Two Day Custom Birdwatching Trips Tour In North Wales 11 And 12 June 2021

A wonderful photo of a Sandwich Tern taken by Richard on his two day custom tour.

Richard had booked a trip with us but sadly the pandemic led to a cancellation, he re-booked and again the trip was cancelled due to the pandemic! So third time lucky we all hoped and thankfully this time the tour could go ahead. As Richard had been messed about so much, through no one’s fault, we felt really bad and were able to arrange a two day custom tour just for him! As if turned out this worked very well indeed as Richard had set himself a target of 200 species of birds to see in 2021 – given he has a very busy work life not any easy thing to achieve – but it did mean we could target birds missing from his list.

Day one Alan picked up Richard from his Llandudno hotel at 8am and headed for Anglesey, in Llandudno the weather was grey but bright but on the Isle of Anglesey it was foggy. Not good, at Holyhead the fog was even thicker so a plan “B” was needed, no South Stack but Holyhead Harbour instead. Stepping from the car three Black Guillemots were instantly seen! Not only a new bird for Richard’s 2021 list but a species he had not seen ever before, what a wonderful start. These dapper auks were in the mood to show off with seven birds enjoyed one of which came amazingly close and Richard took some super photos. As Richard was taking the pictures Alan scanned the bay for any other birds and got a real surprise – Manx Shearwaters! We have never seen this species at this location before, perhaps confused by the fog and coming close to shore? Richard got onto these “lost” seabirds straight away, amazing eyesight he has, and was thrilled as these were also a new species for him as well as another addition to his 2021 list an amazing start to his trip.

What a wonderful start to the two day trip - Black Guillemot - a new bird for Richard.

The fog looked like it might be burning off so RSPB South Stack next but out on the cliffs if anything the fog was thicker so no birds at all seen, time for another change of plan. Luckily at Cemlyn Lagoon no fog just a gale force wind! But at least birds were visible and superb views of Sandwich, Common and Arctic Terns were enjoyed and Richard was able to take some super photos. A very unexpected sighting here was a flock of 22 Kittiwakes resting on the lagoon perhaps again a result of the bad weather? Out on the nearby headland lots of Manx Shearwaters were whizzing past in the strong wind and providing great views of these ocean wanderers, another surprise here too with a Whimbrel stood next to a Curlew on a rock offshore, very few June records of Whimbrel in North Wales. Just time for a quick visit to RSPB Valley Lakes before lunch where the wind was making it tough to see birds but great views of Sedge Warbler were enjoyed along with Little and Great Crested Grebes and the joy of listening to singing Skylarks. A lovely lunch was enjoyed at Catch 22 – many thanks Richard for picking up the bill very kind indeed.

We enjoyed wonderful views of Arctic Terns and Richard took some wonderful photos.

Back to RSPB South Stack in the hope the fog had lifted, well it had a little, so a walk to the view point was worth a try. From the cliff top it was just possible to see the nearest cliff where Razorbills and Common Guillemots were just visible but sadly no Puffins in the limited view. A Red-billed Chough called and luckily landed close enough to see in the fog, just, and later two more of these lovely corvids flew past. Stonechats, Linnets and a Rock Pipit were easier to see and we looked at the endemic plant on the cliff edge – spatulate fleawort.

At RSPB Cors Ddyga no fog but still windy but some great birds to enjoy with a pair of Marsh Harriers hunting over the reserve, three Black-tailed Godwits, Curlews, Lapwing, Shoveler, Little Egrets and more wonderful singing Skylarks.

Just time for a quick stop on the mainland on route back to Llandudno at Aber Ogwen where a flock of Common Eider were lovely to see and Goosander were also new for the day list. Unusually for June eight Great Crested Grebes were on the sea here perhaps failed breeding birds back already? It had been a really great fun day, despite the fog, and a lot of wonderful birds enjoyed.

Day two and Alan picked up Richard at 7am, great thing about custom tours we can be very flexible with arrangements. A couple of minutes later and Northern Fulmars were flying just above on the Great Orme. A Black Guillemot was on the calm sea and best of all two Red-billed Chough flew in – without fog! Further around the headland masses of seabirds were at the cliffs Common Guillemots, Razorbills, Cormorants, Shags, Kittiwakes all enjoyed and two Gannets cruised offshore what a wonderful place. Two Peregrine Falcons were also seen here, one carrying prey and one chasing a Herring Gull so exciting to see these masters of the sky. Ravens flapped by as Rock Pipits displayed in the still air what a wonderful start to the day this was.

Then a complete change of habitat and scenery, climbing up into the mountains of Snowdonia, not far away at all but what a different place from the Great Orme. Up in the hills it was a lot cooler and more layers were quickly pulled on before the scanning for birds could begin. Two target birds at this location Whinchat and Ring Ouzel. Luckily a pair of Whinchat popped up close to the car park and gave wonderful views but no sign of any ouzels. More scanning seeing lots of Meadow Pipits and plenty of Stonechats and then a Ring Ouzel! This mountain thrush was fairly close just below a stone wall but as luck would have it just at that moment a dog walker came right along the wall and flushed the Ouzel! But a good view had been enjoyed though a longer one would have been very nice indeed, but Ring Ouzels are always tricky to find so very happy indeed.

It was a real highlight to enjoy super close views of Pied Flycatchers - photo by Richard.

Next a look for Dipper but no luck on this occasion but a lovely male Grey Wagtail was a treat to see. Nearby beautiful woodland provided stunning views of a pair of Pied Flycatchers and Richard took some cracking photos of these classic Welsh birds. A brunch went down very well at a café and thank you, again, Richard for picking up the bill much appreciated.

Another change of habitat as oak woodland was swapped for upland conifer woodlands and a lot of scanning for raptors. Many Common Buzzards were up soaring over the forest along with a Red Kite, Sparrowhawk and Kestrel but sadly the hoped for Goshawk did not show. Nearby great view of Siskins and Coal Tits then a stop at another view point where finally a Goshawk showed! Always a fantastic thrill to see these muscular raptors and luckily this female soared slowly up over the forest allowing plenty of time to really soak up the views and discuss the identification features. At the next stop a Tree Pipit showed well posing on a dead branch and wonderful views of more Siskins and Lesser Redpolls which Richard was able to photograph.

Wonderful views of Lesser Redpolls in the uplands of North Wales - photo by Richard.

Rolling moorland next and lots more scanning, not many birds up here but the ones that are here are pretty special. Three Eurasian Curlews strode through the grass, such a rare breeding birds these days sadly. Then Richard spotted two raptors over a heather covered ridge, first one a Common Buzzard but the second was just what we had hoped for a gorgeous adult male Hen Harrier! This was a new bird for Richard and so lucky to see a male for your first Hen Harrier and what a lovely setting to enjoy this stunning raptor.

As always on our Birdwatching Trips tours the time had flown by and it was time to head back to Llandudno it had been a brilliant two days with Richard enjoying so many birds and lots of laughs. We really hope we can enjoy more birds together in the future, come and join more of our tours soon!

Of course a wonderful way to see more birds is to join one of our Birdwatching Trips and learn a lot about the birds you are enjoying too. We have tours suitable for all from beginners to experienced birders that are seeking particular species. Just drop us a line here and we can arrange a perfect custom tour for you!

We look forward to enjoying wonderful birds with you as soon as it is safe.

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