The waders have been moving south for some weeks, but the songbirds started to migrate through Conwy too this week. Some mornings there have been dozens of warblers - mostly chiffchaffs and blackcaps - feeding in the bushes, perhaps having just arrived from Scotland after crossing the Irish Sea. Several redstarts have been around since last Thursday (16th), one splashing in a puddle on the entrance drive as I arrived at the gate yesterday morning. A fly-over tree pipit was a good call from volunteer Rob Sandham as he opened the hides on Monday (20th) and there have been a few white wagtails around - but beware juvenile pied wagtails which can look quite similar.
On the high tide, a couple of knots, whimbrels and up to 10 dunlins have been among the large flocks of curlews (350+), oystercatchers (150+) and redshanks (200+). A turnstone that has been present for a couple of weeks was still here for Sunday's WeBS count, when 2 greenshanks, 11 black-tailed godwits and 15 snipe were also recorded. There's a challenge between many of the RSPB wetland reserves to see the greatest variety of waders on managed scrapes/lagoons - Conwy is joint top of the 'West and South League' (with Arne), so we could do with someone finding a couple more wader species before the end of August to bring us victory!
Four wigeons this morning were among increasing groups of teal and tufted ducks (and still our single pochard), a sign that it's getting colder to the north and east. Nine goosanders on the estuary last Tuesday (14th) were unusual.
Flocks of goldfinches, including many young birds without a red head, have been loving the fluffy seed-heads on the thistles, and there were a couple of linnets with them this morning along the estuary path. We've also noticed lots of house martins feeding over the lagoons this week - local breeding birds getting ready to depart or birds from elsewhere already on the move. A swift last Wednesday (15th) may yet prove to be the last of the year, though we normally manage to see one in early September.
The warm sunshine has been great for butterflies and dragonflies, with emperors regularly patrolling the trails, broad-bodied chasers and common darters around the ponds, as well as a couple of damselfly species. A red-veined darter was seen on the Llyn earlier this month, so do take a close look at the darters with your binoculars. The occasional peacock and small tortoiseshell has been seen, along with the more numerous gatekeepers and meadow browns, and common blues seem finally to have had a good week. There are still a reasonable number of six-spot burnet moths around too.
We seem to have a forest of ragwort at the moment. It's a superb plant for insects, but unfortunately, as it dies off, it becomes more palatable to ponies - and more poisonous. In ungrazed areas, we let it live, but our volunteers have been working hard to remove it from the part of the reserve that is grazed by Carneddau ponies.