The cool airflow of the last week probably suited two Dotterels that landed in heather at RSPB South Stack at the weekend. These plovers nest high on mountain plateaux in Scotland and Scandinavia, but a few stop in North Wales each year. Some rest-points are used every spring, especially in the Carneddau mountains, but a quarter of Welsh records are coastal, such as the Anglesey headland adopted by these two males. Unusual among birds, male Dotterels have less colourful plumage than females. Once she has laid eggs, the male incubates alone, using his muted colours to hide him well among the bare ground and sparse plants. His mate moves on, perhaps hundreds of miles to the north, to find another male with whom to repeat the process before she heads back to North Africa for the winter.
Dotterel numbers in Scotland are in decline, but the reasons are complex, and appear to be related to late-lying snow, nitrogen pollution and rainfall in their African wintering grounds - there's a great WaderTales blog by Graham Appleton that explains the latest science.
Other summer migrants continued to arrive this week. It was great to wander around RSPB Conwy, reopened to visitors last week, to the scratchy songs of Whitethroat and Sedge Warbler. The first Whinchat of the year was at Dinas Dinlle on Monday, and RSPB Cors Ddyga hosted a smart male Garganey and early Reed Warbler. A few Redstarts arrived back in Welsh woodlands this week, and more Black Redstarts dropped in on their way back to breed in Scandinavia; most are coastal, so one near Penmachno last week was unusual. Ring Ouzels and Whimbrels have been in evidence along the coast, and Grasshopper Warblers are reeling at several wetland sites. A Wood Warbler was singing at Capel Curig on Monday and Twite are back in Snowdonia’s Nant Ffrancon.
An Iceland Gull followed the plough near Cemlyn, a Great White Egret was in the Alyn Valley near Caergwrle, a colourful Slavonian Grebe in summer plumage in the Menai Strait and a White Stork flew over Ruthin last Friday.
A weekly update of bird sightings and news from North Wales, published in The Daily Post every Thursday.