I rarely twitch a rarity these days, but waking early on Christmas Eve, the draw of a Belted Kingfisher – five times the size of our colourful Common Kingfisher - near Preston was too good to ignore. At daybreak, I joined dozens of others in a field opened up by a local farmer, and was soon watching it catch fish in the River Darwen. It has been seen sporadically in the area since early November and is only the fifth British record of this North American visitor. It could even be the same bird that spent last winter in southern Ireland.
Closer to home, the subadult Iceland Gull continues to share Little Orme’s Angel Bay with Grey Seals, above which auks and Fulmars occupy the cliff and former quarry ledges, looking ahead to warmer days of spring. Dozens of Red-throated Divers are off Llanfairfechan and Pensarn at the moment, three Slavonian Grebes are in Beddmanarch Bay and another is with a couple of Long-tailed Ducks and Velvet Scoters off Llanddulas. Another Long-tailed Duck is on Shotwick Boating Lake.
A Swallow over Ynys Llanddwyn on Christmas Day was one of several in the country in the last week, and a Common Sandpiper is overwintering on the Dee at Flint. Also unseasonal for North Wales is an Avocet on the Braint estuary, south of Newborough.
Three Great White Egrets are at RSPB Cors Ddyga and others at Llyn Llywenan, Llyn Ystumllyn and RSPB Conwy. Five European White-fronted Geese were alongside the Clwyd estuary below Rhuddlan on Monday and a Scaup remains nearby at Rhyl’s Brickfield Pond. Up to 34 Pink-footed Geese are on fields between Penrhyn Bay and Coleg Llandrillo, and there were smaller flocks near Caernarfon airport and near Cemlyn last week. Single Snow Buntings are at Fort Belan and Mynydd Mawr, near Aberdaron, and elsewhere on Pen Llŷn, up to three Siberian Chiffchaffs at Porth Meudwy and another at Pontllyfni. At least three Hawfinches regularly visit Llanrwst churchyard and another was seen deep in Clocaenog Forest last week, along with several Bramblings.
Very many thanks for reading BirdNotes throughout this year. I wish you an enjoyable new year, and a nature-rich 2022.
A weekly update of bird sightings and news from North Wales.