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Biggest Twitch
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Prize winning birding

At Birdfair last year Leica Sports Optics held a prize draw with the prize of a day birdwatching with Alan of The Biggest Twitch. Now the big day had arrived and three lucky winners, each with a guest, were staying at the Castle Hotel in Conwy courtesy of Leica.

Alan and Marc Symes, from Leica, met everyone at 9am at the hotel and the party including Brett, Leica’s own photographer, boarded the minibus and headed off in search of birds. On board were a full selection of Leica birding optics and everyone had the chance to get hands on with the stunning binoculars and telescopes for getting the very best from your birdwatching. It was an ideal way to try, and compare, these amazing optics in true field conditions and everyone was amazed and the quality of the superb images delivered by the Leica products.

Leica kit
Alan's ultimate birding kit - Leica 8x42 bins and 65mm scope with wide angle zoom, perfect for all birding conditions!

First port of call was a beautiful church yard in the Conwy valley, ancient yew trees over looks the water meadows of the River Conwy. Both Goosander and Red-breasted Merganser were on the slow moving river. Swallows and House Martins both gave amazing views and posed for photos, the Martins coming down to collect mud from a puddle and the Swallows perching on a post in the warm sunshine. At one point an amazing 17 Buzzards were soaring over the valley in one flock!

red kite
Red Kite - surely on of the best birds anywhere?

Just as the group was thinking of moving off, a glorious Red Kite drifted slowly across the valley, giving everyone the chance to enjoy this spectacular raptor.

Fulmar orme
A Fulmar glides along the cliffs of the Great Orme

A short drive north and the Great Orme at Llandudno was the next birding venue. Stopping below the towering limestone cliffs gave wonderful views of Fulmars flying right overhead and attempting to land on ledges above. These seabirds are very comical to watch, they really do struggle to land on the narrow rock ledges where they nest and make repeated attempts, aborting at the last second and going round for another try.

Further around the huge scenic headland a stop near the lighthouse provided wonderful views of the main seabird colony. The cliffs here were alive with birds, hundreds of Guillemots were crammed on to the narrowest of ledges, Razorbill, Cormorants, Shags and Kittiwakes were all breeding here. Then Alan picked out an unexpected addition to the seabird spectacle when he spotted a lovely breeding plumaged Black Guillemot on the sea below the rock face. A real treat to see this scarce species here on the Welsh mainland, they are usually seen on Anglesey.

A very welcome cuppa in the “Rest and be thankful” café and then up on to the limestone pavement area of the Great Orme. Here the views were just breath taking, the vista stretched to the mountains of Snowdonia and Anglesey, of course there were more birds to see with migrant Meadow pipits and Wheatears and the highlight a lovely Chough!

The Pressroom Café in the historic town of Conwy was the venue for a lovely lunch.

Refreshed and well fed it was back to the birding and a walk around RSPB Conwy on the east bank of the Conwy River. This wonderful reserve, where Alan worked as site manager for over six years, has an amazing back drop with views of Conwy Castle, the river and the mountains of Snowdonia beyond.

Little Egrets and Grey Herons were busy setting up home in the pine trees on the opposite side of the estuary. One breeding plumaged Little Egret fed close to the track stepping through the shallow waters of the estuary and a pair of Red-breasted Mergansers dived for fish in a low water channel.

On the lagoons of the reserve there were plenty of birds to enjoy, a pair of elegant Great crested Grebes floated on the calm water in the glorious sunshine, as Tufted Duck, Gadwall and Teal were all added to the growing day list. A drake Goldeneye dived repeatedly as Red-breasted Mergansers slept by the islands.

Lapwing conwy
Lapwings are one of the many special birds at RSPB Conwy

Out on the mudflats of the estuary a Black-tailed Godwit and two Whimbrel joined the more familiar Oystercatchers and Curlews. Lapwings showed off on the islands in the lagoons, always wonderful to see.

The reed beds held both singing Sedge Warbler and Reed Warblers, both newly arrived from winter quarters in Africa. A Common Whitethroat popped up in a bramble patch and showed off.

Leica Prizewinners 3
The group enjoying great birds and great weather at RSPB Conwy

All too soon it was time to head back to the Castle Hotel back in Conwy and say farewell to the prize winners and guests. Mark presented everyone with Leica fleece and shirt and Alan gave the prize winners a signed copy of the book “The Biggest Twitch”.

Everyone agreed that the day had been great fun and a wonderful selection of birds had been enjoyed in stunning scenery. Many thanks to everyone at Leica who worked so hard to make this event such a resounding success.

For more information on the full range of Leica Optics visit –


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