Late August is an 'anything can happen' time, as both songbirds and waders drop in to rest and feed up as they travel from north to south, on their global journey, for which our geo-political boundaries mean little. Their home at Conwy may only be for a few days, but it's just as important to their survival as the places they nest farther north and the vast habitats in Africa where they will spend the northern winter.
The muddy edges of the lagoons are the place to look for shorebirds, and this week's highlights include green sandpiper, up to 20 black-tailed godwits and 35 dunlins (most days), ruff and ringed plover (Sunday 23rd), whimbrel (daily until Tuesday 18th), greenshank, knot and snipe (until Friday 14th), and an occasional common sandpiper. Up to 90 little egrets have been feeding on the estuary this week, while three Sandwich terns were a surprise addition to the monthly Wetland Bird Survey (on Sunday 16th) and a Mediterranean gull was a bonus on Friday (14th).
The smaller birds require a little more patience, but do check out the roving flocks of long-tailed and blue tits in the scrub, as they often include warblers such as chiffchaff and blackcap among them. We've seen more lesser whitethroats over the weekend, and it's been a good autumn for redstarts, with one or two on several dates over the last couple of weeks. Other highlights include spotted flycatcher and stock dove (Sunday 23rd) and stonechat (Sunday 16th), but perhaps bird of the week was a hobby on Friday evening (14th), a scarce visitor to our part of North Wales.
Although swifts left their local nesting sites a couple of weeks ago, we are still recording small numbers each day on the reserve. There was one here today, but will that be the last? Kingfisher has been seen almost daily in the last fortnight, and is looking settled for the winter, though it can still be hard to spot.
During the summer, mallard and tufted duck (both of which breed) are often the only ducks on show, though we've had small numbers of teal for most of the summer and a couple of wigeons too. Today, three more wigeons appeared on the estuary, almost certainly the first of autumn proper, as well as six goosanders, another sign of birds dispersing away from their breeding sites. A female pochard has been on the Deep Lagoon for a couple of days, the first to arrive from Russia.
There are lots of butterflies: nine species in a couple of hours this morning, including peacock, comma and small copper. There are six-spot burnet moths that are still on the wing, and other day-flying moths include shaded broad-bar and treble-bar.
This week's unsettled weather may not be great if you hoped for a sunny day on the beach or a hike in the mountains, but it may be just perfect for dropping migrant birds into unexpected places. Come and see what you can find!
PS. We just noticed that our last blog was our 200th - thank you to all our readers. If you're on social media, please do share them with your friends and followers.