Between last week’s deluges, our walk on Saturday from Porth Oer to Mynydd Anelog was interspersed with small flocks of Chaffinch and Skylark heading over the clifftops towards Ireland, just visible on the horizon. These probably originate from the uplands in northern England and Scotland. Typically, only a single bird among a flock of 10 or 20 would call, so it’s quite likely that many others passed over in silence while I concentrated on avoiding the mud and temporary streams. I love seeing these movements, and earlier that day, thousands of small birds were reported over the Great Orme once the rain had cleared.
More surprising was the sight of 15 Collared Doves in a single tree and five Great Spotted Woodpeckers, neither of which leap out as obvious migrants, generally making only short movements. However, both species have been witnessed flying out to sea from headlands on the west coast of Wales. DNA analysis shows that the colonisation of Co. Wicklow, just south of Dublin, by Great Spotted Woodpeckers since 2009 involved birds originating in Britain, so a route from Pen Llŷn seems quite plausible.
Aside from Redwings, migrants from across the North Sea have been scarce this autumn, with barely any Yellow-browed Warblers and very few Fieldfares, although on Anglesey there were a couple of the large grey thrushes over Cemaes last Monday and Llandegfan on Saturday. Birdwatchers in Finland report that it has been a mild autumn and large numbers of Fieldfares remain there, feasting on a good berry crop. However, we may be in for a bumper autumn for Bramblings, with 30 over the Great Orme and 20 near Brynsiencyn at the weekend, while there have been counts of more than 10,000 in Norway, France and the Netherlands in recent weeks.
Six Twite, presumably from the Hebrides, are back on the Dee estuary at Flint Castle and there were two at Mynydd Mawr, west of Aberdaron. Black Redstarts are in Beaumaris, Mynydd Mawr and at Cwrt, near Aberdaron, Snow Buntings were at Cemlyn, Bardsey and RSPB South Stack at the weekend and two Cattle Egrets with a Long-tailed Duck on the Border Pool at RSPB Burton Mere Wetlands. A Scaup is at Rhyl’s Brickfields Pond, a Surf Scoter with two Velvet Scoters off Pensarn, a drake Long-tailed Duck off Benllech and two Slavonian Grebes in Beddmanarch Bay. Two Sandwich Terns off Rhos Point on Monday are late leaving for Africa.