The first half of April should see widespread arrival of summer migrants, but some early appearances include a Pied Flycatcher at RSPB Ynys-hir on 30 March, Redstart in the Conwy Valley, House Martins at several sites in North Wales and a juvenile Swallow at RSPB Conwy that may have hatched in southern Europe in February.
An influx of Alpine Swifts from southern Europe extended to North Wales last week, with two over Llandudno Junction, one past Bardsey, at least one over Talacre and another over RSPB Burton Mere Wetlands that drifted regularly into Flintshire. Two were reported close to the Great Orme on Sunday evening, where they may have roosted in the cliffs. Since there had been only a dozen records in the region previously, and just three since the turn of the century, that made for quite a week.
Herons have a prolonged breeding season, with some large Grey Heron chicks in nests by the Conwy estuary, but Little Egrets have yet to start nest-building. A Cattle Egret on Porthmadog’s Llyn Bach was only the third record on the Glaslyn and a Purple Heron is on fields behind Porth Neigwl. Mediterranean herons have been spreading north in recent years, and may feel extra pressure because of drought in southern Spain, exacerbated by irrigation that takes water from natural wetlands to supply soft fruits for our tables. A Cuckoo fitted with a satellite tracker passed quickly through southern Spain, flying some 2,200 miles in just a few days from Guinea, south of the Sahara, to rest in the hills above Valencia. It’s hoped that it will return to moors near Wrexham where it was tagged by the British Trust for Ornithology in 2021.
Elsewhere, the head-plumes of three breeding-plumage Slavonian Grebes shone yellow in the sunshine off Penmaenmawr at the weekend, with another three in Beddmanarch Bay. Ring Ouzels were on Penycloddiau and South Stack, and a Black-necked Grebe off Llanddulas, where at least two Surf Scoters remain. Ospreys have returned to the Glaslyn Valley and Llyn Brenig.
A weekly update of bird sightings and news from North Wales.