Thursday 11 April 2024

Dense fog blanketed the island as it came in overnight, light winds from the southwest remained but not enough to shift the fog, which later turned out to be a productive day for grounded migrants across the island.

A couple of firsts for the year arrived in the form of Whitethroat, of which there was one on the South End and another later in the day found at Ty Pellaf. Another first of the year was a Common Sandpiper which was favouring the rocky shorelines across the Narrows. Meanwhile, three White Wagtails frequented the Narrows, three Jack Snipe were in the Wetlands and one-two Grasshopper Warblers, four Willow Warblers, two Starling, three Siskin, four Swallows, five Goldcrest, two Merlin, 14 Turnstone, up to 14 Wheatear and 16 Chiffchaff were scattered across the island.

White Wagtail © Jonathan Dodds

Elsewhere, a maximum of seven Shelduck were around Solfach. Three Whimbrel were along the West Coast, all of which were unringed, meaning up to five individuals have frequented the island so far this spring when the two previously colour-ringed birds are accounted for. 

The day quickly livened up when Jonathan heard what he thought was a CORNCRAKE crexing from the Wetlands during census. After spending a further half hour informing Steve, Ed and Kate of the probable sighting we all staked out the Wetlands and waited anxiously for any further calling. Patience paid off and we all managed to hear the CORNCRAKE crexing again regularly. A couple of hours went by and the bird became quite mobile, when Ed and I were eventually treated to brief flight views as it moved between areas of cover! This is the first record for Bardsey Island since 2018, so it certainly was the highlight of the day for us all. 

The Corncrake showed very briefly, too quickly for any of us to get a sharp photo! © Jonathan Dodds

Wednesday 10 April 2024

A successful trip out dazzling last night and into the early morning saw a Knot, Whimbrel, two Purple Sandpipers, a Moorhen, two Meadow Pipits, five Pied/white Wagtails and a Wheatear trapped. Another team went out with guests to show them and ring Manx Shearwaters with 20 new birds ringed. 

The weather during the day was rather grim with strong south-westerlies and light rain. The first Grashopper Warbler was reeling at Nant, with a Redwing in the Wetlands and a total of four Willow Warblers, four Chiffchaffs and five Blackcaps

Knot © Steve Stansfield

Kate showing guests ringing © Steve Stansfield

Whimbrel © Jonathan Dodds

Tuesday 9 April 2024

The island was battered by strong westerly winds for much of the day, but light rain cleared up leaving a beautiful sunny evening. 

The Hoopoe was still present, seen feeding on the Lord's Path by a guest. A Swallow was seen circling around the courtyard at Plas, a House Martin flew over the South End, 16 'Alba' Wagtails around the Narrows including some White Wagtails, along with a Black-headed Gull

The highlights of an hour and a half spent seawatching from the South End hide were 15 Fulmars, 400 Manx Shearwaters, 34 Gannets, 35 Guillemots and 64 Razorbills

Whimbrel flying across Solfach © Jonathan Dodds

Golden hour along the Lord's Path © Kate Fox

Monday 8 April 2024

The dominant south-westerlies finally eased overnight to a calmer south-easterly however, this brought rain for most of the day. This break in the weather did allow the last guests of the week to get on, just before the weather changes back to strong winds tomorrow.

A small arrival to the garden at Cristin saw 17 Blackcaps, three Goldfinches, two Willow Warblers, a Chiffchaff and two Goldcrests ringed. A decent overhead passage had 294 Linnets south with 17 Goldfinches, seven Siskins and a Lesser Redpoll south. The first Tree Pipit of the year went over the Narrows. Hirudines were moving throughout the day in low numbers and totalled five Sand Martins, four Swallows and three House Martins. Three White Wagtails were around the Narrows with a flock of 18 and two 'Alba' Wagtails seen flying into Ty Pellaf Reedbed to roost. 

A Rook went over the Wetlands with Wheatears up to 11 including eight on the South End. The Sandwich Tern was still hunting off the West Coast despite almost being caught by a new juvenile Peregrine, a distant adult gull off the West Coast gave Yellow-legged Gull vibes but was always a bit too distant to exclude hybrids. A Merlin hunted the South End with a Black-headed Gull offshore. Whimbrels totalled three including the wintering colour ringed bird. 

Shelducks were also on the rise with two pair on the Narrows duirng the morning before another pair was watched late afternoon flying in from the sea to the west; the birds landed but were chased by a resident pair before they flew high west back towards Ireland! 

The Collared Dove has spent a lot of time around the Heligoland trap this week © Ed Betteridge

And finally went in, the first caught since 2020 © Kate Fox

Sunday 7 April 2024

Strong south-westerly winds with big spring tides made for a wild day on the Island with huge waves hitting the West Coast. Some birds did manage to battle through the wind and arrive with a small nummber of Blackcaps and phyllocs in the garden at Cristin. The Heligoland trap caught five Blackcaps, three Willow Warblers and two Chiffchaffs

A Sandwich Tern went passed the North End Hide with a small movement of Manx Shearwaters, Kittiwakes and Gannets. A Whimbrel was in Solfach with the Collared Dove still around Cristin. The first ducklings of the year were on Pwll cian and near Cristin Withy with five and seven ducklings respectively. A Swallow and House Martin went over the South End. 

In the afternoon, a walk to Nant along the Mountain side resulted in a distant view of a large perhaps thrush like bird in flight behind Carreg. The bird was distant but fortunalty landed on a post near Carreg Reedbed. There was no doubting the ID now, it was a HOOPOE!! A quick dash off the Mountain and into the Lowlands was just quick enough to see the bird fly south, briefly land behind Pwll Cain before flying up over Plas and land on the Mountain side, out of view. As staff and guests gathered by Plas the bird was briefly seen feeding on the Lord's path before flying north towards Nant allowing flight views for most people. Despite extensive searching off Nant and the Mountain the bird was never seen again! This is surprisingly the first record since 2015 but the 31st Island record.

Hoopoe © Ed Betteridge
Hoopoe © Ed Betteridge

Hoopoe © Ed Betteridge

Saturday 6 April 2024

It was a very blustery day on the island, with gust up to gale force ten leading to some impressive sea conditions leaving the island under a haze of sea spray. 

The first Black-headed Gull of the year flew north over the Wetlands, and four Jack Snipe were flushed from the same spot, and a female Reed Bunting was in Ty Pellad Reedbed. Three Whimbrels were recorded on the Black Rocks, and there was a small movement of hirundines with seven Swallows and a House Martin heading north over the island throughout the day. 

A successful dazzling session focusing on the South End and Narrows resulted in a Rock Pipit, three Wheatears, including a control which was colour ringed on the Calf of Man, and nine Purple Sandpipers - the latter a new Bardsey record for the most caught in a night! A female Shelduck was also caught on the Narrows pond, the first full-grown Shelduck to be ringed since 2010, and only the 11th ever. 

Control Wheatear from the Calf of Man © Ed Betteridge
One of nine Purple Sandpipers ringed © Jonathan Dodds
Female Shelduck caught on the Narrows © Jonathan Dodds

Friday 5 April 2024

 A rather miserable day weather wise with a strong south-westerly wind and rain showers however, the wind direction did rise the temperature a few degrees if you could find shelter from the wind. Birds were a bit thin on the ground with 30 Purple Sandpipers around the Narrows, a Collared Dove still around Cristin where two new Chiffchaffs and a Goldcrest were ringed and two Swallows shot through into the wind! 

A review of photos taken the other week at the North End gull colony of metal rings reveiled two complete ring series one of which a bird ringed as a chick on 31st May 2001 and still alive and breeding on the Island!!

Purple Sandpiper © Ed Betteridge

Colour-ringed Oystercatcher ringed in Devon in 2018 back for its third spring  © Ed Betteridge

Swallow  © Ed Betteridge

Thursday 4 April 2024

At first light two Fieldfares and two Redwing were calling away in the garden at Cristin, before flying up to Nant. It was also a great morning for corvids on the island, with 30 Rook and 50 Carrion Crow recorded across the island - peak counts for the season so far! Three Buzzards were jostling over the mountain, dodging the Raven's dives, one Swallow flew over the South End, and a single Collared Dove spent the day around Cristin feeding on the lawn. 

The Kestrel was recorded again up at Nant, as well as the Merlin in the North Wast Fields, and the Sandwich Tern was once again feeding off the West Coast. 

Goldcrest sheltering among the rocks on the South End © Jonathan Dodds

Raven mobbing a Buzzard  © Ed Betteridge

Calm weather allowed for the nets at Cristin to be open until mid-afternoon, with six Blackcaps, five Goldcrests, a new Blue Tit, a Chaffinch, three Goldfinch, two Siskin and a Redwing being ringed. Retraps included five Blackcap, five Goldcrests, two Chiffchaffs, one Willow Warbler, as well as the Firecrest which was ringed on 2 April. 

Ringing totals for an early morning session at Nant included a new female Bullfinch, as well as three Blackcaps, one Chiffchaff, one Willow Warbler and six Goldcrests.

A new Blue Tit ringed at Cristin! © Kate Fox

Female Bullfinch ringed at Nant © Ed Betteridge

Wednesday 3 April 2024

The day began calmly with dense fog blanketing the island for the first couple of hours, before a brisk westerly wind picked up and dominated the remainder of the day. The wind hampered many new birds arriving with small numbers of migrants moving through including 10 Blackcap, five Willow Warbler, nine Chiffchaff and 10 Goldcrest.

Willow Warbler busily feeding on pollen! © Jonathan Dodds

The Sandwich Tern that's been frequenting the West Coast was still around, actively fishing sand eels in the sheltered waters. Meanwhile the Kestrel was still hanging around hunting over the Mountain in the wind.

The wind didn't stop our first guests of the season from arriving though, it was great to welcome them earlier than planned due to Storm Kathleen expected later in the week. The Observatory was looking very smart for their arrival! 

The Common Room ready for guests to enjoy © Jonathan Dodds

Tuesday 2 April 2024

The nets were opened for much of the day at Cristin thanks to this calm weather with 112 new birds caught including the first Firecrest and Bullfinch of the year alongside 47 Goldcrests (mostly females), 22 Willow Warblers, 17 Chiffchaffs, 12 Blackcaps, 13 Goldfinches and a Siskin. An additonal 30 birds were trapped at Nant in a few hours early morning. 

Bullfinch © Ed Betteridge

Firecrest © Ed Betteridge

Elsewhere, a partial summer plumage Red-throated Diver was along the West Coast, a Kestrel hunted the Wetlands, two Collared Doves ranged from garden to garden, two Starling were at Cristin then Nant, seven Wheatears were around the South End and Narrows with a Jackdaw on Plas, two Rooks over the Mountain and Siskins totalled 11. 

Much of the afternoon was spent cleaning © Steve Stansfield

Staff cleaning  © Steve Stansfield

Monday 1 April 2024

A mixed day weather wise with some clear sunny spells mixed in with rain though a drop in the wind meant it was slighlty nicer. The first Common Scoter of the spring went south with 18 along the West Coast, a Merlin hunted the Wetlands with a Whimbrel along the West Coast with a Sandwich Tern out to sea. A Swallow went through north with three White Wagtails still around the Narrows. Two Redwing seemed to be new in at the School House and Ty Pellaf, both looking like darker icelandic birds. 

Ringing at Cristin after the rain produced 23 Blackcaps (including the first real number of females), 12 Chiffchaffs, 14 Willow Warblers, 11 Goldcrests, three Goldfinches, a Siskin and a Lesser Redpolls. A short evening session at Nant produced a Willow Warbler and two Goldcrests

Lesser Redpoll  © Ed Betteridge

Siskin  © Ed Betteridge
A message from the farm of a Snow Bunting photographed mid-morning has staff rush there (interestinlgy without Steve!) to go look for the bird. After a 15 minute search for a presumed showy Snow Bunting from Ela's photo reveiled no sign. Suddenly, a Snow Bunting started to sing from the polly tunnel only to reveal a group of rather proud children who has manged to fool us!! Next time we need to check the date before rushing off!
Buzzard © Ed Betteridge

Sunday 31 March 2024

The wind turned to a brisk easterly for Easter Sunday, with a warmer feel to the air thanks to clear sunny skies for most of the day. The first Sandwich Tern of the year spent the day fishing off the West Coast with a wagtail influx there and around the Narrows consiting of 14 Pied Wagtails and two White Wagtails. Two Merlins too advantage of this and were seen hunting the pipits and wagtails. 

A Ringed Plover was in Solfach with the over-wintering colour ringed Whimbrel on Carrag y Honwy. Wheatears increased to 14 with warblers totalling nine Blackcaps, 15 Chiffchaffs and 14 Willow Warblers with a single Chaffinch and six Siskins elsewhere.

The warmer weather saw an early Hummingbird Hawkmoth and a Peacock Butterfly in the garden at Cristin. 

Sandwich Tern © Ed Betteridge 

White Wagtail © Ed Betteridge

Saturday 30 March 2024

Breezy conditions continued, coming from the south, however a spell of sunshine warmed up the island at last. There was evidence of movement, with an Icelandic-race Redwing caught in the heligoland at Cristin first thing, three Sand Martins and two Swallows seen heading north throughout the day. Four Goldfinches, two Siskins, six Blackcaps, 11 Chiffchaffs, 15 Willow Warblers and seven Goldcrests were also recorded around the island, and a female Reed Bunting was seen in the wetlands. 

Icelandic Redwing caught in the heligoland trap © Kate Fox
Treecreeper © Ed Betteridge

Other birds included a female Merlin at the North End, 50 Purple Sandpipers, a Whimbrel on the West Coast and 17 Curlew around the island. The Treecreeper was still present around Cristin, and signs of the breeding season ahead with 12 Puffins and 40 Razorbills at the North End. 

The first proper Manx Shearwater ringing session along the west coast produced 26 new birds and 22 retraps. On the way back a new Oystercatcher, two new Snipe and a retrap Jack Snipe and the female Reed Bunting were also caught in the Wetlands, and a Water Rail was seen by Cristin Withy.

Female Reed Bunting caught in the Wetlands © Kate Fox

Spring scenes and seals on Solfach! © Kate Fox

Friday 29 March 2024

Another windy day with winds blowing from the south-west. A Merlin hunted the Mountain with a Ringed Plover heard along the West Coast. The Treecreeper was still around Cristin with a Willow Warbler, nine Chiffchaffs and six Blackcaps. A small finch passage saw nine Goldfinches and four Chaffinches with two of the latter trapped at Cristin. 

Treecreeper © Ed Betteridge
A trip out dazzling saw three Wheatears, a Jack Snipe, a Common Snipe, two Moorhens and a Magpie caught. One of the Moorhens was already ringed having been caught on 10th October last year however, was now fitted with a colour ring after we ran out last autumn. 

Moorhen © Kate Fox

Jack Snipe © Kate Fox

Thursday 28 March 2024

A calmer morning with south-easterlies provided a short window to census the island before torrential rain set in for the remainder of the day, creating some new pools across the Narrows and increasing the size of any existing ponds! 

New pools created across the Narrows after a day of torrential rain! © Kate Fox

On the Wader front, a Whimbrel was a welcome sighting as it flew south along the West Coast, meanwhile in the sodden Wetlands up to seven Common Snipe were roosting in the wet fields. Come evening, two Woodcock were seen flying off the Mountain over Nant, presumably to feed before continuing migration. The overwintering Purple Sandpipers were still present in good numbers at Solfach, with 54 providing excellent views where some are now showing their exquisite summer plumage. 

Whimbrel flying south along the West Coast © Kate Fox

One of the 54 Purple Sandpipers showing off their purple sheen in the sunlight © Jonathan Dodds

The heavy rainfall produced a small fall of Wheatears and Stonechats predominantly across the South End, with 22 Wheatears and 10 Stonechats noted during the afternoon. Wheatears can arrive much later in the day compared to other passerines, so its not uncommon for numbers to increase here as the day progresses. Elsewhere on the island there were three more Wheatears including a prospecting pair and a further eight Stonechats scattered across the island. 

A quieter afternoon around Cristin quickly livened up when Ed caught a Eurasian Treecreeper in the Heligoland Trap. This species is less than annual on the island, so was a very welcome sighting and suggested some movement from the mainland despite the poor conditions. 

Eurasian Treecreeper caught by Ed in the Heligoland Trap © Kate Fox

Wednesday 27 March 2024

Seemingly a small arrival to the Island seem to be centred around the garden with the Heligoland trap catching ten Willow Warblers, 14 Blackcaps, a Goldcrest and 11 Chiffchaffs. A further five Blackcaps, five Goldcrests and ten Chiffchaffs were elsewhere.

Two Canada Geese flew over the island, with a Jack Snipe and seven Snipe being flushed from the Wetlands with single Jack and Common caught this evening alongside two Oystercatchers (including one ringed as an adult in 2009) and four Meadow Pipits.

Other birds today included a Buzzard, a Merlin, two Teals, a Wheatear, a Blue tit, two Great Tits, a Starling, three Chaffinches and four Goldfinches.

Chiffchaff © Ed Betteridge

Willow Warbler © Ed Betteridge

Tuesday 26 March 2024

Calm south-eastlies and raining showers during the morning turned to clear sunny spells during the afternoon. Finches seemed to be taking advantage of the clear spell in weather with a decent movement throughout the morning with ringing at Cristin producing 43 Goldfinches, nine Siskins, two Lesser Redpolls, three Chaffinches and two Linnets caught. Other ringing totals from Cristin were eight Chiffchaffs, a Willow Warbler, 17 Goldcrests and 17 Blackcaps with nine Goldcrests and a caught at Nant during a short session mid-morning. 

Siskin caught with a ring from elsewhere © Ed Betteridge

Linnet © Ed Betteridge

Elsewhere, a Canada Goose was heard calling over Cristin, a Kestrel went over Nant, a Water Rail was in the Wetlands, three Sand Martins went south along the Mountain with a Rook also there with finches totalling 160 Goldfinches, six Chaffinches, four Lesser Redpolls, 53 Siskins and 11 Linnets.

After dark lots of Manx Shearwaters came in for a few hours before the moon. Another attempt at catching owls in the Wetlands resulted in slightly better result with an owl species seen flying around avoiding the net thought to be a Long-eared Owl. The net did catch some birds however, with two Manx Shearwaters caught! Also caught tonight dazzling was a Moorhen, two Snipe and a Wheatear.  

Manx Shearwater © Ed Betteridge

Moorhen © Ed Betteridge

Other birds included two Teal, a Buzzard, a Merlin, a Skylark, two Starlings, 172 Meadow Pipits and six Wheatears.