A Fantastic Day Show Casing North Wales At Its Very Best 14 March 2022

Hawfinch are such amazing birds and we have had great success seeing them on our tour. Photo Matt Latham

North Wales has amazing birds and a wonderful array of habitats all within easy reach of our base in Llandudno, come and see, read on to get an idea of what is possible in just one day!

Alan picked up Sue from her Llandudno B&B at 8am and then Geoff at Llandudno West Shore for a “Best of North Wales” Birdwatching Trips day tour. The day didn’t start well the Marine Drive around the Great Orme at Llandudno was closed due to a rock fall. But it was possible to walk a little way along and here super views of Norther Fulmars were enjoyed on the cliffs and in the air, a pair of Red-billed Chough swooped along the cliffs seemingly flying for fun! A female Eider just offshore was a nice bird to see here and five Great Crested Grebes were further out as Ravens flapped over against the blue sky.

Then they drove south down the Conwy Valley, pausing to watch the first of many Red Kites, and a site to look for Hawfinch one of the target birds for Geoff in particular and always a challenge to see. A Redwing posed on top of an oak tree looking stunning in the sunshine and as they watched this bird a Hawfinch flew past and shot into a yew tree but landed out of sight, frustrating. Then Alan spotted another Hawfinch but again only a brief flight view, but at least they were about. Then bingo a gorgeous male Hawfinch was spotted on top of a bare tree in the open in the sun and wow what a fantastic bird! Luckily this Hawfinch posed for ages and superb views were enjoyed in the Leica telescope just fantastic such a good view.

Then further south over a scenic route seeing Skylarks and more Red Kites along with lots of Common Buzzards into an upland forest to look for another target species, Goshawk. It was a lot cooler up here but still plenty of Buzzards up soaring so hopefully a good omen for other raptors to be active. A Kestrel was the next bird of prey, not a common sight up here, but not what we were scanning for. After about ten minutes Alan called “Goshawk!” and there low over the pines was a big powerful hawk – yes brilliant! But there was much more to come over the next half hour or so three of these fantastic raptors put on an amazing show displaying across the sky and performing their fantastic “roller-coaster” flight diving down steeply only to throw back up vertically and then repeat over and over breath-taking stuff! A target bird well and truly enjoyed, just wow!

Next we headed to a moorland where a Great Grey Shrike was wintering though a very mobile bird and we had earlier met birders that had failed to find the bird earlier in the day. It was colder up there and windier so did not look promising. Two minutes into the search “Got it” said Alan and sure enough there was this beautiful bird on a small bare tree above the heather another target bird in the bag what a morning. The top of the range telescopes really came into their own here allowing stunning views of the rare winter visitor as it clung to the trees in the wind. The Great Grey Shrike repeatedly dropped down into the heather for small items of prey, most likely caterpillars? Several times the shrike did a good impression of a Kestrel hovering over the ground as it searched for more prey.

It was cold now so time for a hot drink and lunch which both went down very well indeed. Of course the birding didn’t stop as we were able to watch colourful Bramblings and Siskins as we enjoyed warming up.

Warmed up we headed for the coast and Pensarn beach where it was grey and windy but there were birds, lots of birds! Masses of Common Scoter stretched along the coast as far as the eye could see both east and west. An amazing spectacle to see so many birds and not so far offshore so the views with the scopes were good despite a swell that could hide birds. Amazingly after just a few minutes of scanning Alan picked out not one but two adult drake Surf Scoters amongst the masses of Common Scoter! These rare visitors from North America stood out with their white patches on the head and orange-yellow bills what a thrill to see. It was a little tricky getting Sue and Geoff onto them as so many birds and the choppy sea made viewing a little difficult but everyone soon got a good look. The Surf Scoters were diving as were the Commons so after each dive it was a case of finding them again in the flocks and then making a quick change at the scope before the next dive took them out of sight!

A short drive west to the Little Orme where lots of Atlantic grey seals were hauled out on the beach a wonderful sight. But no sign of the hoped for Iceland Gull here this bird had been present in the bay for some time. Plenty of birds to see though including fantastic Northern Gannets fishing just offshore plunging into the sea like arrows just brilliant to watch and a bird Sue had hoped to see on the trip. A Peregrine Falcon powered past the headland and a stunning male Stonechat posed really close such a beautiful bird. Then Alan spotted the Iceland Gull, it had been there all the time, up on a cliff above the bay rather than down on the beach, whew, another super bird on this superb day out.

There was just time for a quick visit to RSPB Conwy where a Scaup was a good addition to the very impressive day list which showed well right next to a Tufted Duck for comparison. A singing Chiffchaff showed off near the Tal-y-Fan hide a lovely reminder that spring is indeed coming despite the chilly temperatures.

Back at west shore around 5pm to drop off Geoff at his car then dropped off Sue back at her B&B a really great fun day and we hope both Geoff and Sue will join us again for more wonderful birds.

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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