TraIrrespective of the Brexit deal, the bonds between Wales and Ireland remain strong for migrating birds. Records from Bardsey, for example, show that some birds which nest in Ireland make the journey to or from their African wintering grounds via Wales, and during freezing winter conditions, birds such as Skylarks and Starlings look for feeding grounds free of snow, flying first to the Welsh coast, and then to Ireland if necessary. Satellite tracking shows that rare Greenland White-fronted Geese move between Ireland and Wales during the winter.
Colour-ringing shows that Pale-bellied Brent Geese, which winter around the Menai Strait, are part of an Irish Sea population, which make an epic flight from their breeding area on Ellesmere Island. One satellite-tracked by the University of Exeter spent this summer near the Nunavut settlement of Alert, the northernmost permanently inhabited place in the world, 500 miles from the North Pole. En route, it flew directly over the Greenland ice-cap, a distance of more than 1000 miles.
Another type of Brent Goose, the Dark-bellied form, breeds in Siberia and winter mostly in eastern and southern England. One, colour-ringed W2NC by Steve Dodd near Caernarfon in January 2018, was in Tralee, southwest Ireland in September 2020. It is the first ringed Dark-bellied Brent Goose seen in Ireland, presumably having travelled from Taimyr in central Siberia, 3,250 miles away. W2NC was with its mate and a juvenile hatched during this summer, which means junior made that immense journey within weeks of learning to fly!
This week on Anglesey, eight Scaup are on the Inland Sea, four Great White Egrets on Llyn Alaw and four Snow Buntings at Holyhead’s Soldier’s Point, while a late Swallow was at Llangoed on Saturday. On the mainland, a Long-tailed Duck is off Pensarn and a Snow Bunting at Morfa Madryn.