Fersiwn Gymraeg ar gael yma.

While we may miss our puffins, warblers and cuckoos, we can all take comfort in the wonderful winter visitors that grace Wales’ outdoors, be that in rural areas, urban areas and everywhere between.

Many of us think of the robin as the quintessential winter garden bird – especially this winter with Aardman’s new animated Christmas film Robin Robin on Netflix. But there are more examples which we can specifically associate with the colder months.

The redwing and the fieldfare – two midsized thrushes and relatives to the blackbird – can be seen flocking in our parks and fields in winter. And if you are fortunate to have a bit of snow, you may be also lucky enough to have a visit from these two in the garden, who may have gotten slightly disorientated from their usual fields and parks.

Wales’ coastlines and estuaries become welcome destinations for thousands of ducks, geese and waders, who will flock to feed on these rich feeding grounds. Our RSPB Ynys-hir reserve in Machynlleth is a fantastic place to witness all the quacking and colour on show, from wigeon, teal to shovelers and shelduck. When we mention goldeneye and Russia, you can be forgiven for thinking about the 1995 James Bond film. Think again! The goldeneye duck indeed comes from Russia with love to our RSPB Conwy reserve, unmistakeable with its distinct black and white and trademark bright amber eye.

Wigeon - John Bridges (rspb-images.com)

Along with ample wildfowl, a familiar sight of winter at RSPB Cors Ddyga is of hundreds of flocking lapwings – Cors Ddyga is indeed a favourite nesting site for these birds. Another equally stunning sight here is of the marsh harrier, searching for prey on the ground from the skies, with its picturesque glide. So impressive!

Last but not least, one of the most spectacular wildlife spectacles we have in Wales are starling murmurations. Starling are about the same size as a blackbird, with glossy, dark feathers. At dusk, they gather in massive flocks to perform stunning aerial stunts before settling down to roost.

Starlin murmurations - Ben Andrew (rspb-images.com)

Why do they do this? There are possibly many reason, from defending themselves against predation to exchanging information and keeping warm. However, it’s not quite clear how they manage to move with such precise coordination. What we do know is that their movements create beautiful patterns in the sky, making it one of the most awe-inspiring sights you can see. RSPB Newport Wetlands is one of the best places in the country to witness this event, and flocks can also be seen at RSPB Conwy as well. It’s well worth a trip to one of these reserves to witness this amazing spectacle.

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