Small numbers of Scaup, an Arctic nesting duck that looks superficially similar to our more abundant Tufted Duck, spend the winter in Britain, and the first of autumn have appeared in Anglesey this week: two at RSPB Valley Wetlands and six on the Inland Sea. The latter site also hosts several Great Northern Divers, including one with a broken bill that has returned for at least its third winter, showing that it can feed effectively despite missing half its lower mandible. Little is really known about the wintering habits of these chunky waterbirds, known as Common Loon in North America, but this one clearly likes the sheltered shallow waters east of Holy Island. Another six were off Porth Ysgaden, one in Holyhead harbour and one fished crabs from the Afon Glaslyn near Porthmadog, Nearby, the first 11 Whooper Swans have arrived for the winter.
Five Great White Egrets remain together near Llanerchymedd, another was on the Mawddach estuary near Penmaenpool, and a Cattle Egret was on the Rhyl bank of the Clwyd estuary. At the other end of the scale, tiny Firecrests were at Morfa Madryn, Menai Bridge’s Church Island and in a Hawarden garden. Several Snow Buntings were found on beaches in the region, including two each at Holyhead breakwater, Point of Ayr and Kinmel Bay, and singles at Llanddona and Llandudno’s West Shore. North Anglesey’s long-staying Rose-coloured Starling fed in an Amlwch Port garden at the weekend.
Eight Spotted Redshanks are wintering at Connah’s Quay nature reserve, by far the most reliable site in the region for this wader, with another couple at RSPB Conwy. Three Purple Sandpipers rested on boulders at Rhos Point at high tide, seven at Trearddur Bay and an impressive 22 at Trwyn, near Cemlyn. A late Wheatear remained on the Great Orme on Saturday.
Join me and Mike Raine for the first in a new series of ‘Day in the Life…’ Q&A sessions on Mike's Notes from the Hill Facebook page this Wednesday (18 November) at 6pm.