Tuesday, 18 April 2017

The best day of spring so far arrived in some style today! A sizeable arrival of Wheatears, among the top 10 in Bardsey's history, would have been notable enough, but one highly confused Siberian waif trumped even that!

The Wheatears numbered at least 208, with up to 70 counted in one single scan of the Narrows! The bulk of the rest of passage consisted of 152 Swallows moving through, and 92 Willow Warblers and 45 Chiffchaffs in the bushes.

However, superceding that by far was a stunning, second-year male Pallas's Warbler caught and ringed in the Observatory garden! While this is the 21st record for Bardsey, all previous records have been in Autumn from October to December, a spring record being rather extraordinary! Though perhaps more eastern fare could be expected over the coming weeks, given the record-breaking arrival of many species into Western Europe last autumn. We certainly wouldn't turn down a Siberian Accentor on return migration! The Pallas's Warbler was resighted by three observers in Plas Withy late in the afternoon.

Pallas's Warbler - 21st record for Bardsey following three last autumn. 

While this was obviously the star, we had a fine supporting cast to keep the dozen or so observers on the island very well rewarded. These included an Iceland Gull seen over the North End (which in Bardsey terms was rarer than the warbler and was only the 13th record for the island), a Hooded Crow in the North-west Fields and two different Yellowhammers.

The more routine fare was also excellent for both numbers and diversity. The sea offered probably the quietest birding, but six Sandwich Tern, a Black-headed Gull and four Puffin rewarded keen-eyed observers. The most notable wader passage of the season so far featured 34 Whimbrels, 15 Purple Sandpipers, two Ringed Plovers, two Snipes and singles of Lapwing and Dunlin, while a Water Rail in the Withies was the first for several weeks.

Overhead 32 Sand Martins and 12 House Martins moved through, plus the first Grey Wagtail in several weeks, three Rooks and some of the 15 Lesser Redpolls seen today, others also being grounded. 13 White Wagtails were in Solfach, and there was a good selection of other grounded migrants across the island; totals were 13 Blackcaps, 11 Goldcrests, four Reed Buntings and singles of Tree Pipit, Grasshopper Warbler, Sedge Warbler and Blue Tit.


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