Tuesday, 31 March 2009

31 March

As another calm and sunny day dawned, the mist nets at Cristin were opened in anticipation of a sizeable incursion of warblers and other small migrants. Alas, such a fall never came and this was in fact one of the quietest days for migration of the season so far. A White Wagtail, a Blue Tit, a flock of seven European Goldfinches and a Redwing were the only different birds to arrive in the morning. In the afternoon a solitary Sand Martin flew south and three Jack Snipe were found. The pod of Bottlenose Dolphins was seen again from the south end of the island. A Dotted Border in the moth trap turned out to be an addition to the island’s fauna.

Dotted Border 31 March 2009 - new to the island. © Richard Else

30 March

Two Bar-tailed Godwits heard during the small hours of the night seemed to have been attracted to the lighthouse. In the morning a small fall of migrants had taken place. 62 Northern Wheatears were around the Narrows and four Barn Swallows passed through during the morning, while the gardens and gorse of the island held 81 Common Chiffchaffs, 16 Willow Warblers, 13 Blackcaps, 17 Goldcrests, 29 Redwings and at least eight Coal Tits. A Black Redstart and a Eurasian Collared Dove were also present.

29 March

Calm, sunny weather returned at last, although it didn’t bring an instant influx of delayed migrants to the island. Most of the action seemed to take place offshore, with a Great Northern Diver, two Red-throated Divers, a Sanderling and the year’s first Atlantic Puffin seen passing by, along with a pod of at least eight Bottlenose DolphinsOn the land a couple of new Coal Tits, a Eurasian Siskin, 11 Northern Wheatears and four Common Buzzards were seen.

28 March


The very strong wind made census work difficult, but nevertheless a few noteworthy sightings were made. Most small migrants had clearly suspended their northbound movements in such difficult conditions, but several small, resolute parties of Meadow Pipits were seen over the sea, battling into the wind. A Grey Heron arrived in the morning and a drake Red-breasted Merganser was seen flying around Henllwyn before departing back out to sea.

27 March

Another rather breezy day with few new birds was enlivened somewhat by the finding of a first-winter Glaucous Gull in the afternoon. A Red-throated Diver was offshore and a single Black Redstart was seen. A series of high tides over the last few days has provided opportunity to count the roosting waders that are often so difficult to find on the island’s craggy coasts. Up to 22 Purple Sandpipers, 38 Ruddy Turnstones, 20 Common Redshanks, seven Eurasian Curlews, two Whimbrels and 107 Eurasian Oystercatchers have been present.

26 March

The morning was again very windy, making what few sheltering passerine migrants that may have been present very difficult to find. As the weather calmed in the afternoon though, a small amount of passage of Common Chiffchaffs and Goldcrests was observed. A flock of 27 Red-billed Chough was the largest of the year so far, many of them no doubt being visitors from the mainland. The only really notable sighting of the day was a pair of Sandwich Terns flying down the west coast; the earliest ever spring record for the island by two days.

Early Grey trapped at Cristin - 26 March 2009 © Richard Else

25 March

Very little, if any migration was in evidence, with a single Black Redstart apparently the only newly-arrived bird counted during the blustery daily census. A thorough stomp around the marshy lowland fields in the evening revealed at least three Jack Snipe and six Common Snipe.


Marshy lowland fields held both Jack Snipe and Common Snipe - 

25 March 2009 © Steve Stansfield

24 March

New arrivals were thin on the ground, with just Five Northern Wheatears arriving on the narrows and the counts of Goldcrests and Common Chiffchaffs increasing to 22 and seven respectively. Meadow Pipits were slightly more in evidence than the previous day, with 84 counted. Lingering birds included the Coal Tit, a Jack Snipe, and a Merlin. Manx Shearwaters were back in the colonies in numbers after dark and several were ringed.

23 March

The northerly wind picked up further and the day was dull with some rain in the afternoon. New migrants were thin on the ground, with a big drop in the number of Meadow Pipits from previous days particularly noticeable – only 35 were present. Bird of the day went to the first Grey Wagtail of the year. A Red-throated Diver flew past the North of the island, and a single Black Redstart was seen.  Birds remaining from earlier in the week included a Coal Tit, five Common Chiffchaffs, ten Goldcrests and a Sky Lark.

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