Iolo Williams North Wales Wildlife Tour With Birdwatching Trips 2 To 6 October 2023

Our lovely group with Iolo on the Little Orme at Penrhyn Bay watching Chough and Atlantic grey seals.

We always look forward to our tours with our great friend Iolo Williams, that bloke off the telly, as we always enjoy so much wildlife and a lot of laughs and learn a lot.

Spotted Redshank Sept Titchwell 1

A visit to RSPB Conwy produced sightings of two Spotted Redshank - library picture.

We all met at the Princes Arms Hotel in the Conwy Valley in time for lunch on the first day of the tour. Pat and John, Dave, Lyn, Katherine, and John were looking forward to five days of wildlife watching. After lunch we headed north the short distance to RSPB Conwy where it was high tide so lots of birds on the shallow lagoons. Highlights here included great looks at a juvenile Garganey, rare birds in North Wales, a high count of sixteen Greenshank, two beautiful Spotted Redshanks amongst a flock of Common Redshank and lots more. On the way back to the hotel we stopped off at a beautiful 13th century church overlooking the Conwy Valley. Lots of birds here in the ancient yew trees but the rain came in making it tricky to see them well. Both Mistle and Song Thrushes were feeding here, a Nuthatch here too. Red Kites soared over the valley along with plenty of Ravens. Meadow Pipits and Linnets fed in the field south of the church. Back at the hotel we gathered in the bar at 6.30pm to go through the days sightings and then enjoyed a wonderful dinner, great start. Each evening we reviewed the days sightings and had wonderful food and lots of laughs.

On the 3rd of October, after a superb breakfast, we headed for the Isle of Anglesey. First stop was RSPB Cors Ddyga where we walked the track down towards the Cefni River. We had come to look for the Red-necked Phalarope, that we had seen on the 1st and hoped it would be still here. Luckily our friend Gareth was on site and had seen the bird a few minutes before we arrived. We scanned the area where Gareth had seen it but no sign, where was it? Then Iolo picked it out, whew, it was tricky to see amongst the vegetation but with patience and persistence everyone had a good look through the telescopes at this lovely tiny wader. A Garganey was on the same flood along with lots of Teal, Wigeon, Shoveler and a few Gadwall. A flock of Greylag Geese flew over and we were very surprised to see a drake Mandarin flying with them!

We then headed to Beddmanarch Bay where it was windy, and the tide was just about high, so not much exposed mud for waders, but we did see a family of Pale-bellied Brent Geese, Great crested Grebes, Little Egrets and Shags.

Red-billed Chough are popular birds on our North Wales Tours - come and see.

A short drive took us to RSPB South Stack where it was wild! A gale force wind made it tricky to stand up straight and of course tricky to see birds. The scenery was spectacular, and we did find Red-billed Choughs in the fields and riding the wind over the cliffs – always a thrill to watch. Ravens also seemed to love the gale and we marvelled at their control and aerobatics. A few Northern Gannets battled past over the sea but little else out there, so we headed for lunch. Ocean Edge Restaurant at Treaddur Bay was excellent with great service and food.

Red Squirrel June 2017 1

And also very popular are red squirrels especially when just a few feet away!

After a lovely meal we visited an area of woodland and met up with a friend of ours Hugh – who Iolo calls the “red squirrel whisperer” – and we were treated to an amazing encounter with these most beautiful of animals. Huw is “the” man when it comes to Anglesey red squirrels and a fount of knowledge, and he loves to share it. Cameras and mobile phones were busy taking super images as the animals came so very close. Plenty of woodland birds here too with wonderful views of Nuthatches, Jays and Long-tailed Tits. A wonderful afternoon that left us all thrilled with ear-to-ear smiles.

On the 4th of October we headed east to the Dee Estuary and first stop was at Burton Marsh. This vast area of saltmarsh was still flooded from recent huge tides and there were lots of birds out there. A huge flock of Canada Geese were feeding close to the track and amongst them four Egyptian Geese, weird looking birds. Further out were at least four Great Egrets and a Marsh Harrier quartered the marsh flushing flocks of Northern Pintail, Eurasian Wigeon and Teal. Meadow Pipits and Skylarks flew over along with wonderful skeins of Pink-footed Geese making their beautiful “wink-wink” calls, autumn has arrived!

At nearby RSPB Burton Mere Wetlands, we enjoyed hot drinks and then a lovely walk, in sunshine, to the border hide and back. At the “bridge pond” there were loads of ducks and they were very nervous, taking flight and circling around to land and then take flight again. Then we saw why! A Peregrine was flying over us carrying a still flapping Teal. What a sight. At the Border Hide the light was perfect but there weren’t many birds as the Peregrine had flushed all the waders. We scanned the wet grassland and were pleased to see four Cattle Egrets feeding amongst the ponies – so horse egrets. A Stock Dove landed on a bare patch of ground, and we enjoyed lovely views in the scopes, a lovely looking bird when see well in good light. Then a flock of waders dropped in onto the pool, mostly Common Redshank but amongst them were four juvenile Ruff and a single Black-tailed Godwit. Again, the superb light allowed the best possible views through the top of the range telescopes and good to talk through the identification features. All to soon it was time to head back to the car park and head for lunch.

We headed up the estuary a little way to Parkgate and the Boathouse Restaurant, which overlooks the marsh the perfect place for wildlife watchers to enjoy their lunch. The food was wonderful, and we watched Marsh Harriers, three Spoonbills, Black-tailed Godwits, and more Pink-footed Geese as we ate. The wind was really strong after lunch and made birding difficult, but we did enjoy more views of the Spoonbills and a brief view of a Curlew Sandpiper and a speedy Merlin tearing over the marsh. A Kestrel was much more obliging, and we watched it catch a vole close to the promenade.

We made one stop on the way back to the hotel, at Llanddulas Beach where we again battled the wind. But we did see hundreds of Common Scoter offshore and a fly over Grey Wagtail.

Celebrating a great win at breakfast for Newcastle United in the Champions League - Lindsay the hotel owner is a massive fan!

On the 5th we woke up to rain and more wind, not good. Breakfast was leisurely and we then headed north towards the coast hoping for better weather. Luckily, by the time we reached Great Orme the rain had stopped, and we were sheltered from the westerly wind. We watched Ruddy Turnstones on the pier, Shags and Common Guillemots on the sea as Gannets cruised by offshore. Three Atlantic grey seals bobbed about below the cliffs. Then it all got a lot more exciting, a Peregrine Falcon tore overhead and luckily landed on the cliffs above us. The telescopes were quickly trained on this majestic raptor and frame filling views were enjoyed! A real wow moment. We also watched the famous Great Orme goats, a Stonechat, and a flighty Rock Pipit. Further around the headland we watched more Atlantic grey seals hauled out on a rocky beach. As we enjoyed these large mammals another Peregrine flew over and again landed in view in great light and we soaked up more frame filling views. We also watched a Kestrel battle the gale and more Gannets sweep past. Time for tea and cake when the weather is this bad and we tucked into great cakes and hot drinks at the “Rest and Be Thankful” Café.

The wind was gale force with heavy rain showers so we sought places where we could still see birds despite the awful weather. At Llanfairfechan we sheltered in a pavilion and managed to see some great birds. A large flock of Sandwich Terns where on the sands here, getting late for so many birds to be still with us. Waders included huge numbers of Oystercatchers, Ruddy Turnstones, Common Redshank, Eurasian Curlew and two Bar-tailed Godwits. Offshore we managed to pick out Red-breasted Mergansers, Gannets and Shags.

Enjoying a lovely lunch at Dylan's Resturant in Menai Bridge overlooking the Menai Strait.

Next, we tried the layby between the two bridges over the Menai Straits, on the Anglesey side. Sadly, the wind was still brutal here but we did have lovely close views of Curlew in the field just below us, a gang of Goosander on the sea along with Little Egret, Grey Herons, Shags, and a Little Grebe. A short drive took us to Menai Bridge where we enjoyed a lovely lunch at Dylan’s Restaurant overlooking the Menai Strait – it was so nice to be out of the wind.

Lackford Kingfisher 7

Always a real thrill to have a close encounter with a Kingfisher - smiles all round.

After our lovely meal we re-crossed the Menai Strait onto the mainland and visited the Ogwen Estuary, here a hide overlooks the estuary from one side and a pool from the opposite side. This is a perfect place on a wild October afternoon with lots to see from a sheltered spot. We have the perfect start to our afternoon with a gorgeous Kingfisher posing so close to the hide a real wow moment. This stunning little bird showed on and off during our stay in the hide. We also enjoyed comparing Goosander with close by Red-breasted Mergansers, watched Common Eiders in the bay, six Greenshank joined a large roost of Common Redshank, a flock of sixteen Black-tailed Godwits “fell” out of the sky dropping down to the estuary – migration happening! We were also able to look carefully at gulls, joy for Iolo who calls them all “chip eating seagulls”, we had Black-headed, Common, Herring and Great black backed Gulls all in view at close range. There are bird feeders just outside the hide too and lovely to have such close views of the birds including Coal Tits and Goldfinches. So many Little Egrets between the estuary and the pool with at least eighty birds in view. Little Grebes were feeding on the pool and the estuary where Great Crested Grebes were showing well. A lovely dry and sheltered place to enjoy birds.

With no rain on the way back to the hotel we made a brief stop at Llanfairfechan, this time at an area of saltmarsh west of the village. Lots of birds here including hundreds of Curlew and amongst them six Bar-tailed Godwits. Emily, our sharp-eyed driver, spotted a Northern Wheatear on the edge of the marsh a great record. Skylarks and Linnets were on the marsh too and plenty of ducks – Northern Pintail, Eurasian Wigeon and Teal.

On the 6th of October, our last morning, we awoke to torrential rain and the Conwy River below the hotel starting to flood the adjacent fields. We had hoped to head into the mountains this morning but no point in these awful conditions. By the time we had enjoyed another wonderful breakfast the rain had eased, and it looked brighter towards the coast, so we headed that way.

At Rhos-on-Sea the rain had all but stopped and we scanned the beach, here we spotted Dunlin, Ringed Plover, Ruddy Turnstones, Curlew, Redshank and Oystercatchers. Just offshore a Razorbill showed well, and a few Gannets were passing along with Cormorants and Shags. A very short drive took us to the Little Orme where it was brightening up and we were sheltered from the wind. A surprising number of birds in the bushes below the cliffs here, perhaps like us enjoying being out of the wind. Two Chiffchaffs and two lovely Stonechats showed well along with Song Thrushes, Blackbirds, Robins, Wrens, Dunnocks, Greenfinches, Chaffinches, Goldfinches. The bay here held a large number of Atlantic grey seals, and we enjoyed wonderful views of them. There were two white pups amongst the adults some of which were making wonderful wailing calls. The big bull seals sparred on the edge of the water as other animals got out of their way. Then two Red-billed Chough came swooping over the bay! Luckily these super corvids landed on the cliffs and enjoyed fantastic views through the telescopes, always a thrill to see. Lots of Shags and Cormorants were hauled out on the rocks here – great to compare the two species. Offshore more Gannets were passing, and more seals bobbed about.

With weather better we decided to head back to the Conwy Valley and try Caerhun Church again which can be a good place to look for birds of prey. We scanned the whole area and it really paid off after a slow start. First a few a Peregrine Falcon flew low overhead, then Common Buzzards soared over the valley, soon followed by Red Kites, Iolo spotted a female Marsh Harrier – rare bird here – then John picked out a Sparrowhawk, but the highlight was a Goshawk over the ridge opposite the church a real wow bird as always. What a way to end the trip, fantastic.

Back at the hotel we enjoyed a lovely lunch before everyone headed for home. A wonderful group of guests and a huge thanks to Pat and John, Dave, Lyn, Katherine, and John for their company and we do hope they can join us again soon. Also, a huge thanks to all at the Princes Arms Hotel, Trefriw for making our stay so wonderful and the delicious food!

We have the following exciting Birdwatching Trips coming up in 2024 we would love you to join us.

February - Best of North Wales Birdwatching Trip, Saturday 17th - Wednesday 21st February 2024 - four places available

April - Extremadura, Spain with Iolo Williams, Sunday 28th April - Friday 3rd May 2024 - three places available due to a cancellation.

June - Best of North Wales Birdwatching Trip, Saturday 15th - Wednesday 19th June 2024 - four places available

September - Best of North Wales Birdwatching Trip, Saturday 7th - Wednesday 11th September 2024, four places available

November - Iolo Williams North Wales Wildife Tour, Monday 25th - Friday 29th November 2024, three places available

December - Winter Wildlife of North Wales with Iolo Williams, Monday 9th - Friday 13th December 2024, four places available.

We run our Birdwatching Trips throughout the year a mix of set departure tours and custom-made trips perfect for you! To book your custom tour or any of our set departure trips please email us here….

We can then make all the arrangements for your perfect Birdwatching Trips tour.

Contact us

* * *



Our Tweets

This site uses cookies to store information on your computer. See our Cookie Policy for further details on how to block cookies.
I am happy with this


What is a Cookie

A cookie, also known as an HTTP cookie, web cookie, or browser cookie, is a piece of data stored by a website within a browser, and then subsequently sent back to the same website by the browser. Cookies were designed to be a reliable mechanism for websites to remember things that a browser had done there in the past, which can include having clicked particular buttons, logging in, or having read pages on that site months or years ago.

NOTE : It does not know who you are or look at any of your personal files on your computer.

Why we use them

When we provide services, we want to make them easy, useful and reliable. Where services are delivered on the internet, this sometimes involves placing small amounts of information on your device, for example, your computer or mobile phone. These include small files known as cookies. They cannot be used to identify you personally.

These pieces of information are used to improve services for you through, for example:

  • recognising that you may already have given a username and password so you don’t need to do it for every web page requested
  • measuring how many people are using services, so they can be made easier to use and there’s enough capacity to ensure they are fast
  • analysing anonymised data to help us understand how people interact with our website so we can make them better

You can manage these small files and learn more about them from the article, Internet Browser cookies- what they are and how to manage them

Learn how to remove cookies set on your device

There are two types of cookie you may encounter when using our site :

First party cookies

These are our own cookies, controlled by us and used to provide information about usage of our site.

We use cookies in several places – we’ve listed each of them below with more details about why we use them and how long they will last.

Third party cookies

These are cookies found in other companies’ internet tools which we are using to enhance our site, for example Facebook or Twitter have their own cookies, which are controlled by them.

We do not control the dissemination of these cookies. You should check the third party websites for more information about these.

Log files

Log files allow us to record visitors’ use of the site. The CMS puts together log file information from all our visitors, which we use to make improvements to the layout of the site and to the information in it, based on the way that visitors move around it. Log files do not contain any personal information about you. If you receive the HTML-formatted version of a newsletter, your opening of the newsletter email is notified to us and saved. Your clicks on links in the newsletter are also saved. These and the open statistics are used in aggregate form to give us an indication of the popularity of the content and to help us make decisions about future content and formatting.