Trip reports

North Wales Coast - 13/01/13

North Wales Coast - 13/01/13
Hawfinch - Dennis Atherton

Sunday, 13 January 2013

The meeting place for this trip was Chester services on the M56. 10 of the 12 who attended this trip arrived without any problems but the other 2 missed the motorway junction and so headed straight to our first destination, Kinmel Bay near Rhyl and met us there. When the rest of us arrived it was to find that we had just missed a peregrine!

As we walked along the coastal path there were plenty of waders on the shore - oystercatcher, sanderling, dunlin & ringed plover. On the sea were common scoter and wigeon as well as herring, black-headed, great black-backed & common gulls. A single stonechat put in an appearance in the sand dunes. We reached the end of the boardwalk where the river Clwyd meets the sea and it was here we found the birds we were seeking - 16 snow buntings. They breed up in the mountains of Scotland but are a regular fixture on this beach every winter.

Second stop was RSPB Conwy. We were hoping to catch up with the firecrest and bittern which had been present at the reserve over the previous week but we were unlucky on both counts. We did see red-breasted merganser, shoveler, teal, pochard and little egret on the pools. Also seen around the reserve were lesser redpoll, song thrush, starling and buzzard.

Our next stop along the coast was Llanfairfechan for high tide. This location affords views across the Menai Straits and is an excellent place for wintering sea birds. Here we watched numerous great crested grebes and red-throated divers. Singles of great northern diver and slavonian grebe proved to be an added bonus. Not long before we moved on, a kittiwake flew in and landed with the other assembled gulls.

The original plan was to keep heading down the coast to Aber Ogwen but as it had started to snow we decided not to go further from home. We headed inland down the Conwy valley to the picturesque 14th century church of Caer Hun. A hawfinch was the highlight here with a red kite coming in a close second. Nuthatch, great spotted woodpecker, jay & pheasant were also present.

From there we decided to head home. However, I had seen a report of waxwings at the Marble Church of Bodelwyddan which was on our way. Not long after we arrived we spotted 6 of these charismatic winter visitors. An unexpected but welcome end to the day.

Total species = 73