Tuesday, 18 July 2017

A much quieter day, after yesterday's pulse of migration. The highlight came from the sea, where a long overdue first Risso's Dolphin of the year was seen. Otherwise very little was seen out to sea despite a fair bit of effort, 13 Puffins all that remain, and six Black-headed Gulls offshore from Solfach.

Another good selection of waders was represented with 16 Curlews, nine Dunlins, eight Common Sandpipers (this species showing a very good passage by Bardsey standards this year) and six Redshanks providing the numbers. Two Whimbrels, two Ringed Plovers and, most unusually, a single Snipe (the second of return passage, following one in June) were also seen.
juvenile Curlew, © Ben Porter; benporterwildlife.wordpress.com
The young Curlew in the photo above was dazzled during the night by Ben, and duly ringed. The patterning of the tertials confirmed what we were almost certain of based on how short the bill was, that this is a juvenile fledged during the summer. We often assume that our early arriving Curlews are failed breeders, so this is an excellent example of just how early the young can fledge and begin to disperse/migrate from their breeding grounds.

A Great Spotted Woodpecker briefly above Cristin was the most unusual of a small selection of grounded migrants; six Willow Warblers were also scattered about and a Grey Wagtail on the shore on the South End. Vis-mig didn't live up to the standards set by a good day yesterday, but nine Swifts, 20 House Martins and three Sand Martins trickled through, with a single flock of 20 Starlings heading north along the West Coast. Also seen over the West Coast was a Buzzard thermalling mid-afternoon.

A rather good day for Butterflies was highlighted by a season high of 442 Green-veined Whites, and an arrival of 65 Red Admirals, with a single Painted Lady and two Hummingbird Hawk-moths further evidence of migration.  Two Large Whites and Singles of Peacock, Small Copper and Grayling added diversity, with 129 Meadow Browns and 58 Six-spot Burnets counted.

Monday, 17 July 2017

A busy and birdy day, which several observers commented felt like the first proper day of migration! Overhead was where movement was most evident. We've been blessed with an above average year for those scythe-winged sky demons, the Swifts, and 137 were logged heading north today. Amongst them were a steady stream of Hirundines, concentrated mostly between 10:00 and 13:00, with 44 House Martins and 41 Sand Martins logged. Swallows were also clearly on the move, with 68 logged today, although a good chunk of that total will also have been resident birds, and their presence makes the true numbers passing through harder to detect. Also noted overhead were singles of Grey Wagtail and "Flava" Wagtail, a Buzzard over the Mountain and a Kestrel over the South End.

Willow Warblers were down a bit on yesterday, but an excellent 17 were still logged, alongside a young Blackcap in the Withies. Six Chiffchaffs and 10 Sedge Warblers were probably all resident birds, with the only suspected arrivals being a Siskin calling over the Obs and a single Lesser Redpoll trapped in the Withies, with probably the same bird roaming the island calling for much of the morning.

Post-breeding buildup of Kittiwakes continues to be one of the biggest features on the sea, with 200 roosting on the South End in the morning and another 154 logged offshore today. Several parties of Common Scoters at either end of the day totalled 38, with decent counts of regular species including 1349 Manx Shearwaters, 62 Shags and 41 Gannets. A single first-summer Common Gull was again amongst the Kittiwakes on the South End. Meanwhile, conspicuous by their absence were the auks, with almost all of the Guillemots, Razorbills and Puffins having left the island, daily log now sees all three species just creeping into double figures! It was only three days ago that the season high of 169 Puffins was logged, and their sudden absence in the days since on both the East Side and while seawatching has been especially apparent, just ten were seen today.

A decent spread of waders was again on the South End and the Narrows today, with 16 Curlews, 13 Redshanks, seven Common Sandpipers, five Whimbrels, two Turnstones and a Dunlin. Some active migration was seen amongst them, including a party of five Redshanks south off the South End early in the morning and the Dunlin coming in/off here shortly afterwards.

A sunny day brought out another strong showing from the islands lepidopera. The second Dark Green Fritilary of the year (only the second and third records since 2005) was found on Pen Cristin mid-morning, while almost as rare this year was a Small White at Ty Pellaf, a species that has declined almost inexplicably on Bardsey in recent years. Red Admirals had increased to 52, with an excellent 63 Graylings, mostly counted on the East Side. Five Peacocks was the first time double-figures have been counted in recent months, and only the third record of their second late-summer emergence, while five Small Coppers was also the best count for at least a few weeks. Six Small Tortoiseshells was another good showing, while a Hummingbird Hawk-moth was on the East Side. An interesting bee noted nesting at Ty Pellaf was Willughby's Leafcutter Bee (Megachile willughbiella), possibly the first record for the island. The Obs Moth trap was fairly quiet, with the most notable feature being Uncertain/Rustic aggregates accounting for a decent proportion of the total trap for the first time this year. However, a Dark Spinach caught at Ty Nesaf was only the second island record.
Hummingbird Hawk-moth; © Ben Porter benporterwildlife.wordpress.com

Sunday, 16 July 2017

A much improved day on yesterday, with a fair amount around. Most obvious by their presence was the largest (and rather early) arrival of Willow Warblers of the autumn, with 22 around the usual hotspots of the Plantation, Withies and Obs Garden. A single Blackcap may well have been new in as well, as was a Lesser Redpoll in the Wetlands.

Willow Warbler
It was perhaps little surprise that a "Flying Ant Day" corresponded with a good day for Hirundines; 41 Swallows, 15 House Martins and 14 Sand Martins were all good counts for the time of year, with the Sand Martins clearly starting to move in numbers already. Also predating on these ants were 16 Swifts, our highest count since mid-June, and some 300 Herring Gulls and a Black-headed Gull. It was a good day for Gulls generally, the first six-species day for months with the first Common Gull of the autumn. This first-summer was roosting amongst the growing numbers of Kittiwakes on the tip of the South End, with 169 counted here and 192 logged in total today.

Out to sea all that was of note was a single flock of 90 Common Scoters that flew south at 21:35. We had one count of 80 on July 7th, but if memory serves us correct this is the highest count of the year so far. Otherwise the Sea was quiet all day, even the Auks are now in very low numbers offshore, reflecting the nearly barren cliffs which most have left for the open ocean. Meanwhile, on the Narrows a limited selection of waders included six Curlews, four Common Sandpipers, three Redshanks and two Whimbrels.

It was only a few weeks ago that we had our first ever record of Early Bumblebee (Bombus praetorum), so for five individuals to be discovered at Ty Pellaf today was intriguing! Clearly they are more than just transients to Bardsey, though given Bumblebees have not been closely monitored in the past it's uncertain whether colonisation recent development or not. Otherwise a fairly moderate selection of insects was seen today; 55 Six-spot Burnets were on the wing and a Hummingbird Hawk-moth was at Ty Pellaf, while the first Agriphila straminellas of the year were on the wing. Several dipterids and hemipterids were collected from the North-west fields, but no attempts to identify them have been made yet, and we'll probably send most of them off to the county recorder for confirmation before we hear anything else.

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Several factors combined to produce a modest day's sightings today. Being a changeover day, coverage was very limited, while strong winds, showers and thick mist for most of the day hampered the birding we did manage to do. Nontheless, a few noteworthy sightings were made, chief among which was a juvenile Cuckoo in the Wetlands. Looking extremely young and thought to have fledged locally, this represents the fourth year in succession that this species has bred on the island. Females were seen being harassed by Meadow Pipits on two or three occasions in May and June, as they coursed low over the Wetlands and the Mountainside, so it was already suspected that breeding may have been attempted. To see it confirmed again is most gratifying, especially in light of this species troubles throughout the UK.

Meadow Pipit (www.mybirdblog.blogspot.co.uk)

A small selection of waders on the Narrows featured 15 Curlews, seven Redshanks, four Common Sandpipers, two Whimbrels and a single dapper-plumaged Turnstone. Meanwhile, on land five sherbet-yellow Willow Warblers were about, and Starling numbers had decreased to nine. Nothing else noteworthy was seen today, we hope for some improvement tomorrow!

Friday, 14 July 2017

Today’s fair weather produced a noteworthy amount of activity and emergence among Lepidoptera with triple figures of multiple species being recorded. The most numerous of which were Green-veined White, Meadow Brown and Six-spot Burnet, with 104, 112 and 153 seen respectively! The latter being the highest count of the season thus far. Adding to the diversity today were also four Small Coppers, 14 Red Admirals, one Peacock and nine Grayling! Moths recorded today included four Silver Y, a Lesser Yellow Underwing and a Common Emerald.

Birds today largely concerned seabirds and waders. A total of 44 Gannets were recorded out to sea, whilst a mixture of breeding birds and migrants produced the highest count of Shags at 152 individuals since August 2005, when a whooping 200 were logged! Black-headed Gulls saw a slight increase in numbers with 13 seen, as well as 811 Herring Gulls. Finally, 169 Puffins recorded today was the highest count this year!

With August fast approaching waders are also being recorded in reasonable number and diversity, today’s haul included a Ringed Plover, a Dunlin, two Whimbrels, three Curlews, 14 Redshanks and nine Common Sandpipers.

Other migrants today concerned two Collared Doves, a further five Willow Warblers, a Goldcrest and 11 Starlings.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Another fine day to be out, with a rather pleasing amount of movement already happening. The obvious highlight of the day was a female Marsh Harrier heading low and south along the West Coast and off the South End at 11:45. A little bit of a spurt of raptor movement resulted in a Kestrel and a Buzzard also moving through today. Also overhead, 17 House Martins was a significant increase that doubtless included some movement, with two each of Sand Martins and Swifts passing through too.

On the sea, the highlight was an Arctic Tern around Solfach, one of only a few seen all year so far. ten Black-headed Gulls and 21 Common Scoters moved through in addition, with 1013 Manx Shearwaters probably an underestimate of the true numbers gathering offshore in the evening. Three Harbour Porpoises were the only other maritime sightings of interest.

Today perhaps marked the start of proper wader migration, with a fine mix of species seen, mostly around the Narrows. These included 14 Redshanks, ten Curlews, six Common Sandpipers, five Whimbrels, two Turnstones, a single Dunlin and the first Sanderling of the autumn.

Sanderling with Dunlin on Solfach (www.mybirdblog.blogspot.co.uk)

Just one Willow Warbler was present today, in Nant Withy, with increases to 30 Starlings and 14 Goldfinches the most notable sightings amongst a small spread of arriving passerines. Singles of Lesser Redpoll and Siskin were heard calling as they passed overhead, whilst a Robin at Pen Cristin was far enough away from the three known haunts of breeding/over-summering birds to perhaps be a locally dispersed bird from the mainland. Finally, there were a few more odds and sods to report. Ten more Storm Petrels responded to tapes as we completed our census of the Scree slope this morning, while a single Grey Heron was watched coming in/off on the East Side at 07:30.

It was a quiet day for insects, apart from a strong showing of 29 Red Admirals. A Swallow-tailed Moth was the only highlight of a fairly quiet moth trap at Cristin, the first one trapped here so far this year (and a reasonably scarce species on the island, with only 50 or so previous records but small numbers every year recently).

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Summer is truly over by the time the first yellow Willow Warbler juvenile appears, and today marked that milestone this year! Three were seen in total in the Plantation, where a Goldcrest was also new in. Other passerine migrants today included 13 Starlings, two Siskins, two Grey Wagtails and a Lesser Redpoll, but the definite highlight was a stunning male Flavissima Yellow Wagtail, probably the same as the heard only "Flava" yesterday.

Overhead three Sand Martins and a single Swift moved south, and two early morning flocks of Curlews totalling 13 headed in the same direction. There were 22 of them in total today, with other waders making the roll call including eight Redshanks, four Common Sandpipers and two Whimbrels.

Out to sea 41 Common Scoters passed through late in the evening, when upwards of 4000 Manx Shearwaters were rafting off the South End. Three Black-headed Gulls headed south early in the morning, with three Harbour Porpoise also seen offshore. Another Gull starting to increase in number is Kittiwakes, with 297 counted today. This included exactly 100 roosting on the very tip of the South End at Maen Du, a regular late-summer loafing spot that has recorded counts of several thousand in recent years. It will be very interesting to see how numbers build up this year! This observer fancies a Ross's Gull snuck in amongst them too. The only other avian feature of note today was 41 Choughs, one of our highest counts of the year and presumably including some wandering from the mainland.

There was plenty to talk about amongst a good array of Moths and Butterflies seen too, with a definite increase in several immigrants. 28 Red Admirals, two Painted Ladies, 11 Silver Y's and a Hummingbird Hawk-moth were seen today. There were also good counts of resident lepidoptera, such as 177 Green-veined Whites, 155 Meadow Browns, 36 Six-spot Burnets, 29 Graylings and five Small Tortoiseshells. The most abundant micro moth on the wing in coastal areas currently is Pyrausta despicata, and a small sample count from the East Side revealed 375, with doubtless multitudes more actually present.

Ruby Tiger, among the highlights from the recent nights moth trapping

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Another calm day to start today, both the start and the finish of the day were christened with magnificent weather and sunshine. However, the middle wasn’t quite as friendly with constant drizzle.

The calm sea state allowed the first cetaceans for quite a while to be seen with three Harbour Porpoise seen briefly off the West Coast. Also out to sea were 42 Manx Shearwaters, 19 Gannets and 36 Kittiwakes, among the occasional auk passing on a foraging trip.

The Sparrowhawk was still present today, but remained elusive. Waders continued to pass through today with good numbers recorded on the Narrows. The first Ringed Plover of the autumn, five Whimbrels, 29 Curlews, eight Redshanks and eight Common Sandpipers were logged.

Inland, a ‘Flava’ Wagtail and two Grey Wagtails were the clear highlights and with yesterday’s Willow Warbler, they probably mark the true beginning of passerine migration through the island. Also present today were the usual 11 Stonechats, with the Lowlands pair fledging their second brood of the year.

Young Stonechat regretting its decision to leave the nest (www.mybirdblog.blogspot.co.uk)

A further 11 Wheatears, 11 Sedge Warblers, one Chiffchaff and 90 Starlings were also logged.

Monday, 10 July 2017

A very quiet day, apart from a few oddities as follows. A Grasshopper Warbler reeling on the mountainside above Plas is our second of the autumn, while a Willow Warbler in the Plantation was the first returning bird. A single Grey Wagtail was also heard calling over Nant. At least 6000 Manx Shearwaters were rafting offshore in the late evening, waiting to come ashore to feed hungry chicks!

Manx Shearwater (www.mybirdblog.blogspot.co.uk)

Other than this, sightings of note were very limited. A visit to the East Side revealed a season high count of 91 Shags, as many adults and their fledged young were sitting on the rocks at the base of the cliffs. On the Narrows just four Curlews and a single Whimbrel were to be seen.

The East Side also brought a few of the limited entomological highlights of the day, with 14 Graylings counted, and 180 of the micro moth Pyrausta despicata. The Fuschias at Ty Nesaf were absolutely crawling with Garden Bumblebee (Bombus hortorum) today, making up the majority of the 98 counted.