Wednesday, 26 November 2014

It was a very calm day on the island, perhaps the calmest for many weeks, although this failed to bring any new migrants to the island's shores. The number of Starlings on Solfach had risen somewhat to 230, where the usual Hooded Crow was seen, as well as a Ringed Plover and 10 Purple Sandpipers. A Chiffchaff was seen at Cristin, a Linnet flew over Ty Pellaf, and a Water Rail was heard calling in the withies.

One of the highlights of the day was a dramatic 5 minute battle between three Merlins, two Peregrine Falcons and an unfortunate Rock Pipit. The chase started with one of the usual Merlins singling out a Rock Pipit on Solfach. As the chase was taken skyward, a second Merlin powered up and grabbed the Rock Pipit, with an explosion of feathers. These two Merlins then spent a minute or two chasing each other around Solfach, before a third Merlin joined in the show- this bird was shortly followed by two adult Peregrines, which promptly broke up the petty squabbling, and sent the Merlins scampering away. The Peregrines did not, however, manage to procure the Rock Pipit from the initial victor.


Starlings on Solfach. Numbers have started dropping off a bit now, but there remain between 50 and 150 birds each day

You can find some more pictures of Choughs and Starlings over the last week at the following link: Ben Porter Photography

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

A more extensive write up to follow (not that there is much more besides the following to mention), but the highlights of the day included the Whooper Swan back on Pwll Cain, a Great Northern Diver South past The Narrows, a very late Swallow flying around Solfach, and a scattering of three Chiffchaffs, three Goldcrests, two Redwings and Song Thrush inland.

The Whooper Swan seems quite at home on Pwll Cain, feeding alongside the resident Moorhens 

Starlings continue to battle it out on Solfach

Monday, 24 November 2014

It was a lovely calm day with clear skies in the morning and grey clouds moving in later n the day. A Whooper Swan flew over the Ty Pellaf Wetlands in the early hours, briefly settling in Henllwyn, and then dropping in on Pwll Cain for a little while later in the morning. At least three Chiffchaffs were present in the withies and at Ty Pellaf, along with two Redwings, three Song Thrushes and eight Stonechats. The Merlin was seen around Solfach mid-morning, where the usual Hooded Crow remained amongst the Choughs and Starlings. Out to sea, a minimum of 200 Black-headed Gulls and Kittiwakes were seen feeding off the West Side, although the massive 2000-strong flock of gulls remained about 6 miles distant and thus still out of 'reach' for any land-based seawatching.

Grey Seal Bull

Whooper Swan

Common Starling making itself look quite impressive in a dispute with a Turnstone

There are plenty of Stonechats about, with at least eight pairs between Plas and The Narrows alone. One particular pair have taken to feeding along the banks and on the beach around The Narrows

Sunday, 23 November 2014

A change of wind direction to the north west did not seem to change a great deal in terms of movements out to sea, although over 2000 Guillemots flew South past the coast in the early morning, in flocks of up to 70. Also out to sea were two Red-throated Divers, a Mediterranean Gull and a Fulmar. A single Merlin inland was seen at various places, as was a female Sparrowhawk. A Water Rail was heard calling in Ty Pellaf Reed Bed, and two Goldcrests were present in the withies.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

It was a day of low winds and clear skies; this encouraged a few of the island's smaller avian inhabitants to emerge after yesterday's storm. A Siberian Chiffchaff was found at Nant in the afternoon, where two Chiffchaffs, two Goldcrests, two Song Thrushes and a Blackcap were also recorded. A total of 170 Starlings were feeding amongst the Rock Pipits on Solfach today, although this flock was subject to very frequent attacks by the south Peregrine Falcon pair, which nonetheless failed to capture any. Out to sea, the usual fare of gulls amounted to 105 Black-headed Gulls, 37 Common Gulls, 11 Mediterranean Gulls and 446 Kittiwakes.

The usual flock of Choughs (reaching a maximum of 27 individuals at the moment) continues to make use of the extensive piles of rotting seaweed on Solfach. However, it appears that this flock is currently comprised mostly of island breeding pairs and 'residents'- there are very few 'new' mainland birds amongst the flock, save for one or two birds. Note the ear in the fourth image- a rare sight on birds in the field! 
Adult Mediterranean Gull. It has been an excellent year for this species on Bardsey, with a count nearing 60 towards the end of October breaking the record for a day total of this sepcies
Siberian Chiffchaff

Friday, 21 November 2014

Gale force south-easterly winds were the dominating weather feature today, and were accompanied by drizzly rain at intervals during the day. A Great Skua was perhaps the highlight of a sewatching session off the South End in the morning. This was amongst a passahe that included one Fulmar, six Gannets, three Common Scoters, a Whimbrel, 23 Mediterranean Gulls, 29 Common Gulls, 362 Kittiwakes and 864 Guillemots. Elsewhere, singles of Redwing and Song Thrush were seen inland, along with a Greenfinch and a Skylark.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

A day of much lighter winds, still from the east, saw a reasonable selection of passerines making an appearance during the day. A total of at least five Chiffchaffs was very good, considering the time of year, whilst a single female Blackcap, 10 Goldcrests, a Grey Wagtail, a Brambling, a Lesser Redpoll, seven Song Thrushes and 650 Starlings were also seen during the day. Out to sea, the usual gull flock was seen at intervals during the day, with a minimum count of 21 Mediterranean Gulls made in the morning, amongst some 450 Black-headed Gulls and 230 Kittiwakes. The usual Hooded Crow remained around The Narrows.


Wednesday, 19 November 2014

It was day of stronger easterly winds, which encouraged a respectable movement of seabirds out to sea. The highlight of a morning's seawatching was undoubtedly a male Goosander which flew south over the South End- this is a very rare species on Bardsey, despite breeding so close in a geographical sense. The last record of this species was over ten years ago. This species also takes Bardsey's 2014 year list to 200- a fantastic number that is very rarely achieved here.

In other news, a good passage of other seabirds included a Great Northern Diver, a Red-throated Diver, two Wigeons, a Shelduck, seven Common Scoters, five Little Gulls, 15 Mediterranean Gulls, 22 Common Gulls, 37 Razorbills and 85 Guillemots. Inland, it was clear that the easterly winds were also encouraging an arrival of thrushes to take place. A total of 13 Blackbirds, four Song Thrushes, nine Redwings and six Fieldfares were recorded, whilst somewhere in the region of 3000 Starlings were also seen around the island during the day, many flying past out to sea in scattered flocks.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

It was a very pleasant day all in all, with light easterly winds encouraging a light movement of larks, pipits and thrushes, whilst the clear blue skies gave the sun a chance to make an appearance over the isle. Two Snow Buntings spent the day feeding along the track between the Boathouse and Ty Pellaf, giving excellent views and showing down to less than 5 metres. The long-staying Siberian Chiffchaff was seen in Cristin Withy, accompanied by a 'normal' Chiffchaff and two Goldcrests. A total of 354 Starlings were recorded during the day, with much of this total comprising small flocks heading eastwards over the mountain; thrushes were somewhat up in figures, with the day's tallies amounting to 18 Blackbirds, two Song Thrushes and 5 Redwings. A single Lapwing was present around The Narrows.

Snow Buntings

Solfach has been the centre of activity for a great number of species recently, with the rotting piles of Kelp providing a bounty of insects and fly larvae for birds to feed on. Choughs, Starlings, Rock Pipits, the near-resident Hooded Crow, a handful of Magpies, a few Carrion Crows and a small selection of waders and gulls have all been utilising this area, though some have been unwilling to share it... 

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Calmest day of the week so far brought a small influx of finches and thrushes. 75 Chaffinches were seen along with 20 Linnits, eight Goldfinches, two Siskins and one Greenfinch. Thrush wise 18 Blackbirds and eight Song Thrushes were present mostly in the Gardens. An interesting Chiffchaff, again Tristis like in plumage was seen briefly in the farm garden but quickly dissipated in the vegetation there and was not seen again. The sprawling mass of Starlings are still around amounted to 520, most of which spent the day at the north end of the island although a small number were still feeding among st 16 Chough on the beaches.

It was generally quiet around the narrows and the beach although a nice, and very approachable mixed flock of 22 Turnstones and 16 Purple Sandpipers spent sometime around the rocks by Solfach. Also a Hooded Crow, Grey Heron, small number of Herring Gulls, Greater-black Backed Gulls and 30 Rock Pipits were close by.

One of the Purple Sandpipers from a mixed flock including Turnstones

Friday, 14 November 2014

Three Manx Shearwaters heading south off the west coast was a nice surprise early morning, the first for a week or two. Along with them were one Gannet, three Common Scoters, 144 Black-Headed Gulls, 84 Kittiwakes, one adult Mediterranean Gull, and 91 Razorbills.

A confiding Snow Bunting was seen late morning feeding along the track towards the lighthouse, 220 Starling still roamed in a chattering flock, a Lapwing was seen in the north west fields along with one Skylark, a Water Rail skulked in the withies giving the occasional squeak, five Redwings, one Song thrush and a handful of Chiffchaffs were also present there.

Finch numbers took a plummet today with only six Chaffinchs and three Goldfinches seen, however some of the other resident species such as Wren, Robin and Dunnock have resumed their normal business after the gale force winds that seemed to dampen their presence.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Howling south easterlies and persistent rain have been taking their toll on the counts of birds on the island with most species including resident birds becoming inconspicuous. A Short-eared Owl was spotted on the side of the mountain as it flew from the bracken and headed north up the island. A small number of Kittiwakes and Black-headed Gulls accompanied by 9 Common Gulls were seen off the coast. A number of Gulls, mostly Herring Gulls have been frequenting the rain ponds on the narrows where they have been bathing, 45 were present there today.

One Chiffchaff, one Goldcrest and a very small number of the resident species were counted whilst two Song Thrushes, two Redwings and two Blackbirds were the only Thrushes to be seen today, these were all sheltering in the gardens and thick vegetation.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

There was very little in the way of new migrants even with the slight drop in winds, more easterly direction and occasional showers that could have the potential to ground new migrating birds. However a very smart first winter Grey Phalarope was found on the beach pattering by the shoreline where there was floating seaweed and vegetation for it to feed amongst.

The bird was initially very flighty at high tide when the waves were breaking almost over the top of the bird. As the tide went out the bird settled on one of the flood pools on the narrows and became very approachable and a mist net was dropped over the bird.

The Phalarope was latter caught and became the fourth to be ringed on Bardsey following the last one in 2009. The bird was returned to the pool after ringing where it swam off and continued to feed and preen.

In other news further north on rest of the island it was generally quiet with the odd Chiffchaff, Skylark, Common Snipe and Goldcrest seen. Around the narrows the Curlew flock had now increased to around 60 birds, 344 Starling mingled around the grassy areas in loose flocks, a single Lapwing, Grey Heron and Hooded Crow were also present.

Monday, 10 November 2014


Four Mediterranean Gulls, 15 Common Gulls, 271 Black-headed Gulls, 287 Kittiwakes and 120 Razorbills were the most numerous counts today. Notables on the ground were five Skylarks, 5 Song Thrushes, 3 Redwings, five Chiffchaffs including the Tristis type from that last day, 11 Goldcrests and a lingering Water Rail. Visible migration counts amounting too two Goldfinches, 60 Chaffinches, two Greenfinches, seven Siskin, 24 Linnits, 3 Lesser Redpolls and five Reed Buntings.


With a drop in the winds again bought another day of finch passage with the odd bunting, this amounted too 108 Chaffinches, one Brambling, nine Greenfinches, one Linnit, one Lesser Redpoll and three Reed Buntings. Elsewhere on the island 798 Starling flew south with 22 Skylarks, 21 Rock Pipits were scattered along the coasts and two Woodcocks, a Water Rail, six Stonechats, three Song Thrushes, three Redwings, one Mistle Thrush, a lone male Blackcap, six Chiffchaffs and seven Goldcrests were recorded.

Around the narrows and the beach 49 Oystercatches sheltered in the bays along with 11 Redshanks, 42 Curlews and a small selection of gulls which amounted too 74 Herring Gulls, three Lesser Black-backed Gulls and five Greater Black-backed Gulls.

Passage off the coasts had quietened considerably today with only a small number of Kittiwakes, Black-headed Gulls, Razorbills and Guillemots. However one Great Northern Diver and three Common Scoter were seen as they made their way south.

Saturday, 8 November 2014

A Black-Throated Diver was pick of the bunch out at sea today when it was seen off the west coast, also recorded were a lingering flock of 116 Kittiwakes, 17 Black-headed Gulls moving south, four Gannets, two Common Gulls and 61 Razorbills. 280 Herring Gulls gathered on small pools that are forming on the narrows due to so much rain.

Numbers were thin on the ground and the strong southerly winds and rain made for a difficult census. However a smart adult male Black Redstart was seen briefly at the north end. Six Skylarks, five Chiffchaffs, five Stonechats, three Goldcrests, one Goldfinch and one Song Thrush were the highlights of a slow day.

This Chiffchaff discovered in the withies had many of the plumage characteristics of tristis or Siberian Chiffchaff. The overall plumage of the bird was very pale grey brown, the breast and flanks again were pale grey with no hint of any yellowish buff, pale supercillium and brownish tinge to the ear coverts, distinct pale fringes to the covers forming a wing bar and a slight greenish tinge to the primaries and secondaries. Unfortunately the bird did not call whilst being observed but appearance wise looked a good candidate for a Siberian Chiffchaff.