Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Mid- breeding season update

We have had a fairly good year with breeding birds so far. Here is an update on what species are doing at the moment. 

A fantastic year for Meadow Pipit with over 100 pairs spread across the island and a minimum of 65 fledged young so far. This easily breaks the island previous record of 80 pairs. Another pipit doing extremely well is the Rock Pipit. Over 40 pairs have produced 44 juveniles so far with more to come from the second broods. Another good year for Pied Wagtail with 11 pairs producing 27 young so far, many around the islands farm buildings. A slight drop in Skylark numbers to 2 pairs with only one young definitely fledging.

Warblers continue to be present in small numbers on Bardsey. At least one pair of Willow Warbler is nesting in the withies, with other possible pairs at Cristin and the Plantation. Similarly Chiffchaff are nesting in the Withies, Observatory garden, and the Nant area. Up to 4 pairs of Sedge Warbler were singing throughout the Spring in Ty Pellaf Reedbed, with others in the Green Lane and Carreg Reedbed. Whitethroats are having an impressive year with a minimum of 9 pairs. The first few juveniles have started to fledge, with at least 10 recorded so far. A pair of Goldcrest are breeding in the plantation, the first for a long time.

Exactly 100 Oystercatcher territories are scattered along the island’s coast which is probably the highest number the island has ever seen. Unfortunately only 27 juveniles have been seen so far, mostly due to high predation from nesting gulls. Ringed Plover once again attempted to nest on Solfach beach, though the nest was deserted early on, probably due to high levels of disturbance.

Woodpigeon is an extremely difficult species to census but a minimum of 9 pairs have nested this year, though the true figure is probably closer to 13 pairs. Collared Doves have been present almost all year so far but still no breeding attempt has been found. It can’t be long until this species is added to Bardsey’s breeding list.

9 pairs and 14 juveniles of Carrion Crow is a reasonable number in line with the recent population level. Interestingly, a Hooded Crow was present throughout the Spring but failed to attract any mate. Only one pair of Ravens this year fledged 2 young on the East Side of the mountain. Another difficult species to survey is the Magpie. At least 9 pairs nested this year producing a minimum of 10 young. Chough have had a brilliant breeding season as 9 pairs raised 27 young. This is the best year since 2002.

Wren’s are having an average season with around 85 pairs on the island this year. Plenty of juveniles recently though, with 50 recorded in the last few weeks. Dunnocks have dropped markedly this year with only 19 singing males and 15 young around the island. 11 pairs of Robin around the island is the best for many years, with 10 in 1955 the last high count. 11 fledglings have been ringed at the obs but only 7 have been seen elsewhere. It is likely there are far more young around the island. With 6 pairs, Stonechats are slightly higher than last year but continue to be far fewer than the last decade. A decent return of 17 juveniles from their first broods, plus 2 new fledglings, puts the breeding season on course for reasonable success. There has been a drop in Blackbird pairs to 12 from last year’s high of 16 and only 9 juveniles seen. Wheatears are one of this year’s surprise success stories. Approximately 27 pairs are nesting on the island in such high density to make recording of them difficult. A minimum of 38 fledged juveniles is highly likely an underestimate.

Linnet numbers continue to drop due to a change in farming practices resulting in less gorse. At least 41 young fledged from the first broods and the second wave of young are just starting to be found.

Goldfinches continue to increase with 4 pairs equalling last years record. Sixteen young fledged from the first brood and 4 so far from the second is by far the highest tally for Bardsey. Similar to Goldfinch, record numbers of Chaffinch have nested with 14 pairs dotted around the island’s gardens. Only 13 young have been seen so far but it is likely there are more to be found.

Mallards and Moorhen continue to have difficulty breeding on Bardsey due to high predation levels by marauding gulls. Many Mallard broods were hatched around the island pools but it is unlikely that any young survived. Moorhen fledged at least 2 young, probably 4, in the safety of the obs garden with one other secretive youngster on Pwll Cain. Shelduck had a disastrous year with only one breeding attempt, that of 3 young seen for one afternoon in Solfach. It is likely the brood was already depleted before seen.

Sixteen pairs of Swallow is a little lower than usual but the high clutch sizes so far could show a good yield by the end of the season. Similarly, House Martin is restricted to 4 pairs at the lighthouse with no young seen so far.

Peregrines are the only raptor nesting on Bardsey this year with 2 pairs fledging 3 young. Though hard to tell, it is likely 3 pairs of Little Owl nested this year. The first juveniles have started appearing in the last few days above the farm.

Blue Tits nested again for the 5th time with 5 juveniles fledging. Great Tits once again attempted to nest but it seems they were predated during the season.

This year has also seen a few possible breeding attempts by species that rarely stay on Bardsey. A resident Barn Owl continues to keep the wardening team interested, regular singing Blackcaps give us the run-a-round, a secretive Reed Warbler sings occasionally from Cristin Withy, and breaking news of a juvenile Cuckoo in the plantation.

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