Sunday, 3 May 2015

After almost a week of relatively unsettled weather, there was a calm enough respite today to allow for the week's staying visitors to dash across the bouncy Bardsey sound and onto the island. This respite in wind strength and rain also produced some reasonable birding around the island: there was an excellent count of five Garden Warblers made during the day, two of which were trapped, and the first Common Swift of the year darted northward mid-afternoon. Besides the Garden Warblers, there were also 10 Sedge Warblers, three Whitethroats, 23 Blackcaps, 19 Chiffchaffs and 14 Willow Warblers in the vegetated areas . Some more passerine migrant counts comprised 23 Swallows, four House Martins, six White Wagtails and 32 Wheatears. In terms of non-passerines, singles of Black Guillemot, Sandwich Tern and Bar-tailed Godwit were the highlights, although a good show of waders also produced one Ringed Plover, nine Dunlins, 24 Whimbrels and five Curlews.

After a little drop of rain, the vegetation on the island is beginning to spring up, and the wetlands are beginning to liven up with the appearance of Cuckoo Flowers Cardamine pratensis

After a lot of coming and going, it seems that the alcids have now settled down onto the cliffs of the East Side, and it will not be long until many are on eggs

A surprised Dung Fly

Saturday, 2 May 2015

It was a very grim day weather-wise, and meant that most birds on the island were keeping a low profile. Sightings comprised a Reed Warbler at Cristin, eight Blackcaps, six Chiffchaffs and eight Willow Warblers .

Friday, 1 May 2015

It was a much calmer day, with an easterly element encouraging a decent scattering of arrivals on the island. There were some noteworthy sightings during the day, including the year's first Grey Plover, two Canada Geese, a Black Guillemot, a Buzzard and passerines such as singles Ring Ouzel, Grasshopper Warbler, Whinchat, Lesser Whitethroat and Common Redstart. Common migrant numbers included 36 Wheatears, one Sedge Warbler, four Whitethroats, 62 Blackcaps, 37 Chiffchaffs and 44 Willow Warblers, whilst a steady movement of hirundines over the island also amounted to a respectable 19 Sand Martins, 77 Swallows and 14 House Martins. Wader figures were reasonably high, especially at high tide: five Purple Sandpipers, one Dunlin, 23 Whimbrels, one Curlew, two Common Sandpipers and a Turnstone were recorded.



some of the Wheatear pairs are now at the stage of lining their nests

Whimbrels continue to arrive on the island, and we have even managed to see one of our own colour ringed birds- an individual which we ringed back in 2013!

Thursday, 30 April 2015

Something of a brief respite in the breezy conditions was all it took to bring a good number of migrants back onto the island, with a resurgence in the numbers of warblers around vegetated areas. Noteworthy species in the mix today included the first Garden Warbler of the year, a Yellowhammer at Nant, a male Firecrest and a Spotted Flycatcher. A decent tally of warblers comprised one Grasshopper Warbler, four Sedge Warblers, six Whitethroats, 57 Blackcaps, 23 Chiffchaffs and 50 Willow Warblers, whilst hirundine movements included the following figures : six Sand Martins, 63 Swallows and eight House Martins.

Willow Warblers

Oystercatchers are well dispersed around the coast now, and many are beginning to excavate their small depressions for incubating their mottled eggs


A couple of spiders discovered around Cristin in the last few days (please correct if species are not correct!)
Pardosa bifaasciata

Dysdera crocota

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

It was another day of strong winds from the south-west, which meant there were relatively few on the ground, although one Grasshopper Warbler, two Sedge Warblers, one Whitethroat, nine Blackcaps, 18 Chiffchaffs and 17 Willow Warblers were recorded in the vegetated areas. Wader numbers were quite high in the morning and evening, with the year's first Knot seen amongst seven Purple Sandpiper, one Dunlin, one Snipe, 22 Whimbrels, one Curlew, one Common Sandpiper and one Turnstone. There were two Merlins present around the coast, and 35 Swallows passed through.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

A day of strong south-westerly winds and clear skies made for much lower numbers of common migrants on the island. Seabird movements out to sea comprised 319 Manx Shearwaters, 43 Gannets, three Common Scoters, four Black-headed Gulls, 59 Kittiwakes and a Puffin. Overhead, just seven Swallows and one House Martin flew north; the male Firecrest remained in the Plantation, and a Spotted Flycatcher was present at Cristin.

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The view from above Cristin over to the South End and Bardsey Lighthouse

Monday, 27 April 2015

It was a relatively calm start to the day, which allowed for mist nets to be opened at several sites, and also provoked a small movement of migrants to take place. Tallies from the day included one Skylark, one Tree Pipit, nine White Wagtails, one Common Redstart, 48 Wheatears, one Grasshopper Warbler, two Sedge Warblers, two Reed Warblers, five Whitethroats, 48 Blackcaps, 28 Chiffchaffs, 23 Willow Warblers and a smart male Firecrest in the Plantation. Aside the scattering of migrants on terra firme, there was a movement of 11 Sand Martins, 40 Swallows and four House Martins North over the island, whilst a decent wader count around the rocky shoreline produced 134 Oystercatchers, one Purple Sandpiper, one Dunlin, one Bar-tailed Godwit, 11 Whimbrels, one Curlew and a Turnstone.

This was the first Reed Warbler to be trapped this year on the island

Whimbrel numbers are slowly building up at the moment, but seem to be quite low compared to what they should be

Many of the island's birds are collecting nesting material at the moment, such as Linnets and this Meadow Pipit

Sunday, 26 April 2015

A pleasant day of clear skies and lower wind speeds saw something of a return to 'normal' springtime migrant numbers. There remained a fair scattering of species around the island, however, with two Ring Ouzels present on the Mountain, the usual Black Redstart around the Abbey, a good tally of 66 Wheatears in the coastal fields, a respectable movement of nine Sand Martins, 155 Swallows and 31 House Martins North over the Mountain and West Coast, and a Lesser Whitethroat, a Grasshopper Warbler, four Whitethroats, 27 Blackaps, 19 Chiffchaffs, 35 Willow Warblers and two Goldcrests seen in the more vegetated areas. The Little Egret was once again present, along with a Bar-tailed Godwit around the Narrows, whilst one Red-breasted Merganser flew by at sea.

Black Redstart

This smart geometrid is a Shoulder Stripe, and was trapped near Nant Withy a couple of days ago. It is a new species for Bardsey
Shuttle-shaped Darts are usually only recorded once or twice a year, and so it is good to trap one already

Green-veined Whites are appearing all over the island now

Saturday, 25 April 2015

It was a day of very variable weather conditions, with periods of warm sunny weather followed by light drizzle and then a very chilly northerly wind bringing low cloud in the afternoon. It seemed that a reasonable clear-out of migrants had taken place overnight, certainly in terms of warblers: just 15 Blackcaps, 18 Chiffchaffs and 19 Willow Warblers were seen in the sheltered areas, along with two Grasshopper Warblers, four Sedge Warblers and two Whitethroats. There was a small movement of hirundines during the day, which included nine Sand Martins, 103 Swallows and six House Martins.  A Tree Pipit, 25 White Wagtails, the male Black Redstart at Nant and  37 Wheatears  represented other passerine migrants seen during the day. The usual Little Egret was present around The Narrows for its  seventh day, where a Bar-tailed Godwit was also seen.

Friday, 24 April 2015

Despite something of a change in weather conditions, it was once again another good day for common migrants, with many birds moving through the island and perhaps being held up by the more inclement conditions. Highlights from the day's ringing and censuses included the following: a flock of five Ring Ouzels over the Mountain, singles of Tree Pipit, Redwing and Spotted Flycatcher in the vegetated areas, and the usual Little Egret and Black Guillemot around The Narrows. Warbler counts for the day comprised five Grasshopper Warblers, six Sedge Warblers, six Whitethroats, 29 Blackcaps, 60 Chiffchaffs, 36 Willow Warblers and two Goldcrests.

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Ringing has been pretty astounding this month. In the last ten days we have ringed almost 1300 birds, and so far this month we had done over 1600. This graph illustrates the month's data. The yellow colour represents A ring, which are used on Blackcaps and Grasshopper Warblers for example, whilst AA rings are placed on species like Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff.


Blackcap numbers are just beginning to ease off now

This Little Egret is the longest staying bird for perhaps seven years

Linnets are busy gathering wool and small twigs for their nests within gorse bushes

Thursday, 23 April 2015

It was an utterly stunning day. Low winds from the south east in the morning and clear blue skies throughout meant that a continued movement of migrants took place through the island. Large numbers of common passerine migrants were recorded, and a respectable tally of noteworthy species were also seen. There were several species added to the 2015 species list during the day, namely that of the year's first Lesser Whitethroat at Cristin, Pied Flycatcher at Nant, four Greylag Geese over The Narrows and Greenshank in Henllwyn. There were also some good records of scarcities during the day, including the year's second Siberian Chiffchaff, a Little Egret in Henllwyn and a Black Guillemot off the South End. In terms of warblers, 115 Blackcaps, 89 Willlow Warblers and 39 Chiffchaffs took the top places for abundance, whilst six Grasshopper Warblers, 16 Sedge Warblers, a Reed Warbler and three Whitethroats were also logged. Total figures for other passerine migrants comprised three Skylarks, 43 Sand Martins, 91 Swallows, 8 House Martins, a Tree Pipit, a Song Thrush, 15 White Wagtails, 83 Wheatears, a Common Redstart, a Black Redstart and a single Ring Ouzel. It was a decent day for waders too, aside the Greenshank, with two Bar-tailed Godwits, two Ringed Plovers, five Dunlins, one Snipe, 12 Whimbrels, a Curlew and five Common Sandpipers recorded.

This smart male Black Redstart has been present for two days now, hanging around the Abbey at the North End

Swallows are beginning to return to a few of the out buildings on the island

Bar-tailed Godwit

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

It is easy to get blaze about both the conditions and number of birds around at the moment. However, it was a truly glorious day, with clear blue skies, a light easterly wind, and warm temperatures. Migrants continued to stream through the island, and surprisingly Blackcaps continued to prove one of the most numerous warbler, with 103 recorded during the day. This compares to four Grasshopper Warblers, one Sedge Warbler, three Whitethroats, 49 Willow Warblers and 43 Chiffchaffs. A more pronounced movement of hirundines produced 52 Swallows, 29 House Martins and eight Sand Martins, whilst the day's Wheatear count amounted to an impressive 112 birds, most of which were individuals of the greenland-race. Somewhat scarcer passerine migrants comprised a single Tree Pipit, a stunning male Black Redstart, a Ring Ouzel, a Song Thrush at Cristin, and the Blue-headed Wagtail from yesterday. In terms of non-passerines, the Little Egret continued to hang around The Narrows, along with a Snipe, five Whimbrels, a Curlew, and three Common Sandpipers.

Ringing activities continued from morning to late afternoon, and once again a rather ridiculous number of Blackcaps were added to the year's growing total for this species. A further 60 were ringed today, which takes the total for APRIL alone to 431 birds. The previous annual ringing record on the island is 280, so 2015 looks set to be a truly exceptional year for this species.

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Blackcap madness!

Other ringing highlights from the day:

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A Chiffchaff was trapped wearing a Belgium ring, which is the first phylloscopus control we have had so far this year

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A Willow Warbler wearing a control ring from the UK scheme turned out to have been ringed in Nanjizal, Cornwall, last year

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Sedge Warbler

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Grasshopper Warbler

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Yet another day of full-on migration saw the glorious weather continue. Warblers, wheatears and hirundines were noted passing through the island throughout the day, with the final tallies amounting to the following: 119 Swallows, 19 House Martins, 26 Sand Martins, one Tree Pipit, 71 Wheatears, eight Grasshopper Warblers, three Sedge Warblers, two Whitethroats, 90 Blackcaps, 53 Willow Warblers, 66 Chiffchaffs and six Goldcrests. In terms of scarce visitors, a Little Egret was seen in Henllwyn in the morning, a Black Guillemot was present in Traeth Ffynnon, and an interesting wagtail thought to be a Blue-headed Wagtail hung around with some 30 White Wagtails on Solfach.

This interesting flava wagtail was present on Solfach in the morning. Perhaps a 1st summer male Blue-headed Wagtail

White Wagtail

Many of the Chiffchaffs, Willow Warblers and Blackcaps are accumulating a lot of pollen on the feathers at the base of the bill. Many of the Blackcaps appear to be feeding on the nectar of the Damson blossom, and thus end up with yellow heads

Willow Warbler

Monday, 20 April 2015

There were somewhat lower numbers of migrants on the island today, but it was nevertheless a very pleasant and productive day. Hirundine passage was certainly more pronounced than the 19th, with birds heading into the fresh northerly wind throughout the day: 150 Swallows, 40 Sand Martins and 10 House Martins were recorded. Wheatears featured well once again, although the day's total of 43 is less than the 19th. A slow movement of warbler species through the island was perceptible, especially with the aid of ringing activities at Cristin (70 birds were ringed in the morning). Totals for warbler amounted to 59 Blackcaps, 38 Willow Warblers, 33 Chiffchaffs and one Goldcrest. In terms of scarce visitors and unusual sightings, a Little Egret was again seen in Henllwyn in the morning; a Great Tit over the South End was an intriguing record; and a Ring Ouzel gave brief views at Cristin. Wader numbers are very gradually increasing, with 13 Purple Sandpipers, two Dunlins, three Ringed Plovers, three Whimbrels, three Redshanks and a Common Sandpiper recorded around The Narrows today. Two Sandwich Terns flew South out to sea.


Hebrew Character

Red Sword-grass

Dark Sword-grass

Sunday, 19 April 2015

The continuation of the settled easterly winds and clear skies allowed migration through the island to continue in full force today, with hundreds of migrants logged during the day. A great selection of noteworthy species spiced the day's birding up even more, as did the ringing of almost 100 birds.

Notable sightings: a Little Egret (now the third of the year) gave brief views around the south tip in the early morning; a Stock Dove flew over the island, after the flock of two yesterday; a Canada Goose joined the usual feeding frenzy of gulls in Solfach; and the first Cuckoo and Spotted Flycatcher of 2015 arrived onto the island- the latter of these represents the earliest ever arrival date on the island, which was set in 1984 on 22 April. Finally, a Ring Ouzel above Nant was the first for a few days.

In terms of common migrants, there were good movements of Greenland-race Wheatears, yet more Blackcaps, phylloscopus warblers and White Wagtails. Blackcaps are having an astounding year on Bardsey, and this pattern seems to be repeated at other places, such as Skokholm (which is having a record spring for this species). A total of 71 were recorded today, and almost 50 of these were trapped and ringed, taking the year's ringing total well over 200. In terms of other warbler species, two Grasshopper Warblers, one Sedge Warblers, one Whitethroat, 40 Willow Warblers, 46 Chiffchaffs and two Goldcrests were seen. Wheatear passage was very pronounced with a total of 135 recorded; a Grey Wagtail, 47 White Wagtails, three Whimbrels, a Common Sandpiper and one Merlin were other sightings from the day.

Another good day of ringing saw around 90 birds trapped and ringed, adding to a pretty impressive total amassed from the last week of ringing 

first summer Blackcaps- this species is the most common species trapped at the moment, with 42 trapped and ringed today alone. The month's total is over 200 now, and so 2015 is set to be a record year 

this rather smart Common Redstart was trapped and ringed at Nant

Willow Warbler

Greenland-race Wheatear