Fersiwn Gymraeg ar gael yma.
It’s also a great time to go out and watch wildlife. Our summer visitors, like puffins, swifts and cuckoos may have left our shores for warmer climates, but a whole host of other migratory birds have arrived to take their place. Thousands of birds migrate to Wales every year to escape the harsh and brutal winters of Scandinavia and the Arctic, which is lucky for us, because they often lead to some amazing wildlife spectacles. Here’s a quick look at what you can see around Wales this winter.
The next months will be a busy time for our coasts and estuaries. Thousands of ducks, geese and waders will be flocking to feed on these rich feeding grounds. RSPB Ynys-hir, on the shores of the picturesque Dyfi Estuary, is a great place to see noisy flocks of wildfowl, like wigeon, teal, shovelers and shelduck. Many of these ducks come to Wales from Scandinavia and northern Europe, and the abundance of food and shelter provided by the estuary means they come here in droves. A good number can be seen at this reserve, and their striking plumage is a sight to see.
You can also spot winter migrants on the lagoons and reedbeds of RSPB Conwy, where goldeneyes and pochards from Russia join the local ducks to feed on the lagoons. There’s plenty of wildfowl flocks to be spotted at RSPB Cors Ddyga as well, as well as flocks of nesting lapwings. This year, 71 nested on the reserve, making it the biggest and most important nesting sites for lapwings on Anglesey. There’s a good chance you’ll spot the majestic marsh harriers that nest on this reserve as well. The sight of these raptors gliding effortlessly over the reserve as they use their keen eyesight to spot possible prey is not one you’ll forget in a hurry.
Up in RSPB South Stack, the busy seabird colonies have long disappeared from the towering cliffs. However, you can still spot flocks of choughs feeding on the surrounding farmland. Their distinctive aerial acrobatics is a wonderful sight, as they swoop, dive and twirl in the air.
RSPB Lake Vyrnwy in mid Wales is a good place to spot redwings, fieldfares and brambling feeding in the woods. These birds are also migrants from Scandinavia, and there’s a good chance to spot them in gardens and parks around the country as well, so keep a look out when you go out for a walk.
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. 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.
What’s your favourite winter wildlife spectacle? Leave your comments below!
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