Saturday, 26 April 2014

Today was a sad day, (at least, not for the birds!) as the rotating light and prism of the Bardsey Lighthouse were switched off. The old beam will be replaced by a set of red LED lights later in the spring, and the prism will be dismantled. The actual building of Bardsey Lighthouse was erected by Trinity House in 1821; it was run on paraffin lanterns up until 1965, and was automated in 1987. In that time it has been giving a guide to vessels passing through St. George's Channel and the Irish Sea. Although a characteristic symbol of the island, the lighthouse has also killed many tens of thousands of birds during its time.

Top: the beam of the lighthouse casts out across Henllwyn and the South End- a mere memory now! Bottom: the original prism which magnifies the central light to create the beam- this will be dismantled (all two tonnes of it!)

Bird News
A strong south easterly wind whipping up overnight meant that a switch of attention from land to sea was in order. Despite the increased seawatching efforts, there was not a great deal on offer: 67 Manx Shearwaters, 24 Gannets and 16 Fulmars were recorded off the South Tip, and two each of Black-headed Gull and two Sandwich Terns were amongst a flock of 182 Herring Gulls in Solfach. Waders put in a good appearance, with the first Grey Plover of the year appearing in the late afternoon; other numbers amounted to: two Ringed Plovers, two Purple Sandpipers, four Dunlins, 39 Whimbrels and one Curlew.

A total of 32 Whimbrels were recorded around the coast today- the highest count of the year so far. Many birds were seen feeding in Solfach at high tide, along with Dunlins and Oystercatchers 
With a new moon approaching in the next day or two, the height of the tides has been increasing- this has encouraged a large flock of Herring Gulls to amass in Solfach to feed on the churned up nutrients 
There are still many pairs of Shelducks around the island, although single male birds dotted around are also an indication that a few females are perhaps incubating. Of all the breeding birds on the island, Shellduck chicks are renowned for disappearing at the fastest rate- it is not uncommon for a brood of 13 or so to dwindle to just one within five days of them emerging. This is mostly to due with aerial predation, from gulls and crows, but also from beneath- Grey Seals (in lower image)


  1. Hi All the Whimbrel photographs are great and that Shelduck that is coming straight to the camera is brilliant. Have a great weekend.

  2. What! The island will not be the same without the rotating beams! I guess thats 'progress'. But I also guess it means those huge diesel generators will be turned off? Hope to visit later in the year to see the replacements.

  3. Thanks for the compliments Margaret! David- yeah, it certainly won't be the same! Still, I guess the huge reduction in causalities will be of benefit to the birds! The generators will indeed be turned off, and the red LEDs will in fact be run by a load of solar panels in the compound!