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Biggest Twitch
Biggest Twitch
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Biggest Twitch

The Biggest Twitch enjoys the Citrine Wagtail

An amazing day guiding here in North Wales, and it just goes to show that you shouldn’t let the weather forecast put you off going birding.

We met Alan and Anne early morning at RSPB Conwy and our day got off to an excellent start when almost the first bird we saw on the reserve was a Wood Sandpiper pottering about on the exposed mud. What a bird to find! We checked the lagoons and the reeds and bushes beside the paths before moving on to our next destination further up the Conwy Valley. Not a bad start, one hour into the day and over 40 species including the Wood Sandpiper already on the list.

Wood Sandpiper 2

Wood Sandpiper, found by The Biggest Twitch

Our next stop was further up the Conwy valley and we scanned the skies and scene below us, adding more birds. However, the bird that stole the scene here whizzed right in front of our noses before landing on the ground in full view, just feet away from us. Hawfinch! How amazing to see this chunky charismatic finch on the ground like this, and what a brilliant view!

Then we went up in altitude towards the upland areas driving first through a strip of damp woodland where we enjoyed first the call and then views of the elusive Wood Warbler. Next we rose above the tree level and unfortunately up into the clouds as the rain changed from soft drizzle into efficiently ‘organised rain’. That didn’t stop the birds though as we picked out Stonechats and Wheatears hanging on grimly as they were buffeted by the wind. But our hearts leapt as we saw a grey shape floating across the moorland coming closer and closer. A male Hen Harrier! This magnificent bird took the wind in its stride as it soared elegantly over the heather before disappearing from view.

With the rain now battering against the car like a hosepipe, we turned back to lower levels. We stopped in some upland forest for a damp picnic lunch in the shelter of the trees and added more birds including Tree Pipit and Crossbill to the list. Further on, we encountered Redstart, singing Pied Flycatcher, Spotted Flycatcher, and had amazing views of Garden Warbler, a pair of feeding Dippers with Grey Wagtail alongside.

But as we dropped down into lower altitude and phone reception returned, we heard news of a rather more interesting wagtail in the region: A male Citrine Wagtail was on show back at RSPB Conwy, just where we were headed! Arriving at the reserve, a crowd of birders gave away the bird’s location.

Citrine Twitchers

Citrine scrum!

We hurriedly joined the scrum, and WOW! There it was, a splash of shocking canary yellow pottering along the waterline. This wasn’t any old Citrine Wagtail though, this was an adult male in its prime. We all had great scope views of this extremely rare visitor to the UK.

Citrine Wagtail

Citrine Wagtail, photo by Marc Hughes

What a way to finish our day! Well over 80 species in some tough birding conditions, but some mega birds under the belt. Just as well we hadn’t let a little bit of rain put us off!

Stop Press: Why not join us for the very best in birding? There are still a couple of spaces left on our Seabird Special day tour of Anglesey Tuesday 17th May 2011 if you’d like to join us for a spectacular day out. Email us on for more details.


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