Many birdwatchers were grateful, while staying local, to explore a little farther from home at the weekend, and hope that breeding bird surveys – abandoned in spring 2020 – will be able to go ahead. The first Wetland Bird Survey permitted this year recorded 56 Whooper Swans besides the Afon Glaslyn, where the Bywyd Gwyllt Glaslyn Wildlife Project will celebrate World Osprey Week from 22-26 March, hoping to coincide with the return of the local nesting pair.
Two studies published last week used sightings collected during last spring’s lockdown. One in Spain showed that birds’ daily routines changed in response to fewer humans and less noise in cities, with activity patterns similar to birds found in rural areas. In the UK, the British Trust for Ornithology reports that birdwatchers recorded more species associated with towns and gardens, such as Blackbirds and Collared Doves, and fewer waterbirds and coastal species. It showed that BirdTrackers in Wales stayed close to home in every month except September, when restrictions were relaxed.
Winter hangs on stubbornly, and this week’s forecast blast of northerly air will be tough for any arriving summer migrants that depend on flying insects to refuel. Several Manx Shearwaters were seen off the Anglesey coast, fresh from a winter off the South American coast. Hen Harriers were at RSPB Cors Ddyga and Bettisfield Moss, a Firecrest at Llanfairfechan sewage works, and a White-fronted Goose among a flock of Pink-footed Geese at Aberdyfi, where a Glaucous Gull was also reported. An Iceland Gull was at RSPB Oakenholt Marsh on Sunday, and Long-tailed Ducks, Little Gull and a Water Pipit at Caernarfon’s Foryd Bay. Snow Buntings remain at Kinmel Bay and the Great Orme and a Cattle Egret at Valley.
A Great Northern Diver and two Little Gulls were off the Little Orme, where signs of migration included Crossbills, Siskins and Chaffinches overhead. Redwings have been reported on nocturnal passage across the region, returning to Scandinavia, while birders in the Pennines reported hearing Common Scoters leaving the Irish Sea on clear nights last week.
A new national avifauna, The Birds of Wales, will be published in July. Liverpool University Press is accepting pre-orders for £25 (plus p&p), which is £20 below the published price. Click here for details and to order, using the code WALES50 to get the discount.