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Biggest Twitch
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What a day!

We met Chris and Mel at the Princes Arms Hotel in Trefriw, by the Conwy River and the birding began on the doorstep! Both Goosander and Red breasted Merganser were on the river showing very well as a Chiffchaff sung from the hotel garden, great start.

Caerhun Churchyard

A short drive took us to a beautiful 13th century church, as we arrived two Hawfinch flew out of the yew trees and headed off across a field, frustrating view. Plenty of birds here despite the early exit of the Hawfinches. A late Fieldfare was a surprise sat in a beech tree.

We moved a little way down the valley and almost immediately found a male Hawfinch sat in the top of a bare tree. Panic ensued as we set up the telescope as quickly as possible! But, there was no need to hurry as this handsome, bulky finch was happy on his lofty perch and showed off in the morning sun, brilliant! When you have a view like this you really appreciate just what a beautiful bird the Hawfinch is and we all soaked up the exceptional views.

Heading up hill we climbed above the Conwy valley and out on to an upland area. We were greeted by a singing male Stonechat, a very bright bird indeed. A Raven flew in and landed above us, on a rocky ridge, and called away loudly. Red Grouse were also calling from the opposite hillside but try as we might we could not locate the bird. Lesser Redpoll were moving north calling as they passed over. A smart male Reed Bunting landed on a gorse bush and gave lovely views. At least three Wheatears were on a boulder field but no sign of any Ring Ouzels which had shown well here just the day before.

Next we headed north and made a stop over looking the Conwy Estuary and adjacent RSPB reserve. From our view point we had a panoramic view, including Conwy Castle, the mountains of Snowdonia, the estuary and lagoons of the reserve. We quickly saw lots of species here including Pochard, Tufted Duck, Wigeon, Teal and Little Egret. Perhaps most unexpected bird here was a Yellow legged Gull on the mudflats, a rare bird in North Wales, or perhaps more often over looked rather than really rare?

Chris and Mel 1

At Pensarn beach it did not look promising; a mist was over the sea making the horizon invisible, weird. Luckily with Leica scope it was possible to pick out birds on the calm water. We quickly picked out Red throated Diver, Common Scoter and Razorbill on the edge of the haze. Then another good gull, this time an adult Little Gull feeding low over the sea showing off its black under-wing.

Chris and Mel 2

Just east of Pensarn we walked the beach at Kinmel Bay. Plenty of waders here and we enjoyed great looks at Ringed Plover, Dunlin, Sanderling and Turnstones. But no sign of the Snow Buntings which had been regular here. We put down more seed on the area that we have been putting down food through the winter and walked on. After looking at the gulls at the river mouth, adding Great black backed Gull to our impressive list. We retraced our steps and were amazed to see three Snow Buntings feeding on the seed we just put down on the beach. These gorgeous birds really showed off and Mel was able to photograph them at close range. We watched these wonderful birds for a long time and even heard one of the males singing, how many people have heard that in the UK?

Snow Bunting fem

Snow Bunting male

We then decided to go for a little twitch – we had heard from a friend that 3 Waxwings were showing over on Deeside – Waxwings were a most wanted species for Chris and Mel so we headed further east. We soon reached the site and had not even stopped the car when we saw a Waxwing in a bush right by the road! As we got out three Waxwings flew up in to a bare tree right above us and wowed us!

Waxwing upright

The Waxwings dropped down in to berry bush right by the pavement and fed just yards away and we just stared and stared at their beauty. What wonderful birds, at times they gave their wonderful trilling calls in between gobbling down red berries at an amazing rate!

Waxwing berry

Time for a coffee/hot chocolate at a nearby café but we still kept birding watching two Buzzards as we drank.

An area of woodland just off the A55 was full of birds and added a lot of birds to our great day list. Marsh Tits in particular showed off very well and we had three sightings during our woodland walk. It was good to see Goldcrest and Long tailed Tits after the hard winter had hit both species hard.

Next stop was the Great Orme at Llandudno, our “back garden” and we were soon watching wonderful seabirds. Cormorants and Shags shared the same cliffs as Kittiwakes. Offshore Gannets flapped by, Guillemots dived for fish and more Razorbills loafed about. Fulmars flew back and forth to the cliffs but no Rock Pipits could be seen. Then we heard a Rock Pipit singing below us, by walking down the grass slope a little was saw a pair of these dapper birds. From our new vantage point we had a real surprise as we spotted a Black Guillemot, a rare bird here, sat on the sea just off the cliffs, a wonderful bird to find.

With the day drawing to an end we headed back to Trefriw after a really great days birding seeing over 90 species and real top draw birds amongst them and all enjoyed at a pace that allowed them all to be really enjoyed.

Why not join us for great birds and great fun? Our next trip is Sunday 3rd April – a tour of Anglesey where we will look for Puffins, Black Guillemots, Chough and many more, expect to see about 80 species. Just £40 per person for a full eight hours birding, lots of other trips coming up for details email –


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