Birds of Prey in North Wales

Birds of prey are a wonder to watch and learn about. They are the mysterious apex predators of the sky, mythical in their poise and nature. I see many buzzards whilst driving around Anglesey, perched high on the telegraph poles watching with a careful eye from above. Kestrels, Flacons and Periguns are common place around Anglesey and around the coastal path region also. Take time out to go and explore the region looking for some of these wonderful birds of prey in north Wales.

With such diversity of species of bird of prey in north Wales, I was quite taken aback whilst doing my research for this blog. Some I have seen on my travels, but others, I have not seen at all. Quite honestly, I didnt even know we have some of these species here. Now for the “pro bird watchers”  in the readership, (note I am not a bird watcher- so if I have made any error in my descriptions – you might have to allow me some slack!)  It’s quite amazing to hear about all these beautiful stealthy creatures that inhabit our lands and yet, we don’t see them very often.

It can be quite difficult to spot these birds of prey out on the wild, because they are so ellusive. I often see Falcons and Hawks on Holy island, which I believe reside on Holyhead mountain, along with some Peraguin falcons and some other birds of prey. Finding them, is done by chance, so keep your eyes out open around  steep coastlines for Hawks hovering over fields seaching for field mice. Take your binoculars and get a book and guide (see below) to identify whats what, on your walks..

South stack and the back of Holy Island mountain can also be one of the best spots to produce the good bird sightings, when I’m running I see quite a variety around there, more than any other location actually, it must be the steep cliffs that afford them the safety and security for nesting maybe..

At the bottom the blog I have given some locations when you can go for your own falconry experiences in north Wales and see them for your own, close up and personal, so make sure to check them out. Also at the base of the blog, you’ll see a feathered friend that came to be-friend me for 6 weeks this summer called Ragnar!

 

Honey Buzzard

About Honey Buzzard

The long tail and broad wings make Honey Buzzard resemble the common buzzard. Honey Buzzard spends summer in UK and moves to Africa for winter. The adult bird will be of large size and with the characteristic white under-parts. On the face both have dense, scale-like feathers.

Identification

The male Honey Buzzard is with black-brown and grey-white feather, yellow legs and with black-yellow, short-hooked beak.

The female bird also has black-brown and grey-white feather, yellow legs and black-yellow, short-hooked beak.

 

honey buzzard

 

Habitat: Woodland.

 

Goshawk

About Goshawk

Goshawk is a bigger sized hawk almost equal to the buzzard in size. Goshawks are found in spring and winter. Their aerial-dance during late winter and spring is really spectacular. Long legs and talons enable it to catch flying prey. This bird of prey can fly at high-speed because of its broad wings. Though, Goshawks are considered forest birds, in some parts of Europe they can be seen in urban areas also.

Identification

Appear similar to sparrow but, of larger size. Males are smaller compared to females. This bird has distinctive orange-red eye and white eyebrow. Wings are broad, tail is rounded and long and legs are thick and yellowish. Feathers are black-brown and grey-white. Beak is black-yellow in color and is short hooked.

 

Goss hawk -woodlandtrust

Habitat: Woodland, Farmland, Grassland, Wetland and Upland.

 

Red Kite

About Red Kite

The large and graceful Red Kites are found in Wales, Yorkshire, East Midlands and Chilterns. They are considered scavengers as they eat scraps and carrion. Red Kites hunt only small preys such as rabbits.

Identification

The reddish-brown body, angled wings and long reddish-brown forked tail provide magnificent appearance. Red wings are tipped with black and legs are yellow in color. Beak is black yellow and short hooked. Red Kite is identified from their “mewing” calls also.

Kite - wildlifearticles

Habitat:  Woodland, Farmland, Grassland,Moorland, Towns and Gardens.

 

Osprey

About Osprey

Osprey is a migratory bird and can be seen in UK during summer. In winter they migrate to West Africa. This bird catches fish by diving towards lakes, stretching the talons and easily scooping the fish out of water. At a distance Osprey appears almost as a seagull. It is a large bird.

Identification

Upper part of body is brown and under-parts are white. Head is white in color and eyes are dark brown. Wings are also dark brown.

Osprey- light up pool.com

Habitat: Wetlands, Fresh water.

 

Marsh Harrier

About Marsh Harrier

Marsh Harrier is the largest among all types of harriers. This bird feeds on birds like coot and moorhen, frogs and small mammals. These migratory birds arrive in UK in the month of April and migrate to Africa in October.

Identification

Marsh Harrier has long tail and while flying it holds its wings up creating V-shape. Male has long grey wings with black tips, pale head and brown-back and gingery belly. The females are chocolate-brown in color but, crown and throat are golden-yellow.

 

Marsh harrier- british birds of prey

Habitats: Grassland, Farmland, Fresh water, Wetlands and Coastal.

 

Hen Harrier

About Hen Harrier

Hen Harrier is one among the most endangered bird of prey species in Europe. Their main food is meadow pipits and voles. When they try to feed on small grouse and fowl, these birds get into conflict with farmers as well as gamekeepers. Females are also known as ‘ringtails’ because of their unique tail banding. The male bird passes on food to female mid-air by an amazing ‘throw-catch’ display. While flying low in search of food, they hold their wings in a shallow “V” shape.

Identification

Males have black brown and grey white feathers. Legs are of yellow color. Black, hooked beak is of medium length.

Females have black brown and buff feathers. Legs are yellow black, hooked beak is of medium length.

Hen harrier- wildsheffield.co.uk

Habitats:  Farmland, Moorland, Wetlands, Woodland and coastal.

 

Buzzard

About Buzzard

A very common bird of prey in UK and is found almost in all parts of the country. This bird feeds on carrion, mammals, small birds and sometimes large insects and earth worms. In the spring the male birds perform ‘roller-coaster’ display to attract the mate.

Identification

Buzzards are medium-sized with wings broader than that of Red Kite. Tail is shorter than that of Red Kite. Feathers are Black Brown and White and legs are yellow. Beak is black yellow and short hooked. While gliding and soaring, they hold their wings in a shallow “V” shape. The mewing call of this bird resembles to that made by cats.

Common Buzzard - woodland trust

Habitats: Grassland, Moorland, Farmland and Woodland.

 

Sparrow Hawk

About Sparrow Hawk

Sparrow Hawk is one of the smallest birds of prey. Females are larger than males. They hunt small bird species like finches, sparrows and tits in dense woodland and gardens.

Identification

Sparrow Hawk has rounded wings and long, narrow tail. Males are with blue-grey and under-parts are white with reddish-orange barring.

Females are with brown plumage above and grey bars below.

Both male and female have reddish cheeks and yellow legs. Beak is black yellow and short hooked.

Sparrow hawk- nuturing-nature.co.uk

Habitat: Grassland, Moorland, Heathland, Farmland, Woodland, Towns and Gardens.

 

Kestrel

About Kestrel

Kestrels are small birds of prey well adapted to town, city, village and countryside environments. Kestrel is also known by the name “wind-hover”. This bird of prey can keep its head still while hovering even in strong winds. As a result it can pinpoint its prey just by sight.

Identification

Kestrels hold out their wings while hovering. They have grey head and the tail is with a black band. Back is gingery-brown and the underside is creamy speckled with black. Legs are yellow and beak is black yellow and short hooked.

kestrel. nature photos.cz

 

Habitats:  Heathland, Moorland, Grassland, Wetlands, Woodland, Coastal, Gardens and Towns.

 

Hobby

About Hobby

This bird of prey is known for its high-speed maneuvers while flying. It makes a dashing flight to chase small birds like swallows and martins and also large insects. This is a small sized falcon and is smaller than Kestrel. These migratory birds spend summer in UK and winter in Africa.

Identification

Hobby is identified with its long, pointed wings, white throat and cheeks. It has dark moustache and mask. It is slate-grey above and pale below. It has also brick-red trousers and black streaks on belly. Legs are yellow and beak is black yellow.

Hobby bird of prey

 

Habitat:   Grassland, Moorland and Heathland, Farmland, Wetlands and Freshwater

 

Peregrine Falcon

About Peregrine Falcon

The powerful Peregrine Falcon is large in size and is found in north, west and south UK. Legislation and protective measures facilitated increase in the population of these birds of prey.

Identification

Peregrine Falcon is blue-grey above and white below. There are black bars across its belly and chest. Other outstanding features include white throat and cheeks, black moustache and mask. Legs are yellow and beak is black yellow.

Peregrine falcon

 

Habitats:   Farmland, Wetlands, Heathland, Moorland, Coastal, Towns and Gardens

 

Merlin

About Merlin

This bird of prey is also a small-sized falcon that feeds on small birds. Because of its small size this bird can ‘hang’ in the breeze while chasing the prey. This is the smallest bird of prey found in UK and it breeds in winter. Merlin is the smallest European falcon.

Identification

Merlin is blue-grey above. Under parts are of orange-cream color and are streaked in black. The female birds are grey-brown with dark streaking underneath. Broad-based wings are with pointed tips. They have long, compact tails. Legs are yellow.

 

Merlin - audobon.org

 

Habitats:  Farmland, Grassland, Heathland, Moorland, Coastal and Wetlands

 

Tawny Owl

About Tawny Owl

This is the large size common owl which feeds on small animals like mice and voles. Like other owls it can also turn its head through 270 degrees to look behind. The eyes of this bird cannot move in the socket.

Identification

Tawny Owl is of reddish-brown color and underside is pale. Other characteristics features are the big round head, large dark eyes, a dark ring around the face and rounded wings. This bird makes the characteristic ‘twit-twoo’ call.

 

Tawny owl- walldesk.com

Habitats: Farmland, Woodland, Towns and Gardens.

 

Short-Eared Owl

About Short-Eared Owl

The Short-Eared Owl breeds in North England and Scotland. In winter they are found more widely. They fly low and feed on small birds and voles. In winter they migrate to UK from Scandinavia, Russia and Iceland. They hunt during day time.

Identification

These birds of prey are mottled yellow-brown above and pale below. Dark circle is found around the yellow eyes. It has short ‘ear tuffs’.

short eared owl- moorland association.org

 

Habitats: Grassland, Heathland, Mooreland, Wetlands, Farmland and Coastal

 

Long-Eared Owl

About Long-Eared Owl

Long-Eared Owls are nocturnal birds from coniferous forests. They are shy birds and feed on small mammals like voles and also small birds. They breed from the month of February. While hunting they bite the prey on the back of its head so that it will fall on the ground.

Identification

This bird of prey is mottled brown in color. It has long wings and big orange-red eyes. The long ear-tuffs are not ears but, feathers which can be raised when the bird is alarmed.

long eared owl- walldesk.com

 

Habitats: Grassland, Woodland, Coastal

 

Barn Owl

About Barn Owl

This is the most familiar type of owl and it feeds on small mammals. This bird can hunt with high precision when it is fully dark. During flight they are silent and stealthy. These birds can see the mice and voles on the ground since their faces will direct sound waves of high frequency.

Identification

Bar Owl has silver grey and buff back. Underside is pure white. The white face has the shape of heart. Eyes are black.

 

barn owl-barnowlbox.com

Habitats:Grassland, Heathland, Moorland, Farmland, Wetlands and Coastal

 

Little Owl

About Little Owl

Little Owl is mainly nocturnal. On spotting the prey it will swoop down and catch the same either with the beak or with the claws. This bird of prey feeds on reptiles, worms, small mammals, small birds and amphibians. Little Owls breed between March and August.

Identification

Little Owl is very small and is brown in color. It has yellow eyes and short tail.

little owl-bordguides.com

 

 

Habitats: 

Grassland, Heathland, Moorland, Farmland, Wetlands, Woodland, Coastal, Towns and Gardens

Falconry centres in north Wales  (Key words see below )

If your looking for some falconry centres in north Wales, see the list below. There are a couple centres that I can find, obviously there are all closed right now due to CORVID 19. There are other pop up falconry events during the season, keep your eyes on our calendar for more of that in the car future for 2020.

 

Anglesey hawking 

Falconry experiences Denbighshire 

 

Birds of prey centres north Wales 

Owls trust Llanudno 

Falconry experience Wales Machynlleth

Owls sanctuary Corwen

 

A little bird told me ….

So six weeks ago I got a visit from a new friend, who juts appeared in my garden one afternoon. He was bold and cheeky but could not fly. So I took him in and gave him bed and breakfast for a few weeks to help him on his feet / wings… He was a baby Raven, which I named Ragnar, after the famous viking Ragnar Lothbrok who’s emblem was the Raven. He left about two weeks ago and has flow the coupe you’ll be please to hear.. So that was this summer surprise a visitor.

 

IMG_5557
Ragnar the Raven.

Below are some good books on wild birds and birds of prey in the UK. Its quite hard to find, books very specific to anglesey, but its sometimes best to have a general guide to hone in from there. They are all connected to our amazon account, and if you purchase from us, we get a 1% kickback on the purchase, it al helps us keep the blogs going strong.

 

 

 

Front Cover image :  Photo by Alessandro La Becca on Unsplash

 

Tan Y Tro Nesaf  / Until the next time,

 

Nick

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