Wednesday, 1 July 2015

July started with an enjoyable day in the field. Not even the brief rain showers could stop two Great Spotted Woodpeckers from being found first thing. The pair proceeded to tour the island taking in Traeth Ffennon, Nant, Ty Pellaf, The Withies, and Cristin on route.
The first Grey Wagtail of the autumn was found on the South End along with 27 Curlews, one Whimbrel, two Redshanks, and a Lapwing. West Coast passage was again evident with 17 Gannets, 25 Black-headed Gulls, and 35 Common Scoters heading south. Feeding in the Lowlands were 130 Starlings, whilst one Collared Dove, 21 Swifts, one Siskin, and three Grey Herons were also noted. A high count off 88 Puffins was made on the East Side in the afternoon from our ever increasing breeding colony.

Last but not least, the first Six-spot Burnet Moth took wing today in the Lowlands and a family party of Harbour Porpoise gave close views at the North End.

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

A sweltering day on Bardsey with a great selection of birds on offer. Star of the show went to a Hobby seen hawking over the lowlands early morning before being harassed south by the local Oystercatchers. Equally impressive was the movement of Swifts heading south. The final count of 263 was the highest day-total recorded since 2001.

Other particularly interesting sightings include passage down the West Coast of ten Mediterranean Gulls40 Gannets, one Grey Heron, and 47 Common Scoters. Elsewhere
five Curlews, 23 Black-headed Gulls, 21 Starlings, one Lesser Redpoll, and one Black Guillemot were seen.

Early morning saw a party of four Grey Herons heading south with up to 71 Gannets following suit. Small gull passage continued with three Mediterranean Gulls and two Black-headed Gulls seen heading south. It wont be too long before these gull numbers skyrocket with many thousands expected in the autumn. In addition, 19 Curlews frequented The Narrows and Pen Cristin, two Collared Doves were at Cristin, whilst three Swifts, two Siskins, and one Lesser Redpoll flew over.

Today also saw the year's first Swallow brood fledge at Ty Pellaf, whilst two Small Whites were found nearby and the first two Meadow Browns were spotted in the grassland.

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Today’s early morning drizzle and harsh winds quickly gave way into a great day of sunshine. Most of the avian action was out at sea with four adult Mediterranean Gulls south at midday, 32 Gannets passing by, whilst a continuous build-up of Manx Shearwaters throughout the week culminated in 2500 rafting off the coast. The Narrows held onto 12 Curlews and one Redshank though two Black-headed Gulls were new in Solfach. In addition, a lowly Collared Dove spent time at Cristin.

Little movement through the island today meant only 30 Gannets, 13 Curlews, and five Starlings were of note, though one of the semi-resident Black Guillemots put in an appearance at the North End.

In addition some of the first Large Whites of the year have appeared (in what has been a poor year for butterflies on Bardsey so far), an Emperor Dragonfly hawked at the North End, and a Risso’s Dolphin showed well in Bae Nant to one lucky observer.

A Great Spotted Woodpecker seen flying from Cristin into Plas Withy mid-morning was the clear highlight of the day. A count of 143 Oystercatchers was the highest for many months, no doubt breeding pairs supplemented by return migration of failed breeders from further north, as the additional singles of Ringed Plover, Curlew, and Redshank allude to. Elsewhere, two Black-headed Gulls and two Starlings were new in.

Thursday, 25 June 2015

A variable day with thick mist at times with the odd burst of bright sunshine. Up to 900 Manx Shearwaters rafted around the coast with 13 Gannets and 23 Common Scoters spied amongst them. A party of four Mediterranean Gulls loitered in Solfach briefly in the afternoon before heading off south. Elsewhere three Starlings continued their stay and four Grey Herons were recorded along the coastline.

A Peach Blossom caught overnight in the moth trap was a welcome surprise, a scarce (but increasing) moth for the island.

It was much of the same today with 18 Gannets and six Common Scoters recorded at sea. The Narrows held one Grey Heron, one Curlew, and one Redshank, with one Collared Dove, one Swift, and three Starlings present elsewhere.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

With little migrants around (and staff all taking a well-deserved post-bunting rest), the normal Bardsey routine resumed on the 23rd. Up to 24 Gannets were seen out to sea and 15 Common Scoters flew south along West Coast. The Narrows held two Grey Herons and six Curlews whilst one Common Sandpiper at the North End was the first of autumn passage. A cracking adult Mediterranean Gull was perhaps the highlight of the day as it drifted down the coastline whilst two Collared Doves, eight Swifts, nine Starlings, and three Siskins were also recorded.

Still buzzing from the bunting!!
A few more shots from last week.....

And back to normality, a Meadow Pipit 

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Due to no sign of the Cretzschmar's Bunting today all future twitch boat trips are cancelled

Normal day trip service will resume with Colin Evans. Those wishing to day trip visit or leave a message at 07971 769895. 

Those wishing to stay at the observatory visit or alternatively ring 01626 773908 for details.

If the Bunting re-appears news will be broadcast swiftly and trips re-organised.

A big thanks once again for all who came over these last 10 days who behaved fantastically, to Colin for going above and beyond to run a sterling boat service, and of course the bird for performing admirably. We hope to see many of you again soon.

Friday, 19 June 2015

Bunting Twitch for Sat 20 June


Boats Depart Port Meudwy

Boat 1 Depart 0530 - Arrives Bardsey 0600 --- Departs Bardsey 1150

Boat 2 Depart 0630 - Arrives Bardsey 0700 --- Departs Bardsey 1250

Boat 3 Depart 0730 - Arrives Bardsey 0800 --- Departs Bardsey 1350

Boat 4 Depart 0830 - Arrives Bardsey 0900 --- Departs Bardsey 1450

Boat 5 Depart 0930 - Arrives Bardsey 1000 --- Departs Bardsey 1650

To be able to move all the week staying visitors and get 60 birders to the island, Colin has had to extend birders stay on the island and you will need to depart after c6 hours. However, we can only accommodate MAX 36 birders at the bunting site, so we will stagger viewings during the morning. We will need your co-operation on site on Saturday. Boats 1-3 will be asked to leave the site in order to let boats 4-5 see the bird (assuming you have seen it.) Once all birders have had a chance to see the bird we can try and rotate viewings until your scheduled departure times. It is NOT POSSIBLE to get all 60 birders in the very small viewing space at any one time, so your co-operation and patience will be appreciated.

Thanks in advance - Steve

Thursday, 18 June 2015

After something of a respite in the bunting twitch yesterday due to bad weather, it was full steam ahead today, and a further 97 visiting birders were able to connect with this stunning visitor. Boats were run by Colin Evans from 0530 through to late afternoon, and many happy boat loads of birders were ferried back and forth. The Cretzschmar's Bunting itself performed well, showing up on its little seed stash for a few minutes every hour or so. Boat times for the tomorrow are re-posted above, for those that have booked in and are confirmed to be arriving. A big thanks to Lee Evans for taking the trouble of organising everyone into these trips, and thus relieving a massive workload from observatory staff and the boatman.

In other news... a single Swift flew over the south end, a Little Owl showed well at the North End, two Black Guillemots were present in Nant Valley, a Spotted Flycatcher arrived onto the rocks in Henllwyn, and two Red-veined Darters were seen.

Cretzschmar's Bunting- more images of this awesome bird on

Thrift Clearwings are present in small numbers on the south end

Purple Bar

The Spectacle

**Cretzschmar's Bunting boat times**


Please try to get to Porth Meudwy at least one hour early and if there are any 'NO-SHOWS' Colin will try and shuffle people forward.

Remember the quay is about 15 minute walk from the car park.

Only passengers who have pre-booked for these two days will be carried to the island.

See for list of names due on each crossing. This will be updated periodically if there are folk drop out. 

PLEASE NOTE - Boats will only run if the weather is fine. Please check this web site and twitter (@bardseyobs) on Wednesday evening to find out if the weather is fine for boats to run. The decision of the boatman is final and Please do not try to pressurise Colin into running if he says that the Weather is unfit.

Cost is £30 per person in cash payable to Colin Evans (no cards or cheques please) and a suggested donation to the Observatory of £10 at the bunting site.


Boats Depart Port Meudwy (see map at end)

Boat 1 Depart 0530 - Arrives Bardsey 0600 --- Departs Bardsey 0900

Boat 2 Depart 0630 - Arrives Bardsey 0700 --- Departs Bardsey 1000

Boat 3 Depart 0730 - Arrives Bardsey 0800 --- Departs Bardsey 1100

Boat 4 Depart 0830 - Arrives Bardsey 0900 --- Departs Bardsey 1200

Boat 5 Depart 0930 - Arrives Bardsey 1000 --- Departs Bardsey 1300

Boat 6 Depart 1130 - Arrives Bardsey 1200 --- Departs Bardsey 1600

Boat 7 Depart 1230 - Arrives Bardsey 1300 --- Departs Bardsey 1640


Boats Depart Port Meudwy (see map at end)

Boat 1 Depart 0530 - Arrives Bardsey 0600 --- Departs Bardsey 1150

Boat 2 Depart 0630 - Arrives Bardsey 0700 --- Departs Bardsey 1250

Boat 3 Depart 0730 - Arrives Bardsey 0800 --- Departs Bardsey 1350

Boat 4 Depart 0830 - Arrives Bardsey 0900 --- Departs Bardsey 1450

Boat 5 Depart 0930 - Arrives Bardsey 1000 --- Departs Bardsey 1650

To be able to move all the week staying visitors and get 60 birders to the island, Colin has had to extend birders stay on the island and you will need to depart after c6 hours. However, we can only accommodate MAX 36 birders at the bunting site, so we will stagger viewings during the morning. We will need your co-operation on site on Saturday. Boats 1-3 will be asked to leave the site in order to let boats 4-5 see the bird (assuming you have seen it.) Once all birders have had a chance to see the bird we can try and rotate viewings until your scheduled departure times. It is NOT POSSIBLE to get all 60 birders in the very small viewing space at any one time, so your co-operation and patience will be appreciated.

Thanks in advance - Steve



Boat 1 Depart 0530 - Arrives Bardsey 0600 --- Departs Bardsey 0900
Boat 2 Depart 0630 - Arrives Bardsey 0700 --- Departs Bardsey 1000


Boat 4 

Boat 5 

Boat 6 

Boat 7 

Times will be announced later if the bird is still here

Remember to be there on time -  the quay is about 15 minute walk from the car park.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Apologies for the somewhat irregular and patchy updates in the last few days, but has been pretty hectic, to say the least! After the realisation that the Cretzschmar's Bunting was settled and performing quite reliably, the interest in seeing the bird escalated rather rapidly in a national scale. A total of 97 people visited the island yesterday to see the bird, and all were treated to at least a brief view of the bunting as it went about feeding on some seed that had been placed out in the lighthouse compound. A further three boat loads of birders were ferried across this morning, but deteriorating weather conditions meant afternoon trips were a no go, and also that there would be no crossings tomorrow. It has easily been the biggest twitch in Bardsey's history. Fingers crossed that the bird will remain so that those booked in for boat trips on Thursday and Friday will be able to see this stunning visitor.

In other news, today has brought many other exciting birds to our shore...two Quails were flushed from the north-west heath in the early morning, and one was subsequently trapped and ringed via use of a drag-net. This becomes the first to be ringed on the island since May 2008. Singles of first-summer Mediterranean, Black-headed and Common Gulls flew past the island in the morning, whilst three Curlews, a Whimbrel and two Black Guillemots were also recorded. In terms of passerines, two Whitethroats, two Blackcaps and three Chiffchaffs were seen, along with four Starlings.

first-summer male Cretzschmar's Bunting

The very smart female Quail that was trapped and ringed at the north end

A few of the visiting birders have been lucky enough to see some Thrift Clearwings whilst waiting for the bunting to perform near the Lighthouse

Sunday, 14 June 2015

A fantastic day's birding saw the male CRETZSCHMAR'S BUNTING reappear in the early morning, singing around the walls of the Lighthouse compound on the South End. A total of six boat loads of birders were ferried on by Colin Evans, and all very happily connected with the bird, as it showed on and off throughout the day. It was feeding in some areas of rough ground around the compound, but would periodically hide in the long grass out of view. It was last seen at about 1900 in the same place, and efforts to relocate the bird will start at 0500 tomorrow morning...


Boats dep. from Porth Meudwy (LL53 8DA) at 0730 - dep. the island at 1500, then at 0830 to 

1635, 0930-1715, 1130-1800, 1520-1845, 1620-1930

In other news, there was a Black Redstart present at the lighthouse, along with three Starlings, whilst a handful of Thrift Clearwings were also present nearby. 

View image on Twitter

Friday, 12 June 2015

Map showing Porth Meudwy and the car park.Follow the track to the cove where the boat departs.
The male CRETZSCHMAR'S BUNTING was re-found midday, when it was heard singing near the South End wall. After a brief search it showed on the dirt track, before flying northward towards Ty Pellaf, and disappearing towards the observatory. About half an hour later, the bird was found feeding in Traeth Ffynnon, where most of the island's birders and visitors managed to connect with this rather stunning bird. At about 1300, the bunting flew over onto bank near Cafn, before disappearing for the rest of the day. 

In other news there was a male Cuckoo at Ty Pellaf, one Whitethroat, three Blackcaps, three Chiffchaffs, three Willow Warblers and a Spotted Flycatcher were all new birds, many of them ringed and with brood patches present. This indicates some early southward movements of failed breeders already. This was further supported by the appearance of nine Curlews and 16 Starlings whilst an Arctic Skua, three Sandwich Terns and a Whimbrel were also seen.

Thursday, 11 June 2015

An utterly stunning day with the year's warmest temperatures so far saw a good selection of common migrants on show, but fortunately there was no sing of yesterday's mega. Some nice sightings during the day included a singing male Black Redstart in Henlwwyn, a single Lapwing, four Blackcaps, six Chiffchaffs, one Willow Warbler, three Spotted Flycatchers and a Lesser Redpoll.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Cretzchmar's Bunting!!!

Well...what a day!!! Unfortunately it has been a very frustrating day for all but three lucky observers...
At about 1115 this morning, two visiting birders staying for the week photographed this rather stunning adult male bunting on the track near Plas. Shortly after this, the images were shown to Steve Stansfield, and the species was confirmed as being a Cretzchmar's Bunting- a first for Wales and just the sixth record for the UK!!! After the news was radioed out to all the birders on the island, a search took place around Plas to try and relocate the bird. After about an hour, one lucky observer managed to get a brief view of the bird as it dropped down onto the dirt track. Unfortunately, the bird then flew up and into the back garden of the observatory, and was not seen again. The island was covered thoroughly by all birders present, and despite best efforts to relocate this mega bird, we drew a blank. We are hoping that it way re-appear tomorrow, but otherwise you will just have to make do by drooling at Elfyn Lewis's shots of the bird...

View image on Twitter
Cretzchmar's Bunting

Monday, 8 June 2015

A very pleasant day with stunning clear skies and sunny conditions was nevertheless accompanied by a nagging and very chilly northerly wind. A scattering of noteworthy sightings comprised the following: a good gathering of waders around The Narrows, with the year's first Black-tailed Godwit, five Curlews, two Purple Sandpipers and three Ringed Plovers. Inland, singles of Common Redstart and Song Thrush were recorded along with nine Sedge Warblers, two Whitethroats, one Blackcap, five Chiffchaffs, three Willow Warblers, five Spotted Flycatchers and a Lesser Redpoll. A single Swift flew overhead with one Grey Wagtail.

Sunday, 7 June 2015

It was a busy changeover day due to unsettled weather on Saturday, although there was still time to have a search of the island for new arrivals. There was another good selection of migrant lepidoptera noted around the coast, including a Painted Lady, two Rush Veneers and one Diamond-back Moth. In terms of birds, the highlight of the day was not discovered until the last hour of the day: this was in the form of a Common Rosefinch in Ty Pellaf Withy, which put in a grand appearance of about eight seconds, before disappearing. New migrants elsewhere included the following: two Buzzards, one Whimbrel, four Collared Doves, two Sand Martins, 66 Swallows, 11 House Martins, one Grey Wagtail, one Blackcap and 14 Spotted Flycatchers.

Esperia sulphurella

Saturday, 6 June 2015

It was a day of strong westerly winds, accompanied with clear blue skies and mild temperatures. There were few new arrivals around, although an immature male Cuckoo remained at Nant, where a single Little Owl put in an appearance; four Spotted Flycatchers were scattered around the vegetated areas. In terms of waders, singles of Curlew, Whimbrel and Turnstone were recorded, whilst a passage of 675 Manx Shearwaters, 43 Gannets and 220 Kittiwakes was observed at sea.

Little Owl

Spotted Flycatcher


Friday, 5 June 2015

It was a great day on the island, getting off to a good start in the morning when a first summer female Red-breasted Flycatcher was trapped in the Heligoland trap at Cristin. This is the first one of the year, and is the first spring bird since 2013. A reasonable scattering of other migrants in the morning included a male Cuckoo, two Tree Pipits, one Reed Warbler, three Whitethroats, two Blackcaps and 17 Spotted Flycatchers. An interesting sighting in the morning concerned that of a Long-eared Owl, which flew around the North End, before heading north-east into the gull colony.

View image on Twitter
Red-breasted Flycatcher

We have been undertaking a lot of surveys and ringing operations on the East Side in the last week or so, counting all of the breeding seabirds and ringing those which are accessible and big enough to ringed

Shag chick

Guillemot eggs

Carrion Crow chick

Thursday, 4 June 2015

A stunning day of low winds, clear blue skies and warm temperatures saw a good variety of species to be seen. A small movement of hirundines and Swifts overhead saw 10 Swifts, five Sand Martins, 97 Swallows and 59 House Martins passing overhead, and 10 Sedge Warblers, three Whitethroats, one Blackcap, eight Chiffchaffs, three Willow Warblers and 10 Spotted Flycatchers were seen in the vegetated areas. A single Ringed Plover, four Sanderlings, a Curlew and one Turnstone represented the day's wader counts.

It was a good day for day-flying lepidoptera, with hundreds of Celypha cespitana and Lobesia littoralis recorded on the East Side, along with Teleiopsis diffinis, Bryotropha domestica, Pyrausta despicata and Elachista argentella. The highlight of the day went to the discovery of the year;s first Thrift Clearwing just above Seal Cave.

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

It was a very pleasant day on the island, and much of daylight hours were spent counting and surveying the island's seabirds, from Manx Shearwaters to Kittiwakes. Some good counts were made, including 1000 Guillemots and 1592 Razorbills, plus the year's first two Storm Petrels calling in some rock crevices. In terms of fresh migrants, a reasonable scattering of records comprised three Sand Martins, 243 Swallows and 13 House Martins heading south, plus a Flava Wagtail, nine Sedge Warblers, six Whitethroats, two Garden Warblers, one Blackcap, three Chiffchaffs, six Willow Warblers and 24 Spotted Flycatchers.

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

A bright and breezy day saw a good amount of sea passage taking place, with six Fulmars, 894 Manx Shearwaters, 61 Gannets, two Common Scoters, 52 Kittiwakes, 83 Guillemots, 663 Razorbills and 41 Puffins recorded. A very light scattering of waders including singles of Ringed Plover, Dunlin, Turnstone and Whimbrel. In terms of passerines, a count of five Spotted Flycatchers was recorded, along with one Blackcap and four Willow Warblers.



Scalloped Hazel

Monday, 1 June 2015

One of the wildest days of the spring was not perhaps to be expected on the first of June. However, winds gusting over 50mph were accompanied with lashing rain and temperatures as low as 4'C. This combination did not encourage a particularly exciting selection of sightings, although the following was recorded during the day: one Ringed Plover, two Sanderling, one Curlew, a Common Swift, three Sedge Warblers, one Chiffchaff, four Willow Warblers and four Spotted Flycatchers.

Sunday, 31 May 2015

A day of bright blue skies, fresh winds and mild temperatures saw a reasonable selection of avian species on show, the most noteworthy of which was the Shore Lark, present for its second day on the island. Out to sea, a single Arctic Tern flew past, along with nine Fulmars, 1098 Manx Shearwaters, 25 Gannets, 312 Kittiwakes, 195 Guillemots, 230 Razorbills and one Puffin,.Five Spotted Flycatchers and three Siskins were the only passerine migrants of note.

Shore Lark

Ruby-tailed Wasp (Chrysis ignita)

Common Marbled Carpet

Saturday, 30 May 2015

It was perhaps one of the most enjoyable days of the spring for birding, with a lovely duo of scarcities appearing on the island. First up at about 0800 was a stunning male Shore Lark, discovered feeding the arable fields at the North End. This is a very unseasonal record (the last sighting in the UK was at Cleveland on the 4th of May), and is also the first Bardsey record since 1997! The bird spent all of the day feeding in the same arable field, giving very good views. Mid-morning, a very smart male Hen Harrier drifted over the track, and in the next half hour gave brilliant views as it quartered over the Narrows, Wetlands and North End. In addition to these, an Arctic Skua flew past the South End in the morning; two Sand Martins, 47 Swallows and 22 House Martins flew north over the island; and three Spotted Flycatchers were scattered around.

Shore Lark (c) Steve Stansfield

Friday, 29 May 2015

In terms of movements overhead, figures included a single Swift, two Sand Martins, 114 Swallows and eight Sand Martins. A small number of new arrivals in the vegetated areas included eight Sedge Warblers, four Blackcaps and 19 Spotted Flycatchers. A handful of waders around The Narrows included one Dunlin, five Sanderlings and one Curlew.

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Something of a bright and breezy day was spent largely carrying out various breeding bird surveys and counts. We are currently a third of the way through counting the number of Manx Shearwater burrows on the East Side of the island, to get an idea of the island's total number of breeding birds. Several nests of Wheatears were found in the afternoon and the chicks were duly ringed. In terms of migrants, there were counts of 2105 Manx Shearwaters, 31 Gannets, one Dunlin, one Sanderling, two Whimbrels and 282 Kittiwakes off the island's coast, whilst 123 Swallows, nine House Martins, four Sedge Warblers, one Whitethroat and one Blackcap inland. A single Little Egret over the North End was perhaps the most notable sighting of the day.

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Ten Wheatear chicks were ringed during the day

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

It was a day of marked contrasts: conditions in the early morning were simply stunning, with not a breath of wind, glorious sunshine and warm temperatures. However, by 2pm a cloud bank had rolled over, the wind picked up substantially and heavy rain set in. Counts of migrants in the morning included two Skylarks, eight Sedge Warblers, one Whitethroat, two Blackcaps, eight Chiffchaffs, two Goldcrests, two Spotted Flycatchers and a Lesser Redpoll. Another reasonable hirundine passage consisted of one House Martins, 115 Swallows and 27 House Martins. Non-passerine totals comprised 590 Manx Shearwaters, 30 Gannets, four Common Scoters, two Sparrowhawks, one Buzzard, two Ringed Plovers, two Dunlins, one Curlew, three Turnstones and two Black-headed Gulls.

All of the island's Stonechats now have young, with some as many as five chicks