Monday, 11 September 2017

Today saw Bardsey engaged in an inter-island bird race against Bird Observatories from across Britain and Ireland. We'll need to finalise our counts (and are still hoping for a calling Little Owl!), but will update with our final total once we've sorted it out tomorrow. However, it just so happened to coincide with one of the most remarkable days seawatching in the Observatory's long history. Two records were broken, with some other fantastic counts being recorded.

The commonest species of the day were 8462 Kittiwakes, 1526 Manx Shearwaters 1162 Gannets, the latter being the fourth highest day total in the history of Bardsey. However perhaps the most remarkable totals from today were 70 Arctic Skuas and 57 Great Skuas, both of which smashed their previous island records of 50 and 39. Six Pomarine Skuas and two Long-tailed Skuas were also logged, the latter being an addition to the year-list. In addition, the island was graced by a magnificent 38 Leach's Petrels, giving all obs staff and volunteers, and several guests, the chance to catch up with one of our most elusive seabirds. Many passed close inshore, giving lucky observers brilliant views, and today was undoubtedly one of the ornithological highlights of the year so far. A selection of photos or some of the petrels is below.

One of the 1162 Gannet seen today

The other highlights of the day show an excellent range of diversity and quality. Quality came from our first Black-throated Diver of the year, a Sooty Shearwater, a Storm Petrel, the first Grey Phalarope of the year and five Sabine's Gulls. Razorbill numbers continue to grow, with 711 logged today, and 10 Guillemots amongst them. Terns on the move included 63 Sandwich Terns, 18 Arctic Terns, four Common Terns and a single Commic Tern, while other species logged included 61 Fulmars, 38 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, three Black-headed Gulls and five Common Scoters. Four Harbour Porpoises and a single Risso's Dolphin were also offshore.

Amongst an excellent selection of waders were several recorded only on seawatching, namely four Ruffs, six Golden Plovers and four Bar-tailed Godwits. Otherwise 58 Curlews, 45 Oystercatchers, 43 Turnstones and 16 Redshanks were good counts, with six Ringed Plovers, five Dunlins, three Whimbrels and singles of Purple Sandpiper and Snipe.

On such a day, landbirds were relegated to the bottom of the pecking order. 33 Goldcrests were around, while warblers featured just nine Chiffchaffs, two Blackcaps, one Whitethroat and one Willow Warbler. 39 Rock Pipits and 18 White Wagtails were around the coast, and in the bushes there were also 13 Robins, two Wheatears and a Spotted Flycatcher. A Skylark on the North End was also the first record of the autumn.

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