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Cruising around Cymru 25/3/18

Updated: Jul 1, 2018

Given the sunny weather, with a light breeze and an afternoon free I decided conditions were perfect for scoter watching and so headed to Old Colwyn, which this year has proven to be the best location for the scoters. Joining another birder along the prom we searched in vain, but could only find several thousand Common Scoters, Red-throated Divers and several Great Crested Grebes. When he gave up (on his fifth attempt without finding a rarer scoter this year!) I moved to my favoured watchpoint, just up the cycle path by the railway bridge where the prom road turns back up into Old Colwyn proper. With a bit more height here the viewing was much better, but for two hours nothing new. Then the two stunning adult drake Surf Scoters sailed serenely into view, swimming along close together but a fair distance out. With my Swarovski STX95 on full zoom I could see all the features really well, even the birds eyes! Sometimes perseverance has its rewards and this time 2 hours of searching paid me back handsomely.

I headed next down to Clocaenog Forest, seeing as how I was already in North Wales and the weather was lovely and an extra hours birding was on the cards since the clocks went forward last night! I headed up to the Craig Bron-banog mast, it never gets any easier. On the way up a Raven was seen and on arrival a birder had recently seen the shrike, but it had gone missing. Scanning the area in which it had last been seen I picked up just the top of its head and back showing above the ridge of the valley into which it had dropped. The Great Grey Shrike then showed well in the tops of trees to the west of the mast and was watched actively hunting for a good half hour. A few Meadow Pipits were also seen. As I walked down I heard the soft chupping of crossbills and then two birds flew over me and landed in a conifer only 15m away, a cracking pair of Common Crossbill. I grabbed a few shots using my phone handheld to my scope, since by sods law I had left my proper digiscoping gear in the car, doh!

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