Wednesday, 20 March 2019

The fog from yesterday hung over the island all day today, though it thinned out slightly after early morning. The morning bird census got off to a different start with two Chaffinches singing in the Lowlands, a species that has struggled on Bardsey in recent years. Besides that were: six Teals on Pwll Cain, two Shelducks, eight Mallards, one Buzzard, one Merlin, one Peregrine, 111 Oystercatchers, two Curlews, 28 Redshanks, eight Turnstones, five Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 43 Herring Gulls, three Kittiwakes, two Woodpigeons, 23 Meadow Pipits, nine Rock Pipits, five Pied Wagtails, 17 Wrens, two Dunnocks, three Robins, one Wheatear, one Stonechat, one Chiffchaff, one Goldcrest, four Magpies, two Jackdaws, two Choughs, one Starling and Redwings were heard passing during the night, along with the first Manx Shearwaters.

A female Stonechat, this is one of Bardsey's
breeding Species

A female Merlin, usually seen in close proximity
to Meadow Pipits at South End
Work continued as usual, with cleaning and sorting out the accommodation. During the afternoon, a short walk down to the Narrows and South End saw Grey Seals, of which there were 64 in total, but unfortunately the Wheatear numbers remained with just one individual for the day.
Grey Seals can always be seen at
Henllwyn Bay

A male (Northern) Wheatear 
We're nearing the end of March now, and there is a sure sense of migration around the UK. In the coming days and weeks, Bardsey will be experiencing influxes of many species, some will pass through and others will stay to breed. 
Day two of fog on Bardsey!

Tuesday, 19 March 2019

The weather was mild, with a decent amount of sunlight shining through the clouds in the morning, with constant, gentle southerly winds. Out to sea, some white peaks were forming on a few waves, but it was generally a calm view.

An early morning walk down the main track, along the edges of the Lowlands, Wetlands, Ty Pellaf and through to South End produced some decent records. The first Wheatears of the year showed well on the rocks at South End, two males within metres of each other. On top of that, a Short-eared Owl was flushed from the gorse bushes around the lighthouse, before doing a quick circuit and landing elsewhere in the area. A female Sparrowhawk did a slow fly-by through the Narrows and headed north, towards the taller vegetation. Other records include the usual suspects, such as: 26 Redshank, 34 Turnstones, 35 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 339 Herring Gulls, three Woodpigeons, 37 Meadow Pipits, eight Rock Pipits, seven Pied Wagtails,  two Stonechats, 17 Choughs and eight Chiffchaffs.
Wheatear - One of the first migrants to arrive
on British shores
Bardsey is arguably the best location in the UK to see Choughs, with
around 9 pairs nesting on the island annually
Work continues at the Lodge, getting the rooms and living areas ready is of course a priority at the start of each season. This year, volunteers Linda and Mike have helped greatly in getting everything back to standard!
Mike giving the shower a scrub
Around mid-afternoon, fog settled in and unfortunately didn't shift until the following day, which made any chances of a seawatch practically nil. However, a walk up to the North End and West Coast did provide some modest auk counts, a total count of 339 Herring Gulls and several Shags.

The lighthouse, shrouded in fog at sunset

Monday, 18 March 2019

The Season Begins...

After the warmth experienced in late February the weather took a sharp downturn, with a couple of storms hitting Britain throughout early March. However, the BBFO team set off to the island at 11:30 on the 18 March in reasonably calm conditions.

Benlli III - the boat to Bardsey
Visible from the boat along the east side of the island, one Fulmar and 20 Kittiwakes were seen along with 22 Razorbills. Two Shelducks and 54 Grey Seals greeted us in Henllwyn too, though we didn't have much time to watch as we had to unload the boat and head up to the Observatory.

After unpacking a (literal) truck load of luggage and food, checks were done around the Observatory and Lodge to find out if anything had been damaged during the winter, which apart from one of the toilet doors, nothing had.

In the late afternoon a 1.5 hour walk through the Narrows and around the South End produced: 67 Oystercatchers, five Shags, four Cormorants, a Merlin, a Curlew, seven Redshanks, 35 Turnstones, 65 Herring Gulls, 12 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, two Stonechats, two Rock Pipits and a pair of Choughs.

A somewhat camouflaged colour ringed Rock Pipit 
Back at Cristin, the Observatory building, staff and volunteers were getting a few of the rooms ready to be lived in. This involves laying down the carpets, taking duvets etc. out of their sealed winter bags and scrubbing patches of mould off the walls! By the time guests start arriving in April the whole building will be looking as good as ever.

After what felt like a long day, with all of us having to get up in the early hours to get over to Cwrt Farm to catch the boat, it was nice to have the travelling behind us and everything unloaded, ready for another (hopefully) bird-filled season. Something very welcome was one of Bardsey's famous sunsets that managed to break through the clouds, which drew a nice close to the first day.
A view of Bardsey, looking south

Bardsey Bird and Field Observatory - A Hidden Secret

You are invited to the following free event hosted by the Bardsey Bird and Field Observatory:
Bardsey Bird and Field Observatory - A Hidden Secret
Treborth Gardens, Bangor
Saturday 30th March, 2pm - 5.15pm

A programme of talks about Bardsey and the work of the observatory and other conservation work undertaken on the island. A short guided walk will follow the talks.
Light refreshments will be provided
We look forward to seeing you there

Dai Stacey, BBFO Trustee
Spaces are limited so please RSVP to 

Hoffwn eich gwahodd i'r digwyddiad di-dâl yma sydd yn cael ei chynnal gan Wylfa Adar a Maes Ynys Enlli:
Cyfrinach gorau Gogledd Cymru: Gwylfa Adar a Maes Ynys Enlli
Lle:          Gerddi Treborth, Bangor
Pryd:        Dydd Sadwrn 30 Mawrth, 2yp - 5.15yp

Rhaglen o siaradwyr gwadd fydd yn son am waith yr Gwylfa Adar a grwpiau arall ar Enlli sydd yn gweithio yn cadwraeth. Fydd yr sgyrsiau yn cael ei ddilyn gyda siwrne byr o gwmpas yr gerddi.
Lluniaeth ar gael
Edrychwn ymlaen at weld chi yn.

Dai Stacey,   Ymddiriedolwr BBFO
Llefydd cyfyngedig felly rhowch wybod i ni drwy e-bostio

Tuesday, 26 February 2019

Early Spring update

A surprisingly prolonged period of settled weather has allowed for a few boat trips over to Ynys Enlli over the last week, although it's still a couple of weeks until the Obs team arrive to start the 2019 season in earnest. Ben Porter managed to steal a day's visit to the island on Monday, and reports back on the state of affairs with the island's wildlife from a few hours stomping around in the unseasonably warm sunshine...

looking north-east to Pen Llyn from Mynydd Enlli

The rocky cliffs of the East Side were well-attended by returning seabirds on approach to the isle, with Guillemots lining the steeper cliff-faces, hundreds of Razorbills peppering the rocks around Briw Cerrig and Bae Felin; and a few pairs of Shags were already paired up for the season and midway through nest construction. Totals included 11 Fulmars, 17 Shags, 22 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 240 Herring Gulls, 5 Great Black-backed Gulls, 650 Guillemots and 745 Razorbills.

Only 11 Fulmars were present on their cliff ledge nest sites, although some pairs may not have been in attendance on today's visit

Guillemots prospecting cliffs and partners ahead of the 2019 breeding season. The cliffs will be looking a little more white-washed in a few months' time!

A walk of the coastline revealed the island's wintering Oystercatchers to have dispersed and paired up around their territories along the shore, with 107 birds counted, whilst a gathering of waders at high tide around the Narrows included a Whimbrel, 45 Purple Sandpipers, 31 Curlews, 10 Redshanks and 36 Turnstones. A single Red-throated Diver was present off the South End, alongside some stunning breeding-plumage Cormorants with white-frosted head attire.

Towards the more vegetated refuges away from the shore, the Plantation held four Chiffchaffs and a singing male Goldcrest, along with a Painted Lady and Peacock butterfly feeding on the Pussy Willows; a scattering of 15 Stonechats - some doubtless newly-arrived migrants - populated patches of flowering gorse, and 48 Meadow Pipits, two Skylarks and a Song Thrush were seen in the pastures and coastal fields. Perhaps the highlight of the visit was a Short-eared Owl, flushed from the rushy fields near Ty Pellaf Withy. A single Jack Snipe and 28 Common Snipe also revealed themselves after some traipsing through the wetter rush and boggy wetlands. 

Aside the birdlife, there were a handful of Seven-spot Ladybirds dotted around, no doubt wafted in on the warm southerly winds, whilst clouds of the dung beetle Aphodius sphacelatus swarmed along parts of the summit ridge, honing in on patches of fresh sheep dung. There were 128 Grey Seals hauled out in Henllwyn and along the South End, but surprisingly no cetaceans to be seen considering the flat-calm seas. 

We'll have to wait another couple of weeks until the BBFO team arrive for the next update - hopefully there will be some Wheatears hopping along the coast by then!

The day's Chough count was just nine birds, although some of the non-breeding birds which usually spend the winter on the island may be elsewhere on the mainland instead. Even so, this is a worryingly low count considering we'd hope to have eight or nine pairs beginning to nest build in the coming month 

Oystercatchers in the roaring westerly swell, despite a complete lack of wind

Painted Lady - whether this individual is a true migrant or has emerged more locally is hard to say, but with the current weather conditions it could easily be from further afield 

Seven-spot Ladybird

Thursday, 14 February 2019

New Staff for 2019

At the end of 2018 Ephraim and Billy decided to move on from BBFO to pastures new. we wish them all the best in their future careers. Ephraim will be especially missed having spent almost three years with us.

After a good number of strong applicants, we interviewed our shortlisted candidates in November and we are pleased to say that Lewis Hooper and Sam Prettyman have both accepted the posts offered to them. 

Lewis's main project work will be to start then Manx Shearwater census, which will last for four years, and will be your host on the weekly wildlife walks and Chough studies, whilst Sam's projects will be doing much of the breeding bird monitoring including seabirds and shearwater biology studies. Both will of course be doing the daily census, ringing, doing the log and writing the blog posts. 

Sam is a qualified C ringer, while Lewis is a trainee. Both have a great pedigree in observatory and conservation work, and we look forward to having them onboard this year. So without further ado I will now hand over to the new lads and let them introduce themselves.

Lewis with Puffin Chick on the Isle of May
My name is Lewis Hooper, I am 22 years old and from Hampshire. I graduated from Derby University in 2017 with a zoology degree where I focused on ornithology. I started birding more seriously throughout my years at university. After university I spent a week on the Isle of May on the young birders training course run by the SOC (Scottish Ornithologists' Club) gaining my first taste of observatory life. I then went onto spend September and October of 2017 at North Ronaldsay bird observatory and enjoyed it so much I went back in February 2018 staying the full year leaving in November. A full year at a bird observatory is an amazing experience, I was able to get a T permit and ring over 500 birds including over 100 birds in the nest, as well as witness some amazing migration spectacles’ and be fortunate in finding some rarities. Bardsey is a new and exciting challenge that I cannot wait to start this year and I hope to gain more ringing experience, meet some amazing people and find a few rarities throughout the year.

Sam measuring a Kittiwake at Bempton
Hi I'm Sam Prettyman, I am from Sheffield and have been interested in zoology from a very young age, but became particularly interested in birds and birding as a teenager. I have monitored seabirds at RSPB Bempton Cliffs, as well as shorebirds at Gibraltar Point NNR. I have ringed at several observatories around the UK, mainly Gibraltar Point. However, the vast majority of my ringing is done with Sorby Breck Ringing Group, which covers South Yorkshire and Derbyshire. I also enjoy SCAN and Humber Wader Ringing Group sessions, for both mist-netting and cannon-netting waders and wildfowl. 

I spent six months as an Intern Warden at RSPB Old Moor, a top place and my favourite reserve! I learned a lot about reserve management here, and it’s also where my interest in bird ringing started after watching a Sand Martin pulli ringing session. As well as this, I have spent a year in Madagascar, and several months in Costa Rica and Bolivia carrying out various animal and plant surveys. I’m looking forward to life and work on Bardsey, working with seabirds is one of the main appeals for me, but I’m also hoping to see some rarities while I’m there!

Monday, 5 November 2018

And it's Goodbye from him...

The 2018 season came to a close on 5 November when Steve, Emma and Connor, along with Ephraim and Billy left the island.

Billy and Ephraim will be moving to pastures new and we wish them all the very best. Ephraim will be off to study mechanical engineering at university in Germany next year.

We also said goodbye to Mark Carter after seven years on the island, one year as a volunteer for BBFO, he then spent four years as our AW, completing a full Manx Shearwater survey in his time with us, and them moving to work along side his partner Sian for his final two years who was the BITL manager. Mark and Sian will be leaving the island in early December.

We wish them all the very best of luck. It has been a great few years on the island with the Assistants all gelling and getting on well; Pizza nights, film nights and Mario Cart were some of their exploits in their down time...

We are also looking forward to new beginnings...  we have a strong lineup of candidates to chose from and we hope to be interviewing in mid-November, it is a case of watch this space!!!

The class of 2018
Goodbye Bardsey... see you again sometime

Wednesday, 31 October 2018

After quite the run of rarities and scarcities, it was a little quieter today. The conditions remained settled and a small trickle of migrants were still noted in-between time spent closing down the obs.

Three Grey Herons were present today a small increase on yesterday marking some clear passage with presumably more turnover of this species than we expect. Also in the wetlands of the island today were two Wigeons, three Teals, one Sparrowhawk, one Buzzard, one Kestrel and eight Snipes. The Great Spotted Woodpecker was once again present reminiscent of last year’s wintering individual which remained into April. Some migrants were also noted on land, the usual suspects included 26 Dunnocks, 18 Robins and six Stonechats, whilst some thrushes included 26 Blackbirds, 18 Song Thrushes and six Redwings, down on recent days, but presumably the residue of the last weeks notable passage. In the bushes today a Chiffchaff, nine Goldcrests and a Coal Tit were the highlights, but some more overhead passage culminated to some more significant tallies of 128 Starlings, 194 Chaffinches, one Greenfinch, two Siskins, eight Goldfinches and four Lesser Redpolls.

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

It was another eerily calm day today. With the mountain sheltering any wind from the East, there wasn’t a breath of wind. The mist-nets at Cristin and Nant were duly opened, which proved worthwhile with large numbers of finches and thrushes being caught. The nets this morning also provided perhaps the most bizarre record of the autumn so far! At around 0830 a Cetti’s Warbler was discovered in the nets at Cristin, the bird was duly processed and released in the garden never to be seen again. Amazingly this constitutes just the second record for Bardsey following one in 1973 also present on 30th of October, 45 years ago TO THE DAY!

Contrary to recent days sea passage was nothing exception, 12 Common Scoters were the highlight. Other Wildfowl today included two Wigeons and four Teals. The Merlin was still present as were two Sparrowhawks and the Water Rail. Waders were again a talking point with Jack Snipes continuing to avoid our best efforts to catch them, one was seen today. Other waders included ten Snipes, two Woodcocks, one Whimbrel, 11 Curlews, 11 Redshanks and six Turnstones. Some more vis-mig failed to match the swarms moving through in recent day, but still a good number of birds were logged overhead including ten Skylarks, 1216 Jackdaws, two Rooks, 425 Starlings, 204
 Chaffinches, 37 Bramblings, seven Greenfinches, eight Siskins, ten Goldfinches, six Linnets, four Lesser Redpolls and one Bullfinch.

A reasonable number of birds were also present on the land among the chats and thrushes today were 22 Robins, one Black Redstart, one Ring Ouzel, 31 Blackbirds, 15 Song Thrushes, 17 Redwings and one Mistle Thrush. A good look in the vegetation of the island also provided the Lesser Whitethroat, two Blackcaps, three Chiffchaffs and ten Goldcrests.

Cetti's Warbler is the first new bird to be ringed on Bardsey since 2010 when Woodlark and Rose-ringed Parakeet were added to the extensive Bardsey ringing list

A particularly confiding Chiffchaff watched feeding in the autumn sun at Nant

Monday, 29 October 2018

It was another impressive day on the island today, numbers didn’t quite match those of 27th and 28th, but instead some scarcer species were logged today. One of today’s highlights was discovered among a small movement of wildfowl logged today which constituted of three Wigeons, 14 Teals and ten Common Scoters. In the late morning a group of three ducks proved to be just the 21st record of Velvet Scoters for the island. Otherwise, today’s standout highlight were two Great White Egrets, which drifted north over Pen Cristin, this is the first record for the island of multiple birds and just the fifth time this species has occurred.

A Merlin was still present today, as were the Water Rail, two Stock Doves and one Great Spotted Woodpecker. Some more waders totalled a Jack Snipe, 12 Snipes, six Woodcocks, one Whimbrel, 15 Curlews and 14 Turnstones. Woodpigeon passage was reduced to just 17 birds today, but a Short-eared Owl was a pleasant surprise moving south along the West Coast. Otherwise again much the same variety of species were recorded moving through but in reduced numbers. In total 120 Skylarks, two Grey Wagtails, 25 Robins, 99 Blackbirds, three Fieldfares, 17 Song Thrushes, 30 Redwings, one Lesser Whitethroat (presumed ssp. Blythi), four Blackcaps, one Chiffchaff, nine Goldcrests, one Coal Tit, 150 Jackdaws, four Rook, one Hooded Crow, 315 Starlings, 265 Chaffinches, 26 Bramblings, six Greenfinches, five Siskins, 15 Goldfinches, 42 Linnets, four Lesser Redpolls and three Reed Buntings. Finally, the Barn Owl was found roosting in one of the buildings at Nant.

Two Great White Egrets thermaling above Pen Cristin before drifting north and presumably over the mountain-ridge back to the Mainland 

Another dramatic day of ominous clouds interspersed with sunshine creating the perfect backdrop for this Buzzard

Today's highlights weren't limited to just birds a Red-veined Darter found on the Mountainside above Nant was the first this year, adding more diversity to this already incredible year for dragonflies and insects on Bardsey

Sunday, 28 October 2018

There was a slight shift in the weather today as the wind budged slightly to the north-east and calmed down noticeably. It seems the bulk of passage occurred yesterday, but there was still a considerable amount to pass through today with nearly 8000 birds recorded compared to yesterday’s 10,000+.

The calm conditions allowed for both sizeable land and sea passage. A single Common Scoter was the only wildfowl out to sea, but gulls were still on the move with ten Mediterranean Gulls, 525 Black-headed Gulls, 46 Common Gulls and 850 Kittiwakes recorded along with 31 Guillemots and 1300 Razorbills.

Among the usual raptors were two Buzzards and a Merlin. Meanwhile, waders comprised of a Lapwing, one Dunlin, five Snipes, two Curlews, nine Redshanks and just one Turnstone.

People were out and about watching and recording throughout the day, but the bulk of migrants passed through early on with the first two or three hours of daylight, some of the highlights among the numbers included a Water Pipit, a Richard’s Pipit, one Lapland Bunting and a Waxwing which landed briefly at Ty Nesaf making it seventh record for the island, but the first record since 28th December 2016 (one of two records in 2016). Passage culminated to an impressive one Stock Dove, 23 Woodpigeons, 51 Skylarks, one Grey Wagtail, 24 Robins, two Black Redstarts, 239 Blackbirds, 25 Fieldfares, 58 Song Thrushes, 162 Redwings, 13 Mistle Thrushes, one Blackcap, two Chiffchaffs, 11 Goldcrests, five Coal Tits, 1495 Jackdaw, five Rooks, 1060 Starlings, 1093 Chaffinches, 120 Bramblings, five Greenfinches, one Siskin, 23 Goldfinches, two Lesser Redpolls, three Bullfinches and two Reed Buntings!

Peregrine mid stoop

The Water Pipit on Solfach was particularly confiding today

Saturday, 27 October 2018

Despite the strong Northerly winds today, some phenomenal passage was noted almost from dawn till dusk. Migration today consisted primarily of Finches, but some impressive diversity was noted, in total over 10,000 birds were logged today!

Early on sea passage held most of the interest, with overhead passage not reaching its full potential until after 0930. Out to sea a Manx Shearwater was a particularly late individual, and wildfowl was perhaps the theme of today’s seawatch of particular note were 28 Whooper Swans constituting the second highest island record (falling short of the 56 recorded on 6th March 1987), two Tufted Ducks, just the 34th record for the island and 45 Eiders smashing the previous island record of 13 set on 23rd November 2010! Other wildfowl culminated to a female Goldeneye, one Brent Goose, four Shelducks, four Teals and 50 Common Scoters. Otherwise, a Mediterranean Gull, 320 Black-headed Gulls, 924 Kittiwakes, 34 Guillemots and 1027 Razorbills were logged out to sea.

After a blank day yesterday, Grey Herons returned with a vengeance, seven were present today as was a single Merlin. Some more wader passage consisted of some lesser recorded species today, eight Lapwings, one Sanderling, four Dunlins, a Jack Snipe, ten Snipes, one Woodcock, one Whimbrel, 39 Curlews, 30 Redshanks and 40 Turnstones were noted throughout the day.

It was today’s vismig that really took the prize despite the earlier sightings. Some rarely seen Woodpigeon passage culminated to 78 birds and a Short-eared Owl was flushed from the Wetlands only to pitch up at Traeth Ffynnon. Persistent coverage saw vismig totals culminate to an impressive 49 Skylarks, 149 Meadow Pipits, most of today’s 45 Blackbirds, 94 Song Thrushes and 83 Redwings, 2342 Starlings, 4110 Chaffinches, 245 Bramblings, 11 Greenfinches, eight Siskins, 174 Goldfinches and nine Lesser Redpolls. Otherwise, those that could keep their eyes from the skies were treated to further views of the Water Pipit, a Mistle Thrush, the putative Siberian Lesser Whitethroat, five Blackcaps, three Chiffchaffs, ten Goldcrests and one Coal Tit!

A particularly dramatic backdrop for this Jack Snipe

One of the 4110 Chaffinches recorded today

The various weather fronts today made for some impressive views

Friday, 26 October 2018

A blustery and showery day saw the discovery of a highly anticipated autumn scarcity in the form of a first-winter Barred Warbler. It was found at Ty Capel, a garden which seems to have a decent track record for attracting these heavily-built warblers. The last Bardsey bird on 21 October 2016 also frequented the same spot. It showed well to the assembled crowd as it gorged on blackberries and bumbled around on branches that were too weak for it. The twitch was an exciting one; whilst we were watching the bird there was sun, hail, rain, a rainbow and even a briefly calling Yellow-browed Warbler mixed in.

The north-westerly winds made seawatching productive, with four Leach's Petrels performing well in front of the North Hide as they caught the tailwind and made fast progress down the West Coast. Wildfowl highlights included four Whooper Swans overhead, a Canada Goose in the Sound, a Barnacle Goose that toured the island and a single Eider south. The Starling flock reached a impressive 4900 birds and thrush passage increased to 26 Fieldfares, 16 Song Thrushes and 40 Redwings.

Three Red-throated Divers, six Manx Shearwaters, six Common Scoters, a Buzzard, two Kestrels, a Merlin, three Water Rails, two Jack Snipes, two Snipes, two Great Skuas, 212 Herring Gulls, 1518 Kittiwakes, 1107 Razorbills, two Great Spotted Woodpeckers, six Stonechats, 26 Fieldfares, 16 Song Thrushes, 40 Redwings, a Barred Warbler, the 'blythi' Lesser Whitethroat, a Yellow-browed Warbler, six Chiffchaffs, eight Goldcrests, a Coal tit, four Blue tits, four Great tits, 4900 Starlings, 51 Chaffinches, two Bramblings, a Siskin and 34 Goldfinches

It was the biggest twitch of the year. Almost every person on the island is in this photo.

The strong north-westerly winds blew today's Leach's Petrels close in, making them hug the coastline as they went south.  A lucky observer in the North Hide got superb views of them gliding over the crashing waves © Richard Layton.

The sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth Whooper Swans of the autumn.

Thursday, 25 October 2018

Today's Chaffinch passage was one of the highlights of autumn 'vis-migging' so far. Small groups were first picked up on their faint calls, heading high over the island straight towards the west coast of Ireland. As our eyes became adjusted to the blue sky, we started to pick up more and more Chaffinch-shaped dots, until it became apparent that they were all part of a migrating super-flock containing at least 300 birds. Lower down at ground level, there was a good arrival of thrushes, with eight Fieldfares and 97 Redwings all new in, whilst warbler numbers improved slightly to five Blackcaps and six Chiffchaffs. The 'blythi'-type Lesser Whitethroat remained around Ty Capel but yesterday's Water Pipit on Solfach couldn't be relocated.

Other birds today included a Red-throated Diver, two Great Northern Divers, a Manx Shearwater, ten Common Scoters, a Sparrowhawk, two Buzzards, two Kestrels, a Merlin, two Peregrines, a Water Rail, three Snipes, a Whimbrel, 35 Turnstones, an Arctic Skua, six Great Skuas, 828 Black-headed Gulls, 708 Kittiwakes, two Little Owls, a Barn Owl, two Great Spotted Woodpeckers, eight Skylarks, 11 Stonechats, 15 Song Thrushes, a Mistle Thrush, 11 Goldcrests, six Blue Tits, three Great Tits, 531 Starlings, 332 Chaffinches, 13 Bramblings, two Greenfinches, seven Siskins, 81 Goldfinches, two Linnets, 36 Lesser Redpolls and three Reed Buntings.

Mark trapped this smart L-album Wainscot at Ty Bach two days ago. Up until recently this was predominantly a scarce but regular visitor to the UK from continental Europe, breeding only along the south coast. More recently, it has expanded its range north into Wales, with the first North Wales record coming in October 2015. Needless to say this is the first record for the island!

There are very few things we've been able to find that Icky Steve can't do. He's a problem solver, a DIY extraordinaire and a bird finder. One of the rainwater tanks had a leaking tap, but you can only remove the tap from the inside. Everyone thought the entrance at the top was too small to get in and out of, but Icky Steve managed it. Now we have a non-leaky tap on the rainwater tank. Can you count the number of Steve's in this photo?

Wednesday, 24 October 2018

The standout highlight of today was a Water Pipit found on Solfach. Following recent records of an individual on 28th April last year and a long-staying bird in November 2013, this becomes only the 12th record for the island. The seven Eiders and five Red-breasted Mergansers that flew down the West Coast during the day were impressive counts, but the supporting cast was much the same as yesterday.

It included two Red-throated Divers, three Common Scoters, a Sparrowhawk, a Buzzard, three Kestrels, a Merlin, three Water Rails, five Purple Sandpipers, a Dunlin, a Jack Snipe, 12 Snipes, 50 Turnstones, an Arctic Skua, two Great Skuas, 14 Mediterranean Gulls, 174 Black-headed Gulls, eight Common Gulls, 684 Kittiwakes, a Little Owl, a Barn Owl, three Great Spotted Woodpeckers, three Skylarks, a Lesser Whitethroat, a Blackcap, three Chiffchaffs, 13 Goldcrests, seven Blue tits, three Great tits, two Rooks, 463 Starlings, 49 Chaffinches, two Bramblings, a Greenfinch, 14 Siskins, three Goldfinches, 13 Linnets, five Lesser Redpolls and a Reed Bunting

Only the island's 12th record of Water Pipit (although 15 individual birds have been involved). A fantastic find by two of our visiting birders, Gavin and Alyn. The bird fed amongst the seaweed alongside Rock Pipits and Turnstones until late afternoon at least.

Tuesday, 23 October 2018

There were some big counts from the sea again this morning, with 1288 Black-headed Gulls and 4141 Kittiwakes moving past in large feeding flocks. Amongst them 52 Mediterranean Gulls were mixed in and several Great Skuas harassed the lot. On the land, the tricky Lesser Whitethroat that has been skulking in the bushes around Ty Capel and Ty Nessaf was finally caught, and in-hand measurements confirmed our suspicions that it is a good candidate for the central Asian subspecies blythi. Amongst an entertaining supporting cast included the first two Jack Snipes of the autumn, a Barn Owl at Nant, three Great Spotted Woodpeckers roaming the island and a Black Redstart around the Abbey ruins.

89 Gannets, a Grey Heron, five Brent Geese, ten Common Scoters, two Sparrowhawks, two Buzzards, three Kestrels, a Merlin, three Peregrines, a Water Rail, eight Purple Sandpipers, a Dunlin, two Jack Snipes, 11 Snipes, two Whimbrels, 34 Turnstones, 17 Common Gulls, 4141 Kittiwakes, two Little Owls, two Skylarks, two Pied Wagtails, 11 Stonechats, 14 Song Thrushes, ten Redwings, a Blackcap, five Chiffchaffs, seven Goldcrests, eight Blue tits, seven Great tits, three Jackdaws, 33 Rooks, 64 Carrion Crows, 29 Chaffinches, four Bramblings, four Greenfinches, eight Siskins, 19 Goldfinches, two Linnets, four Lesser Redpolls and a Reed Bunting.

A combination of wing formula and the extent of white in the outer-tail feathers make this look a good match for Siberian Lesser Whitethroat (Sylvia curruca blythi). A loose feather was collected for DNA analysis which should help confirm the identity. 

Autumn is a great time to look for moths in their larval stage. The caterpillars of many species of micro moth create distinctive feeding signs in leaves of different trees. This leaf 'fold' was found on Damsons behind the Observatory garden a few days ago. It's made by a tiny nondescript moth called Parornix torquillella. The feeding damage is identical to that created by Parornix finitimella but the larva has pale legs instead of black legs which confirms it as P. torquillella.

This is a leaf mine on Apple made by Stigmella malella. It's an old one; the larva has vacated the mine earlier in the autumn to pupate elsewhere but you can still see the remains of dark broken 'frass' (i.e. poo) in the earlier, narrower part of the mine. The pattern made by the frass combined with the shape and position of the mine are the main features to look at when identifying them. Both of these are new species for the island. 

Enough about moths. It was a stunning autumn sunset, even when seen through the grimy office window.