Monday, 24 April 2017

Strong northerly winds hampered any hopes of much passage today, with just low numbers and a few minor oddities seen. Given the marvellous passage we've been treated to recently we can't grumble too much, but today was certainly a slow-down compared to recent events.

Grounded migrant totals were very modest, though a male Ring Ouzel that remained at Pen Cristin provided some wow factor. 55 Willow Warblers, 19 Chiffchaffs, five Goldcrests, three Blackcaps and a single Whitethroat were recorded in the bushes, ten White Wagtails were counted on Solfach and two Siskins were in the Plantation. 20 Wheatears were scattered mostly across the Narrows and Pen Cristin, with at least two of the subspecies Leucorhoa bound for Iceland or Greenland (or maybe even Baffin Island!).

20 Goldfinchs and two Lesser Redpolls was a modest return for finch passage, while save a brief spurt of activity early in the afternoon, hirundines were hard to come by, 39 Swallows, four Sand Martins and a single House Martin were logged. A Grey Wagtail South over Nant at least provided some quality, with this species much more associated with autumn movements than  spring ones on Bardsey, and this being only the fifth of the year so far. Passerine wise, the Hooded Crow again in the North-west Fields was the only other sighting of note.

Sea passage was up with the strong winds, including a strong southbound passage of 100 Guillemots,  18 Razorbills and 61 Manx Shearwaters in an hour and a half first thing in the morning. Two Black-headed Gulls were loafing in Henllwyn at 09:00, with two Puffins off Pen Cristin early in the afternoon. Waders were represented with 13 Turnstones, eight Whimbrels, five Dunlins, two Ringed Plovers and two Curlews. Finally, and definitely in the category of "little things that only get exciting when you've been on Bardsey for five weeks", our resident first-summer Grey Heron was joined, briefly, by a spanking adult today! After five weeks of counting presumably the same bird every day, this was a welcome change for two surprised observers.

Since it was blowing a bit of a hoolie overnight, Moths were understandably reluctant to venture anywhere near the garden moth trap, intrepid singles of Angle Shades and Hebrew Character all that could be found. One Peacock, showing considerable fortitude, was observed battling the winds over Ty Pellaf, the only Butterfly logged all day. The first Palmate Newt for the year was, however, found in Nant Well, one of the few definitive signs of spring on a day when the dominant weather systems seemed to come straight out of the Arctic!

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Despite not feeling all that busy, today turned out to be a pretty reasonable day, with good numbers of some of the expected migrants, a few oddities and some firsts for the year all appearing. Chief among the migrants were Wheatears, numbering 174, and 71 Blackcaps. Many Greenland-bound Wheatears of the race "leucorhoa" were seen today, with considerable numbers passing along the mountain ridge, and several even seen on vis-mig! It's been a very good week for them so far, and today was the first occasion we've had anything like a sizeable arrival of Blackcaps. 26 were ringed in Cristin garden, comprising nearly half of the total number of birds caught here. 

It was a boon day for Thrush/Chat diversity too, the highlights being the first four Whinchats of the year, all well-marked males, and two Ring Ouzels on Pen Cristin. In addition there was a female Redstart in the Obs garden, and singles of Song Thrush and Fieldfare recorded. Several Stonechats were in areas that seemed outside of the invisible boundaries our resident pairs adhere to, so it's tempting to assume a bit of migration on their part as well. 

The stunning male Ring Ouzel at Ty Pellaf this afternoon

A fine day for Warblers generally, although the magnificent Willow Warbler passage of late couldn't be sustained, just 61 were counted today (although we're aware a fall of 61 constitutes a sizeable arrival for many locations!). 16 Whitethroats, 14 Sedge Warblers, 13 Chiffchaffs and nine Grasshopper Warblers constituted pretty decent Warbler passage, while three Goldcrests were also noted. 

194 Swallows made them the commonest overhead migrant by far, 25 Sand Martins and 16 Sand Martins also moved through, while 19 Lesser Redpolls and six Siskins constituted reasonable finch passage. Two Tree Pipits passed overhead, with another remarkably singing from a treetop in Ty Capel! There were also two Rooks heading south, and one of the day's highlights was a Short-eared Owl flushed from the mountainside, then spiralling higher and higher til finally lost from view. The Hooded Crow was again seen in the North-west fields, a season high of 21 White Wagtails were on Solfach and the West Coast, and two Collared Doves were knocking about. 

Out to sea was very quiet, three Black-headed Gulls heading south the only sighting of note. Wader diversity was again good, with 16 Whimbrels, eight Ringed Plovers, eight Purple Sandpipers, six Dunlins, five Curlews, three Common Sandpipers and a Redshank, almost all concentrated around the Narrows. 

The last few days have also been notable for our first Moorhen and Mallard broods of the year, one brood of nine on Pwll Cain on the 19th was down to just three by today, while six newly emerged ducklings were in the Wetlands today too. Two downy Moorhen chicks are currently hopping about the Front of the Obs Garden, mother in tow! 

A warm and sunny day resulted in good numbers of butterflies on the wing, 16 Green-veined Whites were counted, along with an excellent three Speckled Woods at Nant. Normally a mega rarity on Bardsey, a spate of recent sightings suggest a local emergence at Nant, after a record-breaking arrival last autumn. A welcome arrival to the islands Lepifauna! A single Red Admiral was a good sighting today, with few being reported recently.

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Glorious sunshine and calm winds made today particularly enjoyable, accompanied with a good cast of birds.

Out to sea a mere two Common Scoters were recorded, but inland was where the action was.

The highlight of the day was a Goshawk which was flushed from the Plantation in the morning which flew south through the Lowlands, before heading back north along the Mountain and finally thermalling at Nant and heading back north to the mainland. This represented only the 32nd record of this species for the island, with the last being recorded in 2014!

Waders again were seen in good number today and included a summer-plumaged Bar-tailed Godwit, but also of interest were five Ringed Plovers, six Dunlins and a Common Sandpiper. The first Common Tern of the season past by out to sea, and the first Swift of the year followed it shortly gliding over the Mountain Ridge. 16 Sand Martins, 80 Swallows and five House Martins made up Hirundine passage, with today being a little slower than before. Some 58 Wheatears were also logged, with a good proportion of them of the Greenland race. Again Warblers made up a large part of totals inland with three Grasshopper Warblers, five Sedge Warblers, four Blackcaps, 22 Chiffchaffs and 31 Willow Warblers logged, again a little lower than previous days, but still evidence of a fair bit moving through. A Blue Tit was trapped in the Withies.

A Hooded Crow was in the North West Fields today, which continues on from the good run we’ve been having. The highlights in finch passage today were a Greenfinch, seven Siskins and four Lesser Redpolls.

Of note on an island scale were two Greylag Geese and a Canada Goose today which were a pleasant surprise.

The first Flame Shoulder of the year, caught in the trap last night

Friday, 21 April 2017

Another calm day saw a good number and variety of birds migrate through the island today, with a few highlights.

First off, the wader diversity increased with a good number logged, the usual waders were logged around the rocks and beach, but included were four Ringed Plovers, a Golden Plover, a Grey Plover, five Dunlins, 27 Whimbrels and three Common Sandpipers. Also of note were a small group of three Teals seen in Henllywn. Little of note passed out to sea, bar seven Sandwich Terns, however, Hirundine movement was still very much underway with 39 Sand Martins, 123 Swallows and ten House Martins logged.

Inland, a good count of seven Tree Pipits flew overhead, 17 White Wagtails were seen on the Narrows, a male Redstart performed for a lucky few and Wheatears amounted to 89 birds. In the gorse and bushes a good number of Warblers were logged made up of nine Grasshopper Warblers, two Sedge Warblers, four Whitethroats, ten Blackcaps, 23 Chiffchaffs, 233 Willow Warblers and six Goldcrests.

The best of the rest, were two Hooded Crow, six Lesser Redpolls and a Reed Bunting.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

The third fantastic day in a row on Bardsey resulted in the biggest arrival of the spring yet! Diversity and numbers were both fantastic, with a carpet of Warblers occupying all available cover, and a fine mix of other odds and ends thrown in.

Let's start with the simply astounding numbers. Willow Warblers totaled 691, which is almost certainly an underestimate! 350 was the minimum figure recorded in the Plantation, with 150 estimated moving through the Obs. garden, and smaller but still excellent numbers in seemingly every tree and bush on the island. Quite a few of the birds were cold grey coloured and were of the race P.t.acredula

Northern 'acredula' Willow Warbler

Wheatears, meanwhile, amounted to at least 268, including 96 along the North/West coasts and 45 on the South End. Many of the birds were of the large bright Greenland race O.o.lecurhoa
'Greenland' Wheatears O.o.Leucorhoa
Northern nominate race Wheatear O.o.oenanthe

Overhead passage was dominated by Swallows, 216 mostly moving North through the afternoon, and amongst these came 36 House Martins and nine Sand Martins. A good mix of other species was logged on vis-mig, including 15 Siskins, 13 Rooks, 2 Lesser Redpolls, 2 Crossbills, and singles of Jackdaw, Golden Plover and Little Egret. Five Sparrowhawks logged today must certainly have included some migrants, augmenting the resident pair who displayed above the Plantation.

The shore and sea once again yielded pretty good diversity, as wader passage builds up. 70 Whimbrels was by far and away our best count of the year, other waders today included 9 Turnstones, 3 Purple Sandpipers and singles of Redshank, Ringed Plover, Snipe and Common Sandpiper. 11 Sandwich Terns were seen as their passage continues apace.

The list of passerine migrants logged on the ground today is probably the most diverse of the year, and will take some beating! Eight Warbler species (including the Willows mentioned above), totalled 51 Chiffchaffs, 49 Blackcaps, a brilliant 14 Grasshopper Warblers, nine Sedge Warblers, six Whitethroats, two Garden Warblers and a single Reed Warbler, the latter two being our first records of the year. A four Goldcrests were about too. It's not often you get a five-thrush day in late April, but we managed just that today! Alongside our resident Blackbirds (and some on the mountain away from the usual territories that were probably migrants), were 12 Fieldfares and singles of Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush and Ring Ouzel. Where's a Redwing when you need one!

Grasshopper Warbler

Alongside these, our first Pied Flycatcher of the year, a cracking male, was at Ty Nesaf, a female Redstart was on the mountain above Carreg Bach, a Tree Pipit in Ty Pellaf and Cristin Withies, two Collared Doves around Nant and two White Wagtails on Solfach. All observers were shattered but elated after a truly wonderful day on Bardsey!

 Pied Flycatcher
The day's ringing totals - Willow Warbler 136, Chiffchaff 12, Goldcrest 1, 
Blackcap 26, Sedge Warbler 2, Grasshopper Warbler 1, Goldfinch 1, Wren 1

Insects understandably took a backseat today, but seven Green-veined Whites and two Small Whites were seen, while the moth trap produced just a single Hebrew Character and a Common Quaker.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

The calm conditions have really opened the flood gates in the last two days, with a good number of migrants making their way through, including some real goodies.

The semi-resident Merlin was again present today, hunting on the West Coast. A good variety of waders were also about on the Narrows today, among the usual Turnstone and Oystercatcher, two Ringed Plovers, a Golden Plover, a Grey Plover, a Sanderling, a Dunlin, a Bar-tailed Godwit, 45 Whimbrels and four Common Sandpipers made an appearance. Four Snipes were additional waders seen in the Wetlands. Out to sea, a few things passed, but since our attentions were focused on the land little was recorded, however, four Sandwich Terns, 101 Guillemots, 528 Razorbills and 51 Puffins were logged.

Also on the move today were Hirundines with 51 Sand Martins, 144 Swallows and 20 House Martins logged, what could be the beginning of a proper push of them in the coming weeks. Pipits and Wagtails were also represented in good diversity, highlights including two Tree Pipits, one Yellow Wagtail (the first of the year) and 12 White Wagtails.

It didn’t stop there, also migrating were Chats and Warblers, the year’s first two Redstarts appeared at Ty Pellaf and Carreg Bach respectively, but the Wheatear count had decreased to 80 unfortunately. A good diversity of Warblers were recorded including five Grasshopper Warblers, two Sedge Warblers, three Whitethroats, five Blackcaps, 23 Chiffchaffs and 84 Willow Warblers.

A cracking male Common Redstart seen at Ty Pellaf today!

Also of note today were 14 Siskins, nine Lesser Redpolls and a Reed Bunting.