Birders are on the lookout for Sandwich Terns with coloured leg rings this month. Liverpool Bay is an important mix-zone for these seabirds before they head to southwest Africa for the winter. The colour rings, usually placed on chicks before they leave the nest, show that terns from colonies across Britain and Ireland feed along our coast, as do some from Denmark and The Netherlands. The records illustrate the importance of our shallow bays to birds from across northwest Europe, where they fishing for sandeels and sprats prior to migration. The records holds even greater significance since several colonies have been hit hard by bird flu.
My early morning visit to Rhos Point last week found just two ringed Sandwich Terns, one of which – dark blue 631 - hadn’t been recorded in North Wales previously. Scrolling idly through Twitter over breakfast, I saw a photo of a Sandwich Tern with dark blue ring 631, taken not in North Wales but the previous afternoon at Port Seton, east of Edinburgh. A quick exchange of messages confirmed that it was the same bird, which had crossed from the North Sea to the Irish Sea - 186 miles in a straight line - in less than 18 hours. It was ringed as a chick north of Aberdeen in 2018 and visited a nesting colony in Co. Donegal, northwest Ireland, in June this year, where the colour-ring was added. These birds get about!
Other visitors to the coast this week include four Spoonbills at Connah’s Quay nature reserve, two Roseate Terns at Hafan y Môr, Purple Sandpiper at Kinmel Bay and Spotted Redshanks at Morfa Madryn and RSPB Conwy, although the most exciting wildlife sighting was of two Orcas off Aberdesach last Friday. Hundreds of Swallows followed the coast west on Saturday, clearly on migration, and 10,000 roosted that evening at RSPB Cors Ddyga, where a Purple Heron continues to reside. A Ring-necked Duck remains at RSPB Valley Wetlands and an Egyptian Goose is at Foryd Bay.
A weekly update of bird sightings and news from North Wales, published in The Daily Post every Thursday.