The gales of Storm Anwen brought tens of thousands of gulls to beaches along the North Wales coast, feeding on the starfish and other marine life washed ashore. Birdwatchers will be checking the flocks carefully this week for Iceland and Glaucous Gulls from the Arctic-edge. A Smew was a great find at RSPB Conwy, in the same part of the lagoon as the only previous sighting there, in 2007. A Scaup, a duck that is more usually found offshore, is also at the wetland reserve, and a Jack Snipe has endeavoured to blend into the reeds outside the coffee shop.
It took a brave birder to birdwatch in the teeth of Saturday’s storm, but highlights for the hardy include a Pomarine Skua off the Little Orme, a Grey Phalarope blown into Traeth Coch/Red Wharf Bay, eight Little Gulls off Traeth Bychan and others off Beaumaris and Rhos Point. Other northern waterbirds include a small flock of Whooper Swans on Cemlyn lagoon, Long-tailed Ducks off Benllech and on Shotwick boating lake, and Great Northern Divers south of Penmon. Several Brünnich’s Guillemots were seen along North Sea coasts and another off Cornwall, but no-one was able to find the first Welsh record of this auk species that breeds as close as Iceland but rarely ventures to the southeast.
Last week, before the sea became choppy, a Surf Scoter was off Pensarn and two Black Redstarts were in the old quarry on the Little Orme, a regular wintering site for these visitors. The Great Grey Shrike continues to hunt around clearfelled forestry northwest of Llyn Brenig. A lone Swallow was doubtless feeling chilly on the beach near Rhoscolyn on Sunday, but Snow Buntings at Llanddona and on both Llandudno’s north and west shores may have felt quite at home.
A weekly update of bird sightings and news from North Wales, published in The Daily Post every Thursday.