After much anticipation it seems that starling numbers have begun to show some signs of increasing, with some impressive murmurations already seen over the past few of days, perhaps numbering around 5000 - 10,000 birds. Hopefully this will continue to build up to produce the spectacular displays we've had in previous winters (photo by David Kjaer, RSPB Images), though as is the case with all wildlife we can never predict exactly what will happen. At the moment this activity has been occurring around 4pm before the reserve closes, but if you're visiting then please bear in mind that the car park is locked at 5pm.
Notable species seen over the past month have included a female marsh harrier on 1/1, a species which seems to be becoming slightly more regular here with three sightings on the reserve in the last year but only five records in total before 2018. With a small breeding population now established at Cors Ddyga reserve on Anglesey, and good numbers wintering on the Dee estuary, it's perhaps not that surprising that they're becoming a more regular sight along the north Wales coast. A shag was on the deep lagoon on 22/12 and a golden plover was present with the lapwing flock from 5/1 to 7/1, both scarce visitors to the reserve with only a very small number of annual records. A kestrel was seen on 9/12 and again on 21/12, another species which is seen here far less than might be expected.
Other sightings were fairly typical for the time of year, with the usual good mix of wildfowl present on the lagoons with highlights including a male pintail on 1/1, a male goldeneye which has been present throughout, mostly on the shallow lagoon and was also joined by a female earlier in December, pochard with a peak of nine on 20/12 and shoveler also peaking at nine on 30/12. Small numbers of merganser and goosander have also been present almost daily and a great crested grebe appeared on 9/1 and is still here as of 12/1. Meanwhile other wader highlights have included individual bar-tailed godwit on several days, small numbers of greenshank with a peak of 10 on 9/12, and black-tailed godwit almost daily with up to nine on 15/12. Water rail has also continued to be seen regularly around the lagoons, particularly from the boardwalk.
Regular flocks of siskins have numbered up to 10 birds, and other passerines present include small numbers of stonechat, reed bunting, and chiffchaff.
Christmas events continued through December with a Children's Christmas Campfire on 23/12 and a Christmas Trail running throughout the holiday period. The year began with a New Year's Day Bird Walk and then a Binocular and Telescope Weekend on 5/1 - 6/1. Regular events included Muddy Puddles for toddlers during term time, Tai Chi and Nordic Walking on Thursdays, and the monthly Farmers Market which was held on 19/12.
A significant feature in the RSPB calendar is the Big Garden Birdwatch Weekend which will be taking place on 26/1 - 27/1, with children's events being held on the reserve which involve learning about how to identify garden birds, what sort of food they eat, with the opportunity to make your own bird food. For the adults, we have a special offer in the shop where you can buy a bird feeder and have it filled for free, while staff will be on hand to offer advice on feeding birds in your garden.
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