Sunday, 19 November 2017

With all observatory staff now off the island for the winter coverage will be fairly low, however blog posts and tweets of sightings will be available periodically. 

A calm spell, sometimes rare around this time of year, allowed for a few mist nets to be opened in the observatory garden this morning. Although ringing was fairly quiet, small numbers of migrants were recorded throughout the day including an extremely bizarre record to follow...

Small numbers of finches were still moving through, namely Chaffinches of which 23 were recorded, but with them were also two Bramblings, and singles of Greenfinch, Siskin, Goldfinch and also three Skylarks passing overhead. Reasonable numbers of thrushes were also noted, mostly around the gardens. A Mistle Thrush, possibly the same individual seen recently was rattling around the Observatory garden along with a female Great Spotted Woodpecker, whilst 14 Blackbirds, two Fieldfares, seven Song Thrushes and two Redwings were also present. A total of 36 Woodpigeons were present, whilst an immature female Sparrowhawk, Common Buzzard, Merlin, Peregrine Falcon, a Little Owl, a couple of Meadow Pipits and Goldcrests played supporting cast.

Very smart adult male Chaffinch ringed this morning
Smart tertials with well defined fringing, broad tail, central tail feathers with dark markings and deep black glossy primary coverts matching in tone and strength with greater coverts, primaries and the rest of the wing, all point towards this individual being an adult bird
This little Goldcrest was ringed this year on the 25th of October in the observatory garden and re trapped this morning , keeping a steady weight of 5.2 grams which was its weighed when first trapped
Perhaps the most unusual record was that of an extremely late Corncrake discovered at Carreg Bach, one of the small houses on the island. Attention was drawn to a small gathering of seemingly adgetated Wrens and Dunnoks along a stonewall and fence line bordering the house. On closer inspection nothing seemed out of the ordinary until a Corncrake burst out of the long grass, taking flight and heading south along the side of the mountain before diving into cover again. It’s streaky mantle, short gingery upper wings and small stout bill visible in flight. The individual was tracked down again and was briefly seen stealthily winding its way through dead strands of bracken before taking flight again and disappearing into dense gorse. A rare sighting in Wales, even more so given the time of year.

A good contender for worst record shot
A flock of 20 Purple Sandpipers were present just off shore on Carreg yr Honwy whilst other waders included two Common Snipes and a Redshank on the West Coast. A Shelduck, 14 Common Scoter, 38 Guillemots, four Razorbills and a small number of gulls including 19 Black-headed Gulls, three Common Gulls and ten Kittiwakes were numbers on a brief look out to sea off the West Coast

Friday, 10 November 2017

A lot of today was spent cleaning down the Obs and that, alongside the general quietness that has descended upon Bardsey, ensured for a limited list of highlights. A Brent Goose off the North End was the most notable sighting, while also passing offshore were very small totals of 76 Razorbills, 12 Black-headed Gulls, two Common Gulls and two Mediterranean Gulls. On land 458 Starlings were the only common migrant, and a paltry list of other migrants included two Water Rails, one Skylark, seven Robins, three Stonechats, 14 Blackbirds, two Song Thrushes, a Redwing, two Chiffchaffs, seven Goldcrests, a lingering Firecrest and a single Linnet.

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Aside from a light scattering of migrants on the land first thing in the morning, which quickly dissipated, it was very quiet today. The commonest species were 758 Starlings and 144 Redwings, but otherwise just a tiny trickle of migrants were seen. A Short-eared Owl in the Wetlands and a new Bulfinch at Cristin were the most notable, while a Firecrest and a Great Spotted Woodpecker both remained from previous days (it's surely been a record-breaking autumn for the latter species, and a very good one for the former as well). Otherwise the list of highlights was remarkably scant; two Water Rails, an increase to 52 Curlews, one Stonechat, 13 Blackbirds, four Song Thrushes, two Chiffchaffs, five Goldcrests, three Goldfinches and three Lesser Redpolls the best that could be mustered up.

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

A considerably improved day was enjoyed today.  Amongst an increased finch passage came 39 Chaffinches, four Bramblings, two Greenfinches, two Siskins, 18 Goldfinches, 27 Linnets and three Lesser Redpolls. Some of the day's most notable grounded migrants were Short-eared Owl on the South End, a season high of 76 Rock Pipits, a Black Redstart on the Narrows and a Firecrest at Cristin, while the most numerous were 465 Starlings, and a flock of 35 Rooks over Cristin were also notable. Otherwise a good supporting cast included two Water Rails, a Great Spotted Woodpecker, 39 Skylarks, 22 Meadow Pipits, an alba Wagtail, 20 Robins, two Stonechats, 23 Blackbirds, one Fieldfare, eight Song Thrushes, two Redwings, two Chiffchaffs and two Reed Buntings.

Out to sea the first Great Skua of the month passed by, but passage was very modest, 72 Black-headed Gulls the only species occurring in any numbers, and two Common Scoters adding a bit of variety. However, a good selection of Waders on the Narrows included four Lapwings, 35 Purple Sandpipers (the highest count of the year), three Snipes, a Whimbrel, 32 Redshanks and 33 Turnstones, while two Grey Herons were also present today.

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

There was a subtle increase in passage today, with quite a good variety of birds on the island. The most obvious movers were chats and thrushes, including three Black Redstarts at Cafn, five Stonechats, 30 Robins, 25 Blackbirds, eight Song Thrushes and 41 Redwings. A late Swallow was the most unusual sighting of the day, while the support cast of passerines included a Merlin, three Water Rails, a Great Spotted Woodpecker, 26 Rock Pipits, 14 Goldcrests, two Firecrests, two Chiffchaffs and two Blackcaps. 

An increase in sea passage saw 531 Kittiwakes, 122 Razorbills and 87 Black-headed Gulls moving in large numbers, alongside a single Common Scoter, a Sabine's Gull (our 35th of the year!), seven Common Gulls, nine Mediterranean Gulls and six Guillemots. Meanwhile, amongst a good selection of waders a Jack Snipe was in the Lowlands and Redshanks had increased noticeably to 32, with five Purple Sandpipers and a Lapwing also on the Narrows.

Monday, 6 November 2017

The only sightings of note today all came from land. In the Wetlands 11 Snipes and a Jack Snipe were seen, the latter narrowly avoiding attempts to drag net it (although a Snipe caught at the time, the third of the year, was a good bycatch), while a Woodcock was in the Obs Garden in the morning. There was also a single Merlin on the South End, while 19 Woodpigeons were new in.

The only common passerine migrants were 177 Starlings, 46 Chaffinches, 25 Blackbirds, 13 Song Thrushes, 15 Robins and 16 Goldcrests, but a decent selection of other species were seen, including one Water Rail, one new Great Spotted Woodpecker, two Skylarks, two Stonechats, a Fieldfare, six Redwings, five Bramblings and three Lesser Redpolls.

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Another quiet day, although with a notable highlight of a Little Auk past the North End. There were also two Brent Geese on the South End and a Little Egret on Henllwyn. Other species were very limited, out to sea there were 277 Kittiwakes, 133 Guillemots, three Gannets, two Mediterranean Gulls, 82 Black-headed Gulls and five Common Gulls. 205 Starlings on the Narrows were the only notable passerine, otherwise there were nine Chaffinches, eight Goldcrests and three Chiffchaffs.

Saturday, 4 November 2017

A very quiet day overall, with one of the most notable sightings a Pale-bellied Brent Goose in Solfach. Otherwise, a very low selection of migrants included 150 Starlings, 31 Chaffinches, 24 Blackbirds and 20 Robins. The blythii type Lesser Whitethroat remained at Ty Pellaf for its third day, while a very small selection of other migrants featured one Water Rail, one Stonechat, two Song Thrushes, three Redwings, two Blackcaps, two Chiffchaffs and a Bullfinch, while on the Narrows there was a noticeable increase to 72 Curlews.

Friday, 3 November 2017

Overall it was pretty quiet today, although with a few notable increases such as three Merlins, three Woodcocks, 33 Blackbirds, 336 Starlings and 40 Rock Pipits, about half of the latter heading south over the South End in the days only notable vismig. The interesting-looking Lesser Whitethroat was at Ty Pellaf for its second day, and a Black Redstart at the Boathouse, to add a bit of quality to the day's other migrants, which included three Snipes, two Grey Wagtails, four alba Wagtails, 34 Robins, a Fieldfare, 11 Song Thrushes, six Redwings, two Blackcaps, nine Chiffchaffs, 13 Goldcrests, three Long-tailed Tits, two Reed Buntings and a small selection of finches; 49 Goldfinches was a notable increase and 28 Chaffinches, three Bramblings, a Greenfinch, eight Siskins,14 Linnets, two Lesser Redpolls and a Bullfinch were also seen.

About an hours seawatching gave some reasonable passage of 219 Black-headed Gulls, 102 Kittiwakes and 130 Razorbills, with quality coming from singles of Red-throated and Great Northern Diver, four Gannets (the first in several days), 20 Common Scoters, eight Mediterranean Guls and three Common Gulls.

Thursday, 2 November 2017

There were a few sightings of note today, almost all on land, with migration for the most part now petering out. A Stock Dove on Pen Cristin was the first sighting of the year, while two unusual species showed up in the gardens at Ty Pellaf, a very late Willow Warbler and another Blythii type Lesser Whitethroat. Also notable were at least 20 Long-tailed Tits roaming around the island today.

Otherwise it was a fairly typical selection of migrants for early November, almost all in slowly decreasing numbers. Thrushes numbered 29 Blackbirds, two Fieldfares, 19 Song Thrushes and four Redwings, while a very modest scattering of finces amounted to 20 Chaffinches, five Bramblings, a Goldfinch, four Siskins, two Linnets, three Lesser Redpolls and a Bullfinch. The rest of the grounded migrants included two Water Rails, a Great Spotted Woodpecker (probably all lingering from previous days), nine Skylarks, one Pied and one "alba" Wagtail, 37 Robins, six Stonechats, three Blackcaps, 11 Chiffchaffs, 25 Goldcrests, 89 Starlings and four Reed Buntings.

The only other sightings of note were two Teals in Henllwyn and four Mediterranean Gulls offshore.

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

A moderately improved selection of migrants greeted us on the first day of November. The highlights included a Woodcock on the Mountainside, a Black Redstart at Cristin and six new Long-tailed Tits that roamed widely around the island; first seen heading south over the Narrows, then returning to the Obs where they were ringed, and by late afternoon tracking their way North through Carreg Bach and Nant Valley, after which they presumably departed back to the mainland. The two commonest species were 165 Chaffinches and 40 Robins, with otherwise low numbers but good diversity. Finches included seven Bramblings, 15 Siskins, four Goldfinches, 13 Linnets, eight Lesser Redpolls, a Bullfinch and two Reed Buntings, while a small selection of chats and Thrushes included three Stonechats, 19 Blackbirds, a Fieldfare, four Song Thrushes and five Redwings. Also noted were a Merlin, two Snipes in the Wetlands, 62 Curlews and 40 Turnstones on Carreg Yr Honwy, two Whimbrels, 21 Meadow and 24 Rock Pipits, six Blackcaps, 12 Chiffchaffs, 23 Goldcrests, one Firecrest, two Coal Tits, one Great Tit and 43 Starlings. It was very quiet out to sea, with just two Common Gulls and a Mediterranean Gull of note.

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

One of the quiestest days in weeks befell the island today. A Siberian Chiffchaff was the only new migrant of note, while otherwise an extremely modest selection came to one Water Rail, 16 Robins, two Song Thrushes, ten Blackbirds, ten Goldcrests, three Chiffchaffs, one Blackcap, 86 Starlings, a Coal Tit, a Bullfinch, five Lesser Redpolls, three Siskins and 11 Chaffinches. A Hummingbird Hawk-moth was also seen at the Obs, notable so late in the year.

Monday, 30 October 2017

The Yellowhammer caught this morning

It was a slightly bonkers first few hours of the day, with flocks of many birds constantly passing overhead. To start with, the dominant species was Woodpigeons, of which 830 were counted. This wouldn't be a notable count at all at many mainland vis-mig points (the average reader could probably get that many passing over their garden in a day when migration is good!), but Bardsey isn't your average vis-mig site. Woodpigeon flocks just don't get here normally, our previous day record of 300 was set back in 1976, and this count therefore increases the record by about 176%! That in itself was pretty good going, but plenty more passed overhead. Corvids had their largest passage of the year so far, with 470 Jackdaws, 52 Rooks, 44 Carrion Crows and 36 Magpies recorded today, while another 490 Starlings passed through. Another great day for Finches included 177 Chaffinches, 58 Bramblings, 25 Greenfinches, 72 Goldfinches, 45 Linnets and 46 Lesser Redpolls, while a seasons best of 64 Reed Buntings passed overhead, as did two Lapland Buntings. A medley selection of other species seen passing over included 12 Cormorants, one Dunlin, one Golden Plover, one Snipe, one Great Spotted Woodpecker (one of four seen today), 76 Skylarks, 147 Meadow Pipits, three Rock Pipits(out of 32 seen today, a sizeable arrival), a Mistle Thrush (out of two seen today) and 11 Fieldfares (out of 20 seen today).

A Yellowhammer caught and ringed at the Plantation was the highlight of another very good selection on land. With the belated news that Rachel Porter had a Ring Ouzel on the Mountainside, I can also happily saw we managed all six Thrushes between us! 43 Blackbirds, 20 Song Thrushes and 35 Redwings joined the three species already mentioned. Otherwise 34 Robins and 29 Goldcrests were the only numerous migrants, while three Merlins, a Pied Wagtail, four Stonechats, four Blackcaps, four Chiffchaffs, a Coal Tit, an excellent five Bullfinches and eight Long-tailed Tits made up the rest of the days species.

The sea was very quiet, but a gathering of Gulls offshore early in the morning included 910 Black-headed Gulls, 30 Mediterranean Gulls, 11 Common Gulls and 350 Herring Gulls.

350 Herring Gull, 910 Black-head, 11 Common Gull, 30Mediterranean Gull,

Sunday, 29 October 2017

The sea has been a little bit quiet of late, but returned with a vengeance today in a day of strong northerly winds, occasionally gusting around North-westerly. Perhaps the standout species was Mediterranean Gull, with a monstrous count of 170! To put that number into some context, its the first ever three figure count for Bardsey, annihilating the previous record (which was broken twice in 2016, with 83 on 23 Oct and 96 on 1 Nov). On all all-round brilliant day for Gulls, three Sabine's Gulls (this must be our best ever year for them by quite a margin), and a Little Gull brought the quality, while 3327  Kittiwakes, 1545 Black-headed Gulls and 122 Common Gulls provided the quantity. 778 Razorbills were the only other species moving in appreciable numbers, but the sea produced fantastic diversity today. A Great Northern Diver, a Sooty Shearwater, two Leach's Petrels, a Grey Heron, 13 Greenland White-fronted Geese, five Pale-bellied Brent Geese, two Teals, the first Pintail of the year (and 44th island record), five Common Scoters, a Grey Phalarope, five Arctic Skuas, four Great Skuas, three late Sandwich Terns and seven Guillemots ensured it was one of the most interesting seawatches of the year.

It was rather hard for the land to compete with such a stacked field, but it did its level best. A Woodcock at Cristin was the first of the autumn, while a Short-eared Owl was in the Wetlands, and possibly the same Barn Owl last seen two weeks ago reappeared at Ty Pellaf. Other scarcities included a Siberian Chiffchaff and a Bullfinch at the Obs, the former heard only, and four Long-tailed Tits in the Withies.

The author of this blog has something of an obsession with recording all six british thrushes in a day, having managed five out of the six more times than he cares to count! Yesterday we came mighty close, missing only Ring Ouzel. One of them was seen today, but typically it was the first time since the 25th that no Mistle Thrushes were on the island! The wait continues. Nontheless, a modest arrival of 30 Redwings, four Fieldfares and eight Song Thrushes were seen today. Finch passage was much decreased, but 57 Chaffinches, 13 Bramblings, 12 Greenfinches and three Siskins moved through. The only other migrants reaching double figures were 31 Starlings, 18 Goldcrests, 16 Robins and 15 Skylarks, with a thin scatter of other typical October migrants including two Merlins, a Water Rail, two Pied Wagtails, three "alba" Wagtails, a Blackcap, two Chiffchaffs and a Firecrest.

We didn't get any good photos today, so here's one not yet published from yesterday; the very interesting first-winter Lesser Whitethroat, that to us looks like a good match for Blythii. Note the sandy brown colour extending up the nape, and extensive white in t4/5. With current knowledge of the variability in nominate Curruca insufficient to differentiate the two with 100% confidence, we were lucky a few feathers were shed during processing, so DNA analysis can hopefully give a definitive answer. 

Saturday, 28 October 2017

Immature male Black Redstart, Ephraim Perfect;

A relatively quiet day, by recent standards. Most of the action was on land, wehre the standout highlight was our third Lesser Whitethroat of October. Like the other two, an eastern subspecies like Blythii was strongly suspected, but unlike the other two it found its way into the nets, and with a few feathers shed during routine handling, we can get DNA analysis to work it out one way or the other! A Black Redstart was one of the other new arrivals, while other scarcities were probably lingering from previous days, such as two Bullfinches, six Long-tailed Tits and a Mistle Thrush

270 Starlings and 45 Chaffinches were once again the commonest migrants, albeit in much reduced numbers, while a very small scattering of other finches included three Bramblings, one Greenfinch and four Lesser Redpolls. A Great Spotted Woodpecker, nine Skylarks, two Fieldfares, 47 Redwings, three Blackcaps, two Chiffchaffs, 12 Goldcrests, one Firecrest and one Jackdaw were the other notable migrants.

Out to sea Gull passage was again dominant, with 664 Black-headed Gulls, 607 Kittiwakes, and 22 each of Common and Mediterranean Gulls. Four Common Scoters, a Great Skua, 20 Guillemots and 195 Razorbills were the only other species on the move. Meanwhile the most interesting waders included a good count of 64 Curlews, plus three Lapwings, two Dunlins and singles of Snipe and Whimbrel
Three of 63 Curlew on the South End, Ephraim Perfect;

Friday, 27 October 2017

Firecrest and Mistle Thrush, two of the highlights of ringing today

Today was another day with plenty of highlights and a strong passage of visible migrants. There were several unusual birds around today; for starters at six new Long-tailed Tits were trapped at the Obs, with two Hawfinches and a Yellow-browed Warbler at Nant. Two Lapland Buntings passed over the South End, while out to sea another Great Crested Grebe was the rarity of the day, and two Eiders are also a scarce and only just annual species here.

Finches were again a strong component of vis-mig, although in reduced numbers compared to yesterday, and amounted to 219 Chaffinches, 28 Bramblings, 28 Greenfinches, 54 Siskins, 46 Goldfinches, 34 Linnets, six Lesser Redpolls and four Reed Buntings. The other most numerous species overhead were 114 Meadow Pipits, 73 Skylarks, 49 Jackdaws and 767 Starlings, while a good variety of other species overhead included three Sparrowhawks, two Buzzards, three Merlins, two late Swallows, two Grey Wagtails, seven Pied Wagtails, eight alba Wagtails and four Rooks.

On the ground it was another excellent Thrush day, with 66 Redwings, 55 Song Thrushes, 47 Blackbirds and five Mistle Thrushes recorded. 57 Goldcrests and 40 Robins were the only other species present in large numbers, but a typical late October selection included four Water Rails, four Great Spotted Woodpeckers, ten Stonechats, a very late Willow Warbler, three Firecrests, five Coal Tits, a Great Tit and four Bullfinches. If you enjoy the admittedly rather niche pastime of "Bardsey October Listing" though, by far and away the highlght of the day was the first two Woodpigeons for the whole month! Where the otherwise ever-present Pigeons have been for the last 26 days is anybodys guess, but with thousands passing overhead elsewhere in Wales today, it seems a couple managed to trickle down the Lleyn!

Out to sea the most notable feature was again a strong passage of gulls, with 476 Kittiwakes, 250 Black-headed Gulls, 25 Mediterranean Gulls and 12 Common Gulls in the morning. Not much else was seen, but a Great Northern Diver, four Shelducks (which seem to be returning from their sojourn to Germany now), 12 Common Scoters, an Arctic Skua and 270 Razorbills also passed offshore. Meanwhile a small selection of waders included four Dunlins, the first seen on the deck here for quite a while, alongside six Purple Sandpipers, a Whimbrel and 40 Curlews on the Narrows, and a Snipe in the Wetlands. On the insect front, the first two Silver Y's for some time were in the Obs Garden.

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Common and Siberian Chiffchaff from the Plantation today, Ephraim Perfect; Ephraim's Bird Blog

Migration has been held up for a long time on the west coast, with near-enough constant south-westerly winds hindering all but the most determined migrants. Today, however, the damn broke in the most spectacular fashion, with a truly stunning morning's vismig. The highlights were a Great White Egret, and vast numbers of Chaffinches, other finches and Starlings, while a good arrival of grounded migrants featured some real quality as well. The birds arctively passing through the island (both overhead and on the sea) is as follows; One Red-throated Diver, four Great Northern Divers, 57 Gannets, one Great White Egret south offfshore at 10:51, with probably the same bird seen flying over the Narrows about an hour later, three Shelducks (only our second sighting of the autumn), four Wigeons, two Teals, 158 Common Scoters (our highest count of the year), one Buzzard, three Merlins, one Golden Plover, 14 Lapwings, one Knot, one Dunlin, one Redshank, one Great Skua, 23 Mediterranean Gulls, 332 Black-headed Gulls, ten Common Gulls, 20 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 247 Herring Gulls, 53 Kittiwakes, 23 Guillemots, 215 Razorbills, 184 Skylarks, 208 Meadow Pipits, three Grey Wagtails, 15 alba Wagtails, nine Magpies, 13 Jackdaws, eight Rooks, 45 Carrion Crows, 4815 Starlings, 1644 Chaffinches, 82 Bramblings, 11 Greenfinches, 56 Siskins, 56 Goldfinches, 47 Linnets, 40 Lesser Redpolls and 31 Reed Buntings. The numbers can never fully encapsulate the experience of a day like today, but it was extremely good fun watching a constant stream of finches and Starlings, with many other unusual species for the island like Knot, Lapwing and Jackdaw mixed in. The total of Chaffinches in particular could be a drastic underestimate of the true numbers, one single flock numbering approximately 650 was picked up passing right on the periphery of our vision, at perhaps a kilometre overhead, but how many more such gargantuan flocks could have slipped through with nothing more than the occasional call heard from vis-miggers?

Great White Egret,

On land it was a very good day too; The highlights included the first two Bullfinches and seven Long-tailed Tits of the year, a late Lesser Whitethroat that again looked a good candidate for Blythii, a Yellow-browed Warbler and the first Siberian Chiffchaff of the autumn. Of more regular fare, there had been a notable arrival of 50 Song Thrushes, while 62 Redwings, 56 Goldcrests and 47 Robins made them the other commonest migrants. The rest of the roll-call included four Water Rails, 21 Dunnocks (a large enough increase to suggest some migration), 15 Stonechats, 25 Blackbirds, two Mistle Thrushes, ten Chiffchaffs, a Blackcap, a Firecrest, four Coal Tits and a Great Tit.

Lesser Whitethroat,

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

The standout highlight of today was an excellent morning of visible migration. Moving through in the greatest numbers were finches, with 501 Chaffinches, 13 Brambling, 22 Greenfinches, 30 Siskins, 89 Goldfinches, 48 Linnets, 21 Lesser Redpolls and 52 Reed Buntings. 393 Starlings and 238 Skylarks were the other commonest migrants, while a WOODLARK was the day's most exciting rarity. One Golden Plover, 27 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 80 Meadow Pipits, One Grey Wagtail, six Pied Wagtails, two "Alba" Wagtails, nine Carrion Crows and seven Jackdaws also passed overhead. On the ground a total of ten Coal Tits was particularly notable; two Blue Tits and a Great Tit were also still present. Otherwise the commonest species on a quiet day for grounded migrants were 38 Robins and 44 Goldcrests, other species amounted to three Water Rails, 11 Stonechats, 14 Song Thrushes, eight Redwings, five each of Blackcap and Chiffchaff and two Firecrests.

An increase in raptor passage saw three Sparrowhawks, three Merlins and a Buzzard noted. Out to sea 168 Black-headed Gulls and 130 Razorbills were the only species moving in any kind of numbers, but two Goldeneyes off the South End were one of the most notable sightings of the day. Other species noted included one Red-throated Diver, one Great Northern Diver, another late Manx Shearwater, three Wigeons four Common Scoters, a Great Skua, 25 Mediterranean Gulls and 19 Common Gulls were the best of the rest. The only notable increase was to a total of nine Whimbrels, while two Purple Sandpipers, 51 Curlews, 12 Redshanks and 24 Turnstones were also present on the Narrows, and two Snipes were flushed in the Wetlands.

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

It was a slower day for migration, but nontheless a few good sightings were to be had. A reasonable finch passage included 54 Goldfinches, 52 Linnets, seven Siskins and three Lesser Redpolls, while the other two commonest passerine migrants were 62 Goldcrests and 40 Starlings. Five species of thrushes were moving in low numbers, with ten Blackbirds, six Song Thrushes, four Redwings and singles of Fieldfare and Mistle Thrush. Otherwise it was a modest day for grounded migrants, with totals coming to three Water Rails, a Great Spotted Woodpecker, two Skylarks, five Stonechats, a Blackcap, four Chiffchaffs, two Firecrests, a Coal Tit, three Blue Tits, a Great Tit and a Reed Bunting.

It was a modest day's sea passage, although yet another Leach's Petrel was a surprise. 350 Kittiwakes were the only species seen in remotely large numbers, but other gulls included 20 Black-headed Gulls, four Common Gulls and singles of Mediterranean and Little Gull. Other species seen were one Red-throated and two Great Northern Divers, another late Manx Shearwater and six Common Scoters.

The most notable wader was a Golden Plover in Henllwyn; other reasonable totals included nine Purple Sandpipers, two Snipes, three Whimbrels, 45 Curlews, 14 Redshanks and 36 Turnstones.

Monday, 23 October 2017

Today saw another brief gap in the weather, respite from the westerlies often sees a larger number of migrants passing through the island recently. Of particular consequence today was the sea passage.

Divers today were made up of a Red-throated and a Great Northern Diver, a single Manx Shearwater was a relatively late record. A small movement of wildfowl consisted of three Wigeons, 33 Common Scoters, a Red-breasted Merganser and a Goldeneye the latter of which was only the 30th record for Bardsey! A Pomarine Skua was a welcome addition to the day totals as was a Golden Plover, and nine Mediterranean Gulls, two Little Gulls, two Sabine’s Gulls and 272 Kittiwakes culminated to today’s gull passage.

A Merlin was still lingering on the Island today, Water Rail numbers increased to five individuals. On the wader front two Jack Snipes were new in and 10 Snipes was a noticeable increase. On the Narrows, seven Purple Sandpipers, three Whimbrels, 57 Curlews, 11 Redshanks and 34 Turnstones were recorded. On the land, a Great Spotted Woodpecker was still in the withies, seven Swallows were probably the last we’ll see passing through this year. Robins numbered 38 and the Black Redstart in Nant Valley was joined today by a second bird, an adult male. Bashing the bushes produced five Blackcaps, six Chiffchaffs, 60 Goldcrests and six Firecrests! Additional species included three Coal Tits, 17 Chaffinches, eight Siskins, 53 Goldfinches, 46 Linnets, seven Lesser Redpolls and two Reed Buntings.

Sunday, 22 October 2017

A day of strong North-westerlies; following an exceptional storm blowing birds into the Irish Sea. We've been blessed with these conditions on a few occasions this autumn, and in reality seawatching has been the saviour of an otherwise very below-average season. A near constant watch of the sea was achieved today, and as such a good amount was seen. While the numbers of most species are lower than our previous, brilliant days in September, a very, very good diversity of species and some high quality ones were to be seen.

The classic prize of autumn north-westerlies off Bardsey is Leach's Petrel, today was no exception with six passing the island, mostly during the afternoon and close inshore. Two Storm Petrels in amongst them were much more of a surprise. A Gadwall was the rarity of the day, being just the 11th record, while six Pale-bellied Brent Geese were also good sightings of a species normally barely annual on here (although several have been seen this autumn). Skuas were well represented, with 20 Arctic Skuas, 18 Great Skuas and five Pomarine Skuas, and one unidentified Skua sp. that was probably also a Pom. The two commonest migrants were 2046 Kittiwakes and 1475 Razorbills, while 203 Guillemots was their strongest showing of the autumn. Amongst the Kitts were eight further species of gulls, alongside the regulars came single adults of Sabine's and Little Gull, four Mediterranean Gulls and 15 Common Gulls. And, while it's getting late in the year for terns, four Arctic Terns and one Sandwich Tern were still logged. The best of the rest was still a fine supporting cast, featuring one Red-throated Diver, three Great Northern Divers, ten Manx Shearwaters, two Fulmars, one Wigeon, 32 Common Scoters and six Golden Plovers.

It was aways unlikely that landbirding could amount to much, but in the end the diversity of species was a pleasant surprise. The only migrants in any way numerous were 56 Starlings, 34 Goldcrests and 33 Goldfinches, but quite a lot else was there to be seen. Three Sparrowhawks, two Merlins and a Kestrel were the best of the raptors, while two Water Rails squealed in the Withies, where a Great Spotted Woodpecker lingered. On the coast 59 Curlews, three Whimbrels and six Purple Sandpipers were of note.

The most notable passerines were the first Fieldfare of the autumn in the Withies, a lingering Black Redstart in Nant Valley, three Firecrests still in the Plantation and an increase to seven Coal Tits around the island. The other odds and sods recorded featured six Stonechats, three Song Thrushes, a Redwing, three Blackcaps, eight Chiffchaffs, two Blue Tits, a new-in Great Tit at the Plantation, a Greenfinch, two Siskins, three Lesser Redpolls and a Reed Bunting. While hardly ripping up trees, there were evidently some new arrivals, which given the strength of the wind overnight was a pleasant surprise!

Saturday, 21 October 2017

A fairly quiet days birding, but Storm Brian did bring a few interesting seabirds. The highlight was another Leach's Petrel, but quite a diverse supporting cast were also seen. 470 Kittiwakes, 450 Auk sp., 173 Razorbills and 40 Gannets were the commonest species, while also of note were a Great Northern Diver, four Fulmars (amazingly the first sightings in October!), eight Manx Shearwaters, one Teal, 36 Common Scoters and a Great Skua. Meanwhile large increases in several waders were noted, with 83 Oystercatchers, 19 Purple Sandpipers, 33 Redshanks, a Whimbrel, 68 Curlews and 27 Turnstones. Two Mediterranean Gulls and two Common Gulls were also around the Narrows.

Unsurprisingly, the land was very quiet, although a Black Redstart on the rocks on the North End, our first of the year, was quite a surprise in the conditions. Otherwise 23 Goldcrests and a Firecrest remained at the Plantation, where there were also four Coal Tits today. Other migrants were just two Skylarks, a Song Thrush, a Blue Tit, a Starling and a Lesser Redpoll

Friday, 20 October 2017

Overall another quiet day, but slightly calmer conditions did permit a few new arrivals on the land. Out to sea it was generally very quiet, but some of our new guests for the week struck lucky with a Leach's Petrel past the North End. Otherwise a decent movement of 61 Shags was logged, with other species heading south being 32 Black-headed Gulls, eight Dunlins, a Mediterranean Gull and a Wigeon.

A Lapwing on Henllwyn was the most interesting of a small selection of waders, with a single Purple Sandpiper, three Whimbrels and an increase to 50 Curlews also of note. A single Water Rail was seen in the Withies, with a Buzzard new in, and one Kestrel and two Merlins also present.

For passerines, it was a fairly decent showing, highlighted by a Lapland Bunting over the Wetlands in the late morning, the third of the autumn. The commonest migrant was Redwings, numbering 74, while 30 Blackbirds, 15 Song Thrushes and 45 Robins was a decent showing of other thrushes and chats. It's still a long way off the totals on the East Coast just now though! Six Blackcaps was a decent showing, with five Chiffchaffs the only other warblers; three Firecrests remained in the Plantation with 39 Goldcrests scattered around the island. Five Coal Tits at the Plantation were the other most interesting new arrival, with two Great Tits including one new bird in the Withies. Starlings numbered just 15 today, five Skylarks were on the deck, while a single Great Spotted Woodpecker lingered. It was a fairly poor showing for Finches, one Brambling being notable, as was a good  total of 13 Lesser Redpolls. 24 Goldfinches, 14 Siskins, 12 Chaffinches and four Reed Buntings made up the rest of the totals.

Firecrest, Ephraim Perfect; Ephraim's Bird Blog

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Winds out of a south-easterly quarter might at first have seemed promising, but it was swiftly apparent that, with the breeze staying at around 35-40mph for most of the morning and early afternoon, any attempted migration was severely hampered. In the end it was mostly a day of ever diminishing returns.

Out to sea the main surprise was a strong movement totalling 136 Common Scoters, our highest count of the year and fourth highest count in BBFO's history. Otherwise, the only noticeable movement was of gulls off the South End. Of these, it was interesting to still record 65 Lesser Black-backed Gulls heading south in small parties, the first large movement in nearly a month. Otherwise 225 Kittiwakes, 78 Black-headed Gulls, 12 Common Gulls and 11 Mediterranean Gulls were seen. 211 Razorbills and seven Guillemots comprised the only other passage of note, with the only other notable sightings being singles of Great Skua and Wigeon.

A jumbled assortment of grounded migrants were on land, but realistically it seems like few of these were new arrivals. A Kestrel bucked the trend, being the first sighting of this species in the whole of October, while singles of Merlin and Sparrowhawk also remained. Three Firecrests were at the Plantation and showed very well, while just 29 Goldcrests, seven Chiffchaffs and two Blackcaps were spread around. Otherwise the rollcall was pretty modest, 26 Siskins and 21 Chaffinches was the sum of finch passage, 42 Starlings, six Song Thrushes, three Redwings, 30 Robins, two Wheatears, five Skylarks, three Snipes and a Water Rail were about all that was seen on land. A Grey Wagtail passed over Cristin, with lingering sightings again of two Great Spotted Woodpeckers and singles of Blue Tit and Great Tit.

Firecrest, Ephraim Perfect; Ephraim's Bird Blog

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

With the winds switching to easterly overnight, it was no surprise but nontheless very welcome to have a busy day's birding on all fronts. It was highlighted by a Great White Egret that headed south down the South End, before doubling back and returning North. This is the fifth ever record for Bardsey, following singles in October 1990, July in 1998 and 2006, and August 2015.

While it's been almost possible to take them for granted in some recent years, the three Yellow-browed Warblers today were our first since late September, and carried with them the real promise of a siberian waif, which sadly never materialised. Other Warblers were just 13 Chiffchaffs and two Blackcap, while Goldcrests increased to 66, with three Firecrests seen amongst them. It was probably the busiest day for Thrushes of the whole autumn, with 136 Redwings including one overhead flock of 102, and grounded totals of 42 Blackbirds, 32 Song Thrushes and two Mistle Thrushes. An arrival of Chats included 56 Robins, seven Stonechats and three Wheatears. Meanwhile, 160 Starlings made them the commonest migrant of the day.
Yellow-browed Warbler, Ephraim Perfect; Ephraim's Bird Blog

Overhead there was also plenty of action during the morning. The best day's finch passage of the year, numberwise, featured 118 Chaffinches, five Bramblings, 79 Goldfinches, 61 Siskins, 30 Linnets and seven Greenfinches mostly overhead or moving swiftly through the island. 87 Skylarks and 93 Meadow Pipits made them the other two commonest diurnal migrants. Wagtails are now well past their peak, but 22 "alba" Wagtails and six Grey Wagtails still trickled through overhead, as did six Swallows, as we reach the tail-end of hirundine migration. A single party of 15 Rooks headed south over the South End, while high totals of 46 Magpies and 31 Carrion Crows strongly suggested corvid migration was taking place. In particular, several groups of Carrion Crows passed south over the Mountainside, while one group of eight restless Magpies were flying around the very tip of the South End, presumably trying to find the courage to cross the sea! A few other odds and ends rounded off the day's landbird migration; four Reed Buntings were present, Rock Pipits increased to 41, Great Spotted Woodpeckers and Great Tits had both increased to two, three Water Rails, three Sparrowhawks and two Merlins were around, and a Grey Heron passed south over the South End. All in all, one of the busiest day's passage so far this autumn!

The only seawatching done today was an hour and a half off the South End early on. It was pretty good, but logging land migrants had to eventually take priority on a good day like today. Gull passage was impressive, with 520 Black-headed Gulls, 465 Kittiwakes, 37 Mediterranean Gulls and 11 Common Gulls. Additional highlights were a Great Northern Diver, two Great Skuas and an Arctic Skua. 540 Razorbills were logged but just 40 Gannets, however a noticeable passage of 63 Shags and 37 Cormorants took place. Seven Common Scoters and seven Guillemots were the only other sightings of note.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

As would be expected, most sightings of note today came from the sea, with several interesting sightings, presumably relating to birds relocating after Storm Ophelia. Most notable in Bardsey terms was the years second Great Crested Grebe in the late afternoon, but other high quality sightings featured a single Leach's Petrel, two Grey Phalaropes, two Pomarine and two Arctic Skuas and a single Little Gull. 836 Kittiwakes and 744 Razorbills made them the commonest offshore migrants, with a single Guillemot picked out amongst the auks, and 13 Black-headed, four Common and four Mediterranean Gulls amongst the Kitts. Meanwhile, 158 Gannets were logged, four Manx Shearwaters south were the first seen for several days, two Dunlins headed south and a single Common Scoter went through the North Sound.

On land, few species were in great numbers, but there was decent diversity. 120 Starlings made them the commonest migrant, followed some way behind by 47 Goldcrests. Otherwise very modest finch passage featured 29 Goldfinches, 15 Chaffinches, 11 Siskins and three Lesser Redpolls, with seven Skylarks and two Golden Plovers the only overhead migrants. Grounded migrants were pretty slim pickings, with 13 Blackbirds, six Song Thrushes, three Blackcaps, a Chiffchaff and two Reed Buntings the only evidence of an arrival. A single Water Rail, two Blue Tits and a Great Tit also remained from previous days, with two Sparrowhawks and a Merlin seen around the island.

Monday, 16 October 2017

While the birds were somewhat interesting today, the main story was, of course, Storm Ophelia, the outer reaches of which swept through Bardsey during the afternoon. Winds reached at least 70mph, and the waves were extraordinary, with some at least 30 feet high. While the human residents escaped unharmed and were able to enjoy the spectacular effects of some truly extreme weather, it will of course have been a difficult day for a lot of Bardsey's wildlife. Over 40 Grey Seal pups have been born on the island this year, but the storm surge at high tide will have left very few of their coves unscathed, and unfortunately we fear that many, probably the majority, will have been washed away. A census will be carried out in the next few days to assess the impact of the storm. On the Narrows the affects on wildlife could be seen in the extreme, with Grey Seals and Purple Sandpipers leaving their usual rocky haunts to take shelter on the grass, the only safe place for them. We also lost Solfach Hide to the sea, and there was a small amount of damage to houses further north up the island (Cristin appears to have survived untouched), but thankfully this was the limit of the storms impact on Bardsey life for the people.

A sad scene indeed; Solfach minus the trusty Todd Chater Hide (Tom Grose)
spectacular waves crashing over Henllwyn, sadly also the most popular area for pupping Grey Seals

Perhaps due to the storm, a good day by Bardsey standards was had for Waders. The most unusual were two Ruffs over the West Coast, while five Lapwings were also seen. Eight Snipes included four in the Narrows and one in/off at the South End, while a flock of nine Whimbrels zipped over the South End during the peak of the storm. Otherwise, 25 Purple Sandpipers was the highest count of the autumn (three of which were dazzled and ringed in the evening), and other good counts were 54 Oystercatchers, 51 Curlews, 40 Turnstones and 11 Redshanks.

the products of an evening dazzling on the Narrows; one of three Purple Sandpipers and a Redshank
(Ephraim Perfect, Ephraim's Bird Blog)

The day had started out fairly calm, with, like much of the country, a very warm southerly blow and a reddish tinge to the sky caused by Saharan dust. This seemed to facilitate a small amount of migration early in the day, the highlights of which were a Hawfinch and a fairly late Tree Pipit passing overhead. Typical late autumn fare was represented by 95 Starlings and 31 Redwings, with a few other Thrushes seen, notably seven Song Thrushes, a new Mistle Thrush and the lingering Ring Ouzel from yesterday. Visible migration was barely perceptible, but two Skylarks and a Grey Wagtail passed overhead. Otherwise a small selection of grounded migrants were seen, including 32 Goldcrests and 23 Robins; four Blackcaps, three Chiffchaffs and a late Willow Warbler were the sum of Warbler action, and a Firecrest was a new arrival at Ty Capel. Seven Siskins, three Reed Buntings and a Greenfinch were the best of the rest of the new arrivals, and some ever present fare included a Great Spotted Woodpecker retrapped at Cristin, where singles of Blue and Great Tit remained. A single Merlin was also present on the West Coast.   

Sunday, 15 October 2017

With Hawfinches showing up all over the country recently, it seemed like only a matter of time before our first of the year, and one that graced the Plantation today was probably the day's highlight. Alongside it came a small but interesting selection of migrants. A Ring Ouzel at Cristin was probably the scarcest, while six Redwings were the first of the autumn. 128 Starlings was the first large movement since several flocks in late summer, while a small array of other finches/buntings totalled 11 Chaffinches, seven Siskins and singles of Lesser Redpoll and Reed Bunting.

Just 42 Goldcrests and 33 Robins were in evidence today, with other warblers being seven Chiffchaffs and four Blackcaps. Five Stonechats were around on land, five Skylarks passed through overhead and two Merlins were present. Other highlights were lingering singles of Great Spotted Woodpecker and Water Rail in the Withies, and Blue Tit and Great Tit at Cristin.

Amongst waders, four Golden Plovers south were the highlight, while Redshanks had increased to 12, Whimbrels to three and Snipes to five. 34 Turnstones was also an increase on the previous day, with the flock of Curlews numbering 54 today. Out to sea was very quiet, five Great Skuas, 17 Common Scoters and a single Wigeon were about as interesting as it got, with a few loafing gulls including two Mediterranean Gulls.

One interesting sighting was a Portuguese Man-of-war washed up in Cafn.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

It remained rather quiet again today on Bardsey! A few definite new arrivals were seen on land, including 29 Goldfinches, three Starlings, two Reed Buntings, 51 Robins, five Water Rails and 13 Swallows  passing south. Also to be found were 32 Goldcrests, five Chiffchaffs, four Blue Tits, a single Great Tit and a Great Spotted Woodpecker, although some or all of these may have been lingering from previous days. Two Sparrowhawks and a Merlin were the only raptors of note, while waders included a Golden Plover on the South End and a Ringed Plover south offshore, but otherwise little different. A Snipe was in the Wetlands, with 55 Curlews, 22 Turnstones, nine Redshanks and two Whimbrels around the Narrows.

On the sea highlights were few and far between, but a Little Gull off the North End was a nice surprise. Three each of Mediterranean and Common Gulls, 11 Black-headed Gulls and 205 Kittwakes were also offshore, but otherwise all that were on the move were singles of Great and Pomarine Skua.

Friday, 13 October 2017

A very slow day on Bardsey today, clouds enveloped the island throughout the day. Combined with strong southerly winds, resulted in most birds sheltering.

The usual waders were again recorded today, two Whimbrels, 70 Curlews, 19 Redshanks and 42 Turnstones. A single Arctic Skua was logged showing well off the North End, followed by a Skua sp. On the land, ten Robins, five Stonechats, 14 Goldcrests, two Chaffinches and one Reed Bunting were the only migrants recorded.

The promise of easterlies on the horizon could produce some impressive migration over the next few weeks, following these prolonged westerlies which will have held most migrants at bay.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

A small drop in the winds were enough to see a small number of migrants make their way through the island today. A small passage was noted out to sea with four Manx Shearwaters, 81 Gannets, three Common Scoters, two Golden Plovers, one Pomarine Skua, one Mediterranean Gull and 267 Razorbills.

Two Wigeons lingered off the West Coast throughout the day, two Merlins were again an impressive sight. Three Water Rails were again heard from the Wetlands today.

A single Purple Sandpiper, two Snipes, three Whimbrels and 63 Curlews were todays waders and a Ringed Plover in Henllwyn was new in. On the land a Barn Owl around Cristin Withy was the highlight, presumably one of the lingering pair seen occasionally. A Great Spotted Woodpecker was still in the Withies, 25 Skylarks were heard overhead and a keen ear picked up on a Grey Wagtail making its way through. Robin numbers increased again today, a total of 35 was recorded. Three Chiffchaffs were the only warblers to be seen, but 47 Goldcrests were scattered around the island. Three Blue Tits and a Great Tit were again present. Finch passage saw some 11 Chaffinches, two Brambling (one of which was trapped and ringed, a stunning adult male), two Siskins, 25 Goldfinches, 11 Linnets and three Lesser Redpolls pass through the island. Two Reed Buntings were also recorded today.

Adult male Brambling trapped and ringed today,