An Icy Start To Our Best Of North Wales Birdwatching Trips Tour 25 January 2022

A juvenile Iceland Gull was one of the first birds enjoyed an amazing start - library photo.

Alan met Mark at 8am at Llandudno West Shore on a distinctly chilly morning and was to get even more icy. Mark’s wife had kindly purchased a custom day trip for him; Mark is just getting into bird watching after retiring. A short drive took them to the Little Orme and then a walk up a few steps and first birds of the day. Fulmars were on the cliffs above the path and even in the gloom of a grey early morning they enjoyed decent views through the Leica telescope. A little further along and they could see birds on the flat calm sea mostly Shags exceptional numbers some fifty birds but also a fine drake Eider.

Reaching the bay they immediately saw their target bird a beautiful juvenile Iceland Gull on the beach below them – wow! The light was better now and super views of this rare visitor from the Arctic were enjoyed. The gull was hanging out at the large Atlantic grey seal colony here some eighty animals hauled out on the shingle an impressive sight. Then a gorgeous male Stonechat popped up close by and allowed super views and this was followed by a pair of Red-billed Chough! These marvellous members of the crow family flew low over the rocks and then turned and landed so close on the short grass this was an amazing day already!

Fulmar Great Orme

Wonderful views of Northern Fulmars were enjoyed through the Leica telescope.

They moved west a little way across the bay to the Great Orme and even better views of Fulmars frame filling in fact. After some scanning Alan spotted a Peregrine Falcon on the cliff and it was soon in the scope to enjoy super views of this ultimate raptor. As Mark and Alan watched the falcon launched itself off the cliff straight towards them it seemed the bird was coming for them! With a loud whoosh of wings the Peregrine swept just above the stunned observers and narrowly missed a Raven on a ledge just above the two watchers! Amazing stuff to see a Peregrine so close moving so fast and to be able to hear the wings rip through the air it was just fantastic. Further around the headland another surprise there were lots of auks back at the breeding cliffs a very early date indeed. Careful scanning of the birds on the calm sea revealed three species present – lots of Common Guillemots most in breeding plumage, small numbers of Razorbills and lovely to see a single Black Guillemot.

Next south down the Conwy Valley but no sign of a Dipper at the first stop sadly. A little further and a site for Hawfinch not long after arriving a male Hawfinch was seen in flight it circled over some trees looking like it might land but sadly flew on out of sight. A Red Kite drifted over, a Nuthatch showed off, two Great Spotted Woodpeckers flew over and one was also drumming loudly. Lots of birds here to enjoy but sadly no more Hawfinch sightings and the two were just thinking of making a move when Alan spotted a Goshawk! This deep-chested muscular raptor flapped slowly overhead giving a great view, wow.

Always a real thrill to see a Hawfinch well - photo by Matt Latham brilliant!

Next stop was a beautiful view point overlooking the Conwy River and they had not been out of the car long when two birds were spotted in the top of a bare beech tree could they be? Yes they could Hawfinches amazing so lucky to see these scarce finches posing in good light and great views were enjoyed through the Leica telescopes. These big finches climbed around in the thin branches for a while and then flew and were soon lost to view another wow moment. A big flock of Northern Lapwings here were a delight to see along with Common Redshank, Little Egret and Eurasian Wigeon.

A lovely lunch went down very well indeed and a chance to review the mornings amazing sightings so many wonderful birds and all so close to Llandudno.

First stop in the afternoon was just west of Llanfairfechan where a mixed flock of Long-tailed, Coal, Blue and Great Tits along with three Goldcrests were very entertaining to watch. Out on the beach the incoming tide was pushing huge numbers of wading birds closer and closer. It was fantastic to see clouds of Dunlin swirling through the air above thousands of Oystercatchers and amongst them Bar-tailed Godwits and Curlew. Mark spotted a lovely male Goosander resting on the beach and lots of Teal here too. Further out two Slavonian Grebes were drifting west on the rising tide always great additions to any birding day.

At the nearby promenade they enjoyed wonderful close views of three Eider just off the beach two females and a handsome drake again frame filling views were enjoyed. Offshore Great Crested Grebes loafed about on the calm sea.

A short drive back east and last stop of the day at RSPB Conwy where major management work was going on at the first lagoon. Given the noise Alan and Barry went straight to the Tal-y-Fan hide that overlooks the second lagoon and were very happy to see lots of birds. Pochard and Tufted Duck were very close to the hide indeed allowing super looks and amongst them Little Grebes. Lots of Shoveler were feeding here too always a thrill to see these colourful bonkers birds. A lovely flock of Northern Lapwings were roosting on the islands in the lagoon along with a gang of Common Redshank. The first-winter drake Scaup was still on the lagoon though rather distant and it was good to a Common Gull in the with the Black-headed Gulls surprisingly the first one of the day. A flock of Bullfinches were a lovely sight near the Carneddau Hide at least fifteen of these wonderful birds were feeding in the scrub here.

Back to the car to complete the checklist and well over seventy species of birds had been enjoyed by Alan and Mark and all close to the starting point in Llandudno. We do hope Mark can join us again for more wonderful birds he was certainly lucky on this day!

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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