|View from the south hide, impressive waves and spray...although not the biggest captured here!|
In "moth news" success with the trap!.....well one moth, but thats one more than recent efforts. A nice male Mottled Grey.
The latest news from Bardsey Bird and Field Observatory
Apologies for the lack of blog post in recent days, not a vast amount of censusing has taken place and very little has been seen. Today however started off with glorious sunshine and barley a cloud in sight, although strong winds still battered the island.
High tide around the narrows had pushed 51 Curlews and 108 Oystercatchers onto the grassy fields where they fed and rested together in a huge flock. Down on the rocks and seaweed that hadn't been covered by the tide were 75 Grey Seals hauled out, 17 Turnstones and five Redshanks. A Pied Wagtail, 18 Rock Pipits, 13 Herring Gulls, a Lesser Black-backed Gull, two Greater Black-backed Gulls and a Cormorant were also noted, strangely no wildfowl today which were perhaps elsewhere. All seemed settled until a male Sparrowhawk whipped over heading north and sending all the birds into a frenzy of panic and loud calls.
|A young Grey Seal hauled out in one of the small bays|
|View from the south hide, impressive waves and spray...although not the biggest captured here!|
Although plenty of areas were covered today, including the west side of the mountain, Cristin (the observatory garden), Ty Pellaf (the farm), lowlands and withies, very few birds aside from a couple of Blackbirds, Robins, Wrens, Chaffinches and Moorhens were seen.
A highlight came towards the end of the day in the form of the local Choughs as a flock noisily gliding close by, down the side of the mountain and into the lowlands.
Interestingly, however some tracks were discovered in the muddy perimeter of the ponds in the centre of the island. Tiny webbed tracks of a Teal, measuring only 45mm or so. No Teal have been seen during the days cencuses yet but it is evident that a number of ducks seem to be favouring the ponds and pools at night.
|The miniscule tracks of a Teal, characteristic trait of slightly inward pointing prints of most wildfowl|
|Further investigation needed but possibly the faint tracks of a Common Snipe, found along a boggy ditch bordering one of the fields in the lowlands|
A trip up and over the mountain was the start to the day today. Rounding the southern end of the mountain and starting the accent a Sparrowhawk was disturbed from a small clump of gorse, a stunning adult male with its pure slate grey upper parts and bright rufous throat, as it flew off to take shelter somewhere else it was clutching recently caught prey in its talons. Further along the mountain 77 Herring Gulls along with two Lesser Black-blacked, two Greater Black-backed Gulls, 11 Kittiwakes and two Choughs dotted the colonies and rode the winds below. A Shag passing the east side and two Meadow Pipits were seen along the ridge.
Descending the north end of the mountain and heading passed the plantation was very quiet but we were greeted by a couple of singing Wrens, Robins and calling Dunnock. Singles of Blackbird, Goldcrest and Moorhen skulked in the gardens, and a flock of four Linnets and five Chaffinches frequented a field next to the chapel.
At sea off the west coast 62 Guillemots, 7 Razorbills and three Kittiwakes passed.
|With the swell and waves being so large and prolific, sea watching has been a lot easier when finding shelter behind the various houses on the island|
A change in Auk numbers today which saw Razorbill as the most numerous Auk off the west coast, 29 Razorbills and just 13 Guillemots. 13 Kittiwakes also drifted south with two Fulmars, a single Black-headed Gull and Cormorant.
No Bullfinch today, although one could deduce that in the weather of the past days it is still taking shelter on the island somewhere! A Woodpigeon, seemingly the only one on the island at the moment, shot out of the plantation. Two Goldcrests, two Blackbirds, two Robins, three Wrens and two Moorhens were noted around Nant.
|The remains of a recently deceased Magpie, including upper mandible, we can only guess as to the cause death. Predation by Sparrowhawk?|
A change in the weather over the passed fews days as seen it go from flat calm too strong winds gusting upwards of 35mph.
A Red-throated Diver made an appearance at the north end in the morning flying straight towards the north hide before resting on the sea sixty meters or so off shore. It gave fantastic views as it slid under water (unlike a shags which take a small hop when diving under) in search of food. Otherwise very quiet at sea, 114 Guillemots, three Razorbills and 24 Kittiwakes passed by during a watch.
An adult Peregrine was on fine form again with low flights throughout the day, occasionally hovering like a kestrel before skimming the fields and gaining height again. Three Song Thrushes in the wetlands, a Stonechat at the farm, Meadow Pipit on the side of the mountain, five Chaffinches on the main track, a couple of Wrens, Robins and only singles of Dunnock and Blackbird made for a very quiet day north of the narrows.
|The long and slender footprints of Moorhens|
One of the nicest days on the island for quite a few weeks with winds of around 14mph from a south south east direction and not a cloud in sight....but still very chilly.
Thought the lowlands an up to the north end of the island was where most of the bird activity took place. Early on a male Sparrowhawk gave fantastically close views as it patrolled some of the gardens and harassed the locals Magpies, diving at some of them as they punched on the roofs of the buildings. A flock of 16 Linnets spent the day around Nant, joined by a couple of Chaffinches they picked their way through one of the fields adjacent to the chapel. During the morning whilst inside one of the outbuilding a brief call of a bird in flight was heard, a mournful, weak sounding "pyu", recognising it as sounding like Bullfinch a quick dash outside and a scan around sadly produced nothing. Whilst a lunchtime census of the plantation and gardens was coming to an end low and behold a stunning male Bullfinch shot out of one of the gardens and perched on some brambles for a few moments before seeing its striking bright white rump disappear into a small copse. Not a common bird on Bardsey but there have been a few records in recent years.
|Tracks of an Oystercatcher, which seem to frequent the mud around the buildings at night|
|A single feather found around one of the pools on the island, appears to be from a Mallard|
|The tell tale signs of thrushes, using the hard surfaces around the cemetery to crack open snail shells|
|With such rough weather in recent weeks this was only the second chance of a pleasant enough night to set the moth trap, hopefully it will be more successful than the last effort!|
A slow start to census this morning, at sea just five Guillemots, one Razorbill, 30 Kittiwakes, a Fulmar and two Common Gulls passed by.
As usual 24 Rock Pipits, a Pied Wagtail, 18 Choughs, seven Turnstones and two Redshanks foraged amongst the piles of seaweed in search of invertebrates, whilst overhead (but still extremely low) a pair of Ravens tumbled and turned in display flights. Other Corvids scattered across the narrows were the Hooded Crow, Carrion Crow and a small gang on four Magpies which also all seem to favour the seaweed to pick through.
A late afternoon walk around the edges of one of the ponds was rewarded with views of a Jack Snipe which (in classic fashion) kept itself concealed in the grass only to flush and fly away once we had stepped passed it within a couple of feet of where it was hiding!
|Pwll Cain (the small permanent pond in the centre of the island), quite frequently a good place for Snipe to reside around the boggy perimeter|
|One of our most common (and noisiest) waders here and probably very much underrated. Beautiful|
Sea watches from both the south end and the north end of the island were fairly quite today. A good count of 130 Razorbills with the odd Guillemot tagging along, a smart looking adult Mediterranean Gull in its pure white plumage and a couple of Gannets made up the numbers out to sea.
Around the narrows 37 Curlews, 33 Oystercatchers, 13 Turnstones, seven Redshank and a sneaky Purple Sandpiper joined the 110 Grey Seals on the exposed rocks as the tide receded. 16 Coughs, both resident and non resident birds, picked their way through the piles of washed up seaweed along with six Magpies. A pair of both Mallards and Shelduck bobbed around in one of the bays, 21 Rock Pipits were scattered throughout the area and the Hooded Crow was again present.
Highlights further inland included a Common Buzzard gliding through the lowlands with a Carrion Crow in hot pursuit, a Little Owl calling from the north west fields, Sparrowhawk, Goldfinch, Song Thrush and Goldcrest around the plantation and resident Peregrine soaring over the mountain.
|Not the best time of year for shear diversity of moths but the first calm and dry night in recent weeks to set the moth trap|
A very contrasting day weather wise started with quite a damp morning which added to an already waterlogged island. As the day progressed conditions eased and we were treated to a beautiful afternoon of calm winds and sunshine.
Presumably the same Firecrest from the previous day had now moved slightly further south and was now inhabiting a scrubby area south of the chapel, although frustratingly for the observer it kept itself well concealed, only occasionally emitting a short 'buzzy' call and snippets of its buzzy ascending song. The north end and the plantation in particular were extremely quiet otherwise, with a brief appearance put in by a Sparrowhawk as it sped into the trees, a Blue Tit, and a handful of the resident Robins, Wrens and Dunnocks.
The same could be said throughout the lowlands, the observatory garden and the area around the farm. A Snipe was flushed from around one of the ponds, a Water Rail "squealed" from the depths of the vegetation in the withies, a Goldcrest and Goldfinch were seen at the observatory and a male Stonechat on the fence rows below the farm. However, views of two Ravens displaying above the island and a Peregrine skimming the mountainside was quite pleasant in the afternoon sun.
|A pair of Ravens together in the afternoon performing their dramatic tumbling and "croaking" display|
Being sited on the main migration route of many species, Bardsey (or Ynys Enlli in Welsh) is a well-known site for migrant birds, turning up many scarcities and rarities, as well as large numbers of common migrants. The island’s list now stands on 326, after the recent addition of Citrine Wagtail in October 2012.
Although Bardsey’s reputation for rare birds may not quite match that of some observatories, it is almost certainly the best site in Wales for rarities. Among Bardsey’s rarer visitors are the first Summer Tanager (1957) and Yellow Warbler (1964) to have been recorded in Britain and Ireland, as well as American vagrants such American Bittern, Sora, Kildeer, Spotted Sandpiper, Grey-cheeked Thrush, American Robin, Song Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, Red-eyed Vireo, Common Yellowthroat, Rose-breasted Grosbeak and Blackpoll Warbler. To add to this impressive list of rarities, Black-winged Stilt, Lesser Yellowlegs, Lanceolated Warbler, River Warbler, Booted Warbler, Blyth’s Reed Warbler, Eyebrowed Thrush, Thrush Nightingale, Red-flanked Bluetail, Isabelline Wheatear, Black-eared Wheatear, Collared Flycatcher, Blyth’s Pipit, Pine Bunting, Rock Bunting, Yellow-breasted Bunting and White-throated Sparrow have all been recorded.
Besides the rarities, Bardsey regularly attracts large numbers of weary migrants during 'fall' conditions in Spring and Autumn, largely a consequence of the fully operational Bardsey Lighthouse. In 2011, for example, a single grounding of migrants resulted in over 1000 Willow Warblers making groundfall on the island in August. In the not-so-distant past, a single attraction of 40,000 Redwings occurred in late October at the end of the last century.
Bardsey is home to some 16, 000 pairs of Manx Shearwaters, which can be heard on dark nights from mid-March to August. They breed in their excavated burrows, which are scattered all over the island. Chough is the most important species of conservation concern, with between four to eight pairs nesting around the coastal cliffs most years, and a wintering flock of up to 50 individuals. Two pairs of Peregrines breed on the island, and a single pair of Ravens also nest in most years. There are several species which nest only occasionally, such as Sparrowhawk and Little Owl, along with Afro-Palearctic migrants like Sedge Warbler, Blackcap, Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler. Up to ten pairs of Stonechats can nest in the isolated gorse patches around the island, along with one or two pairs of Skylarks, and many Linnets and Meadow Pipits. Corncrakes were once a common breeder on the island, although since 1970 there have been no confirmed pairs nesting. In recent years the likes of Lapwing, Yellowhammer, House Sparrow and Starling have also all become extinct as breeding species. In contrast, Shelduck, Puffin, Long-eared Owl and Goldcrest have been added to the breeding bird list since 1998.
Ringing is a very important part of the observatory’s role on the island. Since 1953, the observatory has ringed over 250, 000 birds of 191 species. The highest number ringed in a single year was 1988, with a total of 11, 301 birds ringed of 93 species. There have been many days in the observatory’s history when several hundred birds have been ringed in one day; these occasions have mostly involved breeding seabirds, although these numbers can also easily occur with migrant species.
A total of 420 species of moths have been recorded on the island: 275 species of macro and 145 species of micro-lepidoptera. Bardsey is not an overly good location for scarce moths, although the existence of Thrift Clearwings (Nationally scarce) has been established on the Thrift plants around the coast in recent years, after first being recorded in the years 1980 and 1996. Migrant moths arrive in small numbers every year, for example the annual arrival of Hummingbird Hawkmoths in the autumn; rarer immigrants in the past have included Death’s Head Hawkmoths, Vestals, Crimson Speckled and Red-necked Footman.
In recent years, a greater emphasis has been placed on recording and identifying the so-called ‘micro-moths’, which has resulted in the finding of 41 new species for Bardsey since 2011. In 2012, the coastal subspecies of Eana penziana (E.p.colquhounana) was re-found on the island, which was the first time that this Nationally Scarce species had been recorded on Bardsey since 1966. Apotomis semifasciana is also amongst the scarcer species of micro-moths to inhibit the island (also Nationally Scarce).
Butterflies are present on the island in small numbers, with species such as Common Blue, Small Copper and Small Tortoise-shell being the most common. A scarcer breeding species is the Grayling, which can be found in small numbers on the top of the mountain. Migrant butterflies such as Painted Lady can arrive in their hundreds, although other migrants such as Clouded Yellow and Dark-green Fritillary are quite rare.