Wednesday, 1 October 2014

It was a day of strong south-westerly winds, which meant that most attention was turned seaward. There was enough passing by to keep interest up, the highlights of passage being one Red-throated Diver, four Balearic Shearwaters, a juvenile Pomarine Skua, seven Mediterranean Gulls, one Little Gull and seven Common Gulls. The tallies of more common migrants included the following: two Fulmars, 11 Manx Shearwaters, 166 Gannets, 16 Common Scoters, 249 Black-headed Gulls, 698 Kittiwakes, one Guillemot and 150 Razorbills. The numbers of passerines was poorer than previous days, although a single Wheatear, one Reed Warbler, two Lesser Whitethroats, three Siskins and a Reed Bunting were recorded. The Hoopoe remained mobile around the mountain.

Moth trapping has been hugely successful in the last week, with mild temperatures, low winds and overcast skies encouraging some very decent counts and species lists. Invariably, the traps are 90% full of Lunar Underwings. For example, almost 400 were taken from the Cristin Withy trap on the 29th of September, whilst the rest of that catch was made up by just 50 other moths. The number of species caught has reached as many as 20, which has included species such as Red-green Carpet, Turnip Moths, Red-line Quakers, Pale Mottled Willow, The Delicate, Large Wainscot, Rush Veneer and Pearly Underwing.

Two noctuid migrants: Pearly Underwing on the left (around the 15th record for Bardsey) and Dark Sword-grass on the right 
As many as 400 Lunar Underwings have been taken from a single trap in recent days, and each catch has shown a dazzling array of variations in patterning and colour 
Agonopterix yeatiana 
Red Admirals have been moving through en masse this Autumn, At the start of September movements of up to 500 Red Admirals were estimated over the island. Counts have decreased quite steadily, but reasonable numbers (as many as 40 a day) have still been seen in recent days

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

There was a slight change in the weather today, as the southerly wind gradually picked up through the day, and brought some drizzly rain towards the late afternoon. It was still a reasonable day's birding on the island: a single Black Tern, 34 Mediterranean Gulls, 26 Common Terns and four Sandwich Terns flew south out to sea in the morning; the Hoopoe showed well (although distantly) at intervals during the day; and the day's visible migration counts included two Skylarks, 73 Swallows, four House Martins, 317 Meadow Pipits, a flava Wagtail, 26 Grey Wagtails, seven White Wagtails, five Starlings and a Lapland Bunting. Singles of Whinchat, Song Thrush, Lesser Whitethroat and Yellow-browed Warbler were seen inland.

This unfortunate Hoopoe has been marauded by Peregrines, Sparrohawks, Carrion Crows, Magpies and even Choughs, but has managed to elude capture, and continues to favour areas of the mountainside for feeding
At least two Merlins have been present in recent days

Monday, 29 September 2014

It was another great day on the island, with light winds and patchy cloud making for some excellent counts of common migrants, with the odd scarcity thrown into the mix. The highlight of the day for many was seeing a Yellow-browed Warbler, female Firecrest and Goldcrest in the hand all at once, after each of them had been trapped in various locations mid-morning (see below). The Hoopoe was seen at intervals during the day, but remained quite timid. The ringed Barred Warbler remained on the island for its eighth day, residing for the most part in the bramble bushes above Cristin. Another Richard's Pipit flew south over the island mid-morning, and was accompanied minutes later by a Lapland Bunting.

Other common migrants taking part in the morning 'vismig' movement comprised 130 Skylarks (the highest count of this species so far this year), 54 Swallows, six House Martins, 310 Meadow Pipits, seven 'flava' Wagtails, 26 Grey Wagtails, one White Wagtail, 58 Pied Wagtails, 31 Starlings, 110 Chaffinches, three Greenfinches, four Siskins, a Lesser Redpoll and six Reed Buntings.
Numbers of migrants on land amounted to: 51 Robins, a Whinchat, eight Wheatears, four Song Thrushes, two Lesser Whitethroats, three Garden Warblers, eight Blackcaps, 18 Chiffchaffs, six Willow Warblers and 27 Goldcrests.

Movements of seabirds out to sea included four Wigeons, a Teal, 70 Common Scoters, a Golden Plover, 10 Mediterranean Gulls, two Little Gulls, 1190 Black-headed Gulls, two Common Gulls, 1720 Kittiwakes and 456 Razorbills.

A rather nice trio: Firecrest, Goldcrest and Yellow-browed Warbler
female Firecrest
Yellow-browed Warbler-the first to be trapped and ringed so far this year
The first winter Barred Warbler continues to make use of the bounty of blackberries at Cristin

Sunday, 28 September 2014

The last three Sundays have been rather good for turning up scarce species on the island. Today was no exception. The day got off to a great start when a Hoopoe was discovered on Pen Cristin. Minutes after it was found, the bird shot skyward, with three Peregrines in hot pursuit. A spectacular display ensued between these four birds, with the result that the Hoopoe disappeared high over the mountain into the clouds. Half and hour later, the bird was flushed off the mountainside above Nant, and was then pursued briefly by a Sparrowhawk and some Carrion Crows, before it dived into the relative safety of the Plantation.

A first winter Sabine's Gull was seen briefly off the South End in the morning, where a Little Egret also materialised for a few minutes. A Richard's Pipit came in off the sea near the North Hide, and flew south over the west side and the withies. The Barred Warbler was seen around Cristin again, and was trapped too. A very brief sighting of a hippolais warbler in Cristin garden late afternoon could have proved interesting, but the bird was not seen again.

In terms of common migrants, totals comprised the following:
Visible migration: one Buzzard, one Golden Plover, five Skylarks, two Tree Pipits, 156 Meadow Pipits, 54 Grey Wagtails, 67 alba Wagtails, 12 Rooks, 23 Carrion Crows, six Ravens, 123 Chaffinches, two Greenfinches, four Goldfinches and a Reed Bunting.
Migrants 'on land': 52 Pied Wagtails, 38 Robins, two Whinchats, 16 Stonechats, three Wheatears, a Song Thrush, two Reed Warblers, four Lesser Whitethroats, three Whitethroats, seven Blackcaps, 10 Chiffchaffs, three Willow Warblers, 37 Goldcrests and a Firecrest.

The Hoopoe gave quite fleeting views along the mountainside towards mid-morning, but generally views were of the bird silhouetted against the sky, with various species of raptors in pursuit. This is the first Hoopoe on Bardsey since the bird in 2011, which was trapped and ringed. 
Three Lesser Whitethroats were seen during the day, one of which was trapped

Saturday, 27 September 2014

This week, five young birders from the group 'Next Generation Birders' (blog here, Facebook group here and Twitter feed here) have come to Bardsey Bird and Field Observatory, to join in with our work and hopefully enjoy some great birds in the coming week. We hope to carry out a variety of activities (weather-dependent) which will give them a taster of what it is to live and work at one of Britain and Ireland's 19 bird observatories.

It was a pretty respectable start to the week: the Barred Warbler stayed in the observatory garden for its sixth day, and was re-trapped mid-morning. Interestingly, the bird had put on almost nine grams, and also showed a fat score of 6.5. This just illustrated how many juicy blackberries and elderberries there are around for it at the moment! The second Richard's Pipit of the year flew south over the observatory in the early hours, but views were brief and it gave just a couple of calls. Other passerine migrants contributing to the day's visible migration spectacle included six Skylarks, 63 Swallows, a House Martin, 76 Meadow Pipits, five White Wagtails and a Reed Bunting. A single Whinchat joined a loose scattering of 14 Stonechats, whilst warbler and flycatcher figures came to: a Whitethroat, five Blackcaps, 12 Chiffchaffs, a Willow Warbler, 19 Goldcrests and five Spotted Flycatchers. Non-passerines seen during the day included eight Purple Sandpipers, a Snipe, two Whimbrels, two Mediterranean Gulls and the semi-resident Barn Owl.

In non-avian terms, several pods of Risso's Dolphins were seen around the coast during the day, amounting to at least 15 animals. A Painted Lady, two Hummingbird Hawkmoths and a Silver Y comprised the only migrant lepidoptera on the island today.

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Obs staff and Next Generation Birders
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Some of the ringing activities that have been occurring around Cristin

Friday, 26 September 2014

The day started with fresh south-westerly winds, but gradually the skies cleared and the wind eased, making for a very pleasant afternoon. It was a very slow day bird-wise: noteworthy non-passerines comprised two Teals, five Purple Sandpipers, a Mediterranean Gull and a Sandwich Tern. New migrants inland were hard to come by: four Swallows, four Grey Wagtails, two Blackcaps, 31 Goldcrests and 21Chiffchaffs were recorded. The Barred Warbler remained at Cristin.

The Grey Seals are well into pupping now, with just under ten pups now present around the island's coast. Most of these are centred along the eastern and northern shore of the South End, although a few have chosen the more isolated and exposed locations of the deep gullies towards the north and south tips of the island

''NO MORE, please. Give us some space''

The moth traps have been not been out as much recently, although one Heath Trap was set out for the last few nights. The results have shown that there are excellent numbers around at the moment: 55 moths of 17 species were trapped yesterday, whilst 120 moths were taken from the trap this morning. Lunar Underwings are by far the most numerous species...
These are all Lunar Underwings, but you can see what a variety of colours and patterns they come in 
Another image illustrating quite a diversity of different forms: these three moths are all Square-spot Rustics. The one on the right is the most typical-looking form, but a very pale one (almost reminiscent of Autumnal Rustic) has appeared three times this autumn, along with a very dark Brown Rustic-type too 
The Delicate. This is only the fifth record of this species on Bardsey, the last of which was in October last year 
The first Large Wainscot of the year was trapped yesterday

Thursday, 25 September 2014

The wind remained quite strong from the south west, but there were some good sightings during the day: a first winter Sabine's Gull was seen off the South End in the morning; four Arctic Skuas, two Mediterranean Gulls, a Little Gull, seven Sandwich Terns, a Common Tern and two Arctic Terns also flew past, whilst singles of Teal, Wigeon, Golden Plover, Sanderling and Whimbrel were seen around The Narrows. The Barred Warbler was seen in Cristin garden throughout the day, and two Spotted Flycatchers and three Blackcaps were new arrivals.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

With stronger south-westerly winds prevailing throughout most of the day, a deficit of passerine migrants inland turned most attention seaward. There was a reasonable selection of species on offer: singles of Red-throated Diver, Great Northern Diver and Pomarine Skua were recorded, along with three Arctic Skuas, a Great Skua, five Common Scoters, two Sandwich Terns, 126 Gannets, seven Fulmars, 101 Razorbills and two Puffins. Six Skylarks, three Swallows, 153 Meadow Pipits, a White Wagtail and two Blackcaps were seen inland.

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This first winter Redshank was trapped in Solfach overnight, and is the first to be caught and ringed since 2012
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There have been plenty of migrants Robins around

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

A change in the weather brought about stronger south-westerly winds and drizzly rain, which unfortunately failed to produce any significant arrivals of migrants. On the contrary, there was generally a fairly extensive clear out of migrants on the island. The Barred Warbler was one exception, which was heard calling in the observatory garden in the early hours. Numbers of the more common warblers such as Chiffchaffs were down to single figures, although 22 Goldcrests were still present. Singles of Wigeon, Knot, Whimbrel and Arctic Skua were recorded towards the coast.

Monday, 22 September 2014

A small movement of passerine migrants during the morning included 11 Skylarks, four Sand Martins, 77 Swallows, 44 House Martins, one Tree Pipit, 255 Meadow Pipits, 20 Grey Wagtails, and a Lapland Bunting. The Barred Warbler was seen around Cristin at intervals during the morning, whilst some good counts of warblers included four Blackcaps, 48 Chiffchaffs and 61 Goldcrests. There was a good selection of raptors on show, with three Sparrowhawks, two Buzzards, one Merlin and one Peregrine recorded, whilst the more notable species of waders present in the early hours comprised one Ringed Plover, one Golden Plover and two Snipe. Out to sea, singles of Mediterranean Gull and Common Gull passed by with three Sandwich Terns, 76 Black-headed Gulls and 21 Razorbills.

There have been some good counts of Meadow Pipits over the last week or so 
Juvenile Ringed Plover 
Grey Seals started pupping about two weeks ago now. There are at least four around the coast now (pictures to follow). The Bull seals have been getting quite frisky!

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 an adult 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