Saturday, 23 May 2015

It was a stunning day with glorious sunny conditions and very light winds. A busy changeover day saw all the houses on the island occupied with visitors, although there was still some time during the day to have a search around for some newly-arrived migrants. Good counts of common passerine migrants comprised two Swifts, two Skylarks, nine Sand Martins, 123 Swallows, 28 House Martins, a Tree Pipit, three Whinchats, a Fieldfare, 29 Sedge Warblers, 12 Whitethroats, two Blackcaps, 15 Chiffchaffs, two Goldcrests, 25 Spotted Flycatchers (the highest count of the year), two Rooks and a Siskin.

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Landscapes of Cristin (top) and South End (below) (c) Steve Stansfield

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This Fieldfare was trapped and ringed at Cristin in the morning, and caused a bit of confusion due to the presence of a brood patch. This perhaps indicates an early failed breeder

Friday, 22 May 2015

Despite very low winds, light rain and low cloud, it was actually a little quiet on the bird front for much of the day. A stunning male Hen Harrier which powered north along the mountainside in the late afternoon was perhaps the highlight of the day; a smart male Cuckoo was heard singing in the Withies throughout the day, whilst warbler figures comprised eight Sedge Warblers, two Whitethroats, two Blackcaps and eight Chiffchaffs, whilst there were also five Spotted Flycatchers recorded. Hirundines recorded during the day included 97 Swallows and 13 House Martins.

Many of the island's Oystercatchers are now incubating clutches of eggs, in their small scrapes at various locations around the island.

Several broods of Carrion Crow chicks have been ringed in the last week

Thursday, 21 May 2015

It was a pleasant day, with calm conditions encouraging a few migrants to appear, and the the clear conditions added some much-needed warmth to the air. A single adult Pomarine Skua flew west past the South End in the morning, whilst singles of Dunlin, Whimbrel, Curlew and Sandwich Tern were present around The Narrows. A moderate movement of hirundines include eight Sand Martins, 195 Swallows and 26 House Martins, whilst a Cuckoo was trapped and ringed at Cristin. A Yellow Wagtail flew over The Narrows midday, and a single White Wagtail was seen in Solfach; inland, a female Common Redstart was trapped and ringed at Nant, whilst warbler numbers amounted to 20 Sedge Warblers, two Reed Warblers, two Whitethroats, four Blackcaps and six Chiffchaffs. A total of eight Spotted Flycatchers were recorded around the island.

 female Common Redstart
 Gorse Shield Bug
There are a few Garden Tiger caterpillars emering at the moment, along with the first Drinker and Yellowtail larvae

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Despite a rather chilly start to the day with a fresh northerly wind, conditions improved massively by midday, and a rather promising feel delivered a good movement of hirundines and a small arrival of other migrants. A good number of the former involved 39 Sand Martins, 391 Swallows, 26 House Martins and two Swifts from midday onwards. A slight increase in warbler numbers saw seven Sedge Warblers, four Whitethroats, two Blackcaps, nine Chiffchaffs, three Willow Warblers and one Goldcrest, along with a single Common Redstart and seven Spotted Flycatchers. Out to sea, singles of Red-throated Diver and Arctic Skua provided the day's most noteworthy sightings.

Oystercatcher in the rain. It won't be too long until the first chicks appear


Tuesday, 19 May 2015

There were very few new passerines on the ground, although a small movement of seabirds out to sea provided some interest: 20 Fulmars, 1639 Manx Shearwaters, 38 Gannets, 77 Kittiwakes, six Sandwich Terns, 126 Guillemots and 327 Razorbills were recorded. A single Swift headed north over the island.

Monday, 18 May 2015

Another breezy day saw most noteworthy avian sightings focussed on the coastal areas of the island, with relatively few migrant passerines further inland. Indeed, the day's figures for passerines stood at one Skylark, 59 Swallows, three House Martins, one White Wagtail, eight Sedge Warblers, one Whitethroat, ten Chiffchaffs, three Spotted Flycatchers and a Siskin. In terms of seabirds, some reasonable numbers of waders included four Sanderlings, seven Dunlins, one Curlew, one Whimbrel, one Common Sandpiper and five Turnstones. Movements out to sea comprised 25 Fulmars, 857 Manx Shearwaters, 31 Gannets, 199 Kittiwakes, 293 Guillemots and 225 Razorbills.

Ringed Plovers have been present in small numbers in the last few days

A single pool along the track has been providing a bathing venue for virtually all of the pipits, finches and wagtails on the southern side of the island

Sunday, 17 May 2015

A day of somewhat stronger south-westerly winds and grey cloud cover provided an altogether uninspiring day of May migration. A flock of waders on the South End comprised three Ringed Plovers and nine Dunlins, whilst two Whimbrels and a Curlew were seen elsewhere. Three Collared Doves lingered on from the previous days' flock of four, and two Cuckoos were also present once again. Warbler numbers took a tumble as the windy weather constrained most birds to dense cover: five Sedge Warblers, three Whitethroats, three Blackcaps, 10 Chiffchaffs and two Willow Warblers were recorded, along with four Spotted Flycatchers and three Siskins.

Virtually all of the island's breeding Oystercatchers are now incubating eggs in their varying scrapes on ledges and gravelly beaches around the coast

Green Tiger Beetles are a fairly common species around the coast, appearing on warm afternoons

Lackey caterpillars are nearing their final instar stages at many locations on the island, having shed their final skin. There seem to be fewer silk tents around this year, although this cold weather does not do them a favour!

Saturday, 16 May 2015

A busy changeover day saw quite pleasant birding conditions when time allowed, although there was greatly reduced selection of new arrivals on show. Wader counts for the day comprised one Sanderling, three Whimbrels and one Curlew; two Cuckoos were still lurking around the island, whilst hirundine passage consisted of three Sand Martins, 189 Swallows and 10 House Martins. Other passerine figures included one White Wagtail, a Whinchat, seven Sedge Warblers, three Whitethroats, five Blackcaps, 11 Chiffchaffs and three Spotted Flycatchers.

Friday, 15 May 2015

The day started off quite calm and with a promising feel to the air, and indeed there was a good scattering of avian life to be seen. Unfortunately though, the potential bird of the day- a probable Red-breasted Flycatcher in the depths of the New Plantation- gave such a brief appearance without further sign that it will have to remain as just another 'possible' for now. Three White Wagtails, one Flava Wagtail, a Common Redstart, 11 Sedge Warblers, three Whitethroats, five Garden Warblers, seven Blackcaps, 18 Chiffchaffs, four Willow Warblers, eight Spotted Flycatchers, and two Siskins were the day's passerine migrant tallies, although this does not include a rather impressive southward movement of 75 Sand Martins, 1300 Swallows and 35 House Martins.

There are a few summer-plumaged Turnstones around at the moment

At least one Hooded Crow continues to linger around the trackside, with another two appearing on some days

female Cuckoo

Thursday, 14 May 2015

The day started with strong and gusting easterly winds, accompanied by a heavy rain shower that lasted until late morning. After this had passed through, it was a very pleasant day, with a reasonable scattering of migrants on the ground. Wader numbers are on the increase again now that the tides are building, and today's tallies comprised four Ringed Plovers, 17 Dunlins, five Whimbrels and one Common Sandpiper. It is shaping up to be a great year for Cuckoos on Bardsey, with almost daily records at the moment- today saw another three Cuckoos on the island. Hirundine and Swift passage was relatively poor, with figures including a single Swift, 10 Sand Martins, 89 Swallows and 31 House Martins. Single Reed and Garden Warblers were recorded in the vegetated areas, along with three Spotted Flycatchers.

Moth trapping has generally been quite poor this year, as it has been across the UK. However, the recent new moon and somewhat milder temperatures is increasing catch numbers in the Nant heath trap, and is also luring in a few smart scarcities. A Water Carpet taken from the moth trap on the 13th is a new species for Bardsey, despite being a common species on the mainland. Today, a smart Bordered Straw was found, which is an immigrant species last recorded on 21 June 2000. In addition, the first few day-flying micro moth species are beginning to appear, such as Cydia ulicetana and Esperia sulphurella.

 Bordered Straw
Water Carpet

Marbled Coronet

Green Tiger Beetle

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

A glorious sunny day with hardly a breath of wind saw the year's largest movements of hirundines taking place, and there were some reasonable migrant numbers in the vegetated areas too. The highlight of the day came in the form of a very smart Wood Warbler, which became the first to be trapped and ringed on Bardsey since May 2009! Singles of Flava Wagtail, Black Redstart, Reed Warbler and Lesser Whitethroat were also noteworthy. Hirundine passage was very pronounced, with Swallows streaming both north and southward over the island throughout the day. Figures logged are likely to be large underestimates, although a total of 41 Sand Martins, 542 Swallows and 172 House Martins were recorded. Warbler and flycatcher numbers were only just higher than in previous days, with 34 Sedge Warblers, 14 Whitethroats, two Garden Warblers, 10 Blackcaps, 20 Chiffchaffs, 11 Willow Warblers, three Goldcrests and 23 Spotted Flycatchers being the final tallies. Waders were around in reasonable numbers, with one Ringed Plover, three Sanderlings, five Dunlins, 24 Whimbrels, 3 Curlews and one Common Sandpiper seen.

Wood Warbler- a fairly scarce bird on Bardsey, which is just about annual in occurrence 

Garden Warbler

Differences in eye colour in Common Whitethroats, which is suggestive of an age 5 in the above bird (1st summer) and age 6 in the lower male (adult). However, a male bird re-trapped last year with a very dull eye colour was discovered to have been ringed several years previously- this has shaken our trust in this technique somewhat!

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

A day beginning with fresh south-westerly winds saw conditions improve gradually during the course of the day. The first Great Skua of the year flew past the South End in the early morning, whilst a good movement of hirundines South over the Narrows, South End and West Side amounted to 12 Sand Martins, 359 Swallows, 30 House martins. A singing male Firecrest at Nant was a pleasant surprise, whilst counts of passerine migrants included the following: three Swifts, 14 Sedge Warblers, one Reed Warbler, two Whitethroats, four Blackcaps, 16 Chiffchaffs, five Willow Warblers, one Goldcrest, nine Spotted Flycatchers and two Rooks.

Monday, 11 May 2015

Despite the somewhat breezy conditions, there was a good arrival of common migrants on the island, with good movements of passerines over land logged during the day. Warbler numbers remained more or less the same as in the last few days, with 30 Sedge Warblers (the highest count so far this year), one Reed Warbler, 14 Whitethroats, eight Blackcaps, 14 Chiffchaffs, eight Willow Warblers and one Goldcrest recorded, along with 20 Spotted Flycatchers. Hirundine movements were once again quite pronounced, with a single Sand Martin, 151 Swallows and nine House Martins recorded, along with the year's highest day count of Swifts, with 31 seen. The first few Painted Ladies of the year were also seen around the coast.

Little Owls continue to show every now and then around their territories, with a pair on Pen Cristin, a pair above Plas and another near the Plantation

This Collared Dove spent the day at Cristin

A count of 30 Sedge Warblers represented the highest day count so far this year

Spotted Flycatcher

Sunday, 10 May 2015

The strong southerly winds continued throughout the day, and meant that any passerine migrants on the island were gathered in areas that were sheltered from the blustery conditions. There was in fact a good scattering of species around the island, the highlight of which was a smart Turtle Dove, discovered on the rocks to the west of the Lighthouse in the evening. A single Cuckoo remained around the Withies, with another male bird at Nant perhaps being the same individual; an excellent total of 213 Swallows was logged during daylight hours, and amongst them were seven Sand Martins and 50 House Martins (the highest day count of this species so far this year). The highest day count so far this year of Spotted Flycatchers was recorded, with 21 scattered around, along with six Sedge Warblers, 13 Whitethroats, four Blackcaps, 14 Chiffchaffs and 11 Willow Warblers. Out to sea, there was a movement of 2588 Manx Shearwaters, two Fulmars, 11 Gannets, 11 Common Scoters, five Kittiwakes, 25 Guillemots, 78 Razorbills and six Puffins, whilst wader counts amounted to: two Purple Sandpipers, one Bar-tailed Godwit, 11 Whimbrels, one Common Sandpiper and two Turnstones.

Male Cuckoo

Saturday, 9 May 2015

A somewhat breezy beginning to the day saw the south-west winds easing throughout the late morning and afternoon, which made for an altogether pleasant changeover day and for good birding conditions. There was a respectable movement of hirundines overhead during the day, which included eight Sand Martins, 164 Swallows and 27 House Martins, along with seven Swifts. Single Tree Pipits were recorded in the Wetlands and at Nant, a Flava Wagtail flew East over Ty Pellaf, one Common Redstart was present around Cristin, 41 Wheatears made an appearance from all over the island, five Spotted Flycatchers were scattered around, and warbler figures stood at 12 Sedge Warblers, one Lesser Whitethroat, 25 Whitethroats, nine Blackcaps, nine Chiffchaffs and eight Willow Warblers. What could well have been a female Subalpine Warbler made a very brief appearance at Ty Pellaf in the afternoon, but disappeared and was not seen again.

Sand Martins have been moving through in small numbers over the last few days 


One of the island's Stonechat pairs has already had a brood of three chicks fledge, and the parents are busy trying to keep them well fed

female Pied Wagtail

Friday, 8 May 2015

A rather damp day saw over 16mm of precipitation over the course of the day, which made it a little difficult to record the avian wildlife on the island. There was a good scattering of the less common migrants, with singles of Collared Dove, Cuckoo, Flava Wagtail and Grey Wagtail,  three smart male Common Redstarts, two Lesser Whitethroats, a Garden Warbler and a Spotted Flycatcher. There were two good additions to the Bardsey year list during the day, namely that of a Marsh Harrier that drifted south-east over the island, and two Sanderlings joining a flock of 33 Dunlins in Solfach. In terms of other passerine migrants, five Sand Martins, 55 Swallows, five House Martins, 31 Wheatears, five Sedge Warblers, five Whitethroats, 11 Blackcaps, nine Chiffchaffs, 22 Willow Warblers and three Goldcrests were recorded.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

A relatively calm day saw a somewhat frustrating start, due to countless small rain showers hampering the ability to open up the mist nets around the island. There was a pleasant scattering of new arrivals in, with the highlights being the first three Arctic Skuas of the year and a Black Guillemot out to sea, a Bar-tailed Godwit around the Narrows, a Tree Pipit and Flava Wagtail over Nant, a Grasshopper Warbler in Cristin Withy, two Garden Warblers in the Withies, two Spotted Flycatchers around Nant, a Rook, two Siskins and a Reed Bunting. There was an excellent movement of 27 Sand Martins, 302 Swallows and 22 House Martins overhead, lasting from dawn to dusk, whilst warbler numbers included 14 Sedge Warblers, three Whitethroats, 16 Blackcaps, ten Chiffchaffs and 35 Willow Warblers. 

This smart male Sparrowhawk was trapped and ringed at Nant in the morning

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Sedge Warbler and Lesser Whitethroat

The Blackbirds at Cristin have already managed to raise this youngster 

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

The beginning of the day was utterly grim, with strong south-westerly winds, driving raing and fairly nippy temperatures; the wind and rain finally eased off towards the mid-afternoon, and thereafter it was rather pleasant. There were plenty of migrants seeking shelter in the vegetated areas of the island, although some small movements of both passerines and seabirds also took place. Passerine migrant figures for the day amounted to one Cuckoo, 11 Swifts, one Sand Martin, 36 Swallows, two House Martins, one Tree Pipit,  seven White Wagtails, seven Sedge Warblers, one Reed Warbler, three Lesser Whitethroats, six Whitethroats, two Garden Warblers, seven Blackcaps, seven Chiffchaffs, 15 Willow Warblers and three Spotted Flycatchers. Out to sea, movements during the day comprised the year's first Pomarine Skua, 10 Fulmars, 3222 Manx Shearwaters, 44 Gannets, 67 Kittiwakes, 96 Guillemots, 125 Razorbills and three Puffins. Waders logged included three Ringed Plovers, seven Dunlins, a Bar-tailed Godwit, 18 Whimbrels, one Curlew, two Common Sandpipers and a Turnstone.

one Cuckoo remained on the island, spending most of the day around the Withies


Common Sandpiper

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

A very mixed bag of weather today meant that in just 12 hours we experienced everything from flat calm winds and misty conditions, to howling south-westerly gales gusting over 45mph, accompanied by some of the heaviest rain storms of the year. There were also some very warm sunny periods in between! There was a good selection of new migrants on show, the highlights including the following: what appeared to be a Nightjar flying past Cristin in the early morning, before disappearing in the green lane; three Cuckoos scattered around, with a female trapped and ringed at Cristin, and two males at Nant; five Common Swifts over the southern end of the island and the first two Arctic Terns of the year over The Narrows.

In terms of the more common species, passerine figures stood at the following: 46 Swallows, one House Martin, seven White Wagtails, 38 Wheatears, 14 Sedge Warblers, one Whitethroat, one Garden Warbler, 15 Blackcaps, 10 Chiffchaffs and six Willow Warblers. Waders once again were a prominent feature due to a high tide forcing many onto a small area around The Narrows: two Ringed Plovers, eight Dunlins, one Bar-tailed Godwit, 25 Whimbrels, five Common Sandpipers and one Turstone were recorded.

one of the two male Cuckoos in Nant Valley

Ringed Plover