Fleet as Mercury, the two Firecrests barely paused to catch breath as they zipped through the brambles and bare branches around the Bridge Pool at Conwy RSPB this morning.
It took me about 90 minutes in the raw cold to track the little gems down, but the search was pleasant enough with Goldcrest, Chiffchaffs, Treecreeper, six Bullfinch and two Siskin moving alongside the very, very tame Robins through the scrub at the reserve, while hidden Water Rails shrieked.
The Firecrests squabbled, darted about and hovered frequently around the pool (to be fair the Goldcrests at Conwy were doing Pallas’s impersonations too) in the murky morning conditions, but were oddly silent.
The blue skies and sun of the forecast for this neck of the woods had failed to materialise, so I delayed my planned seawatch and detoured up the Conwy Valley instead.
The village (residents asked that I did not publicise this well-known site!) was quite busy, with noisy farm machinery and flocks of wheeling Jackdaws, so it took half and hour or so to track down a single shy Hawfinch feeding in the tall trees above the marvellous medieval church, just up the road from Ye Olde Bull Inn (ahem).
I managed one or two ropey long distance pictures as the bird moved about quietly in the distant branches, almost silhouetted against the watery sky.
Shame about the light, but always a treat to see this species.
Plenty of Redwings in the village too, but it was time to return to the coast, and 20 minutes afterwards I pulled up at the eastern end of the Prom at Old Conwy, just before 1pm, more than an hour before high tide.
The scoter carpet was stretching right the way up to the “Rainbow Bridge”.
Two hours later I was still picking my way through the thousands of Common Scoter offshore in the poor light and choppy seas, when a big white nape smacked me in the eye and a drake Surf Scoter turned to reveal its full stunning black and white head pattern and swollen orangey yellow conk a few hundred metres offshore.
The Surf Scoter dived frequently and I lost it a few times, but managed to get at least other three birders onto the Yankee as it melted in and out of the scoter horde in front of the wind turbines offshore.
With the scope on 60x zoom, I got reasonable views of this wonderful seaduck – it has been a few years since I last saw one.
It’s actually in this picture, just beneath and to the left of the central turbine, but you’ll have to take my word for it, or go for super super zoom!
A single Slav Grebe, with numerous Great Crested Grebes and Red Throated Divers, a few Razorbills, two Fulmars and Red Breasted Mergs made the hunt for the Surfie easier.
Three for three – North Wales was on top form today.