Thursday, 28 August 2014

27th August
It was a very enjoyable morning's birding on the island, with the strong south-easterly winds encouraging a modest movement of migrants over and past the island's coast. In terms of passerines, the movement was dominated by 95 White Wagtails, 143 Swallows and 74 House Martins, whilst other numbers comprised one Skylark, two Sand Martins, one Tree Pipit, two Grey Wagtails, 48 Pied Wagtails and 35 alba Wagtails. It wasn't just passerines on the move though, with plenty of waders and seabirds adding to the visible migration on show throughout the day: one Greenshank, three Teals, five Common Scoters, a Great Skua, 13 Sandwich Terns, 38 Black-headed Gulls, one Common Gull, seven Ringed Plovers, 15 Purple Sandpipers, three Dunlins, two Whimbrels, 12 Redshanks and 30 Turnstones were recorded.

28th August
Continuing the rather blustery theme that has been set in the last 10 days, it was another day of strong winds, this time from the south. Most attention was focussed seaward, and rewards came in the form of an Arctic Skua, 18 Sandwich Terns, one Common Tern, a Little Egret and a probable Black Tern. Inland, 15 Willow Warblers was an increase on yesterday, and two Tree Pipits and a Whinchat were also seen.

Turnstones in the late evening light.  
A flock of 20 or so Gannets spent most of the day feeding off the West Side
A single Grey Heron continues to take up residence on the island, finding small aquatic prey in the various rock pools around the coast
Juvenile Stonechat
Autumn Ladie's Tresses (a small orchid) have appeared in their thousands around the island this year. Particularly good places for seeing this species are on Pen Cristin and in the Dynogoch Fields 
Some of the contents of the Barn Owl pellets found in one of the out houses at Nant earlier this year. Common Shrew on the left, with red-tipped teeth, and two Field Mice skulls and jaws on the right

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

August 25th:
With the recent new moon producing some high spring tides, there have been some notable gatherings of waders on the rocks around The Narrows at high tide recently. Today's counts amounted to: one Ringed Plover, two Knots, eight Purple Sandpipers, two Dunlins, three Whimbrels, 56 Curlews, seven Redshanks and 46 Turnstones. Two Teals flew past The Narrows in the early hours, and a Red-breasted Merganser was reported from the South Tip. In other news, there were virtually no new migrants noted from inland, although a single Goldcrest and seven Willow Warblers were recorded, along with one Swift.

August 26th
It was a day of very strong easterlies, with gusts of up to 40 mph recorded in the early morning. A few seawatching sessions in the morning yielded three Arctic Skuas- the first for several weeks- as well as five Common Scoters, 12 Fulmars, 935 Manx Shearwaters, 34 Gannets, 44 Kittiwakes and a Sandwich Tern. It was very difficult to find any passerines in the wind-battered vegetation inland, although a single Spotted Flycatcher was found at Nant.

Hairbells have been emerging in localised areas around the island over the last week or so
A Spotted Flycatcher was trapped and ringed at Cristin on the 20th, and weighed 14.1 grams. It was retrapped on the 24th, weighing just a single gram more. However, when it was retrapped again on the 25th, it had managed to increase its body weight to 15.1 grams (despite the grim weather).
Spotted Flycatchers are a Red listed breeding species in the UK, with a population decline noted over the last 20 years. Did you know that the maximum recorded age for this species in eight years?
(C) Bob Norman
Some of the highest counts of Grey Seal for the year have been recorded recently around the Narrows and South End. The highest count of the month was of 195 individuals on the 20th. It won't be too long before the pups appear on the shingly beaches. (C) Bob Norman
The Manx Shearwater chicks continue to grow in size in their earth burrows. Some of the chicks weigh more than 400 grams, which is considerably more than that of the adults. Still, I think I would want fat reserves as large as that if I was planning to fly to South America for the winter... (C) Mark Carter

Some images taken over the last two days (all pictures (c) Ben Porter):
There was a large swell rolling in from the west on Tuesday, and the very strong easterly gusts created some dramatic seascapes as the crests of the waves were blown back 
The Little Owl family on Pen Cristin has dispersed somewhat now, although one or two individuals have been seen in the gorse bushes every now and then. This adult showed quite well after the torrential downpours had ceased, and the evening sun emerged 
It is still surprising how many fledglings are emerging from the bushes and trees around the island. A new brood of Goldfinches has just fledged from a nest in Nant Withy (making it by far the best breeding season for this species on Bardsey), and the occasional Linnet chick (above) has fluttered out of its nest site in the gorse bushes 
Juvenile Magpie making use of some parasites on a ram lamb 
Curlews, with Ty Nesaf, The Abbey and Celtic crosses in the background 
Juvenile Dunlin 
There have been a couple of Red Knots around The Narrows in recent days. Generally it has been a very poor year for this species on Bardsey- there have been fewer than 10 records all year. Last year, in contrast, there were 28 individuals recorded before the end of August.
Some of the highest counts of Turnstones so far this autumn were recorded in the last few days, with a flock of 41 logged yesterday.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

There was a decided change in the weather overnight, as dawn broke to hardly a breath of wind and clear skies. However, by the late afternoon, the wind had increased from the south-east and a large rain front was advancing. It was a very pleasant morning for the daily censuses, and it was good to see a small amount of visible migration going underway. Two Sand Martins, 80 Swallows, 30 House Martins, a Tree Pipit, a Grey Wagtail, 41 Pied Wagtails and six White Wagtails flew over The Narrows and The South End in the morning. A total of two Whinchats, two Sedge Warbler, six Chiffchaffs, 11 Willow Warblers, seven Goldcrests and four Spotted Flycatchers were noted in the island's coastal gorse, willow beds and gardens. In terms of non-passerines, five Common Scoters flew past at sea, two Sandwich Terns were present on Carreg Yr Honwy, a single Knot and Dunlin remained in Solfach, and a small selection of raptors comprised three Sparrowhawks and a Kestrel.

 Willow Warblers continue to move through in small numbers
As many as three Sparrowhawks have been touring the island, keeping watch for unwary fledglings and other passerines 
Juvenile Stonechats 
Episyrphus balteatus- a common hoverfly that inhabits gardens and hedges across the UK
This smart Canary-shouldered Thorn was trapped in The Withies 
Migrants are on the move at the moment, with the odd Silver Y turning up in the light traps, along with daily records of Rusty Dot Pearl 
The first Sallow of the year was trapped near Cristin Withy, along with a Pale Mottled Willow and Crescent

Saturday, 23 August 2014

A small selection of new arrivals were discovered as the day went on, the most noteworthy of which included a Knot on Carreg Yr Honwy, a Snipe in Henllwyn, a Tree Pipit over Cristin, a Grey Wagtail over The Narrows, a Whinchat near the Schoolhouse, and six Spotted Flycatchers scattered around.

Friday, 22 August 2014

A stiff north-westerly wind persisted throughout the 21st and 22nd, although the breeze decreased significantly towards the end of the latter day. The strong winds have meant that a lot of attention has been placed seawards, although this has yielded virtually nothing, aside a few hundred Manx Shearwaters, and a small number of Gannets and Fulmars. A total of 13 Willow Warblers were recorded on the 21st, along with four Spotted Flycatchers and two Goldcrests, whilst seven Whitethroats on the 22nd was the highest total of this species since the 7th of August. Waders were seen in higher numbers on the 22nd, with a total of one Purple Sandpipers, two Snipe, four Whimbrels, 30 Curlews, three Redshanks and 27 Turnstones recorded.

 There seems to have been a large clear out of Wheatears, with just 10 or so seen every day at the moment. There are some quite smart birds around, now that juveniles have completed their post-juvenile moult, and that some adults have finished their post-breeding moult
Spotted Flycatchers have been hiding away in a few sheltered corners of the island, where the wind is calm enough to allow a good number of flying insects to provide sufficient food resources 
Linnets are perhaps one of the commonest species on the island at the moment (except, of course, Bardsey's 16,000-odd pairs of Manx Shearwaters), with an estimated 300 birds recorded. Flocks of over 120 birds are making use of the seeds in the oats fields, whilst a large number have been making regular visits to the ponds

Moths: its autumn, which can only mean one thing...the time of the rustics! Flounced Rustics, Rosy Rustics, Common Rustics and Square-spot Rustics are amongst the most numerous species turning up in the moth traps at the moment, whilst Heath Rustics will no doubt be recorded in the next week or so. Aside the above, there are many other species to keep up interest...
Antler Moth 
Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing 
Pempelia palumbella

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

It has been a good couple of days on the island in terms of avian visitors, with slightly calmer conditions providing a much needed respite following the stormy weather of late. On the 19th, a Honey Buzzard flew North over Cristin mid-morning, which is the second record of this species so far this year. Other raptors on the island included a Sparrowhawk and a Buzzard.

The highlight of the 20th did not appear until the sun had set on the western horizon, when a pale morph Gyr Falcon was seen briefly on the lower slopes of Pen Cristin. After a quick pursuit of the local Peregrines, the bird then flew north over the mountain ridge, and was seen just once again as darkness fell. Considering the time of year, it is quite likely that this is the same beast that spent two days on Skomer to the 18th, which was seen to be wearing jesse's.
In other news, the most noteworthy passerine migrants comprised three White Wagtails, a Whinchat, 15 Willow Warblers, two Goldcrests and seven Spotted Flycatchers. A small selection of migrant waders included a Ringed Plover, five Whimbrels, 17 Redshanks and 12 Turnstones.

Some of the breeding Swallows are far from ready to leave for their wintering or two pairs are in the process of rearing their late second broods, whilst others are still incubating their second broods! There are a handful of migrant Swallows passing through each day at the moment too
Spotted Flycatchers are increasing in number on the island, with at least seven seen today, feeding busily on the multitude of insects in the sheltered net rides and withies 
The small pond near Ty Pellaf is the main hub of activity for a huge diversity of bird species at the moment: everything from Meadow Pipits and Linnets to the juvenile Moorhens have been visiting the pond frequently for a quick drink, some tasty aquatic invertebrates or a good bathing 
Stonechats- adult male above, and a juvenile below 
Juvenile Wren