Bird Notes columnist Julian Hughes of RSPB Conwy reveals what birds have been spotted in the past week and where to go birding in the coming days
20:50, 24 APR 2017
National Grid’s news last Friday that Britain ran without coal for the first day since before the Industrial Revolution is a landmark in tackling climate change – and good news in the hills.
If you were around in the 1980s, you might remember “acid rain”, a subject that is rarely mentioned now.
Sulphur and nitrogen oxides from coal-burning power stations mixed with water vapour and fell as acid rain, the effect greatest in the hills with its heavier rainfall.
The Dipper was the canary in the upland coalmine (an ironic analogy, I know). Dippers eat aquatic insects – such as Mayflies – that are sensitive to acid levels and were wiped out from the many acidic Welsh streams.
A long-running study in Wales, led by Cardiff University, shows that Mayflies have recovered in 60% of streams monitored; good news for birds such as Dipper and Grey Wagtail.
Dippers can now be found on many of North Wales’ fast-flowing streams, nesting in crevices under bridges. The first fledglings were out of the nest last week in the Conwy Valley .