Terrible Weather But Still Wonderful Birds And Great Fun 16 February 2022

Great Grey Shrike 5

Any day you see a Great Grey Shrike, even a distant one, is a great day!

We picked up Saffia and Andy from their self-catering apartment here in Llandudno at 8am and the weather wasn’t too bad considering the dire forecast.

We headed south and the first stop was to look for Hawfinch a most wanted species for Saffia and Andy. No sooner had we got out of the car than a large finch flew across a paddock – looks good – but the bird landed out of sight. Quick panic to move position and the yes there it was in full view in a bare tree a Hawfinch! More panic to get this beautiful bird in the telescopes but luckily the “bull-necked” finch was in the mood to pose despite being blown about by the strong wind. We all had plenty of time to enjoy the views of this very special bird before it flew off low and was lost to view. But more was to come we spotted another Hawfinch this time a female and on the ground! The bird was soon in the telescopes and more wonderful views were enjoyed and great to see on the ground next to Chaffinches, Greenfinches and Goldfinches. As we watched at least four different Hawfinches came down to the ground though always flighty but we enjoyed super views and the colours of the males were stunning their bills turning blue in time for Spring. We also saw Goosander here and nearby lovely views of Red Kites.

Dipper BB

We love watching Dippers - photo by Brian Burnett taken on one of our tours.

Next we headed further south stopping to watch a Dipper nest-building by a fast flowing stream always a delight to watch these super little birds. A brown hare was a nice surprise in a roadside field an animal we don’t get to see often enough. Then up on to the moors were it was wild with strong winds and showers but we stuck to plan “A”. At a viewpoint we scanned the heather moorland and were amazingly lucky spotting the hoped for Great Grey Shrike almost at once! We had not thought we had much chance of seeing this elusive bird given the weather conditions. The shrike moved about the small bare trees on the moor clinging on in the near gale force winds! At one point it was mobbed by a gang of Starlings but the shrike seemed totally unconcerned by the attention. With rain now getting heavier and heavier and the wind even stronger we headed for the nearby visitor centre. As we approach we noticed a flock of birds in a sheep field and stopped to check them. So glad we did it proved to be a big flock of beautiful Fieldfares and amongst them a few Redwings and most unexpectedly in an open grass field a gang of gorgeous Brambling! What a treat to see all these Scandinavian winter visitors in one place! Sadly the visitor centre was closed so thoughts of hot drinks and cake were put on hold but we did enjoy lovely views of Siskins and Coal Tits here.

We have a favourite place to try and see Goshawks, which has been very productive for sightings recently, so we headed there next. Sadly the weather was terrible lashing rain and high winds, Alan did try scanning just in case but just got soaked and didn’t see a single bird let alone a Goshawk. A bit further into the forest we did manage to have wonderful close views of Brambling including some stunning males! Also a lots more Siskins and Coal Tits but the weather was just horrid, we tried one more spot where we had brief views of Common Crossbills before admitting defeat and heading for lunch.

After lunch and drying out somewhat we headed back towards the coast in now real gale force winds and heavy rain. A brief stop overlooking RSPB Conwy added a good number of species to our day list but not much fun in the awful weather.

The east side of the Great Orme we thought might provide some shelter from the terrible conditions but it didn’t help that much! But we kept going and had good views of a pair of Common Eider close inshore along with Shags, Common Guillemots, Turnstones and a fly-by Kittiwake. A Rock Pipit gave really close views feeding at the base of the cliffs on the roadside and we braved the gale for a quick look at some Atlantic seal hauled out on a beach.

But the weather was really grim so we opted for tea and cake to end the day! Though even here we could watch Curlew and Oystercatchers from the café window so didn’t completely give up on the birds! A really great fun day with lovely company who were amazing in their mental attitude to awful weather – carry on and enjoy the birds! Some really quality birds enjoyed and we look forward to more adventures with Saffia and Andy.

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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