Some of the world’s great travellers visited North Wales at the weekend. Sabine’s Gulls pass en route from the Arctic tundra of Greenland and eastern Canada, where they hatched this summer. They will spend the northern winter with albatrosses off southwest Africa. Juveniles have distinctive dark wings and triangular white flashes, although Kittiwakes are an identification pitfall for the unwary. ‘Sabs’ were rare in Wales until the 1980s, but are now seen in small numbers each September. Sightings came from Porth Ysgaden on Friday, from Llanfairfechan, Rhos Point and several sites on north and west Anglesey including four at Point Lynas on Saturday, and the Great Orme on Monday.
From the same area, the first Pale-bellied Brent Geese of autumn have arrived from the high Arctic of eastern Canada. Flying over the shrinking Greenland ice cap in the longest migration of any goose in Europe, these will stay around the Menai Strait through the winter. Several dozen are back on the Foryd near Caernarfon with others in Beddmanarch Bay and at Abergwyngregyn. Leach’s Petrels, Little Gull and Balearic Shearwaters were among other seabirds reported, with Grey Phalarope and Pomarine Skua seen from Bardsey.
Wrynecks are a regular autumn visitor to Bardsey, which hosted one over the weekend, but more unusually there were also sightings of this compact ant-eating woodpecker at NWWT The Spinnies and near Bethesda. Lapland Buntings were seen over Bardsey and Cemlyn Bay, Hooded Crows at Aberdaron and RSPB South Stack, and a Garganey on a pool beside the A55 near Valley.
Curlew Sandpipers were at RSPB Conwy, Llanfairfechan and on the Alaw estuary over the weekend, and an impressive flock of 10 was at Burton Mere Wetlands. A male Rose-coloured Starling was seen at Bull Bay, a Purple Heron at RSPB Cors Ddyga and Spotted Redshank at Porthmadog’s Llyn Bach.