A photo of a smart male Black Redstart feeding amid the demolished rubble of Porthmadog tax office last week reminded me of post-war images of these songbirds nesting among the shattered remains of cities following the Blitz. Others were seen in Amlwch, Trearddur Bay and Llandudno over the weekend. It’s a common species across mainland Europe and Asia, all the way to central China, and is really a bird of dry, rocky mountains, but spread to villages and towns across the continent in the last century. Although Black Redstarts occasionally nest in Welsh quarries, small numbers also occur here in winter and on migration. These probably originate from the Low Countries, and some individuals return to the same place each winter. One ringed at Aberystwyth in December 2010 returned there in 2012 and 2015.
New sightings during lockdown walks this week include a Cattle Egret on a flooded field south of Llanfachraeth in western Anglesey and four Snow Buntings on the Great Orme. Two Great Northern Divers are off Beaumaris and Hooded Crows at Holyhead and Dyffryn Ardudwy. Overwintering Water Pipits remain at Glanwydden and Llandudno, the Rose-coloured Starling at Amlwch Port and a dozen Whooper Swans near Llyn Llywenan, while a Scaup and Iceland Gull were at Rhyl’s Brickfields Pond throughout last week. Snowy conditions resulted in small movements of Redwings and Skylarks across the region.
Following last week’s appeal, readers have reported Blackcaps from across North Wales, mostly along the coast and on Anglesey, but with some farther inland. We’ll report on the results next week, but in the meantime it’s the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch this weekend, which requires nothing more than an hour sitting at a window with a mug of tea. It starts on Friday, so could be part of home-schooling this week…
Visit rspb.org.uk/birdwatch for details.