Day 1: Sat 19 June - Arrival and local birding
We meet rail travellers at Bangor Station before driving to our comfortable hotel, where meet car drivers. Once organised we head out for some local birding, perhaps exploring coastal sites along the Menai Straight if tides are favourable or heading inland to the north-west perimeter of the Snowdonia National Park.
Day 2: Sun 20 June – Anglesey
Anglesey is a large island offering great excitement for visiting birdwatchers. A morning at South Stack RSPB will get us off to a good start with Puffin, Black Guillemot and other seabirds to the fore. On the clifftop and in nearby scrub, songsters including Skylark, Rock and Meadow Pipit, Stonechat, Wheatear and Linnet are likely, as are Chough, Raven and Peregrine overhead. Scanning offshore for cetaceans and seals, we should see passing Gannet and Fulmar perhaps drawing the attention of a marauding Great Skua. Later, we visit Cemlyn Bay and Lagoons, an internationally important site for breeding terns. We will probably hear the birds before we see them, the cacophony from so many nesting pairs being audible at long range. Sandwich, Common and Arctic Tern all nest in high number and we scan through the masses for rare but regular Roseate Tern. Passage waders also stop to feed on the lagoons, and at Llyn Alaw we may see freshwater wildfowl, Kingfisher and even an Osprey. We finish the day (or start it depending on the tide) birding some of the many wader, tern and gull hotspots along the Menai Straight between Anglesey and the Mainland.
Day 3: Mon 21 June - Bardsey Island
Less than two miles off the Llŷn Peninsula lies Bardsey, a fascinating, bird rich island about a mile in length and half a mile wide. A birding gem, the island supports many breeding seabirds and is noted for its 20,000 pairs of Manx Shearwater. Pelagic by day, these birds only return to the island at night and we are most likely to see them, along with other seabirds, seals and perhaps cetaceans during our boat trip. We plan to land on this beautiful island which, with the exception of Myndd Enlli rising to 167m above sea level is largely low lying and easy to explore on foot. With several hours ashore, we can enjoy the Puffins at leisure, listen out for Chough on coastal strolls and search the scrub and bushes for passerines and any late migrants. Since its establishment in 1953, Bardsey Bird Observatory has famously recorded the wildlife here, with over 300 bird species logged including rarities. Little Owl are an irregular resident, Grey Seal breed and we intend to work closely with the Observatory team to make the most of our visit. A great day out to a very special island!
Day 4: Tue 22 June – Conwy and the north coast
Conwy’s Great Orme has a growing reputation for good birdwatching with a number of migrant and scarce birds recorded in recent years. We enjoy a walk around the headland where Chough may be seen before checking the waders on the nearby estuary, and pools for scarcer species such as Curlew Sandpiper and Little Stint. Gull flocks here, and at nearby Rhyl may contain Mediterranean or increasing numbers of Yellow-legged Gull, and we will be on the lookout for Common Scoter offshore. Little Tern is another possibility on the north coast and other great sites to explore along this stretch include Little Orme, Rhos-on-Sea, Colwyn Bay or Llanfairfechanor. Alternatively, this would be a good day to search for any rarities within reach.
Day 5: Wed 23 June – Snowdonia National Park
Today we visit Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales standing at 1085m above sea level. We have options on this day, and targeting the best possible weather we could choose to take the train to the summit for stunning views far and wide across the entire Snowdonia National Park. Walking back down on good tracks (which can be busy on a fine day) is a weather dependant option, looking out for Ring Ouzel, Wheatear, Raven and Peregrine as we go. The mountain is also home to rare Alpine plants, including the aptly named Snowdon Lily at its only UK site (though it does also occur in the Alps and North America). Once descended, or if we chose to spend less time on the mountain, we explore attractive wooded valleys with fast flowing streams for Dipper, Ring Ouzel, Grey Wagtail, Redstart, Spotted Flycatcher, Tree Pipit, Common Sandpiper and more.
Day 6: Thu 24 June – The Welsh Moors
A full day on the picturesque Welsh Moors in the eastern reaches of the National Park. An early start is likely, positioning ourselves at a substantial Black Grouse lek which supports a dense population, and we hope to see displaying birds. Breeding Red Grouse, Ring Ouzel, Wheatear, Whinchat, Skylark, Meadow Pipit, Stonechat and a small population of Twite are also present. Raptors hunt the open ground and we watch for Hen Harrier and Merlin, with Buzzard, Red Kite, Sparrowhawk and Kestrel present too.
Day 7: Fri 25 June – Ynys Hir
Driving to the southern border of the Snowdonia National Park, walks around the RSPB’s Ynys Hir reserve give us chances to see deciduous woodland specialists which spend the summer months here. Wood Warbler, Pied Flycatcher and Redstart are all present in healthy numbers and we are also likely to see (or hear) Cuckoo, Jay, Nuthatch, Marsh Tit and Lesser Redpoll. Little Egret, passage and breeding waders utilise the Dyfi Estuary and we keep an eye on the skies for Red Kite, Osprey and Peregrine overhead.
Day 8: Sat 26 June – final birding and departure
Some local birding in the Snowdon area or at coastal sites before our holiday concludes, with rail passengers being returned to Bangor station.