Iolo Williams Best Of North Wales Tour With Great Weather 13 To 17 December 2021

Iolo Williams big breakfast dog December 2016 Gro

Our Best of North Wales Birds and Wildlife Tours with Iolo Williams are always popular!

After our last tour, please see previous blog, we were a little worried we would have similar weather for this trip with Iolo. We need not have worried the weather was dry and calm even with some sunshine perfect.

We all met at the Princes Arms Hotel in Trefriw in the beautiful Conwy Valley, Jenny and David, Janice and Richard, father and son David and Chris. The great birds began almost at once when Iolo spotted a Kingfisher in a bare tree below the hotel – wonderful! Everyone enjoyed great views of this so colourful bird before we enjoyed lunch.

After lunch we visited Llandudno West Shore where the hoped for Snow Bunting was nowhere to be found sadly but still plenty to see and lovely views across the bay to the Great Orme and beyond.

A busy day on the 14th with plenty of birds around the hotel first thing including two Woodcock flying over the car park. Breakfast was enjoyed watching the bird feeders just outside the window then north to a beautiful historic church where the views were stunning over the Conwy Valley. Lots of birds here too of course, including stunning Northern Lapwing and Redwing showing off in the morning sun.

A short drive north to the Great Orme where we were treated to fantastic views of a pair of Peregrine Falcons and superb close views of Northern Fulmars at the cliffs. A male Stonechat posed in the sun and at one point perched of the 30 miles per hour speed limit sign. We also watched Atlantic grey seals and the famous Great Orme goats and as we left five Red-billed Chough swooped over.

We called in at RSPB Conwy where not as many birds as usual as a lot of maintained work had been going on at the reserve. But we did enjoy a decent selection of ducks and close views of Little Grebes. The feeders were busy with “garden birds” and the views across to the mountains beautiful. A Scaup showed briefly as did a Water Rail and two Goldcrest posed in the path side bushes. We enjoyed a lovely, long, lunch at the Aber Falls Distillery before spending the rest of the afternoon at Aber Ogwen where the hide provides views of the estuary and a wooded pool. A Kingfisher really showed off for us here with multiple sightings of this so stunning little bird – frame filling in the Leica telescopes. Out on the estuary were lots of birds to see including Greenshank, Bar-tailed Godwit, Eider, Great Crested Grebes and lots of Oystercatchers and Dunlin a wonderful place.

On the 15th we headed east and our stop was at Pensarn beach where we watched masses of Common Scoter on the calm sea. Careful scanning produced other species amongst the flocks of scoter including Red-breasted Mergansers, Red-throated Divers and Great Crested Grebes.

Then further east to the Dee Estuary where we scanned Burton Marsh and were soon rewarded with views of Peregrine, Marsh Harrier, Sparrowhawk and Kestrel along with Great Egrets and lots of waders and ducks. A hot dink went down well as it was chilly despite the lovely winter sunshine.

After lunch we visited Parkgate Marsh where a stunning Barn Owl really showed off for us backwards and forwards in the beautiful sunshine just wow! More Marsh Harriers here with at least five birds enjoyed and great views of Pink-footed Geese and at least six Great Egrets – remember when they used to rare?

Last stop of the day was at Neston Marsh where we were entertained by at least three stunning Short-eared Owls what a fantastic finale to a bird filled day. The owls really put on a show two even fighting in mid-air going high over the marsh.

On the 16th we spent the whole day on the island of Anglesey and our first stop was at a flooded field near Valley. This small wetland held a flock of Black-tailed Godwits which we enjoyed super views of and a nice selection of ducks. Just up the road we stopped to overlook Beddmanarch Bay and there were lots of birds. Pale-bellied Brent Geese were feeding very close to our position and we enjoyed super views of these lovely winter visitors all the way from Arctic Canada. Lots of waders were here too along with Red-breasted Mergansers, Great Crested Grebes and a wonderful Great Northern Diver – a super spot.


Red-billed Chough are such wonderful birds and we just about always enjoy them on our tours.

Another short drive took us to RSPB South Stack where we enjoyed watching Red-billed Chough swoop through the air calling along with their much larger cousins Ravens. We were very lucky indeed to watch a large pod of bottle nose dolphins close below the cliffs moving slowly south. These big animals allowed us plenty of time to enjoy them and Chris took some great photos. We walked up to the cliffs above the stunning lighthouse to admire the view before returning to the car park.

Then we drove down to Holyhead Harbour where we soon found the bird we hoped to see – Black Guillemot. Not one but at least six of these scarce auks were watched diving for fish around the clam waters of the harbour. We also watched a colourful Grey Wagtail, Grey Heron, Curlew and super views of Shags here.

Next we headed to nearby Valley where we enjoyed a really lovely lunch at Catch 22 finished off with delicious mince pies. We spent the afternoon at The Dingle a wooded valley where red squirrels were the main attraction and these delightful mammals put on a real show coming so close. Many photographs were taken of these most lovely mammals before the light faded. Plenty of birds here to of course including Treecreeper, Nuthatch, Great-spotted Woodpecker and Jay all enjoyed at close range.

Great Grey Shrike Holme NOA

A Great Grey Shrike always a real thrill to see these rare and beautiful birds.

On the 17th, our last day, we took a short drive from Trefriw to look for Hawfinches at a site by the Conwy Valley. A friend of ours John was already there and had literally just seen two moments before we arrived but had moved out of sight, frustrating. We waited a while but no sign of the big finches so we headed south to the Clocaenog Forest and first stop was the visitor centre to use the loos and see the birds on the feeders. Next we drove a little way into the forest to look for a Great Grey Shrike. We had seen this rare bird on the previous week’s tour so we knew where to look and Iolo almost immediately spotted the shrike on a bare tree. Panic to get the scopes set up and everyone to see this wonderful bird but no need the bird showed off nicely and everyone had plenty of time to enjoy this smart black, grey and white winter visitor. Then back to the visitor centre to warm up with hot chocolates and watch beautiful Bramblings on the feeders.

Heading back we stopped near the upland village of Nebo and were lucky to see a Dipper on the stream here along with a Grey Wagtail. Our luck held as we called back at the Hawfinch site near the hotel and we all had great views of a Hawfinch feeding in a yew tree what a way to end a trip. Back to the hotel for a lovely lunch finished off with birthday cake! It was Jenny’s birthday and Janice had made a lovely cake and the hotel made special whiskey and heather ice-cream to accompany it and it was all so good! We had enjoyed 110 species of birds and some lovely encounters with special mammals huge thanks to all and everyone at the Princes Arms Hotel for making it such a lovely tour.

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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