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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

5am and the alarm was going off. It had seemed such a good idea last night to go for Black Grouse this morning. Now it seemed like a bad idea, the bed was warm and comfy. Still Ken had said he really wanted to see Black Grouse so off we went. Once up it was a good idea again, it was calm and dry, and we were soon heading south. As light came we were near the site and paused briefly to admire a Dipper that posed on a mid-stream rock. Out on the high moorland we immediately heard the wonderful bubbling calls of lekking Black Grouse. Excellent, now where are they? We soon saw the tell tail white tails of the males amongst the heather and rushes. Through the scope we had wonderful views of these stunning creatures. A male Black Grouse has to be one of the top birds anywhere in the world! It does not matter how many times you see this spectacular display it is still mind blowing! The name suggests a black bird but this nowhere near does justice to the beauty of this bird. A scarlet comb over each eye, a deep royal blue neck, black body and wings, lyre shaped tail, pure white under-tail. The tail is cocked and fanned during display and the birds strut about throbbing their throats with wonderful noises. This truly is one of nature’s greatest moments and it is here in North Wales. We watched spell bound for ages as a gang of males mock charged and counter charged each other in the lovely dawn light, just brilliant. Red Grouse gave their distinctive “go-back, go-back” calls as Meadow Pipit and Skylark song filled the air. Stonechats showed off and a cracking Peregrine sat majestically on a boulder, warming in the rising sun. A perfect morning.
Leaving the heather we headed for the pine trees and another special bird. A short walk up hill warmed us up nicely and at the top the view was breath taking. We had not even reached the best view point when the Great Grey Shrike caught our eye on top of a small pine. Wow! Through the scope we enjoyed great views in the sunshine of this black, grey and white hunter. The shrike leaned forward and coughed up a pellet, the undigested remains of his last meal. Then it was off, moving quickly moving from tree to tree in search of more food.
On the way home we stopped to admire a lovely Grey Wagtail on a roadside stream and watched Ravens displaying, rolling on their backs and calling “cronk, cronk”.
Back a Llandudno a call from John Roberts and Kevin Smith soon had us out again. They had just found a Twite at Penrhyn Bay. Sadly despite our quick move we arrived just too late, the Twite had flown off east. We were just about to give chase when another call came. This time from Julian Weldrake, he had found a Little Gull at RSPB Conwy. This was Ken’s most wanted bird in the UK and he was very keen to get photographs for his book. Sorry Twite. We were soon at the reserve and hurried down to the Tal-y-fan hide and this time luck was with us. The adult Little Gull was hawking for insects over the lagoon. What a little stunner! Smaller than the nearby Black-headed Gulls with broad round wings, short tail and tiny bill. The most striking feature however was the black under-wing, no black on the upper surface. The Little Gull picked insects from the water surface and caught others in flight, almost tern-like in its flight.
We had a quick look for the Twite on the way back but no luck though we did have great views of Purple Sandpiper and a lovely male Wheatear. Well worth an early start.
Would you like to go birding with Alan? See below for details….We are giving a talk on The Biggest Twitch at RSPB Conwy on 16th April at 7pm, again a donation to the reserve will be made, do come along and hear all about our adventure and support this great reserve. Tickets available at the reserve, 01492 584091 for details.Would you like to come birding with The Biggest Twitch? Well now you can!
We are putting together a package of birding tours here in the UK, Europe and further afield using our huge experience to share our enthusiasm for birds, wildlife and wild places with you. We offer custom tours throughout the year in North Wales, day trips or longer to see all the special birds, dates to suit you. Highlights could include Red-billed Chough, Black and Red Grouse, Dipper, Red Kite, Hen Harrier, Goshawk, Atlantic Puffin, Ring Ouzel.  Expect to see over 100 species on a two-day tour!We are offering the following trips as set departure tours:Galapagos Islands and Ecuador: April 2010 – there’s been a lot of interest already!
India, Tigers and the north: November 2010We offer custom tours to the following countries with dates to suit you for an individual tour, or you can join a group of like-minded people:Spain, visiting Extremadura and/or the Coto de Doñana
Eastern Turkey for wonderful birds and mountain scenery
Finland and Norway with the very best guides for all the owls and woodpeckersIf you would like more details of any of these, please email us at  We would love you to join us for wonderful birds and much more!


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