Three Day Custom “Tour for Two” In North Wales 28 – 30 September 2020

Firecrest Cornwall Oct 7

Andy and Sue have been with us before so it was lovely to welcome them to Llandudno and North Wales again. We met them outside their B&B, The Stella Guest House here in Llandudno, at 9am and set off west. First stop was at Llanfairfechan where we watched Red-throated Divers, Great Crested Grebes and Eider offshore. On the beach were a mix flock of waders roosting over the high tide, mostly Oystercatchers but a careful look revealed Ringed Plover, Dunlin and Turnstones amongst the larger waders.

At RSPB Cors Ddyga on Anglesey we searched for the Glossy Ibis but sadly no sign and no sign since. Plenty of birds to enjoy here of course and we had stunning views of a male Marsh Harrier hunting over the wet fields. So many Common Snipe here they just kept on flying up from the marsh and then dropping back down and we enjoyed some lovely views of some of them on the ground. Lots of wildfowl here too and great to see and hear Skylarks. It was good to chat with several local birdwatchers too though none had seen the Glossy Ibis sadly.

Heading east we stopped overlooking the Menai Straits to take in the wonderful views of the two bridges connecting the Isle of Anglesey with the mainland and the mountains of Snowdonia beyond. Then on to the lovely town of Beaumaris where we all admired the castle before enjoying a superb lunch at the Black Bull Inn.

Red Squirrel Anagach 1

Always lovely to enjoy mammals on our tours along with all the amazing birds.

The weather went downhill in the afternoon with low cloud and drizzle but we kept going. First stop after lunch was to watch a lovely red squirrel, something that Sue requested before the tour, and we all loved this beautiful animal that posed for us. At a nearby pool Sue was able to take some great photos of Black-tailed Godwits feeding close to the road and allowing close approach. At Penmon Point the weather was even worse with driving rain and it was almost impossible to see birds but the priory was interesting to see.

Luckily the weather on day two was much better so some pre-breakfast birding was had on the nearby Great Orme, Llandudno. A flock of Chough treated us to a lovely display and Stonechats seemed to be everywhere enjoying the sunshine.

After breakfast a short drive took us too RSPB Conwy where the sun shone it felt really warm, perfect. No doubting the highlight here a beautiful gem of a bird - a Firecrest! This little beauty was busy feeding with two Goldcrests in a willow tree in the sunshine what a wonderful thrill to see this rare Firecrest so well. On the lagoons here we watched Great White Egret next to Little Egret and roosting waders included Spotted Redshank, Bar-tailed Godwits, Dunlin and many Common Redshank. The sun was lovely and warm and no wind perfect to enjoy the birds and stunning views of Snowdonia.

Next stop we enjoyed wonderful prolonged views of Dipper in a fast flowing stream and unusually for this species it just stood there as we admired it. Great thing about custom tours is that we can spend as long as our guests want at each bird and or location and Sue was able to take photos of the Dipper and then walk away leaving the Dipper in full view – not often that happens Dippers are usually rather shy. Andy and Sue had asked if we could have lunch at one of our favourite locations – Tu Hwnt Tir Bont Tearoom in Llanrwst – and of course we thought that a splendid idea and we all tucked into delicious food including carrot cake voted best in the world!

After our wonderful lunch that included watching Red Kite, Common Buzzard and Sparrowhawk we set off to see a Neolithic burial chamber that Andy and Sue had seen on one of our previous blogs and had asked to visit. This historic site is very scenic indeed with beautiful views across the mountains of Snowdonia. Of course we saw birds here too and were delighted to see our first Redwings of the autumn feeding on rowan berries along with Mistle Thrushes and Song Thrushes.

Next we headed back to the North Wales coast for another “request site” on this three day custom “Tour for Two” and the Little Orme near Penrhyn Bay. The main reason to visit here was to look for Atlantic grey seals and luckily five of these big mammals were out of the water showing off nicely. Through the telescopes we could see every detail of each animal and wonderful to see. A lovely day with lots of variety and great birds!

The weather forecast for day three of Andy and Sue’s “Tour for Two” was grim so we decided against pre-breakfast birding and picked them up at 9am from their B&B. Luckily we know where to go if the weather is a bit “iffy” and soon we were in a lovely dry sheltered hide watching great birds. The seaward hide at Aber Ogwen overlooks the Ogwen Estuary on one side and a woodland pool on the other so lots to see. Even better there are feeders on the pool side of the hide which were busy with birds. The perfect place to spend some time on a grim morning; on the feeders we were able to enjoy close up views of Nuthatch, Siskin and Great Spotted Woodpecker along with lots of tits and finches. These feeders and the close birds they attracted allowed Sue to take some great photos an added bonus. On the pool we had two views of Kingfisher but perhaps the strong wind kept it from sitting on its usual perches close to the hide. Out on the estuary there were so many birds taking advantage of the relative calm in the bay and we had great views of Razorbills – rare birds at this location – Goosanders, Red-breasted Mergansers, Eider, masses of Wigeon, the “resident” Whooper Swan showed off nicely and a Common Sandpiper pottered along the shore right past this huge swan. Seven Greenshank were roosting on the shore with 54 Little Egrets only a few years ago numbers like this of Little Egrets would be unthinkable in North Wales.

Wonderful to see Pale-bellied Brent Geese back at their North Wales wintering grounds.

We then headed over to Caernarfon and enjoyed a lovely lunch before heading down to Foryd Bay – a huge shallow tidal area teaming with birds. A Greenshank was feeding with a Common Redshank in a creek right by the road and Sue was able to take some photos of this so often shy wader. We set the scopes up and scanned the estuary and it was a case of where to look first so many birds out there! Masses of Wigeon were on the shoreline here and amongst them plenty of Pintail some of which were starting to look rather smart after their autumn moult. A flock of swans further out proved to be five Whooper Swans amongst a gang of Mute Swans – wonderful to see these newly arrived migrants. A first-winter Mediterranean Gull was amongst masses of gulls in the river outflow and we also picked out a first-winter Yellow-legged Gull and a weird looking very pale Black-headed Gull. Waders here included Black-tailed Godwit, Bar-tailed Godwit, Greenshank, Common Redshank and Dunlin and further out many Pale-bellied Brent Geese, new in from Arctic Canada – a wonderful spot just to stand and take in all the birds visible.

We then explored the area out to the west, around Dinas Dinlle but the strong wind made birding difficult and we did not see many birds. Lapwings and Curlews were on the damp fields and a few Skylarks whizzed past blown by the wind and a flock of Linnets showed off by the roadside. We then returned to Foryd Bay and took the minor road that runs north on the east side of the bay. Here we enjoyed more great views of the Pale-bellied Brent Geese and waders and wildfowl in the sunshine, very different weather from this morning. Super views of Caernarfon Castle as we headed back west and we stopped for a photo shoot.

In the evening we joined Andy and Sue for a wonderful meal at Osbourne House Restaurant here in Llandudno many thanks for the lovely meal and the great company over the last three days. We look forward to enjoying lots more birds with Andy and Sue in the future.

Come and join us for a “Tour for Two” – small group, tailor made itinerary, low risk in these COVID-19 times and of course lots of birds and an excellent chance of enjoying them all. Do drop us a line and we can make all the arrangements be it a day trip, two days, three day as long a tour as you wish.

We are so lucky to have so many species and habitats within easy reach here in North Wales we would love you to join us for one of our Best of North Wales Birdwatching Trips days out. We expect to enjoy a lot of birds during these relaxed pace tours and we can tailor make the day to suit you.

We would love you to join us on our Birdwatching Trips in the future just drop us a line to arrange a custom tour and please see our tours pages for set departure trips. If you have any questions at all please fire away here….

We look forward to enjoying wonderful birds in beautiful places with you soon!

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