Last weekend, Suzanne and I went across to see her extended family for the usual pre-Christmas meal and present-swapping extravaganza over a lovely relaxed Sunday lunch in the Britannia Inn, just down from the Horseshoe Pass outside Llangollen. That morning had clear bright blue skies, and hopefully there are some nice landscape photos of the area to come in a future post – watch this space! Unfortunately, the Saturday wasn’t so good weather-wise, but I headed out fairly early and managed to find some good birds to the north of Glyn Ceiriog.
First destination was the area around Denbigh, where a large flock of 200+ Waxwings had been seen on an industrial estate the day before, so I was hoping for some photos if the birds were still around and would come down low. I didn’t get that far before finding the target, though, since I stumbled across two smaller flocks (maybe offshoots of the original group) by the roadside between Ruthin and Denbigh. On this occasion, they didn’t show particularly well for photos, staying high up in trees against grey skies… but something tells me I might get a few more opportunities at Waxwing photography this winter!
While watching the second flock, I noticed a bird song that I’ve not heard for years and years – a Dipper singing under the road bridge! Creeping up a bit closer, in fact there was a pair, with the male singing persistently and even displaying at times. Although the light was really poor, the Dippers were more paying more attention to each other than to me, so I managed to get fairly close for a series of photos. Check out the white eyelids!
These are just brilliant little birds, really smart and characterful. A real shame I don’t see them more often, though I’ve already made a mental note to return to that bridge on a brighter day next year and try to get some better shots!
While putting stuff away into the car, and wondering where to go next, news came through of a Desert Wheatear on the seafront at Rhyl – not really that surprising given that a Wheatear had been reported there the day before, which although not unprecedented, would’ve been very late. Given that I wasn’t too far away, and that rare wheatears often show well, it was an easy decision to go and take a look.
The Wheatear showed pretty well, though with quite a few cyclists, joggers and dogwalkers going up and down its favoured stretch of the coastline, it was fairly mobile and generally not as confiding as the recent Abberton bird. A good bird for Wales, though, I think only about the sixth record ever.
From here, I spent about half an hour scanning a large and mostly distant flock of scoter off Llanddulas, hoping to pick out one of the three Surfies, before bailing out of that and going searching for Chough above Aber Falls. No joy here (though stunning scenery), and by mid afternoon the weather had taken a turn for the worse, and it was back down the A5 in the rain.