Thursday, 30 April 2009

30 April

A small attraction during the night resulted in an increased number of birds on the island in the morning. Willow Warblers were, as is often the case here, the most numerous species with 110 counted, along with a Common Redstart, a Whinchat, a Garden Warbler, 19 Blackcaps, 11 Sedge Warblers, six Common Grasshopper Warblers, three Common Whitethroats and 15 Common Chiffchaffs. The lingering Bar-tailed Godwit was joined on the beach by a second bird and Whimbrel numbers continued 

to dwindle slowly with eight seen. A count of 14 Redpolls included one bird that was probably a Common Redpoll but unfortunately it moved on before the identification could be clinched.

Male Whinchat at Ty Pellaf 

28 April 2009 © Ben Porter

29 April

This was a rather quiet day for birds, with only small numbers of migrants. Lurking in the bushes were two Garden Warblers, four Common Whitethroats, a Lesser Whitethroat, four Common Grasshopper Warblers, six Sedge Warblers and five Blackcaps. Five Lesser Redpolls, a Goldcrest, ten Northern Wheatears, ten Whimbrels and a Common Snipe were also seen. 

28 April

The highlight of the day was a brief sighting of a Black Guillemot flying around Henllwyn before departing back out to sea. A smart Common Redstart was the pick of an assortment of migrant landbirds which included 57 Northern Wheatears, 24 White Wagtails, a Lesser Whitethroat, four Common Grasshopper Warblers, six Sedge Warblers, 14 Blackcaps, 16 Common Chiffchaffs, 25 Willow Warblers, 13 Eurasian Siskins, four Lesser Redpolls and a Eurasian Jackdaw. A Common Sandpiper, 12 Whimbrels, four Curlews and the Bar-tailed Godwit were around the coast. 

White Wagtail on Solfach, 

 28 April 2009 © Steven Stansfield

27 April

A Fieldfare was seen several times during the morning and two Common Snipe were also straggling winter migrants. A few warblers were around including 11 Common Grasshopper Warblers, eight Sedge Warblers, 12 Blackcaps, three Common Whitethroats, 54 Willow Warblers and a Lesser Whitethroat. The Bar-tailed Godwit remained with ten Whimbrels and three Dunlins. 30 Northern Wheatears were present and a Black-headed Gull was offshore. 

26 April

A quiet morning for birds was followed by an apparent arrival during the day, and considerably more small migrants were around in the afternoon. These included 70 Willow Warblers, 40 Northern Wheatears, ten Common Chiffchaffs, nine Blackcaps, four Common Grasshopper Warblers, three Sedge Warblers, three Common Whitethroats and two Lesser Whitethroats. A Common Swift was seen as well as 90 Barn Swallows, 19 Sand Martins, and nine House Martins. Finches were represented by 25 Lesser Redpolls, 15 Eurasian Siskins and 25 Goldfinches, several were trappedand ringed. Five Common Sandpipers were on the beaches again, with the Bar-tailed Godwit and about 40 Whimbrels. The most astonishing sighting of the day though, was a Common Buzzard managing to catch and kill a Red-billed Chough on the hillside. 

Lesser Redpolls trapped at Cristin, 
26 Apirl 2009 © Steven Stansfield

Siskins (female left, male right) trapped at Cristin, 
26 Apirl 2009 © Steven Stansfield

25 April

An early morning movement of hirundines ahead of incoming showers included the first Common Swift of the year amongst the swallows and martins. A Sky Lark was by the lighthouse and a Eurasian Collared Dove had also arrived. Counts of most species were down on the previous day: 55 Northern Wheatears, 50 Willow Warblers, three Blackcaps, two Common Grasshopper Warblers, two Sedge Warblers and four White Wagtails were logged. A good selection of waders continued to occupy the rocks around the narrows including 17 Whimbrel, the Bar-tailed Godwit, a Common Sandpiper, a Ringed Plover and a Dunlin, plus all the usual species. Lots of European Goldfinches continued to visit the feeders at ‘finch world’ along with smaller numbers of Eurasian Siskins and Lesser Redpolls. A Grey Shoulder Knot in the moth trap at Cristin turned out to be a new species for the island.

 Grey Shoulder Knot, 

25 Apirl 2009 © Richard Else

24 April

Numbers of Whimbrels continued to build and a minimum of 54 was counted along with a Bar-tailed Godwit. Clement weather allowed hirundines to make a mass movement in the afternoon when 200 Barn Swallows and 28 Sand Martins passed through, congregating for a short while to hawk insects over Solfach. 21 White Wagtails, 83 Northern Wheatears, five Common Sandpipers, 39 Willow Warblers, ten Sedge Warblers and eight Common Grasshopper Warblers were also logged, while other highlights included a male Common Redstart, a Tree Pipit and a Common Whitethroat

Whimbrel trapped on the South end, 
24 Apirl 2009 © Steven Stansfield

Whimbrel trapped on Solfach, 
24 Apirl 2009 © Steven Stansfield

Lesser Whitethroat trapped at Nant, 
24 Apirl 2009 © Steven Stansfield

23 April

A decent number of birds were in the South End gorse and lighthouse garden again in the morning, although it was unclear whether another unobserved small-hour attraction had taken place or if the birds were just the residue of the previous day’s deluge. 100 Willow Warblers, 24 Blackcaps, nine Sedge Warblers and seven Common Grasshopper Warblers were counted and a Tree Pipit was in the garden at Cristin. Whimbrel passage picked up considerably with a minimum of 40 feeding around the narrows, and four Dunlins were on the beach with six White Wagtails. A migrant Painted Lady butterfly seen at Nant was the first of the year. 

Whimbrel on Solfach, 

 23 April 2009 © Steven Stansfield

22 April

At dawn an isolated large fall of warblers on the south end of the island indicated that an unnoticed lighthouse attraction had taken place very late in the night. Every bush was bristling with birds, most of which remained in the South End gorse all day. Counts revealed 260 Willow Warblers, 41 Blackcaps, 20 Common Grasshopper Warblers, six Sedge Warblers four Lesser Whitethroats, three Common Whitethroats and two Common Redstarts. 25 European Goldfinches, four Eurasian Siskins and four Lesser Redpolls made use of the feeding stations, and five Sand Martins and three House Martins passed through with Barn Swallows. Later in the day a tree pipit and a male Pied Flycatcher were seen. Various waders arrived too: 13 Whimbrels were on the narrows, a Northern Lapwing, a Ringed Plover and a Dunlin were seen and a Bar-tailed Godwit flew over the South End. Late in the afternoon a flock of six Little Gulls flew south past the island. Whimbrel trapped on Solfach, 

21 April

Continuing misty weather led to a day of almost no notable sightings. A count of eight Whimbrels and a single Sedge Warbler were paltry highlights that barely punctuated the ennui of an ornithologically barren daily census. Other migrants, presumably remaining from previous days, included 14 Common Chiffchaffs, two White Wagtails and a Merlin. With the moth trap also failing to produce anything interesting of late, certain members of staff resorted to more esoteric branches of zoology and several interesting species of slug and woodlouse were recorded. 

20 April

With swathes of obfuscating advection fog lingering over the island for much of the day few noteworthy birds were to be found, even during the short-lived periods in which in lifted: a Reed Bunting was in the arable fields and a Common Sandpiper in Henllwyn. 27 Northern Wheatears were counted and a meagre scattering of common warblers lingered from earlier in the week. The main highlights of the day were of a non-avian flavour: a Holly Blue butterfly (the sixth island record) was at Nant and a large Lion’s Mane Jellyfish was seen drifting below the East Side cliffs. 

19 April

Many of yesterday’s birds departed overnight as fine summery weather continued to present little impediment to their northward migration. Newly arriving migrants were fairly thin on the ground although three Sedge Warblers and two Black Redstarts had appeared to provide some interest to visiting birders. Counts of other migrants included 40 Willow Warblers, 26 Northern Wheatears, nine Blackcaps, 13 Sand Martins and three House Martins. Finches were once again quite numerous, with at least 30 European Goldfinches, 14 Eurasian Siskins and 12 Lesser Redpolls gracing ‘finch world’ – the feeding station at Ty Pellaf – with their presence. An Orange-tip butterfly was perhaps the most remarkable find of the day, being only the tenth record for the island.

18 April

A Hot, sunny and calm day led to much time being spent in the field, the upshot of which was the finding of a male Subalpine Warbler in the gorse opposite Plas which stayed faithful to its favourite patch all afternoon and eventually found its way into a strategically positioned mist net. 

Male Subalpine Warbler - Plas, 18 April 2009 © Steven Stansfield

Elsewhere, two Sandwich Terns flew along the coast, a Northern Lapwing spent the day around the narrows, the Short-eared Owl remained near the lighthouse and seven Whimbrels flew north. Passerine migrants included a brace of Whinchats, a Common Grasshopper Warbler, 18 Sand Martins, two House Martins, 18 Blackcaps, 50 Willow Warblers, 12 Common Chiffchaffs and 38 Northern Wheatears.

17 April

Despite having only got to bed at around 0530, the Observatory staff were up early to process the birds caught at the lighthouse. As is usually the case in the aftermath of an attraction there were plenty of birds on the island. The Short-eared Owl was still present on the South End and a smart male Whinchat was also there. 79 Northern Wheatears, 150 Willow Warblers, 40 Blackcaps and 22 Common Grasshopper Warblers were counted around the island as well as a Fieldfare, a Ring Ouzel, a Tree Pipit and a singing Common Cuckoo. The last of these joined Ring Ouzel, Willow Warbler and Sandwich Tern as species setting new earliest ever arrival dates this year.

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