It’s the time of year for early morning bird surveys – and I love it! Creeping out of the house at 4am into the frigid quiet, roads empty save for an occasional delivery van, an owl or a Badger in the headlights. Switching off the engine on the moorland in the pitch black, and already two species have woken: well before daybreak, Skylarks and Curlews are joyous and welcome sounds.
This Friday is World Curlew Day, an opportunity to celebrate a family of birds in decline across the world. Our Eurasian Curlew is a regular sight along the coasts of North Wales over winter, but most adults have now left for their breeding grounds in northern Britain, Finland and Germany, so just the year-old birds remain here. The Welsh breeding population is far rarer, probably only a few hundred nesting pairs remain and they are forecast to be extinct by 2033 without immediate action. Gylfinir Cymru, a partnership that wants to keep the bubbling call of Curlew in Wales, is asking farmers, gamekeepers, birdwatchers and walkers to record sightings of Curlew in potential breeding areas so that conservation measures can be taken. Head to bit.ly/curlewcymru (neu bit.ly/gylfinircymru yn Gymraeg) if you have records that could help.
Bird of the week was a Red-rumped Swallow that fed over lagoons at RSPB Conwy for a couple of days, only the second reserve record. Remarkably, the third Alpine Swift in a fortnight was seen there on Friday, and later briefly over Llandudno’s Grand Hotel. Other regional highlights include two Dotterels and a Siberian Chiffchaff on Bardsey, Hooded Crows at Morfa Nefyn and RSPB South Stack, Wood Sandpiper and Garganey at RSPB Cors Ddyga on Monday, and Little Gulls at Cemlyn and Valley. The first Whimbrels of spring are on Anglesey, Redstarts have arrived in small numbers and Pied Flycatchers are back on territory.
Click on the images below to see Steve Culley's photographs of the Red-rumped Swallow
A weekly update of bird sightings and news from North Wales, published in The Daily Post every Thursday.