The combination of easterly winds and heavy rain made birdwatching difficult at the weekend, but there were interesting sightings for those who made the effort. The rarest birds in the region were on Bardsey: a Siberian Lesser Whitethroat, and an Eastern Yellow Wagtail, that is only the second ever seen in Wales - check the Bird Observatory blog for 3 October to read more, including how to identify the wagtail's call.
Mainland highlights include Rose-coloured Starlings at Morfa Nefyn and Bull Bay, Lapland Bunting at Llanystumdwy, three Great White Egrets at Porthmadog Cob and six at RSPB Conwy. Yellow-browed Warblers were at Porth Meudwy, Bangor and on the Great Orme.
The east coast saw the pick of the sightings, which included a trio of Russian thrushes in Scotland: White’s, Siberian and Eye-browed, while a Masked Shrike near Hartlepool and Two-barred Warbler in Northumberland also originated to the east. A Tennessee Warbler dropped onto Yell in Shetland from North America, illustrating how almost anything is possible during autumn migration.
Wales’ summer migrants are arriving in their tropical or southern winter quarters now, including thousands of terns that left our coast just a few weeks ago. The North Wales Wildlife Trust wardens at Cemlyn recently wrapped up their season with a webinar to report on a successful year for the tern colony. Almost 2000 Sandwich Tern nests was slightly down on the peak of a few years ago, but nonetheless amounts to almost 2% of the global population. The 750 pairs of Arctic Terns and 250 pairs of Common Terns were their highest ever totals, and over 1000 non-breeding terns added to the spectacle. The increase occurred following the abandonment of The Skerries colony, illustrating the importance of having alternative places that these seabirds can feel safe if they need a Plan B. Common Terns previously ringed on The Skerries also bred at RSPB Hodbarrow in Cumbria and Dalkey Island, close to Dun Laoghaire port in Ireland.