Friday, 28 April 2017

Overall, another decidedly quiet day. Highlights were a brief Water Pipit on the Narrows (the first in about five years, we think), and two Canada Geese in Solfach, a species that is still pretty uncommon on Bardsey but increasing exponentially in modern times.

Passerine migration was limited to 22 Wheatears, 15 White Wagtails, 17 Willow Warblers, 8 Chiffchaffs, 5 Goldcrests, 3 Lesser Redpolls, 2 Blackcaps and singles of Sedge Warbler and Siskin, while overhead just 62 Swallows and a single Sand Martin were noted. On the east side 41 Puffins and 14 Choughs were good counts, and at least 50% of Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gulls are on eggs now. Waders were quite poorly represented compared with recent days, but 19 Whimbrels, 18 Turnstones, 2 Ringed Plovers and singles of Curlew and Common Sandpiper recorded perseverance! Despite clear skies in the afternoon that you would've hoped would induce a bit of raptor passage, the only out-of-the-ordinary sightings were two Buzzards drifting over the Mountain.

In the moth trap just three individuals were noted, two Angle Shades and our first Common Carpet of the year, while on the insect front generally it was a quiet day.

Thursday, 27 April 2017

The bitter northly winds returned today, with only a few short moments of respite. This hampered migration noticeably, but a fair bit was still noted.

The sea produced a few little goodies, with only a small count of 67 Manx Shearwaters, 48 Gannets, three Common Scoters and 89 Kittiwakes. Among the usual fare on the Narrows were a Dunlin, 33 Whimbrels and 18 Turnstones. Other waders consisted of two Snipes seen in the Wetlands and South End respectively. Hirundine movement was slowed to just one Sand Martin, 61 Swallows and nine House Martins.

However, Pipits, Wagtails and chats were all around in reasonable number. Meadow Pipits numbered 73, which was slightly up on the previous days, the 11 White Wagtails were on Solfach, eight Stonechats were scattered about and 35 Wheatears were feeding around the coastline.

Inland, warblers were also in slimmer number than previous, but six Sedge Warblers, three Whitethroats, five Blackcaps 17 Chiffchaffs, 27 Willow Warblers and nine Goldcrests were recorded none the less.

Also of note today were a Greenfinch, two Lesser Redpolls and another record of Greylag Goose!

Brown Silver-line, caught in the Moth Trap overnight

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

A bit of an improvement on yesterday, with winds demoted from "arctic blast" to "brisk breeze" allowing a few birds to move through. Chief amongst these were 71 Wheatears, being particularly prevalent around the South End and the Narrows. 21 White Wagtails were also on Solfach, one of the best counts of the year so far.

Taking cover in any sheltered spot they could find were 39 Willow Warblers, 17 Chiffchaffs, seven Blackcaps, two Sedge Warblers, two Goldcrests and singles of Grasshopper Warbler and Whitethroat. A single Siskin and two Lesser Redpolls were in the Plantation, with three more Redpolls moving south. Also moving overhead were 31 Swallows and 4 House Martins. A few other bits of interest on land were two Collared Doves at Ty Nesaf, the Hooded Crow putting in a brief appearance at Pen Cristin, and our first sighting of a Starling in over two weeks! This species joins the ranks of several other common autumn migrants (such as Skylark, Grey Wagtail, Jackdaw and Black-headed Gull) which are considerably thinner on the ground in spring. Do migrants take a different route at this time of year, or do most just move through too early to be intercepted?

Very little moved out to sea, despite our hopes that the stormy conditions might displace a bird or two, but a decent selection of waders was to be found on the Narrows. Our good spring for Whimbrels continued with another 17 seen today, plus 22 Turnstones, nine Dunlins, two Redshanks and singles of Common Sandpiper and Curlew.

Our third Mallard brood of the spring was found on Nant Pond, while Shelducks have been bemusing us for some time! Nornmally notoriously poor at fledging young on Bardsey, they've perhaps been taking even more care than usual to pick the right spots this year, seen inspecting everywhere from the East Side (uncomfortably close to a Raven's nest, you'd think), to the tiny ponds in the Wetlands. But as yet none are on eggs, or even seem to have settled down in set territories. Several species are being rather more efficient though, Blackbirds have been seen with young, alongside Moorhens and Shags mentioned in previous posts, while several Carrion Crow pairs have been incubating for a while now.

Todays moth trap yielded just a single Hebrew Character, with just a few Green-veined Whites around on the Butterfly front.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Days this quiet don't happen very often on Bardsey. A mixture of strong, gusting North-westerlies, bitterly cold temperatures and frequent rain and hail showers evidently did about as much for prospects of migration as you'd expect them to! Our only remotely frequent grounded migrants were 27 Wheatears, with the rest represented by nine White Wagtails, five Willow Warblers, two Sedge Warblers and singles of Whitethroat and Chiffchaff. Overhead, the merest trickle of 12 Swallows and one Sand Martin was noted, alongside a female Sparrowhawk which, against all recieved wisdom, chose today to cross the Irish Sea! The very tired and bedraggled individual just made it over the South End cliffs, making landfall by the seawatching hide.

Also out to sea was a small morning passage that included 20 Manx Shearwater south, 16 Fulmar going in both directions and a distant flock of five Commic Terns south. Three Common Gulls and five Black-headed Gulls were mostly noted in Henllwyn, taking shelter from the stormy seas. There was also a slight increase in some wader numbers, including 25 each of Dunlins and Turnstones, 21 Whimbrels, five Ringed Plovers and a single Curlew. A single gallant Green-veined White took wing in the relative shelter of the Withies, the only Butterfly noted all day. If the wind could slow a little bit soon, that'd be lovely!

Monday, 24 April 2017

Strong northerly winds hampered any hopes of much passage today, with just low numbers and a few minor oddities seen. Given the marvellous passage we've been treated to recently we can't grumble too much, but today was certainly a slow-down compared to recent events.

Grounded migrant totals were very modest, though a male Ring Ouzel that remained at Pen Cristin provided some wow factor. 55 Willow Warblers, 19 Chiffchaffs, five Goldcrests, three Blackcaps and a single Whitethroat were recorded in the bushes, ten White Wagtails were counted on Solfach and two Siskins were in the Plantation. 20 Wheatears were scattered mostly across the Narrows and Pen Cristin, with at least two of the subspecies Leucorhoa bound for Iceland or Greenland (or maybe even Baffin Island!).

20 Goldfinchs and two Lesser Redpolls was a modest return for finch passage, while save a brief spurt of activity early in the afternoon, hirundines were hard to come by, 39 Swallows, four Sand Martins and a single House Martin were logged. A Grey Wagtail South over Nant at least provided some quality, with this species much more associated with autumn movements than  spring ones on Bardsey, and this being only the fifth of the year so far. Passerine wise, the Hooded Crow again in the North-west Fields was the only other sighting of note.

Sea passage was up with the strong winds, including a strong southbound passage of 100 Guillemots,  18 Razorbills and 61 Manx Shearwaters in an hour and a half first thing in the morning. Two Black-headed Gulls were loafing in Henllwyn at 09:00, with two Puffins off Pen Cristin early in the afternoon. Waders were represented with 13 Turnstones, eight Whimbrels, five Dunlins, two Ringed Plovers and two Curlews. Finally, and definitely in the category of "little things that only get exciting when you've been on Bardsey for five weeks", our resident first-summer Grey Heron was joined, briefly, by a spanking adult today! After five weeks of counting presumably the same bird every day, this was a welcome change for two surprised observers.

Since it was blowing a bit of a hoolie overnight, Moths were understandably reluctant to venture anywhere near the garden moth trap, intrepid singles of Angle Shades and Hebrew Character all that could be found. One Peacock, showing considerable fortitude, was observed battling the winds over Ty Pellaf, the only Butterfly logged all day. The first Palmate Newt for the year was, however, found in Nant Well, one of the few definitive signs of spring on a day when the dominant weather systems seemed to come straight out of the Arctic!

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Despite not feeling all that busy, today turned out to be a pretty reasonable day, with good numbers of some of the expected migrants, a few oddities and some firsts for the year all appearing. Chief among the migrants were Wheatears, numbering 174, and 71 Blackcaps. Many Greenland-bound Wheatears of the race "leucorhoa" were seen today, with considerable numbers passing along the mountain ridge, and several even seen on vis-mig! It's been a very good week for them so far, and today was the first occasion we've had anything like a sizeable arrival of Blackcaps. 26 were ringed in Cristin garden, comprising nearly half of the total number of birds caught here. 

It was a boon day for Thrush/Chat diversity too, the highlights being the first four Whinchats of the year, all well-marked males, and two Ring Ouzels on Pen Cristin. In addition there was a female Redstart in the Obs garden, and singles of Song Thrush and Fieldfare recorded. Several Stonechats were in areas that seemed outside of the invisible boundaries our resident pairs adhere to, so it's tempting to assume a bit of migration on their part as well. 

The stunning male Ring Ouzel at Ty Pellaf this afternoon

A fine day for Warblers generally, although the magnificent Willow Warbler passage of late couldn't be sustained, just 61 were counted today (although we're aware a fall of 61 constitutes a sizeable arrival for many locations!). 16 Whitethroats, 14 Sedge Warblers, 13 Chiffchaffs and nine Grasshopper Warblers constituted pretty decent Warbler passage, while three Goldcrests were also noted. 

194 Swallows made them the commonest overhead migrant by far, 25 Sand Martins and 16 Sand Martins also moved through, while 19 Lesser Redpolls and six Siskins constituted reasonable finch passage. Two Tree Pipits passed overhead, with another remarkably singing from a treetop in Ty Capel! There were also two Rooks heading south, and one of the day's highlights was a Short-eared Owl flushed from the mountainside, then spiralling higher and higher til finally lost from view. The Hooded Crow was again seen in the North-west fields, a season high of 21 White Wagtails were on Solfach and the West Coast, and two Collared Doves were knocking about. 

Out to sea was very quiet, three Black-headed Gulls heading south the only sighting of note. Wader diversity was again good, with 16 Whimbrels, eight Ringed Plovers, eight Purple Sandpipers, six Dunlins, five Curlews, three Common Sandpipers and a Redshank, almost all concentrated around the Narrows. 

The last few days have also been notable for our first Moorhen and Mallard broods of the year, one brood of nine on Pwll Cain on the 19th was down to just three by today, while six newly emerged ducklings were in the Wetlands today too. Two downy Moorhen chicks are currently hopping about the Front of the Obs Garden, mother in tow! 

A warm and sunny day resulted in good numbers of butterflies on the wing, 16 Green-veined Whites were counted, along with an excellent three Speckled Woods at Nant. Normally a mega rarity on Bardsey, a spate of recent sightings suggest a local emergence at Nant, after a record-breaking arrival last autumn. A welcome arrival to the islands Lepifauna! A single Red Admiral was a good sighting today, with few being reported recently.

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Glorious sunshine and calm winds made today particularly enjoyable, accompanied with a good cast of birds.

Out to sea a mere two Common Scoters were recorded, but inland was where the action was.

The highlight of the day was a Goshawk which was flushed from the Plantation in the morning which flew south through the Lowlands, before heading back north along the Mountain and finally thermalling at Nant and heading back north to the mainland. This represented only the 32nd record of this species for the island, with the last being recorded in 2014!

Waders again were seen in good number today and included a summer-plumaged Bar-tailed Godwit, but also of interest were five Ringed Plovers, six Dunlins and a Common Sandpiper. The first Common Tern of the season past by out to sea, and the first Swift of the year followed it shortly gliding over the Mountain Ridge. 16 Sand Martins, 80 Swallows and five House Martins made up Hirundine passage, with today being a little slower than before. Some 58 Wheatears were also logged, with a good proportion of them of the Greenland race. Again Warblers made up a large part of totals inland with three Grasshopper Warblers, five Sedge Warblers, four Blackcaps, 22 Chiffchaffs and 31 Willow Warblers logged, again a little lower than previous days, but still evidence of a fair bit moving through. A Blue Tit was trapped in the Withies.

A Hooded Crow was in the North West Fields today, which continues on from the good run we’ve been having. The highlights in finch passage today were a Greenfinch, seven Siskins and four Lesser Redpolls.

Of note on an island scale were two Greylag Geese and a Canada Goose today which were a pleasant surprise.

The first Flame Shoulder of the year, caught in the trap last night

Friday, 21 April 2017

Another calm day saw a good number and variety of birds migrate through the island today, with a few highlights.

First off, the wader diversity increased with a good number logged, the usual waders were logged around the rocks and beach, but included were four Ringed Plovers, a Golden Plover, a Grey Plover, five Dunlins, 27 Whimbrels and three Common Sandpipers. Also of note were a small group of three Teals seen in Henllywn. Little of note passed out to sea, bar seven Sandwich Terns, however, Hirundine movement was still very much underway with 39 Sand Martins, 123 Swallows and ten House Martins logged.

Inland, a good count of seven Tree Pipits flew overhead, 17 White Wagtails were seen on the Narrows, a male Redstart performed for a lucky few and Wheatears amounted to 89 birds. In the gorse and bushes a good number of Warblers were logged made up of nine Grasshopper Warblers, two Sedge Warblers, four Whitethroats, ten Blackcaps, 23 Chiffchaffs, 233 Willow Warblers and six Goldcrests.

The best of the rest, were two Hooded Crow, six Lesser Redpolls and a Reed Bunting.