It is not just the weather that is feeling more wintry. Most of our summer migrants have left the country, so it was nice to see a few Wheatears on the Great Orme on Monday, and a White Wagtail that had arrived from Iceland. It’s been a chilly start for a brood of young Swallows that fledged late last week on Anglesey and while most Chiffchaffs have gone, a few will remain through the winter. The first flocks of Whooper Swans were over Bangor and at RSPB Point of Ayr, Cors Ddyga and the Cefni estuary, and Golden Plovers are arriving on Mynydd Hiraethog. Small numbers of Chaffinch and Goldcrests are moving along the coast.
At least five Yellow-browed Warblers were found on Bardsey last week, and two more were on Holy Island. I remember seeing my first, on the Great Orme, in 1988 when they were genuinely rare. The species underwent a transformation in its status during the last decade, becoming a scarce but expected passage migrant each autumn. It seems that these are no longer lost vagrants but small numbers journey between Siberia and southwest Europe, a shorter distance than their usual winter haunts in southeast Asia. North Sea coasts welcome the majority of European records, but some make it to North Wales in most years. And with many miles of suitable scrubby habitat along the coastline, who knows how many pass un-noticed?
Bardsey Bird Observatory also recorded a Common Rosefinch last week, while a Barred Warbler was a good find on Holyhead Mountain. A Hen Harrier on the Great Orme, and Merlin and Short-eared Owl at Point of Ayr are migrants from hilly areas. Two more Cattle Egrets have joined the flock at RSPB Cors Ddyga, that now totals five birds and look very much at home among cattle grazing the nature reserve.
I’m looking forward to speaking at the Welsh Ornithological Society’s conference at Aberystwyth University on 4 November, and hope to meet birdwatchers from across North Wales. Also speaking on the theme of ‘’Into and Out of the Red – creating a brighter future for birds in Wales” will be WOS President, Iolo Williams, the BTO’s Rachel Taylor, NRW’s Patrick Lindley, Rare Breeding Bird Panel chair Dawn Balmer, and Bob Haycock from the Pembrokeshire Bird Group. You may just get one of the last few tickets on the WOS website.
A weekly update of bird sightings and news from North Wales, published in The Daily Post every Thursday.