When Wales’ eighth Isabelline Wheatear was found near the tip of Pen Llŷn in early November, it was expected to be a one-day wonder, perhaps remaining a few days at most. The previous longest-staying individual of this species in Wales was exactly seven days, and the latest ever was on 10 November. The bird at Braich-y-pwll, Uwchmynydd, is poised to enter its fifth week here, so must be finding plenty of soil invertebrates on which to feed.
This week’s falling temperatures may cause the Wheatear to move on, and bring a more wintry feeling to sightings around North Wales. A Grey Phalarope was in Anglesey’s Porth Swtan on Saturday, Snow Buntings on the Great Orme and over RSPB South Stack, and a couple of Slavonian Grebes are in Beddmanarch Bay. Several Water Pipits are at RSPB Cors Ddyga, where the Black-necked Grebe remained until the weekend at least. Spotted Redshanks are in Bangor harbour, Morfa Madryn and RSPB Conwy, where a Scaup remains. Calm conditions assist the search for seaducks this month: a couple of Surf Scoters have been spotted off Llanddulas and one off Criccieth, where several Little Gulls dip-feed in the surf. Velvet Scoters have been off Llanfairfechan and Rhos on Sea.
A small arrival of Black Redstarts brought two to Hawarden Industrial Park and singles on the Great Orme, Little Orme, Amlch Port, Penrhyn Bay promenade and Holyhead’s Soldiers’ Point. Twite are returning to the Dee estuary, presumably from their breeding grounds on the Outer Hebrides, with 25 on Flint saltmarsh on Saturday and six at Gronant. Even more diminutive are Firecrests, seen at Menai Bridge, Bryn Pydew, Bodysgallen Hall and the Great Orme, but there are doubtless more to be found.
A lone Swallow fed over Cemlyn lagoon on Sunday, a late date in the season but by no means unprecedented in a warming world. There have been nine December records of Swallow on Anglesey since 2000, but only two elsewhere in North Wales.
Wild Justice’s petition to delay the start of the Woodcock shooting season, supported by many organisations including the RSPB, has achieved support from over 75,000 signatures. Read last week’s column to find out more.
Bangor Bird Group, celebrating its 75th year, has returned to online talks for its autumn season, enabling both visitors and speakers to join from across the world at 7.30pm every Wednesday evening. View the programme and join the Bird Group here, or follow the Group on facebook.
Thanks to Ben Porter for providing this week's image (and for finding the Isabelline Wheatear!), and many of those seen here throughout the year. He has produced a calendar of some of his photographs from Wales, printed by the Sustainable Print company, with 10% of sales being donated to the Cameron Bespolka Trust, to support their work engaging young people with nature. The calendars are £12 (excluding post & packing). Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
A weekly update of bird sightings and news from North Wales.