September is a critical month for many trans-Saharan migrants, which need to be in good condition for the long journeys ahead. Although in less of a rush than in spring, they rely on a habitat network from northern Europe to West Africa at which they can rest and refuel. Species that I have too easily taken for granted through the summer, such as Reed and Sedge Warblers, Whitethroats and Garden Warblers, were busy feeding as I made a circuit of RSPB Conwy. Most go about their business quietly, but some Chiffchaffs have started their disyllabic song as though it were spring. Many will not leave here until late September and travel only as far as the Atlantic seaboard of Iberia and Morocco. There appears no definitive answer as to why some Chiffchaffs sing before departure when most birds are silent. Are these our breeding birds, or migrants from farther north. Who knows?
Cattle Egret numbers have increased rapidly in Britain this century; at least 60 pairs now breed in England. Smaller than Little Egrets, 20 years ahead in their colonisation and with a year-round bright yellow bill, a flock of at least 28 were on the Dyfi estuary on Sunday. Found initially at Ynys las nature reserve in Ceredigion, they were later seen on saltmarsh on the Meirionnydd side. It is by far the largest group of Cattle Egrets seen in Wales, and for context, only 28 were recorded in Wales between the first in 1980 and the end of 2009.
A dozen Little Gulls were dip-feeding in calm waters at Point Lynas, while others saw Sabine’s Gull, Long-tailed Skua and Black Terns there over the weekend. Garganey and Wood Sandpiper were at RSPB Cors Ddyga, another Garganey at RSPB Valley Wetlands, and Firecrest and Merlin on Bardsey.
Work started this week to rejuvenate the Reception Pool at RSPB Burton Mere Wetlands. Periodically resetting the ecological clock is an essential wetland management tool, alongside water level control and grazing management, performed there by Carneddau ponies. As well as improving the diversity of the habitat, the work will enhance views for visitors over the coming years. Read more about the work here.
Edited 5 September to clarify that the flock of Cattle Egrets was found initially in Ceredigion before moving onto the Meirionnydd bank of the Dyfi estuary.
A weekly update of bird sightings and news from North Wales.