Sunday, 21 January 2018

Sightings over the winter months can frequently plateau for weeks at a time with little change so its always pleasant when new birds arrive on the island, common or rare. It was a great surprise when the sixth record of Pink-footed Goose for the island appeared in the North West Fields. The last records came last winter when eight individuals appeared on the 26th of November and continued to stay for a few weeks inhabiting exclusively in three fields at the northern end of the island. Today only three birds were seen and only pick up very briefly in the late afternoon before taking off and heading north, a thick fog shrouded the island soon after and they were not seen again. Being such a rare bird for the island and the fact that last year individuals resisted in exactly the same fields as these were seen today, you could probably surmise that they, or at least one or two could possibly be returning birds, unfortunately we will not know for certain.

Pink-footed Goose feather and droppings found in the North West Fields where they were present for a short time
Very little else was noted although a smart male Teal was present on the small flood pool on the Narrows, a Whimbrel was heard close by, a species that doesn't over winter in large numbers in the UK and 31 Oystercatchers, 26 Curlews, 16 Redshanks, eight Turnstones and just two Rock Pipits were seen.

Friday, 19 January 2018

The male Gadwall, although not seen today was noted on the 13th and 18th of this month prior to today. Place your bets on how long it will linger.

Common Snipe are generally flushed every now and then throughout the winter months around mostly the boggy Wetlands and Lowlands, the wetlands being one of the most favoured spots. Over the last few weeks this species has been recorded but mostly in the dark evenings during dazzling when many go undetected, so a walk through the Wetlands during the day was long over due. By the end of the trek through the sloppy bogs and long grasses 29 individuals had been noted, undoubtably there must be more in other areas not walked staying hidden. Very few other waders were seen in any great number. Numbers around this time of year are generally static so it can be assured that rather than this being a movement of birds leaving the island it is more likely that other numbers were not detected, residing on other parts of the Island not covered, three Oystercatcher, six Curlews, three Redshanks and eight Turnstones were the final tallies.

Chough numbers have failed to reach any significant height this winter, however a lot of the resident breeding pairs are seen on and off, mostly picking throughout the seaweed and sand on Solfach, although individuals seem to be spreading apart around the islands mountain slops and grassy fields, eight were present today. Other Corvids included nine Magpies, six Crows and four Ravens.

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Very little change was noted today from brief censusing sporadicly across the island, but we were still provided with wildlife to enjoy. Down at Cafn, 16 Barrel Jellyfishes had been washed ashore mostly comprising of smallish individuals. Some are known to reach close to a meter in diameter and are a favoured food of the Leatherback Turtle (sadly not also detected bobbing just offshore). A third Shelduck made a brief appearance at the Narrows, alongside the pair that have been around for a few weeks now.

Presumably the same Great Spotted Woodpecker which has been present on the island since the Autumn and last seen on the 4th of December, last year, was calling from Ty Capel garden around the Nant area, whilst a pair of Stonechats still resided around the Boathouse and a Goldcrest was heard in the Observatory garden.

One of many Barrel Jellyfish, washed ashore at Cafn

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

A calm day allowed for a couple of nets to be opened up around Ty Nesaf, at Nant, although little was ringed unfortunately. Close by three Chaffinches moved between the sheltered gardens along with a Goldfinch, four Blackbirds, two Song Thrushes and a Redwing. Although calm, quick sea watching breaks in-between net rounds wasn't without records. Nothing spectacular, however a number of Gulls were noted which included 95 Black-headed Gulls, five Common Gulls and eight Kittiwakes, whilst eight Guillemots and five Razorbills were also seen. 

Days earlier a single Whooper Swan passed north over the island, today a single bird was noted again, this time flying south down the centre of the island. A Merlin dashed through the Lowlands, a Peregrine Falcon and four Ravens were high above the Mountain ridge as three Little Owls called along the mountainside and a Water Rail made its presence known, squealing from the Withies.

A decent number of Turnstones, 21, were present around the Narrows, the highest out for a week. Meanwhile 19 Oystercatchers, 30 Curlews and six Redshanks were recorded.

A fine Woodcock was dazzled on the Narrows during the evening, not aways an annually ringed species on Bardsey

Sunday, 7 January 2018

A single Whooper Swan seen from the south end heading over Pen Cristin, cutting across the Narrows and north up the island was certainly the highlight of the day, but there were also more signs of other birds "new in". A Common Snipe was flushed from the boggy areas surrounding the Lighthouse, ten Curlews, two Redshanks and 41 Oystercatchers residing nearby.

Towards the farm a single Fieldfare hopped from bank to bank below Ty Pellaf, the first seen for a few weeks, four Redwings were also new arrivals and were present amongst other thrushes including five Blackbirds and six Song Thrushes. A Pair of Stonechats were content perching amongst the lobster pots and vehicles situated at the Boathouse, six Meadow Pipits were spread between the lowlands and the mountainside, 140 Starlings picked through the short grassy fields and two Goldfinches, one seen the previous day, sheltered amongst the pines at Ty Nesaf at the north end of the island.

The "larder" of what is presumably a Little Owl judging by the pellet size and contents, was found amongst the nooks and crannies of the 13th Century Abby at Nant
Throughout the day a large gathering of around 800 Black-headed Gulls, seven Common Gulls and ten Kittiwakes, moved up and down the West Coast, four Gannets passing by the feeding frenzy early on. A good tally of 187 Grey Seals were also logged, 166 around Henllwyn and 21 around the South End.

Friday, 5 January 2018

Generally the day was "business as usual" however that said the island still provides a great variety of wildlife to watch.

Numbers at the main Grey Seal haul out in Henllewyn fluctuate from day to day and often coincide with the tides. Although not a vast number compared with what can be seen here, 92 were present today. The juvenile Grey Heron was close by, often settled amongst the rock pools around Cafn waiting patiently for its prey. Meanwhile two Mallards bobbed amongst the swell and a small selection of waders were on show comprising of mostly the Curlew flock, 35, with 12 Redshanks and six Oystercatchers the only other additional waders.

Off the West Coast a lone Gannet soared over the rolling surf, two Common Gulls and 14 Kittiwakes fed off the waters surface and 37 Guillemots headed south further out.

A Sparrowhawk was seen cruising along the mountainside, perhaps on the look out for any unsuspecting passerines, one of the resident Peregrin Falcons was noted high above the mountain ridge, whilst below a Water Rail, two Meadow Pipits, four Song Thrushes and a Linnet were also seen.

Monday, 1 January 2018

A variety of wildfowl can be hard to come by on the island, if an interesting species does occur generally it passes by the island within a matter of minutes with few observers, with that in mind the drake Gadwall had made it into the new year, still residing on the island since it first appeared on the 24th of November, last year! Generally it pairs up with the small flock of resident Mallards, of which two were seen, today however it was alone sheltering in Henllewyn, one of the bays. A male and female Shelduck were the only other ducks recorded.

Waders were noted in reasonable species and numbers around the Narrows, these included 53 Oystercatchers, four Purple Sandpipers, a Whimbrel, 14 Redshanks and 25 Turnstones. Meanwhile 13 Rock Pipits and 13 Choughs fed close by and 71 Grey Seals were hauled out.

Herring Gulls dotted open fields in good numbers amounting to 124 individuals, five Greater Black-backed Gulls and five Kittiwakes were other species seen. A Gannet drifted by the island off the West Coast and inland very little else was notable with thrush numbers dropping down to five Blackbirds and two Song Thrushes compared to the tens seen towards the end of the 2017 season.

Monday, 18 December 2017

Calm days can be few and far between during the winter months, so today was a pleasant surprise, bringing with it plenty of sightings and signs of movements throughout the day.

Foremost being a small passerine movement, comprising mostly of finches. An extremely elusive Bullfinch was heard on and off throughout the morning around the gardens at Nant, whilst over Pen Cristin and Ty Pellaf, two Goldfinches and four Siskins passed overhead and 18 Chaffinches were also noted nearby. Thrush numbers seemed to have decreased vastly in comparison to previous weeks comprising of two Redwings, six Song Thruhes and seven Blackbirds.  The first Skylark for a long time passed over the island, on the mountainside was a small flock of 20 Meadow Pipits, new in, whilst two Stonechats, a Goldcrest and 77 Starlings were also recorded.

Very little other "movement" of birds was noted, standing out from the norm in terms of species and numbers although a nice selection of other species were seen. Off the coasts 126 Guillemots, 58 Kittiwakes, 12 Common Gulls and 64 Black-headed Gulls were present, around the Narrows additional gulls included three Greater Black-backed Gulls and seven Herring Gulls. The juvenile Grey Heron was again present alongside seven Turnstones, 16 Redshanks, a Curlew (others in the usual flock were undoubtably around somewhere) and 55 Oystercatchers.

Saturday, 16 December 2017

A first winter Iceland Gull heading north across the Narrows was the clear highlight of the day. It settled briefly on a flood pool before heading over Solfach and disappearing up the West Coast. Generally "white winged gulls" are mostly recorded here during the beginning of the new year and, the more common species being Glaucous Gull, so this was a nice surprise and probably only the 12th record of this species for the island!

Credits to Ben Porter for the image
The ever present drake Gadwall was again spotted around the Narrows accompanied by the Wigeon that it seems to be associating with, whilst close by was the juvenile Grey Heron which has been residing here over the past weeks, 37 Oystercatchers, a Whimbrel, 45 Curlews, 12 Redshanks, two Turnstones and 25 Starlings were also noted.

Good numbers of thrushes continue to be recorded over the past weeks with today being no exception with a fantastic showing of 19 Blackbirds, 30 Song Thrushes and five Redwings.

Sunday, 3 December 2017

A good number of Common Snipe were seen today, nine were recorded between the rocks at low tide around the Narrows and a boggy area on the South End to the east of the Lighthouse. Not the only decent number of waders noted however as a Lapwing, Whimbrel, 31 Curlews, 12 Redshanks, 22 Turnstones and 17 Oystercatchers were also present close by.

A good passage of Auks were recorded over a 30 minute period off the South end with 670 Guillemots, 13 Razorbills and 100 unidentified Auk sp. A Red-throated Diver, two Great Northern Divers, Diver sp, Gannet and two Common Scoter were other notables from sea watches.

A Merlin patrolled the southern parts of the island in search of prey, which seems to consist of mostly Rock Pipits of which 15 were seen, a pair of Shelduck bobbed just off shore in Henllwyn as a juvenile Grey Heron resided amongst the coastal rock pools and 18 Choughs fed amongst the sand and seaweed on Solfach. Over the past week or so Thrushes again were a feature with a variety of species scattered about the island, mostly feeding in the fields below the farm, Ty Pellaf, and the Observatory. Amongst the gardens were, 16 Blackbirds, four Song Thrushes and a Mistle Thrush, the final tallies. Elsewhere a Water Rail was still present in Nant Withy, two Stonechats and single Goldcrest and Goldfinch were noted.

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Wildfowl was again the surprise standout from todays censusing, most notable was a fine drake Velvet Scoter heading west through the Bardsey Sound and out into the Irish Sea, possibly even more bizarre was a small passage of Teals, two small flocks numbering 37 in total, flew out west in much the same manor as the Velvet Scoter. This is just the 18th record of this species for the island, the last seen in 2014 when some individuals flew down the West Coast. The drake Gadwall was again present along the West Coast hiding out with 16 Mallards, whilst a pair of Shelducks resided around the Narrows. Also noted off the coasts were two Red-throated Divers, a Gannet, seven Common Scoter, 65 Guillemots, 24 Razorbills, 10 Auk sp, a first winter Mediterranean Gull, 69 Black-headed Gulls a Common Gull and 26 Kittiwakes.

Above the island a Common Buzzard tussled with resident Peregrine Falcon and corvids, a small drop in thrush numbers over previous days left totals at a respectable 18 Blackbirds, six Song Thrushes and two Redwings. A Little Owl called from the mountainside and a Stonechat, three Goldcrests, three Chaffinches, a Siskin and Goldfinch were also recorded inland, whilst around the rocky coastlines 31 Oystercatchers, a Whimbrel, 22 Curlews, six Redshanks and five Turnstones were waders seen

Water Rails are known for their abilities to be extremely elusive. On Bardsey especially, most of the time the only giveaway to their presence comes from calling birds as they squeal amongst dense cover. The previous day one had been sighted sneaking amongst the vegetation in Nant Withy, with prints in the mud nearby also noted. A camera trap was placed nearby to try and capture some footage of this fantastic species, that evening the Water Rail made an appearance and hopefully will continue to do so over coming days with this trap remaining in place to produce further clips of its secretive behaviour.

Thursday, 30 November 2017

Bitter northerly winds persisted today driving heavy showers across the island providing some exciting weather conditions in which to census.

Along the West Coast just north of Solfach hidden amongst the rock pools at low tide was a very nice gathering of Wildfowl, a drake Gadwall, single Wigeon, ten Teals and 20 Mallards. Considering how rare Gadwall is as a species on the island and with no plumage differences discernible from the individual seen just under a week ago (although we could be wrong) its safer to assume its the same bird residing on the island. A fantastic gathering of species recorded together, especially on an island where wildfowl can be hard to come by at times. A lone Shelduck was also present close by.

Just south, around the Narrows, a variety of waders were on show scattered amongst the beaches and bays, 46 Oystercatchers, a single Purple Sandpiper and Whimbrel, 20 Curlews, four Redshanks, and eight Turnstones were final tallies along with nine Rockpipits and a Shag.

Inland a good number of Thrushes again were seen mostly through the Lowlands and around the gardens, 31 Blackbirds, five Song Thrushes and a Redwing. Chaffinch numbers had taken a sharp decline today compared to yesterdays total of 82 as groups obviously passed straight through, today only one was recorded.

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Dramatic skies were a nice backdrop to a day with new migrants bringing the island to life throughout the hours of daylight. Thrushes and Finches featured heavily today with an obvious arrival of to the island. Small groups of Blackbirds and Song Thrushes could be seen moving around the Lowlands with other individuals scattered amongst the gardens, 26 and 11 respectively were recorded by the end of the day along with a Mistle Thrush. Overhead 82 Chaffinches, a Goldfinch and four Linnets were noted, not the vast numbers that pass by the island during October but still a fantastic sight. A stunning adult male Sparrowhawk snuck through Nant and disappeared into the Plantation where a Woodcock was also flushed from cover.

Off the West Coast 156 Black-headed Gulls moved north with a couple of Common Gulls and a number of Auks.

Monday, 27 November 2017

A Red-throated Diver was again seen along the West Coast during the morning, throughout the winter they can quite often be seen heading west through the sound from Cardigan Bay and out into the Irish Sea, perhaps staying east of the island overnight where it's more sheltered and heading out to the west to feed during the day? A mixture of gulls were also present earlier on moving along the West and included an adult Mediterranean Gull, 203 Black-headed Gulls, four Common Gulls, 13 Herring Gulls and 103 Kittiwakes, as well as a Lesser Black-backed and Greater Black-backed Gull further south towards the Narrows. A single Common Scoter drifted south and Auks were present in smaller numbers with 21 Guillemots, 28 Razorbills and eight Auk sp seen passing by.

A fine Snow Bunting discovered on the Narrows was a pleasant surprise as it fed along the short grass, not always an annually recorded species on the island. Close by and Oystercatcher, the Curlew flock, 16 individuals, and a Redshank were the only waders noted. Little else was recorded however one of the resident Peregrine Falcons treated islanders to its displays of speed and agility as it stooped at small flocks of Starlings over the Lowlands and mountainside, such a fantastic bird to have breeding on the island!

Smart Snow Bunting, not always an easy bird to catch up with on Bardsey

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Cold North Westerly winds have been hitting the island for a few days now and although they haven't produced much in terms of any significant movements or change in sightings, as is this time of year on Bardsey, there were a couple of interesting things noted.

The most noteworthy sightings were from the sea watching hide at the north end of the island. A single pale bellied Brent Goose and three Red-throated Divers were perhaps the highlights amongst a small passing of other species including a Gannet, small numbers of Black-headed Gulls, Kittiwakes and Auks amounting to 72 Guillemots and nine Razorbills.

A healthy flock of 17 Curlews passed over the Narrows heading towards the grassy slopes of Pen Cristin along with a single Whimbrel and one Redshank were the only waders noted today. Whilst elsewhere on the island a small number of thrushes, four Blackbirds, two Song Thrushes and a Redwing were noted along with three Goldcrests, 50 Starlings and four Chaffinches scattered amongst Wrens, Dunnocks and Robins.

Woodcock feathers found in the Observatory garden

Friday, 24 November 2017

Beautiful calm days can do sometimes occur during the winter months in amongst the storms!
Although the day was mostly quiet, synonymous with this time of year, there were highlights to enjoy. The standout was the appearance of a handsome drake Gadwall which settled in Henllwyn for an hour or so, before reappearing on Pwll Cain, the largest pond in the centre of the island. Although a somewhat common species on the mainland, this is only the 12th island record and the second to be recorded this year, the previous being a few weeks back. A distant diver heading out west, mostly likely a Red-throated Diver, a single Wigeon heading south along the West Coast, a handful of Auks and a small scattering of gulls including 62 Black-headed Gulls, two Common Gulls and 34 Kittiwakes were the only other notables out at sea today.

Drake Gadwall settled in Henllewyn, a rare occurrence on the island
As another calm day presented itself, nets again were able to be opened for a few hours in the morning in the Observatory garden, and although it was a particularly quiet ringing session with just a handful of birds ringed, these included a dapper Redwing and the long staying juvenile female Great Spotted Woodpecker re-trapped. This individual was first ringed on the 28th of September and since has been sighted sporadicly around the island. A few Thrushes were noted comprising mostly of ten Blackbirds, four Song thrushes and what was presumably the same Mistle Thrush which was heard and not seen on the mountainside. Amongst the common winter residents a couple of Goldcrests flitted in the damsons, small parties of Starlings passed through the Lowlands throughout the morning, settling on the Narrows to feed in a flock that eventually numbered 600 individuals, whilst nine Chaffinches and a Goldfinch passed overhead and four Raven squabbled high above the mountain.

A pleasure to see these birds up close from time to time, wonder if it will be joining us for the winter, watch this space......

Sunday, 19 November 2017

With all observatory staff now off the island for the winter coverage will be fairly low, however blog posts and tweets of sightings will be available periodically. 

A calm spell, sometimes rare around this time of year, allowed for a few mist nets to be opened in the observatory garden this morning. Although ringing was fairly quiet, small numbers of migrants were recorded throughout the day including an extremely bizarre record to follow...

Small numbers of finches were still moving through, namely Chaffinches of which 23 were recorded, but with them were also two Bramblings, and singles of Greenfinch, Siskin, Goldfinch and also three Skylarks passing overhead. Reasonable numbers of thrushes were also noted, mostly around the gardens. A Mistle Thrush, possibly the same individual seen recently was rattling around the Observatory garden along with a female Great Spotted Woodpecker, whilst 14 Blackbirds, two Fieldfares, seven Song Thrushes and two Redwings were also present. A total of 36 Woodpigeons were present, whilst an immature female Sparrowhawk, Common Buzzard, Merlin, Peregrine Falcon, a Little Owl, a couple of Meadow Pipits and Goldcrests played supporting cast.

Very smart adult male Chaffinch ringed this morning
Smart tertials with well defined fringing, broad tail, central tail feathers with dark markings and deep black glossy primary coverts matching in tone and strength with greater coverts, primaries and the rest of the wing, all point towards this individual being an adult bird
This little Goldcrest was ringed this year on the 25th of October in the observatory garden and re trapped this morning , keeping a steady weight of 5.2 grams which was its weighed when first trapped
Perhaps the most unusual record was that of an extremely late Corncrake discovered at Carreg Bach, one of the small houses on the island. Attention was drawn to a small gathering of seemingly adgetated Wrens and Dunnoks along a stonewall and fence line bordering the house. On closer inspection nothing seemed out of the ordinary until a Corncrake burst out of the long grass, taking flight and heading south along the side of the mountain before diving into cover again. It’s streaky mantle, short gingery upper wings and small stout bill visible in flight. The individual was tracked down again and was briefly seen stealthily winding its way through dead strands of bracken before taking flight again and disappearing into dense gorse. A rare sighting in Wales, even more so given the time of year.

A good contender for worst record shot
A flock of 20 Purple Sandpipers were present just off shore on Carreg yr Honwy whilst other waders included two Common Snipes and a Redshank on the West Coast. A Shelduck, 14 Common Scoter, 38 Guillemots, four Razorbills and a small number of gulls including 19 Black-headed Gulls, three Common Gulls and ten Kittiwakes were numbers on a brief look out to sea off the West Coast

Friday, 10 November 2017

A lot of today was spent cleaning down the Obs and that, alongside the general quietness that has descended upon Bardsey, ensured for a limited list of highlights. A Brent Goose off the North End was the most notable sighting, while also passing offshore were very small totals of 76 Razorbills, 12 Black-headed Gulls, two Common Gulls and two Mediterranean Gulls. On land 458 Starlings were the only common migrant, and a paltry list of other migrants included two Water Rails, one Skylark, seven Robins, three Stonechats, 14 Blackbirds, two Song Thrushes, a Redwing, two Chiffchaffs, seven Goldcrests, a lingering Firecrest and a single Linnet.

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Aside from a light scattering of migrants on the land first thing in the morning, which quickly dissipated, it was very quiet today. The commonest species were 758 Starlings and 144 Redwings, but otherwise just a tiny trickle of migrants were seen. A Short-eared Owl in the Wetlands and a new Bulfinch at Cristin were the most notable, while a Firecrest and a Great Spotted Woodpecker both remained from previous days (it's surely been a record-breaking autumn for the latter species, and a very good one for the former as well). Otherwise the list of highlights was remarkably scant; two Water Rails, an increase to 52 Curlews, one Stonechat, 13 Blackbirds, four Song Thrushes, two Chiffchaffs, five Goldcrests, three Goldfinches and three Lesser Redpolls the best that could be mustered up.

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

A considerably improved day was enjoyed today.  Amongst an increased finch passage came 39 Chaffinches, four Bramblings, two Greenfinches, two Siskins, 18 Goldfinches, 27 Linnets and three Lesser Redpolls. Some of the day's most notable grounded migrants were Short-eared Owl on the South End, a season high of 76 Rock Pipits, a Black Redstart on the Narrows and a Firecrest at Cristin, while the most numerous were 465 Starlings, and a flock of 35 Rooks over Cristin were also notable. Otherwise a good supporting cast included two Water Rails, a Great Spotted Woodpecker, 39 Skylarks, 22 Meadow Pipits, an alba Wagtail, 20 Robins, two Stonechats, 23 Blackbirds, one Fieldfare, eight Song Thrushes, two Redwings, two Chiffchaffs and two Reed Buntings.

Out to sea the first Great Skua of the month passed by, but passage was very modest, 72 Black-headed Gulls the only species occurring in any numbers, and two Common Scoters adding a bit of variety. However, a good selection of Waders on the Narrows included four Lapwings, 35 Purple Sandpipers (the highest count of the year), three Snipes, a Whimbrel, 32 Redshanks and 33 Turnstones, while two Grey Herons were also present today.

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

There was a subtle increase in passage today, with quite a good variety of birds on the island. The most obvious movers were chats and thrushes, including three Black Redstarts at Cafn, five Stonechats, 30 Robins, 25 Blackbirds, eight Song Thrushes and 41 Redwings. A late Swallow was the most unusual sighting of the day, while the support cast of passerines included a Merlin, three Water Rails, a Great Spotted Woodpecker, 26 Rock Pipits, 14 Goldcrests, two Firecrests, two Chiffchaffs and two Blackcaps. 

An increase in sea passage saw 531 Kittiwakes, 122 Razorbills and 87 Black-headed Gulls moving in large numbers, alongside a single Common Scoter, a Sabine's Gull (our 35th of the year!), seven Common Gulls, nine Mediterranean Gulls and six Guillemots. Meanwhile, amongst a good selection of waders a Jack Snipe was in the Lowlands and Redshanks had increased noticeably to 32, with five Purple Sandpipers and a Lapwing also on the Narrows.

Monday, 6 November 2017

The only sightings of note today all came from land. In the Wetlands 11 Snipes and a Jack Snipe were seen, the latter narrowly avoiding attempts to drag net it (although a Snipe caught at the time, the third of the year, was a good bycatch), while a Woodcock was in the Obs Garden in the morning. There was also a single Merlin on the South End, while 19 Woodpigeons were new in.

The only common passerine migrants were 177 Starlings, 46 Chaffinches, 25 Blackbirds, 13 Song Thrushes, 15 Robins and 16 Goldcrests, but a decent selection of other species were seen, including one Water Rail, one new Great Spotted Woodpecker, two Skylarks, two Stonechats, a Fieldfare, six Redwings, five Bramblings and three Lesser Redpolls.

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Another quiet day, although with a notable highlight of a Little Auk past the North End. There were also two Brent Geese on the South End and a Little Egret on Henllwyn. Other species were very limited, out to sea there were 277 Kittiwakes, 133 Guillemots, three Gannets, two Mediterranean Gulls, 82 Black-headed Gulls and five Common Gulls. 205 Starlings on the Narrows were the only notable passerine, otherwise there were nine Chaffinches, eight Goldcrests and three Chiffchaffs.

Saturday, 4 November 2017

A very quiet day overall, with one of the most notable sightings a Pale-bellied Brent Goose in Solfach. Otherwise, a very low selection of migrants included 150 Starlings, 31 Chaffinches, 24 Blackbirds and 20 Robins. The blythii type Lesser Whitethroat remained at Ty Pellaf for its third day, while a very small selection of other migrants featured one Water Rail, one Stonechat, two Song Thrushes, three Redwings, two Blackcaps, two Chiffchaffs and a Bullfinch, while on the Narrows there was a noticeable increase to 72 Curlews.

Friday, 3 November 2017

Overall it was pretty quiet today, although with a few notable increases such as three Merlins, three Woodcocks, 33 Blackbirds, 336 Starlings and 40 Rock Pipits, about half of the latter heading south over the South End in the days only notable vismig. The interesting-looking Lesser Whitethroat was at Ty Pellaf for its second day, and a Black Redstart at the Boathouse, to add a bit of quality to the day's other migrants, which included three Snipes, two Grey Wagtails, four alba Wagtails, 34 Robins, a Fieldfare, 11 Song Thrushes, six Redwings, two Blackcaps, nine Chiffchaffs, 13 Goldcrests, three Long-tailed Tits, two Reed Buntings and a small selection of finches; 49 Goldfinches was a notable increase and 28 Chaffinches, three Bramblings, a Greenfinch, eight Siskins,14 Linnets, two Lesser Redpolls and a Bullfinch were also seen.

About an hours seawatching gave some reasonable passage of 219 Black-headed Gulls, 102 Kittiwakes and 130 Razorbills, with quality coming from singles of Red-throated and Great Northern Diver, four Gannets (the first in several days), 20 Common Scoters, eight Mediterranean Guls and three Common Gulls.

Thursday, 2 November 2017

There were a few sightings of note today, almost all on land, with migration for the most part now petering out. A Stock Dove on Pen Cristin was the first sighting of the year, while two unusual species showed up in the gardens at Ty Pellaf, a very late Willow Warbler and another Blythii type Lesser Whitethroat. Also notable were at least 20 Long-tailed Tits roaming around the island today.

Otherwise it was a fairly typical selection of migrants for early November, almost all in slowly decreasing numbers. Thrushes numbered 29 Blackbirds, two Fieldfares, 19 Song Thrushes and four Redwings, while a very modest scattering of finces amounted to 20 Chaffinches, five Bramblings, a Goldfinch, four Siskins, two Linnets, three Lesser Redpolls and a Bullfinch. The rest of the grounded migrants included two Water Rails, a Great Spotted Woodpecker (probably all lingering from previous days), nine Skylarks, one Pied and one "alba" Wagtail, 37 Robins, six Stonechats, three Blackcaps, 11 Chiffchaffs, 25 Goldcrests, 89 Starlings and four Reed Buntings.

The only other sightings of note were two Teals in Henllwyn and four Mediterranean Gulls offshore.

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

A moderately improved selection of migrants greeted us on the first day of November. The highlights included a Woodcock on the Mountainside, a Black Redstart at Cristin and six new Long-tailed Tits that roamed widely around the island; first seen heading south over the Narrows, then returning to the Obs where they were ringed, and by late afternoon tracking their way North through Carreg Bach and Nant Valley, after which they presumably departed back to the mainland. The two commonest species were 165 Chaffinches and 40 Robins, with otherwise low numbers but good diversity. Finches included seven Bramblings, 15 Siskins, four Goldfinches, 13 Linnets, eight Lesser Redpolls, a Bullfinch and two Reed Buntings, while a small selection of chats and Thrushes included three Stonechats, 19 Blackbirds, a Fieldfare, four Song Thrushes and five Redwings. Also noted were a Merlin, two Snipes in the Wetlands, 62 Curlews and 40 Turnstones on Carreg Yr Honwy, two Whimbrels, 21 Meadow and 24 Rock Pipits, six Blackcaps, 12 Chiffchaffs, 23 Goldcrests, one Firecrest, two Coal Tits, one Great Tit and 43 Starlings. It was very quiet out to sea, with just two Common Gulls and a Mediterranean Gull of note.

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

One of the quiestest days in weeks befell the island today. A Siberian Chiffchaff was the only new migrant of note, while otherwise an extremely modest selection came to one Water Rail, 16 Robins, two Song Thrushes, ten Blackbirds, ten Goldcrests, three Chiffchaffs, one Blackcap, 86 Starlings, a Coal Tit, a Bullfinch, five Lesser Redpolls, three Siskins and 11 Chaffinches. A Hummingbird Hawk-moth was also seen at the Obs, notable so late in the year.

Monday, 30 October 2017

The Yellowhammer caught this morning

It was a slightly bonkers first few hours of the day, with flocks of many birds constantly passing overhead. To start with, the dominant species was Woodpigeons, of which 830 were counted. This wouldn't be a notable count at all at many mainland vis-mig points (the average reader could probably get that many passing over their garden in a day when migration is good!), but Bardsey isn't your average vis-mig site. Woodpigeon flocks just don't get here normally, our previous day record of 300 was set back in 1976, and this count therefore increases the record by about 176%! That in itself was pretty good going, but plenty more passed overhead. Corvids had their largest passage of the year so far, with 470 Jackdaws, 52 Rooks, 44 Carrion Crows and 36 Magpies recorded today, while another 490 Starlings passed through. Another great day for Finches included 177 Chaffinches, 58 Bramblings, 25 Greenfinches, 72 Goldfinches, 45 Linnets and 46 Lesser Redpolls, while a seasons best of 64 Reed Buntings passed overhead, as did two Lapland Buntings. A medley selection of other species seen passing over included 12 Cormorants, one Dunlin, one Golden Plover, one Snipe, one Great Spotted Woodpecker (one of four seen today), 76 Skylarks, 147 Meadow Pipits, three Rock Pipits(out of 32 seen today, a sizeable arrival), a Mistle Thrush (out of two seen today) and 11 Fieldfares (out of 20 seen today).

A Yellowhammer caught and ringed at the Plantation was the highlight of another very good selection on land. With the belated news that Rachel Porter had a Ring Ouzel on the Mountainside, I can also happily saw we managed all six Thrushes between us! 43 Blackbirds, 20 Song Thrushes and 35 Redwings joined the three species already mentioned. Otherwise 34 Robins and 29 Goldcrests were the only numerous migrants, while three Merlins, a Pied Wagtail, four Stonechats, four Blackcaps, four Chiffchaffs, a Coal Tit, an excellent five Bullfinches and eight Long-tailed Tits made up the rest of the days species.

The sea was very quiet, but a gathering of Gulls offshore early in the morning included 910 Black-headed Gulls, 30 Mediterranean Gulls, 11 Common Gulls and 350 Herring Gulls.

350 Herring Gull, 910 Black-head, 11 Common Gull, 30Mediterranean Gull,

Sunday, 29 October 2017

The sea has been a little bit quiet of late, but returned with a vengeance today in a day of strong northerly winds, occasionally gusting around North-westerly. Perhaps the standout species was Mediterranean Gull, with a monstrous count of 170! To put that number into some context, its the first ever three figure count for Bardsey, annihilating the previous record (which was broken twice in 2016, with 83 on 23 Oct and 96 on 1 Nov). On all all-round brilliant day for Gulls, three Sabine's Gulls (this must be our best ever year for them by quite a margin), and a Little Gull brought the quality, while 3327  Kittiwakes, 1545 Black-headed Gulls and 122 Common Gulls provided the quantity. 778 Razorbills were the only other species moving in appreciable numbers, but the sea produced fantastic diversity today. A Great Northern Diver, a Sooty Shearwater, two Leach's Petrels, a Grey Heron, 13 Greenland White-fronted Geese, five Pale-bellied Brent Geese, two Teals, the first Pintail of the year (and 44th island record), five Common Scoters, a Grey Phalarope, five Arctic Skuas, four Great Skuas, three late Sandwich Terns and seven Guillemots ensured it was one of the most interesting seawatches of the year.

It was rather hard for the land to compete with such a stacked field, but it did its level best. A Woodcock at Cristin was the first of the autumn, while a Short-eared Owl was in the Wetlands, and possibly the same Barn Owl last seen two weeks ago reappeared at Ty Pellaf. Other scarcities included a Siberian Chiffchaff and a Bullfinch at the Obs, the former heard only, and four Long-tailed Tits in the Withies.

The author of this blog has something of an obsession with recording all six british thrushes in a day, having managed five out of the six more times than he cares to count! Yesterday we came mighty close, missing only Ring Ouzel. One of them was seen today, but typically it was the first time since the 25th that no Mistle Thrushes were on the island! The wait continues. Nontheless, a modest arrival of 30 Redwings, four Fieldfares and eight Song Thrushes were seen today. Finch passage was much decreased, but 57 Chaffinches, 13 Bramblings, 12 Greenfinches and three Siskins moved through. The only other migrants reaching double figures were 31 Starlings, 18 Goldcrests, 16 Robins and 15 Skylarks, with a thin scatter of other typical October migrants including two Merlins, a Water Rail, two Pied Wagtails, three "alba" Wagtails, a Blackcap, two Chiffchaffs and a Firecrest.

We didn't get any good photos today, so here's one not yet published from yesterday; the very interesting first-winter Lesser Whitethroat, that to us looks like a good match for Blythii. Note the sandy brown colour extending up the nape, and extensive white in t4/5. With current knowledge of the variability in nominate Curruca insufficient to differentiate the two with 100% confidence, we were lucky a few feathers were shed during processing, so DNA analysis can hopefully give a definitive answer. 

Saturday, 28 October 2017

Immature male Black Redstart, Ephraim Perfect;

A relatively quiet day, by recent standards. Most of the action was on land, wehre the standout highlight was our third Lesser Whitethroat of October. Like the other two, an eastern subspecies like Blythii was strongly suspected, but unlike the other two it found its way into the nets, and with a few feathers shed during routine handling, we can get DNA analysis to work it out one way or the other! A Black Redstart was one of the other new arrivals, while other scarcities were probably lingering from previous days, such as two Bullfinches, six Long-tailed Tits and a Mistle Thrush

270 Starlings and 45 Chaffinches were once again the commonest migrants, albeit in much reduced numbers, while a very small scattering of other finches included three Bramblings, one Greenfinch and four Lesser Redpolls. A Great Spotted Woodpecker, nine Skylarks, two Fieldfares, 47 Redwings, three Blackcaps, two Chiffchaffs, 12 Goldcrests, one Firecrest and one Jackdaw were the other notable migrants.

Out to sea Gull passage was again dominant, with 664 Black-headed Gulls, 607 Kittiwakes, and 22 each of Common and Mediterranean Gulls. Four Common Scoters, a Great Skua, 20 Guillemots and 195 Razorbills were the only other species on the move. Meanwhile the most interesting waders included a good count of 64 Curlews, plus three Lapwings, two Dunlins and singles of Snipe and Whimbrel
Three of 63 Curlew on the South End, Ephraim Perfect;