Thursday, 20 April 2017

The third fantastic day in a row on Bardsey resulted in the biggest arrival of the spring yet! Diversity and numbers were both fantastic, with a carpet of Warblers occupying all available cover, and a fine mix of other odds and ends thrown in.

Let's start with the simply astounding numbers. Willow Warblers totaled 691, which is almost certainly an underestimate! 350 was the minimum figure recorded in the Plantation, with 150 estimated moving through the Obs. garden, and smaller but still excellent numbers in seemingly every tree and bush on the island. Quite a few of the birds were cold grey coloured and were of the race P.t.acredula

Northern 'acredula' Willow Warbler

Wheatears, meanwhile, amounted to at least 268, including 96 along the North/West coasts and 45 on the South End. Many of the birds were of the large bright Greenland race O.o.lecurhoa
'Greenland' Wheatears O.o.Leucorhoa
Northern nominate race Wheatear O.o.oenanthe

Overhead passage was dominated by Swallows, 216 mostly moving North through the afternoon, and amongst these came 36 House Martins and nine Sand Martins. A good mix of other species was logged on vis-mig, including 15 Siskins, 13 Rooks, 2 Lesser Redpolls, 2 Crossbills, and singles of Jackdaw, Golden Plover and Little Egret. Five Sparrowhawks logged today must certainly have included some migrants, augmenting the resident pair who displayed above the Plantation.

The shore and sea once again yielded pretty good diversity, as wader passage builds up. 70 Whimbrels was by far and away our best count of the year, other waders today included 9 Turnstones, 3 Purple Sandpipers and singles of Redshank, Ringed Plover, Snipe and Common Sandpiper. 11 Sandwich Terns were seen as their passage continues apace.

The list of passerine migrants logged on the ground today is probably the most diverse of the year, and will take some beating! Eight Warbler species (including the Willows mentioned above), totalled 51 Chiffchaffs, 49 Blackcaps, a brilliant 14 Grasshopper Warblers, nine Sedge Warblers, six Whitethroats, two Garden Warblers and a single Reed Warbler, the latter two being our first records of the year. A four Goldcrests were about too. It's not often you get a five-thrush day in late April, but we managed just that today! Alongside our resident Blackbirds (and some on the mountain away from the usual territories that were probably migrants), were 12 Fieldfares and singles of Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush and Ring Ouzel. Where's a Redwing when you need one!

Grasshopper Warbler

Alongside these, our first Pied Flycatcher of the year, a cracking male, was at Ty Nesaf, a female Redstart was on the mountain above Carreg Bach, a Tree Pipit in Ty Pellaf and Cristin Withies, two Collared Doves around Nant and two White Wagtails on Solfach. All observers were shattered but elated after a truly wonderful day on Bardsey!

 Pied Flycatcher
The day's ringing totals - Willow Warbler 136, Chiffchaff 12, Goldcrest 1, 
Blackcap 26, Sedge Warbler 2, Grasshopper Warbler 1, Goldfinch 1, Wren 1

Insects understandably took a backseat today, but seven Green-veined Whites and two Small Whites were seen, while the moth trap produced just a single Hebrew Character and a Common Quaker.

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