird we had spotted. It was obvious from the size difference that the bird with the prey was the female, much bigger than the newly arrived male. It was a really wonderful experience to watch this pair of superb birds feeding and enjoy such frame filling views of them so close to home.


Common Redstart a lovely species we enjoyed on the Great Orme - library photo.



In the cemetery on the headland we found the area alive with birds very surprising given the heat. As we arrived we heard the distinctive calls of Common Crossbills flying over but sadly they didn’t land. Stonechats were just all over the place many of them juvenile birds so looks like it was a very successful breeding season. Then we spotted the bird we had hoped to see here a lovely juvenile Common Redstart. Adrian and Ruth had asked about the possibility of seeing Common Redstart so it was lovely to see one showing so well in the sunshine. A pair of Red-billed Chough landed on the grass slope above the cemetery another of those where to look first moments. A short drive took us to RSPB Conwy where one of the first birds we saw was a Red Kite flying north over the car park, great start, quickly followed by two Bullfinches. On the reserve we enjoyed wonderful views of three Great Egrets, a really rare bird here only a few years ago, roosting over the high tide. Plenty of Curlew, Oystercatchers and Common Redshank, a Dunlin and several Northern Lapwing were on the lagoons and ducks included Eurasian Wigeon, Eurasian Teal and Northern Shoveler.

Osprey juv Sept 1

We really didn't expect to see an Osprey in the Conwy Valley in July - library photo.



We next headed south down the Conwy Valley and visited a beautiful viewpoint overlooking the river, it was really hot again now so not a lot of small bird activity. However, on the river we were totally amazed to count 51 – yes you read that right 51 – Goosander easily the highest number we have ever seen in this area. Just as we were about to leave a large bird flew slowly south down the valley not far above eye-level an Osprey! A most unexpected species of bird here anytime and doubly so in July, luckily this superb was in no hurry and soared over the river allowing us great views in the telescopes.

A stop and Trefriw and our luck held with a wonderful Dipper enjoyed in the stream here, we hadn’t seen one here recently so a thrill to see they are still here. Looking up stream from the Dipper we saw a beautiful Grey Wagtail resting on a rock mid-stream another new bird for trip what a day we were having!

Another highlight soon followed a rather late lunch at Tu Hwnt I’r Bont tearoom in Llanrwst, Adrian and Ruth had requested this lovely place for lunch and of course we were very happy to deliver. We tucked into delicious food including the best carrot cake in the world!

Lunch had taken a good deal of time, rightly so good food should be enjoyed, but we still had time to visit the nearby Gwydyr Forest though it was so hot very little bird activity. But of course we did find some good birds including Tree Pipit always tricky to find in July and four more Red Kites that circled right above us such a wonderful sight.

Back in Llandudno we joined Adrian and Ruth for a lovely dinner at the Empire Hotel, thank you for treating us so very kind of them. Then we headed back to the Gwydyr Forest to try and see Nightjars, it was a beautiful evening with a stunning near full moon and still very warm. Although the Nightjars were heard churring we only had a couple of brief views in flight but it was fantastic to stand in the forest in near darkness with the moon above listening to their strange songs.

On the 23rd of July we collected Adrian and Ruth at 9am as we had been late back the previous evening. A short drive west along the coast took us to Llandfairfechan where the tide was high. Scanning the calm sea produced a lone Goosander, gangs of Common Eider and Great crested Grebes with a few Sandwich Terns and a single Common Gull flying past the promenade.

Moving a little further west we walked to the river mouth at Aber where there is a good high tide roost of gulls. The edge of the marsh and water just offshore held hundreds and hundreds of gulls, mostly Black-headed but plenty of Common Gulls here to an early return for these winter visitors here. Careful scanning of the huge flock revealed at least five Mediterranean Gulls always a thrill to see. Offshore on the millpond like sea we enjoyed super views of lots of Common Eider and a flock of 30 Red-breasted Mergansers and a crèche of young Shelduck accompanied by an adult bird. Great excitement when we spotted an Osprey flying low over the sea just to our right and we had a super look at this big bird of prey as it slowly flapped off towards Anglesey, amazing two Ospreys in two days!


We are so lucky to see Red-billed Chough very regularly but they are always a thrill.



Heading into the hills we climbed up steeply and immediately found a Common Redstart right where we parked! This lovely bird was feeding with Stonechats along a stone wall and allowed great views. As we enjoyed the Redstart we heard Chough calling and saw three of these lovely crows perched on a boulder and soon saw more. There were at least 22 Chough in the area and enjoyed super views in the sunshine. Walking the hillside we enjoyed great looks at a lovely male Lesser Redpoll, Linnets, Wheatears and a Common Buzzard. We then headed down for a really delicious lunch at Aber Distillery – a new venue for us and one we will return to!

After lunch we headed over to Anglesey and to RSPB Cors Ddyga where it was very hot indeed. We watched Shoveler, Teal and Lapwings on the wet fields along with Reed Bunting and a lovely Great Egret. In the scrub near the car park we watched Long-tailed Tits and a bright juvenile Willow Warbler. Sadly it was time to head back to Llandudno and say good-bye to Adrian and Ruth – a really lovely three days with superb birds, beautiful scenery, great food and so many laughs! We really look forward to enjoying more birds together in the future.

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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