A Tiny Bit Of Siberia Along A Country Lane In North Wales 8th March 2021

A lovely addition to our very modest 2021 bird list a Lesser Redpoll - photo Marc Hughes.

A rare outing in the car today as we needed to pick up some cards from the printers and it would be a long walk home with a heavy box. As we were out we decided to stock up on some food stuffs too and that route took us past Penrhyn Bay just a couple of miles east of Llandudno. Now the damp fields south of the hamlet are the local patch of our great friend Marc and we had been keeping in touch with his sightings via our local birding WhatsApp group. Now we were in the area it was a chance to have a look at Marc’s new patch, normally Marc is a stalwart of the Great Orme birding community but due to lockdown has had to turn his fanatical birding passion to the fields near his home.

We parked in a layby by what should have been a fairly peaceful road, even out of lockdown, but cars were whizzing past every few seconds! Next our parking spot stood some tall bare trees and from these trees floated down the wonderful “cawww, cawww” calls of nesting Rooks a sound I really love and a real sign that spring is kicking in, Rooks back at the Rookery.

We walked back along the road and took a lane off to our right and thankfully left the traffic behind, it was also out of the wind here and the hazy sun even felt a little warm that and the Rooks yes we could feel spring coming. Around the first bend in the lane we came across a great sight, three generations a family, gran, daughter and grand-daughter all doing a litter pick along the hedgerows how heart-warming and really made our spring induced grins even broader. We thanked the “girls” for their wonderful efforts and it was so good to see the grand-daughter spotting litter and wanting to collect it! Maybe there is a tiny bit of hope for our poor damaged planet?

Rooks are wonderful birds and their calls are so soothing at the Rookery.

Further along the lane we spotted the footpath off to the left and just as we were about to take it a Goldcrest sang from the hedge on the right. As so often when you stop and stare looking for one bird other birds pop up, this time it was a lovely Lesser Redpoll that landed in the top of a blackthorn bush really close and what a lovely bird to see and a new bird for 2021, the Goldcrest never showed itself.

The footpath was very muddy, Marc had recommended wellington boots, luckily Ruth had headed the advice and I just got muddy boots. Unfortunately we were back in a cold breeze here and few birds were in the patch of scrub and reeds where Marc had been enjoying some good birds recently. But we were here and kept watching and waiting and at last saw movement, a Goldcrest, we followed this tiny bird as it move through the tangle of brambles below the scrubby trees and it worked to an area above a ditch where it was more sheltered and here it fed over the water and allowed good views, but not the bird we had hoped to find. More scanning and it was lovely to enjoy close views of a Treecreeper but nothing more, we walked back, Alan getting muddier, Ruth being smug, and found another viewpoint where it was a little more sheltered and again stood and watched, a pair of Long-tailed Tits buzzed about always wonderful to see, a male Greenfinch performed his “butterfly flight” display with slow wing beats uttering that lovely nasal song but still no sign of the bird we had come to see! Weirdly Ruth looked down where we stood and noticed a dead bird lying in the grass just a foot from our feet, stooping we could see it was a Lesser Redpoll, very unusual to randomly come across a freshly dead small bird away from a road, where they are sometimes killed by traffic. The poor bird looked un-damaged and fresh, we speculated as to the cause death, cold, hunger, dropped by a raptor that failed to relocate it, or perhaps the local cat we had seen in the lane?

Back to the lane and we found a spot where we were out of the wind and could see the sheltered side of the patch of reeds with a few willows, this was more promising! We scanned and amazingly after only a minute or so a small pale bird flitted about in the reeds, could it be, luckily the warbler then climbed up into a sunlit willow as if to say “I have been waiting for you!” no doubt this was THE bird a classic Siberian Chiffchaff! Clean white below, pale fawn-brown above with bright green flight feathers just like the photographs Marc had shared with us! Wow just amazing, an anonymous patch of scrub and reed down a small lane off a lane and this beautiful little bird had found its way here all the way from Siberia! And what’s more Marc had managed to spot it on his lockdown walks from home without lockdown there is no doubt this rare bird would have gone unrecorded. Yet another wonderful example of how birdwatching is such an amazing interest to have, a walk from home in North Wales across farm fields and you stumble on a tiny bit of Siberia and can share that joy with others. No doubt about it birds, and birders, are brilliant!

All the way from Siberia to a damp field in North Wales a Siberian Chiffchaff, photos Marc Hughes.

Of course a wonderful way to see more birds is to join one of our Birdwatching Trips and learn a lot about the birds you are enjoying too. We have tours suitable for all from beginners to experienced birders that are seeking particular species. Just drop us a line here and we can arrange a perfect custom tour for you!


We look forward to enjoying wonderful birds with you as soon as it is safe.

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