The wintery weather that we are still getting didn’t put us of having a trip into North Wales last Sunday. After a little planning and the promise of a 5:30am start, it wasn’t surprising that there were only three of us. Steve B, Chris B and myself at the wheel. After getting rid of some snow we left Rochdale on time and by 7am reached Minera, near Wrexham. Then a climb into the snow and ice line, up a steep gradient made us all wonder as to our sanity! Then we found the reason why we were here, 10 Black Grouse at a “Lek”. Great displays and much noise accompanied this spectacle. They were distant, but undisturbed by our presence as we stayed in the car, on a bitterly cold morning. A Peregrine was a nice sighting as it flashed by silhouette against the snow.Worlds end 001 Worlds end 008 Worlds end 005 Worlds end 003 At the other end of the valley more Black Grouse were seen, bringing the total to around the 30 mark. The hoped for Great Grey Shrike was not seen by our team but others found it back up the valley. My luck with seeing Great Grey Shrike’s carries on. Well the one in Clocaenog Forest is much more reliable to see, we were told by a group of Greater Manchester birders. We went to a couple of raptor watch points but were inundated by lots of Ravens, Buzzards, Red Kite’s, then after a slog up a mountain path we arrived at the highest point in the forest. Great views, but next to no birds and not a glimpse of the Great Grey Shrike that we were told had just been seen by 2 leaving birders! The sun was now shinning as we headed for the coast for our third call at Rhos point, this year, to search for Purple Sandpiper. As usual they were not present or showing themselves. Now comes the duck part of the title, one of our team has not caught up with Surf Scoter yet. We have called at Llandulas to search the enormous flocks of scoters for the Surfies but have always failed. Today we thought our luck was in, as we saw 4 Velvet Scoters and the large flock of birds were coming closer inshore, but,as luck would have it, some prat in a boat sailed right through the centre of them and scattered them all away, thanks pal! After we had added Red Breasted Merganser we decided on a last call at Burton Marsh, Cheshire. Upon arrival, I said that it would be a little early for the Short Eared Owls to be out hunting and of course up to 3 birds were quickly found. One of which was a really pale bird, that we have seen before. A Peregrine on a post and lots of Little Egrets were also seen. We headed for home having all added at least 4 species to our year totals. The day was a real success and the early start was rewarded with watching the Black Grouse “Lek”.
Regards,
Dave O.

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