New Year is a day for new leaves and new lists. Unable to meet up for the traditional ‘first day’, keen birders in North Wales put on their boots to see how many species could be seen or heard within walking distance of home. In eight hours of daylight, my total of 63 included a Water Pipit feeding adjacent to a cattle trough on a nearby farm, although the absence of Greenfinch and Lapwing reflects the decline in both species in recent years. The Water Pipit had been found a few days earlier and is unusual in North Wales, especially away from coastal saltmarsh. Another was seen on Anglesey’s Dulas estuary.
My walk total was put in the shade by the efforts of others. On north Anglesey, Steve Culley saw 81 species, including two rare Tundra Bean Geese at Cemlyn, and on the mainland Simon Hugheston-Roberts saw 80 species around Caernarfon. Any total over 60 is pretty impressive in North Wales in mid winter. It was notable how many Blackbirds and Song Thrushes were seen along the coast, pushed to lower altitudes or out of northern Britain by recent snow.
An Iceland Gull and Scaup are at Rhyl’s Brickfields Pond and a second Iceland Gull was, briefly, near Glanwydden. Snow Buntings remain at Holyhead breakwater and Cemlyn, and Slavonian Grebe and Great Northern Diver were off Beaumaris. A Grey Phalarope was reported on the Dee near Bagillt, and Firecrests at Llanrhos and Conwy’s Bodlondeb Park. A Yellow-browed Warbler was a great find at Anglesey’s Llyn Llywenan, and several Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps were reported. Even more unseasonal is a Lesser Whitethroat found inside a house at Carreglefn, near Amlwch, which may be one of the rare Asian subspecies.
A couple of Black Redstarts fed on berries in a Llandudno garden on Christmas Day, apparently overwintering here, and others were in Tudweiliog, Point Lynas, Holyhead Mountain and Amlwch Port, where a Rose-coloured Starling continues to visit local gardens. A European White-fronted Goose tagged along with the flock of Greenland White-fronts on the Dyfi estuary, and a flock of 21 Whooper Swans is on Lake Vyrnwy.
Speedy work by Martin Jones of the Anglesey Bird News blog saw a 2020 report on the island’s birds published when 2021 was only a few hours old! Raising funds for Bangor Bird Group, details of how to receive one by email are in this blog post.