Three sounds dominated my walk in the woods at the weekend. First were the numerous Mistle Thrushes, which gave away their presence with their football-rattle like call. Other thrushes included large numbers of Redwings and Fieldfares that had just arrived from Scandinavia. The Mistle Thrushes are more local, family groups that have spent late summer feeding on bilberries in the hills and are now coming into the valleys to raid the Rowan trees hanging heavy with bright red berries. Second was the hum from every bunch of Ivy, its umbrella-like yellow flowers providing an autumn lifeline for the bees and flies still on the wing. Third was the raucous screech of the Jays – its Welsh name Sgrech y Coed says much more about the sound of autumn than its English name (which originates from the old French).
Student birders on Bangor Mountain monitored some impressive visible migration at the weekend as part of the Global Birding initiative, which brought together 30,000 birdwatchers in 120 countries. Their highlights were three Hawfinches, Yellow-browed Warbler, Lapland Bunting, Ring Ouzel and a Firecrest, which contributed to a global total of 6,910 species seen in a single weekend.
Monday saw thousands of Chaffinches and small numbers of Bramblings moving along the North Wales coast. Hawfinches were on the Great Orme and at Caerhun, and one colour-ringed in the Conwy Valley two winters ago was photographed in Lincolnshire recently, presumably returning from its breeding area in Scandinavia. The Great Orme also hosted several Snow Buntings, Lapland Buntings and Ring Ouzels, and a Firecrest was ringed there last week. Other Firecrests were at Holyhead’s Breakwater Country Park and Porth Meudwy. A Wood Sandpiper was unseasonally late at Traeth Dulas on Anglesey, a Dusky Warbler was at Uwchmynydd and a Barred Warbler at Tonfanau last week.