Tuesday, 25 August 2015

It was a great day's birding on the island, with an ever-increasing wind from the south-east encouraging some good movements of seabirds - common and scarce - past the island's coast. A few noteworthy passerines also popped up at intervals.

Headline birds for the day were largely seen out so sea:the year's first Long-tailed Skua flew south past the west side mid-afternoon, accompanied during the rest of the day by three Arctic Skuas and a Bonxie; three Gadwalls heading North up the West Side later in the day were the first to be seen on Bardsey since 2013, and were accompanied by a single Teal; two Ruffs flew south past the North Hide in the afternoon, whilst a single Green Sandpiper flew over the Observatory in the morning. Noteworthy passerine migrants included a single Tree Pipit, two Whinchats and the autumn's first Pied Flycatcher.

Totals of more common species included the following: 26 Fulmars, 14,623 Manx Shearwaters, 296 Gannets, five Common Scoters, 845 Kittiwakes, 27 Common Terns, 15 Arctic Terns and 75 Commic Terns out to sea, and one Ringed Plover, nine Purple Sandpipers, nine Dunlins, one Snipe, three Whimbrels, 34 Curlews, six Redshanks, two Common Sandpipers and 34 Tunrstones around The Narrows. Passerine counts comprised four Grey Wagtails, five White Wagtails, 13 Stonechats, 14 Wheatears, one Whitethroat, two Blackcaps, four Chiffchaffs, 11 Willow Warblers, 10 Goldcrests and one Spotted Flycatcher.

Up to 35 Turnstones have been busy feeding on Solfach recently

A handful of Dunlins have also been amongst them

The Autumn Ladie's Tresses have emerged in their thousands around the island

Monday, 24 August 2015

After the arrival of four 'Next Generation Birders' onto the island on Saturday, a further four individuals joined this week's group on Monday morning. Hopefully they can look forward to a brilliant week of ringing, birding and mothing! It wasn't a bad start either, with a great host of species recorded on a bright and sunny day.

There was something of a chat theme running through the day, with a small arrival including the following: 20 Robins, one Common Redstart, one Whinchat, 16 Stonechats and 45 Wheatears. In terms of warblers, the numbers by the day's end were singles of Common and Lesser Whitethroat, three Blackcaps, 11 Chiffchaffs, 20 Willow Warblers and 16 Goldcrests, along with six Spotted Flycatchers. A movement of hirundines overhead during the day saw the following figures logged: six Sand Martins, 69 Swallows and 19 House Martins. Onto the non-passerines...a good movement of seabirds out to sea saw the following flying south: six Fulmars, 179 Gannets, 34 Common Scoters, two Mediterranean Gulls, six Black-headed Gulls, 1001 Kittiwakes, 34 Common Terns, 25 Arctic Terns and 60 Commic Terns. A good gathering of waders at high tide included three Ringed Plovers, Purple Sandpipers, 11 Dunlins, one Whimbrel, 34 Curlews, 10 Redshanks, three Common Sandpipers, 13 Turnstones.

In the evening, a Manx Shearwater ringing session was a successful trip to Nant Valley, where many juvenile birds out of the burrows were found and ringed. A real bonus was the trapping and ringing of four Storm Petrels, with a further single bird re-trapped.

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a juvenile Willow Warbler

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Seawatching (top) and checking the moth trap (lower) in front of the observatory with some of the 'NGBs'

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Intermittent rain spells made it hard to find migrants inland leaving coastal avifauna to once again predominate, highlighted by the island’s first Sooty Shearwater of the year heading south along the West Coast.

An assortment of one Ringed Plover, ten Dunlins, one Whimbrel, 19 Curlews, three Redshanks, two Common Sandpipers, and 25 Turnstones were recorded at high tide. Noticeable gull movement through the island in the past week culminated in a high count of 49 Great Black-backed Gulls, with 481 Kittiwakes and six Black-headed Gulls also recorded. A lone Swift headed south mid morning, one Sedge Warbler, one Blackcap, two Chiffchaffs, six Willow Warblers, and 13 Goldcrests were noted inland, and finally 49 Gannets and a Grey Heron flew by at sea.

A quiet day on the island with most activity focused on The Narrows. Two Ringed Plovers, 14 Dunlins, one Whimbrel, 17 Curlews, four Redshanks, five Common Sandpipers, and 19 Turnstones represented a reasonable selection of waders with six Black-headed Gulls and two White Wagtails also present with them. Asides, four Willow Warblers and one Goldcrest lurked around the island, and a Migrant Hawker patrolled the Cristin garden.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

It has been a great few days on the island, with some exciting sightings ranging from dragonflies to birdlife. The weather has been stunning: low winds varying in direction from the east around to the south west have rarely exceeded 15mph, whilst temperatures have commonly strayed above 20'C, helped by the clear, blue skies and sunny conditions.

There have been some quite unusual sightings in the last few days...by far the scarcest in avian terms was that of a very distant Great White Egret on the 16th, which slowly made its way south-west at a distance of over a mile off the West Side. This is just the third record for Bardsey Island. Equally exciting was the discovery of a female Banded Demoiselle on the South End in the afternoon of the 17th, which is a new species for Bardsey! Other notable sightings included a Black Guillemot off the West Side on the 17th, an Arctic Tern on the 15th, and an adult Pomarine Skua on 18th. Mediterranean Gulls joined the gatherings of larger Larids to feast on the emergence of flying Ants during the calm weather, with a single on the 15th, two on the 16th, and another one on the 17th. The female Ruff remained in Solfach until the 16th, and a Green Sandpiper was heard on the night of the 17th. Single Hooded Crows were seen on the mountain on the 16th and 18th, whilst other passerine sightings included a  Song Thrush on the 17th, single Whinchats on the 16th and 17th, a Yellow Wagtail on the 15th, and singles of Tree Pipit and Grey Wagtail on 18th. In other news, Risso's Dolphins have been seen almost daily, with as many as nine present (16th).

Commoner migrants have struggled in numbers since the large arrival a few days ago. Hirundine passage has been stronger, though, with number building to 227 Swallows and 51 House Martins on the 17th, plus two Sand Martins on the 18th. A Garden Warbler on the 18th was amongst the largest arrival of warblers during this period, with 59 Willow Warblers noted around the island, along with a Blackcap, four Chiffchaffs and three Goldcrests. Five Spotted Flycatchers on the 15th decreased to just one on the 16th, and none thereafter. Waders have been a big feature in the last few days, with high tides following new moon encouraging plenty onto the coast of the Narrows, the star of the show being the female Ruff (staying until the 16th). Particularly high counts have comprised 10 Ringed Plovers on the 16th, 25 Dunlins on the 15th, three Bar-tailed Godwits and a Whimbrel on the 17th, 32 Curlews on the 16th, 11 Redshanks, six Common Sandpipers and 12 Turnstones on the 17th.

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On the nights of the 16th and 17th, we carried out some Storm Petrel ringing at the North End. The results were great: 12 new birds and three controls, whose origins are uncertain, but oddly enough were all part of the same ring string as each other!

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The stunnign Banded Demoiselle

Female Ruff

Chinese Character

Grey Heron in front of Bardsey Bird and Field Observatory

Friday, 14 August 2015

It has been a busy few days on the island, as autumn really starts to kick off with the settling of weather conditions. Low winds and a mix of cloud cover has brought some good arrivals of migrants- both passerines and non-passerines- over the last few days, with some great numbers recorded yesterday in particular. The next week looks set to stay calm and largely clear, so we are looking forward to seeing what arrivals will come our way.

Beginning with the highlights since the 11th- Great Crested Grebes have made something of a surprise appearance! On the 12th, a single individual flew east through the sound, which was followed by a flock of five (!) flying south past the West Coast on the morning of the 13th! After over 12 years of no sightings, to suddenly have three records in two years is rather unprecedented! In other news, singles of Ruff and Greenshank were seen on the 14th, the former of which is new to the year list, whilst a Greater Spotted Woodpecker arrived on the 13th, and remained through to the 14th. Another noteworthy visitor was that of a Short-eared Owl on the 14th, which is just the second of the year- a bird was flushed from the West Side, before flying around Pen Cristin.

Onto the more common species of migrants...Willow Warblers have finally eased into the triple figures, after a long period of below-average counts. The last three days have seen 49 on the 12th, 80 on the 13th, and 344 on the 15th. Blackcaps, Garden Warblers, Whitethroats, Sedge Warblers, Chiffchaffs and Goldcrests have also been steadily increasing in number, with tallies from the 13th comprising five Whitethroats, two Garden Warblers, one Blackcap, four Chiffchaffs and three Goldcrests. Singles Grasshopper Warblers were seen on the 12th and 14th, with a Tree Pipit on the 13th and Common Swifts over on the 12th and 13th. Spotted Flycatchers featured well in yesterday's arrival, with 34 representing the highest figure for sometime. Hirundine movements have been very strong on the clearer days, with not as many seen on the 14th; 243 Swallows on the 13th and 74 House Martins on the 12th were the highest totals from this period.

On to the waders- the New Moon is creating some reasonably high tides at the moment, which in turn is bringing a brilliant host of waders to the shores of The Narrows. The aforementioned highlights have been accompanied by the following selection of species (maximum daily figures): 12 Ringed Plovers, one Sanderling (13th), 19 Dunlins, four Whimbrels, 38 Curlews, seven Redshanks, 28 Turnstones and three Common Sandpipers.

A Kestrel has been lurking around the island in recent days

Willow Warblers have finally broken into triple figure counts, with over 60 trapped and ringed on the 14th too

Violet Ground Beetle

The dark nights have resulted in some big moth catches, with almost 400 in one of the heath traps yesterday, and nearly 800 between the three

Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

It was a stunning day, with conditions more typical of what we expect of 'summer'. Clear blue skies allowed the sun to bake the island to a pleasant 22'C, whilst a very light north-westerly wind meant that the movement of migrants through the island was perhaps the best of the autumn so far.

There was some good hirundine passage eastwards over the island in the morning, which comprised 23 Sand Martins, 157 Swallows and 18 House Martins, whilst two Grey Wagtails and a Yellow Wagtail also flew overhead. A total of 50 Willow Warblers is the highest so far this autumn, with birds spread out all over the island, particular along the mountainside; one Sedge Warbler, three Chiffchaffs and four Goldcrests were also recorded. A Black-tailed Godwit flew south over the South End in the morning, whilst a good supporting cast of other waders included three Ringed Plovers, five Sanderlings, six Dunlins, six Whimbrels, 25 Curlews, five Redshanks, one Common Sandpiper and six Turnstones. A single Sparrowhawk and two Buzzards represented the day's only raptors.

In terms of lepidoptera, it was a great day: good totals of moths in the traps were recorded, whilst some of high butterfly counts were also made. Beginning with the latter of these, the day's totals comprised 435 Green-veined Whites, two Small Coppers, four Painted Ladies, two Small Tortoiseshells, 20 Peacocks, 33 Graylings and 56 Meadow Browns. Highlights from the moth traps included the year's first Orange Swift, a female Northern Eggar, Dotted Clay and Acleris holmiana (new for Bardsey).

The view over the South End and Bardsey Lighthouse in the morning

There are plenty of big, fluffy Manx Shearwater chicks in the earth burrows at the moment

There are some good numbers of Gannets feeding off the coast at the moment, with 79 seen today

Orange Swift

True Lover's Knot

Painted Lady

Friday, 7 August 2015

It was a stunning day on the island, with barely a breath of wind and clear blue skies encouraging some of the hottest temperatures of the year (22'C). The calm conditions provided ideal conditions for the visible migration of many species, with movement overhead during the day logged at: 77 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, three Common Swifts, 15 Sand Martins, 62 Swallows, 10 House Martins and three Grey Wagtails. Willow Warblers were noticeably higher in number, with 34 individuals scattered around, along with eight Sedge Warblers, a Whitethroat, six Chiffchaffs. A trio of migrant raptors included singles of Sparrowhawk, Buzzard and Kestrel, whilst a good selection of waders included one Ringed Plover, two Dunlins, three Whimbrels, 18 Curlews, a Redshank and a Turnstone.

A butterfly transect took place on the mountain in the afternoon, to try and see how many Graylings are present on the islasnd at the moment. A count just shy of 80 was a good start, including a mating pai

Lion's Mane Jellyfish have been seen around the island's coast in the last few weeks


This smart little micro was discovered in the New Plantation a few days ago. This individual is Argyresthia bonnetella, which is a new species for Bardsey, and the fourth Argyresthia species to be recorded here

Thursday, 6 August 2015

It was a cracking day on the island, after the storm clouds rolled away and the wind eased. With a promosing outlook, it looks like we may finally start to get a bit of autumn migration action to enjoy. It wasn't too bad a start today: a hint of hirundine passage saw figures of two Sand Martins, 30 Swallows and 11 House Martins recorded during the day, whilst a handful of warblers scattered from coastal gorse to gardens included single Sedge Warblers and Blackcaps, four Chiffchaffs and 13 Willow Warblers; a single Black Redstart was also seen on Pen Cristin. Wader counts for the day amounted to two Ringed Plovers, two Dunlins, a Sanderling, a Snipe, three Whimbrels, 24 Curlews, two Redshanks and 23 Turnstones. Migrant lepdioptera were present in small numbers, with two Painted Ladies, a Hummingbird Hawkmoth and two Silver Ys.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

A day of strong south-easterly winds continued to make conditions a little difficult for southward-bound migrants. With very high tides following the recent new moon, waders are featuring well every day at the moment. Today's counts from the rocks around the Narrows comprised nine Ringed Plovers, one Sanderling, two Dunlins, five Whimbrels, 35 Curlews, three Redshanks, one Common Sandpiper and 15 Turnstones. Singles of Common Gull and Arctic Tern flew south past the West Coast, along with three Sandwich Terns and 765 Manx Shearwaters. In terms of passerines, three Sand Martins were seen around the Narrows, suggesting some movements, but other five Willow Warblers and a Goldcrest were the only other apparent migrants.

Sedge Warbler

Green-veined White

Male Northern Eggar, trapped in the Nant Withy heath trap

Blackberry Skeletonizer (Schreckensteinia festaliella)

Monday, 3 August 2015

It was a productive day in the field, despite the challenging weather conditions. Strong winds from the south and south-west were accompanied by warm temperatures and frequent dark cloud banks which did not in the end produce any deluges.

In terms of birdlife, the most interesting sightings of the day comprised wader counts at high tide: nine Ringed Plovers, one Sanderling, two Dunlins, six Whimbrels, 26 Curlews, five Redshanks, one Common Sandpiper and 19 Turnstones were all recorded. Movements of seabirds off the West Coast resulted in the following tallies: two Fulmars, 2518 Manx Shearwaters, 108 Gannets and 21 Common Scoters. Two Swifts battled southward during the day, and just four Willow Warblers were present in the vegetated areas.

The real interest of the day was provoked by the finding of Bardsey's eleventh CONVOLVULUS HAWKMOTH in the Heligoland Trap early morning. This very smart individual was found resting on the wire mesh inside the trap, perhaps seeking shelter from the howling gale. The last record on Bardsey was of an individual trapped on the mountain top in September 2010. In other news, a dead Harbour Porpoise washed up in Henllwyn at high tide.

Colvolvulus Hawkmoth

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Apologies for the lack of updates in the last few days, but it has been a busy weekend! The weather conditions have been very variable, although a brief lull before the next storm arrives resulted in a smart selection of migrants being recorded. There have been plenty of interesting sightings today: beginning with non-passerines, perhaps the oddest finding concerned two Teals in Henllwyn, the first for many months. Waders were well represented at high tide, with three Ringed Plovers, three Turnstones, four Whimbrels, 51 Curlews, five Redshanks. two Common Sandpipers and 19 Turnstones recorded. There was a good passage of seabirds in the late afternoon, comprising 3192 Manx Shearwaters, 36 Gannets, three Fulmars, 25 Common Scoters and four Sandwich Terns. Three Swifts flew overhead during the day, and a slightly lower total of warblers included one Sedge Warbler, two Blackcaps, five Chiffchaffs and 10 Willow Warblers.


Thursday, 30 July 2015

A warm and sunny day saw calm conditions encouraging a good selection of migrants to touch-down on the island. The scarcest sighting of the day in island terms was that of a Green Sandpiper, which spent part of the day feeding on the pons in the wetlands. A good supporting cast of waders towards the coast included a Black-tailed Godwit, one Ringed Plover, two Whimbrels, 10 Curlews, six Redshanks, five Common Sandpipers and 13 Turnstones. Willow Warblers reached their highest numberyet this autumn, with a total of 26 scattered around with three Sedge Warblers and three Blackcaps.

Green Sandpiper

Sedge Warbler (juvenile)

Willow Warbler

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

It was a very pleasant day, although the morning had something of an autumnal feel, with temperatures below 10'C, and a biting northerly wind compounding this. The afternoon saw clear skies, warm temperatures and lower winds, favouring the movement of southward-bound migrants.

There was a reasonable scattering of migrant warblers around the island, with the totals comprising four Sedge Warblers, one Whitethroat, two Chiffchaffs and 19 Willow Warblers. It was another good day for waders, with high tide counts including one Ringed Plover, one Dunlin, one Whimbrel, 42 Curlews, two Redshanks, one Common Sandpiper and eight Turnstones.

Just a few Swallow chicks remain in nests at the moment (c) Mark Carter

As the strong winds continue to dominate, passerine migrants remain a little scarce on the island. Despite the biting north westerly, there was evidence of southward migration taking place, with a light scattering of warblers across the island: one Grasshopper Warbler, six Sedge Warblers and 15 Willow Warblers were the totals. The strong winds did precipitate another reasonable movement of seabirds, with five Fulmars, 1584 Manx Shearwaters, 74 Gannets, five Black-headed Gulls and three Sandwich Terns recorded. At high tide, a gathering of waders around The Narrows included the usual flock of 43 Curlews, along with two Whimbrels, two Redshanks, three Common Sandpipers and eight Turnstones.

Moth news has been in short supply since the weekend, owing to the chilly temperatures, frequent rain storms and strong winds. Six-spot Burnets remain on the wing, with around 25 recorded today. A scattering of butterflies included some 15 Meadow Browns, 20 Green-veined Whites and two Small Tortoiseshells.


Linnet at sunset

Eucosma cana

Monday, 27 July 2015

There was a slightly movement of seabirds out to sea, comprising two Fulmars, 802 Manx Shearwaters, 18 Gannets, five Common Scoters, a possible Pomarine Skua, two Kittiwakes and 23 Puffins. Single of Whimbrel and Dunlin, 31 Curlews, three Redshanks, and three Common Sandpipers represented the day's figures for warders. A single Swift flew south over the island, a juvenile Cuckoo was present at Nant, and nine Willow Warbles were scattered around.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

It was a miserable day on the island, with rain persisting on and off from dawn to dusk, which was accompanied by a strong SE wind. Temperatures barely held into double figures.

There was a good movement of seabirds past the island during the course of the day, with the counts amounting to: five Fulmars, 1304 Manx Shearwaters, 10 Gannets, 21 Common Scoters, three Kittiwakes and nine Puffins. A count of 26 Turnstones around the Narrows was good, and a handful of other waders comprised two Whimbrels, 44 Curlews, five Redshanks and three Common Sandpipers. Two Willow Warblers were perhaps the only migrant passerines of note.

Saturday, 25 July 2015

A bright, sunny day with not a cloud in the sky saw calm conditions for the weekly changeover to take place. Warm temperatures also added to an altogether more summer-like feel. The storm clouds did, however, begin moving in towards the end of the day.

Another good selection of migrant birdlife was recorded on the island, as the autumn season really gets underway. In terms of passerines, a Skylark was seen at the North End, two Sand Martins passed through and mingled with some 38 Swallows, and eight Sedge Warblers and two Willow Warblers included at least a few migrants of the former. Four Sandwich Terns, two Black-headed Gulls and a Common Gull flew south out to sea, whilst Whimbrel, Curlews, two Redshanks and one Common Sandpiper were seen around the Narrows. Singles of Kestrel and Buzzard were also noted.

Friday, 24 July 2015

On the whole, it was a very damp and rather dull day. In the absence of virtually any wind for most of the day, a large rain storm sat right over the island persisted well into the late afternoon, giving a deluge of 7mm precipitation. Temperatures remained mild, although a stronger north wind picking up in the evening lead to a small drop.

There was not a great amount to report in avian terms, partly due to the conditions making field observations a bit tricky at times. A handful of migrant Willow Warblers about the island totalled seven individuals, whilst a single Blackcap, four Chiffchaffs and three Sedge Warblers were also recorded. A Lesser Redpoll toured around as usual, but was unaccompanied by any other fly-overs. Wader figures comprised a Ringed Plover, a Sanderling, three Common Sandpipers, a Whimbrel, 25 Curlews, four Redshanks and three Turnstones.

Day-flying Lepidoptera was understandably hard to come by, but some good numbers in the heath traps included about 150 at Nant. This included a Dot Moth, which it the island’s second record, Narrow-winged Pug, Yellowtails, Dotted Clay and Silver Y.

The two juvenile Peregrines are still being fed by the adults, mostly with adult Manx Shearwaters

Wren chicks continue to appear all over the island, with some broods of five or six juveniles. 

Swallow fledglings are appearing in dribs and drabs, with a couple of recently-fledged broods at Ty Pellaf and one imminent at Cristin

These somewhat vicious-looking beasts are Labyrinth Spiders (Agelena labyrinthica). They spin a wide web around vegetation a few feet above ground level, which leads back into a little tunnel. The sits ominously in wait at the entrance to the tunnel for flies and other insects to become caught in the web. There are a good number of these awesome anthropods along the trackside at the moment

Spot the Grayling!

Lacuna Moth (Celypha lacunana)