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Rain, sunshine and great birds!

Meadow Pipit March 2014

The rain was hammering down as we left Llandudno at 5am, not what we had hoped for. We met Sue, who had driven up from Staffordshire and Stephen who had come over from Wrexham and the rain still came down. Up on the moors we rolled into position and risked opening the window a little and yes, Black Grouse were calling! Whew! Despite the poor weather the grouse were still doing their stuff. Dawn was slow to come in the poor weather but we could soon make out black and white shapes not far away. Slowly the light came up and the rain eased allowing us to enjoy the spectacle of Black Grouse displaying, magical. The grouse were really pumped up and providing wonderful views. A male Red Grouse landed near the lek and called loudly, perhaps fed up with the Black Grouse waking him up early again?! A weasel ran across the grass between us and the grouse and a Skylark sang.

Black Grouse March 2014

We moved further across the moor and saw a Great Grey Shrike perched in a small conifer but the bird soon moved out of sight and we headed for a very welcome hot drink and some delicious pastries by a small wood. The rain stopped and blue sky could be seen, so we walked up on to a ridge to admire the stunning views of snow capped mountains and dramatic cliffs. A pair of Stonechats showed off and a Peregrine Falcon cruised slowly overhead. We also enjoyed more Black Grouse including two female birds. We went back for another look for the shrike and did see it but it was a long way away. We stopped to watch more Black Grouse, this time in sunshine, and we were amazed to see a pair of Red Grouse walk out of the heather just yards in front of us! The birds took no notice of us and pecked at grit by the side of the track, what a thrill to see these birds so well.

Red Grouse March 2014

Red Grouse male and female March 2014

Dropping off the moors we found two pairs of Dippers and watched one pair building a nest, the second nest we have found in recent days. Two Stock Doves showed off in the morning sun, two Wood Pigeons were in the same tree - nice for comparison.

Time for another breakfast, a third for some, and this time we tucked into a full Welsh breakfast as the sun shone and a Lesser Redpoll entertained us just outside the cafe window. A huge flock of Starling swirlled over the opposite hillside and a Buzzard stooped through the flock, maybe he had been watching Peregrines and getting ideas?

Heading north we stopped to watch a lovely Red Kite soaring in the warm sun, always a thrill to see this raptor. In the Conwy Valley we quickly found the Hooded Crow, the only one in Wales, and heard a Hawfinch singing in a yew tree close by. After a little patient scanning we saw this bull-necked finch, brilliant.

Snow Bunting March 2014

Snow Bunting 2 March 2014

At RSPB Conwy the drake Scaup was diving in the lagoon along with Red-breasted Mergansers, waders here includeded Black-tailed Godwits and a single Dunlin. Llandudno was breezy but the sun was still shining as we walked along the pebble beach. We soon found what we were looking for a confiding male Snow Bunting feeding just behind the beach in a sunny sheltered spot. What a great bird to finish our day on. Well, not quite the end of the day we celebrated our great birds with tea and lovely cakes on the way back to Sue and Stephen's cars. A wonderful day of great birds, mixed weather, stunning scenery and great company with lots of laughs.

Llandudno west shore March 2014


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