As the Northern Hemisphere tips incrementally towards the sun, longer days will trigger the urge for birds to migrate and breed. For the nomadic Crossbill, though, nesting time is determined by the abundance of conifer seeds, especially plantations of Sitka Spruce, so birds can find themselves brooding chicks in heavy snowfall. There were plenty of Crossbills around Llyn Brenig during our Boxing Day walk, plus two dozen Bullfinches also shining brightly in the winter sun.
Hawfinches have returned to riverbank at Llanrwst, with five seen so far, but more than a dozen were there last winter. A Lapland Bunting was at Dinas Dinlle last weekend, with three Great Northern Divers offshore. A Velvet Scoter is on the sea off Pensarn and a Grey Phalarope was reported from the Little Orme. A Snow Bunting is on Kinmel Bay beach and at least one Black Redstart at nearby Horton’s Nose. Another Black Redstart roosted in the rafters of Llanbadrig church during a candlelight carol service, departing when the church was opened the following morning.
A Pochard, now a scarce visitor to the North Wales coast, was found on Rhyl’s Marine Lake on Christmas Day, but was founded dead less than 24 hours later. A few Pochards are also at RSPB Conwy with a Scaup, and where a Jack Snipe is with several hundred Lapwings that moved west during the recent cold snap. More than 3000 Lapwings are beside the Clwyd estuary and several hundred more, with even greater numbers of Golden Plovers, feed on fields south of Aberffraw.
Saturday saw a flock of 1000 Pink-footed Geese tracked west over Rhyl, Penrhyn Bay and the Great Orme, and quite possibly now feeding on undisturbed pasture on Anglesey. A Green-winged Teal remains on a pool next to the Inland Sea and three Whooper Swans are at RSPB Cors Ddyga. Eighty Twite fed on the rising tide near Bagillt, half a dozen Purple Sandpipers are on rocks at Penrhyn Bay, and another 15 at Trearddur Bay.
I’d like to wish all BirdNotes readers a peaceful New Year, and good birdwatching in 2023.
A weekly update of bird sightings and news from North Wales, published in The Daily Post every Thursday.