Monday, 20 February 2017

A pair of the resident Ravens were spotted busy collecting nesting material, comprising mostly of gorse sticks, from the western slopes of Pen Cristin and carrying it around the East Side during the morning hours. A couple of Siskins passed over the Narrows highlighted some form of movement although the passage of Meadow Pipits noted the day before had all but disappeared for the time being, only three were seen today. 

Also still waiting to get going at the moment is wader movements which should be evident in the next few weeks, however a nice selection of the usual species at the moment were still on show, 58 Oystercatchers, 25 Purple Sandpipiers, 15 Curlews and 17 Redshanks the final counts. A nice mix of wildfowl were also present starting with four Common Scoters passing by off the West Coast, five Shelducks were in the bays around the Narrows, three Teals occupied Nant pond at the northern end of the island and 19 Mallards were scattered about.

A Merlin cruised the coastline where the juvenile Grey Heron resided. The Common Buzzard, Little Owl three Stonechats, two Song Thrushes, two Goldcrests, 20 Starlings and a Chaffinch and 71 Grey Seals were other sightings across the island.

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Signs of an up and coming spring filled the air with small movements of birds and pleasant temperatures. Clusters of Meadow Pipits moved through the Lowlands and although not quite reaching the masses that will pass through in the coming weeks, 25 individuals was a sharp rise in numbers from the weeks prior. A machine gun like rattle and the flash of white underwings marked the presence of a Mistle Thrush which moved around the island throughout the day, with other thrushes noted amounting to six Blackbirds and a Song Thrush. An Alba Wagtail called as it passed over the centre of the island heading in a northerly direction whilst four Stonechats, including a couple extremely dapper looking males, fluttered from fence lines below and two Little Owls and two Goldcrests were also noted.

A Whimbrel was spotted along the West Coast and although not seen daily this species has been noted throughout the winter months. The Curlew flock numbered 44 today, moving around the Narrows and South End, the Purple Sandpipers were again on show and numbered 27, meanwhile other Waders consisted of 92 Oystercatchers, three Redshanks, 14 Turnstones close by and nine Common Snipes were logged through the Lowlands and North End.

The juvenile Grey Heron resided, 20 Choughs moved from the Narrows where they fed with 30 Starlings, to the skies above the mountain where they tumbled together in a playful mass. Off the West a Gannet, seven Shags, 50 Guillemots and four Kittiwakes were seen.

As the winds had settled a moth trap was set overnight at Nant, two Dark Sword-grass's were the only moths attracted, a species that can be recorded in most months of the year but something of an early record for the island, these individuals having over wintered somewhere close by.

One of two Dark Sword-grass moths

Friday, 17 February 2017

Off the West Coast a distant large looking diver, most likely a Great Northern Diver, bobbed amongst the swell, annoyingly staying too distant and immobile to positively identify. Small numbers of other birds past, most interesting being a Guillemot, of which 60 were seen today, with an orange-yellow bill pattern, it spent a while on the sea just out from the North Hide diving for food. Interestingly this uncommon colour aberration was observed on an individual occupying the breeding ledges on the East Side in 2015 and 2016! Although little else passed over the period of an hour or so two Fulmars, four Gannets, 2 Cormorants, seven Shags, a Kittiwake and two Razorbills were logged.

A nice flock of Purple Sandpipers has spent the last week or so around the Narrows, sometimes mingling with the Turnstones and Oystercatchers resting there. Today 23 individuals were present along with 66 Oystercatchers, 24 Curlews, eight Redshanks and ten Turnstones. Numbers of gulls have vastly decreased around the Narrows in recent weeks and are now predominately seen around the East Side and North End on their breeding areas, just 12 Herring Gulls and five Greater Black-backed Gulls were recorded. A juvenile Grey Heron, a pair of Shelducks, 13 Mallards and seven Rock Pipits were also in the vicinity.

The ever present Common Buzzard patrolled the northern end of the island under the close supervision of the resident corvids, two Woodpigeons wheeled around the Plantation as a Little Owl called on the side of the mountain and five Meadow Pipits in the Lowlands, a Stonechat and Song Thrush were also seen.

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Although it was a day of some nice sightings, the most intriguing event of the day was a Red Admiral that flitted across one of the gardens up at Nant. Clearly extremely early to be a genuine migrant, this individual was mostly likely coaxed out of hibernation by the fairly warm temperatures and sunshine of the day.

Down the West Coast, heading South onto the Narrows and the South End the usual species were on show providing a pleasant mornings census. A pair of Shelduck were present in Cafn whilst 22 Mallards occupied the inlets along the West Coast. A small group of seven Purple Sandpipers hid amongst the rocks around the Narrows. Additional waders included 81 Oystercatchers, 48 Curlews, 13 Redshanks, 20 Turnstones seen close by along with a gathering of 19 Common Snipes just East of the Lighthouse noted.

Elsewhere a Sparrowhawk was seen passing the farm, a Common Buzzard soared above the mountain along with 18 Choughs and three Ravens. Meanwhile three Meadow PipitsLittle Owl, Song ThrushGoldcrest and 60 Starlings were recorded.

Passage was quiet offshore however a Great Northern Diver, Gannet, eight Guillemots, three Razorbills, two Cormorants and two Shags were seen.

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Freezing winds whipped across the island as morning census took place, heading south down the West Coast towards the Narrows. The usual scattering of Cormorants and Shags were present off the coast, four and eight seen respectively. Reasonable numbers of waders were also logged which included two Whimbrels, 33 Curlews, 15 Redshanks and two Turnstones. Other sightings in the area consisted of five Shelducks, two Mallards, a Meadow Pipit, seven Rock Pipits, 18 Choughs, 26 Starlings and 106 Grey Seals. The highlight of the morning came as two Whooper Swans passed just thirty meters or so overhead, calling as they passed and disappeared up the West Coast in a northerly direction.

Very small numbers of gulls were seen around the island whilst offshore, three Black-headed Gulls, an adult Common Gull, 20 Herring Gulls, five Greater Black-backed Gulls and four Kittiwakes were recorded. Other birds spotted out at sea included a single Common Scoter, three Guillemots and ten Razorbills. Little else was seen inland although five Goldcrests, four at the Plantation and one in the Observatory garden, a Little Owl, two male Stonechats and three Song Thrushes were recorded.

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Although the day was fairly quiet in terms of numbers of birds and wildlife, a few highlights and sightings kept the day feeling fresh. A Sparrowhawk, also seen the day before chasing Rock Pipits in extremely close proximity to the observer, was still present and was seen bombing along the side of the mountain towards the Plantation. A Common Buzzard, which has been on the island for a while now, perched on top of the fence posts in the Lowlands and a Little Owl called from dense gorse. Common Snipes, eight individuals, hid amongst the tussocky grasses, and a couple of Meadow Pipits and a Song Thrush were other birds noted through the centre of the island to the North End.

The most interesting "event" of the day involved the discovery of a raptor pellet complete with a metal and colour rings, on an exposed rock half way up the mountainside. 

Raptor pellet, light blue Rock Pipit colour ring just visible
On further inspection two more colour rings and a metal ring were uncovered....
Even more digging unveiled another two colour rings!!
The metal BTO ring 2602379 belongs to (or use to belong to!) a Rock Pipit ringed Lime/BTO, Red/Orange, on Solfach on the 4th of October 2016. This matches some of the colour rings found in the pellet. The others belong to another, or possibly more than one other Rock Pipit ringed on the island. 

Numbers seen around the Narrows were lower than previous days but there was still plenty of life present, a pair of Shelduck, four Mallards, 85 Oystercatchers, 10 Curlews, a Redshank, nine Turnstones, two Rock Pipits and 16 Choughs were seen. Whilst off the West Coast a Fulmar and Gannet soared above the surf and, four Kittiwakes, 20 Guillemots and 11 Razorbills passed by.

Saturday, 28 January 2017

Winds had picked up slightly but a rise in temperature made for a pleasant change from the icy blow a few days earlier. The Narrows and South End area were productive as ever with life, most notable birds being a pair of Lapwings hiding amongst the Oystercatchers and three Golden Plovers scuttling about the grassy coast just west of the lighthouse. A boggy area east of the lighthouse housed nine Common Snipes, whilst close by were four Shelducks, eight Mallards, 14 Rock Pipits, and an assortment of gulls including two Lesser Black-backed Gulls. Additional waders included 96 Oystercatchers, six Purple Sandpipers, 18 Curlews, 10 Redshanks and 14 Turnstones seen close by. Numbers were scarce offshore and although attempts at sea watching were made final counts amounted to just four Gannets, four Common Scoters, 24 Kittiwakes and a handful of Auks.

Dead bull Grey Seal, although sad, a great opportunity to see an individual in close proximity  
A Sparrowhawk, Common Buzzard and Peregrine rounded off a nice trio of raptor sightings for the day. Other highlights around the island included a squealing Water Rail in the Wetlands, five Meadow Pipits, three Stonechats, a Song Thrush, a Goldcrest, whilst elsewhere on the island 12 Choughs fed on the seaweed and four Ravens soared high above the mountain.

Thursday, 26 January 2017

A bitter south easterly wind blasted the island throughout the day creating some interesting censusing conditions but enjoyable non the less.

In recent days a good gathering of gulls has been occurring around the Narrows and in particular in the grassy field at the southern end of Solfach. Today an impressive two Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 99 Herring Gulls and eight Greater Black-backed Gulls were situated there, at points taking to the air in an impressive cloud of Gulls. These were even joined by a Grey Heron at one point which dwarfed all birds present, including a Peregrine that swooped low over the area. Oystercatchers were of similarly good numbers, sheltering in Henllwyn, 102 were logged along with four Curlews, six Redshanks and 24 Turnstones. A small number of Rock Pipits were found scattered amongst the seaweed along with a single Starling and 15 ChoughsShelducks, of which there were three today, bobbed about in the bays along with 20 Mallards and just off shore 96 Guillemots, eight Kittiwakes a Cormorant and a Shag battled the torrid conditions. Grey Seal numbers have vastly decreased from around the Narrows for the time being, weeks ago there were upwards of 100 hauling out in the bays, today there were just seven.

The Wetlands concealed a Jack Snipe, five Common Snipes and two Teals whilst further north in the stubble fields saw the return of the Pink-footed Geese. Assuming they were the same group as present during December their number had decreased from eight to seven. Very small numbers of other birds were logged with just handfuls of the common species found here.

The foot prints of a Common Snipe

Saturday, 21 January 2017

With some form of coverage back on the island and a beautifully calm, blue sky day there was plenty to see in terms of wildlife.

The Narrows were busy as ever with a good variety of species on show. On leaving the island a few weeks ago there was a single Shelduck, now there were three present, bobbing in Henllwyn. Scattered amongst the rocky coast there were small clusters of waders, 41 Oystercatchers, 10 Curlews, 12 Redshanks and 13 Turnstones. Picking through the rotting seaweed above Solfach was a group of 17 Choughs, 18 Rock Pipits and a single Starling. Meanwhile a Grey Heron passed overhead, 23 Mallards settled just off the West Coast where three Cormorants and a few Shags were also spotted.

At the northern end of the island a Common Buzzard was settled on one of the stone walls under the close supervision of a couple of Carrion Crows. A Woodcock was flushed from the side of the mountain above Nant whilst just below a Goldcrest could be heard amongst the pines of the Plantation and a Wood Pigeon circled above. The resident Little Owls were particularly vocal throughout the day, three individuals calling from various locations, a Fieldfare briefly alighted at the Observatory and a couple of pairs of Stonechats, two Song Thrushes, a Chaffinch and a handful of other common residents were noted.

Monday, 26 December 2016

Photo Review of Spring 2016

Well what a fantastic year we have had on Bardsey - 2016 has produced some cracking birds, here are just a few that we have managed to photograph through the first half of the year starting with the first bird to be finged in 2106!


A stunning Jack Snipe; the first bird to be ringed on Bardsey this year
 Black Redstart
What remains of a washed up young Green Turtle found in Henllwyn last week. Only the third record for Wales!

The first Long-eared Owl caught for four years

Several White Wagtails were on Solfach


The rather frayed Black Kite soaring high over Cristin. Another individual was reported from Anglesey later in the day; perhaps our bird heading north?
female Red-veined DarterBardsey’s first (and only) Blyth’s Pipit was found in 2005, then the first record for Wales, with today's bird becoming the third record for Wales, following one in Pembrokeshire in autumn 2014.

The short hind claw is visible in this image 
 the neat and evenly streaked mantle is clear in this image
 Note the short de-curved hind claw
 Short compact appearance

note the horizontal stance, the bird was never bold and upright as Richard's Pipit 
 the weak malar stripe and very light breast streaking
and the even and neatly streaked crown

Red-breasted Flycatcher
Greenish Warbler

2nd Greenish Warbler


Over 3500 Diamond-backed Moths were counted today

20 Thrift Clearwings were seen on the South End

The thrift on the south of the island is fantastic
Brown China-mark

Green Carpet was in the moth trap
 along with this Small Elephant HawkmothBlackcap, 

The second Greenish Warbler to be trapped this year. Prior to this there had been 11 records of Greenish Warbler. Seven of the 14 records have now been in the past 6 years.

Marsh Warbler

The FOURTH Greenish Warbler of the spring !!!
Greenish Warbler
Storm Petrel