Friday, 3 January 2014

New Year's Day
2014 started with horizontal rain and gale-force south-east winds. However, there were still plenty of birds around to make for an enjoyable day's birding on the island. A 10 metre-high tide forced many waders onto the fields of The Narrows, with totals amounting to 70 Oystercatchers, one Purple Sandpiper, 54 Curlews and the usual Whimbrel. Further inland, a Jack Snipe was seen in the wetlands, crouching conspicuously amongst a clump of grass. Nearby, a Common Snipe was also flushed, whilst a single Song Thrush sheltered away near the reed bed.

January 2nd
The Hooded Crow arrived back on the island during the morning, after a three week absence. The calm and sunny weather made for pleasant birding, although a strong swell at high tide meant that many waders were forced off the rocky shore. Five Purple Sandpipers were seen amongst 22 Turnstones at the high tide roost. Out to sea, and immature Gannet sauntered by, and five smart Shelducks flew South over The Narrows.

A small flock of Shelducks flew South in the morning

January 3rd
Gale-force winds throughout the previous night produced incredibly high seas. The high seas, low pressure and already large 10.1 metre tide combined to produce a huge storm surge in the morning, the likes of which have not been seen on the island for over 15 years. The Narrows received a heavy beating, with waves breaking onto the grassy tops, tearing the clay apart, and hurtling rocks and seaweed 30 metres inland. Solfach Hide, which was re-built in 2009 by Jim Lennon, was completely obliterated, leaving only a few lengths of timber scattered along the shore as a reminder of its presence. Despite the destruction, it did make for breathtaking views and spectacles, with some waves exploded almost 35 metres up the side of Pen Cristin.

On the bird front, many of the waders had temporarily disappeared from around The Narrows, although the usual flock of Oystercatchers and the Whimbrel remained. A total of 230 Herring Gulls made use of the food disturbed from the seabed by the storm, together with about 120 Kittiwakes

Some landscapes of the storm surge:
Waves breaking onto the bank in Henllwyn
Rocks and seaweed were washed 30 metres inland! (c) Steve Porter
Bardsey Lighthouse with the waves crashing in Henllwyn. (c) Steve Porter
The Boathouse just about escaped without any damage, although the gabions were torn apart in some places. (c) Steve Porter
The remains of Solfach Hide. (c) Steve Porter
Some waves rose as high as the top of Pen Cristin, around 35 metres high!
Herring Gull


  1. Although devastating, beautifully captured shots.

  2. Thanks Marc! Yeah I totally agree! I am just glad that nothing more has been destroyed!

  3. Hi Ben. What devastating weather. I man in shot 3 was Boeing very foolish. He could have been swept away. your photos capture the ferrocity of the seas

  4. Hi Ben. I think I forgot to wish you a very HAPPY NEW YEAR.

  5. Hi Margaret! Yes indeed! There seems to be no end to these destructive low pressure systems! Happy New Year to you too.