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Best of North Wales Birdwatching Tour 12 January

sun rise RSPB Conwy January

We met at RSPB Conwy at 8am under a spectacular dawn sky, red sky in the morning birders warning? We headed off down the Conwy Valley and soon saw five Hawfinch, great start. Next a Red Kite drifted slowly past us as we enjoyed two Peregrines, which way to look?

Red Kite Jan Caerhun

Back to RSPB Conwy, now light, we racked up lots of new birds including a drake Scaup diving in the deep lagoon along with Tufted Duck, Goldeneye and Pochard.

At Llanfairfechan we quickly found both Red-throated and Great northern Divers, one of the Great northerns was pretty close in and we enjoyed great views through the Leica scopes. A Kittiwake flew low over the sea and we enjoyed amazing views of Great crested Grebes just offshore.

Further along the coast we timed the tide perfectly and enjoyed wonderful views as the tide fell right in front of us. A Greenshank strode through the receding water, an amazing close up of this elegant wader. Offshore a Slavonian Grebe floated near a large raft of Great crested Grebes. More waders dropped in as the mud was exposed, Bar-tailed Godwits, Dunlin and Ringed Plover all showed off. A Spotted Redshank was wading through the river channel alongside Common Redshank, nice to compare the two.

A fast flowing river gave us wonderful views of a Dipper - frame filling in the scope. This dapper Dipper leapt into the icy waters with no fear, a tough little chap! Two Jays also helped boost out list here.

Onto Anglesey and first stop was Beddmanarch Bay, the mud flats were alive with birds! Over one hundred Pale-bellied Brent Geese were feeding close to the road, amazing views of these dainty wildfowl. Grey Plover were at the tides edge amongst more Bar-tailed Godwits and lots of Curlew. The cold was getting to the nether regions and a loo was needed! The loos at the bay were closed so we headed for the village of Valley nearby, as we drove across the causeway Alan spotted a pale gull from the moving car. Emergency stop and we baled out fast and ran to look at the shore where the gull had seemed to land.

We could hardly believe our eyes, a Glaucous Gull! This hulk of a gull was at the edge of the water quite close and we had great views. What a brute of a bird, it towered over the nearby Herring Gulls, but what age was it? It was a very pale bird, being creamy white, much paler than a juvenile bird, yet the bill colur and dark eye pointed to juvenile. An odd plumage but no doubt a Glaucous Gull.

Glaucous Gull Ang 1

Glaucous Gull Ang 2

Glaucous Gull Ang 3

Glaucous Gull Ang 4

Glaucous Gull Ang 5

Glaucous Gull Ang 6

Glaucous Gull Ang 7

Glaucous Gull Ang 8

We quickly alerted other birders to our exciting find, wonderful things mobile phones, sometimes. It wasn't long before we were joined by ace local birder Ken Croft who also soaked up the views of this rare gull. Leaving Ken in charge of the Glaucous Gull we headed off for lunch, oh and that loo!

At RSPB South Stack we soon found a pair of Chough in the fields along the approach road, don't worry we had found a loo before this. The Chough flew towards one of the farms and amazingly one of the Chough landed on a bird table outside the farmhouse! Sadly it only stayed on the bird table briefly, no time to grab the camera, what a picture that would have been!

While we enjoyed our lunch we were able to enjoy more Chough, Ravens and Rock Pipits from the cafe window, not many places you can do that. Warmed by good food we headed out again and down to Holyhead Harbour. We quickly saw Shag and Black Guillemots all showing very well. Two Great northern Divers were great to see again, both Common Guillemot and Razorbill were added to our large list, three auks in one place in January was great. Three Kittiwakes were feeding here and we enjoyed close up looks at Red-breasted Mergansers.

Neil Jayne Alan Jan

At the RSPB Valley Lakes Nature Reserve Ruth quickly picked out a female Long-tailed Duck amongst Goldeneye and Tufted Duck. Great viewss of Shoveler here and plenty of Pochard.

Near Aberffraw we added Sparrowhawk, Fieldfare, Redwing and Common Snipe. Then on to Malltraeth where a beautiful mixed flock of Lapwing and Golden Plover were on the estuary. Pintail were showing nicely on the Cob Pool with more Lapwing and lots of Teal.

In Newbrough, with the light now failing, we added our last bird of the day - a Coal Tit. It had been an amazing day packed with amazing birds in stunning scenery with great company, hard to beat a day like this!

Come and join one of birdwatching days soon, just drop us a line at -

We would to share lots more great birds with you soon.


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