Tuesday 16 April 2024

 The morning started much the same as yesterday with the students joining the Obs staff for morning census, practicing their newly acquired skills from Kate’s bird sounds and Steve’s bird id talks the day before. The wind had improved partially but still gusting 40mph and overcast. The students took great joy in watching a pair of Peregrines stooping meters above their heads at Nant.

A Hooded crow and three Rook were seen flying North through the wetlands with the Hooded crow doubling back, heading South over the island disappearing North behind the mountain at Pencristin. Three Starlings flew in from the North and landed in the Wetlands, remaining fairly mobile throughout the day. A decent movement of finches occurred through the morning with 107 Goldfinches, 142 Linnets, five Siskins & a Lesser Redpoll. A pair of House Martins were seen at Nant in the morning with seven Swallows elsewhere with more hirundine movement seen mid-afternoon, 39 Swallows & a Sand Martin over the South end.

Hooded Crow © Joel Tragen

Partially leucistic Chiffchaff © Joel Tragen

Across the island 20 Wheatears were seen, along with 16 Blackcaps, 16 Willow warblers, four Chiffchaffs & four Goldcrests whilst a Grasshopper Warbler was heard reeling at Nant. The Redwing was seen again at Traeth Ffynnon and a Collared Dove was seen at Cristin. A Sandwich tern was seen in Henllywn, along with 12 Purple Sandpipers, five Turnstones and a Common Sandpiper. Eight Whimbrels were seen around the coast with six seen at Traeth Ffynnon and one each at both the North & South end. Also, a pair of Ringed Plovers and Dunlin were seen on the Narrows along with a White Wagtail.

Ed, Joel and Jonathan took a group of students down to the South end to introduce them to the Manx shearwater census, allowing them to gather some experience in a systematic sampling technique. The students spent a couple of hours counting burrows and noting signs of occupation. A bit of multitasking by Ed meant a retrap young Male Stonechat was caught, it was first being ringed last season in 2023. This was the first time any of the students had seen a Stonechat in the hand, being a retrap it further exacerbated the importance of ringing.

On the walk back Jonathan and a student were lucky to get brief views of the Nightingale again in the exact same location as before, it briefly sang before skulking back into the hedge and wasn’t seen again despite efforts to resight it.

Steve then adorned the chef’s cap and apron as the Observatory hosted a BBQ for all the students, cooking up a wide array of food with everyone sitting down to eat together. With everyone full of delicious food, the students moved to the Common room for a few rounds of “Bird charades” coined by Holly.

Steve and the staff then led a guided Manx shearwater walk down to the South end, following a talk on the work the BBFO carries out with the Manxies. The students all had an incredible time, all getting stuck in and ringing their first Shearwaters. A few old recaptures were caught including a bird from 1997 and 1994! Finishing with a spot of stargazing the students retreated back to Cristin to the comfort of their beds and the late time of 02:45. 

Students being shown a Stonechat © Joel Tragen

Manx Shearwater ringing © Joel Tragen
Guest blog by Joel Tragen

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