Tuesday, 18 March 2014

March 17th

On the last calm and sunny day forecast for at least a week, a small movement of migrants was noted on the island. A total of seven Goldcrests and seven Chiffchaffs was an increase on recent days; two Sand Martins flew over the withies midday; a Continental Stonechat had arrived in the Carreg Wetlands, and spent the afternoon bursting into song, producing amazing imitations and superb sounds. Elsewhere, the Hooded Crow was seen on The Narrows, a Jack Snipe and two Snipe were flushed from the wetlands.

A handful of Chiffchaffs spent the day feeding on insects in Plas Withy, which included a couple of birds with slight tones of grey on the neck and nape, perhaps indicating a slightly more eastern origin.
 An interesting Stonechat which arrived into the Carreg Wetlands was producing some amazing tones and imitations of other species. However, there were not many external characteristics to indicate a continental rubicola. The extensive white on the inner wing coverts is, however, one good feature.
A flock of about 26 Choughs have been feeding all over The Narrows every day at the moment. This particular group are well-positioned in front of Bardsey Bird and Field Observatory

March 18th

A fresh south-westerly breeze saw wind speeds exceeding 20 mph for the first time in over a week! However, there was still a respectable selection of noteworthy species around the island: the first Manx Shearwater of the year glided past the south end of the island in the early hours; a Whimbrel was amongst the Oystercatchers in Henllwyn; and eight Purple Sandpipers were seen on Carreg Yr Honwy. In terms of passerines, a scattering of warblers amounted to four Chiffchaffs and five Goldcrests,and a possible Scandinavian Rock Pipit was seen on The Narrows. The Hooded Crow was yet again amongst the flock of Choughs near Solfach.

The most exciting discovery of the day came in the form of a re-trap Jack Snipe. The snipe was initially seen crouching amongst a clump of grass in the wetlands, its perfect camouflage giving the bird confidence to remain put, despite observers standing a couple of metres away. Within a few minutes, the drag net team launched into action, and managed to successfully capture the Jack Snipe. On extraction, it was discovered that the bird already had a ring on! And, even more impressive, it was one of ours! Closer examination of past ringing books at the Observatory led to the discovery that we had ringed this particular Jack Snipe on 12 April 2013, less than 50 metres away! This means that this bird has travelled all the way to its breeding grounds in Russia, only to return to the exact same overwintering spot here on Bardsey! According to the BTO database, there have only been about 75 recoveries of Jack Snipe in the UK (check out the fact sheet here), although it is unlikely that many of these have involved time-periods of just under a year between recoveries.

The fantastic Jack Snipe before it was caught- amazingly, this particular bird was caught using a hand net last April, which just shows how reluctant these birds are to move! The bird was caught less than 100 feet away from where it was in April 2013, and that is after travelling to its breeding grounds in Russia and back!
This is certainly a fantastic start to the Jack Snipe trapping season, and just illustrates the importance of ringing. If we hadn't ringed the bird last April, we would have no way of knowing that this is the same bird!
Can you spot the Jack Snipe?
This rather smart Rock Pipit showed many features that indicate it to be a Scandinavian Rock Pipit. For example, the large, pale supercilium, the slight peachy hue to the throat and breast, and the grey tones of the ear coverts. Opinions are welcome.

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