Scarce and rare birds in Wales – March 2021 – Wally the Walrus, winter visitors in summer plumage and harbingers of spring

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.

It’s not often bird news in Wales is eclipsed by mammal news so we better mention the wandering Walrus which visited Pembrokeshire in the last week of the month, along with the lifting of travel restrictions, allowed many to connect with this magnificent species as it settled in Tenby.

A new RING-NECKED DUCK was at Llyn Maelog, Rhosneigr (Anglesey) on 16th-31st. Long stayers were at Llyn Pencarreg (Carmarthen) 1st-29th, four still at Talley Lakes (Carmarthen) from 1st-26th and one was at Lisvane Reservoir on 18th-27th . A Smew was at Cardigan (Ceredigion) on 1st.  A pair of SURF SCOTER were off Old Colwn (Denbighshire) on 28th. Cattle Egrets remained at Valley (Anglesey) on 1st-25th and one was at Pennar (Pembrokeshire) on 8th-9th. Spoonbills were at NWC on 5th and Llanelli (Carmarthen) on 16th.  A GLOSSY IBIS flew passed Rhosneigr (Anglesey) on 17th and a long stayer was still at Goldcliffe (Gwent) on 1st. A ringed WHITE STORK (blue GB35) was at Manordeilo (Carmarthen) for ten days in the middle of the month – this bird is a wild Polish bird that was found injured, rehabilatated in Warsaw then sent over to the Knepp scheme in Sussex, further rehabilitated and released and has been wandering around south-west England and Lancashire through the winter.

The RING-BILLED GULL was back at Llys-y-Fran Reservoir (Pembrokeshire) on 13th. Whilst it was not a particularly productive winter for white-winged gulls over the rest of the UK, Wales recorded nine Iceland Gulls during March: one was at Goodwick (Pembrokeshire) on 13th, with others at Wiseman’s Bridge on 26th, Rhyl Brickworks pool (Flintshire) throughout , Teifi Estuary (Pembrokeshire) on 7th, Skokholm on 22th, Foryd Bay (Caernarfonshire) on 24th, Abereiddy and Penberry Reservoir  (Pembrokeshire) on 25th, Fishguard on 27th and WWC (Pembrokeshire) on 28th. Glaucous Gulls were at St Brides Wentloodge (Gwent) on 4th, at Aberdovey (Meirionnydd) on 12th and on the Gann on 26th.

Siberian Chiffchaffs were at Glanwydden (Caernarfonshire) 1st-20th, Ogmore Estuary (Glamorgan) on 8th, Cardiff Bay on 14th-31st and Kenfig on 24th. Up to five Snow Buntings were on the Great Orme (Caernarfonshire) from 1st-17th and at Horton’s Nose, Kinmel Bay (Denbighshire) throughout. On 30th a superb male Lapland Bunting in almost full summer plumage arrived on the Great Orme and remained into April. Three Water Pipits were at Ogmore Estuarty on 9th-27th, with others at Rhymney Great Wharf on 9th, Foryd Bay (Caernarfonshire) on 14th, Kidwelly (Carmarthen) on 15th and at RSPB Cors Ddyga (Anglesey) on 17th.  A RICHARD’S PIPIT was at Mythyr Mawr (Glamorgan) on 1st and a Great Grey Shrike was photographed in Brechfa Forest (Carmarthen) on 31st.

There were at least twelve reports of Black Redstarts: at Goodwick (Pembrokeshire) on 1st, Marloes Mere (Pembrokeshire) on 2nd, Swansea on 4th, Skokholm on 10th-27th, Newport (Gwent) on 8th, Broad Haven (Pembrokeshire) on 13th, Ogmore by Sea on 13th, Rhymney Great Wharf on 14th, Strumble on 27th, Bardsey on 25th-30th, Minera (Flintshire) on 28th and Burry Port (Carmarthen) on 27th.

Splendid early records of some summer visitors: Manx Shearwaters were seen off Anglesey on 11th, an early Sandwich Tern was at Porthmadog on 16th, a very early Common Whitethroat was near Bagillt (Flintshire) on 20th and a Sedge Warbler was at Teifi Marshes (Pembrokeshire) on 31st. A Common Redstart was at Costmeston CP (Glamorgan) on 31st and male Pied Flycatchers were also early with birds at Llanidloes (Radnorshire) on 30th and Ynys Hir (Ceredigion) on 31st.


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