Several days of strong southwesterly gales and rain made bird-finding a challenge this week, but blew in a top-class North American songbird to Bardsey Bird & Field Observatory on Saturday, where it was caught and ringed. The Red-eyed Vireo, frequently shortened to ‘The REV’ by birders, is only the eight Welsh record and the third for the island, although the first one to have been found there alive since 1985. Widespread in woodland across the United States and southern Canada in the breeding season, the vireo would have been migrating to South America when it became caught in high-level winds that thrust it across the Atlantic. Remarkably, it was recaught at the Observatory on Monday afternoon, having gained two grammes, perhaps around 15% of its body weight. It is only the second North American songbird to be found in Britain this autumn, and gives hope to anyone scouring the headlands of Anglesey or Llŷn.
The southwesterlies also pushed seabirds inshore, including Sabine’s Gulls and several Long-tailed Skuas off Bardsey and Point Lynas, Leach’s Petrel off Cemlyn and a Long-tailed Skua and Grey Phalarope off Aberdaron. The weather system may also have been responsible for a Ring-necked Duck found on Llyn Alaw.
Elsewhere, a Surf Scoter is with a Velvet and Common Scoters off Pensarn, and Garganey and Spotted Redshank remain at RSPB Conwy. Earlier in the week another American visitor, a Bonaparte’s Gull, dropped onto the beach between Rhyl and Prestatyn but stayed only a couple of hours.
Following last week’s mention of Jays on the move, even greater numbers were reported over the weekend: flocks of 22 and 15 over Anglesey’s Inland Sea, 20 over Uwchmynydd and several smaller groups. Even larger numbers have been reported from South Wales, including 161 over Kenfig nature reserve in 90 minutes on Monday morning.