A Very Rare Duck And A Lot More Best Of North Wales 9 February 2023

Wonderful views of Red-billed Chough got the day off to a fantastic start!

We meet Helen and the Kate at Llandudno West shore at 8am on the 9th of February for a Best of North Wales bird watching day trip. Helen had driven over from Cheshire and Kate had come on the train from the Midlands. It was a beautiful if chilly morning and we were all soon on the Great Orme in the early sunshine. Lots to see right from the start – Shags dived just below us, Fulmars flew back and forth at the cliffs above us, Turnstones climbed the pier legs and a Razorbill bobbed about on the calm sea. Raucous calls drew our attention to a pair of Peregrine Flacons flying below us, the female carrying prey the male in pursuit calling! Wow! The birds of prey landed on the rocks outsight sadly but the male did fly around briefly allowing more looks at this magnificent bird. Two Red-billed Chough posed at the base of the cliff, looking gorgeous in the sunshine – what a wonderful view of these special birds.

A Rock Pipit gave super close as we moved around the headland to enjoy the Atlantic grey seals hauled out on a beach, some forty of these amazing animals. There was an amazing variety of colours and patterns amongst the seals including a jet-black animal looking rather like a giant mole! A Fulmar “buzzed” us repeatedly here coming so close at eye-level – just fantastic but to fast to photograph. Further around the cliffs we watched Common Guillemots and Razorbills back on their breeding cliffs already and a pair of handsome Black Guillemots on the sea below the cliffs.

A short drive took us to RSPB Conwy where it was a good deal warmer that on the Great Orme, thankfully, and plenty of birds to enjoy. The sunshine certainly showed off the great selection of ducks on the lagoons. A drake Pintail maybe the pick of the bunch, such an elegant duck. Eurasian Wigeon and Teal, Gadwall, Tufted Duck, Pochard and the long-staying female Greater Scaup all looked great. Northern Lapwings also looked at their best in the glorious light as did Conwy Castle and the mountains of Snowdonia beyond. But it was the reserve’s Robins that were the highlight for Helen and Kate! These beautiful, bold little birds fed from their hands and provided wonderful photo opportunities. It is really special when a wild bird trusts us and lands on your hand, all be it for a free meal. A hot drink, in the recently reopened café was very welcome.

Lapwing adult May 2015

Northern Lapwing are such beautiful birds and lovely to see in the sunshine.

South down the Conwy but sadly no sign of any Hawfinches, not surprisingly as workmen were making a right racket next to the area these shy birds favour. Nuthatch and Redwing were the best we could find.

Heading through Snowdonia we stopped for a photo opportunity with mount Snowdon as a backdrop, actually clear of cloud and looking stunning in the sunshine and blue sky. Down through the spectacular Llanberis pass then on to Caernarfon for lunch at a lovely garden centre. Good news came in during lunch, the very rare Baikal Teal was showing just down the road at Foryd Bay.

We arrived to see Dylan and Daff, great friends of our, on site with scopes set up and they hastened us to join them. The Baikal Teal was in view, amongst a flock of doing Pintail on a seaweed covered spit. It was good job the guys were still there when we arrived as the rarity was tricky to see amongst the other ducks. Our top of the range telescopes yet again came into their own allowing us to zoom in on the Baikal Teal and enjoy its lovely colours. Lots more to see here along with the mega rarity and lots of Pintail. A smart drake Greater Scaup was diving in a channel close to our position in the company of Goldeneye and there were plenty of Wigeon, Teal, Oystercatchers, Curlew, Redshank and small numbers of Greenshank, Dunlin and Common Snipe and lots more gorgeous Lapwings.

After watching the Baikal Teal for a long time, hoping it might move out on to the water, it didn’t, we moved on along the east shore of Foryd Bay. We had wonderful views of Pale-bellied Brent Geese and picked out two dark-bellied ones amongst them. The pale birds come from Arctic Canada and dark ones from Siberia. Lots of waders here too and more Wigeon and nearer Caernarfon a smart female Goosander below the impressive castle.

All to soon it was time to head back towards Llandudno and we dropped Kate at Llandudno Junction railway station and Helen back at her car at West Shore. A really lovely, fun day with lovely people, we hope we enjoy lots more birds with Kate and Helen again in the future.

We run our Birdwatching Trips throughout the year a mix of set departure tours and custom-made trips perfect for you! To book your custom tour or any of our set departure trips please email us here….


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