Winter is now in full swing at Ynys-hir, the woodlands are increasingly quiet but for the odd burst of activity from mixed flocks comprised of various tit and finch species, Lesser Redpoll, Siskins and the odd, elusive Brambling.
In contrast the wetlands are alive with activity, large numbers of wildfowl and waders have made their journey south from Northern Europe, the freezing temperatures there forcing them south for the winter. Good numbers of Teal, Wigeon and Mallard are joined by Pintail, Shoveler, Goldeneye and Shelduck, from the Ynys-feurig hide they are quite a spectacle on mass and a good identification challenge as individuals. Time spent looking at individual ducks is well worth it, having largely passed through the moult the real beauty of their iridescent plumage is evident.
Like the wildfowl the numbers of winter waders is also increasing, Lapwing numbers are around 700 and increasing with Golden Plover also feeding in their hundreds and Snipe no doubt numbering far more than the few we see when surveying. Out on the estuary Oystercatcher, Dunlin, Curlew and Redshank move up and down with the tides. All the of the waders and wildfowl and are joined in the fields by smaller birds including Starlings, Mistle Thrushes, Skylarks, Linnet and Meadow Pipits.
All of this activity doesn’t go unnoticed by birds of prey, just from the Ynys-feurig hide we have been seeing regular attacks by Merlin, Peregrine, Hen Harrier, Marsh Harrier, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk and a particularly bold Goshawk which has been terrorising the ducks and waders.
Goshawk (Theo Jones)
Merlin (Tom Kistruck)
The days are getting shorter which means opportunities to see wildlife in daylight hours reduce, however it is important to remember that all birds which feed during the day are being pushed by the short days and harder weather to cram as much feeding as they can into a shorter period of time. This means that for the patient birdwatcher the chances of a seeing something spectacular on the wetlands increases. Just yesterday I saw a Sparrow hawk pursuing a starling, in an attempt to escape the starling did a full ‘loop the loop’ leading both birds to almost crash into the ground, the starling’s desperate manoeuvre paid off and it got away, this time.
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