Wednesday, 29 March 2023

A mixed day for weather with a brisk southerly wind and some rain, fog and sun during the day. The highlight of the day was a brief female-type Black Redstart seen in the fields below the School House. Elsewhere, a Redwing was in the Withies and the Heligoland Trap produced three Chaffinches, a Willow Warbler and a Blackcap.

Chiffchaff © Ed Betteridge

Other birds seen today included a Grey Heron, a Sparrowhawk, two Snipe, five Curlews, three Wheatears, three Blackcaps, 32 Chiffchaffs, four Willow Warblers, 18 Goldcrests, five Starlings, five Chaffinches and 10 Linnets.

Male Sparrowhawk © Ed Betteridge

Tuesday, 28 March 2023

The calm, sunny skies didn't last for long as the winds picked up again today, and were accompanied by persistent rainfall. There seemed to be a large clear out of passerine migrants overnight as Goldcrest and Chiffchaff numbers fell to six and 21 respectively. It was fairly quiet across the Island with the highlights being a Woodcock, five Snipes, and a Teal in the Wetlands and a male Blackcap being all of note.

In the evening, the second Moorhen of the year was trapped and ringed!

Left: Moorhen caught last night © Ed Betteridge
Right: Map showing the locations of over 50 Moorhens ringed in the UK and Ireland through this scheme © Aurora Eritacus

Some early flowering plant species are in bloom currently across the Island, such as Lesser Celandine and Common Ramping Fumitory.

Lesser Celandine © Ollie King

Common Ramping Fumitory © Ollie King

Monday, 27 March 2023

Flat calm weather and full sun made for a rather nice change from the constant windy and wet weather last week. Nets were opened at both Nant and Cristin during the morning and again at Nant in the afternoon. This produced a total of 125 new Goldcrests (with around 286 on the Island as a whole) and as a result we have now ringed more Goldcrests this year than the whole of last year. The highlight however, as a Treecreeper caught at Cristin after no records last year this was slightly unexpected. Also ringed today included three Willow Warblers, a Blackcap, three Robins and 44 Chiffchaffs.

Treecreeper © Steve Stansfield

Elsewhere, the first Swallow of the year went through the Wetlands, a Collared Dove was at Cristin and a White Wagtail was on Solfach. 

Shelduck © Ed Betteridge

After dark, two Snipe were trapped in the Wetlands, one of which was originally ringed in October 2017 as a first year bird making it 6 years old!

Snipe © Ed Betteridge

Sunday, 26 March 2023

The winds blew lightly from the East today, which provided some migrant turnover and saw a fall of crests and Pyhlloscs across the Island. 174 Goldcrests (94 ringed - 82% of which were males), a Firecrest (also ringed), and 36 Chiffchaffs (22 ringed) were seen today, mostly in Cristin garden and at the plantation at Nant. 

Firecrest ringed at Nant © Ollie King

Other migrant highlights of the day were 44 Starlings in the Wetlands, two Siskins, five Chaffinches, a Redwing, two Fieldfares, five Blackbirds, two Skylarks, 16 Turnstones, six Purple Sandpipers, a Merlin at the South End, a Buzzard, and two Sparrowhawks

Blackbird © Ollie King

Blue skies and calm winds over the Wetlands © Ollie King

Saturday, 25 March 2023

A clear but windy day on the Island. A Great Northern Diver circled the South End before heading out west during the morning. The highlight of the day however, was a Long-Eared Owl that was flushed from Cristin Garden. The owl was seen a few more times in flight as it was mobbed by Magpies. The Barn Owl was seen again around Nant in the early evening.

Great Northern Diver © Ed Betteridge

Long-eared Owl © Ed Betteridge

Long-eared Owl © Ed Betteridge

Other birds included a Sparrowhawk, two Ringed Plover, eight Purple Sandpipers, four Snipe, 14 Redshank, four Wheatears, 13 Chiffchaffs, 13 Goldcrests and a Skylark.

Friday, 24 March 2023

Last night whilst walking down to South End the Northern Lights were faintly visible towards the north of the Island! Distant red and green glows could be seen peering behind the clouds. 

Aurora borealis © Ollie King

Bird-wise the strong south-westerlies produced little species turnover so the highlight of the day was a Canada Goose, seen again in the gull colony at the North End. Other migrant highlights included four Goldcrests, nine Chiffchaffs, five Wheatears, 70 Meadow Pipits, 14 Snipes, six Purple Sandpipers, and two Teals.

In the evening, a Woodcock was ringed in the Lowlands, alongside three Snipes and a Moorhen - the first one to be colour-ringed as part of a new UK-wide colour-ringing project to discover more about their movement patterns. 

Snipe © Ollie King

Colour-ringed Moorhen © Ollie King

Wheatear © Ed Betteridge

Thursday, 23 March 2023

Very strong winds across Bardsey today, mixed with sunny and rainy spells. Birds were few and far between with a Whimbrel, 16 Redshanks, 10 Wheatears and a Rook the highlights.

Wheatear © Ed Betteridge

The evening was spent walking around the Island with the thermal. In total, two Wheatears, five Meadow Pipits, a Magpie and a Oystercatcher were trapped a ringed. However, the stand out highlight was a Short-eared Owl in the Lowlands; the first since 2021.
Woodcock taken through the thermal © Ed Betteridge

Snipe taken through the thermal © Ed Betteridge

Other bird species recorded today included 30 Gannets, two Ringed Plovers, 196 Oystercatchers, 11 Snipe, six Purple Sandpipers, five Curlews, 11 Stonechats, five Goldcrests, four Chiffchaffs, six Starling and two Goldfinch.

Wednesday, 22 March 2023

Strong south-westerlies continued to hammer the Island today resulting in little turnover of species, though the highlights of the day were two Teals, two Ringed Plovers, 10 Snipes, 15 Turnstones, a Whimbrel, five Curlews, 10 Chiffchaffs, nine Goldcrests, four Starlings, 179 Meadow Pipits, a Chaffinch, and 13 Wheatears

Stormy skies at the South End © Ollie King

In the evening, a Woodcock, a Wheatear, a Woodpigeon were all trapped and ringed.

Woodcock © Steve Stansfield

Wheatear © Ollie King

Tuesday, 21 March 2023

Today saw clear skies first thing but a strong south-westerly breeze which turned to heavy rain mid-afternoon. Despite the wind there were still 11 Wheatears, 9 Chiffchaffs and 5 Goldcrests across the Island and 20 Starlings were in the Wetlands.

Wheatear © Ed Betteridge

The first Ringed Plover of the year was on Henllwyn along with five Redshanks, 22 Turnstones, eight Purple Sandpipers and 95 Oystercatcher around the Narrows. A second year Mediterranean Gull and five Black-headed Gulls passed the South End.

Other birds included 16 Gannets, three Snipe, a Chaffinch, a Song Thrush and 17 Stonechats.

Stonechat © Ed Betteridge

Grey Seal © Ed Betteridge

Monday, 20 March 2023

The day was greeted by fairly dense fog that came and went throughout the day, so the birding was hindered. Highlights of the day included a Merlin in the North-west fields, a Fieldfare, 14 Purple Sandpipers, and a Woodcock. Other birds seen were 14 Turnstones, four Snipes, 72 Meadow Pipits, 10 Wheatears, 10 Chiffchaffs and 10 Goldcrests

Chiffchaff © Ollie King

Most of the day was spent working on getting Cristin back into fighting form before the Observatory opens for guests, which involved lots of deep cleaning and painting!

In the evening, a quick lamping session produced an Oystercatcher and a Meadow Pipit

Meadow Pipit © Ollie King

Oystercatcher © Ollie King

Sunday, 19 March 2023

Light winds and sunny spells dominated the morning before the weather changed and the winds strengthen in the evening. An arrival of Wheatears saw 20 across the Island of which 17 were males. A Water Rail was flushed in the Wetlands, a Whimbrel was around the Narrows and a Redwing was in the Withies. Chiffchaff and Goldcrest continued to arrive with 13 and 11, respectively. 

Wheatear © Ed Betteridge

This year saw the addition of a thermal imager, this should help us to get a better understanding of the nocturnal birdlife on Bardsey. During the evening a walk around Wetlands resulted in six Woodcock (two trapped), two Snipe and a Barn Owl.

Woodcock © Ollie King

Woodcock © Ollie King

Other birds included a Sparrowhawk, 132 Oystercatchers, three Redshanks, four Skylarks, 214 Meadow Pipits, eight Robins, a Song Thrush, a Starling and seven Chaffinches.  

Meadow Pipit © Ed Betteridge

Saturday, 18 March 2023

Today saw the return of Assistant Wardens, Ed and Ollie, back to the Island for the season, alongside Mike and Lynda who are volunteering to help get the Observatory back into shape before guests arrive! Most of the afternoon was spent cleaning and unpacking all the food and gear bought on for the year, though some birding was squeezed into gaps where possible! 

In the Sound on the way to Bardsey © Ollie King

On the crossing over there was a Common Gull and Black-headed Gull in the Sound (fairly close to Bardsey), a Puffin on the sea on the East Side, and a single Skylark was heard singing from the South End. Migrant-wise it was fairly quiet, but 10 Starlings were in the Wetlands, whilst 14 Chiffchaffs (10 ringed) and four Goldcrests were in Cristin garden. In the evening, the first Manx Shearwater of the year was heard. 

The assistants ringing Chiffchaffs © Ollie King

Chiffchaffs - the one on the right has a pollen horn (the darker patch at the base of the bill), which means it's likely to have travelled from the continent in the last couple days! © Ollie King

Friday, 17 March 2023

This morning, I started the census for the first time this year before heading back to being cleaning and unpacking. They were a good number of Grey Seals on both Solfach and Henllwyn.

Grey Seals on Solfach looking like rocks!

Unfortunately, one of the Choughs had succumbed to quite possibly a Peregrine over the winter. I sent the information about the colour rings off and we will find out later today where it was ringed; it’s not a bird that was ringed on Bardsey, but it could well have been ringed close by on the mainland.

Remains of a Chough on the Narrows 

There was not a lot passing at sea, a few razorbills and guillemots whizzed by and a couple of Shags were on the rocks.

It was quite warm, even though there was quite a breeze blowing from the south. The southerly wind has brought some of the first migrants of the year. A Black Redstart shivered  its russet tail at the Lighthouse, but did not want to hang about to be photographed. 

At least four male Wheatears were on the South End and Narrows. 

One of the first Wheatears of the year

They also held a good number of Meadow Pipits, with 92 logged. 

Meadow Pipit

There was also a rather nice White Wagtail amongst Pied Wagtails on the Narrows, but again did not want his picture taken!

Pied Wagtail

Two Chiffchaffs was singing in the Withies on my way back. Six Teals and a Shelduck were also seen in the Wetlands and a Blue Tit was at the Observatory.  


Thursday, 16 March 2023

This morning the weather was even worse than yesterday afternoon. Wetter and windier! 

However, a cracking male Firecrest was singing its little heart out outside our back door when I went out to check on the solar power system. I didn’t have any optics, not even sure where they are to be honest (!), my camera is nowhere to be seen (buried amongst all the stuff in the gift shop) and it was showing extremely well. I rushed back in to grab my phone to try and get a picture on that, went back out and can’t find him anywhere! 🤷‍♂️

Emma and I spent the day cleaning our house before we could begin to unpack. Good news was the Rayburn had kept it dry and damp free.   Bad news however from the Obs. Emyr has been running the generator during the winter for us so as it A) doesn’t seize up, and B) it starts the central heating. However, the central heating thermostat had failed at some point quite early on in the winter. The battery connection inside the thermostat had corroded and snapped meaning that the central heating did not kick in.

Broken and corroded terminal
Very damp Lounge wall

Lots of mould has grown all over the Lodge - is it just me or can we all see a Kite growing in the mould!?

Part of the afternoon was spent  re-fueling the Kerosene tank

New funded tanks made pumping the fuel much more time efficient

Wednesday, 15 March 2023


The 2023 season is underway!

So it’s been a manic few weeks for me and Emma.  Moving out of Owlwood and getting it ready for guests and then travelling west to Wales (via Southport and Rotherham to do our shopping!). 

As ever, the car was full to the rafters with food for several months and all our gear and some stock for the shop 

We left Southport at 04:00, arrived in Wales at 05:00 this morning and headed for a 07.30 rendezvous with Colin at Cwrt.

Croeso i Gymru

Boat full of 'stuff'

Upon arrival we set abut getting the baggage to the Observatory before the brief weather window closed and it all became grim again. The weather turned soon after Colin had delivered us to the islands and we spent the rest of the day in wet and  windy conditions. 

So after a looooooooong day we eventually went to bed at 10pm some 20 hours after getting up. We had a good catch-up and panad with Meriel and Gareth. We met the new Trust staff  (briefly, as they helped carry all our stuff to the gift shop with Emyr, Emma and me)

We moved all our stuff to the gift shop and began to clean down our house - kitchen, bedroom and bathroom initially and get ready for unpacking. Not much to report bird wise. A Goldcrest calling in the Observatory Garden near the Helgoland Trap (which appears to have withstood the winter well).