Saturday, 21 April 2018

The heatwave finally reached us today and we were treated to wall-to-wall sunshine almost without a breath of wind. Billy and Ephraim spent most of the afternoon around the east side of the island watching colour-ringed Choughs, noting which pairs were collecting nest material and the nest sites they were returning to. It was also a good opportunity to re-familiarise ourselves with the other seabirds that nest on the island's east-facing cliffs. Kittiwakes and Fulmars were back on their ledges, Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gulls were settling down, and auks were starting to raft offshore - all gearing up for the breeding season ahead!

Elsewhere, the highlight of the day was a Blue-headed Wagtail which briefly pitched up in Nant Valley. Hirundine passage has been disappointingly slow so far this spring, but 13 Sand Martins, 57 Swallows and two House Martins were an improvement on recent weeks. Wheatear and White Wagtail passage also picked up with 70 and 30 individuals recorded respectively. Other birds included seven Fulmars, six Gannets, 14 Cormorants, 28 Shags, two Sparrowhawks, two Buzzards, a Kestrel, two Peregrines, two Ringed Plovers, a Snipe, two Whimbrels, a Curlew, five Common Sandpipers, two Rock Doves (with tags on their legs), a Little Owl, a Tree Pipit, a Yellow Wagtail (of the typical flavissima form), three reeling Grasshopper Warblers, two Sedge Warblers, a Whitethroat, 28 Blackcaps, 15 Chiffchaffs, an impressive 171 Willow Warblers, 14 Goldcrests, a Firecrest, a Rook, 40 Carrion Crows, two Chaffinches, 13 Siskins, 55 Goldfinches, 82 Linnets and 38 Lesser Redpolls

A Red Sword-grass in the moth trap was the first for a couple of years, arriving with an early Large Yellow Underwing and eight Dark Sword-grass.

 Spot Ephraim...

We have now located most of this year's Shag nests. Now it's a matter of monitoring them during the season from a safe distance. © Ben Porter

Red Sword-grass hatch in the autumn and overwinter as adult moths, reappearing in the spring. They are seldom recorded on Bardsey, although in theory there are many suitable foodplants on the island to support a strong population.

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