Clear and still nights in October are the classic conditions to listen for the high-pitched ‘tseep’ of Redwings arriving from Scandinavia. When dawn breaks, you can find flocks, sometimes with Fieldfares among them, feasting on berries before continuing their journeys southwest. Last Wednesday (19 October), strong winds pushed them westward during the daytime, enabling some remarkable counts to be tallied.
By the end of the day, over 400,000 Redwings and 50,000 Fieldfares had been recorded from British watchpoints on the European migration website Trektellen, including 122,600 Redwings over Crosby, near Liverpool. Large counts from the near-Continent included 350,000 Redwings over Westenschouwen in The Netherlands and huge bird movements were visible on radar across northern Europe. To illustrate the scale of the arrival, three of the four highest-ever Redwing counts from Britain on Trektellen were last Wednesday. Many more will have passed over, uncounted.
Counts in North Wales were modest, but included an island record 4792 Fieldfares and 1907 Redwings over Bardsey, 1388 Fieldfares and 662 Redwings over RSPB South Stack, and 1000 of each over the Great Orme. Fieldfare numbers were higher from west coast locations, suggesting that many of the Redwings had stopped to feed up.
Other visitors from the east this week included Pallas’s Warbler, Barred Warbler and Red-breasted Flycatcher on Bardsey. Ring Ouzels scattered across Wales included over 30 in the Elan Valley and three at Holyhead’s Breakwater Country Park on Sunday. Woodlark and Lapland Bunting flew over RSPB South Stack and Bardsey, and several Yellow-browed Warblers and Firecrests are dotted along the coast, with a couple venturing farther inland. Rarest visitor of the week was a Pallid Swift over the Little Orme on Monday morning.
A Long-billed Dowitcher at Morfa Madryn is different to one ringed at Aber Ogwen recently, and perhaps a third bird was at RSPB Burton Mere Wetlands at the weekend. A Little Ringed Plover at Pwllheli harbour should be somewhere warmer by now; only one in Wales has been recorded later in autumn this century. A Swallow was in Broughton on Saturday, and the Long-tailed Duck has returned to RSPB Conwy.
A weekly update of bird sightings and news from North Wales, published in The Daily Post every Thursday.