Friday, 29 October 2021

 Today started off as expected wet and cold. Stuart finished off inputting this years ringing data into DemOn (the BTOs online database). Over 4000 birds have been handled this year, the majority of which were Manx Shearwaters and Willow Warblers! 

At around 10am the clouds parted and it turned into a glorious day. Stuart managed to walk around the whole Island though wellies were essential. 

Full ditches along the West Coast

Cafn in the Autumn sunshine (before a cold swim)

It was fairly busy at Ty Pellaf with Chaffinches, a Redwing, a Blackcap and two Chiffchaffs in the gardens feeding amongst fallen apples. A big flock of 62 Curlew and seven Oystercatchers flew off Henllwyn towards the South End where they were was also a  Purple Sandpiper. The South End was otherwise quiet with nothing on any of the new pools that have been created by the constant rain.  A Nursehound eggcase was found on Solfach, showing how diverse the sea is off Bardsey.

Nursehound Shark eggcase

Along the West Coast there was a Kestrel and a Merlin which were both being mobbed by the remaining Meadow Pipits and flocks of Starlings. Once past Ogof Hir two Snow Buntings were flushed towards the North End hide and a summer plumage Great Northern Diver passed along the West Coast within binocular view. A Painted Lady and Red Admiral were also out enjoying the sunshine at Ty Bach.

After lunch and a final (very cold) swim of the year in Cafn, Stuart waded through the Withies and heard a Great Spotted Woodpecker and flushed a Woodcock (his final island tick of the year?). The evening was spent packing away. The famed seawatching benches in front of the Obs were moved into the gift shop to keep them dry. 

It is Stuarts last full day on Bardsey before catching the boat tomorrow morning. Steve will remain to close up the Obs and keep you up to date until the next boat arrives.

Birds today: one Great Northern Diver, 25 Gannets, two Grey Herons, one Kestrel, one Merlin, one Purple Sandpiper, three Snipes, one Woodcock, 62 Curlews, eight Redshanks, two Turnstones, 30 Black-headed Gulls, one Great Spotted Woodpecker, five Skylarks, 10 Redwings, two Blackcaps, ten Chiffchaffs, 11 Goldcrests, 158 Starlings, 42 Chaffinches, one Brambling, three Goldfinches, two Snow Buntings

Thursday, 28 October 2021

As the weather has now broken down and packing up the Lodge and data analysis and report writing continues we will be reducing the number of blog posts we do. 

The weather today was pretty much as grim as the previous day! It did improve in the afternoon and a quick wanter around produced very little - a few Chaffinches was the best Stuart could muster. There were a few Redwings on the move after dark.

Not a day for being outside really!

Fiona spent some of the day sorting all the cleaned bird bags and re-marking them (each is individually numbered). She was able helped by Alison.

all bird bags sorted

final moth data entered

cleaning cupboard cleaned!

Wednesday, 27 October 2021

Last night saw our final Curry-night of the season - a small affair, with just me, Emma and Connor, along with Alison and Fiona around at our house. It was a nice evening and the food was rather nice, even if I do say so myself as I did all the cooking!

two hungry ladies!
Many curries!

So about today, well the weather was just simply awful!!!

we needed this rain in July!

The wind blew hard all day and did not drop below force 7 (35mp)  and was gusting force 10 at times!

Average Force 8, gusting Force 10!

its brisk out there

Tomorrow looks like a repeat of today - but with even more rain! Still the weekend looks good for the remaining Alison and Fiona, along with Stuart and Megan to get off. 

Whilst Fiona was washing curtains, Emma was continuing to sort our house ready for shut-down. 
Curtains all washed and re-hung to dry 

and upstairs

and cushion covers too

Stuart and Megan were finalising their paperwork and digitising the breeding bird maps. I spent the day (after writing the blog posts for the past couple of days) collating all the Census Log data up to the End of September, and converting it into a format that we can then view on screen to begin writing the Systematic list along with the Non-Avian sections.

Lots of data - Many thousands of records are now ready to be analysed

Ringing data spreadsheet updated and ready to take this year's data

There were not many birds of note - I certainly did not venture out and saw very little coming to the feeders in the garden, two Siskins joined the four Great tits. A couple of Gannets battled into the wind on one of the few occasions we could see the sea!

Tuesday, 26 October 2021

 it was a bit of a grim day once again 

At dawn the survey vessel CEFAS Endeavour was about four miles to the west of the island. half an hour later it was passing within a mile of the Lighthouse. It is being used by MARINElife to carry out surveys around the British Isles. Onboard, and chatting to me via WhatsApp this morning is Peter Howlett, BBFO’s former Chairman.

CEFAS Endeavour
CEFAS Endeavour

During a couple of hours seawtaching in the morning, some 180 Razorbills, the leftovers from yesterday, passed south. A small number of Mediterranean Gulls were seen too, however Peter reported a flock of about 50 Med Gulls to the south east of the island, presumably off the Bastrom Shoal - the underwater reef out there.

About 175 Gannets were seen, many of them fishing off the west side of the island.

One of the highlights of quite a grim day though was two Great Northern Divers that flew south. Both were adults in summer plumage. Below is a grainy video of the second bird.

Whilst I was taking down some of the nets at Cristin in readiness for our impending departure for the winter, the rest of the Obs team were helping Gareth round up sheep from the mountain  and get them into the yard at Ty Pellaf. Stuart saw the Tree Sparrow down there again amongst a small number of finches that are using the potato patch.

every sheep must be off the mountain!

tada.... we didi it!

Monday, 25 October 2021

So the wind stayed in the west-southwest and dropped to about 15 knots, calm enough for some migrants to start moving... at last!

Early morning looking south

The day began with quite a spectacle of many hundreds of seabirds streaming south to the west of the island. there were two Manx Shearwaters, just over 200 Gannets. Eight Mediterranean Gulls amongst the 200 or so Black-headed Gulls, 50 Lesser Black-backs, 150 Greater Black-backs, 500 Herring Gulls and 300 Kittiwakes. Over 200 Razorbills also flew south.

Barn Owl flew through the Observatory Garden at dusk. A Grey Heron toured the island. There were two Sparrowhawks again, a Merlin was on the South End and a Water Rail was in the withies.

Grey Heron

The Great Spotted Woodpecker is still destroying tree sumps in the withies, but one of the highlights of the day was seven Stock Doves seen over Cristin. The Black Redstart was at Ty Pellaf again and 26 Redwings moved through including one trapped and ringed by Stuart at the Observatory.


Eight Chiffchaffs were seen and 13 Goldcrests and the Tree Sparrow was still at Ty Pellaf along with a female House Sparrow.

Chiffchaff at Carreg

The (world's worst image of a) Tree Sparrow at Ty Pellaf

During the morning many flocks of Starlings passed through the island heading in a general southerly direction. By 'Log o' Clock' the day's total stood at a minimum of 1516.

Starlings moved through in large flocks

The Chough flock on the beak was still in the mid-30s as they fed on sand hoppers and what looks like kelp-fly larvae 

A few of our youngsters from this year that were ringed in spring are still on the island

There was also an excellent overhead passage of finches, with 636 Chaffinches seen heading south. There were also a number of flocks of Goldfinches, totalling 123, there were 33 Linnets, 255 Siskins, nine Brambling and 4 Lesser Redpolls, with the star birds being three Common Crossbills over Ty Pellaf Withy.

A Lapland Bunting; the first of the autumn, was seen initially over the Narrows, but later on the South End.

In the afternoon, as Stuart and Megan continued to enter the last of the year's ringing data, Fiona, Connor and I began doing some brush clearance around the solar array. As the sun is no longer getting high in the sky, the panels are being shaded by tall gorse and brambles to the south of the, (or they were!). We spent a few hours cutting back the vegetation and clearing it away. We will need to do more at a later date, but for now the panels can see the sun much earlier in the day!

Me using the new brush cutter

Clearing vegetation around the PV array

And finally... after a long and seemingly tiring day we were treated to another nice sunset which Fiona managed to get a few images of.

Sunset from the Observatory

Sunday, 24 October 2021

The persistent south-westerlies continue and show how signs of abating. To this end migration is becoming almost non-existent. The weather did provide for some dramatic cloud-scapes though.

There were 43 Gannets feeding off the west coast, five Common Scoters flew south, as did a single adult Mediterranean Gull, nine Black-headed Gulls, 78 Herring Gulls, six Lesser Black-backs and 14 Greater Black-backs. There were also 15 Kittiwakes.

Two Sparrowhawks were buzzing about the Mountain, and a Peregrine was seen in a number of places with a Buzzard hovering over the Mountain above the farm


Not many waders were seen, though seven Snipes were in the wetlands.

The Great Spotted Woodpecker was seen in the withies again and the Black Redstart was seen at Ty Pellaf again.

Black redstart

Two Song Thrushes and seven Redwings were seen. There were five Chiffchaffs and 18 Goldcrests as the warbler season draws to a close. 

The Chough flock on Solfach was at 36, and most of the 28 Magpies seen were on the beach before heading to Ty Pellaf. There was a small flock of 17 Starlings on the Bech to. 

There we're 25 Chaffinches seen, mostly at Ty Pellaf, six siskin flew over Nant. 12 of the 13 Goldfinches were seen at Ty Pellaf, as were five Linnets and the Tree Sparrow was still present.


Saturday, 23 October 2021

As the forecast suggested, today was one for staying indoors! 

So, the order of the day was packing up the north side of the Lodge and doing laundry! Fiona and Emma were like Mrs Tiggy-Winkle (The hedgehog washerwoman from the Peter rabbit books!!), and got the beds stripped, bedding washed and hung around the place to dry inside. We daren't hang anything outside at the moment otherwise it would end up in Oslo!

Packing up the north side - all sheets pillow cases, duvet covers etc are all washed and dried
then all bedding, pillows and duvets go into zip lock vacuum bags
All bird bags get bleached and washed

then hung to dry
Fiona hard at work!!

Stuart and Megan returned yesterday and set about counting the seal pups again, after Anjie and Penny had been doing it whilst they were away. We are now up to 61 pups, the largest number ever recorded in a single year on the island.

I think I will snooze here and dream of fish!

Birdwise, there was very little change from the previous few days. The usual waders were down on the beaches, A Brambling was the only notable finch at the Obs in the morning, However bird of the day came at the 11th hour with a Tree Sparrow I saw briefly at Ty Pellaf with a small bunch of Chaffinches. Stuart came down and saw it, again briefly. This is the first record of the year!

One of 23 Greater Black-backed Gulls seen today along with 380 Herring Gulls

Some of today's 51 Turnstones dodging waves

Chough pair

Chough - there were 36 feeding on Solfach.

Magpies loving the seaweed hump on the Narrows

Big, bad Raven!

We have had three different drone pilots stay at the Lodge this autumn. I have not gotten around to looking through all the images that Andy Purcell sent, but here is an unusual view of the island that has just arrived today from Jason Brook who stayed in September.