Monday, 21 April 2014

After a night of very strong, and gusty, easterly winds (reaching 38mph), it was another glorious sunny day, with plenty of migrants moving through. There were two new additions to the Bardsey year list today, namely that of a Cuckoo around the Nant area, and a Lesser Whitethroat above Carreg Bach late in the afternoon. The Cuckoo is two days earlier than the first bird that arrived in 2013, whilst the Lesser Whitethroat is almost two weeks earlier than last year. The earliest ever dates on which these species have arrived on the island are: the 17th of April for Cuckoo, and the 16th of April for Lesser Whitethroat.

In other news, a Pied Flycatcher frequenting the new plantation was just the second so far this year, and other common migrant numbers amounted to 59 Wheatears, two Sedge Warblers, 10 Blackcaps, 10 Chiffchaffs and 36 Willow Warblers. Overhead, hirundine passage was again rather limited, with just 12 Sand Martins, 48 Swallows and three House Martins recorded. The Turtle Dove stayed for its fifth day on the island, and was joined by three Collared Doves.

This very smart Cuckoo spent the day feeding along the fence lines at Nant, although very nearly met its end with the female Sparrowhawk late afternoon, just about managing to out-manoeuvre the feisty predator. The bird seemed to be finding plenty of food- in the top two images, has managed to catch what looks like a Garden Tiger caterpillar. Check out the Cuckoo project, which is being run by the BTO to acquire  a better understanding of what these stunning birds do on migration, and why they are declining so rapidly
 The first Lesser Whitethroat of the year (top), and the second Pied Flycatcher of the year (lower) were amongst a respectable arrival of common migrants on the island 
The Turtle Dove remains rather shy, although seems perfectly happy feeding along the track. The population of Turtle Doves in the UK fell by more than 90% between 1970 and 2010, and continues to decline. Indeed, this species has been one of the most strongly declining bird species across Europe since 1980. The effect of hunting on migration can be at least partly to blame. If you are not aware of the slaughter of migrants that takes place in the Mediterranean region, check out THIS blog, and This video, which outline some of the goings-on, particularly in Malta. Please also have a look at this blog: 'Dove-step'- a 300-mile walk for Turtle Doves 

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