Sunday, 21 September 2014

It was a stunning day on the island, with hardly a breath of wind coupling with glorious sunshine to make for very pleasant birding conditions. There were quite a few new arrivals on the island, and visible migration over the isle was quite good too.

The day got off to a good start when the year's first Yellow-browed Warbler was discovered in Ty Pellaf Withy, which is two days earlier than the first one last year. Minutes later, a juvenile Barred Warbler was found in one of the mist nets at the observatory, and was duly ringed and released, and was seen a couple of times in the garden later on. Not long after the warbler was released, a Richard's Pipit flew high over Cristin calling away with its rasping 'shreep!'. Within five minutes, a report came from the withies of a pipit that flew northward calling like a Red-throated Pipit. Whether this is the third consecutive Red-throated Pipit that has graced the island this autumn, or whether there is a very shy and flighty bird sticking around is unclear. A scan through the 2000-odd strong Kittiwake flock off the South End in the morning revealed a first winter Sabine's Gull tagging along, whilst a Puffin was also seen nearby. A Lapland Bunting was heard and seen flying around the mountain summit at about 0800, and another (or the same bird) was present on The Narrows later on.

In terms of common migrants, Goldcrests dominated in terms of numbers in the vegetated areas, with over 113 seen around the island during the day. More complete figures will follow later on, once log has been completed. However, an estimate of totals are as follows: a Golden Plover, three Water Rails, 380 Meadow Pipits, a Tree Pipit, 47 Wheatears, 20 Skylarks, 18 Grey Wagtails, 207 Swallows, nine House Martins, 61 Robins, a Pied Flycatcher, three Grasshopper Warblers, seven Whitethroats, two Blackcaps, 41 Chiffchaffs, four Willow Warblers and four Reed Buntings.

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Bardsey mountain from Solfach (C) Steve Stansfield
Looking at the tail pattern on today's Barred Warbler and comparing it to the pattern of the tail on the bird two days ago, it seems that they are two different birds. There was much less white on the outer tail feathers on today's bird. This is the first Barred Warbler to be trapped on the island since 2011. 
Goldcrests were quite abundant today, with a total of 113 recorded
Yellow-browed Warbler- the first one in Wales so far this year
There were some very smart Greenland-race Wheatears around the coast (c) Steve Stansfield
Spotted Flycatcher 

A Pied Flycatcher was also trapped and ringed at Cristin (c) Steve Stansfield
37 Goldcrests and 15 Chiffchaffs were trapped and ringed today (c) Steve Stansfield

Saturday, 20 September 2014

There was a large change in terms of the weather, and clear skies overnight meant that there was a massive exodus of the migrants which had made landfall yesterday. A movement of 356 Swallows and nine House Martins took place in the morning, whilst a single Whinchat was seen near the Schoolhouse. In terms of non-passerines, six Wigeons were seen off the island's coast, along with 13 Common Scoters, and singles of Kestrel and Sparrowhawk were seen inland.

Friday, 19 September 2014

At about 2040 yesterday evening, the first few drops of rain for over three weeks began falling on the island. After this initial threat, conditions cleared for much of the evening, before closing in around midnight. Heavy rain and thunder ensued in the small hours, and lead to a quite sizeable attraction taking place at the Lighthouse, even though the bean is now a flashing LED. After the last of the rain cleared at dawn, the island was left covered in phylloscopus warblers, and one or two scarcer species amongst them.

The rarest sighting of the day came in the form of a long overdue Barred Warbler, which was found near Ty Pellaf in the morning, and remained there until midday. Common migrants were dominated by a grand total of 443 Chiffchaffs. This total includes a break down of the following: 
South End- 170  
Cristin- 86
Nant- 84
Ty Pellaf and Pen Cristin- 37
Withies- 28

Amongst these small warblers were nine Grasshopper Warblers, two Sedge Warblers, 16 Whitethroats, a Garden Warbler, nine Blackcaps, 56 Willow Warblers, 54 Goldcrests and five Spotted Flycatchers. Other sightings comprised a single Yellow Wagtail on the Narrows, one Common Redstart, four Whinchats, 20 Stonechats, 54 Wheatears, four Song Thrushes and seven Skylarks.

 This first-winter Barred Warbler was discovered near Ty Pellaf in the morning, and is the first one to be seen in Wales so far this year. It is also the first one on Bardsey since October 2012

A selection of images of the most abundant migrant today...phylloscopus warblers...
Chiffchaffs and Willow Warbler (2nd from the top). There were between 400 and 500 Chiffchaffs on the island today, with over a hundred alone seen in and around the Lighthouse attraction. With dense cloud and the threat of rain tonight, eyes will certainly be turned towards the lighthouse, in the chance that another lighthouse attraction might occur (three Chiffchaffs and a Manx Shearwater were killed last night due to the lighthouse) 
Goldcrest. The weights of the few caught today indicated that they are feeding reasonably well. Most birds were above 5.2 grams.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Very pleasant birding conditions throughout the day encouraged a good bit of visible migration ('vismig') to occur in the morning, which was perhaps the most entertaining period of the day. A total of three Skylarks, 93 Swallows, four House Martins, 215 Meadow Pipits, a flava Wagtail and 14 Grey Wagtails were recorded. Amongst the flocks of passerine migrants was a very interesting flava wagtail, which settled down in the fields below Ty Pellaf for the majority of the day. The bird showed features which are suggestive of a first winter Grey-headed Wagtail (M. thunbergi). This would only be the second autumn thunbergi in the UK this autumn. In other news, a Garden Warbler, 35 Chiffchaffs, 24 Goldcrests, four Spotted Flycatchers and a Pied Flycatcher were seen.

Probable Grey-headed Wagtail. Features which made this bird rather distinctive were the reduced and quite weak supercilum, very dark ear coverts, with the dark colouring continuing over the head and mantle, and an almost complete dark mottled 'shoal' on the breast. Interestingly, Martin Garner found a very similar-looking bird at Flamborough recently, which can be seen HERE 
For comparison, this typical flavissima Yellow Wagtail was seen late in the afternoon on the 19th

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

A handful of new arrivals were recorded on another stunning autumn's day. These comprised a smart male Common Redstart, trapped and ringed in Cristin garden; a smart Ring Ouzel, which managed to escape out of an open mist net in Cristin Withy; a Crossbill, one Lesser Redpoll and three Tree Pipits overhead, tagging along with some 170 Meadow Pipits; and a good total of 28 Chiffchaffs, along with five Spotted Flycatchers. Out to sea, two Mediterranean Gulls flew by in the early hours, whilst nine Purple Sandpipers were amongst a flock of 47 Turnstones around the Narrows.

It was another good day for butterflies, with the continued movement of Red Admirals now amounting to several hundred individuals every day at the moment. In addition to this movement, several Small Whites were seen in various locations, whilst the first Speckled Wood of the year was found around Nant.

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The view from the new 'vis mig' bench above the obs back garden. A good spot for picking out flocks of Meadow Pipits and Swallows heading south, as well as the odd Grey Wagtail or Skylark. Today's highlights from the bench included the Crossbill and a Lesser Redpoll
The first winter male Redstart
Small numbers of Wheatears have been moving along the coast recently, and some have been quite smart indeed
Pink-barred Sallow 
Feathered Ranunculus

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Although still a very pleasant day indeed, there seemed to have been a significant clear out of migrants overnight, and the passage of birds over the island during the morning was much slower than yesterday. In total, four Skylarks, 153 Swallows, 83 House Martins, 114 House Martins, seven Grey Wagtails and 36 White Wagtails were recorded in the morning, whilst a single Song Thrush, 32 Wheatears, three Whitethroats, four Blackcaps and 16 Chiffchaffs were seen around the coast and in the vegetated areas. Waders were certainly on the move today: singles of Greenshank, Ringed Plover, Golden Plover, Lapwing and Dunlin passed over the coast, whilst two each of Knot and Whimbrel were also seen.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Generally over the past week, the number of common migrants on the island has been disappointingly low. However, after yesterday's slight rise in migrant figures, it appears that the gusty easterly wind and clear skies have finally done the trick. Today, a fair increase in the number of warblers around was very apparent, along with some very respectable totals of other passerine migrants.

Migrants were most obviously moving through the island between 0800 and 1130, during which time about 819 Swallows, 231 House Martins, 278 Meadow Pipits, 34 Grey Wagtails, a Sand Martin, one Yellow Wagtail, two Blue-headed Wagtails, six Skylarks and a Tree Pipit flew south and east over the island. A pipit flushed out of the north west fields sounded like it could have been a Red-throated Pipit, whilst a Wryneck was seen near Plas, and a Greenshank flew around The Narrows. Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler numbers were similar to yesterday, with about 15 each, whilst single Redstart, Whinchat and Lesser Whitethroat were seen alongside four Grasshopper Warblers.

In terms of non-passerines, the most notable records of the day comprised three Teals, a Buzzard, one Sanderling, seven Snipe, four Whimbrels, one Arctic Skua, seven Mediterranean Gulls, 1908 Kittiwakes and a Common Tern.

There were fewer Spotted Flycatchers around today in comparison to yesterday. This particular bird was certainly feeding very well in the calm conditions, successfully catching wasps, flies and this rather impressive Red Admiral!
Tree Pipit 
Sexton Beetle covered in mites. Apparently, the mites often use such beetles merely as a means of transport between food sources such as dung. The mites may even help to keep beetle pests down, feeding on small invertebrates in the beetle 'galleries', However, some instances have also shown the mites to be parasitic
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In other news, it appears that we have missed a Shrike!! This bee was found impaled upon some barbed wire at the north end of the island one or two days ago. This is characteristic of shrikes, and is most likely to be the scarce autumn migrant Red-backed Shrike

Sunday, 14 September 2014

There was a small movement of seabirds off the west side of the island in the morning, which included two Balearic Shearwaters, nine Wigeons, 42 Common Scoters, an Arctic Skua, four Mediterranean Gulls, 191 Black-headed Gulls and 10 Common Gulls and two Sandwich Terns. A Turtle Dove appeared in the north-west fields, after disappearing for a few days, but remained elusive. Visible migration in the morning was again quite entertaining, with a total of 236 Swallows191 Meadow Pipits, one Yellow Wagtail, one 'Flava' Wagtail, 12 Grey Wagtails and nine 'alba' Wagtails recorded. Warbler numbers seemed to be on the increase, but other passerine migrants were also arriving inland: a single Redstart, two Whinchats, 33 Wheatears, two each of Grasshopper and Sedge Warblers, three Blackcaps, ten Spotted Flycatchers and almost 20 each of Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler were the final totals for the day.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

It was an interesting day in that, despite the flat calm and sunny weather, most avian action was centred sea-ward. In the early hours, the first Black-throated Diver of the year flew past the South Tip, along with four Wigeons, three Shelducks and five Common Scoters. Continued seawatching efforts throughout the day yielded with some nice oddities, including a Pomarine Skua, an Arctic Skua, five Mediterranean Gulls and some 129 Black-headed Gulls. In terms of migrants on terra firma, a Wryneck was seen around Cristin, 229 Meadow Pipits passed overhead, and two Spotted Flycatchers were in the withies.

Friday, 12 September 2014

It was another pleasant day, with one or two scarce bird making up for the absence of many common migrants. In the morning, a smart juvenile Red-breasted Flycatcher was discovered in Ogof Diban (a deep gully at the very south tip of the island). It was a very Fair Isle-esque setting, and the flycatcher certainly seemed a bit out of place feeding on large Sea Slaters on the rocky beach at the bottom of the gully!

In other news, a Wryneck was seen at Cristin, where a Ring Ouzel was also seen later on in the day; two Yellow Wagtails flew overhead, along with 27 Grey Wagtails, three Skylarks, a Sand Martin and 74 Swallows; a single Whinchat was present on the South End and two Spotted Flycatchers were seen inland. In terms of non-passerines, the most noteworthy sightings of the day included two Teals, 16 Common Scoters, a Kestrel, a Knot, a Snipe, a Common Sandpiper, one Arctic Skua and a Sandwich Tern.

The last few years have been quite good for Red-breasted Flycatchers on Bardsey. Last year, for example, there were at least four records, the first of which was on 21 September. This is the 80th record of this species on the island 
There are still some Manx Shearwater chicks in the burrows around the island, although the majority have already fledged 
Pied Wagtail