Thursday, 23 October 2014

After yesterday's fierce winds, and with more on the horizon, it was nice to get some respite today. 

Highlights were once again out to sea with an early morning seawatch producing the goods; a Leach's Petrel,  two Pomarine Skuas, an Arctic Skua, and three Great Northern Divers. By far the biggest mover of the day were Razorbills with a massive 15,000 seen. In addition, 20 Gannets, three Mediterranean Gulls, 92 Black-headed Gulls, 1372 Kittiwakes, seven Common Gulls, one Manx Shearwater, and 12 Common Scoters flew by. Interestingly, two Merlin were also seen passing out to sea.

The semi-resident Ring Ouzel at Cristin was joined by another in the Wetlands. Other migrant passerines around the island include two Song thrushes, five Redwings, three Chiffchaffs, four Willow Warblers, 10 Goldcrests, 189 Starlings, one Greenfinch, two Siskins, and one Reed Bunting. The recent wader counts diminished slightly to 32 Oystercatchers, 14 Curlews, and three Redshanks, though three new Snipes were found in the Wetlands, along with two Water Rails and a Heron.

Though the moth trap hasn't been run recently due to the strong winds, a few interesting sightings have been seen. A Green Brindled Crescent found at Cristin represents the sixth record for the islands, whilst a Hummingbird Hawkmoth was found hiding away in the Cristin Pantry!

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Hummingbird Hawkmoth resting

.....and this is what the look like in flight!!

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

The island was a tad windswept today, at times it was difficult to stand, especially on The Narrows. The forceful westerly winds took foam and sea spray right to the Cristin garden.

Bird-wise, these crazy winds provided the best sea passage seen this year. The first Grey Phalaropes of the year sped past over tumultuous seas with a total of six individuals passing over the course of the day. An impressive four adult Long-tailed Skuas (together in a single flock), six Pomarine Skuas, seven Arctic Skuas, and 12 Great Skuas were seen heading south along the West Coast. There was plenty of gull action too, with three juvenile Sabine's Gulls, five Mediterranean Gulls, three 1st winter Little Gulls, 106 Black-headed Gulls, 177 Herring Gulls, and 1262 Kittiwakes recorded during the day. As if that wasn't enough, one Leach's Petrel passed the North End briefly, one Black-throated Diver headed south, and a superb summer-plumaged Great Northern Diver came past too. And finally, 3638 Razorbills, one Common Tern, four Golden Ploversone Fulmar, nine Manx Shearwaters, six Wigeons, two Common Scoters, and two Mallards completed the days epic tally.

Unsurprisingly, the winds made it extremely difficult searching for migrants inland, with just two Chiffchaffs and three Goldcrests around the island. The Narrows were even harder to census but 16 Oystercatchers, 50 Curlews, seven Redshanks, and eight Turnstones could still be seen. One interesting bird did manage to show itself on the island today though. A single Greenland White-fronted Goose was spotted as it cruised south over Cristin, touching down on the South End, before finally settling in Traeth Fennon. An excellent addition to the year. Though recorded almost annually as a flyover, this is the first bird to set foot on the island since 1996.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Despite the fresh wind, and a brief spell of rain in the morning, it was a thoroughly enjoyable day on Ynys Enlli. Once again eyes were to the sea where a reasonable passage of birds occurred along the West Coast. Just before midday the first three Sooty Shearwaters of the year were watched heading south, and by the end of the day three Balearic Shearwaters and 31 Manx Shearwaters were also seen.

The second Black-throated Diver of the year headed north into the Sound whilst Skuas were also in evidence today; a total of one Pomarine Skua, three Arctic Skuas, and three Great Skuas were logged. Some of the most numerous species heading past the island were 585 Razorbills, 352 Gannets, 359 Black-headed Gulls, and 490 Kittiwakes, along with five Mediterranean Gulls, four Common Gulls, one Puffin, and seven Common Scoters.

The highlight of the day though went to an inland find surprisingly. A brief appearance by a male Goshawk in the Lowlands was a much needed break from the sea-watching. The status of this impressive raptor has changed dramatically over the years from an annual occurrence to quite the rarity. This is the first record for the island for several years.

Other interesting sightings include a Tree Pipit that headed south over Cristin calling, four Skylarks along the West Coast, one Wheatear still on Pen Cristin, a Water Rail in Cristin Withy, one Song Thrush at Cristin, and the Ring Ouzel was found to still be present at Cristin. In addition, there were three Blackcaps, seven Chiffchaff, 14 Goldcrests76 Starlings, three Greenfinches, one Siskin, three Reed Buntingsthough there was no sign of the recent Yellow-browed Warbler. The Narrows and the South End held most of the waders with a total of 49 Oystercatchers, 32 Curlews, 12 Turnstones, one Purple Sandpiper, and one Redshank.

 Sooty Shearwaters
and to compare- a Manx Shearwater

As forecast yesterday the south-westerlies did indeed improve the total of birds passing out at sea, encompassing most of the days attention. Highlights of today's seawatch include two Great Skuas, two Balearic Shearwaters, 23 Mediterannean Gulls and a Little Gull. Other numbers include 166 Gannets,  996 Kittiwakes, 141 Black-headed Gulls and 555 Razorbills, and eight late Manx Shearwaters.

Inland, the birding was hard, with most birds tucked in out of the wind. Still, the Yellow-browed Warbler was found to still be present in Cristin Withy. Waders were similar to yesterday with 48 Oystercatchers, 57 Curlews, six Redshanks, and 11 Turnstones. The Water Rail and Redwing were still present in Cristin Withy. In addition, three late-ish Swallows headed north over the Narrows in the morning, whilst two Chiffchaffs, five Goldcrests, and 135 Starlings were around the island.
 Balearic Shearwater
Great Skua

Sunday, 19 October 2014

The weather was rather wild today with the sea particularly impressive. The hoped-for seabird passage failed to materialise, though visibility wasnt too great either. Amongst the sea spray a few gems were spotted though; a flock of 12 Eiders flew along the West Coast in the morning and three Tufted Ducks headed south just before midday. The latter species is rather rare here and a new addition for the year. The Yellow-browed Warbler was also present another day, showing well in Cristin Withy, whilst the Ring Ouzel chacked away at Cristin.

Decent numbers of waders are still present with 37 Oystercatchers, two Snipes, 55 Curlews, eight Redshanks, and 28 Turnstones all recorded. The lack of movement out at sea is summed up by today being the first day this month with no Mediterranean Gulls seen. Just 51 Black-headed Gulls, two Common Gulls, and 171 Kittiwakes passed by the island. That said, the south-westerlies on the horizon do look particularly promising. Inland, singles of Redwing, Song Thrush, and Blackcap were found along with seven Chiffchaffs, seven Goldcrests, and two Water Rails.

 Mixed wader flock - Redhank and Turnstones

Friday, 17 October 2014

There was little change in birds today with the only new discovery being a Yellow-browed Warbler in Cristin Withy. A female Ring Ouzel at Cristin was caught in the Heligoland trap late morning, making it a fantastic three birds to have been ringed this week, though still some way to go to beat the year record of 13. A Brambling also passed over Cristin briefly, amongst a small finch passage comprising mostly of 80 Goldfinches.

The Narrows held a decent selection of waders today with one Purple Sandpiper, 37 Curlews, one Whimbrel, six Redshanks, and 18 Turnstones recorded. Three Redwings and two Water Rails were in the Withies, with one other squeeling Water Rail at Cristin.

Far fewer gulls were seen today compared to yesterday's large figures though up to ten Mediterranean Gulls, 288 Black-headed Gulls, 12 Common Gulls, and 464 Kittiwakes fed off of the West Coast. There was minimal Auk passage today with just 76 Razorbills seen. Elsewhere a high count of 20 Swallows passed over Nant in the morning, whilst ten Chiffchaffs, eight Goldcrests, and 105 Starlings were seen along with singles of Reed Bunting and Merlin.

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The third Ring Ouzel to be trapped this week
A Yellow-browed Warbler was seen in Cristin Withy
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Turnstone dazzled on Solfach after dark

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Today's birding was dictated by the rain, with intermittent downpours throughout the day. Between the rain spells four Ring Ouzels were found, two at Nant and two at Cristin. A brief highlight of the day was a Snow Bunting which flew over Cristin mid morning. Most of the days eyes seem to be directed to the large passage of gulls along the West Coast of the island. A minimum of 3937 Black-headed Gulls, 445 Common Gulls, and 50 Mediterranean Gulls were recorded. In addition, the Yellow-legged Gull put in a brief appearance on the South End in the morning.

Inland, two Merlinsone Whimbrel, 56 Curlews, one Redshank, 37 Turnstones, and the Hooded Crow were present around the Narrows. Migrant-wise 56 Skylarks, three Swallows, 128 Meadow Pipits, three Wheatears, five Song thrushes, six Redwing, one Blackcap, ten Chiffchaffs, one Willow Warbler, 11 Goldcrests, 54 Starlings, one Greenfinch, one Siskin, and four Reed Buntings were seen around the island. A Water Rail was also present in Cristin Withy and a Common Scoter flew south out at sea. There was no sign of the Barred Warbler today.

It looks set for rather blustery conditions in the next few days so many eyes will be looking out for our first Leach's Petrel of the autumn...

Herring Gulls
 Black-headed Gulls
Mediterranean Gulls
 Common Gull


 Grey Seals

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

During the morning's census it became clear that the large amounts of thrushes present yesterday had cleared out overnight. Still around though were two Ring Ouzels at Cristin, along with five Song Thrushes and 43 Redwings. The Barred Warbler showed again at Ty Capel, whilst the adult Yellow-legged Gull was still present on the island, spending its time loafing between the South Tip and Henllwyn.

The highlight of the day though went to the three drake Velvet Scoters that flew south along the West Coast just before midday. These dapper ducks are hard to come by on Bardsey and are just the 18th record.

Waders showed more of a presence today, with a Golden Plover seen briefly on the South End, and five Purple Sandpipers, 10 Redshanks, and 18 Turnstones on the Narrows. One Whimbrel was picked out amongst 31 Curlews on Carreg yr Honwy and two Snipes were present. Asides from the Velvet Scoters, other movements out at sea include 170 Razorbills, two Wigeons, 10 Common Scoter, 735 Black-headed Gulls, 19 Common Gulls, and seven Mediterranean Gulls. It was quiet inland with just five Skylark, a Greenfinch, 2 Lesser Redpolls, and 110 Starlings passing by, whilst one Wheatear, five Chiffchaffs, a Blackcap, 10 Goldcrests, two Grey Wagtails, one White Wagtail, a Kestrel and a Merlin were present. 

 Song Thrush
Herring Gulls

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

A fantastic arrival of thrushes this morning was the highlight, with at least 26 Ring Ouzels on the island. This impressive fall represents the third highest day total for Bardsey, with the last major arrival being 30 birds in 1969. Two fine females were trapped at Cristin, the first caught since 2010. By the end of the day a Turdus tally of 593 Redwings, 38 Song Thrushes, six Fieldfares, two Mistle Thrushes, and 36 Blackbirds were logged.

The highlight of the afternoon was the discovery of an adult Yellow-Legged Gull at the very southern tip of the island. This is just the third record for the island, the first adult, and follows hot on the heels of the second record earlier this year. 

In other news, the Barred Warbler was still present at Ty Capel, the first Coal Tit of the year was discovered at the Plantation, and a Water Rail was trapped rather bizarrely in the Cristin Heligoland trap. Four Buzzards drifting over the Mountain was the highest count this year, whilst other birds of prey include singles of Merlin, Kestrel, four Peregrines and two Little Owls. Migrants around the island include a late Tree Pipit, three Blackcaps, 14 Chiffchaffs, 19 Goldcrests, one Swallow, 20 Jackdaws, 10 Rooks, 146 Starlings, 2 Bramblings, 6 Siskins, a Reed Bunting, 188 Meadow Pipits, one White Wagtail, and 24 Skylarks. Out at sea, 1357 Razorbills, three Mediterranean Gulls, and 36 Common Scoter passed south in small groups. 

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Ring Ouzels  (c) Steve Stansfield

Ring Ouzel (c) Bruce Kendrick

Eleven Wheatears were present today, though it wont be long before they disappear for the winter.

Barred Warbler at Nant (c) Ian Fisher
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Water Rail

The excellent adult Yellow-legged Gull. The above pics show quite clearly the hefty blunt bill, the mantle slightly darker than Herring, the broad subterminal black band on p5, and the obvious bright yellow legs.

Monday, 13 October 2014

A day of strong north-east winds saw a great reduction in the overhead passage of migrants in the morning, although one or two noteworthy species had arrived on the island. Two Mistle Thrushes were seen around the mountain and wetlands at intervals during the day; the first three Stock Doves of the autumn were seen around the mountain; and the first Black Redstart of the autumn was found on the rocky shore of Henllwyn. There was an increase in the number of Wheatears around, with a total of 18 recorded, and 14 Blackbirds, nine Song Thrushes, 52 Chaffinches and a Brambling were also noted.

A large movement of Black-headed Gulls took place off the West Side between 1600 and 1800, with a total of 1150 recorded in the time. Amongst them were a remarkable 61 Mediterranean Gulls (quite possibly an island record), 67 Common Gulls, 156 Kittiwakes and an Arctic Tern. Also seen out to sea were the following: one Manx Shearwater, two Wigeons, two Teals, 17 Common Scoters and an Arctic Skua,

Usually Stock Doves turn up on Bardsey on their lonesome, or at least the odd one out in a flock of several hundred Wood Pigeons. However, following on from a flock of four this spring, another good record of three birds was made today 
Considering that it was this day last year that Chris Piner discovered the Pied Wheatear on the South End of the island, before it relocated to the east side, it seems appropriate to feature a few pictures of some smart greenland-race Wheatears which were in its very place this afternoon

Sunday, 12 October 2014

There was an impressive movement of migrants East over the island in the morning, largely a product of the clear skies and calm south-east wind. Totals of many species reached their highest yet this year, with today's visible migration figures amounting to the following: one Red Kite, two Sparrowhawks, three Buzzards, a Kestrel, a Merlin, a Golden Plover, two Lapwings, 22 Snipes, 258 Skylarks, one Swallow, 290 Meadow Pipits, 14 Grey Wagtails, 75 alba Wagtails, 287 Jackdaws, 21 Rooks, 108 Carrion Crows, 17 Ravens, 193 Starlings, one House Sparrow, 401 Chaffinches, one Brambling, two Greeenfinches, seven Siskins, 313 Goldfinches, 571 Linnets, four Lesser Redpolls, one Yellowhammer and eight Reed Buntings.

A count of 77 Robins inland illustrated that a fair arrival of chats and thrushes had also taken place, with other counts of 15 Stonechats, four Wheatears, 20 Blackbirds and 21 Song Thrushes. The first winter Barred Warbler was seen around Ty Capel garden, and five Blackcaps, 18 Chiffchaffs, a Willow Warbler and 31 Goldcrests were also recorded.

It wasn't just birds on the move today however, with some excellent non-avian records too: Red Admirals continued their amazing passage over the island, as was seen back in the calm weather in September. Several hundred flew east over the island during the day, although this is a vast underestimate. Amongst them were two Clouded Yellows, three Large Whites and a Southern Hawker (very rare on Bardsey).

Red Kite 
The first Dark Chestnut of the year was trapped at Nant, although generally moth numbers have decreased significantly due to the recent full moon (and inclement weather)