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 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.

Monday, 22 October 2018

We've got plenty of birders out scouring the island this week, so by the end of play today we'd managed to wrack up some fantastic tallies of common species and even added three new species to the 2018 year list. Excitement out at sea included 2002 Razorbills, 479 Black-headed Gulls, 13 Mediterranean Gulls, 37 Common Gulls, two Great Northern Divers, a Whooper Swan and the first Red-breasted Merganser and Brent Goose of the year. On the land, a Hooded Crow was on the South End, four Black Redstarts were at Nant and the interesting looking but extremely skulky Lesser Whitethroat remained at Ty Capel. Elsewhere, eight Swallows went north up the island, 640 Starlings whizzed around in several large flocks and the first two Long-tailed tits of the year were seen briefly at Ty Pellaf.

Other birds today included nine Common Scoters, a Golden Plover, a Lapwing, five Snipes, 46 Curlews, 32 Turnstones, a Little Owl, a Great Spotted Woodpecker, 115 Skylarks, three Grey Wagtails, six Pied Wagtails, a White Wagtail, 16 Blackbirds, a Fieldfare, 12 Song Thrushes, 29 Redwings, nine Chiffchaffs, 13 Goldcrests, three Coal tits, two Blue tits, nine Great tits, 240 Jackdaws, 98 Chaffinches, 14 Bramblings, eight Greenfinches, six Siskins, 35 Goldfinches, 13 Linnets, 13 Lesser Redpolls and 15 Reed Buntings.

 Red-breasted Merganser and Pale-bellied Brent Goose were the first records of the year of these typically autumnal species.

The Black Redstarts were performing delightfully around the outbuildings and ruins at Nant (both pictures copyright Jeff Wragg).

Sunday, 21 October 2018

It was a day fraught with intermittent rain showers and an increasingly strong south-westerly wind that swung around to the north late in the afternoon and made it feel particularly chilly out and about. Migrants on the ground included one of yesterday's Lesser Whitethroats seen briefly at Ty Capel. Flight views gave fleeting hints of sandy upperparts and an overall quite pale appearance, but it remained frustratingly elusive and hard to track down. Elsewhere there were two Black Redstarts at Nant and a Barn Owl around Ty Capel, but the big numbers came from the sea with 160 Mediterranean Gulls passing off the West Coast amongst 478 Black-headed Gulls, the former tally coming frustratingly close to the historical record day count.

A Red-throated Diver, five Fulmars, 78 Gannets, 19 Common Scoters, a Buzzard, four Kestrels, two Merlins, two Water Rails, a Purple Sandpiper, three Dunlins, nine Snipes, a Whimbrel, 18 Redshanks, 21 Turnstones, an Arctic Skua, three Great Skuas, 64 Common Gulls, 364 Kittiwakes, 78 Guillemots, 2207 Razorbills, a Little Owl, a Great Spotted Woodpecker, four Grey Wagtails, three Stonechats, three Song Thrushes, seven Redwings, nine Chiffchaffs, eight Goldcrests, a Coal tit, five Blue tits, three Great tits, 115 Starlings, 50 Chaffinches, nine Siskins, 233 Goldfinches, 60 Linnets and two Reed Buntings.

Saturday, 20 October 2018

It was a stunning day for us to welcome on our final guests to the observatory in 2018. The season has whizzed by, as it so often does, and it feels crazy that from next week onward we'll be looking towards shutting down Cristin for the winter. In the meantime though, there are still migrants to be counted and reports to be written! We inevitably end up spending fewer hours in the field on Saturday changeovers, but there was still an impressive tally of migrants called out at log tonight considering the minimal time we were able to spend birding. The five Whooper Swans that headed east over the mountain whilst we were giving the introductory talk must have been a good omen, as they preceded the first Woodcock of the year that was flushed from the mountain, three Lesser Whitethroats (including an interesting 'eastern' looking bird seen briefly in Ty Pellaf Withy), four Black Redstarts around the houses and the second Richard's Pipit of the autumn that went north over the North-West Fields late in the afternoon. To round the day off, a late Manx Shearwater was seen close in off the South End as were singles of both Arctic and Great Skua.

Other birds logged today included 10 Gannets, a Grey Heron, five Common Scoters, a Sparrowhawk, a Buzzard, four Kestrels, a Merlin, two Peregrines, two Water Rails, a Lapwing, four Snipes, ten Curlews, 14 Redshanks, two Turnstones, 29 Mediterranean Gulls, 110 Black-headed Gulls, seven Common Gulls, 130 Razorbills, a Stock Dove, a Great Spotted Woodpecker, seven Skylarks, three Fieldfares, six Redwings, three Blackcaps, 11 Chiffchaffs, ten Goldcrests, seven Blue tits, three Great tits, 120 Starlings, 14 Chaffinches, three Siskins, 42 Goldfinches, 11 Linnets, three Lesser Redpolls and a roaming flock of 11 Crossbills.

Rush Veneer have been recorded on several occasions in the past couple of weeks. They generally turn up as migrants in autumn, arriving on the same warm southerly winds that carry Saharan dust onto your car's windscreen.

Brindled Ochre is one of the less common resident moths flying at the moment. They're a coastal speciality on here with the larvae feeding on Hogweed and Wild Angelica. This individual was caught by Mark up at Ty Nessaf.

It was a stunner of a sunset. The recently created Pwll Gareth glowed a warm shade of orange in the twilight.

Friday, 19 October 2018

After a pleasant few days of calm north-easterly winds, the direction shifted 180˚ back to a south-westerly bearing. This was instantly evident in the number of migrants recorded today. There was only a small movement noted overhead, instead most of today’s attention was focused on the sea.

Aside from two Great Northern Divers, 52 Common Scoters and 164 Razorbills gulls made up the majority of records today. Some 91 Mediterranean Gulls, two Sabine’s Gulls (the first recorded since 23 September 2018), 693 Black-headed Gulls, 28 Common Gulls and 93 Kittiwakes made their way south today, the former constituting the highest count so far this year. Two Lapwings were new arrivals among the usual waders, and Snipes increased to 13 birds today.

There were still birds present on the land today, despite a small clear out. A Stock Dove was another record of this island scarcity this year, 27 Dunnocks, 26 Robins, one Black Redstart, one Ring Ouzel and one Mistle Thrush were recorded. Warblers totalled just four Blackcaps, three Chiffchaffs and 17 Goldcrests, whilst a small number of Starlings and finches moved through again with 318 of the former recorded today. Finches numbered 72 Chaffinches, two Bramblings, 24 Siskins and five Lesser Redpolls. Finally, one Lapland Bunting made its way over Nant and five Reed Buntings were logged on passage.

The dramatic view great us this morning off the South End

Thursday, 18 October 2018

It was another busy day today, a light northerly airflow once again opened the flood gates for a number of migrants to pass overhead, with a good selection also present on the land. However, a short look out to sea did see a brace of two Greylag Geese, eight Common Scoters, ten Mediterranean Gulls and 282 Black-headed Gulls pass by.

A Merlin was still present today, as were three Water Rails in the lowlands of the island. Among the usual waders were two Purple Sandpipers and five Snipes. A Short-eared Owl swooped around the southern end of the island in the morning. Today’s talking point was definitely the number of birds recorded overhead and their diversity, among the usual species some more notable species included a Richard’s Pipit over the South End and two Lapland Buntings. Overhead passage today, either heard of seen culminated to an impressive 92 Skylarks, 104 Meadow Pipits, three Grey Wagtails, 148 Jackdaw, 50 Rooks, 597 Starlings, 175 Chaffinches, 14 Bramblings, four Greenfinches, 45 Siskins, six Lesser Redpolls and 19 Reed Buntings.

Thrushes and chats were again numerous today with the Siberian Stonechat clocking another day on the island, 32 Robins, two Redstarts, seven Wheatears, 36 Blackbirds, seven Fieldfares, 18 Song Thrushes, 26 Redwings and a Mistle Thrush were recorded. The increase in migrants clearly effected warbler numbers too, an obvious arrival totalled a Garden Warbler, 13 Blackcaps, six Yellow-browed Warblers, 20 Chiffchaffs, a Willow Warbler and 13 Goldcrests.

The Siberian Stonechat was particularly approachable today, and showed brilliantly in the morning and evening sun

A short film focusing on our long staying Siberian Stonechat

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

There was another change in the winds today, having swung back round to the South-west some places on the west coast of Britain and Ireland faired well. For us, the winds remained calm and allowed a number of migrants to move through.

A Great Northern Diver was seen off the North End in the morning to start things off. Among the usual raptors a Merlin hawked across the island, after yesterday’s absence two Water Rails were in the Withies and 10 Snipes scattered the boggy areas of the island.

Another large movement overhead consisted almost exclusively of Skylark with 244 recorded today along with one Tree Pipit and seven Grey Wagtails. It was another chat and thrush day today, with the Siberian Stonechat continuing its stay in the South End gorse. The bird was present throughout the day showed exceedingly well in the autumn sun. Others included 31 Robins, 12 Stonechats, one Ring Ouzel and three Redwings. It was a little quieter on the warbler front, three Blackcaps were the only sylvias, a Yellow-browed Warbler was heard at Cristin in the morning, whilst eight Chiffchaffs and 19 Goldcrests were the only others recorded. A Coal Tit was still present, and some more finch passage consisted of 57 Chaffinches, 12 Siskins and 11 Lesser Redpolls, the only other birds of note today were three Reed Buntings.

Recent days have seen a spike in number of Hummingbird Hawkmoths on the island, with counts reaching 12 individuals

The Siberian Stonechat continued to associate closely with three western Stonechats in the South End  gorse

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

There was still a calm easterly airflow this morning, combined with a heavy shower in the early hours saw a number of migrants grounded by the weather. Once the weather had cleared, it was clear that some new migrants had arrived, and hopes were high of a far eastern bird. The day produced just that, when a Siberian Stonechat appeared in the South End gorse. The bird showed well throughout the morning, and continued to show into the afternoon as the sun broke through the cloud. The bird lacked black underwings and a dark mask, but showed an obvious contrast in its coverts which allowed us to establish it was a first-winter female Siberian Stonechat. This represents just the fifth island record.

Whilst the Stonechat was the clear highlight, a good supporting cast was also present today. Out to sea a Sooty Shearwater flew west past the South End, whilst 17 Common Scoters, a Golden Plover, a Great Skua, 16 Mediterranean Gulls, 129 Black-headed Gulls and 417 Kittiwakes made up numbers. Whilst on the land a brilliant selection was present. On the wader front, numbers were still high but diversity low as two Snipes, two Whimbrels, 28 Curlews, 18 Redshanks and 28 Turnstones were logged. The Great Spotted Woodpecker was again mobile, and little overhead passage culminated to just 51 Skylarks. Thrushes and Chats were present in good sted today as one Black Redstart, two Redstarts, 10 Stonechats, four Ring Ouzels and seven Redwings were recorded along with the aforementioned Stonechat. Otherwise, warblers seemed to be a little down on yesterday, two Blackcaps, six Chiffchaffs and 23 Goldcrests were the only warblers logged. Other birds seemed to have declined in number as well with just 44 Starlings, 28 Chaffinches, 61 Goldfinches, two Lesser Redpolls and four Reed Buntings recorded.

Siberian Stonechat, from what we could tell it appears to be a S.m.maurus, but we managed to procure a stool sample, so we'll know for sure soon enough!

The stonechat twitch

Monday, 15 October 2018

It was another exciting day today, a good selection was noted, out to sea and both on and over the land. The Northerly-winds today as a change came from a little further afield originating as far away as Scandinavia. A late Manx Shearwater was a surprise out to sea, whilst the first Eider of the autumn was also recorded along with seven Common Scoters. An impressive 18 Mediterranean Gulls, 1195 Black-headed Gulls and 41 Common Gulls made up some obvious gull passage as well.

The heat of the day also saw nine Buzzards and a Merlin recorded among the other usual raptors. Three Water Rails were in the withies and a Snipe was flushed from the Wetlands. The Great Spotted Woodpecker reappeared at Plas. Perhaps today’s highlight was the sheer volume and diversity of birds recorded on passage, with flocks of birds making their way south, largely over the South End. Today some notable ‘vismig’ culminated to a Woodlark, 401 Skylarks, 189 Meadow Pipits, eight Grey Wagtails, 333 Jackdaws, 22 Rook, 102 Carrion Crow, one Hooded Crow, 220 Starlings, 84 Chaffinches, 16 Bramblings, two Greenfinches, 13 Siskins, two Lesser Redpolls, 26 Reed Buntings and three House Sparrows! Also passing overhead was a Cattle Egret which flew over Nant and headed out west appearing to have Ireland in its sights, perhaps most surprising about this bird was the fact that it appeared to be a separate bird to yesterdays, with the previous day’s bird still feeding at Cwrt back on the mainland!

Whilst, conditions were perfect for birds to make their way straight over the island, some decided to made landfall. An assortment of species were recorded throughout the day, scattered across the vegetation of the island. Thrushes and chats were noted with, 36 Robins, one Redstart, 11 Wheatears, 25 Blackbirds and 15 Song Thrushes recorded, all up on recent numbers. Warblers and their close relatives included some nine Blackcaps, five Yellow-browed Warblers, 23 Chiffchaffs, 14 Goldcrests, one Firecrest, two Pied Flycatchers, five Coal Tits and one Treecreeper. This brought the day total to a whooping 81 species, the most diverse day of the year!

A Vestal was yet another migrant recorded today