Even Freezing Fog Does Not Stop A Wonderful Selection Of Birds 24 January 2022

Hawfinch Roy de Hass

Hawfinch are amazing birds and we love to see them close to home.

We picked up Becky from near her home, a little later than our usual start as requested and the day began with two Dippers in the nearby stream! Wow what a great way to start a day’s birding. It was lovely to hear Collared Doves “singing” along with Robins and a Dunnock tentative signs of Spring.


Female Hawfinch, male pictuted above, just look at that beak!

A very short drive took us to the banks of the Conwy River and Alan soon spotted a Hawfinch high in a bare tree but the views were tricky as the tree in front was blocking a clear view but we all saw this bull-necked finch before it flew down and was lost to view. We scanned the area and enjoyed watching many birds coming down to bath in a puddle and a Nuthatch in a nearby oak as a Great Spotted Woodpecker “drummed” from nearby. On the river we saw a drake Goosander and the flash of blue as a Kingfisher sped past at top speed!

Then Becky spotted another or the same Hawfinch, again high in a bare tree and this time we could get a clear view of this wonderful bird. The Hawfinch was quickly in the Leica telescope allowing super views as it preened, stretched its wings and called away – what an amazing encounter with this so often tricky species.

Brambling Great Orme

Brambling are such members of the finch family and winter visitors to the UK.

We then headed up in altitude and into an area of forest where we had recently enjoyed a wintering Great Grey Shrike and hoped to find it again. Sadly as we climbed higher we were met with freezing fog – not good! Luckily there are bird feeders here and even in these conditions we could enjoy super views of the birds at very close range. Stars of the show were beautiful Bramblings their orange, black and white plumage lighting up a dull morning. We also had super looks at Siskins, Lesser Redpolls and Coal Tits here.

Alan then went to check another feeder nearby and was pleased to immediately see a Willow Tit another target bird for the day. Other bird watchers were looking at the birds and commented on the “Marsh Tit showing well” awkward. Alan was sure it was a Willow Tit and gently suggested the bird in question was a Willow not a Marsh Tit. No, the others were having none of this and were adamant it was Marsh as “local experts had confirmed the identification” hmmmm.

Luckily the Willow Tit stayed in view long enough for Ruth and Becky to see it and both agreed it was certainly a Willow Tit.

We tried looking for the Great Grey Shrike but the fog was so thick we couldn’t see the area where the bird had been let alone the bird. We did see one Meadow Pipit and one Lesser Redpoll that was it. Time for lunch and we enjoyed our meal back watching the feeders and seeing a Willow Tit again no Marsh Tits!

It was a great day for enjoying finches - Common Crossbill.

After lunch the fog seemed to have lifted a little so we returned to the shrike site but no change so we moved to another area of the forest where it was much clearer. Amazingly we watched another Willow Tit – such hard birds to see usually in North Wales we didn’t see one locally at all in 2021. We also saw a flock of Common Crossbills feeding on pine cones and calling away with their distinctive “chup, chup” calls. Ravens, Common Buzzards, Mistle Thrushes and a flock of Redwings were all enjoyed before turning for home.

We made one last stop to watch a wonderful pre-roost gathering of spectacular Red Kites - seventeen of these fabulous raptors soaring low over a wood what a sight. Amazing to think in the 1970’s the species was on the brink of extinction in the UK with just six pairs hanging on in remote mid-Wales. A real joy to see these raptors doing so well and so close to home.

Postscript - we later heard from birding friends that a chap who works for Welsh Water where the feeders are was telling visitors that all the "brown tits" were Marsh Tits and the local experts had verified this! He also told visitors that they should come back in Spring to see the Serins on the feeders!! Serin is an extremely rare bird in Wales - so enough said Willow Tits they are!

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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