Sunday, 23 July 2017

Another good day to be out, with glorious weather and a decent array of birds. Most notable was another good wader day, helped by census coinciding with a very high tide. 68 Curlews was the highest count since Obs staff arrived back for the year in March, with Whimbrels also reaching an impressive ten. Nine Redshanks, seven Common Sandpipers, four Dunlins and three Ringed Plovers completed another good selection.

Offshore there was quite a lot on the move, by recent standards. Manx Shearwaters numbered 1038, with a total of 89 Common Scoters one of the highest totals of the year, compromising several flocks heading south during the morning. There were also two each of Sandwich and Arctic Tern, but the biggest crowd-pleasers were undoubtedly 12 Risso's Dolphins, nine early in the morning and three showy ones later on that delighted staff and guests alike from the Obs front garden.

An impressive 89 Swallows included a reasonable amount of movement, with a single Sand Martin heading up the West Coast late morning and a Grey Wagtail going south through the Wetlands. 17 Willow Warblers made up the numbers on land, a decent arrival, with single of Blackcap and Song Thrush trapped at the Obs, the latter particularly peculiar. A Starling on the South End was the first seen for several days too.

Little of note was to be seen amongst insects, though an Emperor Dragonfly was on Pwll Cain and an impressive eight Peacocks was the highest count of their second generation so far. A Small Dotted Buff trapped at Nant Withy was the fifth island record, but nothing so interesting could be found in the Trap at Cristin, single Garden Rose Tortrix and Rosy Minor being the highlights.
Willow Warbler feeding in the Plantation (

Saturday, 22 July 2017

It seemed with favourable winds migrants made their way through the island today with, early passage of quite a few species recorded.

Out at sea a good selection passed by the West Coast and South End keeping eager eyes entertained. A total of four Fulmars, 685 Manx Shearwaters, 67 Gannets, 64 Common Scoters, eight Sanderlings and a Black Guillemot were logged today, with the latter being the first record for the autumn!

More good news came in the afternoon when our resident pair of Peregrines eventually fledged a single juvenile, which is nice to see after last year’s failure.

As has become customary the daily check of Solfach and Henllwyn produced a good haul of Waders, the first returning three Purple Sandpipers highlighted todays sightings, however a further six Dunlins, three Whimbrels, 31 Curlews, seven Redshanks, five Common Sandpipers and seven Turnstones didn’t go unnoticed!

Two more Swifts made their way through the island along with an early passage of hirundines, three Sand Martins, 70 Swallows and 19 House Martins were logged, presumably failed breeders heading back to their wintering grounds.

Stonechat (

Another highlight inland was a Great Spotted Woodpecker in Cristin Withy, this is probably the same individual from a few days back and from back at the start of July. We also recorded our first migrant Wheatear among the 12 recorded today. Warblers also saw some passage today with one Blackcap, two Chiffchaffs, 17 Willow Warblers and a Goldcrest logged.

Juv. Wheatear on the Narrows (

Friday, 21 July 2017

The poor weather today dampened any proper migration through the island today, with only really the usual fair making an appearance.

Out to sea 2045 Manx Shearwaters and 102 Kittiwakes were the rewards of seawatching today. Whereas inland the highlights seemed to be raptor centred. A Sparrowhawk made another brief appearance, a Buzzard glided over the Mountain ridge, a Kestrel hovered in the Lowlands and a Peregrine was sighted on the East Side of the Island.

Waders were once again the highest numbering migrant with five Dunlins, three Whimbrel, six Curlews, seven Redshanks, two Common Sandpipers and five Turnstones feeding around the Narrows and South End.

Juv. Wren exploring the Plantation (
Red Admiral (

Partially leucistic Goldfinch (

Other migrants today included another two Swift and seven Willow Warblers, slightly down on more recent totals, but we can expect numbers to sky rocket in the coming weeks.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

A quieter day than yesterday, although a fair few bits of interest were still to be found. On the ground, nothing was moving in number but a nice selection of odds and ends was to be found, including nine Willow Warblers, four Starlings and singles of Lesser Redpoll, Grasshopper Warbler, "Flava" Wagtail and Spotted Flycatcher, the latter the first of the autumn. We've seen some early passage of Flava type Wagtails this autumn, this being the fifth (including one positively identified as British Yellow Wagtail) so far.

Wader numbers were a bit down on yesterday, but included a Ringed Plover, alongside 14 Curlews, seven each of Redshanks and Common Sandpipers, four Dunlins, three Sanderlings and two Whimbrels. A couple of other sightings of note during the day were the Kestrel for its second day, six Black-headed Gulls offshore and a good count of 85 Puffins off the East Side, possibly our last high count of the year.

A bit of immigration was detected amongst insects, with 31 Red Admirals, four Painted Ladies and a single Hummingbird Hawk-moth. Of resident species, 159 Green-veined Whites, 97 Meadow Browns, 23 Graylings, four Small Coppers and two Peacocks were of note. Meanwhile the Obs Moth Trap was very quiet, apart from a season high of nine Garden Tigers.
One of many Graylings currently on the Mountain; © Ben Porter

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

For late July, today was another reasonable day's passage, particularly for aerial insectivores. Counts of 60 Swallows, 33 House Martins, 11 Swifts and five Sand Martins indicated a bit of return passage. On the land movement was restricted to five Willow Warblers, three Starlings and a Blackcap, with a Kestrel also new in.
juvenile Willow Warbler recently trapped in the Withies; ©Ben Porter

Kittiwakes were up to 181 today, some 150 of which were roosting on the tip of the South End. 36 Black-headed Gulls moving offshore was the second highest count of the year, though soon numbers should be well into the hundreds. 26 Common Scoters and three Sandwich Terns were the only other non-routine species noted offshore, with the common seabirds in modest numbers today.

A good selection of waders were on the Narrows. The second wave of returning Curlews was probably signalled by a count of 36 today, with five Whimbrels also, and a good spread of other species totalling nine Redshanks, seven Common Sandpipers, six Dunlins, four Turnstones and two Sanderlings.

On a quiet day for lepidoptera and other insects, the only sightings of note were 25 Red Admirals and a single Painted Lady. The moth trap at Cristin was high on numbers (principally 44 Crescen Darts and 23 Dark Arches) but low on quality, although two Single-dotted Waves were new for the year and a Spectacle was the first for over a month.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

A much quieter day, after yesterday's pulse of migration. The highlight came from the sea, where a long overdue first Risso's Dolphin of the year was seen. Otherwise very little was seen out to sea despite a fair bit of effort, 13 Puffins all that remain, and six Black-headed Gulls offshore from Solfach.

Another good selection of waders was represented with 16 Curlews, nine Dunlins, eight Common Sandpipers (this species showing a very good passage by Bardsey standards this year) and six Redshanks providing the numbers. Two Whimbrels, two Ringed Plovers and, most unusually, a single Snipe (the second of return passage, following one in June) were also seen.
juvenile Curlew, © Ben Porter;
The young Curlew in the photo above was dazzled during the night by Ben, and duly ringed. The patterning of the tertials confirmed what we were almost certain of based on how short the bill was, that this is a juvenile fledged during the summer. We often assume that our early arriving Curlews are failed breeders, so this is an excellent example of just how early the young can fledge and begin to disperse/migrate from their breeding grounds.

A Great Spotted Woodpecker briefly above Cristin was the most unusual of a small selection of grounded migrants; six Willow Warblers were also scattered about and a Grey Wagtail on the shore on the South End. Vis-mig didn't live up to the standards set by a good day yesterday, but nine Swifts, 20 House Martins and three Sand Martins trickled through, with a single flock of 20 Starlings heading north along the West Coast. Also seen over the West Coast was a Buzzard thermalling mid-afternoon.

A rather good day for Butterflies was highlighted by a season high of 442 Green-veined Whites, and an arrival of 65 Red Admirals, with a single Painted Lady and two Hummingbird Hawk-moths further evidence of migration.  Two Large Whites and Singles of Peacock, Small Copper and Grayling added diversity, with 129 Meadow Browns and 58 Six-spot Burnets counted.

Monday, 17 July 2017

A busy and birdy day, which several observers commented felt like the first proper day of migration! Overhead was where movement was most evident. We've been blessed with an above average year for those scythe-winged sky demons, the Swifts, and 137 were logged heading north today. Amongst them were a steady stream of Hirundines, concentrated mostly between 10:00 and 13:00, with 44 House Martins and 41 Sand Martins logged. Swallows were also clearly on the move, with 68 logged today, although a good chunk of that total will also have been resident birds, and their presence makes the true numbers passing through harder to detect. Also noted overhead were singles of Grey Wagtail and "Flava" Wagtail, a Buzzard over the Mountain and a Kestrel over the South End.

Willow Warblers were down a bit on yesterday, but an excellent 17 were still logged, alongside a young Blackcap in the Withies. Six Chiffchaffs and 10 Sedge Warblers were probably all resident birds, with the only suspected arrivals being a Siskin calling over the Obs and a single Lesser Redpoll trapped in the Withies, with probably the same bird roaming the island calling for much of the morning.

Post-breeding buildup of Kittiwakes continues to be one of the biggest features on the sea, with 200 roosting on the South End in the morning and another 154 logged offshore today. Several parties of Common Scoters at either end of the day totalled 38, with decent counts of regular species including 1349 Manx Shearwaters, 62 Shags and 41 Gannets. A single first-summer Common Gull was again amongst the Kittiwakes on the South End. Meanwhile, conspicuous by their absence were the auks, with almost all of the Guillemots, Razorbills and Puffins having left the island, daily log now sees all three species just creeping into double figures! It was only three days ago that the season high of 169 Puffins was logged, and their sudden absence in the days since on both the East Side and while seawatching has been especially apparent, just ten were seen today.

A decent spread of waders was again on the South End and the Narrows today, with 16 Curlews, 13 Redshanks, seven Common Sandpipers, five Whimbrels, two Turnstones and a Dunlin. Some active migration was seen amongst them, including a party of five Redshanks south off the South End early in the morning and the Dunlin coming in/off here shortly afterwards.

A sunny day brought out another strong showing from the islands lepidopera. The second Dark Green Fritilary of the year (only the second and third records since 2005) was found on Pen Cristin mid-morning, while almost as rare this year was a Small White at Ty Pellaf, a species that has declined almost inexplicably on Bardsey in recent years. Red Admirals had increased to 52, with an excellent 63 Graylings, mostly counted on the East Side. Five Peacocks was the first time double-figures have been counted in recent months, and only the third record of their second late-summer emergence, while five Small Coppers was also the best count for at least a few weeks. Six Small Tortoiseshells was another good showing, while a Hummingbird Hawk-moth was on the East Side. An interesting bee noted nesting at Ty Pellaf was Willughby's Leafcutter Bee (Megachile willughbiella), possibly the first record for the island. The Obs Moth trap was fairly quiet, with the most notable feature being Uncertain/Rustic aggregates accounting for a decent proportion of the total trap for the first time this year. However, a Dark Spinach caught at Ty Nesaf was only the second island record.
Hummingbird Hawk-moth; © Ben Porter

Sunday, 16 July 2017

A much improved day on yesterday, with a fair amount around. Most obvious by their presence was the largest (and rather early) arrival of Willow Warblers of the autumn, with 22 around the usual hotspots of the Plantation, Withies and Obs Garden. A single Blackcap may well have been new in as well, as was a Lesser Redpoll in the Wetlands.

Willow Warbler
It was perhaps little surprise that a "Flying Ant Day" corresponded with a good day for Hirundines; 41 Swallows, 15 House Martins and 14 Sand Martins were all good counts for the time of year, with the Sand Martins clearly starting to move in numbers already. Also predating on these ants were 16 Swifts, our highest count since mid-June, and some 300 Herring Gulls and a Black-headed Gull. It was a good day for Gulls generally, the first six-species day for months with the first Common Gull of the autumn. This first-summer was roosting amongst the growing numbers of Kittiwakes on the tip of the South End, with 169 counted here and 192 logged in total today.

Out to sea all that was of note was a single flock of 90 Common Scoters that flew south at 21:35. We had one count of 80 on July 7th, but if memory serves us correct this is the highest count of the year so far. Otherwise the Sea was quiet all day, even the Auks are now in very low numbers offshore, reflecting the nearly barren cliffs which most have left for the open ocean. Meanwhile, on the Narrows a limited selection of waders included six Curlews, four Common Sandpipers, three Redshanks and two Whimbrels.

It was only a few weeks ago that we had our first ever record of Early Bumblebee (Bombus praetorum), so for five individuals to be discovered at Ty Pellaf today was intriguing! Clearly they are more than just transients to Bardsey, though given Bumblebees have not been closely monitored in the past it's uncertain whether colonisation recent development or not. Otherwise a fairly moderate selection of insects was seen today; 55 Six-spot Burnets were on the wing and a Hummingbird Hawk-moth was at Ty Pellaf, while the first Agriphila straminellas of the year were on the wing. Several dipterids and hemipterids were collected from the North-west fields, but no attempts to identify them have been made yet, and we'll probably send most of them off to the county recorder for confirmation before we hear anything else.

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Several factors combined to produce a modest day's sightings today. Being a changeover day, coverage was very limited, while strong winds, showers and thick mist for most of the day hampered the birding we did manage to do. Nontheless, a few noteworthy sightings were made, chief among which was a juvenile Cuckoo in the Wetlands. Looking extremely young and thought to have fledged locally, this represents the fourth year in succession that this species has bred on the island. Females were seen being harassed by Meadow Pipits on two or three occasions in May and June, as they coursed low over the Wetlands and the Mountainside, so it was already suspected that breeding may have been attempted. To see it confirmed again is most gratifying, especially in light of this species troubles throughout the UK.

Meadow Pipit (

A small selection of waders on the Narrows featured 15 Curlews, seven Redshanks, four Common Sandpipers, two Whimbrels and a single dapper-plumaged Turnstone. Meanwhile, on land five sherbet-yellow Willow Warblers were about, and Starling numbers had decreased to nine. Nothing else noteworthy was seen today, we hope for some improvement tomorrow!