A Wonderful Day Showcasing The Best Of North Wales 12 May 2023

Our local Peregrine Falcons wowed us - here coming in with a Feral Pigeon - photo by Diane on the day.

We met Diane and Simon at Llandudno West Shore at 8am on a lovely sunny morning, thank you Diane for bringing the weather. A few minutes later we were watching a Peregrine Falcon cruising along the cliffs of the Great Orme – fantastic. A smart Black Guillemot bobbed about on the blue sea below the cliffs. Next, a Red-billed Chough swooped over the grass slope below the cliffs – perfect start to the day, the three species we had hoped to see here all seen in a few minutes. But it got much better! The pair of local Peregrine Falcons put on a fantastic show, their stunt flying was breath-taking. Both birds also perched on the cliffs in the glorious morning sunshine, frame-filling views through the top of the range telescopes. The falcons brought in prey to the cliff, and we watched as the male plucked the unfortunate bird that was now breakfast. The female attacked passing Herring Gulls, was she frustrated that the male had the prey? Or perhaps just in a mean mood? Either way it was a spectacular sight to see the speed she launched her attacks on the gulls, sometime hitting them and sending them spinning through the air!

It was hard to know where to look, Peregrines or superb Red-billed Chough - photo by Diane on the day.

There was even more to enjoy on the headland with superb close-up views of the Red-billed Chough swooping literally around us, wow! Rock Pipits showed off, the cliffs were teaming with seabirds – Common Guillemots, Razorbills, Black-legged Kittiwakes, Shags and Cormorants. Huge Ravens glided above the cliffs and below huge Atlantic grey seal were hauled out on the rocks. The wildflowers and the views were glorious too, it was hard to leave.

This wonderful Dipper posed for us such a lovely bird - photo by Diane on the day.

Heading south we stopped at a fast-flowing stream to look for Dippers, at first no sign so we walked upstream, and Diane spotted a Dipper. Luckily this fantastic little bird was in the mood to pose, and we enjoyed super views. Further along the stream Simon spotted a lovely male Grey Wagtail which was flycatching over the tumbling waters. Back down stream we again encountered a Dipper and this one was a real show off. The Dipper posed, preening on a rock in great light at close range – just perfect – and Diane took lovely photographs.

This gorgeous male Pied Flycatcher showed off beautifully - photo by Diane taken on the day.

Hot chocolate and the most delicious cakes went down very well indeed, we sat outside listening to Blackcaps and a very loud Song Thrush singing, so lovely. Next stop was a beautiful oak woodland and we almost immediately saw a stunning male Pied Flycatcher, wow! The flycatcher was chased about by a very aggressive Blue Tit, strange behaviour, hopefully not a result of food competition? The Pied Flycatcher often posed very close, and Diane again took superb pictures of this so handsome bird.

On into the uplands and a wonderful viewpoint overlooking forest and sheep fields. Almost at once we saw a flock of some forty Common Crossbills over the pines easily the largest flock we have seen in the area for many years. Luckily, some of these wonderful birds landed on top of the trees and good views were enjoyed in the telescopes. A Cuckoo called in the distance, but we could not see it. A few Common Buzzards soared over the forest along with a Raven but sadly no sign of a hoped-for Goshawk. We kept scanning and at last spotted the Cuckoo on a distant tree and then a second Cuckoo this time a little closer. We decided to head off for lunch and as we were leaving a Goshawk flew low over the trees carrying prey! Not the best ever views but so much better than no view.

We enjoyed lunch as we watched colourful Redpolls and Siskins feeding with Chaffinches and Goldfinches. Then a very short drive to an Osprey viewpoint, pausing to watch a soaring Sparrowhawk. Both the pair of Ospreys were in view, one bird on the nest, just the head visible, and the other in an adjacent tree. The Osprey were very chilled out, so we decided to move on.

Great timing with our first sighting of a Whinchat - photo by Diane taken on the day.

We visited an area of rolling moorland where the big sky was wonderful, but birds were in short supply, often the case in these vast landscapes. Skylarks sang above, Meadow Pipits scurried about, and a pair of Stonechat perched in the heather. Diane asked about the possibility of seeing a Whinchat, one minute later we were watching a cracking male Whinchat! This gorgeous summer visitor posed on a fence line and later we enjoyed two more. Common Buzzards hovered over the moor, mobbed by angry Carrion Crows, Curlew displayed high above and a what a thrill to see these sadly rare waders. Then came perhaps the highlight of the day, a fantastic male Hen Harrier! We had stopped to scan for Hen Harriers and within seconds a male appeared flying straight towards us. Panic as we scrambled to jump out for even better views, luckily the “grey ghost” as male harriers are known kept coming. This most beautiful raptor past close to us allowing fantastic views of one of the best birds ever. Diane took some wonderful pictures to remember this wonderful moment by and we watched spellbound as this graceful raptor drifted across the moor owl like, keeping close to the heather, wow, and wow again.

A male Hen Harrier over a heather moorland - few finer sights anywhere - photo taken by Diane on the day.

What a wonderful day, huge thanks to Diane and Simon for their great company, bringing the weather and a very large slice of luck to the day!

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