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Biggest Twitch
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Some people think it's all's not!

You do hear some people saying that by mid-summer birdwatching is all over until the autumn, we know it is far from all over! We had a wonderful oportunity to show just that the last two days doing some custom guiding.

Paul and Ruth, two Australian birders contacted us and asked if we could show them around North Wales. Due to the rather short notice we could only do two days with them, we wish it had been longer.

With only two days and a lot of birds to see we met up with Paul and Ruth the evening before day one to plan our birdwatching together. They had already done a good bit of birding on their trip so had seen many birds already, so targeting the birds they were missing was the priority.

Paul Dodd Ruth D and Alan

Very early on day one we were out in the uplands of North Wales and enjoying some very special birds, Dartford Warblers. What a great start! Of course we had a lot of birds before breakfast including great views of Lesser Redpolls, Siskins, Wheatears and Ravens.

Yellowhammer and Great Tit

After a great breakfast we were soon back out and enjoying more birds. We headed for the hills and soon found Redstart, Whinchat and Stonechat and a lovely male Yellowhammer was a nice bonus. Further into the mountains and we watched a ringtail Hen Harrier float over a hillside as a Merlin stood guard on a fence post. A Peregrine drifted slowly over then we saw another raptor soaring not very high above us, panic as we all scambled to get the bird in binoculars and scopes, a Goshawk! This muscular raptor was in no hurry and slowly soared over the moorland, at one point passing over a Common Buzzard - great to compare these two species. Both Paul and Ruth are keen photographers, having a 500mm lens each, and they were able to get some great shots of the Goshawk, never easy to photograph!

Paul Dodd with camera

A lovely, very late, lunch was enjoyed and even here the time was put to good use, wonderful photos of Dipper taken while the food was being prepared! More upland birding but the Ring Ouzels did not show up for once sadly. Down to the coast and new birds came thick and fast! Goosander and Eider were both life ticks as was Great crested Grebe, a pair feeding young made for lovely pictures. Common Sandpipers fed very close to a hide and again cameras were in over-drive. In the evening we headed into Llandudno and enjoyed a superb Chinese mael and lots of laughs with Paul and Ruth.

Day two, and it was a very early start indeed, 4.30am, we again headed for the hills and at our first stop we were delighted to see male Black Grouse lekking! These stunning birds were in the early morning sun, ideal for photos and the 500mm lenes produced supper shots! Suddenly the air was full of Peregrine Falcons! Three of these super fast raptors tore across the sky above the purple heather, fantastic! Then, not so fantastic, one of the falcons stooped at the grouse! Two Black Grouse took flight, two wisely dived into cover, a chase was on! Luckily the young Peregrine was no match for the grouse who powered away skimming over the moor, the falcon turned away and went back to join the other two soaring and diving high above us, just breath taking birding!

Black Grouse July

Having just explained that Red Grouse would be much harder to find in July Paul said "There's one!". Sure enough a head was looking around above the heather just in front of us, amazing bit of luck. Later we came across two more Red Grouse walking along the road in front of us, brilliant. This was quickly followed by a male Black Grouse in the road - this bird actually walked towards us before sliding into the bracken out of sight, wow!

Two more Peregrines showed off some great flying skills, plenty of Stonechats showed off in the warm morning sun. A Spotted Flycatcher with fledged young was a nice surprise, a flock of Crossbill flew over, and a male Bullfinch added a nice splash of colour.

Avocet Titchwell

We left the moors and enjoyed some very welcome bacon butties and coffee. The marshes of the Dee Estuary held a lot of new birds for Paul and Ruth and we soaked up great the views. Green Sandpipers were feeding in the shallows and nearby a Common Sandpiper was nice for comparison. Colourful Black-tailed Godwits were very handsome in the sunshine. Three, very differently plumaged, Ruff were great to see as four Spotted Redshank waded in the pools next to Avocets and Lapwings. A Hobby hawked for insects over the marsh, our nineth species of raptor in two days! A helpful birder directed us to a spot where we could enjoy amazing views of a Little Owl, what a cute bird. A Black Swan was a reminder of home for our Ozzy visitors but it did not go down on the list.

Heading back west we stopped to look at some very distant Common Scoters offshore and also added Kittiwake, Fulmar and Sandwich Tern to our impressive day list. An adult Mediterranean Gull posed for photos at Colwyn Bay seafront as we headed back towards Llandudno.

In the evening we enjoyed another lovely meal with Paul and Ruth and wished them luck as they head north on the next leg of their UK tour. It had been a real pleasure to enjoy great birds and great fun with this lovely couple. We do hope we can meet up again in the future.

If you would like to join us for the very best birdwatching just drop us a line at...

We would love to put together a trip perfect for you!

Great Crested Grebe with chicks


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