Welsh Lockdown Has Us Heading Back Up The Great Orme November 2020

Wheatear Holme Sept

A late Northern Wheatear was a lovely November surprise on the Great Orme.

When we returned from two back to back Birdwatching Trips in Norfolk we found ourselves back in a Welsh lockdown to try and slow the increase in COVID-19 cases. So all but essential shops closed and people asked to travel only on essential journeys. As it happened the weather was awful with days of heavy rain so we took the chance to catch up with admin and chores that had been put off for way to long. But last Friday and Saturday were beautiful autumn days and too good to spend indoors so we headed out for walks in our “back garden” the Great Orme.

The autumn colours were beautiful along the south side of the headland where there is good tree cover at Heulfre Gardens and the blue sky and sunshine showed them off to their best. This area also allows us to enjoy some woodland birds absent over much of the headland and it was great to watch a mixed flock of Long-tailed, Coal, Blue and Great Tits along with them were three Goldcrests and a lovely male Blackcap – perhaps set to over-winter here?

This Treecreeper was a nice surprise on the Great Orme, we don't see many here.

Further along on the west side of the Great Orme the trees and bushes along Llys Helig Drive were almost empty but again the colours were stunning. However there was one highlight a Treecreeper – rare to see one on the headland – and it showed off nicely in the autumn sunshine. Reaching the old World War Two gun emplacements further along the coast a Siskin was in a group of Goldfinches but that was the only migrant in evidence. Looking offshore here two female Common Eider were just off the rocky beach, we had seen two Eider from our living room window off Llandudno North Shore the previous day perhaps the same birds? A first-winter Mediterranean Gull flew north past the beach and headed out to join lots of distant gulls out in Conwy Bay.

Having Red-billed Chough so close to home is so amazing we love these birds.

Up on the limestone pavement areas on top of the Great Orme it had a bit of a feel that the party was over with very few migrant birds about despite the glorious weather. But the views were just as spectacular as ever with the mountains of Snowdonia, the Isle of Anglesey and even the distant coast of Lancashire all looking wonderful. Of course there were some birds and we were very surprised to see a late Northern Wheatear, still there on the 6th of November, feeding around the boulders on the heathland. Must admit first seeing it on boulder in the distance we did start to dream of a rare wheatear it being so late. Lovely views of our resident Choughs of course and we enjoyed some wonderful flying from three birds over the cliffs on the east side. These fantastic birds came over the cliffs calling and pulled their wings in looking like black arrows heading straight for us, these wonderful corvids then landed on the cliff top one bird doing an amazing reverse parking manoeuvre by letting the wind catch it and turn backwards allowing the wind to reverse it onto a ledge so funny to watch. Our Peregrines are still on the cliffs and we had super views of the female on a kill with the male sat alongside here looking hopefully to share. Another Peregrine showed well near the lighthouse cruising slowly along the cliffs at eye-level – what a bird. A few Redwings and Meadow Pipits on the headland and some small flocks of Chaffinches moving west over remind us that migration is not totally done and maybe time for one more good bird? The remains of a Woodcock, near the Copper Mine, were a reminder we don’t see all the birds that pass through. This beautiful bird had perhaps flown all the way from Northern Russia to reach Wales for the winter only to be taken by our local Sparrowhawk or perhaps a Peregrine, nature can be cruel for sure.

Perhaps our most exciting sighting these last few days was that of a pod of bottle-nose dolphins off the north side of the Great Orme. We were walking along the Marine Drive, towards the lighthouse, when saw a disturbance in the sea and lifting the binoculars saw a dolphin leap high into the air completely clear of the sea a real wow moment! We soon realised that were at least eight of these big dolphins leaping out of the water and putting on a fantastic show! What a wonderful experience and within walking distance of home! We are so lucky to have all this amazing wildlife and stunning scenery on the doorstep, come and see!

Come and join us for a “Tour for Two” – very small group just two guests with two guides, tailor made itinerary, low risk in these COVID-19 times and of course lots of birds and an excellent chance of enjoying them all. Do drop us a line and we can make all the arrangements be it a day trip, two days, three day or as long a tour as you wish. Our recent Tours for Two have visited the Highlands of Scotland, North Wales, Norfolk and the Yorkshire coast and we are planning many more! Let us know where you would like to go and we can put together a proposal perfect for you.

We are so lucky to have so many species and habitats within easy reach here in North Wales we would love you to join us for one of our Best of North Wales Birdwatching Trips days out. We expect to enjoy a lot of birds during these relaxed pace tours and we can tailor make the day to suit you.

We would love you to join us on our Birdwatching Trips in the future just drop us a line to arrange a custom tour and please see our tours pages for set departure trips. If you have any questions at all please fire away here….


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

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