Biggest Twitch
Biggest Twitch
Biggest Twitch
Biggest Twitch
Biggest Twitch
Biggest Twitch
Biggest Twitch
Biggest Twitch
Biggest Twitch
Biggest Twitch
Biggest Twitch
Biggest Twitch
Biggest Twitch
Biggest Twitch
Biggest Twitch

Question: where do you go in North Wales to see good birds in sunshine and out of the wind? Answer: Caerhun Churchyard, that’s where.  The birding morning started at Pensarn once again looking for the Surf Scoters. Light conditions were great, and despite the choppy waters, the views of the nine Velvet Scoter amongst the Commons were clear and detailed, but despite extensive scanning, there was no sign of the more elusive Surf Scoters. At least four Twite hopped about on the sea wall together with a gang of Linnets.Next we turned inland and drove up the Conwy valley.  The tops of the highest hills were still covered in snow, and in shady corners, the frost coated the bushes and grass.  Stopping at Tal-y-Cafn, we walked out onto the bridge to check the river banks. A couple of skittish Common Redshank sounded the alarm at our arrival, but that didn’t seem to bother the Common Sandpiper which bobbed and weaved its way along the shoreline, nor the Little Grebe which dived underwater before bursting up onto the surface like a buoyant bath duck.  No doubt the Common Sandpiper was glad of the warmth in the sunshine, seeing as it should by rights be somewhere altogether warmer in Africa right now.By now the knife-edged north-east wind had started to pick up, blowing straight up the river and cutting through our clothing. So we jumped back into the car and drove up the hill to Caerhun Churchyard, a picturesque spot overlooking the river with hopefully some shelter from that bitter wind too. We were right. The ancient stone walls surrounding the churchyard created a much milder microclimate, and drifts of delicate snowdrops with drooping white heads massed amongst the slate gravestones, making the ideal subject for the photographer prepared to throw himself onto his belly for the sake of art. Setting up the scope, we scanned the river: a pair of Goosander and four Goldeneye dived and resurfaced repeatedly, and a gang of Shelduck swam upstream, while Herring and Great Black-backed Gulls gathered on the exposed mudflat and Greylag geese huddled on the bank. We scanned the bright blue sky but there was no sign of any raptors.  We were joined by another birder, Kath, who’d also come to this sheltered spot to thaw out in the sunshine after spending a couple of hours up at nearby Llanbedr-y-Cenin where she’d been watching up to 11 Hawfinches, a real reward for her endurance.  Leaving Kath to her packed lunch in the sunshine, we walked back along the narrow lane that leads to the churchyard, checking the trees and bushes along the way.  A spot of pishing encouraged some Long-tailed Tits in for a closer look, but more excitingly, a Hawfinch paused overhead in the branches of a dead tree before carrying on towards the churchyard.  We followed it back for another look, but as we did, we were distracted by the sight of a raptor cruising over the woodland on the far side of the valley.  A Common Buzzard, but then it was joined by another far more colourful bird, a Red Kite!  As we watched through scope and bins, it came closer and closer until it was circling right above the churchyard, now in the company of five Buzzards, almost a kettle climbing in a thermal.  Kath joined us and together, we all revelled in the great views of the charismatic Red Kite, its dramatic colouring positively glowing in the sunshine. Who could ask for more from their birding?

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