A Quick Dash Down To RSPB Conwy Really Pays Off 29 November 2021

RSPB Conwy

News of a rare bird is always welcome and even more so when the bird in question is just five miles from home. A “red-head” Smew, so either an immature bird or a female not an adult drake, was reported at RSPB Conwy and as Smew are locally rare birds it was grab the bins and scope and go!

Arriving at the reserve we met our great friend Dylan who was out of breath and just leaving but the news was not good. Dylan had dashed down to the lagoon in his lunch break from work and had not seen the bird and now had to dash back to work. Then a message from fellow birder Robin to say “no sign of the Smew but a work party on the island in the lagoon where the bird had been seen” oh no! This was not sounding good at all sadly. We checked the first lagoon, the Smew having been seen on the second lagoon, in case it had flown over the dividing bank and landed here but no it wasn’t there.

Then another message from Robin he had seen the Smew! He was at the very far end of the reserve a long way from where we were so we hurried to the Tal-y-Fan hide and scanned the second lagoon from the opposite end to where Robin was but no sign. Frustration was boiling! Then Ruth calmly said “got it” and sure enough there was the Smew next to a Tufted Duck distant but no mistaking the red head and white cheeks of this smaller cousin of the more usual Red-breasted Mergansers we see here. Whew! And relax.

The only photograph we have of a female Smew in a nestbox in Finland - a friend is studying them there.

The "redhead" Smew photographed at RSPB Conwy, 1st December 2021, by Steve Culley @zoobirder on Twitter.

We moved closer and watched the bird from the Carneddau hide and here we watched this lovely duck diving for fish close to the reeds at the far end of the reserve. We were joined by John and Ray, two more local birders, and it was great to share this rare bird with others. We also saw an immature drake Scaup another good bird for the reserve but nowhere near as rare as the Smew.

Click on the link below to see Ruth's video of the Jack Snipe...


We walked back and check the area in front of the coffee shop as a Jack Snipe had been seen there briefly the previous day. Much to our delight this wonderful “bobbing” bird was in view! And what a view we enjoyed of this tiny ball of feathers bobbing up and down as if on springs as it fed at the edge of the reeds. Through the Leica telescopes we could see every detail and Ruth took some wonderful video footage on her mobile phone through the scope just wow! We stuck our heads in the coffee shop and told the couple who were in there about the Jack Snipe and they came and looked through the scope. It was wonderful to see their reaction they were thrilled to see this new bird for them and to see it so well. We do love to share birds it is a real buzz seeing that moment of joy when someone looks through the scope and sees a bird. There was good news later Dylan managed to see the Smew after work - brilliant.

Jack Snipe RSPB Conwy

Jack Snipe at RSPB Conwy this one a library image such wonderful birds.

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

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