Monday, 28 November 2016

It was a day of very few changes around the island as the fantastic calm easterlies continued. The Pink-footed Geese seem to be content in the North West Fields, obviously finding enough food to keep them glued to the three stubble fields there. One of the Bullfinches ringed prior still remained in the Observatory garden, calling whilst net rounds were being conducted during a mornings ringing session. A Goldfinch and four Chaffinches were the only other finches of the day. A few thrushes were scattered around the island, seven Blackbirds, a Fieldfare, four Song Thrushes and nine Redwings, a stunning adult male Sparrowhawk hunted around Nant which was also home to three Goldcrests flitting about the Plantation, the same Blue Tit, 180 Starlings and two Little Owls calling up on the mountainside.

Although unfortunately this Starling was found freshly dead, it's a fantastic chance to appreciate how stunning its plumage is
On cue the mixed gull flock appeared along the West Coast where they fed for most of the day, 687 Black-headed Gulls, adult Mediterranean Gull, five Common Gulls, two Herring Gulls, two Greater Black-backed Gulls and three Kittiwakes the numbers today. Passing beyond them was a Great Northern Diver which speedily headed south along with four Common Scoters, 113 Guillemots and 71 Razorbills.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

The eight Pink-footed Geese were still on the island, content with spending most of the day feeding in the North West Fields, however there was little different elsewhere. A Ringed Plover echoed its "poo-eep" flight call as it bombed around the Narrows, seemingly not content with settling for long. The highest count of Oystercatchers for a week or so, 40, roosted on Henllwyn with the Curlew flock which amounted to 35 today. A small number of other waders, four Redshanks and three Turnstones were close by as a Merlin cruised overhead, causing momentary panic amongst the smaller birds there, a Grey Heron, Meadow Pipit, five Rock Pipits, a Robin and 43 Grey Seals were additional sightings.

A Robin hiding amongst a cluster of lobster pots on the Narrows
One of the Bullfinches ringed the previous day was still sneaking around the Observatory, only giving away its presence every now and then with a soft "phu", a single Brambling passed overhead with a Skylark, whilst Thrush numbers continue to drop off, nine Blackbirds, four Song Thrushes and two Redwings, counts for the day. A pair of Stonechats in the Lowlands and four Goldcrest, 60 Starlings, two Chaffinches and a Linnet were other birds logged.

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Undoubtably one of the highlights of these late Autumn weeks was the appearance of eight Pink-footed Geese, frustratingly highly mobile around the West Coast until settling in the North West Fields to feed where good views were obtained and the ID confirmed. According to past reports this is just the fifth record for Bardsey, the last being on the 13th of October 2000, other prior sightings occurring in 1981, 1991 and 1992.

Flighty Pink-footed Geese before settling down in the North West Fields
The weather recently has been fantastically calm, giving an opportunity for the nets to be opened up at the Observatory for a couple of hours during the morning. Although not much was caught during those few hours, two juvenile female Bullfinches were an excellent bonus.

Juvenile outer greater coverts slightly tinged brown, also not obvious in the image is brown fringes to the primary coverts, alula and carpel coverts
Kindly perching briefly for a few pictures before flying off
A Mistle Thrush kept a watchful eye from the Schoolhouse during net rounds, emitting its rattling, machine gun like call intermittently, meanwhile overhead a Brambling, Goldfinch, eight Linnets and a Reed Bunting passed by. A male and female Sparrowhawk jousted over the Withies, 13 Blackbirds, eight Song Thrushes, Blackcap, four Goldcrests, Blue Tit and four Chaffinches were amongst other species recorded.

A few waders roosted on Carreg yr Honwy during low tide, 10 Oystercatchers and 37 Curlews, whilst a distant Redshank was heard calling. Just off shore two Gannets, 231 Black-headed Gulls, six Herring Gulls, a Greater Black-backed Gulls, one Guillemot and 12 Razorbills were seen.

Friday, 25 November 2016

A Siberian Chiffchaff still remained in the Withies, another possible calling from dense vegetation just beyond the individual basking in the morning sun. There was no sign of the long staying Willow Warbler unfortunately, however, it was in the habit of moving from one withy to another so may have just been concealed, we will have to wait and see! A few Goldcrests restlessly flitted through the willows, one individual in particular being extremely territorial chasing off others and flaring its fiery crown stripe in a stunning display.

Water Rails seem to be frequent and probably fairly abundant if it was possible to track down all the individuals on the island. However, their secretive nature and habits make them extremely difficult to record in any accurate manner, none the less five were logged today, one in the Green Lane, three in a single withy and one caught on a camera trap at Carreg.

A Hooded Crow flying down, then up the West Coast was a pleasant surprise, six Magpies, eight Rooks and five Carrion Crows were among other corvids seen. The now resident Blue Tit was also spending the morning in the Withies along with a Fieldfare which dropped in momentarily. Through the Lowlands a mini flock of 12 Meadow Pipits moved from field to field, tight nit flocks of Starling whizzed overhead, 220 being the final count, six Wood Pigeons headed north along the mountainside and a single Linnet and Reed Bunting were heard in flight.

An adult Mediterranean Gull, 96 Black-headed Gulls, three Common Gulls, three Herring Gulls, a Kittiwake and 14 Razorbills were spotted off the West Coast during the morning.

Thursday, 24 November 2016

The first port of call was an early walk south through the Wetlands and towards the Narrows. Whilst moving through the long grasses and boggy areas four Common Snipes took off with their erratic flight, some dropping back down into the wetlands, some disappearing out of sight. A Skylark also took flight as Wrens emitted their noisy grating alarm calls from all around, whilst a smart male Stonechat perched up on some nearby brambles. Around the Narrows it was fairly quiet on the whole  but wasn't without its highlights, another Snipe, but this time a Jack Snipe was hiding amongst the rocks higher up from the tide line, taking flight and heading in a northerly direction.  The Curlew flock, numbering 36 today, roosted on Henllwyn, the largest bay on the eastern side of the Narrows along with 28 Oystercatcher, which were later joined by three Lapwings, meanwhile four Mallards, five Redshanks, a couple of Meadow Pipits, five Rock Pipits and two Linnets were close by.

Water Rail prints along the main track through the island
Elsewhere further north towards Nant a Little Owl called whilst a Kestrel and Peregrine soared above. Below at the Plantation a male Blackcap flitted amongst the pines in the last warm rays of the setting sun, two Goldcrests were also present, eight Blackbirds, four Song Thrushes and a Redwing constituted thrush numbers and the Blue Tit, 120 Starlings, a Chaffinch, seven Robins, and two Dunnocks were additionals.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Cold, but weaker, easterly winds persisted overnight and throughout the day, however the ease in the weather didn't facilitate much in the way of movements but some nice sightings were  recorded.

A camera trap placed alongside a small flood pool on the Narrows, which appears in times of heavy rain, captured a pair of drake Teals feeding amongst the temporary quagmire. This species was not recorded during any of the days prior, providing a good example of what can go unseen on the island, or equally what goes on during the pitch dark hours of the night. Hopefully more interesting sightings or interesting behaviour that can go unseen may be captured over the coming weeks.

During the morning small groups of Chaffinches passed north over the farm, Observatory and Nant, although not many, 21, it was pleasant sign of some movements of birds through the island, a Goldfinch and Reed Bunting also joined them. The Common Buzzards spent some time on Pen Cristin perching on the banks and stone walls there, periodically dropping into the grassy fields below and reappearing once again to perch, presumably finding invertebrates to feast on. A pair of Stonechats and most of the six Meadow Pipits recorded today habited the adjacent fields along with Starlings, 392 the total by the end of the day. Little Owls have become extremely elusive as of late with only the odd birds being heard, not in any consistency, one called for a few moments at Nant during the evening, falling silent soon after. Rooks were again present in the North West Fields, numbering eight, seven Choughs glided around the Narrows and nearby nine Oystercatchers, 15 Curlews and seven Redshanks were the waders present, a Water Rail, 11 Blackbirds, a Fieldfarethree Song Thrushes and six Redwing being additional sightings.

A smart adult Mediterranean Gull and six Common Gulls fed amongst the daily gathering of gulls off the west, Black-headed Gulls being the most numerous at 101, followed by 49 Kittiwakes.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Strong northerly winds have been battering the island over the past few days, and this coupled with heave rain making it just that little bit harder to census and notice any movements of birds, as anything inhabiting the island sensibly kept its head down. Today the winds had shifted to a north easterly direction and had dropped off slightly providing a more pleasant day. A number of thrushes were recorded, at the Observatory and Nant, nine Blackbirds and three Song Thrushes snuck through the vegetation, the sound of them cracking open snail shells on rocks sometimes giving away their position, whilst a Fieldfare taking shelter along side a ditch at the north end. The ringed Blue Tit continued to inhabit the island but proved extremely mobile from garden to garden, the ring on its left leg a useful indication that this was the same individual, a lone Goldcrest in the Observatory garden was the only warbler noted today, meanwhile five Chaffinches were present, most of them feeing in the field adjacent to the chapel, 50 Starlings occupied the North West Fields and very small numbers of Wrens, Dunnocks and Robins were logged. Overhead the Kestrel and Common Buzzard put in brief appearances as a Peregrine Falcon kept a watchful eye in the skies over Nant.

Sightings and numbers off the coast have been dropping over the last week or so and in the past few days only small groups of birds have been noted, the tides and currents just off shore attracting small numbers of gulls to feed along the churned up water as auks passed by. A Lesser Black-backed Gull on the Narrows was the first for a while, 13 Black-headed Gulls, three Common Gulls, nine Herring Gulls, a Greater Black-backed Gulls, 69 Kittiwakes, 13 Guillemots and 111 Razorbills making up the rest of the counts.

Sunday, 20 November 2016

The strong westerly and north westerly winds had subsided and the direction had swung round to north easterly overnight bringing with it an extremely pleasant, all be it cold, day with plenty of sightings to report. The most notable sighting of the day concerned a Little Egret which was hiding behind part of a stone jetty at Cafn, on the Narrows. A flash of bright white and yellow feet as it rose up and headed across the bay and round the east side of the island disappearing quickly out of sight. Elsewhere on the Narrows three Redshanks, 14 Turnstones and nine Rock Pipits busily worked the shingle and seaweed around the high tide mark as six Choughs did the same amongst the sand on Solfach, a Grey Heron and two Mallards were other additions.

The digging signs of busy Choughs alongside the footprints of Oystercatchers
Inland there was clearly an arrival of thrushes, mostly comprising of Song Thrushes of which 19 were counted but also 14 Blackbirds and a single Redwing. A movement of finches was also evident as 40 Chaffinches moved overhead in a northerly direction along with two Brambling, a Siskin, Goldfinch and two Linnets. A small flock of 11 Rooks spent the morning in the North West Fields mingling with some of the seven Carrion Crows logged, 484 Starlings, some around the farm and others at the North End, a Woodcock at the Observatory, two Wood Pigeons, a Skylark, four Meadow Pipits, a Chiffchaff, seven Goldcrests and a Reed Bunting were amongst other notables.

Gulls and seabirds off the coast were present but in small amounts, Razorbills passed in small numbers, 50 the total sum along with 100 unidentified auk species. A feeding flock of gulls passed up the West Coast slowly during the course of the morning following the racing tide and was made up of 295 Black-headed Gulls, four Herring Gulls, a Greater Black-backed Gull and 68 Kittiwakes.

Saturday, 19 November 2016

A few new birds had arrived over night in small numbers and were spread across the island today, however, during the day there was next to no visible migration taking place. A handful of thrushes were the most noticeable additions mostly habiting the gardens and Withies, six Blackbirds, seven Song Thrushes and a Redwing the total sums. A single Skylark moved high over the Lowlands whilst below six Meadow Pipits moved around the fields, the Willow Warbler was present in the Withies along with a female Blackcap and two Chiffchaffs, seven Goldcrests, a Blue Tit, 100 Starlings, two Chaffinches, and singles of Siskin and Goldfinch were seen elsewhere.

The daily mass of Gulls and Auks moved off the coast, however fewer were recorded today, 24 Black-headed Gulls, a Common Gull, ten Herring Gulls, three Greater Black-backed Gulls, 214 Kittwakes, 28 Guillemots and 184 Razorbills making up the totals.

Friday, 18 November 2016

The surprising highlight of the day came when a flock of 60 Wood Pigeons swooped over the Observatory and headed down into the Withies where they rested for some time. Wood Pigeons are a breeding bird on Bardsey in small numbers but during the autumn and winter months most leave the island, returning later. The Withies were fairly active with birds flitting in the warm morning sunlight, currently a long staying Willow Warbler is smashing the record for the latest record of this species, seemingly a happy habitant in the Withies, moving between the different willow crops. The two Siberian Chiffchaffs still remained and a single Chiffchaff, six Goldcrests and Water Rail were also present, the Water Rail deciding to break cover and fly straight towards the observer before realising and veering off course to dive into cover. A small number of Meadow Pipits were spread out through the Lowlands and amounted to five individuals and a pair of Stonechats perched on the fence lines at Carreg. Chough sightings are still sparse at the moment, birds are starting to make daily excursions to the Narrows and Solfach but numbers are still far fewer than the expected tens that turn up over winter, seven were seen today, other corvid highlights were four Ravens together soaring over the mountain. Additions included the Common Buzzard, Kestrel and Peregrine Falcon, Fieldfare, Song Thrush, Blue Tit and 250 Starlings.

Redshanks totalled eight around the Narrows, residing with three Turnstones, just up the West Coast 13 Mallards were seen and offshore a Gannet, 84 Black-headed Gulls, 38 Herring Gulls, four Greater Black-beacked Gulls, 120 Kittiwakes, seven Guillemots and 121 Razorbills were logged.

Thursday, 17 November 2016

A nice surprise first thing was the first Shelduck for some months passing over the North End and headed south through the island. Further down the coast a Redshank and 18 Mallards rested amongst the rock pools, meanwhile a Common Scoter moved past the island further out at sea. A handful of adult Mediterranean Gulls, 16 Back-headed Gulls, 26 Herring Gulls and 209 Kittiwakes were present along the West Coast during the morning and a Gannet, 65 Guillemots and 182 Razorbills were also counted.

Due to very strong winds very little else was recorded, even the more common island residents were elusive with just singles noted in various areas. A flock of 100 Starlings roamed the Lowlands and Narrows forming a bubbling, noisy mass moving through the grasses and picking around the feet of the sheep and cattle. The Common Buzzard continued to reside on the island as did the Blue Tit.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

As strong winds continued from the west it was sea watching that was again the most productive. Another late Manx Shearwater effortlessly glided over the stormy sea off the North End where a good passing of auks, a daily occurrence at the moment, took place, 186 Guillemots and 503 Razorbills battling their way south. A nice passage of Herring Gulls past by the North hide, 145 counted in the end, an adult and two first winter Mediterranean Gulls mingled amongst flocks of other passing Gulls, some stopping just out from the hide forming small feeding groups, 72 Black-headed Gulls, three Common Gulls, a Greater Black-backed Gull and 830 Kittiwakes were the final tallies, whilst two Fulmars and four Gannets were additional seabirds.

A Chiffchaff was a new arrival at Nant and was joined by a Goldcrest and, at least for now, the resident Blue Tit in one of the adjacent gardens. A flyover Goldfinch above the Observatory, Sparrowhawk, Common Buzzard, Kestrel and Peregrin Falcon gracing the mountainside were the only other sightings of note.

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

The most notable movement of birds today was undoubtably passage of auks off the West Coast, in particular Razorbills. Groups continuously streamed past heading in a southerly direction and in half an hour 1,364 Razorbills and 72 Guillemots had been counted. Other species weren't as prolific but there was a reasonable gathering of Gulls including a second winter Mediterranean Gull, 137 Black-headed Gulls, two Common Gulls, 22 Herring Gulls and 27 Kittiwakes. A single Common Scoter was also logged.

A walk around some of the gardens produced small numbers of birds but nothing in the way of any major movements. A handful of thrushes were present and amounted to six Blackbirds, three Song Thrushes and a Redwing, warblers were also thin on the ground, a Chiffchaff at Nant and eight Goldcrests scattered around being the only counts, the Blue Tit was again present whilst a small number of finches passed over, three Chaffinches, four Goldfinches and four Linnets being the tallies. A couple of Water Rails were heard, one in the Withies and one in the Observatory garden and a Little Owl on the mountainside, two Stonechats and 100 Starlings were additions counts.

Monday, 14 November 2016

As the winds hit the island from the west there were relatively few birds moving. Another Great Skua was seen from the north hide as it headed south down the West Coast, disappearing and reappearing behind the deep peaks and troughs on the sea. Reasonable movements of auks took place with 123 Guillemots and 546 Razorbills moving through with two Fulmars, six Gannets and a Purple Sandpiper, meanwhile gulls both passed by the hide and formed a small feeding flock just offshore comprising of 96 Black-headed Gulls, a Common Gull, 36 Herring Gulls, Greater Black-backed Gull and 97 Kittiwakes.

A Skylark hid amongst the low stubble in the North West Fields, taking off uttering its bubbly rippling call, the ringed Blue Tit was still present mainly occupying the Nant area, a small number of Goldcrests were scattered around, a flock of 80 Starling moved around the North End and Lowlands and a single Goldfinch was also seen.

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Half a dozen Blackbirds were ringed in the Observatory garden during the morning and four more were seen at Nant, a FieldfareSong Thrush and four Redwings were also noted. A female Blackcap at the Plantation, a Chiffchaff and three Goldcrests were the only warblers recorded. Finch passage was evident but lacking in any sort of volume as six Chaffinches, singles of BramblingSiskin, two Goldfinches moved over the Observatory and a flock of six Linnets passed over the Narrows. Small numbers of Pipits were concentrated around the Narrows with 13 Meadow Pipits and 16 Rock Pipits seen, a Skylark moved overhead, whilst a Pied Wagtail dropped into Solfach to feed. Three Stonechats were dotted around and 107 Starlings moved through the grassy fields. A Rook was spotted mingling with the 20 Carrion Crows dotted through the Lowlands, Magpies numbered ten, nine Choughs picked around the Narrows in noisy groups and two Ravens toured the island. SparrowhawkCommon BuzzardMerlinWater Rail and Little Owl were the only other additions.
Shout out to the common birds, the very prolific Wren

A teal resided amongst the rock pools on the West Coast along with 16 Mallards and a Grey Heron which moved up and down the coast. Off shore small numbers of birds passed and flocked including, six Gannets, two Common Scoters, 93 Guillemots and 140 Razorbills. Feeding along the tides races were 26 Black-headed Gulls, 50 Herring Gulls, two Greater Black-backed Gulls and 158 Kittiwakes.

The ever present Curlew flock numbered 32 today, roosting on the low tide rocks just off shore. Other waders were fairly scarce but 19 Oystercatchers, four Redshanks and a Turnstone were recorded around the Narrows and a Woodcock was seen at the Observatory.

Saturday, 12 November 2016

A stroll through the Withies produced undoubtably the days highlight with the seasons third Pallas's Warbler. The siberian vagrant showed extremely well flitting in the first warm rays of sunlight hitting the willows, frequently uttering its squeaky, springy "chu-it" call. Accompanying it were two Siberian Chiffchaffs, a ringed bird and an unringed bird, presumably the same two individuals seen the previous week, a Chiffchaff and five of the six Goldcrests recorded today

A pair of male Sparrowhawks were part of a dramatic tussle above Nant, circling together before diving at each other, talons outstretched. Woodcocks were again flushed from cover in a couple of areas, the Observatory garden and the Plantation, a Little Owl called on the side of the mountain, a juvenile Grey Heron habited the Lowlands along with 12 Meadow Pipits. Overhead 270 Starling passed heading south, a gathering of 39 Herring Gulls and 200 Kittiwakes fed off the West Coast and small numbers of the common resident birds were logged.

Friday, 11 November 2016

Overnight winds had dropped considerably and during the early parts of the morning there was barely any wind to speak of. As this can be a rare occurrence during the winter months the opportunity was taken to open some of the mist nets around the Observatory garden in the hope of catching some migrants moving through the island. Although not many birds were trapped and ringed, over the course of a few hours the session wasn't without its highlights, one of the stars of the show being an absolutely stunning male Brambling closely followed by an equally gorgeous adult female Fieldfare, of which not many of this species are ringed on Bardsey. 

Brambling, one of the most stunning Autumn and Winter visitors to the UK
Very few Fieldfares are caught on Bardsey, this one found its way into a net in the Observatory garden
Slim spear shaped dark centres to the crown feathers indicating this individual is a female, males show much broader dark markings
Redwings are also extremely dapper
Whilst checking the nets and ringing birds passage overhead was evident, comprising mostly of finches and thrushes, ten Blackbirds, three Fieldfares, five Song Thrushes, 21 Redwings, 29 Chaffinches, two Bramblings, one Greenfinch, 16 Siskins and two Goldfinches were counted. The occasional Woodcocks are now being found around the gardens and plantations of trees, two were present in the Observatory garden and one at the Plantation today. A male Blackcap, Chiffchaff and three Goldcrests were the only warblers of the day, additional passerines included a Meadow Pipit, Blue Tit, 50 Starlings and a Reed Bunting. A couple of Water Rails squealed away to each other in the Withies, a Little Owl called on the mountainside and a SparrowhawkCommon Buzzard and 43 Curlews were extra sightings.

A flock of seven Teals traveled north up the West Coast eventually merging with a group of auks heading the same direction. A Gannet, 252 Razorbills, 16 Guillemots and small selection of gulls, 30 Black-headed Gulls, a Common Gull, eight Herring Gulls, a Greater Black-backed Gulls and 20 Kittiwakes made up the numbers off the coast.

Thursday, 10 November 2016

A late Manx Shearwater off the South End wasn't the latest record on Bardsey but was a nice surprise as it sheared through the swell at close range, additionally a Great Skua and adult Little Gull followed closely as highlights off the south tip. A handful of Gannets also swooped passed as 43 Guillemots and 90 Razorbills whirred past in small groups below. Gulls padded out the numbers out at sea with 120 Black-headed Gulls, two Common Gulls, 83 Herring Gulls, four Greater Black-backed Gulls and 280 Kittiwakes.

A Merlin and Fieldfare were part of a dramatic chase around the Narrows and South End. first thing as the Fieldfare, presumably a tired new migrant fresh in, settled briefly on the rocks around the Narrows. Soon after it was spotted by an eagle eyed Merlin which immediately gave chase. The pair twisted and turned low around the bays ending in the gorse on the South End where both disappeared out of sight, the outcome of the chase unfortunately, or fortunately, was inconclusive. Choughs have now moved to regularly occupying the Narrows and in particular the beach, Solfach, where they pick through the sands and seaweed. Rock Pipits dotted the coast lines with 11 recorded mostly round the southern part of the island, two Meadow Pipits were also close by and very little other passerines were noted, a Stonechat, four Blackbirds, three Goldcrests, a Blue Tit, three Chaffinches, eight Starling, and a Goldfinch being the highlights.

Last winter a Whimbrel over wintered and was one of very few choosing to do so in the UK, one was present on the South End today so a close eye will be kept on any seen in the coming weeks to see if an individual will again winter on Bardsey. Reasonable counts of other waders were present with 33 Curlews, nine Redshanks, 25 Turnstones and 44 Oystercatchers recorded.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Strong westerly winds provided impressive swells, crashing waves and spray across the island but very little in terms of any movement. The first Fulmars for over a week took advantage of the winds, cruising the rough seas off the north end, passing them and heading south were a small flock of Wigeons, two stunning drakes and two females. Small numbers of auks moved during the morning, 24 Guillemots and 189 Razorbills, eight Gannets and a selection of gulls including 30 Black-headed Gulls, two Common Gulls, eight Herring Gulls, two Greater Black-backed Gulls and 216 Kittiwakes.

With the strength of the winds vegetated cover across the island was battered back and forth making recording any passerines difficult, that said some birds were recorded. Blackbirds occupied the gardens with ten seen along with a single Song Thrush. A Chiffchaff was heard in the withies and six Goldcrests, 35 Starlings and three Chaffinches were also noted. A cheeky Blue Tit at Nant has taken to pecking at fresh linseed putty around the windows, tit species are known to do this but it is unknown whether they are attracted to the linseed oils in the putty or otherwise. There was a small gathering of Magpies and Carrion Crows around Nant while a Raven and a pair of Choughs swooped over the mountainside. A female Sparrowhawk, Common Buzzard and Kestrel were also logged.

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Its has come to that time of year when the "wardening season" is over and a small gap in the weather, the calm before the storm, allowed the wardening team to leave in a pre winter dispersal. A big thanks to all staff, volunteers, islanders and anyone who has helped over this season. Decent coverage of the island may be lacking over the next few months but censusing and reports of sightings will continue.

Long term volunteer and new assistant warden for the 2017 season Ephraim Perfect not pictured as he was behind the camera

An arrival of Blackbirds was evident when strolling around the Observatory and other well vegetated areas on the island, 26 were counted in total, some in unusual places indicated new arrivals fresh in. A couple of Fieldfares passed over the Observatory, an additional bird seen at the Plantation and two Song Thrushes were thrushes for the day. A pair of Siberian Chiffchaffs remained in the Withies and a long staying Willow Warbler became the latest record of this species on Bardsey, beating the previous record by a few days, a Chiffchaff and 12 Goldcrests were the only other warblers noted. Overhead passage comprised mostly of finches with 25 Chaffinches, two Bramblings, two Siskins, a Goldfinch, Linnet and Bullfinch seen, whilst a Grey Wagtail was heard over the Narrows, 400 Starlings, a Water Rail in the Withies and Common Snipe were other highlights.

Raptors provided a parting excitement for the wardening team as a Merlin stooped and dived at an adult Peregrine over the Narrows. A Sparrowhawk, two Common Buzzards and a Kestrel roamed the island throughout the day

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Though the end of the wardening season draws ever closer a new rush of birds overhead provided some late excitement. Starlings were most numerous with 439, mostly heading northwards, whilst 124 Chaffinches, one Brambling, one Greenfinch, three Siskins, and 14 Goldfinches added some diversity.

A new arrival of Blackbirds tallied to 23 present, including 13 at Cristin alone. The consistent passage of Blackbirds through Bardsey this autumn has been particularly noticeable. Ringing has shown that many birds are only present for a day or two at most before a new wave of birds take their place. Around 150 have been ringed in just the last few weeks, much higher than in recent years. Other thrushes filtering through include three Fieldfares, six Song Thrushes, and two Redwings.

A Dark-bellied Brent Goose heading north off Pen Cristin was the first record of this Russian form this year, other wildfowl included a Wigeon in Traeth Ffynnon and a Common Scoter heading past offshore. Further scrutiny of the sea revealed two Mediterranean Gulls amongst 78 Black-headed Gulls, and similarly 14 Guillemots amongst 378 Razorbills.

Last stragglers lingering on the island include two Sparrowhawks, two Buzzards, one Water Rail, one female Blackcap, two Goldcrests, one Blue Tit, and the female Bullfinch at Cristin.

Saturday, 5 November 2016

Bitter northerly winds continued today and increased in strength which seemed to halt any real migrant movements. However the day wasn't without excitement as early highlights came in the form of a pale bellied Brent Goose off the West Coast closely followed by a pair of Whooper Swans which powered their way south down the centre of the island calling, before disappearing off the South End.

Yesterday there were two, today there were three Siberian Chiffchaffs residing in the Withies adding to an already fantastic run of this race of Chiffchaff with at least a dozen individuals seen so far. Very little else passerine wise was noted although a Bullfinch still resided in the Observatory garden along with a Blue Tit. Other passerines noted included five Goldfinches, a Siskin 14 Chaffinches, eight Goldcrest, 137 Starlings and a small number of thrushes, nine Blackbirds, a pair of Song Thrushes and a Redwing. A pair of Merlins continue to wreak havoc across the island keeping plenty of Starlings on their toes whilst a stunning adult male Sparrowhawk and Common Buzzard patrolled other parts of the island.

Only small amounts of gulls were recorded today with any significant movements of species halting for the time being, that said there was still a nice variety of species on show, 79 Kittiwakes, six Greater Black-backed Gulls, 46 Herring Gulls, a Lesser Black-backed Gull, eight Common Gulls and 100 Black-headed Gulls spotted off the coast, also passing were three Gannets, 283 Razorbills and 11 Guillemots.

A single Purple Sandpiper was seen off the South End and dotted around the island were 17 Turnstones, three Redshanks, 33 Curlews, a Whimbrel, Common Snipe and 30 Oystercatchers.

Friday, 4 November 2016

Winds had started to swing towards the North and West bringing a chilling feel to the day where a pair of Siberian Chiffchaffs and a Yellow-browed Warbler in the Withies were the clear highlights. It has been a particularly good Autumn on Bardsey for Siberian Chiffchaff which can occur during the Autumn but this season has been exceptional in comparison.

A nice comparison between two Siberian Chiffchaffs showing much variation in plumage tones
A Bullfinch was heard calling around the Plantation, of which there have been a few records of late, a Blackcap resided in the Observatory garden and two Chiffchaffs, 14 Goldcrest and small numbers of thrushes including 14 Blackbirds and a Song Thrush were noted. Very little visible migration took place with only the odd birds overhead, Starlings moved in small flocks, the grand total amounting to 260, two Skylarks also passed over whilst a Sparrowhawk, Common Buzzard, Kestrel, two Merlins, a Peregrine, six Goldfinches, two Linnets and four Ravens  also graced the skies.

A pair of Purple Sandpipers were spotted amongst the rocks around the Narrows where 23 Oystercatchers, a Whimbrel, 40 Curlews, six Redshanks and 20 Turnstones also resided. Through the Wetlands and around Pwll Cain, the largest of the ponds on the island, two Jack Snipes and two Common Snipes were found

Auks over the past weeks have moved in good numbers, in particular Razorbills but more Guillemots are starting to be recorded now, as mixed flocks pass the island in mostly a southerly direction, 1,149 and 113 were logged respectively. A good variety of gulls species are still being recorded off the coast although numbers have decreased dramatically in comparison to prior counts. a handful of Mediterranean Gulls, mostly adult birds, intermingled with with the larger gatherings of  381 Black-headed Gulls, 309 Kittiwakes. Common Gulls were also present with six seen, and a Lesser Black-backed Gull, 74 Herring Gulls, six Greater Black-backed Gulls and five Gannets were other additions.

Thursday, 3 November 2016

A stiff, but mild, south westerly blew throughout the day, dropping to a mere 6mph by midday. Combined with dense cloud cover, this produced the year’s second Pallas’s Warbler. The bird was seen at Nant around the plantation, occasionally flashing its rump patch and peeking out of the foliage to show its bold head markings. It proved elusive throughout most of the day, until the evening when it showed well for a single observer. This species seems to be becoming ever more regular, not only in the UK, but also here on Bardsey, with Pallas’s Warbler becoming almost annual in recent years.

Pallas's Warbler, dark eye stripe, bold supercillium tinged orange towards the forehead, features to compare against the similar looking Yellow-Browed Warbler, apologies for the "record shot" quality

Here the central crown stripe is just visible
Out to sea today, there seemed to be a reasonable movement of auks and gulls. Seawatching produced totals of two Teals, seven Common Scoters, 12 Mediterranean Gulls, 1700 Black-headed Gulls and 2229 Razorbills.

Inland, a Merlin was seen around the North End, two Water Rails were heard, two Snipes were flushed from the South End and a Woodcock from Pen Cristin. Overhead passage consisted of just a single Skylark, marking what appears to be the end of their migration over the island. Two Black Redstarts were seen, with a cracking adult male seen in the Lowlands. Aside from the aforementioned Pallas’s Warbler, warblers remained the same with a Yellow-browed Warbler, two Chiffchaffs, a Willow Warbler, 12 Goldcrests and a single Siberian Chiffchaff logged. Some finches were still moving through as well, with such highlights as four Siskins, a Bullfinch and a brace of Crossbills.

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Yesterday’s wildfowl movement trickled into today with a Whooper Swan heading north (the 49th record for Bardsey), 16 Wigeons, and 16 Common Scoters passing by the island. More offshore passage consisted of a Great Skua, six Mediterranean Gulls, 651 Black-headed Gulls, 11 Common Gulls, 39 Guillemots, and 247 Razorbills.

Though Skylark numbers are starting to fall 24 were recorded flying over today. Finch movement totalled 52 Chaffinches, two Bramblings, three Siskins, seven Goldfinches, six Linnets, one Lesser Redpoll, and three Greenfinches (a surprisingly poor autumn for this species). The female Bullfinch continued to be seen around Cristin garden whislt one Reed Bunting also flew over the Lowlands. The biggest movement was another surge of Starlings with 328 sighted, though yet to get into four figures so far this autumn.

A minimum of three Water Rails continue to hide on the island, whilst singles of Purple Sandpiper and Jack Snipe were the most notable wader sightings today. A total of 21 Blackbirds remain along with two Fieldfares, seven Song Thrushes, and two Redwings. Warblers today included two Blackcaps, three Chiffchaffs, one Willow Warbler (edging closer to the latest island record), and 20 Goldcrests. A pair of Blue Tits continue their residence whilst another Siberian Chiffchaff, this time in Cristin Withy, continues the extraordinary autumn Bardsey is having for this distinctive form.

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Impressive gatherings of birds off the South End during the morning and some fantastic sightings off the other coasts brought the best highlights off island. Gulls streamed passed the south hide at times in almost uncountable numbers, the highest count of Black-headed Gulls since the 4th of November 2007 amounted to a staggering 9,746 individuals! Peppered amongst them were 96  Mediterranean Gulls, a Bardsey record, 2935 Kittiwakes, 150 Lesser Black-backed Gulls and the majority of the 592 Herring Gulls and 14 Greater Black-backed Gulls seen today. Fantastic records for the island came in the form of two adult female or immature Goldeneyes heading north quickly past the north hide and east through the Bardsey Sound and a drake Tufted Duck passed the South End. These constitute just the 27th and 30th records, respectively, of these species for the island, fantastic additions for the islands year list. Auks added to the masses as 2,169 Razorbills and 155 Guillemots were logged passing by whilst adding to the variety were an Arctic Skua, three Great Skuas, a Fulmar, Manx Shearwater, 51 Gannets and a movement of Shags as 31 passed the South End.

Inland there was a small movement of birds detected, mostly finches passing overhead and new birds inhabiting the gardens and vegetated areas. Chaffinches were the most numerous with 148 seen, three Brambling were also picked out amongst the small flocks. Bullfinches, a sometimes scarce bird for Bardsey were again logged in various locations during the morning, seven Siskins, eight Goldfinches, a Linnet and a Lesser Redpoll were other finches recorded. A pair of Yellow-browed Wablers were again present in the Withies and around the Plantation, the only other warblers on the island being a Blackcap, two Chiffchaffs, Willow Warbler and 23 Goldcrests. A pair of Black Redstarts continued to occupy the narrows, one individual showing down to a mere 3m at times!

Black Redstart flitting around the Boathouse on the Narrows

Any significant movement of thrushes has calmed in the previous days but new birds are still moving through the island, 21 Blackbirds and three Song Thrushes hid amongst the brambles and dense cover around the island as three Fieldfares and eight Redwings noisily called in the skies above. A Blue Tit in the Observatory garden, six Skylarks, 718 Starlings and three Reed Buntings were other notables. 

A trio of Lapwings graced the Narrows during the morning, their erratic, bouncy flight and strange alien like flight calls giving away their presence whilst 47 Oystercatchers, a Jack Snipe, six Common Snipes, a Whimbrel, 30 Curlews, 12 Redshanks and 28 Turnstones were scattered about the island.

Monday, 31 October 2016

Very little could live up to the feast of migrants we had yesterday, but a good variety of birds was still recorded today. The winds were still coming predominantly from the north east, with only a speed of around 5-10mph. The sun shone nicely throughout the day too, making for a pleasant day of census.

Among the usual raptors were a Buzzard, Kestrel and Merlin today, hunting across the island, scouring the undergrowth for any signs of life. As it was, there was plenty to choose from. Five Water Rails, were once again heard in the Withies, scuttling around the deepest of vegetation, only given away by the occasional “squeal”. A Golden Plover was seen briefly past the North End. Whilst other wader totals were made up by two Jack Snipes, two Common Snipes and a Woodcock flushed from Pen Cristin in the evening.

Skylarks were still moving through, with an impressive 94 logged today along with a lone Grey Wagtail. Some thrushes were still about, migrating through or feeding, a total of 24 Blackbirds, six Fieldfare, 27 Song Thrushes and 49 Redwings were seen. Warblers were much the same, with four Blackcaps, three Yellow-browed Warblers, five Chiffchaffs, one Willow Warbler and 15 Goldcrests recorded across the island. A Blue Tit was present at the observatory, and a Hooded Crow flew through the Lowlands with the other corvids.

Yellow-browed Warbler

Finches were also still on the move, 123 Chaffinches, nine Brambling, two Greenfinches, four Siskins, a Lesser Redpoll and three Bullfinches were around the island and four Reed Buntings were seen flying overhead.

A nice male Bullfinch in Nant Withy

Sunday, 30 October 2016

The day started with a bang just after first light with a pristine Pallas’ Warbler found in the first mist net round of the day at Nant. Though not annual this comes hot-on-the-heels of last year’s October record and part of a large number in the UK this autumn.

As the morning’s cloud dissipated, overhead migration reached it’s pinnacle of the month with pipits, finches, larks, buntings, and thrushes streaming overhead. The totals of 31 Skylarks, one Grey Wagtail, 1218 Starlings, 1157 Chaffinches, ten Bramblings, 58 Siskins, five Goldfinches, 65 Linnets, one Lesser Redpoll, two Snow Buntings, two Reed Buntings, five Crossbills, two Richard’s Pipits, and three Waxwings were mostly seen heading out to sea off of Pen Cristin. The Waxwings were particularly notable being only the fifth island record and the first since 2012.

Yellow-browed Warblers have dominated many headlines over the last month but it’s still great to see these little Asiatic wanderers coming through. A total of four were seen today with one at Nant, one at Cristin, and two in the withies. The four Siberian Chiffchaffs seen was an excellent tally for North-west Wales whilst five Blackcaps, three Chiffchaffs, one Willow Warbler, and 15 Goldcrests were keeping them company.

A flock of four Pale-bellied Brent Geese dropped into Solfach, with a Lapwing and two Black Redstarts not too far away on the Narrows too. Five Water Rails got in on the action with most in the withies though one still crept through the vegetation at Cristin. Another movement of thrushes consisted of 26 Blackbirds, 42 Fieldfares, 18 Song Thrushes, and 117 Redwings, whilst two Bullfinches were still present in Cristin garden.
Lastly, one Red-throated Diver, four Common Scoters, five Mediterranean Gulls, and 460 Black-headed Gulls were noted offshore.

Saturday, 29 October 2016

A Mute Swan heading north east past Henllwyn and the Narrows was only the 10th record for the island but the second time this species has been recorded this year! Other wildfowl were fairly thin on the ground with only three Common Scoters passing by at sea along with two Teals. Gulls were again prolific as groups again fed around the island and past by. Black-headed Gulls and Herring Gulls were the most numerous with 487 and 485 seen respectively. Kittiwakes were intermingled in the feeding flocks along the West Coast and 104 were recorded, along with them were ten Mediterranean Gulls, ten Common Gulls and eight Greater Black-backed Gulls. Other species seen off the coast were 25 Gannets, 18 Guillemots and 496 Razorbills.

A new Yellow-browed Warbler was discovered at Nant in the morning proving extremely restless but flitted about the willows calling, other than that warbler numbers were thin on the ground with just two Black Redstart, a Blackcap, two Chiffchaffs and 18 Goldcrests seen. There were very few other notable movements of birds, the usual raptors patrolled the island, a pair of SparrowhawksKestrel and Merlin, meanwhile overhead a Grey Wagtail, 31 Skylarks, 32 Fieldfares, nine Redwings 272 Starlings and small numbers of Bramblings, Siskins, Goldfinch, Linnets and Reed Buntings passed by, whilst on the ground 17 Robins, two Stonechats and 15 Blackbirds were noted.

Two Common Snipes, a WoodcockWhimbrel, 30 Curlews, three Redshanks, 27 Turnstones and 31 Oystercatchers were waders for the day.

One of many moulted Grey Seal pups, this one deciding to take refuge behind the hide on Solfach

Friday, 28 October 2016

It was a reasonably varied day with some great sightings but also not masses in terms of change with some species. A Siberian Chiffchaff was the highlight on the passerine front, it was found in the afternoon at Ty Capel, one of the gardens at Nant, where it flitted around the garden and was extremely vocal uttering its almost Dunnock like, but not as nasal, "heep" call. Very few other warblers were present with just a single Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler and 20 Goldcrests recorded. There were a few new thrushes on the island mostly Blackbirds, of which 19 were seen, Song Thrushes came in second with nine, a single Fieldfare and Redwing were the only other additions. A small movement of finches was noted comprising mostly of small groups passing overhead, eight Chaffinches, 19 Siskins, 12 Goldfinches, eight Linnets and a Lesser Redpoll being the final tallies. The Blue Tit baring a ring on its left leg was still present at the Observatory with two other individuals spotted in the Withies, three Water Rails were also spread throughout the Withies and Lowlands, 20 Skylarks passed overhead along with three Grey Wagtails and 33 Robins, eight Stonechats and two Reed Bunting were other highlights.

Other excitement for the day occurred off the coast as again a great variety of gulls passed the island and fed amongst its many currents. A juvenile Sabines Gull was spotted amongst the masses off the South End where a fantastic count of six Little Gulls were also present. Another good day of Black-headed Gull and Herring Gull passage ended with counts of 2,033 and 387 respectively, intermingled were 48 Medeteranean Gulls, 56 Common Gulls, five Lesser Black-backed Gulls, eight Greater Black-backed Gulls and 480 Kittiwakes. Auks were also out in force, in particular Razorbills with 1,777 counted, and an increase in Guillemot numbers saw 170 pass. A Fulmar, 21 Gannets and nine Common Scoters were other totals.

A Golden Plover was heard heading over the island, two Purple Sandpipers were seen amongst the rocks around the Narrows, a Dunlin was present on Solfach, three Common Snipes were flushed from the Lowlands and Wetlands and a Whimbrel, 42 Curlews, 15 Redshanks, 21 Turnstones and 53 Oystercatchers rounded off a nice variety of waders for the day.

Thursday, 27 October 2016

The south-westerly winds continued into today, meaning once again our attention was set on the sea. A Great Northern Diver and a Manx Shearwater passed early on, but more impressive were the day’s totals including 130 Gannets, a Wigeon, seven Common Scoters, two Great Skuas, 49 Mediterranean Gulls, a Little Gull, 1000 Black-headed Gulls, 133 Guillemots, 1320 Razorbills, and an incredible flow of Gulls passing out to sea produced 2152 Herring Gulls! The last time Herring Gulls were recorded in this magnitude was on 19th January 2006, when 2500 passed, quite an incredible sight.

The Merlin was once again seen hunting, two Water Rails were heard in the withies and a Skylark flew overhead. A Black Redstart on the top of the Mountain was a nice surprise, and was a good reward. Although numbers have decreased in recent days, some warblers were still to be seen mostly present in the Withies. Yellow-browed Warblers increased to two individuals, one bearing a ring from previous days, four Chiffchaffs, a Willow Warbler, 26 Goldcrests and a Blue Tit were also present.