On 3 November a Snow bunting was found at Porthcawl on the south Wales coast. Yesterday a Snow bunting, almost certainly the same bird, was found at Barry, another seaside town but about 25 miles further east and much closer to where I live. So, first thing this morning I caught the train to Barry to try and see my first ever Snow bunting.
Not long after I arrived at the spot where it was last seen, I met up with a birding friend, Graham, who was also looking for the bird. It had obviously moved off but where? Graham headed one way, I headed another, and not long afterwards I spotted Graham waving to me from the other end of the lake. He’d found it!
We spent the next 30 minutes watching as it scurried along the edge of a tarmac path, around some bollards, across a roundabout, up and down the long concrete steps leading to the old harbour, on to rocks on the shore, and then back up to the path again.
It appeared fearless and quite tame, approaching to within a couple of feet of where we stood or sat, though the reality is that, because Snow buntings breed in the Arctic, this little bird might have had no previous exposure to humans or an urban environment and simply didn’t realise it should be afraid of (some) humans and wary of cars, bikes or dogs.
Fortunately, it was finding plenty of food so, although these birds are quite rare in south Wales, there’s no reason why it couldn’t survive its Welsh adventure and either make its way to join other over-wintering Snow buntings on England’s east coast or spend the winter alone and head back to the Arctic next spring. It was a great privilege to spend time with this lovely creature today and I certainly hope it manages to live long and prosper!