The firebreak lockdown has again demonstrated that there are plenty of birds on our doorsteps, so keep an ear open during half-term walks this week. The rarest find was a Dusky Warbler at Wylfa Head on Anglesey. This songbird breeds in central Siberia and should now be arriving on its wintering grounds in southeast Asia. There are only half a dozen Welsh records, although this was the second reported in North Wales this autumn.
Not so rare, but perhaps a smarter-looking bird, was a Pallas’s Warbler, which has also travelled here from east of the Ural Mountains. It is even tinier, at just 7 grammes it weighs less than a pound coin. Its yellow head and wing markings have earned it the moniker ‘the seven striped sprite’. One was on the Great Orme on Sunday, darting around the canopy searching for tiny insects almost 32 years to the day since the site’s first. There have been a couple of others on the Orme in the intervening years, but the thrill of finding one was as good as the first, said finder Marc Hughes.
Others have found good birds even closer to home, such as a Turtle Dove in a Bala garden and a Black Redstart in Porthmadog’s Garth Road, and Snow Buntings were at Holyhead’s Soldier’s Point and over Waunfawr. Yellow-browed Warblers were at Nant-y-Gama above Penrhyn Bay and in Breakwater Country Park, and a Woodlark was near Carmel Head over the weekend. A Short-eared Owl has been hunting over saltmarsh west of Llanfairfechan, a Firecrest is on Bangor Mountain, and a Lapland Bunting flew over Roman Camp. The first Great Grey Shrike of autumn was at Pennal, overlooking the Dyfi estuary. A few summer migrants remain, including a Wheatear at Anglesey’s Cemlyn Bay and several Swallows around the region.