A Grand Day Out

No trip to the moon I’m afraid but I was taken out by The Biggest Twitch team to the ends of the Earth.

One of the birds I’ve always wanted to photograph well has been Black Grouse and, a short while ago, I had a message from the Biggest Twitch team about trips to see this bird lekking. I’ve seen lekking birds before but they’ve always been miles away or I had no camera. A drive to Llandudno after work on Tuesday night and I’d be ready for an early start after my chosen prey. The weather on Tuesday had been stunning and I was hoping that the predicted mist and rain would arrive later in the day. Well the rain held off but the mist didn’t.

We had driven up to our spot in the pitch dark and passed a cyclist on the Moors before 06.00… where was he going and did he make it? We certainly passed no accident sites so I suppose he did. He must be mad… the again so must we!

Black Grouse

Black Grouse

As we pulled up the birds were already down to business. It’s strange and beautiful listening to the bubbling and hissing calls in the pitch dark. As the dawn broke we kept getting breaks in the mist but once I used the telephoto lens it just emphasized how misty it was.

Black Grouse

Black Grouse

I was shooting at 1600ISO to try and get anything and while the photos are pretty rubbish the morning certainly wasn’t. I probably spent more time actually watching the lek (and listening). Never a bad thing.

By 07.00 the show was over as the birds whizzed off over the moors to do their thing. We had a brew and started to drop down off the tops. A cracking Dipper was singing from a ford in the road and we managed a few half-decent shots. The light was still low and 1600ISO was still the name of the game.

Dipper

Dipper

After a stop in Llangollen, more Dipper and a small group of Goosander we headed west for a cooked breakfast. No17 came highly recommended and was soon demolished.

On to our next stop, a Hawfinch site. After a good hour and an a half we were rewarded with some excellent views but distant, digiscoped photos of these stunning finches.

Hawfinch

Hawfinch

At the same site we witnessed behaviour I don’t think any of us had expected… a Buzzard coming to bread. We expect it of duck but a raptor? Here is proof that Buzzard really are omnivorous.

Buzzard

Buzzard

Our final stop didn’t yield a Firecrest but no matter. I’d had an excellent day.

My thanks go to Alan and Ruth at The Biggest Twitch for organizing my day out. If you want a cracking day’s birding in North Wales or further afield contact Alan and Ruth via their website The Biggest Twitch or click on any of the underlined links on this post.

 

 

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4 responses to “A Grand Day Out

  1. Sounds a good day out. Can’t think of the place off the top of my head but there used to be a place in Derbyshire where you could go to see Back & red Grouse in the same area. Sadly no more, having a job finding Grey Partridge now !!!

  2. thedrunkbirder

    You’re probably thinking of Swallow Moss which is in Staffs. You watched them from a converted barn.

  3. roger little

    Can you re-call where you went for the number 17 breakfast ?

  4. thedrunkbirder

    I think it’s called Country Cooks – it’s on the A5 heading NW from Llangollen.

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