Scarce and rare birds in Wales – April 2020 – COVID lockdown

This summary is compiled for by Robin Sandham. Records featured are subject to acceptance by the British Birds Rarities Committee (bold capitals) and the Welsh Records Panel (bold italic capitals), where relevant. Please note that records will appear in this summary before they have been accepted by the appropriate record panel.

Our movement limitations due to the COVID lockdown meant for much more localised birding but there were still highlights, many not so rare, but fly-over Ospreys, Tree Pipits, Swifts or the first singing Grasshopper Warbler, Cuckoo or Lesser Whitethroat are truly spirit-lifting at any time. Rarity highlights included an EASTERN SUBALPINE WARBLER on Ramsay (Pembrokeshire) on 16th and at Martin’s Haven on 24th. A RED-RUMPED SWALLOW was at Heathfield GP (Pembrokeshire) on 20th and a cracking MONTAGU’S HARRIER was at Merthyr Mawr (Glamorgan) on 21st and a BLACK KITE was over Bardsey (Caernarfon) on 24th – what was almost certainly the same bird was seen later that day drifting over Llandudno.​

A PURPLE HERON was at Kenfig on 22nd. Cattle Egrets were on the Inland Sea (Anglesey) on 14th and at Carew, (Pembrokeshire) on 21st-22nd. A fly-over WHITE STORK was reported over Bridgend (Glamorgan) on 21st and one was photographed at Mathry (Pembrokeshire) on 23rd.  A Spoonbill was at the NWC, Llanelli (Carmarthen) on 26th.​ A Little Gull was at Porthmadog (Caernarfon) on 29th.​

SIBERIAN CHIFFCHAFFS were on Bardsey on 21st and Skokholm on 23rd and an IBERIAN CHIFFCHAFF was at Rhiw (Caernarfon) on 15th. ​A Wryneck was on Bardsey on 15th and a Lapland Bunting was on the island from 21st-24th. Turtle Doves – now sadly rare passage migrants only – were at Marloes on 23rd and Abereiddy (Pembrokeshire) on 28th.​

Two Dotterel were on St.Ann’s Head (Pembrokeshire) on 14th, two on Foel Fras on 24th and one on the Great Orme (Caernarfon) on 26th.​ The Great Orme, fortunately within lockdown walking distance for several local birders also produced up to four Ring Ouzels between 13th and 15th, with a Short-eared Owl over there on 14th.​

Whilst the wintering Twite flock on the Dee estuary has dwindled in numbers over the past four years and produced no Scottish birds in the 2019-20 winter, a small number have started wintering at Ynyslas (Ceredigion) in the past couple of winters and one ringed there in 2018 was resighted on the Isle of Skye (575km NNW) during April 2020.​

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