Based in a wonderful Hotel near Betws-y-Coed where the views from your room are stunning, the food is delicious and the bird life is superb, we explore many exciting sites of North Wales including two full days birding on the Isle of Anglesey.
This tour begins and ends in Wrexham where we meet up and stay overnight in a local Hotel for the first night in readiness for a very early morning start on the first day. You will be able to leave your car at the hotel for the entire week and jump on the minibus or we can arrange to collect you from the Railway Station in Wrexham.
The mountainous moorland at World’s End is just a short drive from our hotel and we leave very early in the hope of seeing both RED GROUSE and BLACK GROUSE!! The latter may still gather for a ‘lek’ where the male birds perform a flamboyant display in order to win the favour of the attending females. By late May most of this performance is over but the males still gather at the site.
Black Grouse at the World's End Lek - taken by Paul Edlin
We also search the managed moorland for other species, including Red Kite, Meadow and Tree Pipits, Skylarks, Whinchat & Stonechat, Northern Wheatear and Red-legged Partridge. Common Quail can sometimes be heard ( but rarely seen).
After returning to our hotel for breakfast we set off westward driving deeper into the Welsh countryside passing through Corwen before we turn off for our next birding excursion at Llyn Brenig. This large reservoir (23km of shoreline) is surrounded by pine forest and open meadows, it became a national household name when, in 2021, a pole holding an Osprey’s nest, was cut down by person or persons unknown!! The nest with eggs was destroyed.
Since then a new pole has been erected and to everyone’s delight the Ospreys (of Scottish origin) returned in 2022 and successfully raised two chicks ( a third chick died just after birth) which were ringed in the nest on July 7th.
Around the visitor’s centre there are numerous bird feeders where during my three visits in 2022 I saw many Siskins and very colourful Lesser Redpolls as well as Greenfinches, Chaffinches. Goldfinches, Robins, Dunnocks, Blue Tits and Great Tits.
Siskins below the feeder at Llyn Brenig
Other bird seen around the reservoir included: Sparrowhawk, Common Buzzard, Red Kite, Common Whitethroat, Willow Warbler, Blackcap, Coal Tit, Eurasian Chiffchaff, Meadow Pipit and Common Stonechat.
We shall arrive at our hotel late afternoon and after checking into our rooms, for a 6 night stay, we shall go out for a short walk. The hotel sits on wooded hillside and overlooks a wide flat valley where the River Conwy meanders gently down towards the sea at Conwy.
the view of our hotel from the bank of the River Conwy
Many birds can be seen on this section of the river, sightings recorded by my groups in 2022 include:
Goosander, a female with 9 chicks was delightful to watch, we saw up to 14 adult birds! Also on the river we had regular sightings of Kingfisher, Common Sandpiper, Grey Wagtail, Pied Wagtail, Common Redstart, Grey Heron, Bullfinch, Blackcap, Treecreeper, Great Spotted & Green Woodpeckers, Nuthatch and many more.
the river Conwy just across the road from our hotel
a female Goosander with 9 chicks - I hope they all survived?
the 'not so' elusive Grasshopper Warbler seen outside the hotel in 2022
Uncommon sightings included Hobby, Red Kite, Marsh Harrier and Grasshopper Warbler. Many of the common woodland birds visited the feeders in the hotel car park.
DAY 2 MONDAY 29TH MAY - DAY 7 SATURDAY 3RD JUNE 2023
During our 6-day stay we shall discover many beautiful sites in around the mainland that surrounds Betws-y-Coed. We shall search for: Dipper, Grey Wagtail, Pied and Spotted Flycatchers, Wood Warbler, Common Redstart, Goldcrest, Siskin, Common Crossbill and all the common woodland species.
Dipper on the Afon Llugwy at Betws-y-Coed
One day we shall drive up into the Snowdonia National Park near Llanberis where we shall look for Ring Ouzel and other montane species.
At least two days will be spent on Anglesey which is a 45 minute drive from our hotel. This low-lying landscape has many little gems to be looked for! Hidden in the rolling hills are lakes, marshes, secluded bays, reedbeds and woodland. We shall discover many of these as well as the best-known places.
The RSPB reserves at South Stack and Cors Ddyga are two of my favourite places on Anglesey, a perfect contrast; beautiful cliffs and coastal grassland at South Stack and the inland marsh at Cors Ddyga.
South Stack hosts thousands of breeding seabirds such as Guillemots, Razorbills, Puffins, Fulmars, Kittiwakes, Cormorants and Shags and add to those Rock Pipits, Red-billed Choughs, Ravens, Jackdaws, Peregrine Falcons and now a small number of Hooded Crows are found there!
a view at South Stack
A Puffin and Razorbills at South Stack
In complete contrast the tranquil marshland at Cors Ddyga offers a pleasant array of marshland birds, warblers, waders, herons, egrets and even the booming Bittern. We shall look for Reed & Sedge Warbler, Grasshopper Warbler, Reed Bunting, Cetti’s Warbler, Common Whitethroat and Stonechats.
Sedge Warbler and Reed Bunting taken at Cors Ddyga
On the marsh itself common ducks such as Gadwall, Shoveler, Teal and Mallard may be found and in 2022 we saw Common Snipe, Black-tailed Godwit, Lapwing, Little Ringed Plover, Redshank, but anything could drop in! Marsh Harriers are a common site as well as Common Buzzards and Kestrels.
These are two places where you are most likely to see the beautiful Black Guillemot, we were very successful in 2022 where up to five birds were seen together. Cemlyn is also most famous for its breeding tern colonies, where hundreds of Sandwich, Common and Arctic Terns can be seen at close quarters. It used to be the place to go to see Roseate Terns but in recent years they have ceased breeding there, just one individual ‘terned’ up in 2022.
Black Guillemots at Holyhead Harbour
looking at the Tern Colony at Cemlyn Bay
Other places that we shall visit on Anglesey are: RSPB Valley Wetlands, Penrhos Country Park, Alaw Estuary, Newborough Forest, Malltraeth Marshes and several lesser known areas.
This holiday will be over before you know it!! There is so much to see and do, it will fly past at a rate of knots (we hope to see one of these during the trip too!)! Our final day will be spent with a little morning walk across the road at the river hoping to see any species that we may have missed.
We then drive back to Wrexham arriving around lunchtime. You will be either dropped back at your car or at the train station in the town centre to conclude the trip.
There will be a maximum of 7 people on this trip, we travel in a 9-seater minibus. None of the journeys are longer than two hours and most are between 30 minutes and 1 hour.
Although there are no long treks on this trip, a reasonable amount of fitness is required, you should be able to walk 2-3 miles daily at a slow pace and to be on your feet for several hours during any one day! There are no strenuous climbs.