This week’s cold snap will cause birds to move away from lying snow and icy weather. Some move down from the hills to the coast and, at a larger scale, southwest across Britain and even to Ireland, France or Spain. Fieldfares and Redwings have been reported in gardens across the region, grateful for windfall apples or Rowan berries that still hang from trees. It has been a few years since a ‘Waxwing winter’, but EuroBirdPortal maps show large numbers have crossed the North Sea in the last fortnight. Few have made it west so far, but four over Saughall, near Chester, on Friday may be a sign of things to come.
Other birds are forced out of their usual habits and pushed into the open. Water Rails, for example, may have to forage outside frozen reedbeds, and several people have reported seeing more Woodcocks in Wales. Some may have moved just a few hundred metres to find softer ground to probe; others will have arrived recently from Scandinavia or Russia. Snipe too are more visible, as they search for soft soils in which to find invertebrates.
Three dozen Pink-footed Geese over Porthmadog on Monday may be moving away from frozen fields on the Lancashire Mosses or Dee Valley, so look out for others in the coming days. High pressure means calm and bright sea conditions, enabling two Surf Scoters to be spotted from Llanddulas, a Long-tailed Duck in Foryd Bay and a Slavonian Grebe from Abergwyngregyn. The seasonal influx of Black Redstarts continues, with new birds at Aber shore and Holyhead’s Salt Island car park, and others still at Kinmel Bay, Amlwch Port and Hawarden industrial estate. A Ring-necked Duck has returned to Llyn Tegid, a Yellow-legged Gull was at Gresford Flash over the weekend and a Siberian Chiffchaff at Rhyl’s Brickfields nature reserve.
A weekly update of bird sightings and news from North Wales.