• Ben Porter

Migratory birdlife


A Fieldfare (Socan Eira) flies overhead with a waxing gibbous moon in the backdrop

Thousands and thousands of migratory birds arrive and pass through the landscape and seas surrounding Pen Llŷn during autumn. Pen Llŷn's strategic position as a peninsula jutting out into the Irish sea means it is often one of the first and last pieces of land that birds encounter on their journeys through the country. Given the right conditions on a cold, clear and crisp autumnal day, it is possible to see thousands of finches, pipits, thrushes and other species flying south-west as they move over the peninsula. The key is gazing skywards and straining your ears to pick up on the calls of these species as they migrate.


Of course not all of this birdlife simply moves through. A large proportion remain around areas of Pen Llŷn, at least for a time. That is especially true if there are hedgerows and stubble fields that provide a rich source of food - the equivalent of a pit stop for many of these birds. Hawthorntrees (Draenen wen) are often a favourite, and can harbour a mass of thrushes if a flock descends to gorge down its juicy red berries. Yew trees (Ywen) in churchyards are another favourite, and a good place to look for species like Redwings (Coch Dan-aden), Blackbirds (Aderyn du), Mistle Thrushes (Brych y coed) and Fieldfares (Socan eira) during October and November.



Slide to see the transformation of this Hawthorn tree from spring to autumn; from a nectar feast for insects to a berry feast for thrushes!


Another species you'll often encounter across Pen Llŷn during the autumn migration period is the Skylark, or Ehedydd in Welsh. This charismatic songbird species epitomises many areas of the Welsh landscape, filling the air with their uplifting, musical song during spring time. You won't hear any of these birds singing come autumn, but local breeding birds will be joined by hundreds and thousands of incoming migrant birds from areas further north. Their autumn-time call is a rich, fruity 'prrrut -- prrrut', given during flight. It's a great time to spot these fawn-coloured larks passing overhead in flocks or feeding along the coastal fields of Pen Llŷn.

Skylark (Ehedydd)