RSPB Cymru and the British Trust for Ornithology have thanked Meirionnydd householders for stopping supplies of food and water for birds in their gardens during the autumn. The suspension followed concerns about the spread of disease in Hawfinches, a Red-list bird for which the county holds significant numbers. Although they have given the green light to resume feeding, the organisations have warned that Trichomonosis remains a real threat to garden birds. They are asking people across Wales to pay close attention to the health of birds, to clean feeders and water bowls regularly, and suspend feeding if they witness sick birds. More details of what to look for are on the Garden Wildlife Health website.
I spent Sunday in north Meirionnydd, where a Brambling from Scandinavia was among flocks of Chaffinch and the first Whooper Swans were back from Iceland in the Glaslyn valley. Another dozen Whoopers were on Anglesey’s Llyn Alaw and several on the Dee estuary. The last taste of summer came with Swallow and Sand Martin on Llyn Llywenan and a handful of Sandwich Terns off Rhos Point.
A Cattle Egret was beside the Clwyd estuary, Firecrests at Rhoscolyn and Penmon Point and a Slavonian Grebe at Shotton. Around the coast, five Yellow-browed Warblers were on Bardsey, with others spotted at Amlwch, Uwchmynydd and more surprisingly in a Lixwm garden in Flintshire. Two Long-eared Owls were ringed on Bardsey, caught within an hour of each other, and a Richard’s Pipit was seen there last week. Long-tailed Ducks are off Benllech and at RSPB Conwy, where a Lapland Bunting flew over on Saturday.
Farther afield, it has been an extraordinary couple of weeks for rare American landbirds on this side of the Atlantic. Britain’s first Least Bittern arrived in Shetland, but died soon afterwards, while Ireland recorded its first Alder Flycatcher. A smart Blackburnian Warbler has been on the Scilly Isles for several days and a Myrtle Warbler in Ireland. Wales joined the action, with the nation’s first Tennessee Warbler dropping onto Skokholm in Pembrokeshire, but a Baltimore Oriole was just out of reach, on Lundy in the Bristol Channel. From Siberia, a Red-flanked Bluetail was found just outside Cardiff.
Author and campaigner Mary Colwell was awarded the RSPB Medal, the charity’s highest honour at its Annual General Meeting last weekend. Mary has campaigned tirelessly to raise the profile of Curlew conservation across the UK, initiating collaborations that led to a Wales Recovery Plan for the species last year. She generously gave me her time during a walk from the west coast of Ireland to the east coast of England in 2016, which led her to write Curlew Moon – you can read here my Daily Post article that resulted from that day in Y Berwyn. Mary has also successfully campaigned to secure a Natural History GCSE, which becomes available to students in England from 2025.
Bangor Bird Group, celebrating its 75th year, has returned to online talks for its autumn season, enabling both visitors and speakers to join from across the world at 7.30pm every Wednesday evening. View the programme and join the Bird Group here, or follow the Group on facebook.
A weekly update of bird sightings and news from North Wales, published in The Daily Post every Thursday.