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North Wales: three days of great birds

We were thrilled when Barry and Wendy from Bedfordshire booked a three day custom break with us in North Wales. The third year running they have travelled up to Llandudno for a Spring birdwatching break. Barry and Wendy are great company and share our love of great food so we knew we were in for a lovely few days.

South Stack cliffs windy 2

On day one we headed over to Anglesey, first stop RSPB South Stack and we were thrilled to see the seabird colony in full swing. Ruth soon spotted some Puffins on the sea and through the Leica scopes we soaked up the views of these brilliant birds. Manx Shearwaters and Gannets were passing offshore as we marvelled at the masses of Guillemots shoulder to shoulder on the ledges. Smaller numbers of Razorbills, Fulmars and Kittiwakes were also on the towering cliffs. But a pair of Peregrines really stole the show, we had frame-filling views of both the male and female on the cliffs. As we enjoyed these falcons, Chough circled calling overhead, wow!

Black Guillemot

Holyhead gave us very close views of at least seven Black Guillemots, always brilliant to see their scarlet red legs as they dive for fish. A Great Northern Diver showed off nearby and the same bay gave us flocks of Whimbrel, Bar-tailed Godwit and a pair of Red-breasted Mergansers before we enjoyed a lovely lunch.

Med Gull 060711

We spent most the afternoon around Cemlyn Lagoon on the north coast of the island. Over 200 Sandwich Terns were a spectacular sight as their circled over the pool. Small numbers of both Common and Arctic Terns were great to see. More waders here with Sanderling, Ringed Plover and Dunlin, all new for the day. Amongst the many Black-headed Gulls we picked out at least eight handsome Mediterranean Gulls, stunning in their breeding plumage.

Time to visit a shallow lake where we added lots of wildfowl and both Great Crested and Little Grebes. Late birds included Wigeon and Goldeneye as Sand Martins and Swallows circled over the water.

Black Grouse 2

Day two of the custom tour and it was an early start as we headed for the moors. As the light came up we marvelled at Black Grouse displaying just yards away and making their amazing sounds, thrilling! The grouse were pumped up and really going for it, feathers were flying at times. Further across the moor we enjoyed fantastic views of Red Grouse along with Cuckoos, Whinchats, Tree Pipits, Lesser Redpolls and much more. Lower down we enjoyed singing Common Redstarts before we tucked into an excellent breakfast.

We then hit a nice run of birds which came thick and fast with singing Reed Buntings, lovely Red Kites, singing male Pied Flycatchers, a pair of Dipper feeding chicks, topped off with superb views of Wood Warblers and more Pied Flycatchers. A welcome coffee boosted tired birdwatchers and we soon found Ring Ouzels and a singing Garden Warbler. In the evening we enjoyed a lovely meal with our mutual friend Jayne in Conwy, another perfect day!

Conwy RSPB

Day three began with a visit to RSPB Conwy where we enjoyed sixty species, yes 60, during a circular walk around the reserve. It was great to compare Whimbrel with Curlew, Sedge Warbler with Reed Warbler and Common Whitethroat with Lesser Whitethroat. Our first Common Swifts of the year swept over the pools, what a thrill to see these wonderful birds back in our skies.

At the coast we watched Gannets, Guillemots, Razorbills, Kittiwakes and Shags and finally found some Turnstones for the tour list. A flock over 100 Sandwich Terns was a nice surprise here and gangs of Common Scoter flew east over the sea.

A lovely area of woodland next and we enjoyed very special birds here. A Tawny Owl flew in and landed on a bare branch, in broad daylight! What an amazing experience! A male Pied Flycatcher sang just above our heads - what a little stunner. Marsh Tit was a great addition to our long list of birds enjoyed on this custom tour. We also watched Long-tailed Tits, Treecreeper and Nuthatch here. All this was followed by a lovely lunch.

The afternoon was spent further east along the coast where Skylarks sang above us as we walked throughthe dunes out the beach. With the tide just dropping we had timed our visit perfectly. Dunlin, Sanderling and Ringed Plover showed off just yards away, the Dunlin very dapper in their breeding plumage. But it was the Little Terns that were the real stars here, fantastic views. The Little Terns were displaying right above us, the males carrying fish and flying alongside the females calling excitedly, thrilling stuff. These tiny birds also showed off on the shingle next to Ringed Plover, this really brought home how small these birds really are. Hundreds of Sandwich Terns were also here and offshore masses of Common Scoter flocked on the horizion.

We rounded off three wonderful days with Barry and Wendy with a superb meal in Llandudno. We look forward to our next trip with these lovely people and lots more great birds to enjoy together!

If you would like a custom tour made perfect for you simply drop us a line

and we do the rest! We look forward to enjoying great birds with you!

Wendy Barry and Alan


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