One of the largest Starling flocks ever seen in North Wales has been recorded at RSPB Cors Ddyga in Anglesey’s Cefni Valley. Counting the number of birds in the shape-shifting murmuration in the half-light of dusk is challenging, but estimates from experienced birdwatchers at the weekend varied between 750,000 and 1.5 million. The largest flock on the island was an estimated one million birds at Llyn Traffwll in 1983, and the most ever seen in Wales was a roost of 1.5 million in Glamorgan in the 1960s, so it’s spectacular in size as well as shape.
Many will have bred around the Baltic Sea, as demonstrated by one that had been ringed in Lithuania in summer 2015 and was among the hundreds found dead on a road near Bodedern last December. The Cors Ddyga roost has attracted the interest of hunting raptors, with Sparrowhawk, Merlin and Peregrine swooping in to catch a late meal.
Snow Buntings brought some wintry sparkle to local beaches, with four at Holyhead and singles on the coast path at Kinmel Bay, Cemlyn beach, Llandudno’s West Shore and Morfa Madryn nature reserve near Llanfairfechan. An Iceland Gull flew over Bangor Pier and 10 Whooper Swans over Queensferry on Friday.
Three Long-tailed Ducks were off Benllech last week, two are in Y Foryd and one on Anglesey’s Inland Sea. Also offshore are two Velvet Scoters off Dinas Dinlle and 24 Great Northern Divers off Aberdesach. Black Redstarts have been at several locations in the last week, including at sites where they have overwintered previously. Two are at Amlwch Port’s old Octel works and others at Bangor’s university Ffriddoedd Halls, Holyhead breakwater, near Trearddur Bay and on Gwynedd Council offices in Caernarfon. A late Swallow was at Rhostryfan on 28 November – will it be the last of the year?