I wasn’t the only one to exclaim “they’re back!” to no-one in particular last week. Through the open window came the scream of Swifts over the village rooftops. My partner teases me for my enthusiasm about their return, but knowing the dramatic decline in their numbers across Britain in recent years, I can no longer take their arrival as a certainty. And from comments on social media, I know that I'm not the only one to celebrate their return. As Blur once wrote about feeding sparrows, the Swifts' arrival gives me a sense of enormous well-being.
I heard Swifts over Llanberis and Penmaenmawr too, and witnessed a pair mating as they flew low over my house at the weekend. Their tiny feet had not touched anything solid since they left the edge of their nest cup last summer and headed to the humid air above the forests of central Africa. North Wales Wildlife Trust has installed over 500 nestboxes on buildings around the region since 2014, and another 80 have been put up in the Dyfi Biosphere Reserve this winter by the Machynlleth Climate Action Group. Read more about what local people are doing for Swifts in this article written for The Daily Post.
Another welcome spring sound, that of the Cuckoo, has rung across the hillsides in recent weeks. One, called Daniel that was tagged by the British Trust for Ornithology last June, has returned to RSPB Lake Vyrnwy after spending autumn in Chad and winter in Cameroon. After weeks of satellite silence, he popped up in Sicily in late April before arriving back in mid Wales via central France. Follow his travels on the BTO website.
A third pair of Ospreys has set up home in Nant Glaslyn near Porthmadog. In addition to the long-standing site used annually since 2004, a second nest had been occupied there in 2021 by a female released in Dorset’s Poole Harbour in 2018 and a male hatched on the Dyfi estuary in 2017. Now another Scottish female translocated to Poole Harbour in 2019 has set up home with a Dyfi fledgling from 2018. More details on the Birds of Poole Harbour website.
Most migrants are already on their breeding territories, and the last to arrive – Spotted Flycatchers – arrived in a rush from Monday, with a dozen on the Great Orme and almost 80 on Bardsey on a single day. A Hen Harrier over Bardsey on Saturday was unseasonal and a Short-eared Owl rested briefly on the Great Orme last week.
A weekly update of bird sightings and news from North Wales.