The rapid greening of the hawthorn leaves on hedgerows, surprisingly advanced for the third week of March, is starting to hide early nests delicately woven by Long-tailed Tits, Blackbirds and Dunnocks. It’s a reminder to put the hedge-trimmer back in the shed for the winter, and to leave part of the lawn uncut so that emerging insects can find pollen and nectar.
Chiffchaffs are now widespread in our woodlands, Sandwich Terns have been at several coastal watchpoints and Sand Martins are already exploring potential nest sites. The descending cadence of Willow Warblers, which used to be unusual in March, have been heard in several places, and six House Martins at RSPB Conwy last Friday were the first of the year in North Wales. Bird observatory wardens have returned to Bardsey, kicking off with a Firecrest on Sunday, among 219 migrating Goldcrests ringed on Sunday and Monday. They caught 177 Goldcrests all year in 2022!
Ring Ouzels are back on breeding territory in Nant Ffrancon and around Aber Falls, a few days after the first northbound bird stopped on the Great Orme. A pair of Garganeys were at RSPB Cors Ddyga on Sunday and an Alpine Swift was reported over Talacre on Wednesday. Several Ospreys have passed through the region; one caught a fish at Llyn Brenig on Sunday, but was not one of the breeding pair. Females have returned to nest sites on the Dyfi estuary and Llyn Clywedog, and those in North Wales should arrive in the next 10 days.
Winter birds are shipping out, but almost 50 Great Northern Divers in Caernarfon Bay, a regular stop for northbound migrants. Four Velvets Scoters and two Surf Scoters remain at Llanddulas, a Water Pipit was at RSPB Cors Ddyga, Twite at Gronant, Fieldfares on Mynydd Hiraethog, and Redwings and Bramblings over the Great Orme. In the Dee estuary, Hilbre Bird Observatory’s first Bearded Tit was a surprise last week and a Long-billed Dowitcher is at RSPB Burton Mere Wetlands.
[text updated on 28 March to reflect increased numbers of Goldcrests on Bardsey, and the return of two nesting Ospreys on the previous day]
A weekly update of bird sightings and news from North Wales, published in The Daily Post every Thursday.