Friday, 22 June 2018

As the weeks draws on, I must unfortunately say I am running out of ways to say migration has ground to a halt. For this reason blogpost may become slightly more irregular for the next few weeks until wader passage begins and the first Willow Warblers start to return in mid-July. Today, however saw the first return passage (presumably) of waders, four Dunlins were recorded on Solfach and six Lapwings were seen flying over the North West Fields. 17 Swallows and two House Martins were the only hirundines logged today, whilst other passerine migrants summized to three Sedge Warblers, a Chiffchaff, a Spotted Flycatcher, a Siskin and two Goldfinches.

Thursday, 21 June 2018

Today the weather improved markedly, with the clouds dispersing and winds beginning to drop below 20mph, myself and Mark were able to head round the east side of the island where we undertook a few hours of seabird monitoring and ringing. Though quiet some hours were put in only 37 Razorbills were ringed, a mixture of chicks and adults. Whilst searching the rockfall areas however, we did chance upon an incubating Storm Petrel, which is always a pleasant surprise.

Other migrants today included a Buzzard, a Kestrel, two Curlews, 15 Swallows, four House Martins, 14 Wheatears (mostly adults and chicks) three Sedge Warblers, two Chiffchaffs, four Goldfinches and 18 Linnets.

Most crevices around Seal Cave had a little auk chick looking back at you hoping to be fed sand eels

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Another quiet day for migrants, but instead the change in weather allowed for some much-needed Manx Shearwater productivity monitoring. Efforts today were placed on identifying some of the adults from the productivity burrows, to get an idea of which whether the same burrows are being used by the same adults from year to year.

A small passage of 1039 Manx Shearwaters was noted out to sea, with this number being pulled from just a brief seawatch it’s easy to imagine that tens of thousands pass by out to sea each day around this time of year, a mixture of migrant and resident birds. On the shorelines just two Curlews were recorded. Whilst inland, the breeding hirundines cumulated to 10 Swallows and four House Martins. A Chiffchaff was once again heard singing at the Observatory and 11 Linnets were scattered across the island.

Monitoring the Manx Shearwaters is a sensitive and careful job, especially when undertaking the preliminary work of identifying the adults.

The first step is to remove the egg carefully from the burrow and place it in a pot lined with cotton, to make sure the adult doesn't scratch the egg when you remove it 

 Once you've removed the adult from the nest, the ring number is read

 The wing is measured

 The bird weighed

and finally the adult is returned to the nest, promptly followed by it's egg

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Another foggy day today despite the strong winds, halting most bird work. We now start to approach the time of year where juvenile birds begin to build in number with fledglings soon to match the number of adult birds around. A look around some of the barns and outhouses of the island today, saw a few nests of Swallows found, many still at the early chick stage or even still on eggs. It is proving to be a very late year, when compared to last year there were birds already beginning their second brood by the end of June!

Again few migrants were recorded today, with the only obvious new arrival being a male Blackcap! However, the supporting cast of the breeding birds is always nothing to feel hard done by. Highlights, included a Whimbrel, a Curlew, 22 Swallows, two House Martins, seven Wheatears, two Chiffchaffs and three Goldfinches. However, today’s highlight was not a bird but rather an insect going by the name of Acleris Bergmanniana. This intricate and amazingly colourful micro moth stole the show today and has somewhat of a rarity factor to it as well (for the island at least) with only a handful of records.

Acleris Bergmanniana

Monday, 18 June 2018

The fog truly set in today, becoming denser throughout the day, reaching its peak in the late afternoon, despite this the rain was only fleeting which allowed monitoring to carry on much as before. Manx Shearwater productivity monitoring was the focus of today’s efforts, completing the second visits of the 172 burrows to see which were occupied. Unfortunately, the number occupied has gone down this year with only 127 found to have birds and eggs compared to last year’s 132, however this is only a small decrease and definitely nothing to get concerned about. Once the first chicks start hatching in early to mid July we’ll be able to get a better idea of what the actual productivity will be like, with previous years scoring a productivity figure of around 0.65. Hopefully with this year’s milder conditions we can hope for an increase in productivity, but only time will tell.

Migrants were once again scarce on the ground today, with Gannets producing the most notable passage, some 313 were logged passing the island today. The Sparrowhawk was once again present, whilst waders saw a small increase to include two Whimbrels and a Curlew today. A Black-headed Gull was one of only a handful of records this year, so far. Also noted were 11 Swallows, seven House Martins, four Stonechats, five Wheatears, two Chiffchaffs and 10 Goldfinches, mostly comprising of the breeding birds of the island. However, todays most notable bird was definitely the Lesser Whitethroat singing in the Observatory garden, incredibly this is the first record of this species for the year!

Up to 220 Gannets were seen feeding from Pen Cristin and Henllwyn this morning

Sunday, 17 June 2018

Conditions did not improve today, with the wind, wet and fog set in and only clearing marginally by the late afternoon. It may come as a shock to some, but these were the yearned after conditions after a stunning two-month period of seemingly endless sunshine and calm weather. The damp conditions gave an eventual excuse to stay indoors and catch up on some of the shoulder high stacks of paperwork which has been building up since the beginning of the breeding season, and update (shudder) IPMR. After the parched conditions it was a godsend to see the rain falling and slowly filling up the wells around the island.

Despite the rain, a few migrants were recorded amongst the usual breeding birds, a Sparrowhawk was flushed off the South End which was presumable a new bird in, a Curlew was heard calling distantly on the Narrows along with a Whimbrel, whilst a Cuckoo was seen very briefly in the Withies, hopefully we can expect another successful breeding attempt of this species on the island. The first signs of southward Swift passage was also noted with three birds recorded, a sign of autumn already! Finally, five Siskins were also logged, a pair in Cristin garden, and three on the South End which swiftly moved on. Could we expect to see our first Green Sandpipers, or Black-tailed Godwits in the coming days, only time will tell.

Foxglove reaching out from the dew spangled undergrowth, the island is looking particularly luscious after today's rain

Saturday, 16 June 2018

It was a windy and wet start to today, but the weather slowly improved throughout the day and by afternoon the winds had dropped enough to allow the weekly changeover boat to run, safely delivering our new guests for the week. The boat also saw the departure of both Billy and Josie from the island, leaving Ephraim to fend for himself at the Observatory. So far, the building has remained upright, and no fires have devastated the complex, but the week is yet young.

After what can only be described as a blistering spring for rare birds, it’s time for Bardsey to take a seat and focus on breeding birds. Very few migrants were noted, aside from a small passage out to sea with 300 Manx Shearwaters and 225 Gannets recorded in a little under an hour today passing by. Instead the attention lay on the breeding pairs of Oystercatchers, Wheatears, Stonechats and numerous seabirds.

Spot the Oystercatcher, a chick demonstrating their outstanding camouflage