It’s the time of year that flocks of small songbirds are forming. Blue, Great and Long-tailed Tits are sometimes joined by tiny Goldcrests or a Chiffchaff, but occasionally something rarer. Firecrests were at Bangor Mountain, RSPB Conwy, South Stack, on the Great Orme and at Gloddaeth Woods near Llandudno. Yellow-browed Warblers were on the Little Orme, Great Orme, near Bangor Pier, Benllech and Llanddona. A late Ring Ouzel was on Anglesey’s Mynydd Bodafon, two Great White Egrets from Porthmadog Cob, a Long-tailed Duck at Malltraeth Cob and a Hooded Crow was over Bangor. A Rose-coloured Starling was at Llanbedr airfield, a leftover from the summer’s irruption from southeastern Europe.
A few late Swallows have been reported this week, but early November sees the arrival of migrants from the north. Thousands of Chaffinches were reported from coastal watchpoints, with a few dozen Bramblings, plus Siskins, Coal Tits and Lapland Buntings. A Snow Bunting was at Holyhead’s Soldier’s Point, but more unusual was a Treecreeper, only the second recorded there by local birder Ken Croft in 46 years. Treecreepers were also recorded at the tree-less end of the Great Orme. I wonder how far they had come? Most Treecreepers barely move during their whole life, but ringing shows that young birds will travel up to 200km in their first autumn.
Ringing also shows the different lives that birds lead. Two Little Egrets ringed near Bangor by the Mid Wales Ringing Group in 2012 are a good example. One has been seen regularly at RSPB Cors Ddyga on Anglesey in the eight years since. Its neighbour was seen in Lanzarote in 2014 and again in March 2020, but was recently photographed in South Wales. At over 2,800km, it’s one of the longest movements ever made by a British Little Egret. Has it been making that commute annually?