A Day Packed With Top Drawer Birds For Richard And Sean 11 February 2022

Black Grouse May 2016 2

What a wonderful way to start a day bird number one - Black Grouse - and the great birds kept coming!

Richard and Sean had planned a Birdwatching Trips tour before the pandemic but sadly the trip had to be cancelled due to lockdown. Finally we were able to rearrange their day here in North Wales and look for a few special birds – Black Grouse, Goshawk and Hawfinch we do love a challenge.

It was a very early pick up indeed, 5.30am, from their lovely B&B in Llandudno and we set off for the moors. Arriving in darkness it was bitterly cold but luckily we could stay in the 4x4 and scan for Black Grouse. Even before the light came up we could make out a few dark shapes not far away – first target bird Black Grouse. The light slowly improved the views got much better of these spectacular birds always a thrill to see them displaying and hear their amazing calls in the cold air. Sadly other “bird watchers” we had a few other names for them arrived and shone their headlights on the birds and generally behaved like fools so we left them to it. Well eventually as one fool blocked the public road and was very reluctant indeed to move out of the way! And people wonder why folks have a problem with bird watchers at some sites, just common decency is all that is called for – think about the birds, think about other people and respect both.

Red Grouse March 2014

Red Grouse were very vocal in the bitter cold of early morning and we managed to see a few.

Luckily we soon found more Black Grouse and not a soul about to disturb them or us and we enjoyed fantastic views though it was bitter cold. Red Grouse were seen and heard at this spot too so job done on the moors we dropped down to lower altitude. On a small stream we had super views of Dippers one of those species it doesn’t matter how many times you see them they always put a smile on your face. Another encounter with a Dipper this time a bird in full song before we headed north to look for another of the target birds - Goshawk.

That early start and the bitter cold up on the moors had given us an appetite and we knew just the place for a great breakfast. Not only great food here but great birds too and we watched beautiful Yellowhammers as we ate and a pair of Red Kites soaring over the nearby hillside.

Yellowhammer Norfolk Sept

Yellowhammers are very scarce birds in North Wales these days so it was lovely to watch them as we ate.

On again and into an area of upland conifer woodland first stop was by a garden with bird feeders where we enjoyed super views of Siskins and not far away an “emercency” stop for a bird on top of a roadside tree – stunning male Common Crossbill in the sunshine wow! There were three of these big billed finches in the trees a lovely bonus bird. A little further into the forest and our way was blocked by a gang of road repairers and as we waited to get past Alan spotted a raptor low over the trees up ahead, could it be? Just at that moment the roadworkers waved us through oh no! Luckily there was the spot we were aiming for just beyond the roadworks, we all piled out and Alan shouted “Goshawk!” Amazing this most wanted bird was slowly flying over the forest giving super views in the telescopes how lucky was that? The Goshawk stayed in view for ages so we decided, once it eventually dropped out of sight, to move knowing we would be very lucky indeed to have a better view than the one just enjoyed.

A short drive took us to an area of moorland on the forest edge where several of our birding friends were already parked with scopes set up, looked promising. The Great Grey Shrike was in view straight away, whew, and we had super views of this smart rarity as it moved from sapling to sapling on the moor another fantastic encounter. Great to catch up with old friends while enjoying this bird not been much of that the last two years sadly.

Another short drive took us to the visitor centre and here we enjoyed great looks at beautiful Brambling and lots of Siskins. A hot chocolate went down very well too many thanks Richard. With two of the three target birds, Black Grouse and Goshawk, under the belt it was time to leave the uplands and head north. The drive to the Conwy Valley was spectacular with the whole of Snowdonia laid out before us in the winter sunshine the highest peaks dusted in snow. North Wales has such rich variety of scenery and this in turn produces an amazing mix of birds all within easy reach of our base in Llandudno.

Reaching the Conwy Valley it was rather breezy not ideal for looking for Hawfinch but we were going to give it our best shot. We scanned the trees and scanned some more but no sign. A Grey Wagtail and a Goosander were on the river here both new species for our impressive day list. Two people walked into the church yard on the other side of the river and from the yew trees out flew two Hawfinches! These big finches flew to our side of the river and were lost behind some trees but Sean missed the brief view as he was scanning trees behind us. Oh no now we had to relocate them, we scanned but nothing, then a Hawfinch flew across the paddock in front of us and amazingly landed in the very nearest tree! This beautiful male bird was quickly in the scopes and we enjoyed the most wonderful views of this stunning bird. Three out of three target birds and all seen very well by all of us, brilliant.

Of course that wasn’t the end of the day and we headed north and stopped at a viewpoint overlooking RSPB Conwy Reserve where we really boosted the day list. Ducks were quickly added with Shelduck, Wigeon, Shoveler, Gadwall and then a nice bonus bird when Sean spotted a Scaup on the lagoon. Waders were a boost to the list too with Curlew, Oystercatcher, Redshank and Lapwings.

Next stop was the Little Orme where we were soon enjoying fantastic views of the long staying juvenile Iceland Gull on its favoured beach amongst the seals. Fulmars were on the cliffs above the bay and offshore we watched Red-throated Divers, Common Guillemots and a lovely pair of Common Eider. A male Stonechat also popped up on a bramble bush rather surprisingly first of the day.

A beautiful Snow Bunting was the perfect way to end a day packed with wonderful birds.

Last stop of the day was at the Great Orme where we again enjoyed a pair of Common Eider below the cliffs, we also picked out Ruddy Turnstones on the legs of the pier. Back on the cliffs the pair of Peregrine Falcons were looking down at us and we had super views through the telescopes. Just time to look for one more species so we haeded up to the limestone pavement area on the headland and walked up hill towards the cairn. No sooner had Alan said “this area here is good for the Snow Bunting” than there it was! A beautiful Snow Bunting pottering about on the grass just a few yards away in the later afternoon sun, wow what a wonderful end to a day full of amazing birds.

A few minutes drive saw Richard and Sean back at their Llandudno B&B and we agreed it had been a special day of birding indeed! We do hope Richard and Sean can join us again soon for lots more fantastic birds in beautiful scenery.

We would love to put together a custom Birdwatching Trips tour perfect for you please just drop us a line and we can do the rest…


We look forward to enjoying great birds and wildlife with you soon.

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