Trip reports

World's End & North Wales Coast - 22.02.14

World's End & North Wales Coast - 22.02.14
Purple sanpiper & turnstone - Jill Islam

Saturday, 22 February 2014

After the shocking weather we had experienced on our last two trips I was wondering whether we were going to face more of the same on this excursion but I needn't have worried.

An early start saw us arriving at World's End in the Clywdian hills at 8.15am. We were looking for black grouse - this is one of the few areas within easy driving distance that these birds are found. The closer to first light you can get there, the better chance you have of seeing them as they display (or lek) in groups early on then disperse into the moorland later on. We located a lek of about 12 birds and really enjoyed watching their display. Job done at this location, it was time to go elsewhere.

The original plan had been to go to Point of Ayr which is on the Welsh side of the mouth of the River Dee. However, it is a place to go at high tide and the tide wasn't due in until late afternoon. The weather was also quite sunny and calm so we decided to do some of the sea watching we couldn't due on the January trip.

A pit stop at a bacon butty shop in Abergele was just what we all needed and we then parked up in the sea front car park at Pensarn. We began searching the sea and soon located the enormous common scoter flock which over-winters off the North Wales coast. What we were looking for were a few birds which were slightly different - birds which had white patches on the front & rear of their heads. We soon found them, aided by the sunshine which made their heads practically glow! Surf scoters!! There weren't too many other birds on the water - a few cormorants and a pair of red-breasted mergansers were all we could find.

Our next destination was down the Conwy valley at a churchyard in Llanbedr-y-Cennin. Hawfinches were our quarry. The first species we saw here was a red kite which lazily soared over our heads. A pair of buzzards were displaying, full of the joys of spring, and a goldcrest was fly-catching from the top of a yew tree. We were just about to head off to another known location for hawfinch when a stunning specimen flew into a tree briefly before flying off out of sight. Some dodgy directions from one of our group led one person to miss seeing the bird ("It's in that dead, bare tree there!" - all the trees around us were bare!) so we went to the other location anyway and we all had great views of more birds.

We were now approaching high tide so we moved on to Rhos-on-Sea. Ringed plover, redshank, turnstone and purple sandpiper were all seen at close hand. Out on the sea we had good numbers of red-throated divers, great crested grebes and shags. A distant kittiwake was also seen.

We had managed to have an excellent day out in fine, spring-like weather and seen every one of our target birds. In my opinion this more than made up for the first two trips this year!