Saturday, 21 February 2015

Dipping out of England

Due to it being half term, like most kids, we have had the week off, however sadly it isn't the same for the parents, so last week for three days I was treated to a small holiday in North Wales. After a reasonably long journey I was glad to arrive at my Grandma's, and arrive to all the superb birds you can watch and see there.  Her house is in an old wood, but has fields at the front and a river in the bottom of the valley.

Arriving quite early in the morning gave me a nice opportunity to get out with my camera, and get some pictures of anything I could see really. In the end, I succeeded in getting some nice snaps of Blue Tits, Coal Tits and Siskins, however also observing a couple of Bullfinches and a solitary Goldcrest.

Grandma's woods

When I finished my quick ramble outside, it was good to catch up even more with my Auntie Jennie from Norway, who was staying in Wales for one more day. I wanted to also have a quick conversation to Jennie's husband, my uncle Knute, who unfortunately didn't come over, however we managed to say hello over Facetime. Over in Norway at their place, they still had about two foot of snow.  It was great to catch up with Auntie Jennie and Knute, and I hope I'll be able to catch up with them again, over in Norway possibly.

After a first good day, on Wednesday I decided to go to a coniferous forest called Bod Petryal, in hope of some nice species. As we were driving, a raptor suddenly flew in front of the car and then turned and flew in front so we were following it. It was a stunning Merlin. we followed it for about 40 seconds, so we got great views of it before it veered off over the hedge.

The scenery and countryside here is brilliant, so I was looking forward to seeing what I could find. At first there didn't seem to be too much around, however once I got walking I soon located a mixed flock (or maybe two separate flocks joined together) of Siskin and Crossbill. I heard them first, but I managed to catch a good glimpse of three Crossbill flying over the canopy then back into the safety of the tree tops. 

We continued around the lake of Bod Petryal, getting a cracking Grey Wagtail and another flock of Siskins, this time low enough for me to get some snaps.

Once we had done the full circuit of the lake, seeing quite alot including Crossbills, Goldcrests and Siskins, we all decided to take a visit to the River Alwen.

River Alwen

 I knew what I was looking for, and even before we had parked up I focused in on not one but two Dippers. I saw one last year for the first time  in Wales, again on the River Alwen, but on a different stretch, so I was pretty pleased to get two on a more public area. These two birds were gorgeous and I took as many pictures as I could before they both made their way down the twisting river, dabbling and dipping as they disappeared. 

As I know from over the years, you always have something to surprise you at my Grandma's, however the weather can change everything, so unfortunately on our last day, on Thursday, the rain came in and didn't leave. So really I was stuck  inside, however I still had the bird feeders to entertain me, seeing the usual Nuthatch, Tit species and Woodpecker (Great Spotted).

I have to say a massive thankyou to my Grandma and Grandpa, for letting me stay, and I can't wait to go again next time. By the way I shall be posting about the high tide on Friday Parkgate, volunteering for the RSPB, so don't miss it, some amazing wildlife to talk about!


  1. what a nice break for you! i like your grandmother's place. :)

  2. Your grandmother has a fantastic house Findlay. I will score you an A+ on the Siskin image a cracker.

  3. What a most enjoyable read about your trip to Grandma's place and the wildlife around it including Crossbill. Plus sounds like a trip to Norway is possible sometime....WOW.

  4. A trip to Norway sounds really good!

    I used to band dippers on the Derwent in Gateshead many years ago!

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  5. Your blog has grown to be one of my favourites. The stories are really entertaining and there is always something to learn. I've only seen two dippers (American) in my life; the first time, I had no idea what I was seeing and thought it was an unusual crow (American Dippers are all black, though with varying shades and highlights), but learned from a book how amazing they are. Thank you for telling me about the Hen Harriers. If you can help me remember, I will point them out on the next ABC letter "H" round.

  6. I can't wait for our first Spring outing. I'm already carrying my camera. Now I just need a good road trip.