Monday, 26 October 2009

One of the better days of the autumn produced an array of noteworthy species and some good counts of commoner migrants. The spectacular star bird was undoubtedly a Black Kite that was seen briefly as it flew across Henllwyn and disappeared, hounded by corvids, around Pen Cristin. Despite much searching, this new species for Bardsey was unfortunately not seen again, but the attempts to relocate it did turn up a few other nice birds. A Richard’s Pipit flew south over Nant, and was seen again a few minutes later as it headed over the mountain ridge where two Snow Buntings were feeding in the heather. At least three Lapland Buntings were in the arable fields with a small flock of Skylarks, and a Bullfinch was in the Withies. In the afternoon, a surprising Nuthatch (only the sixth island record) arrived from the sea at the north end of the mountain and continued flying south along the top of the ridge. Around ten Reed Buntings were scattered around the lowlands, a Wheatear was on the coast and a flock of 850 Starlings wheeled around over the South End before flying off south. Counts of other landbirds included 176 Skylarks (mostly heading south overhead), 71 Redwings, 24 Blackbirds, five Song Thrushes, one Fieldfare, 126 Chaffinches, 39 Greenfinches, 30 Goldfinches, 14 Siskins, eight Lesser Redpolls and four Bramblings. Three Little Gulls and two Mediterranean Gulls were amongst around 500 Black-headed Gulls and 3500 Kittiwakes offshore.

As the night drew in, thick cloud and occasional drizzle arrived and, before long, the lighthouse beams were filled with the twinkling shapes of thrushes attracted to the light. The attraction was attended until after 3am, by which time 2000 Redwings, 36 Song Thrushes, 25 Blackbirds, three Starlings, three Lapwings, two Woodcocks, two Blackcaps, a Fieldfare, a Skylark, a Reed Bunting, a Water Rail, a Golden Plover and a Curlew had been counted circling around the beacon. The powerful gantry lights were used to illuminate a patch of grass outside the lighthouse compound, and several hundred birds were successfully drawn away from the tower and into the safety of the ground.

Black Kite (c) Steven Stansfield

Skylarks (c) Steven Stansfield (top) Richard Brown (bottom)

Lapland Bunting (c) Steven Stansfield

Greenfinch, Brambling and Chaffinch are also making use of the Sunflower fields
(c) Richard Brown

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