It’s been a week for birders to listen out for the disyllabic ‘tsw-eee’ sound of Yellow-browed Warblers, an autumn migrant that has rapidly changed its status in western Europe. I remember seeing one on the Great Orme in the late 1980s when it was a real rarity, but now we expect to see small numbers in North Wales every year, and thousands across Britain. They breed each summer in forests around the most eastern margin of Europe, in the foothills of Russia’s Ural Mountains.
Yellow-browed Warblers can turn up in any patch of coastal scrub or woodland. Over the weekend there were several on Bardsey, and singles near Pwllheli, at Holyhead’s Breakwater Country Park and Uwchmynydd on Llŷn. Most winter in southeast Asia, so are these westbound movements all doomed to die? Well, perhaps not. Winter records in Iberia and North Africa have also increased and it may be that these tiny birds travel all the way back to Siberia in spring. Although this has yet to be proven, one was seen in November 2018 in the same Andalucían copse where it had been ringed the previous winter. It had presumably been to Russia and back in the meantime. Although the second week of October is the peak for sightings in Wales, I’m sure there are more to be found as winds turn easterly again from Wednesday.
Other sightings in recent days include a Great Northern Diver and Leach’s Petrel in Bull Bay, Whooper Swan off Aber Ogwen and a Velvet Scoter off the Great Orme. There were two Lapland Buntings at Uwchmynydd and two Spotted Redshanks at RSPB Conwy, where several Great White Egrets remain, with more egrets near Denbigh, on Bardsey and from Porthmadog Cob. There are also Firecrests at Porth Neigwl, Porth Meudwy and RSPB Conwy.
I'll be answering your questions about birds in Wales on the Bywyd Gwyllt Glaslyn Wildlife Facebook page on Tuesday 13 October at 7pm. Hope to hear from you there!