A Wonderful Day Of Raptors In The Uplands Of North Wales 29 July 2022

Osprey juv Sept 1

Ospreys are wonderful birds and we enjoyed a very special encounter.

We arranged to meet Maya and Ian for a walk and a picnic in the hills of North Wales and we set off from Llandudno looking forward to catching up with these lovely friends.

As we climbed up we saw a male Common Redstart on a fence line – always a thrill to see and especially in July when they can be tricky to find. We made a quick stop and as we stepped from the car a stunning adult male Hen Harrier drifted across the moor – what perfect timing! This “grey-ghost” of a bird slowly glided over the wet moorland wowing us in the morning sunshine. The perfect start to any day. Hen Harriers are such gorgeous birds and a real thrill to watch this one for so long.

We had several views of beautiful male Common Redstarts along with so many raptors!

We arrived at the agreed meeting point and were soon joined by Maya and Ian. A little discussion ensued about picnic and then walk or walk with a picnic along the way! We really should have been clearer in the arrangements, Maya and Ian were all set for a hike with food along we were thinking walk then picnic near the cars, oops. Anyway, it was soon resolved, and the food was left in the cars and off we went.

We didn’t get far, a raptor soared over the forest to our right, an Osprey! Wow wonderful one the birds we had hoped to see today and showing very well indeed. This magnificent bird of prey circled in the sunshine allowing us all lots of time to soak up the views. Then three Red Kites were spotted, without moving from the same spot followed by a Kestrel, a Sparrowhawk, three Common Buzzards and perhaps best of all a Hobby! And all from the very same spot just mind-blowing stuff we were so lucky! The Hobby, like the Osprey, was in the mood to show off and lingered in view for ages before powering off south -west leaving us breathless and elated.

A few yards further along the path a lovely juvenile Northern Wheatear popped up on a small conifer tree and posed. We joked that we really should have brought the picnic as we had covered about 200 yards in 20 minutes. Lots more to see as we headed towards a lake – hundreds of tiny froglets hopping along the path we had to be ultra-careful not to squash them, an amazing caterpillar that will turn into an oak-egger moth we are told, Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs and more.

Reaching the lake we were treated to wonderful views of a family of Ospreys, an adult and two juveniles – the young had literally fledged the day before. One of the juvenile birds was seen flying over the lake back and forth and we kept our eyes on it hoping that it might try fishing. As we watched the young Osprey dived and plunged into the water, wow! The juvenile bird then sat there looking confused in the water. We were now getting concerned, was it injured, maybe it could not lift off the water? The bird flapped around but still didn’t lift off, was it now water-logged? What should we do? Then with a huge flap it was air borne again and carrying a huge fish – wow! An amazing sight to see an Osprey only out of the nest the previous day catch such a massive fish. The problem now for the young bird seemed to be what to do next! The juvenile Osprey flew back and forth with the huge fish in its talons as an adult watched from a nearby tree, giving no advice at all! Eventually the novice bird dropped the fish and missed out on a wonderful lunch! Hopefully next time he can work out how to land with his feet full of fish. An amazing sighting for us all to witness. Having seen the Osprey loose it’s lunch Maya was now thinking of food! We needed to get going, a long walk back to the cars lay ahead and no food with us. Of course, we didn’t manage to walk back without stopping. A beautiful male Redstart posed for us a real wow bird, quickly followed by a juvenile Common Crossbill feeding above us which just sat there for ages allowing frame filling views in the scopes as Maya’s tummy rumbled!

Almost back to the cars, and the thought of food, when the Hobby reappeared and showed off! Much closer this time “hawking” over the heather and then perching on a small tree in full view, another wow moment. This most beautiful falcon gave us superb views before whizzing off over the hill leaving us stunned.

Oh the picnic tasted so good after so many great birds, and such a long walk! It was lovely enjoying our very late lunch overlooking the lake and of course the birds kept coming – the Hobby showed again, a juvenile Wheatear posed for us and Buzzards soared in the warm air as we enjoyed lovely food including the most delicious homemade cakes – thank you Maya!

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