Fantastic Birds And Wildlife With Iolo Williams Five Day North Wales Tour

Black Guillemot

We enjoyed super views of breeding plumaged Black Guillemots and 121 other bird species!

We have just finished a wonderful five day Best of North Wales Tour with Iolo Williams, 21st – 25th February 2022. We enjoyed a very impressive 122 species of birds and some amazing mammals during the trip with such lovely guests, Richard and June, Robin and Vivien, Richard and Roger all really made the experience so much fun!

On the first day, the 21st, we met at the hotel in the Conwy Valley for lunch time and straight away enjoyed great birds including a Goshawk and a drake Mandarin from the hotel – what a start! After lunch we visited RSPB Conwy where waders and ducks entertained us and a lovely drake Scaup was a great addition to the already impressive bird list.

On the 22nd we headed west to Anglesey and despite gale force winds enjoyed a lovely day. Slavonian Grebe and Pale-bellied Brent Geese were watched and a fine Mediterranean Gull was picked out at Beddmanarch Bay. Next up Holyhead Harbour where we were lucky to see a Common Sandpiper – a rare winter bird in the UK. We also admired breeding plumaged Red-throated Diver and Black Guillemots. At nearby RSPB South Stack we watched Red-billed Chough swoop in the wind, two Hooded Crows – nice bonus – and lovely Stonechats. At a wave splashed bay we had super views of nine Purple Sandpipers always a thrill to see and even better in sunshine. We enjoyed a lovely lunch before heading for an enchanting encounter with red squirrels. No idea how many photos were taken by us all as these beautiful animals fed so close to us a magical experience! Huge thanks to Huw for all his help and for keeping the reds so well fed. A quick call in at Cors Ddyga RSPB added lots more birds to our day list including Water Pipit and Whooper Swan.

On the 23rd we headed over to the Dee Estuary making a stop on the way to watch huge rafts of Common Scoter off the coast. At RSPB Burton Mere Wetlands we enjoyed lots of birds including Black-tailed Godwits and two Marsh Harriers and if was great to catch up with Yvonne from Focal Point Optics. At nearby Burton Marsh a wonderful Short-eared Owls gave prolonged views even landing on a post and more Marsh Harriers, a Sparrowhawk, a Kestrel and four Great Egrets. A super lunch was enjoyed at Parkgate Marsh where we watched two male Hen Harriers, just superb birds, masses of Pink-footed Geese and four more Marsh Harriers. We then moved further along the coast and had the most stunning close encounter with a beautiful Short-eared Owl – wow!

On the 24th we visited a site not far from the hotel to look for Hawfinch but the weather was pretty grim with a strong wind and hail showers so we didn’t think we had a good chance of seeing these wonderful birds. We kept scanning our persistence was rewarded with not one just nine of the so special birds. The Hawfinches giving us a wonderful display once found and along with them our first Redwings of the tour.

At the Little Orme we watched the long-staying Iceland Gull on the beach and what super views we enjoyed of this rarity amongst the grey seal colony. We also had super close views of a Chough on the ground. Then it was west to Anglesey via a lot of slow roadworks so we didn’t have a huge amount of time for birding before lunch. However we still saw some great birds including Great Northern Diver, Eider, Razorbill, Kittiwakes and best of all a smart drake Long-tailed Duck! We enjoyed a super lunch overlooking Red Wharf Bay before going back to the coast for a second look adding Pale-bellied Brent Goose and Black Guillemots.

Then it was back to the mainland and Aber Ogwen where the tide was high so not many waders but we enjoyed super close views of displaying Goldeneye, Wigeon and a stunning male Bullfinch. A female Pintail here was a surprise.

The last day of our five day tour and we headed into the uplands but sadly no sign of the hoped for Great Grey Shrike but a Dipper was wonderful to see. We moved on and enjoyed super looks at Fieldfare, Brambling and Siskins and a very good hot chocolate. Next we looked for Goshawk but at first just lots and lots of Common Buzzards, then a Sparrowhawk flew over followed by our first Crossbill of the trip. Then followed a series of brief Goshawk sightings of at least two birds before finally a female bird displayed over the forest and everyone enjoyed the views, whew! As we headed for home we tried once again for the Great Grey Shrike and this time our luck was in! This brilliant bird was showing off on bare saplings on the heather moorland and we all enjoyed super views through the Leica telescopes. A perfect end to a really fantastic tour.

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We look forward to enjoying wonderful birds and wildlife with you soon!

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