Just recently I’ve been venturing a wee bit further, out of Cheshire, and as luck would have it I have had three trips into North Wales in the past 14 days. I always love visiting the principality and so three trips was never going to be a hardship!
My first day out involved a morning at a new site for me, Llyn Bran, a small lake in Denbighshire near the larger Llyn Brenig to the south. A forecast of sunshine never materialised and so my watching was done in drizzle under murky skies, typical Welsh weather one could say! Setting the scope up I fixed on a small group of Tufted Ducks and there in the middle of them was a pristine drake Ring-necked Duck, the bird I’d come to see. The bird was watched diving and feeding but stayed up long enough for a few record digiscoped shots. Also present was a pair of Goldeneye, but as the rain set in I decided to beat a hasty retreat to the warmth of my car.
My second trip across was a shorter journey, this time to Conwy RSPB on the North Wales coast road. Again it was just a morning that I had free and again the weather wasn’t great, but improved to light drizzle as I arrived, I had to be thankful for small mercies! Walking to the reedbed screen I was soon watching a Grey Phalarope halfway across the lagoon in front of me. The bird was spinning around feeding as phalaropes always distinctively do, and again record pictures were obtained through the scope as the bird drifted further and further away. As before, rain stopped play as I headed back home leaving wet Wales behind.
My third outing was to within just a couple of miles of my first trip, to Llyn Brenig just south of Llyn Bran. Yet again the drizzle started as I got within 10 miles of the site, but was light enough not to be a huge problem. A short search of the roadside moorland eventually paid dividends with the appearance of the Great Grey Shrike that had been found here a couple of days earlier. The bird stood sentinel atop a felled conifer trunk and even though it was buffeted by the strong wind it stayed long enough for digiscoped shots again. Later the bird dropped down, only to reappear about 50m further away down the slope. It then dropped out of view and could not be re-found by several birders who had just arrived, just too late.
This trio of scarcities made the fortnight in North Wales really noteworthy for a wet mid-March period. All birds stayed long enough for serious birders to catch up with them and all allowed me to get record shots (see attached) albeit at a distance against the spectacular backdrop of glowering Welsh skies.