The real highlight of the last couple of weeks has been two firecrests, seen regularly in the Carneddau Hide/Bridge Pond area. These birds have become a regular winter feature at the reserve, although they can be a little tricky to see sometimes, needing a bit of patience to track them down. Watching them flitting through the bushes, gleaming in the sunshine first thing in the morning, is a real treat though, and makes them worth the wait. Incredible to think that the wee things only weigh a little over 5g, just a smidge heavier than a goldcrest!
Other winter regulars have started to put in an appearance - siskins and redpolls in the alder trees, goldeneye on the lagoons, and we had a big influx of blackbirds and song thrushes last week, all busy feeding up on the berries. Wildlife Guide Glyn spotted a short-eared owl on 3 November, and a pair of chough continue to put in the occasional fly-over appearance.
Whilst locking the hides the other evening, I was lucky enough to watch a kingfisher dropping down from the perch to the left of Benarth Hide to pick sticklebacks from the water, fly back up to the perch, bash the fish on the wood to stun them, quickly swallow them, then dive straight down again for the next one. Whilst this was happening, in the same field of view of the binoculars, a water rail was calmly feeding around the bottom of the post. A magical winter moment.
As I write today, there have been reports of close to a hundred waxwings in Llandudno. A widespread failure of the berry crop in Northern Europe has led to an invasion year for this spectacular species, so fingers crossed that in the next few days some of them make it to the reserve and brighten our days still further.