Saturday, 20 August 2016

Extremely strong winds battered the island throughout the day making census difficult as much of the wildlife sheltered out of sight.

The Long-eared Owl was still resided in one of the Withies and continued to provide some fantastic views of this secretive species. Small numbers amounting to 20 Meadow Pipits, 16 Rock Pipits, 10 Pied Wagtails and 166 Linnets braved the blustery grasslands. Stonechats numbered just six today and doted the fence lines whilst only one Wheatear was seen the whole day. This trend continued further inland where only nine Wrens were logged, a species which is normally quite easily counted upwards of fifty each day. A Sparrowhawk, single Robin, two Goldcrests, two Chaffinches, two Goldfinches were the only other passerines seen.

Despite the weather conditions, waders happily fed and roosted around the coast. Oystercatchers, mostly around the southern parts of the island numbered 63, a Sanderling pottered about the grassy Narrows as a combination of high tide and strong winds meant there wasn't much beach left. Meanwhile two Ringed Plovers, a Purple Sandpiper, eight Dunlins, five Whimbrels, 40 Curlews, 11 Redshanks, two Common Sandpipers and 38 Turnstones were seen elsewhere.

Numbers of Gulls continued to drop, although some passage was still evident. Lesser Black-backed Gulls numbered 40 whilst 152 Herring Gulls, 12 Greater Black-backed Gulls and 127 Kittiwakes were present.

The winds pushed a few birds from the sea closer in with 23 Fulmars, 517 Manx Shearwaters, 88 Gannets and two Common Scoters were seen.

Not surprisingly Lepidoptera counts were down as two Green-veined Whites, two Red Admirals, two Painted Lady's and one Meadow Brown were blown about. A Migrant Hawker also zipped around in the shelter of the Observatory garden during the day.

Friday, 19 August 2016

An unpleasant morning of strong winds and showers made early census difficult but it soon subsided and the afternoon was warm with sunny spells, although still windy!

During the early blustery and wet conditions most small birds took shelter deep within vegetation and if any did choose to move fleeting glances of them darting back to cover were the only views. However when the winds subsided slightly and the sun began to shine birds began to feed and move about more freely and a small number were noted. A pair of Whitethroats, a Garden Warbler and a Blackcap provided a nice trio of Sylvia Warblers around the Plantation, where 12 of the 16 Willow Warblers seen, two Goldcrests and two Spotted Flycatchers were noted. Stonechats and Wheatears showed in fewer numbers today, six and seven respectively and scattered around the coasts and fields were 22 Meadow Pipits, 24 Rock Pipits, 11 Pied Wagtails, two White Wagtails and 34 Linnets. The Long-eared Owl was spotted close to where it was originally first seen, two Little Owls were present, a Common Buzzard took refuge underneath the Plantation and a Sparrowhawk darted from cover to cover. A couple of Swifts, 41 Swallows and seven House Martins battled against the winds, a Teal was present just off shore, 21 Mallards and two Grey Herons were counted, 22 Choughs and three Ravens soared overhead.

A Sanderling was new in on Solfach and was accompanied by two Ringed Plovers, five Dunlins and most of the 70 Turnstones of the day. Bar-tailed Godwits were again seen moving off the west coast with five seen today, 34 Oystercatchers, four Whimbrels, 16 Curlews, 13 Redshanks, a Greenshank and one Common Sandpiper were also logged.

Fewer Gulls were present but still clocked in in reasonable amounts. A small number of Black-headed Gulls were seen off the coast and 54 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 522 Herring Gulls, 31 Greater Black-backed Gulls and 184 Kittiwakes were scattered about.

Throughout the day Manx Shearwaters rode the huge swells the strong winds, with 1,595 eventually the total sum. Fulmars and Gannets were also noted in reasonable numbers, with 23 and 94 seen respectively.

Thursday, 18 August 2016

A fairly quiet day in relation to the past few with small numbers of most species and very little in the way of new birds in. A pair of Pied Flycatchers were probably the pick of the bunch inland, one at the Plantation and the other in the Lowlands. A Sedge Warbler occupied one of the reed beds, a Reed Warbler was trapped in the Withies during a mornings ringing session, two Whitethroats, a Blackcap, one Chiffichaff, five Willow Warblers, two Goldcrests and three Chaffinches were logged. Whilst 60 Wrens, seven Dunnocks, five Robins, a great count of 29 Stonechats, 19 Wheatears and 12 Blackbirds were scattered throughout the island. There was no sign of either the Bonelli's WarblerCitrine Wagtail, or the Long-eared Owl although efforts to find them were made. Little Owls called during the evening and were noted in the Lowlands, above the Observatory and on Pen Cristin above the farm.

Pipits and Wagtails were present in decent numbers with three Tree Pipits passing overhead, 55 Meadow Pipits littering the fields, 32 Rock Pipits mostly around the narrows and harbours, two Grey Wagtails and ten Pied Wagtails. Scattered amongst these were 334 Linnets, the highest count of the month so far, and whose numbers have been slowly increasing over the past weeks

Gulls featured heavily again but passage at sea and counts of seabirds were fairly sparse, but there were some sightings none the less. A lone Fulmar passed the north end, 41 Manx Shearwaters, some out at sea but also including a few chicks in burrows, ten Gannets, eight Cormorants, 15 Shags, severn Common Scoters, 69 Black-headed Gulls and 556 Kittiwakes were seen. Gulls again milled around in roosting and feeding flocks and amounted to 100 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 556 Herring Gulls and 38 Greater Black-backed Gulls.

More Manx Shearwater study burrows were check today to asses their contents and if chicks were present, biometrics taken and rings placed on their legs before being swiftly returned to their burrows. Some are very advanced now, not quite ready for fledging but getting close. Within the next few weeks some of these birds maybe heading out onto the Irish sea for the first time in their lives before heading out into the Atlantic Ocean and eventually the seas off South America.

An almost adult, but not quite looking Manx Shearwater chick, still slightly podgy and at the fluffy pants stage
Small hooked points at the ends of the primaries
Dark auxiliaries of a youngster
A variety of waders again graced the beaches, harbours and coasts. A group of four Ringed Plovers spent the day on one of the beaches along with 68 Turnstones, three Purple Sandpipers and six Dunlins. Whilst dotted around were two Common Snipes, six Whimbrels, 24 Curlews, three Redshanks, one Greenshank and nine Common Sandpipers.

Good counts of Green-veined Whites and other Lepidoptera were logged also. Large Whites came to four, Green-veined Whites numbered 215, three Small Coppers, three Common Blues, 28 Red Admirals, six Painted Lady's, four Peacocks, six Greyling's, 12 Meadow Browns and a Northern Eggar were also seen

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Light easterly winds overnight and during the day not only brought a couple of rare sightings but also provided some excitement with some of the more common migrants that occur. The first surprise of the day came when a Long-eared Owl was discovered roosting in Cristin Withy.  For the lucky viewers the bird seemed happy perched motionless in more or less the same spot for most of the morning. Long-eared Owls occur on Bardsey most years and have even breed a few times, but due to their secretive nature and incredible ability to camouflage themselves, they may often go unnoticed. One Little Owl was also heard in the Lowlands and was particularly vocal as night fell. Two Sparrowhawks and two Buzzards were also seen.

Not long after the sighting of the Long-eared Owl came another surprise as a Bonelli's Warbler was discovered feeding at the eastern end of the Plantation which was bathed in early morning sunlight. This is the eighth record of the island, the last being in 2014 and found around the same area as this individual. Two days ago a phylloscopus warbler was heard calling twice from the garden at Cristin and thoughts were of perhaps a Greenish Warbler, but the bird did not call again and was not seen that day. The following morning a pale looking Phylloscopus Warbler with green wings was seen very briefly in Plas garden, but the bird quickly disappeared north not to be seen again that day and the identification was not clinched. This was most likely the same individual. Bonelli's Warblers breed as close as south west Europe but are a rare vagrant to northern Europe. There are two separate species, Western and Eastern Bonelli's Warbler, Eastern being the rarer of the two with only a handful of records for the entire United Kingdom. Separation of the two can be done on call, western sounding almost similar to that of a Willow Warbler or Chiffchaff with a whistled "hu-eef", whilst the Eastern's call is a harsher "chip", no overlap is known in terms of call between the two. Biometrics and wing formula can also help in terms of identification but overlap between the two can occur. The bird was later trapped in a nearby mist nest and biometrics and images were taken. Biometrics and plumage (as well as the call heard two days beforehand) suggest this individual is of Western origin, but frustratingly whilst being observed in the field the bird stayed silent.

Western Bonelli's Warbler feeding at the Plantation
Western Bonelli's Warbler later caught, ringed and released
Various Pied Flycatchers made an appearance in different locations around the island, three were recorded and were the first of the Autumn. Spotted Flycatchers also amounted to three, Willow Warblers nine, one Chiffchaff, two Goldcrests, four Chaffinches, a single Sedge Warbler, Blackcap and Whitethroat, 14 Stonechats and 16 Wheatears were also logged. Linnet numbers rose to the highest count of the Autumn with 316 noted, 13 Tree Pipits buzzed over the island and 61 Meadow Pipits, 20 Rock Pipits, a Grey Wagtail, nine Pied Wagtails and the first White Wagtail were also seen. A small number of hirundines were also noted as four Sand Martins, 95 Swallows and four House Martins passed over and fed in mixed flocks above the island.

Corvids present today included 20 Choughs noisily swooping and calling over the mountain, four Ravens over the Narrows, 21 Carrion Crows and 15 Magpie's.

As if this wasn't enough excitement an outstanding sighting came late in the morning when Bardsey's fourth Citrine Wagtail, a first winter bird, was discovered on the narrows. The bird was heard calling as it passed over parts of the Narrows but luckily settled on the grass very briefly before it took flight north up the island and wasn't seen again. Unbelievably the first record of this species on the island was in 2012 and subsequently three more records have been recorded in the last four years!

Citrine Wagtail seen all too briefly on the Narrows
A male Wheatear beginning to look extremely dapper after moulting
Again a fine selection of waders were on display throughout the island. A single Knot passed out at sea heading south, three Purple Sandpipers hid amongst the rocks around one of the beaches where five Dunlin, eight Redshanks and 38 of the 40 Turnstones were also seen. A Whimbrel, 13 Curlews and two Greenshanks were close by, 30 Oystercatchers were counted with four Snipes and three Green Sandpipers discovered further up the island.

Numbers off the coast had decreased with just a handful of species recorded. A Little Tern bombing down the west coast was a clear highlight but also seen were 18 Fulmar's, 123 Manx Shearwaters, 23 Gannets and a Great Skua. Cormorant numbers amounted to 13, Shag's 15 and seven Grey Herons were observed. Mallard numbers had swelled to 29 today, the female with her eight juveniles on Nant pond at the northern end of the island, 12 individuals around Solfach and eight in the North West Fields.

Black-headed Gulls moved south in numbers throughout the day with 430 counted, 106 Lesser Black-backd Gulls, 763 Herring Gulls, 32 Greater Black-backed Gulls and 118 Kittiwakes were also seen.

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Generally a quieter day in terms of numbers of birds but the day still had its highlights. A Red Kite soaring over the mountain and low over the Observatory was a great addition to the year of a fairly scarce bird for Bardsey. Prior to this sighting there had only been 21 previous records, far fewer records than Marsh Harrier of which 41 have been logged. A couple of Sparrowhawks lingered as did a Common Buzzard, four Kestrels and one Peregrin Falcon.

Red Kite

A clear out of Willow Warblers left numbers as low as five, three appearing in the Observatory garden, one in the Plantation which previously held good numbers and another in one of the gardens. Spotted Flycatchers featured as a small increase in numbers totalled four and the first Song Thrush of the year was seen. A Blackcap, two Chiffchaffs, two Goldcrests and two Chaffinches were close by. Wheatears flitted from the banks and stone walls further south with 19 noted as 49 Meadow Pipits, nine Rock Pipits, one Grey Wagtail over the North West Fields, 12 Pied Wagtails, six Stonechats, 211 Linnets and a Little Owl and Collard Dove bolstered the numbers.

A variety of waders featured again today along the coastlines. The usual Oystercatchers numbered 52 today scatted about. Around the Narrows five Ringed Plovers, 20 Dunlins, a Green SandpiperCommon Sandpiper and 30 Turnstones were present. Whilst two Whimbrels, 36 Curlews and a Greenshank were also recorded. 

Small numbers of Cormorants, 12, were again noted today. Some moved passed the island whilst others were seen out on the sea or on rocks around the island. Grey Heron numbers had increased again from five yesterday to seven today, spending most of their time around the Narrows. Further out 14 Fulmars, 500 Manx Shearwaters, 29 Gannets and two Common Scoters passed. Harbour Porpoise, of which 15 were seen and eight Risso's Dolphins lingered off the west coast.

A Migrant Hawker, possibly one of the two seen yesterday was present in the same garden today resting on the Fuchsia in the warm morning sun. Again a good spread of Lepidoptera was present on the island with ten species seen. Large Whites logged were six whilst 61 Green-veined Whites, four Small Coppers, three Common Blues, four Red Admirals, one Painted Lady, three Small Tortoiseshells, 15 Peacocks, one Greyling and 20 Meadow Browns were also seen.

This Garden Pebble (Evergestis forficalis) was the highlight from the moth traps, being the first record of this immigrant micro moth on the island since 1999

Marbled Beauty was also trapped

Migrant Hawker in one of the gardens at Nant

Monday, 15 August 2016

Wader passage was again evident today and in reasonable numbers. Flocks of Knots passed the island and at the end of the day 37 had been logged. Redshanks also put in a fine appearance with 50 individuals seen, mostly heading in a southerly direction throughout the day. Dunlins amounted to 28, whilst two Greenshanks, and four Common Sandpipers added some variety. Oystercatchers were 33 today, two Ringed Plovers, four Whimbrels, 38 Curlews and 29 Trunstones were also seen.

Good numbers of Redshanks were seen along the coast

The first Common Buzzard for a while
Raptors put in a fine appearance throughout today, most notable being an Osprey which briefly drifted over the mountain ridge before heading north. We've had fantastic sightings of Osprey this season, this particular individual being the fifth record this year. At least six Sparrowhawks terrorised wildlife around the island today, five of them being seen over the mountain together at one point. Kestrels numbered two, a single Common Buzzard soared high overhead and two Peregrine Falcons, an adult and a juvenile also put in an appearance.

One of at least six Sparrowhawks that were present today 
The first Redstart of the year, a female or immature bird made an appearance behind the old schoolhouse and a Whinchat was present in the fields close by. Pied Wagtails had increased in number as 26 were logged around the Narrows also where the majority of the 75 Meadow Pipits and 29 Rock Pipits were found. The highest count of Spotted Flycatchers so far this Autumn weighed in at four, whilst Willow Warblers were still present but if fewer numbers amounted to 45. Meanwhile there were three Chiffchaffs and singles of Blackcap, Whitethroat and Garden Warbler. A Tree Pipit at Nant, nine Stonechats, 13 Wheatears, three Goldcrests, one Chaffinch, 154 Linnets and one Lesser Redpoll were also seen.

Great hirundine passage again occurred today as hundreds passed over the Narrows and South End. Swallows amounted to 524, House Martins 113 and three Sand Martins were picked out. Swifts also intermingled with these flocks and 16 were logged.

A passage of Cormorants continued today as small flocks headed south whilst others dotted the coast, outnumbering Shags today 49 to 19. Grey Heron numbers increased to five, two adults and three juveniles and the first Teal of the Autumn appeared amongst the Mallards of which 28 were seen.
The first Teal of of the Autumn with some Mallards

Fewer numbers were counted out at sea, however, 24 Fulmar, 333 Manx Shearwaters, 35 Gannets, one Common Scoter, one Arctic Skua and one Arctic Tern were seen passing. Plenty of gulls were again dotted around feeding in the fields and passing by the island with 281 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 1,066 Herring Gulls, 49 Greater Black-backed Gulls and 1,020 Kittiwakes observed. 

Cetacean sightings, in particular Risso's Dolphins, have been almost daily of the past week or so. Today was no exception as eight were observed off the west coast along with eight Harbour Porpoise, one of which was a calf.
Great numbers of Risso's Dolphins seen over the past weeks, note the tall sickle shaped dorsal fin
These individuals were just out from the hide at the North End, Risso's Dolphins become more scared and pale in colouration as they get older, the reasons for this scaring is still not fully understood
Although not huge numbers, a fine variety of Lepidoptera was on display today including, 12 Large Whites, 43 Green-veined White, a Small Copper, Common Blue, five Red Admirals, five Painted Lady's, four Small Tortoiseshells, nine Peacocks, 20 Meadow Browns, ten Silver Y's and seven Northern Eggars all enjoying the calm sunny spells. Migrant Hawkers made an appearance again with two seen, one at the north end of the island in some of the gardens and one around the farm further south.

Sunday, 14 August 2016

The highlight of the day, by far came during the evening hours as the sun was setting when a Minke Whale was spotted just off the coast, where it slowly headed north and eventually disappeared out of sight when it presumably dived down. Although the Minke Whale is the most common of the Baleen Whales through the Irish Sea and particularly further north in Scottish waters, sightings from Bardsey are few and far between. The last record was over three years ago. Good sightings of other cetaceans also present today were 15 Risso's Dolphins and four Harbour Porpoise also seen off the west.

Minke Whale surfacing off the West Coast. A long body surfacing with a small dorsal fin towards the back are typical diagnostic views
Good Willow Warbler passage was evident today with 110 seen in various locations throughout the island, the highest concentrations being around the Plantation where birds were observed passing through the gardens and vegetation. A Reed Warbler in one of the cottage gardens was the first of the autumn, as was a Garden Warbler further north at the Plantation where the Wood Warbler was again present for a third day. Other notables included a Tree Pipit around Nant, seven Sedge Warblers, two Whitethroats, three Blackcaps, seven Chiffchaffs, four Goldcrests, two Spotted Flycatchers and a Goldfinch. Wheatears, mostly around the southern parts of the island, showed a small increase with 21 seen. Meadow Pipits logged at 114 individuals scattered about in small flocks, ten Rock Pipits, eight Pied Wagtails and 143 Linnets were also present. A handful of Sand Martins passed over the Narrows and Pen Cristin, 68 Swallows, ten House Martins, one Sparrowhawk and two Kestrels were also logged during the course of the day.

A particularly pale looking, grey, Willow Warbler
A Greenshank again made an appearance around the Narrows, picked up on its distinctive call. Ringed Plovers made an appearance on Solfach numbering four. Oystercatchers totalled 31 and four Whimbrel, 26 Curlew, five Redshank, 26 Turnstones, 49 Shags, two Grey Herons and 22 Mallards resided.  

Notable sightings at sea concerned an Arctic Skua which spend the evening hassling Kittiwakes off the South End of which 959 were seen. A single Sandwich Tern just off the west side, five Razorbills, including one juvenile, a Puffin and a small passage of Cormorants, 11 seen today with various small groups high above the island moving through and 29 Shags. Further out 17 Fulmars, 1,050 Manx Shearwater and 25 Gannets passed.

 Curlew - the flock around the island's coast is slowly increasing in number with incoming migrants
 juvenile Herring Gull playing with some dried sheep poo
There have been some impressive gatherings of Kittiwakes in the last couple of weeks - in excess of 1000 birds in some cases! At least 15 colour-ringed birds from France have been sighted, and we'll post up the interesting stories behind these birds in the coming days

Lepidoptera and other sightings numbered three Large Whites, 205 Green-veined Whites, four Red Admirals, five Painted Lady's, one Small Tortoiseshell, 12 Peacocks, 22 Meadow Browns, 15 Silver Y's. A Migrant Hawker was also spotted around the farm.

Three species of Underwing, Lesser Yellow Underwing (top), Large Yellow Underwing (centre) and Least Yellow Underwing (bottom)

Saturday, 13 August 2016

A juvenile Marsh Harrier spotted during the morning was harried and harassed by corvids down the west coast. It alighted briefly when it spotted some carrion on the ground but was soon moved on by a group of Carrion Crows.
Other raptors seen today included a male and female Sparrowhawk, two Kestrels over the mountain and a Peregrine Falcon over the farm. Disappointingly both pairs of Peregrines failed to raise any young this season and have since been extremely elusive or have briefly left the island. Hopefully they will be more successful next breeding season.

Sparrowhawk stalking the Linnets around Nant
Reasonable passage again at sea amounted to 2,753 Manx Shearwaters, 54 Gannets, 10 Fulmars, 12 Common Scoters and a single Sandwich Tern. An Arctic Skua and a Great Skua were spotted off the west coast heading south as well as a flock of six Bar-tailed Godwits, a species which has been recorded multiple times in the last week. Gull numbers logged have risen over the past few weeks as birds pass through the island and roost in clumps around the island, today was no exception with good numbers present again. The most interesting concerning two colour ringed Kittiwakes picked out of the 950 seen today. Black-headed Gulls numbered 12, whilst other counts came to 56 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 286 Herring Gulls and 38 Greater Black-backed Gulls.   

Passerines were fairly thin on the ground today. The Wood Warbler was present for another day, and spent its time flitting around the eastern end of the Plantation. Other Phylloscopus warblers today included four Chiffchaffs and 20 Willow Warblers. A couple of Blackcaps and Goldcrests, 12 Stonechats, mostly the resident pairs and their young, and 16 Wheatears towards the southern end of the island were noted. Linnet numbers were down on yesterdays count but a respectable 186 were still recorded along with 55 Meadow Pipits, 11 Rock Pipits, eight Pied Wagtails and hirundines numbering 55 Swallows and eight House Martins.

Not the greatest image but the only one obtained of the Wood Warbler as it flitted restlessly amongst the trees at the Plantation
Oystercatcher numbers have taken a tumble over the past weeks as birds presumably leave the island. Counts of over one hundred were common place during the breeding season as the island holds a healthy breeding population, the count was 45 individuals. Accompanying these were three Whimbrel, 23 Curlews, three Redshanks, two Common Sandpipers and 23 Turnstones.

The first Hummingbird Hawk Moth of the season feeding in one of the gardens around Nant
Using its extremely long proboscis to sip nectar from flowers
Other Lepidoptera news came in the form of nine Large Whites, 58 Green-veined Whites, two Common Blues, 11 Red Admirals, three Painted Ladies, one Small Tortoiseshell, 11 Peacocks, 34 Meadow Browns, and eight Northern Eggars scattered around the island.

Friday, 12 August 2016

It was eyes to the sea for the most part of today as strong winds hit the island from the south west. A good run of cetacean sightings during the past weeks continued today with an excellent sight of two Bottlenose Dolphins and a single Risso's Dolphin amongst the swell off the west coast. An outstanding count of 15,541 Manx Shearwaters was reached today, with a large part of these seen off the South End in the afternoon. Add to this 14 Fulmar, 95 Gannets, an Arctic Skua and two Great Skuas, 350 Auks, too distant to identify on the hazy horizon, five Bar-tailed Godwits traveling south down the west coast, and a good smattering of gulls including one Mediterranean Gull, five Black-headed Gulls, 58 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 371 Herring Gulls, 52 Greater Black-backed Gulls and 707 Kittiwakes made for interesting censusing.

Another ringing session overnight was rewarded with 13 new Storm Petrels ringing along with four re-traps, birds already wearing rings.

One of the worlds smallest seabirds, the Storm Petrel
Belonging to the order of seabirds the Procellariiformes, the Storm Petrel, along with the others in this group come equipped with tubular nostrils on top of their bills where they expel excess salts from their body in the form of a salty liquid snot

Along the coast Grey Heron numbers had increased from two to three, two Adults and a juvenile. Highlights of waders included a Green Sandpiper which flew over Nant, a Lapwing put in an appearance on the South End whilst 38 Oystercatchers, five Whimbrels, 33 Curlews, six Redshanks, a Common Sandpiper and 19 Turnstones were also logged.

Inland census was made difficult as the wind whipped around much of the vegetation on the island in the afternoon. Even so a smart Wood Warbler around the Plantation was a treat amongst the more regular Phylloscopus warblers of which four Willow Warblers and three Chiffchaffs were seen today. Linnet numbers were up with 223 forming small flocks throughout the island with 40 Meadow Pipits and six Pied Wagtails. Surprisingly no Wheatears were logged today but six Stonechats, three Blackbirds, a Sedge Warbler, Blackcap, two Goldcrests and one Chaffinch made up numbers on a fairly quiet day.

Thursday, 11 August 2016

A variety of species throughout the island kept the day interesting although no major changes had occurred. A dragonfly kept one observer busy as it whizzed around the Plantation, unfortunately the identification wasn't clinched but it appeared to be a Hawker species, possibly Migrant Hawker.

A small amount of hirundines were noted today including three Sand Martins, of which one spent the early evening feeding over the buildings at Nant. A number of resident Swallows are busy with new broods, some still incubating eggs but others have small to large chicks which should fledge within the coming weeks, numbers reached 57 in total today, eight House Martins were also seen in various places around the island. Steady Pipit numbers amounted to 72 Meadow Pipits and 17 Rock Pipits, whilst Linnets again broke the hundred mark with 112 today.

A nice mixture of warblers were present today around the island. A Sedge Warbler occupying one of the reed beds, four Whitethroats mostly towards the southern end of the island, five Blackcaps, three Chiffchaffs, 21 Willow Warblers, three Goldcrests and another Spotted Flycatcher, again another possibly adult bird with uniform brown wings lacking the buffy tips indicative of juveniles at this time of year. Thrushes and chats were also represented in fair numbers throughout the day, 17 Wheatears mostly around the southern regions of the island, 16 Stonechats scattered about and eight Robins. A Little Owl was just north of the Observatory and single Goldfinch was at the Observatory whilst a male and female Sparrowhawk, 19 WoodPigeons and a Collard Dove toured the island.

Just off the island out at sea wasn't without its highlights. Two Great Skuas patrolled the coast, one of which was observed in a dramatic tussle with a juvenile Herring Gull. Eventually the gull succumbed to the brut strength of the Skua and was drowned. Fulmars seen totalled eight, Manx Shearwaters 1,237, Gannets 62, over 1,000 Kittiwakes and one Puffin. Whilst a Mediterranean Gull, Common Gull, Sandwich Tern and juvenile Arctic Tern added to the assortment of species.

A clear wader highlight came in the form of Greenshank which flew north through the island uttering its "tyew tyew tyew" flight call. Other counts amounted to 57 Oystercatchers, three Whimbrels, 36 Curlews, eight Redshank and 44 Turnstones.

Over the Mountain 24 Choughs played in the wind, the highest count by far for a good few weeks. Other corvids included 12 Magpies, 14 Carrion Crows and two Ravens.

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

A fantastic showing of Risso's Dolphins, 11 adults and two calves, just off the north end of the island kept lucky observers entertained for much of the morning, some breaching fully out of the water just in front of the hide. Other cetaceans included two Harbour Porpoise off the West Coast.

Manx Shearwaters again came throughout in great numbers, as did Gannets of which 3,296 and 175 were counted respectively. A couple of small clusters of Common Scoter, 18 being the final total, headed south along the west coast along with four Fulmar, three Sandwich Terns, two Razorbills and a Puffin. Gulls have been featuring heavily over the past few weeks with large groups roosting on the low tide rocks around Solfach and in the freshly cut hay fields. Black-headed Gulls numbered just four today whilst 62 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 275 Herring Gulls, 14 Greater Black-backed Gulls and 556 Kittiwakes were seen.

A small passage of Cormorants passing the island was noted with 14 seen rather than the usual one or two individuals. Shags amounted to 29, mostly seen on the rocks just off shore but others scattered around the coast. Possibly the same Grey Herons as the past few weeks, an adult and juvenile were present. Mallard numbers increased today, the usual female and her nine juveniles were all present and correct at the north end of the island but a further ten adults were seen just north of Solfach and the Narrows. Also seen were 59 Oystercatchers, one Ringed Plover, a Snipe, 14 Whimbrels, 45 Curlews, ten Redshanks and 21 Turnstones.

Green-veined White feeding around the Withies

Another Tree Pipit was heard today over Nant with its sharp buzzy "sphiz" flight call, Meadow Pipit and Linnet numbers rose today with a total of 93 Meadow Pipits and 232 Linnets seen, forming small flocks in amongst the short grassy fields. Other birds also put in a reasonable appearance with ten Pied Wagtails, 17 Stonechats and 12 Wheatears. Amongst the more densely vegetated areas of the island, around the gardens, withies and the mountainside a Whitethroat, six Blackcaps, two Chiffchaffs, 33 Willow Warblers, two Goldcrests, one new in at the Withies, an adult Spotted Flycatcher hanging around the Observatory garden were counted and two Little Owls perched in Nant Valley were also counted.

A good coverage of Greater Birdsfoot Trefoil across the island looking particularly stunning

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Grey Seals were out in force today with 291 seen in total, 243 in Henllwyn, the main haul out on the island and 48 seen elsewhere around the coastline. A pair of Risso's Dolphins close in off the north end spent a few minutes traveling slowly through the Bardsey Sound.

The clear highlight of the day come in the form of a Little Ringed Plover which was found on Solfach in the morning. It then took flight and moved across the narrows heading south uttering its "pyu' flight call and disappeared out of sight. This is a fantastic sighting and is only the twelfth record of this species on the island since records began, the last record was a pair off the South End in May 2013. A Common Snipe was seen flying north through the centre of the island in the afternoon and a flurry of Godwits saw a Black-tailed Godwit pass north past the south hide, and six Bar-tailed Godwits off the West Coast. To add to the wader count for the day 31 Oystercatchers, four Ringed Plovers, seven Whimbrels, 39 Curlews, an increase of Redshank giving the highest count for weeks numbered 11, and a Common Sandpiper and 28 Turnstones were seen.

Another interesting sighting was a particular Mediterranean Gull, of which two were seen today, one of which was baring a metal ring on its leg. Unfortunately battling with the elements made it difficult to read the ring through a telescope so this birds origins and ringing details will remain a mystery. Adding further interest to the day were the sightings of a dark Arctic Skua and a Great Skua passing south from the north hide in the early hours and a scattering of Terns around the rocks just off the west coast including ten Sandwich Terns and two Arctic Terns. Good numbers of Manx Shearwaters and Gannets were again observed with 1,107 and 121 seen respectively, 13 Fulmar, seven Guillemots and 16 Razorbills added to the tally. A good gathering of gulls across the island was noted with 314 Herring Gulls, 46 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 29 Greater Black-backed Gulls, 387 Kittiwakes and 34 Black-headed Gulls.

A tatty Sparrowhawk soaring over the Plantation and a Kestrel hunting along the mountain side added a bit of variety with very few raptors seen over the past month or so. A Collard Dove hung around the Observatory before heading north up the island, and again a lone Swift passed over the island. A check of Swallow nests around the island to monitor the progress of the nests produced a mixture of eggs still being incubated and some small to large chicks, 43 Swallows and four House Martins were counted. A Tree Pipit, the first of the Autumn, buzzed over the farm and 11 Stonechats, 15 Wheatears, one Sedge Warbler, presumed migrant,  skukled around the Lighthouse compound, two Blackcaps, two Chiffchaffs, 16 Willow Warblers, a Goldcrest, ten Mallards, a female with its nine juveniles and 158 Linnets were recorded.

Monday, 8 August 2016

Generally it was business as usual but some numbers today suggested small movements of birds through the island today.

Wader numbers continued to drop with only six species recorded today. Oystercatchers were down to 28 today, whereas a few weeks back counts of over a hundred weren't out of the ordinary as there are plenty of breeding pairs occupying the island coastline. A couple of Ringed Plovers, six Whimbrels, 13 Curlews, two Redshanks and 14 Tunrstones were the only other additions.

It was much the same inland with very few new birds in but the odd increases showing a small passage of birds. A flock of Collard Doves sped south through the Lowlands, new in but didn't hang around and swiftly disappeared. A lone Swift headed north whilst 19 Pied Wagtails counted was a clear increase, with over double the amount seen in recent weeks. Wheatears mostly around the southern part of the island amounted to 17, Meadow Pipit and Rock Pipit numbers held fast with 54 and 16 respectively. These flocks are probably comprised mostly of the island breeding birds but migrant pipits are bound to be sneaking in amongst these numbers as hundreds are expected to migrate through the island. A group of six Ravens tussled and tumbled over the island above the mountain, a single Sedge Warbler sang in one of the small reed beds and two Blackcaps, one Chiffchaff, six Willow Warblers and 123 Linnets were also seen.

Gannets continued to be a presence at sea with 158 noted. A Great Skua hassled gulls off the West Coast where 14 Fulmars, 481 Manx Shearwaters, 23 Common Scoters, 373 Kittiwakes, a Mediterranean Gull, 12 Black-headed Gulls, three Sandwich Terns and singles of Guillemot and Puffin passed by.

Exciting late news came with the DNA results from a Siberian Lesser Whitethroat trapped in the observatory garden in May 2014. Confirmation of the bird to be of eastern origin and belonging to the subspecies Blythii, Sylvia Curruca Blythii, This was a first for Wales and the first UK spring record!

Siberian Lesser Whitethroat Sylvia Curruca Blythii

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Strong south westerly winds whipped across the island for most of the day today making census inland fairly difficult and with few highlights. Out at sea was a different story as plenty of birds moved off the coast. A massive 4,943 Manx Shearwaters were recorded today with most of them seen in the early evening when approximately 3,500 were recorded in the space of twenty minutes as they piled by. Picked out of the masses passing by was the second Balearic Shearwater of the Autumn, with its distinctive flappy flight style, dusky underwings, belly and shape like a podgy Manx Shearwater. Gannets also moved in fantastic numbers, 275 headed south throughout the day. A Great Skua off the South End and Mediterranean Gull were other highlights. Other sightings included 13 Fulmar, 302 Kittiwakes, 19 Black-headed Gulls, 38 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 71 Herring Gulls, 16 Greater Black-backed Gulls, seven Common Scoter and five Razorbills.

A Bar-tailed Godwit flying south along the west coast was the highlight wader wise, however a Snipe passed over the Observatory, and 39 Oystercatchers, three Whimbrel, 12 Curlew, 26 Turnstones and a single Common Sandpiper and Redshank were also seen.

View from the mountain southwards looking particularly stunning with the flowering Heather
Two Swifts made haste down the west coast early on, 15 Swallows and four House Martins made up the numbers on the Hirundine front. A small number of Stonechats were scattered around with six Wheatears, a Blackcap, two Chiffchaffs, four Willow Warblers, two Goldcrests, two Chaffinches, the first Siskin for a while and 123 Linnets. Choughs soared over the mountain in a flock of ten, 16 Carrion Crows were seen in various places and 3 Ravens noisily displayed overhead.

Saturday, 6 August 2016

The most notable sighting of the day was an adult Cuckoo which swooped past the plantation in the early hours of the morning. Considering that most breeding Cuckoos are now hundreds of miles south migrating to tropical Africa to areas such as the Congo for the winter this sighting came as quite a surprise. Passage of Hirundines continued today with small numbers trickling through the island amounting to 94 Swallows and seven House Martins. A Grey Wagtail passed overhead and numbers of Phylloscopus Warblers continued to dwindle with only 16 Willow Warblers and a single Chiffchaff seen today. Two Goldcrests resided in the Plantation, one juvenile which was later trapped and ringed. Goldcrests have only just become established breeders on the island over the last few years, favouring the dense mature spruce trees at the Plantation. Other passerines seen today included 35 Meadow Pipits, 15 Rock Pipits, five Pied Wagtails, 11 Wheatears, three Stonechats, four Chaffinches, a single Goldfinch, 17 Wrens, one Dunnock, three Robins and 75 Linnets.

A Rook down on Solfach was the first of the Autumn with many expected over the coming months as they pass through the island. Other Corvids of the day amounted to ten Carrion Crows, three Choughs and a single Raven.

Terns featured again in small numbers off the coast where a single Arctic Tern and six Sandwich Terns were spotted. A couple of Fulmars drifted passed with 60 Manx Shearwaters, 11 Gannets and a Puffin. Whilst two Mediterranean Gulls, an adult and a juvenile, 247 Kittiwakes, 12 Black-headed Gulls, 37 Herring Gulls, 9 Lesser Black-backed Gulls and eight Greater Black-backed Gulls moved around the island.

Notable waders today were six Dunlins, two Whimbrels, 36 Curlews, five Redshanks, one Common Sandpiper and 35 Tunrstones scattered around the coast, beaches and bays.

Non avian highlights came on the form of three Common Dolphins spotted off the west coast, breaching the surface as they moved swiftly past. A Slow Worm and three Palmate Newts were also logged.

Moth trapping is proving productive as the dark nights roll in. Purple Bar in the upper right hand corner, True Lovers Knot, Dark Arches, Large Yellow Underings and a Common Rustic


Friday, 5 August 2016

Calm and warm weather and a small arrival of new birds coupled with some visible migration made for a pleasant days census. Hirundines came through the island in small clusters throughout the day, with most of them heading in a southerly direction. Together with the resident population, Swallows numbered 86, seven House Martins were also intermingled in this movement. Willow Warblers again had a strong presence with 67 counted today and a handful trapped and ringed. Two Spotted Flycatchers were new in and spent the morning flycatching around the edges of the Plantation, whilst a single Goldfinch toured the north end, a Blackcap "tacked" deep within dense cover, a Chiffchaff and Goldcrest fed close by and a couple of Chaffinches moved from garden to garden. Some of the commoner and quite often overlooked birds were on show in fairly decent numbers around the island with six Robins, 29 Wrens, ten Blackbirds and six Pied Wagtails seen. Wheatears were scattered around and numberd seven, whilst Linnet numbers rose to 99. A Whitethroat skulked in the withies, a Sedge Warbler sang in one of the reedbeds, nine Stonechats and 39 Meadow and Rock Pipits were counted.

One of 67 Willow Warblers seen today
Adult Willow Warbler, yellow not so concentrated, forming more streak like yellow lines and mainly restricted to throat, upper breast and vent, more white
A good variety of species were seen around the coasts today, one of the highlights being a Little Egret which flew south along down the west side of the island and disappeared off the South End. A fantastic turn out of Common Sandpipers with 13 seen dotted around on various parts of the coastline, often buzzing off with their whirring flight and sweet "swee swee swee" call. Turnstones also were out in force with a high count of 66 around the Narrows, seven Ringed Plovers, six Whimbrel, two Curlews, four Redshanks and a fly over Dunlin made up the rest of the wader numbers today.

Counts from the sea were down on the last few days but still represented good numbers. Most notable were the passage of two Common Terns and a single juvenile Arctic Tern which settled on the rock just out from Solfach. Manx Shearwaters passed and 1,545 were seen, 21 Gannets, 13 Fulmars, two Common Scoters, 21 Shags, a Cormorant and a small passage of gulls ended the day with counts of 141 Herring Gulls, 36 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 25 Greater Black-backed Gulls, 19 Black-headed Gulls, 290 Kittiwakes, one Razorbill and one PuffinHarbour Porpoise were also spotted early on moving passed the island.

A nice variety of Butterflies were also present today. Green-veined Whites numbered 221 mostly through the grassy lowlands, two Large Whites, a Small Copper and two Common Blues, four Red Admirals, four Painted Ladies and 27 Meadow Browns were active throughout the island.

Over night 23 Storm Petrels were trapped and ringed around the Pen Cristin area, continuing and adding to a fantastic tally of this delightful seabird being ringed this season.