Fersiwn Gymraeg ar gael yma

It is well known that ‘we’ll keep a welcome’ here in Wales for migrating birds who visit us for some months of the year. But have you ever wondered where these birds go when they leave us for pastures new? Let’s take a closer look into the destinations of some of our feathered friends…

In the spring and summer months, razorbills grace the cliffs of RSPB South Stack. Along with their seabird counterparts guillemots and puffins, they attract around 250,000 visitors to the reserve each year. Their stay at South Stack is merely to nest and raise their chicks, before they venture out to the cold seas of the north Atlantic for the winter months. They will spend most of that time on the surface of the water, diving for food.

Not only is the razorbill a familiar and well-loved species on the Anglesey coast, but it is one whose future is linked to the health of our marine environment. Recent risk assessments for the proposed Morlais tidal energy project to the west of Anglesey could cause an out-and-out decimation of the razorbill population on South Stack, with a potential 97% fall in numbers.

A well-established visitor to RSPB Conwy is the sedge warbler. The sedge warbler is a small, quite plump, warbler with a striking broad creamy stripe above its eye and greyish brown legs. Arriving from Africa in April, it will nest in the fields of Conwy until August time, before leaving us again for the warmth of countries to the south of the Saharan Desert.

Pied flycatchers breed in the oak woods of RSPB Ynys Hir, arriving in Wales around April time. The male is mostly black on the upperparts and white underneath, with a bold white patch on the folded wing. The females are browner, but both are slightly smaller than a house sparrow. After spending the warmer months here in Ynys Hir, they will venture to the eastern coasts of Britain, as a final stop before they embark on their epic passage to West Africa.

In the woodlands of RSPB Lake Vyrnwy around the month of April, we welcome the striking wood warbler. It will spend its summer months in tall-stemmed, airy or mixed woodlands before leaving us around late August to September. It will fly to countries south of the Sahara, such as Ghana. What is interesting is that the wood warbler will seek different kinds of habitat here, compared to its time in Wales. You can read more about the wood warbler’s other half of the year in Africa here. 

Storm Petrels will glide across the seas, following trawler boats on their journeys to and from RSPB Ramsey Island, which is a breeding stop for some around May. When their fledglings have left the nest, the storm petrels will vacate the island around September time, and embark on a journey south until they reach the waters off South Africa.  

Last year, RSPB Cymru was proud to cooperate with the Glamorgan Bird Society in erecting a Swift Tower, in an attempt to counter the falling numbers of swifts visiting and nesting in our capital city. Numbers have dropped greatly since 1995, and as the swifts’ preferred nesting sites are usually old buildings or churches, their place in an ever-changing modernised city like Cardiff is fading. And that is why the tower down in Cardiff Bay has for the swifts been a welcome antidote to the realities of the ever-changing cityscape.