Monday, 31 August 2015

A stunning day of clear blue skies and light northerly winds saw a nice selection of migrants present around the island, with a mix of species giving a very autumnal feel. There was a good passage of raptors over the island during the day: a minimum of four Sparrowhawks, one Buzzard and three Kestrels were recorded, along with a single Peregrine. In addition, hirundines were also on the move, comprising 61 Sand Martins, 454 Swallows and 41 House Martins.  There were some other decent passerine counts, including 81 Meadow Pipits, a Grey Wagtail, five White Wagtails, two Whinchats, 19 Stonechats, 18 Wheatears, one Grasshopper Warbler, one Sedge Warbler, four Whitethroats, one Garden Warbler, five Blackcaps, seven Chiffchaffs, 12 Willow Warblers, six Goldcrests, five Spotted Flycatchers and a Pied Flycatcher. A single Water Rail was heard calling in Cristin Withy, and a selection of waders around The Narrows included five Ringed Plovers, three Dunlins, 23 Curlews, 10 Redshanks, five Common Sandpipers and 31 Turnstones; out to sea, a single Golden Plover, two Bar-tailed Godwits, two Whimbrels flew past and a Mediterranean Gull flew past. A hirundine passage

the view over to the south end of the island, with ling and bell heather flowering in the foreground

Sunday, 30 August 2015

The penultimate day of August was a day with mixed weather conditions, although largely the winds were light and the skies clear. During the day, movements of birds out to sea included the following: 10 Fulmars, 156 Manx Shearwaters, 60 Gannets, 11 Common Scoters, a Mediterranean Gull, 688 Kittiwakes and three Sandwich Terns. There was a small selection of raptors on show, comprising two Sparrowhawks, a Buzzard, a Kestrel, and a Peregrine, whilst a another great gathering of waders saw the following totals amassed: eight Ringed Plovers, six Knots, three Purple Sandpipers, 13 Dunlins, three Ruffs, two Whimbrels, 34 Curlews, eight Redshanks, and a massive 73 Turnstones. It was a quiet day for passerines: 16 Stonechats and eight Wheatears were scattered around the coast and sparse gorse patches; a single Grasshopper Warbler on the North-west Heath was amongst a small selection of warblers that included two Blackcaps, seven Chiffchaffs and two Willow Warblers,


Manx Shearwater (c) Sorrel Lyall

This stunning female Convolvulus Hawkmoth was found in the Heligoland trap at the obs, which is the year's second!!

Many of the Grey Seals are close to pupping now

Next Generation Birders on Bardsey - week overview

Apologies once again for a lack of daily updates- it has been another fairly manic week, with lots of different activities taking place and many hours spent scouring the island and sea for birds. For the duration of the Next Generation Birder's stay on the island, we were competing against a similar group which had visited Skokhlom bird observatory for this week. The challenge was to see which island team could record the most number of bird species in the five days from Monday to Saturday. Suffice to say that we were immensely pleased to have recorded a total of 100 species this week! The 'NGBs' managed a respectable total of 94, which just 10 species ahead of what #teamskok managed at 84 species. A great effort by both!

It has been a brilliant week, despite the windy conditions which meant that we couldn't use mist nets on many of the days. Seawatching provided some great sightings and also Bardsey records, such as yesterday's Knot passage. I shall attempt to write something of a week round-up, starting from Wednesday...

The Obs and NGB team 

Wednesday 26th
A breezy day with bight sunny skies saw a good amount of sea passage noted, including 31 Fulmars, 2681 Manx Shearwaters, 281 Gannets, a Great Skua, two Black-headed Gulls, 493 Kittiwakes, 12 Sandwich Terns, and three Razorbills. Wader counts have gradually been building over the week as we approach the high spring tides. Numbers logged on the 26th comprised one Ringed Plover, three Purple Sandpipers, eight Dunlins, a Snipe, four Whimbrels, 26 Curlews, four Redshanks, one Common Sandpiper and 30 Turnstones. Singles of Collared Dove and Little Owl inland were noteworthy, but passerine migrants were thin on the ground: two Sand Martins, 19 Swallows, four House Martins, four White Wagtails, 10 Wheatears, one Sedge Warblers, two Willow Warblers and four Goldcrests were recorded.

There have been plenty of Canary-shouldered Thorns in the moth traps



Thursday 27th
A slower day for sea passage saw figures much lower than the 26th, but some quality wader passage included a Grey Plover, eight Knots, nine Bar-tailed Godwits and 10 Whimbrels; the single Teal remained, and a flock of 24 Common Scoters flew south. Singles if Kestrel, Sparrowhawk and Buzzard represented the day's raptors. A single Sand Martin and six House Martins flew overhead, along with a Grey Wagtail; three White Wagtails were present in Solfach, 14 Stonechats and seven Wheatears were scattered around the island, whilst two Blackcaps, three Willow Warblers, one Chiffchaff and eight Goldcrests were the day's warbler counts. A good odonata sighting comprised both a male and female Migrant Hawker lurking in the shelter of the gardens, whilst a Northern Eggar was also seen flying around

female Migrant hawker

Friday 28th
Another breezy day dominated by clear skies and a brisk westerly wind meant that sea-watching took up most of the day's birding efforts. These were rewarded with some great records: a single Red-throated Diver, 43 Fulmars, 1571 Manx Shearwaters, a Balearic Shearwater, 147 Gannets, a Golden Plover, a record island count of EIGHTY ONE Knots, eight Sanderlings, 10 Dunlins, seven Whimbrels, one Pomarine Skua, two Arctic Skuas, nine Sandwich Terns, two Common Terns and 150 Commic Terns. Aside the passage, other wader counts comprised 38 Curlews, five Redshanks, one Common Sandpiper and 42 Turnstones. Noteworthy passerines included two Skylarks, two Sand Martins, 13 White Wagtails, 19 Stonechats, 22 Wheatears and one Sedge Warbler. Some good records of migrant lepdioptera comprised three each of Hummingbird Hakmoths and Silver Ys. In the evening, a Barn Owl was seen at the Plantation at dusk, after some feathers were discovered here a few days earlier.

Little Owl


Saturday 29th
The day of departure for the week's visitors saw calmer winds prevailing during the day. This slight change in conditions did not, however, encourage a significant arrival of migrants. On the contrary, passerines were still in short supply.

Out to sea, counts of 50 Fulmars, 82 Gannets and 688 Kittiwakes were noted, along with single Arctic and Great Skuas, and a good gathering of waders around the Narrows included 41 Oystercatchers, three Ringed Plovers, three Purple Sandpipers, two Dunlins, one Snipe, 15 Curlews, seven Redshanks, one Common Sandpiper and 48 Turnstones. A single Grasshopper Warbler was new for the week, and a slight increase in other warbler numbers saw two Blackcaps, seven Chiffchaffs, two Willow Warblers and four Goldcrests. In other news, the year's second CONVOLVULUS HAWKMOTH was found (yet again!) in the Heligoland trap at the observatory. The is the first time that more than one has been recorded in a year since 2004! Also of worthy mention was that of a smart Turnstone trapped in on Solfach in the afternoon.

there have been some big gatherings of Kittiwakes recently

Grey Seal bull

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

It was a great day's birding on the island, with an ever-increasing wind from the south-east encouraging some good movements of seabirds - common and scarce - past the island's coast. A few noteworthy passerines also popped up at intervals.

Headline birds for the day were largely seen out so sea:the year's first Long-tailed Skua flew south past the west side mid-afternoon, accompanied during the rest of the day by three Arctic Skuas and a Bonxie; three Gadwalls heading North up the West Side later in the day were the first to be seen on Bardsey since 2013, and were accompanied by a single Teal; two Ruffs flew south past the North Hide in the afternoon, whilst a single Green Sandpiper flew over the Observatory in the morning. Noteworthy passerine migrants included a single Tree Pipit, two Whinchats and the autumn's first Pied Flycatcher.

Totals of more common species included the following: 26 Fulmars, 14,623 Manx Shearwaters, 296 Gannets, five Common Scoters, 845 Kittiwakes, 27 Common Terns, 15 Arctic Terns and 75 Commic Terns out to sea, and one Ringed Plover, nine Purple Sandpipers, nine Dunlins, one Snipe, three Whimbrels, 34 Curlews, six Redshanks, two Common Sandpipers and 34 Tunrstones around The Narrows. Passerine counts comprised four Grey Wagtails, five White Wagtails, 13 Stonechats, 14 Wheatears, one Whitethroat, two Blackcaps, four Chiffchaffs, 11 Willow Warblers, 10 Goldcrests and one Spotted Flycatcher.

Up to 35 Turnstones have been busy feeding on Solfach recently

A handful of Dunlins have also been amongst them

The Autumn Ladie's Tresses have emerged in their thousands around the island

Monday, 24 August 2015

After the arrival of four 'Next Generation Birders' onto the island on Saturday, a further four individuals joined this week's group on Monday morning. Hopefully they can look forward to a brilliant week of ringing, birding and mothing! It wasn't a bad start either, with a great host of species recorded on a bright and sunny day.

There was something of a chat theme running through the day, with a small arrival including the following: 20 Robins, one Common Redstart, one Whinchat, 16 Stonechats and 45 Wheatears. In terms of warblers, the numbers by the day's end were singles of Common and Lesser Whitethroat, three Blackcaps, 11 Chiffchaffs, 20 Willow Warblers and 16 Goldcrests, along with six Spotted Flycatchers. A movement of hirundines overhead during the day saw the following figures logged: six Sand Martins, 69 Swallows and 19 House Martins. Onto the non-passerines...a good movement of seabirds out to sea saw the following flying south: six Fulmars, 179 Gannets, 34 Common Scoters, two Mediterranean Gulls, six Black-headed Gulls, 1001 Kittiwakes, 34 Common Terns, 25 Arctic Terns and 60 Commic Terns. A good gathering of waders at high tide included three Ringed Plovers, Purple Sandpipers, 11 Dunlins, one Whimbrel, 34 Curlews, 10 Redshanks, three Common Sandpipers, 13 Turnstones.

In the evening, a Manx Shearwater ringing session was a successful trip to Nant Valley, where many juvenile birds out of the burrows were found and ringed. A real bonus was the trapping and ringing of four Storm Petrels, with a further single bird re-trapped.


View image on Twitter
a juvenile Willow Warbler

View image on Twitter
View image on Twitter
Seawatching (top) and checking the moth trap (lower) in front of the observatory with some of the 'NGBs'

Thursday, 20 August 2015

20th
Intermittent rain spells made it hard to find migrants inland leaving coastal avifauna to once again predominate, highlighted by the island’s first Sooty Shearwater of the year heading south along the West Coast.

An assortment of one Ringed Plover, ten Dunlins, one Whimbrel, 19 Curlews, three Redshanks, two Common Sandpipers, and 25 Turnstones were recorded at high tide. Noticeable gull movement through the island in the past week culminated in a high count of 49 Great Black-backed Gulls, with 481 Kittiwakes and six Black-headed Gulls also recorded. A lone Swift headed south mid morning, one Sedge Warbler, one Blackcap, two Chiffchaffs, six Willow Warblers, and 13 Goldcrests were noted inland, and finally 49 Gannets and a Grey Heron flew by at sea.

19th
A quiet day on the island with most activity focused on The Narrows. Two Ringed Plovers, 14 Dunlins, one Whimbrel, 17 Curlews, four Redshanks, five Common Sandpipers, and 19 Turnstones represented a reasonable selection of waders with six Black-headed Gulls and two White Wagtails also present with them. Asides, four Willow Warblers and one Goldcrest lurked around the island, and a Migrant Hawker patrolled the Cristin garden.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

It has been a great few days on the island, with some exciting sightings ranging from dragonflies to birdlife. The weather has been stunning: low winds varying in direction from the east around to the south west have rarely exceeded 15mph, whilst temperatures have commonly strayed above 20'C, helped by the clear, blue skies and sunny conditions.

There have been some quite unusual sightings in the last few days...by far the scarcest in avian terms was that of a very distant Great White Egret on the 16th, which slowly made its way south-west at a distance of over a mile off the West Side. This is just the third record for Bardsey Island. Equally exciting was the discovery of a female Banded Demoiselle on the South End in the afternoon of the 17th, which is a new species for Bardsey! Other notable sightings included a Black Guillemot off the West Side on the 17th, an Arctic Tern on the 15th, and an adult Pomarine Skua on 18th. Mediterranean Gulls joined the gatherings of larger Larids to feast on the emergence of flying Ants during the calm weather, with a single on the 15th, two on the 16th, and another one on the 17th. The female Ruff remained in Solfach until the 16th, and a Green Sandpiper was heard on the night of the 17th. Single Hooded Crows were seen on the mountain on the 16th and 18th, whilst other passerine sightings included a  Song Thrush on the 17th, single Whinchats on the 16th and 17th, a Yellow Wagtail on the 15th, and singles of Tree Pipit and Grey Wagtail on 18th. In other news, Risso's Dolphins have been seen almost daily, with as many as nine present (16th).

Commoner migrants have struggled in numbers since the large arrival a few days ago. Hirundine passage has been stronger, though, with number building to 227 Swallows and 51 House Martins on the 17th, plus two Sand Martins on the 18th. A Garden Warbler on the 18th was amongst the largest arrival of warblers during this period, with 59 Willow Warblers noted around the island, along with a Blackcap, four Chiffchaffs and three Goldcrests. Five Spotted Flycatchers on the 15th decreased to just one on the 16th, and none thereafter. Waders have been a big feature in the last few days, with high tides following new moon encouraging plenty onto the coast of the Narrows, the star of the show being the female Ruff (staying until the 16th). Particularly high counts have comprised 10 Ringed Plovers on the 16th, 25 Dunlins on the 15th, three Bar-tailed Godwits and a Whimbrel on the 17th, 32 Curlews on the 16th, 11 Redshanks, six Common Sandpipers and 12 Turnstones on the 17th.


View image on Twitter
View image on Twitter
On the nights of the 16th and 17th, we carried out some Storm Petrel ringing at the North End. The results were great: 12 new birds and three controls, whose origins are uncertain, but oddly enough were all part of the same ring string as each other!

View image on Twitter
The stunnign Banded Demoiselle



Female Ruff

 Spectacle
Chinese Character

Grey Heron in front of Bardsey Bird and Field Observatory

Friday, 14 August 2015

It has been a busy few days on the island, as autumn really starts to kick off with the settling of weather conditions. Low winds and a mix of cloud cover has brought some good arrivals of migrants- both passerines and non-passerines- over the last few days, with some great numbers recorded yesterday in particular. The next week looks set to stay calm and largely clear, so we are looking forward to seeing what arrivals will come our way.

Beginning with the highlights since the 11th- Great Crested Grebes have made something of a surprise appearance! On the 12th, a single individual flew east through the sound, which was followed by a flock of five (!) flying south past the West Coast on the morning of the 13th! After over 12 years of no sightings, to suddenly have three records in two years is rather unprecedented! In other news, singles of Ruff and Greenshank were seen on the 14th, the former of which is new to the year list, whilst a Greater Spotted Woodpecker arrived on the 13th, and remained through to the 14th. Another noteworthy visitor was that of a Short-eared Owl on the 14th, which is just the second of the year- a bird was flushed from the West Side, before flying around Pen Cristin.

Onto the more common species of migrants...Willow Warblers have finally eased into the triple figures, after a long period of below-average counts. The last three days have seen 49 on the 12th, 80 on the 13th, and 344 on the 15th. Blackcaps, Garden Warblers, Whitethroats, Sedge Warblers, Chiffchaffs and Goldcrests have also been steadily increasing in number, with tallies from the 13th comprising five Whitethroats, two Garden Warblers, one Blackcap, four Chiffchaffs and three Goldcrests. Singles Grasshopper Warblers were seen on the 12th and 14th, with a Tree Pipit on the 13th and Common Swifts over on the 12th and 13th. Spotted Flycatchers featured well in yesterday's arrival, with 34 representing the highest figure for sometime. Hirundine movements have been very strong on the clearer days, with not as many seen on the 14th; 243 Swallows on the 13th and 74 House Martins on the 12th were the highest totals from this period.

On to the waders- the New Moon is creating some reasonably high tides at the moment, which in turn is bringing a brilliant host of waders to the shores of The Narrows. The aforementioned highlights have been accompanied by the following selection of species (maximum daily figures): 12 Ringed Plovers, one Sanderling (13th), 19 Dunlins, four Whimbrels, 38 Curlews, seven Redshanks, 28 Turnstones and three Common Sandpipers.


A Kestrel has been lurking around the island in recent days

Willow Warblers have finally broken into triple figure counts, with over 60 trapped and ringed on the 14th too

Violet Ground Beetle

The dark nights have resulted in some big moth catches, with almost 400 in one of the heath traps yesterday, and nearly 800 between the three

Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

It was a stunning day, with conditions more typical of what we expect of 'summer'. Clear blue skies allowed the sun to bake the island to a pleasant 22'C, whilst a very light north-westerly wind meant that the movement of migrants through the island was perhaps the best of the autumn so far.

There was some good hirundine passage eastwards over the island in the morning, which comprised 23 Sand Martins, 157 Swallows and 18 House Martins, whilst two Grey Wagtails and a Yellow Wagtail also flew overhead. A total of 50 Willow Warblers is the highest so far this autumn, with birds spread out all over the island, particular along the mountainside; one Sedge Warbler, three Chiffchaffs and four Goldcrests were also recorded. A Black-tailed Godwit flew south over the South End in the morning, whilst a good supporting cast of other waders included three Ringed Plovers, five Sanderlings, six Dunlins, six Whimbrels, 25 Curlews, five Redshanks, one Common Sandpiper and six Turnstones. A single Sparrowhawk and two Buzzards represented the day's only raptors.

In terms of lepidoptera, it was a great day: good totals of moths in the traps were recorded, whilst some of high butterfly counts were also made. Beginning with the latter of these, the day's totals comprised 435 Green-veined Whites, two Small Coppers, four Painted Ladies, two Small Tortoiseshells, 20 Peacocks, 33 Graylings and 56 Meadow Browns. Highlights from the moth traps included the year's first Orange Swift, a female Northern Eggar, Dotted Clay and Acleris holmiana (new for Bardsey).

The view over the South End and Bardsey Lighthouse in the morning

There are plenty of big, fluffy Manx Shearwater chicks in the earth burrows at the moment


There are some good numbers of Gannets feeding off the coast at the moment, with 79 seen today

Orange Swift

True Lover's Knot

Painted Lady

Friday, 7 August 2015

It was a stunning day on the island, with barely a breath of wind and clear blue skies encouraging some of the hottest temperatures of the year (22'C). The calm conditions provided ideal conditions for the visible migration of many species, with movement overhead during the day logged at: 77 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, three Common Swifts, 15 Sand Martins, 62 Swallows, 10 House Martins and three Grey Wagtails. Willow Warblers were noticeably higher in number, with 34 individuals scattered around, along with eight Sedge Warblers, a Whitethroat, six Chiffchaffs. A trio of migrant raptors included singles of Sparrowhawk, Buzzard and Kestrel, whilst a good selection of waders included one Ringed Plover, two Dunlins, three Whimbrels, 18 Curlews, a Redshank and a Turnstone.

A butterfly transect took place on the mountain in the afternoon, to try and see how many Graylings are present on the islasnd at the moment. A count just shy of 80 was a good start, including a mating pai

Lion's Mane Jellyfish have been seen around the island's coast in the last few weeks

Oystercatchers

This smart little micro was discovered in the New Plantation a few days ago. This individual is Argyresthia bonnetella, which is a new species for Bardsey, and the fourth Argyresthia species to be recorded here

Thursday, 6 August 2015

It was a cracking day on the island, after the storm clouds rolled away and the wind eased. With a promosing outlook, it looks like we may finally start to get a bit of autumn migration action to enjoy. It wasn't too bad a start today: a hint of hirundine passage saw figures of two Sand Martins, 30 Swallows and 11 House Martins recorded during the day, whilst a handful of warblers scattered from coastal gorse to gardens included single Sedge Warblers and Blackcaps, four Chiffchaffs and 13 Willow Warblers; a single Black Redstart was also seen on Pen Cristin. Wader counts for the day amounted to two Ringed Plovers, two Dunlins, a Sanderling, a Snipe, three Whimbrels, 24 Curlews, two Redshanks and 23 Turnstones. Migrant lepdioptera were present in small numbers, with two Painted Ladies, a Hummingbird Hawkmoth and two Silver Ys.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

A day of strong south-easterly winds continued to make conditions a little difficult for southward-bound migrants. With very high tides following the recent new moon, waders are featuring well every day at the moment. Today's counts from the rocks around the Narrows comprised nine Ringed Plovers, one Sanderling, two Dunlins, five Whimbrels, 35 Curlews, three Redshanks, one Common Sandpiper and 15 Turnstones. Singles of Common Gull and Arctic Tern flew south past the West Coast, along with three Sandwich Terns and 765 Manx Shearwaters. In terms of passerines, three Sand Martins were seen around the Narrows, suggesting some movements, but other five Willow Warblers and a Goldcrest were the only other apparent migrants.

Sedge Warbler

Green-veined White

Male Northern Eggar, trapped in the Nant Withy heath trap

Blackberry Skeletonizer (Schreckensteinia festaliella)

Monday, 3 August 2015

It was a productive day in the field, despite the challenging weather conditions. Strong winds from the south and south-west were accompanied by warm temperatures and frequent dark cloud banks which did not in the end produce any deluges.

In terms of birdlife, the most interesting sightings of the day comprised wader counts at high tide: nine Ringed Plovers, one Sanderling, two Dunlins, six Whimbrels, 26 Curlews, five Redshanks, one Common Sandpiper and 19 Turnstones were all recorded. Movements of seabirds off the West Coast resulted in the following tallies: two Fulmars, 2518 Manx Shearwaters, 108 Gannets and 21 Common Scoters. Two Swifts battled southward during the day, and just four Willow Warblers were present in the vegetated areas.

The real interest of the day was provoked by the finding of Bardsey's eleventh CONVOLVULUS HAWKMOTH in the Heligoland Trap early morning. This very smart individual was found resting on the wire mesh inside the trap, perhaps seeking shelter from the howling gale. The last record on Bardsey was of an individual trapped on the mountain top in September 2010. In other news, a dead Harbour Porpoise washed up in Henllwyn at high tide.


Colvolvulus Hawkmoth

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Apologies for the lack of updates in the last few days, but it has been a busy weekend! The weather conditions have been very variable, although a brief lull before the next storm arrives resulted in a smart selection of migrants being recorded. There have been plenty of interesting sightings today: beginning with non-passerines, perhaps the oddest finding concerned two Teals in Henllwyn, the first for many months. Waders were well represented at high tide, with three Ringed Plovers, three Turnstones, four Whimbrels, 51 Curlews, five Redshanks. two Common Sandpipers and 19 Turnstones recorded. There was a good passage of seabirds in the late afternoon, comprising 3192 Manx Shearwaters, 36 Gannets, three Fulmars, 25 Common Scoters and four Sandwich Terns. Three Swifts flew overhead during the day, and a slightly lower total of warblers included one Sedge Warbler, two Blackcaps, five Chiffchaffs and 10 Willow Warblers.


Turnstones