Monday, 28 July 2014

After some heavy rain showers overnight, it turned into a very pleasant and bright day, albeit with a nagging north-westerly wind. There was a good selection of notable species on show in the morning, which included a juvenile Mediterranean Gull over The Narrows, a flock of four Little Egrets over the West Side, and a Green Sandpiper in the Carreg Wetlands. There were far fewer migrants around in terms of warblers, but a large agglomeration of waders on the rocks near Solfach at high tide amounted to one Ringed Plover, six Dunlins, six Purple Sandpipers, three Whimbrels, 34 Curlews, five Redshanks and 22 Turnstones. Four Sandwich Terns and flew past out to sea.
This very smart Rosy Footman was trapped near Plas Withy yesterday, which is the first record for Bardsey. This species is local to the south of the UK, although does occur in west Wales. The larvae feed on lichens on the bark of trees. This is the  16th new macro moth species for Bardsey this year
Agonopterix ocellana- another new species for Bardsey 
Chrysopa pallens- this is a common species of Lacewing on Bardsey
Sandwich Tern and juvenile Oystercatcher
Purple Sandpiper
An appalling image, that nonetheless gives a useful comparison between a Curlew (right) and a Whimbrel (left)...(and a Redshank)

Sunday, 27 July 2014

There was a distinct change in the weather overnight, with the calm and very warm easterly winds being replaced by slightly chillier northerlies, and bringing in a few rain showers during the early hours. There was a very obvious change on the bird front too, with far fewer migrants around on the island: just 24 Willow Warblers were recorded, along with two Grasshopper Warblers and nine Sedge Warblers. Wader numbers are building again, as birds are being forced into more obvious locations with the higher spring tides: a single Knot and two Sanderlings were today's noteworthy additions.

We have trapped two smart Grasshopper Warblers in the last two days- this one found its way into a mist net at the observatory this morning

Saturday, 26 July 2014

It was another busy day, both in terms of avian migrants and new comers in the form of staying guests for the coming week(s). There was a somewhat smaller number of Willow Warblers around, although at least 100 were logged. The more noteworthy sightings from the morning comprised a Yellow Wagtail, a Grasshopper Warbler trapped in Ty-Pellaf Withy, a Greenshank over The Narrows, and an albino-type Willow Warbler at Nant.

The first few migrant Sedge Warblers are appearing around the island at the moment, although one or two pairs are still feeding young, such as these 
This odd albino-type Willow Warbler was seen at Nant in the late afternoon- although the wings do not look hugely pale, the impression in flight was quite striking, almost ghostly! 
Marbled Greens 
Eana osseana

Friday, 25 July 2014

There was a large arrival of Willow Warbler overnight into the 25th, and small numbers continued to move through the island from dawn to dusk. A total of 280 Willow Warblers were recorded, about 60 of which were trapped and ringed, whilst a selection of other warblers included nine Sedge Warblers, a Garden Warbler and four Chiffchaffs. Another juvenile Marsh Harrier graced the island today, with a bird circling above the observatory mid-morning. A selection of waders at high tide amounted to: one Lapwing, seven Sanderlings, six Dunlins, six Whimbrels, three Redshanks, four Common Sandpipers and two Turnstones.

Juvenile Marsh Harrier 
The juvenile Peregrine Falcons continue to linger around the island

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Autumn migration is really getting under way here on the island now, with this utterly stunning weather encouraging the steady movement of many species past and through the island. Temperatures are barely dropping below 20'C at night at the moment, and the absence of any breeze makes the daytime temperatures almost unbearable.

The 23rd saw a rather odd selection of notable species on the island, namely that of the first Mistle Thrush of the year at Ty Nesaf, a Great Spotted Woodpecker at Nant, and a Green Sandpiper over The Narrows. The latter of this trio was part of the continued arrival and departure of waders on the island, with totals today amounting to three Ringed Plovers, six Dunlins, one Snipe, four Whimbrels, 40 Curlews, six Redshanks and four Common Sandpipers. In terms of passerines, hirundine passage continues to be very tricky to estimate, with breeding birds becoming more mobile and mixing with the passing birds. There were 33 Willow Warblers on the island today, along with a new arrival of three Goldcrests.

In avian terms, it was one of the best days of July so far, with a great selection of oddities and new migrants putting in an appearance around the island. Best of the bunch was a brief sighting of a juvenile Yellow-legged Gull on The Narrows early morning, which is just the second record for Bardsey (the last was in 2009). A Black Guillemot made a quick visit into Henllwyn, whilst the first Marsh Harrier of 2014 glided over the mountain ridge. In other news, warbler numbers continue to increase in the vegetated areas, with a total of one Grasshopper Warbler, seven Sedge Warblers, 56 Willow Warblers and two Goldcrests recorded, along with one Spotted Flycatcher. Out to sea, ten Common Scoters, nine Purple Sandpipers ad two Meditteranean Gulls were seen.

A small flock of adult and juvenile (top two images) Dunlins have been making use of the abundance of food in Solfach recently, although have not ventured into the portable heligoland trap (as yet...) 
The juvenile Little Owls on Pen Crisin continue to give views  
The mist nets around Cristin were set up following the return of warden Steve Stansfield, which allowed about 12 birds to be ringed and processed during the day. Here is a good comparison image showing the difference between a worn adult Sedge Warbler (left) after breeding with a fresh juvenile bird (right) 
The Spectacle 
Caloptilia stigmatella
This Round-winged Muslin was trapped in Cristin Withy, and is new for Bardsey

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

There was a respectable arrival of migrants on the island overnight on the 21st, amounting to the first significant day of autumn passage so far this year. The most apparent southward-bound migrants around were bright juvenile Willow Warblers, with a total of 50 recorded in the island's vegetated areas. A good record concerned three Yellow Wagtails seen on The Narrows and the North End- this is a scarce migrant in the summer months on Bardsey. Other migrants recorded on the island included one Ringed Plover, three Whimbrels, 17 Common Sandpipers, two Collared Doves, 16 Swifts, 17 Sand Martins, two Grey Wagtails, three Sedge Warblers, a Spotted Flycatchers and six Lesser Redpolls.

The 22nd was a somewhat less eventful day, although it was still apparent that migrants were moving through the island. There was a light scattering of 18 Willow Warblers in the vegetated areas of the island, whilst less than eight Swifts and 12 Sand Martins flew overhead during the day. Two Sandwich Terns were seen around The Narrows, along a Greenshank, with a Snipe, three Whimbrels and 12 Common Sandpipers.

This bright male Yellow Wagtail was one of three seen on the 21st- a good record in the summer months on Bardsey. These are the first July records of Yellow Wagtail (flavissima) on Bardsey for at least eight years
Willow Warbler numbers on the island have abruptly increased in the last few days, from just one or two to yesterday's total of 50 birds, and about 20 today 
There are about 150 Linnets recorded on the island every day at the moment- many of them are making use of the seeds in the thistle heads, such as this male

Sunday, 20 July 2014

As autumn creeps ever closer, avian movements are becoming more obvious and one or two noteworthy species are beginning to turn up on the island. The star of the show on the 19th had to go to the fleeting Kingfisher which spent part of the aftrernoon in Solfach. This is the 19th record for Bardsey, after the last was seen very briefly in a gully near the Lighthouse in September 2009. After the thick fog had lifted somewhat on the 19th, a handful of waders were seen, which comprised a Ringed Plover, a Purple Sandpiper, five Dunlins, a Snipe, two Whimbrels, seven Redshanks, a Greenshank and five Common Sandpipers. Two Mediterranean Gulls passed over Henllwyn, a Grey Heron was seen on the South End, and five Swifts and a Sand Martin flew south.

A persistent bank of fog lay over the island throughout much of the day on the 20th, only disappearing towards the mid-afternoon. A juvenile Willow Warbler at Nant, is now the fifth of its kind to arrive on the island, although we can expect to see these arriving in their hundreds in the following month or so. Two Sandwich Terns were seen in Solfach, and a Whimbrel was present here too.

The family of Little Owls on Pen Cristin have been showing fantastically well for visitors in recent weeks. After remaining so conspicuous for three months (so much so that there were just one or two sightings of them up to May), the adults and two juveniles have been giving great views in the mature gorse bushes around Pen Cristin 
The last few broods of Wheatears have been fledging in the last few days 
Juvenile Peregrine Falcons from the two pairs on the island have been getting to grips with their power of flight, terrorising the fledged Chough chicks, Oystercatcher flocks and Ravens around the island
 There are plenty of Six-spot Burnets still on the wing- alive (top) and dead (bottom)- feeding on the Thistle heads and Hard head flowers along the trackside. The numbers, however, are much lower than last year, with just 20 records a day at the moment.

The conditions at the moment are perfect for moths: warm, humid and no wind. This, coupled with the low cloud cover and moonless nights, have brought a vista of new species and decent hauls to the moth traps and day-flying censuses. The highlights from the moth traps, in island terms, have included the first Light Emerald for Bardsey, the second Minor Shoulder-knot for the island, and the first Zeiraphera isertana and Aspilapteryx tringipennella for Bardsey! In addition to these scarcities, a brilliant find on the wild thyme on the slopes of Pen Cristin was this Tebenna micalis...
Tebenna micalis is a scarce immigrant from Southern Europe, that can become temporarily established in certain areas. The distribution maps for this species show few records straying into North Wales, and a scan on the North Wales Lepidoptera database indicates that there is just one previous record in North Wales. This species feeds on Common Fleabane, which is a very common plant on Bardsey
Marbled Green 
Zeiraphera isertana
Aspilapteryx tringipennella

Friday, 18 July 2014

It was an excellent couple of days on the island, with mixed weather conditions encouraging the first notable movement of southward-going migrants on the 18th. A calm and clear day on the 17th saw three Little Egrets flying south along the West Side in the early hours, which were followed by a further two birds later on. The first Black-tailed Godwit of the year similarly sped southward over the South End, whilst a Buzzard, two Grey Wagtails, 17 Swifts and a Sand Martin were also seen overhead.

Thunderstorms and some impressive lightning strikes were coupled with very strong easterly gusts overnight on the 18th, with temperatures barely dipping below 20'C. A steady trickle of hirundines and swifts over the island throughout the day saw a total of 12 Sand Martins, 23 House Martins, 40 Swallows and 11 Swifts logged. Two bright juvenile Willow Warblers at Cristin and Nant would seem to be migrants, whilst wader movements during the day involved a Ringed Plover, two Snipe, five Dunlin, a Sanderling, three Whimbrels, three Common Sandpipers and a Lapwing.

Armed with a new catch box (after the previous one was washed away with Solfach hide overwinter), the portable Heligoland trap was set up on Solfach on the 17th, with the aim of catching some of the Rock Pipits, Wheatears and Pied Wagtails which have been feeding on the beach...
Two Wheatears have been trapped and ringed so far, both juveniles such as this bird 
Six Rock Pipits have been trapped and fitted with colour rings as part of our on-going project into their winter dispersion on the island and further a field (as well as shedding some light on the origins of the birds which arrive during winter time and look very much like littoralis birds 
This Emperor Dragonfly-now about the fifth so far this year- was discovered on Pen Cristin on the 17th, happily munching away on an unfortunate bee. 
Linnet (top) and Meadow Pipit (lower) in the early morning light 
This lucky Pied Wagtail fledgling managed to procure a massive female Northern Eggar, which it then spent ten minutes trying to tear to bits and digest 
Endotricha flammealis