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Rare sighting as snow-hit bird moves into city

A BIRD that usually lives in the country has been spotted in Roath Park for the first time, during Cardiff’s second spell of snow.

It is believed the cold weather forced the stonechat into the city in search of food.

The robin-sized bird usually lives in rural areas during March, its breeding season.

Today is officially the first day of spring, but the unseasonable snow and ice has affected a lot of wildlife.

A male stonechat. Photo: Max Pixels

Phil Bristow, 57, Eastern Glamorgan bird recorder and chair of Glamorgan Rarities Committee, believes the snow has “displaced” several varieties of birds.

“It is a result of the severity of the weather. The snow has covered everything so they can’t feed, so they come to odd places if it helps them find some food.

“They are forced out into strange locations in order to survive,” said Mr Bristow, of Forest Oak Close.

Roath Park lake in the snow. Photo: Lucy Haddock

The stonechat sighting increased the number of bird species recorded in Roath Park to 143.

It has also added to the records of Glamorgan Bird Club, and South East Wales Biodiversity Records Centre.

The male and female stonechats were spotted by bird-watching club Cardiff University Ornithological Society, on Sunday, March 18.

They were seen on opposite sides of the lake, between Terra Nova Café and Lakeside East.

Three club members glimpsed the stonechats during a monthly wetland bird survey for the British Trust for Ornithology.

President of the society, Amy Sherwin, 24, said the group had never spotted and recorded a new species sighting before.

“It was really interesting. We did not expect to see stonechats, as it’s an unusual place for them,” said Ms Sherwin, of Coburn Street.

Cardiff University Ornithology Society on a wetland bird survey. Photo: Lucy Haddock

Mr Bristow said other upland birds such as meadow pipits had been seen in urban Cardiff over the weekend.

He believes birds associated with agricultural areas like fieldfares, redwings and lapwings, will be most affected by the snow.

Conservation officer for Cardiff Council, Nicola Hutchinson, said: “It is such a lovely thing to spot in such an urban environment. Bird-watchers would travel distances to see stonechats in rural areas.

“To see it on your doorstep in Roath Park is pretty special,” she added.

Cardiff University Ornithological Society also counted 11 other species in its wetland bird survey at Roath Park Lake including mute swans, various geese breeds, coots and ducks.

  • More information on bird species around Cardiff can be found through Glamorgan Birds.
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