Monday, 29 August 2016

Extending its stay was the Melodious Warbler seen a few times in the Cristin garden, favouring the south-western end mostly.

More turnover in wader numbers produced a rare Curlew Sandpiper hiding amongst six Dunlins, with five Common Sandpipers and 80 Turnstones on the Narrows too. Passage at sea concerned one Arctic Skua, one Great Skua, seven Common Gulls, and one Sandwich Tern.

Swallows were passing over noticeably this morning totalling 341 eventually. More migrants logged include five Grey Wagtails, 23 Pied Wagtails, 12 White Wagtails, one Sedge Warbler, one Whitethroat, two Chiffchaffs, 15 Willow Warblers, 13 Goldcrests, and one Spotted Flycatcher.

In non-avian news three Speckled Woods is a decent island count of this sporadic species and Risso’s Dolphins continue to be seen in good numbers daily, with 16 in total today.

Sunday, 28 August 2016

The Melodious Warbler lingered on at Cristin, no doubt enjoying the lovely weather of late. A Long-eared Owl seen at Nant could have been the bird present last week but currently views have not conclusively seen a ring on the bird’s leg.

A variety of migrants recorded inland sum to one Tree Pipit, one Reed Warbler, two Whitethroats, one Blackcap, three Chiffchaffs, 18 Willow Warblers, 11 Goldcrests, and two Spotted Flycatchers whilst two Ringed Plovers, nine Purple Sandpipers, four Dunlins, three Snipes, 11 Redshanks, eight Common Sandpipers, and a massive 75 Turnstones were logged on the Narrows. Sea-watching produced 18 Common Scoters, one Arctic Skua, and a fine Pomarine Skua bombing northwards.

Saturday, 27 August 2016

The Melodious Warbler continued its stay in the Cristin garden, showing well but intermittently throughout the day.

A brave of Great Skuas and six Common Scoters were the best at sea whilst the Narrows held five Grey Herons, three Ringed Plovers, one Golden Plover, five Dunlins, one Snipe, one Whimbrel, 49 Curlews, ten Redshanks, one Common Sandpiper, and 17 Turnstones. Wagtails passing through consisted of one Yellow, three Greys, and six Whites with a sole Whinchat found on Pen Cristin. Best of the rest include one Collared Dove, one Swift, two Sand Martins, 121 Swallows, nine Wheatears, and three Buzzards.

Friday, 26 August 2016

Yesterday’s Wryneck and one Melodious Warbler stayed on another night, the former on the Mountainside near Cristin and with the latter in Cristin garden itself.

A good day for waders with three Golden Plovers, seven Knots, five Sanderlings, seven Purple Sandpipers, three Dunlins, one Snipe, one Black-tailed Godwit, nine Whimbrels, 11 Redshanks, four Common Sandpipers, and 44 Turnstones recorded during the day, many of which were flying south down the West Coast. More passage at sea included seven Arctic Skuas, two Great Skuas, 3165 Kittiwakes, three Sandwich Terns, four Arctic Terns, 24 ‘Commic’ Terns, and 22 Common Scoters whilst 73 Great Black-backed Gulls was a particularly high count. Further migrants around the island today were one Sand Martin, one Tree Pipit, 17 Wheatears, one Sedge Warbler, three Whitethroats, ten Willow Warblers, and nine Goldcrests.

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Overcast conditions made a nice change from the baking sun, and with it a few extra birds too. A brace of Wrynecks were new in with one discovered behind Ty Pellaf Withy early afternoon and another appearing miraculously in front of stunned guests in the Cristin front garden in the evening.

At least two of yesterday’s Melodious Warblers were still present in the Cristin garden with a new Icterine Warbler also discovered in Plas Withy.

Sea-watching was rather productive with one Balearic Shearwater, 72 Gannets, 20 Cormorants, 40 Shags, four Grey Herons, seven Common Scoters, six Arctic Skuas, 53 Great Black-backed Gulls, 2000 Kittiwakes, two Sandwich Terns, eight Common Terns, and 14 Arctic Terns logged.

More interesting migrants recorded today include four Sparrowhawks, one Buzzard, two Kestrels, one Merlin, one Ringed Plover, two Dunlins, one Snipe, eight Redshanks, three Common Sandpipers, 15 Turnstones, one Sand Martin, one Tree Pipit, one flava’ Wagtail, seven Grey Wagtails, 12 White Wagtails, six Whinchats, 29 Wheatears, nine Whitethroats, three Blackcaps, three Chiffchaffs, 19 Willow Warblers, 12 Goldcrests, eight Spotted Flycatchers, four Pied Flycatchers, and 283 Linnets.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

After yesterday’s brilliant fall of migrants, namely Willow Warbler and Spotted Flycatcher, we thought today would be hard to match up. However Bardsey has a habit of proving you wrong with today's haul a mixture of quality and quantity. The day started off very smoothly with a young washed-out Icterine Warbler discovered lurking in the Plantation at around 8am.

With everyone assembled looking for it a keen eye suddenly picked out a juvenile Ortolan Bunting sitting in the same pines with Chaffinches! 

A fantastic coincidence indeed but not nearly the strangest of the day; fast forward to lunch-time when an Icterine Warbler was seen in Cristin garden. Views originally proved hard to come by with the bird seemingly appearing in different spots, until after much confusion, it was confirmed there were multiple Hippolais warblers in the garden! Patience eventually established that in fact there were THREE separate Melodious Warblers and an Icterine Warbler in the garden!!! The Icterine Warbler was caught and ringed in the evening and with its much warmer colouration confirmed our suspicions that it was different to the one at Nant in the morning. Madness!

The top Melodious Stayed at the southern end of the garden, Whilst two others were at the northern end along with the Icterine Warbler

The first Icterine Warbler to be trapped since 2011

The remains of yesterday’s fall consisted of 74 Willow Warblers and 34 Spotted 
Flycatchers with two Grasshopper Warblers, two Sedge Warblers, two Lesser Whitethroats, 24 Whitethroats, two Garden Warblers, two Blackcaps, five Chiffchaffs also in the mix today. The first eight Goldcrests of the autumn were dotted around.

Waders comprised one Green Sandpiper, one Ringed Plover, two Purple Sandpipers, three Whimbrels, and three Common Sandpipers whilst sea-watching produced 161 Gannets, one Common Scoter, one Pomarine Skua, 16 Sandwich Terns, and two Arctic Terns. Final migrants through the island today include three Grey Herons, one Swift, four Tree Pipits, three Grey Wagtails, 12 White Wagtails, three Sparrowhawks, one Buzzard, and one Kestrel.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

After a weekend of stormy weather conditions, a day of calm weather was bound to open the floodgates for migrants eager to move on to their wintering grounds. It was one of those days when the island was dripping with birds: Willow Warblers flitted from every bush and fence-line, and flycatchers sallied up from perches left, right and centre. The totals for the day's arrival of migrants was highlighted by an impressive 731 Willow Warblers and 68 Spotted Flycatchers.  Hirundine passage was notable in the early hours, consisting of 13 Sand Martins, 182 Swallows and 26 House Martins, whilst a respectable tally of other common migrants scattered around comprised eight Tree Pipits, two Yellow Wagtails, four White Wagtails, a Black Redstart, a Whinchat, 36 Wheatears, five Sedge Warblers, 10 Whitethroats, one Garden Warbler, two Blackcaps, three Chiffchaffs and six Pied Flycatchers.

Despite the calmer conditions, there was a reasonable movement of birds off the coast throughout the day too, which turned up a good count of seabirds and some accompanying scarcer migrants: two Curlew Sandpipers, eight Dunlins, 20 Black-tailed Godwits, three Pomarine Skuas, eight Arctic Skuas, 1550 Kittiwakes, seven Common Scoters, 134 Gannets, 11 Common Terns and 46 Arctic Terns.

Willow Warblers were definitely the key player in the day's arrival: a minimum of 700 were counted!

Spotted Flycatcher numbers rose to 68

juvenile Common Buzzard

A night-time Storm Petrel ringing session resulted in 14 birds being trapped, including three retraps (one of which was a control)

The first Convolvulus Hawkmoth of the year followed suite on last year's records, turning up in the catching area of the observatory's Heligoland trap. After being found early in the morning, a second moth was discovered on the door of the trap later in the day! 

Monday, 22 August 2016

Another day of brisk westerly winds encouraged some seabird movements out to sea, but the diversity wasn't quite as good as yesterday's passage: a Pomarine Skua,  an Arctic Tern, 11 Fulmars, 636 Manx Shearwaters and 40 Gannets were the day's totals.

The slight drop in wind strength encouraged some migrants to show themselves: a slight passage of hirundines comprised two Sand Martins, 10 House Martins and 34 Swallows, whilst a single Redstart, 12 Wheatears, a Whitethroat, a Chiffchaff, seven Willow Warblers, three Goldcrests and two Spotted Flycatchers resided amongst the patches of willows, damsons and gorse dotted about the island.

Some of the day's scarcer sightings came in the form of two waders: the first was a Curlew Sandpiper - the first since September 2013 - which spent some time in Solfach in the early afternoon; the second was a Ruff which headed North over the South End in the morning. Also noted around the southern end of the island were four Purple Sandpipers, nine Dunlins, eight Whimbrels, 38 Curlews, 10 Redshanks, two Common Sandpipers and 55 Turnstones.

Sunday, 21 August 2016

The right wind strengths, direction and correspondence with birds migrating can provide some great sea watching off Bardsey, and today was one of those days. A fantastic variety of species passing at sea started with the first two Sooty's Shearwaters of the Autumn, followed later in the afternoon by a third bird. The first Long-tailed Skua of the year also powered southward, along with four Arctic Skuas, a Storm Petrel, 135 Fulmars, 1736 Manx Shearwaters, 532 Gannets, nine Common Scoters, 3266 Kittiwakes, 23 Sandwich Terns, five Arctic Terns and three Puffins.

There was a good tally of waders, both from around the Narrows at high tide and also passing out to sea: eight Ringed Plovers, three Purple Sandpipers, nine Dunlins, a Ruff, five Whimbrels, 20 Curlews, eight Redshanks, two Common Sandpipers and 37 Turnstones were the final totals.

Away from the shoreline, the Long-eared Owl was once again happily sat on its stump in Cristin Withy, and later in the afternoon the bird was trapped and ringed. Migrants passing through and new on the ground included 30 Swallows, eight House Martins, eight Wheatears, one Sedge Warbler, one Lesser Whitethroat, two Blackcaps, two Chiffchaffs, 11 Willow Warblers, one Goldcrest and one Spotted Flycatchers.

 Dunlin (c) Ben Porter

Ringed Plover (c) Ben Porter 

Dunlin (c) Ben Porter

Turnstone (c) Ben Porter

Gannet (c) Ben Porter 

Kittiwake (c) Ben Porter

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Extremely strong winds battered the island throughout the day making census difficult as much of the wildlife sheltered out of sight.

The Long-eared Owl was still resided in one of the Withies and continued to provide some fantastic views of this secretive species. Small numbers amounting to 20 Meadow Pipits, 16 Rock Pipits, 10 Pied Wagtails and 166 Linnets braved the blustery grasslands. Stonechats numbered just six today and doted the fence lines whilst only one Wheatear was seen the whole day. This trend continued further inland where only nine Wrens were logged, a species which is normally quite easily counted upwards of fifty each day. A Sparrowhawk, single Robin, two Goldcrests, two Chaffinches, two Goldfinches were the only other passerines seen.

Despite the weather conditions, waders happily fed and roosted around the coast. Oystercatchers, mostly around the southern parts of the island numbered 63, a Sanderling pottered about the grassy Narrows as a combination of high tide and strong winds meant there wasn't much beach left. Meanwhile two Ringed Plovers, a Purple Sandpiper, eight Dunlins, five Whimbrels, 40 Curlews, 11 Redshanks, two Common Sandpipers and 38 Turnstones were seen elsewhere.

Numbers of Gulls continued to drop, although some passage was still evident. Lesser Black-backed Gulls numbered 40 whilst 152 Herring Gulls, 12 Greater Black-backed Gulls and 127 Kittiwakes were present.

The winds pushed a few birds from the sea closer in with 23 Fulmars, 517 Manx Shearwaters, 88 Gannets and two Common Scoters were seen.

Not surprisingly Lepidoptera counts were down as two Green-veined Whites, two Red Admirals, two Painted Lady's and one Meadow Brown were blown about. A Migrant Hawker also zipped around in the shelter of the Observatory garden during the day.

Friday, 19 August 2016

An unpleasant morning of strong winds and showers made early census difficult but it soon subsided and the afternoon was warm with sunny spells, although still windy!

During the early blustery and wet conditions most small birds took shelter deep within vegetation and if any did choose to move fleeting glances of them darting back to cover were the only views. However when the winds subsided slightly and the sun began to shine birds began to feed and move about more freely and a small number were noted. A pair of Whitethroats, a Garden Warbler and a Blackcap provided a nice trio of Sylvia Warblers around the Plantation, where 12 of the 16 Willow Warblers seen, two Goldcrests and two Spotted Flycatchers were noted. Stonechats and Wheatears showed in fewer numbers today, six and seven respectively and scattered around the coasts and fields were 22 Meadow Pipits, 24 Rock Pipits, 11 Pied Wagtails, two White Wagtails and 34 Linnets. The Long-eared Owl was spotted close to where it was originally first seen, two Little Owls were present, a Common Buzzard took refuge underneath the Plantation and a Sparrowhawk darted from cover to cover. A couple of Swifts, 41 Swallows and seven House Martins battled against the winds, a Teal was present just off shore, 21 Mallards and two Grey Herons were counted, 22 Choughs and three Ravens soared overhead.

A Sanderling was new in on Solfach and was accompanied by two Ringed Plovers, five Dunlins and most of the 70 Turnstones of the day. Bar-tailed Godwits were again seen moving off the west coast with five seen today, 34 Oystercatchers, four Whimbrels, 16 Curlews, 13 Redshanks, a Greenshank and one Common Sandpiper were also logged.

Fewer Gulls were present but still clocked in in reasonable amounts. A small number of Black-headed Gulls were seen off the coast and 54 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 522 Herring Gulls, 31 Greater Black-backed Gulls and 184 Kittiwakes were scattered about.

Throughout the day Manx Shearwaters rode the huge swells the strong winds, with 1,595 eventually the total sum. Fulmars and Gannets were also noted in reasonable numbers, with 23 and 94 seen respectively.

Thursday, 18 August 2016

A fairly quiet day in relation to the past few with small numbers of most species and very little in the way of new birds in. A pair of Pied Flycatchers were probably the pick of the bunch inland, one at the Plantation and the other in the Lowlands. A Sedge Warbler occupied one of the reed beds, a Reed Warbler was trapped in the Withies during a mornings ringing session, two Whitethroats, a Blackcap, one Chiffichaff, five Willow Warblers, two Goldcrests and three Chaffinches were logged. Whilst 60 Wrens, seven Dunnocks, five Robins, a great count of 29 Stonechats, 19 Wheatears and 12 Blackbirds were scattered throughout the island. There was no sign of either the Bonelli's WarblerCitrine Wagtail, or the Long-eared Owl although efforts to find them were made. Little Owls called during the evening and were noted in the Lowlands, above the Observatory and on Pen Cristin above the farm.

Pipits and Wagtails were present in decent numbers with three Tree Pipits passing overhead, 55 Meadow Pipits littering the fields, 32 Rock Pipits mostly around the narrows and harbours, two Grey Wagtails and ten Pied Wagtails. Scattered amongst these were 334 Linnets, the highest count of the month so far, and whose numbers have been slowly increasing over the past weeks

Gulls featured heavily again but passage at sea and counts of seabirds were fairly sparse, but there were some sightings none the less. A lone Fulmar passed the north end, 41 Manx Shearwaters, some out at sea but also including a few chicks in burrows, ten Gannets, eight Cormorants, 15 Shags, severn Common Scoters, 69 Black-headed Gulls and 556 Kittiwakes were seen. Gulls again milled around in roosting and feeding flocks and amounted to 100 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 556 Herring Gulls and 38 Greater Black-backed Gulls.

More Manx Shearwater study burrows were check today to asses their contents and if chicks were present, biometrics taken and rings placed on their legs before being swiftly returned to their burrows. Some are very advanced now, not quite ready for fledging but getting close. Within the next few weeks some of these birds maybe heading out onto the Irish sea for the first time in their lives before heading out into the Atlantic Ocean and eventually the seas off South America.

An almost adult, but not quite looking Manx Shearwater chick, still slightly podgy and at the fluffy pants stage
Small hooked points at the ends of the primaries
Dark auxiliaries of a youngster
A variety of waders again graced the beaches, harbours and coasts. A group of four Ringed Plovers spent the day on one of the beaches along with 68 Turnstones, three Purple Sandpipers and six Dunlins. Whilst dotted around were two Common Snipes, six Whimbrels, 24 Curlews, three Redshanks, one Greenshank and nine Common Sandpipers.

Good counts of Green-veined Whites and other Lepidoptera were logged also. Large Whites came to four, Green-veined Whites numbered 215, three Small Coppers, three Common Blues, 28 Red Admirals, six Painted Lady's, four Peacocks, six Greyling's, 12 Meadow Browns and a Northern Eggar were also seen

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Light easterly winds overnight and during the day not only brought a couple of rare sightings but also provided some excitement with some of the more common migrants that occur. The first surprise of the day came when a Long-eared Owl was discovered roosting in Cristin Withy.  For the lucky viewers the bird seemed happy perched motionless in more or less the same spot for most of the morning. Long-eared Owls occur on Bardsey most years and have even breed a few times, but due to their secretive nature and incredible ability to camouflage themselves, they may often go unnoticed. One Little Owl was also heard in the Lowlands and was particularly vocal as night fell. Two Sparrowhawks and two Buzzards were also seen.

Not long after the sighting of the Long-eared Owl came another surprise as a Bonelli's Warbler was discovered feeding at the eastern end of the Plantation which was bathed in early morning sunlight. This is the eighth record of the island, the last being in 2014 and found around the same area as this individual. Two days ago a phylloscopus warbler was heard calling twice from the garden at Cristin and thoughts were of perhaps a Greenish Warbler, but the bird did not call again and was not seen that day. The following morning a pale looking Phylloscopus Warbler with green wings was seen very briefly in Plas garden, but the bird quickly disappeared north not to be seen again that day and the identification was not clinched. This was most likely the same individual. Bonelli's Warblers breed as close as south west Europe but are a rare vagrant to northern Europe. There are two separate species, Western and Eastern Bonelli's Warbler, Eastern being the rarer of the two with only a handful of records for the entire United Kingdom. Separation of the two can be done on call, western sounding almost similar to that of a Willow Warbler or Chiffchaff with a whistled "hu-eef", whilst the Eastern's call is a harsher "chip", no overlap is known in terms of call between the two. Biometrics and wing formula can also help in terms of identification but overlap between the two can occur. The bird was later trapped in a nearby mist nest and biometrics and images were taken. Biometrics and plumage (as well as the call heard two days beforehand) suggest this individual is of Western origin, but frustratingly whilst being observed in the field the bird stayed silent.

Western Bonelli's Warbler feeding at the Plantation
Western Bonelli's Warbler later caught, ringed and released
Various Pied Flycatchers made an appearance in different locations around the island, three were recorded and were the first of the Autumn. Spotted Flycatchers also amounted to three, Willow Warblers nine, one Chiffchaff, two Goldcrests, four Chaffinches, a single Sedge Warbler, Blackcap and Whitethroat, 14 Stonechats and 16 Wheatears were also logged. Linnet numbers rose to the highest count of the Autumn with 316 noted, 13 Tree Pipits buzzed over the island and 61 Meadow Pipits, 20 Rock Pipits, a Grey Wagtail, nine Pied Wagtails and the first White Wagtail were also seen. A small number of hirundines were also noted as four Sand Martins, 95 Swallows and four House Martins passed over and fed in mixed flocks above the island.

Corvids present today included 20 Choughs noisily swooping and calling over the mountain, four Ravens over the Narrows, 21 Carrion Crows and 15 Magpie's.

As if this wasn't enough excitement an outstanding sighting came late in the morning when Bardsey's fourth Citrine Wagtail, a first winter bird, was discovered on the narrows. The bird was heard calling as it passed over parts of the Narrows but luckily settled on the grass very briefly before it took flight north up the island and wasn't seen again. Unbelievably the first record of this species on the island was in 2012 and subsequently three more records have been recorded in the last four years!

Citrine Wagtail seen all too briefly on the Narrows
A male Wheatear beginning to look extremely dapper after moulting
Again a fine selection of waders were on display throughout the island. A single Knot passed out at sea heading south, three Purple Sandpipers hid amongst the rocks around one of the beaches where five Dunlin, eight Redshanks and 38 of the 40 Turnstones were also seen. A Whimbrel, 13 Curlews and two Greenshanks were close by, 30 Oystercatchers were counted with four Snipes and three Green Sandpipers discovered further up the island.

Numbers off the coast had decreased with just a handful of species recorded. A Little Tern bombing down the west coast was a clear highlight but also seen were 18 Fulmar's, 123 Manx Shearwaters, 23 Gannets and a Great Skua. Cormorant numbers amounted to 13, Shag's 15 and seven Grey Herons were observed. Mallard numbers had swelled to 29 today, the female with her eight juveniles on Nant pond at the northern end of the island, 12 individuals around Solfach and eight in the North West Fields.

Black-headed Gulls moved south in numbers throughout the day with 430 counted, 106 Lesser Black-backd Gulls, 763 Herring Gulls, 32 Greater Black-backed Gulls and 118 Kittiwakes were also seen.

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Generally a quieter day in terms of numbers of birds but the day still had its highlights. A Red Kite soaring over the mountain and low over the Observatory was a great addition to the year of a fairly scarce bird for Bardsey. Prior to this sighting there had only been 21 previous records, far fewer records than Marsh Harrier of which 41 have been logged. A couple of Sparrowhawks lingered as did a Common Buzzard, four Kestrels and one Peregrin Falcon.

Red Kite

A clear out of Willow Warblers left numbers as low as five, three appearing in the Observatory garden, one in the Plantation which previously held good numbers and another in one of the gardens. Spotted Flycatchers featured as a small increase in numbers totalled four and the first Song Thrush of the year was seen. A Blackcap, two Chiffchaffs, two Goldcrests and two Chaffinches were close by. Wheatears flitted from the banks and stone walls further south with 19 noted as 49 Meadow Pipits, nine Rock Pipits, one Grey Wagtail over the North West Fields, 12 Pied Wagtails, six Stonechats, 211 Linnets and a Little Owl and Collard Dove bolstered the numbers.

A variety of waders featured again today along the coastlines. The usual Oystercatchers numbered 52 today scatted about. Around the Narrows five Ringed Plovers, 20 Dunlins, a Green SandpiperCommon Sandpiper and 30 Turnstones were present. Whilst two Whimbrels, 36 Curlews and a Greenshank were also recorded. 

Small numbers of Cormorants, 12, were again noted today. Some moved passed the island whilst others were seen out on the sea or on rocks around the island. Grey Heron numbers had increased again from five yesterday to seven today, spending most of their time around the Narrows. Further out 14 Fulmars, 500 Manx Shearwaters, 29 Gannets and two Common Scoters passed. Harbour Porpoise, of which 15 were seen and eight Risso's Dolphins lingered off the west coast.

A Migrant Hawker, possibly one of the two seen yesterday was present in the same garden today resting on the Fuchsia in the warm morning sun. Again a good spread of Lepidoptera was present on the island with ten species seen. Large Whites logged were six whilst 61 Green-veined Whites, four Small Coppers, three Common Blues, four Red Admirals, one Painted Lady, three Small Tortoiseshells, 15 Peacocks, one Greyling and 20 Meadow Browns were also seen.

This Garden Pebble (Evergestis forficalis) was the highlight from the moth traps, being the first record of this immigrant micro moth on the island since 1999

Marbled Beauty was also trapped

Migrant Hawker in one of the gardens at Nant

Monday, 15 August 2016

Wader passage was again evident today and in reasonable numbers. Flocks of Knots passed the island and at the end of the day 37 had been logged. Redshanks also put in a fine appearance with 50 individuals seen, mostly heading in a southerly direction throughout the day. Dunlins amounted to 28, whilst two Greenshanks, and four Common Sandpipers added some variety. Oystercatchers were 33 today, two Ringed Plovers, four Whimbrels, 38 Curlews and 29 Trunstones were also seen.

Good numbers of Redshanks were seen along the coast

The first Common Buzzard for a while
Raptors put in a fine appearance throughout today, most notable being an Osprey which briefly drifted over the mountain ridge before heading north. We've had fantastic sightings of Osprey this season, this particular individual being the fifth record this year. At least six Sparrowhawks terrorised wildlife around the island today, five of them being seen over the mountain together at one point. Kestrels numbered two, a single Common Buzzard soared high overhead and two Peregrine Falcons, an adult and a juvenile also put in an appearance.

One of at least six Sparrowhawks that were present today 
The first Redstart of the year, a female or immature bird made an appearance behind the old schoolhouse and a Whinchat was present in the fields close by. Pied Wagtails had increased in number as 26 were logged around the Narrows also where the majority of the 75 Meadow Pipits and 29 Rock Pipits were found. The highest count of Spotted Flycatchers so far this Autumn weighed in at four, whilst Willow Warblers were still present but if fewer numbers amounted to 45. Meanwhile there were three Chiffchaffs and singles of Blackcap, Whitethroat and Garden Warbler. A Tree Pipit at Nant, nine Stonechats, 13 Wheatears, three Goldcrests, one Chaffinch, 154 Linnets and one Lesser Redpoll were also seen.

Great hirundine passage again occurred today as hundreds passed over the Narrows and South End. Swallows amounted to 524, House Martins 113 and three Sand Martins were picked out. Swifts also intermingled with these flocks and 16 were logged.

A passage of Cormorants continued today as small flocks headed south whilst others dotted the coast, outnumbering Shags today 49 to 19. Grey Heron numbers increased to five, two adults and three juveniles and the first Teal of the Autumn appeared amongst the Mallards of which 28 were seen.
The first Teal of of the Autumn with some Mallards

Fewer numbers were counted out at sea, however, 24 Fulmar, 333 Manx Shearwaters, 35 Gannets, one Common Scoter, one Arctic Skua and one Arctic Tern were seen passing. Plenty of gulls were again dotted around feeding in the fields and passing by the island with 281 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 1,066 Herring Gulls, 49 Greater Black-backed Gulls and 1,020 Kittiwakes observed. 

Cetacean sightings, in particular Risso's Dolphins, have been almost daily of the past week or so. Today was no exception as eight were observed off the west coast along with eight Harbour Porpoise, one of which was a calf.
Great numbers of Risso's Dolphins seen over the past weeks, note the tall sickle shaped dorsal fin
These individuals were just out from the hide at the North End, Risso's Dolphins become more scared and pale in colouration as they get older, the reasons for this scaring is still not fully understood
Although not huge numbers, a fine variety of Lepidoptera was on display today including, 12 Large Whites, 43 Green-veined White, a Small Copper, Common Blue, five Red Admirals, five Painted Lady's, four Small Tortoiseshells, nine Peacocks, 20 Meadow Browns, ten Silver Y's and seven Northern Eggars all enjoying the calm sunny spells. Migrant Hawkers made an appearance again with two seen, one at the north end of the island in some of the gardens and one around the farm further south.

Sunday, 14 August 2016

The highlight of the day, by far came during the evening hours as the sun was setting when a Minke Whale was spotted just off the coast, where it slowly headed north and eventually disappeared out of sight when it presumably dived down. Although the Minke Whale is the most common of the Baleen Whales through the Irish Sea and particularly further north in Scottish waters, sightings from Bardsey are few and far between. The last record was over three years ago. Good sightings of other cetaceans also present today were 15 Risso's Dolphins and four Harbour Porpoise also seen off the west.

Minke Whale surfacing off the West Coast. A long body surfacing with a small dorsal fin towards the back are typical diagnostic views
Good Willow Warbler passage was evident today with 110 seen in various locations throughout the island, the highest concentrations being around the Plantation where birds were observed passing through the gardens and vegetation. A Reed Warbler in one of the cottage gardens was the first of the autumn, as was a Garden Warbler further north at the Plantation where the Wood Warbler was again present for a third day. Other notables included a Tree Pipit around Nant, seven Sedge Warblers, two Whitethroats, three Blackcaps, seven Chiffchaffs, four Goldcrests, two Spotted Flycatchers and a Goldfinch. Wheatears, mostly around the southern parts of the island, showed a small increase with 21 seen. Meadow Pipits logged at 114 individuals scattered about in small flocks, ten Rock Pipits, eight Pied Wagtails and 143 Linnets were also present. A handful of Sand Martins passed over the Narrows and Pen Cristin, 68 Swallows, ten House Martins, one Sparrowhawk and two Kestrels were also logged during the course of the day.

A particularly pale looking, grey, Willow Warbler
A Greenshank again made an appearance around the Narrows, picked up on its distinctive call. Ringed Plovers made an appearance on Solfach numbering four. Oystercatchers totalled 31 and four Whimbrel, 26 Curlew, five Redshank, 26 Turnstones, 49 Shags, two Grey Herons and 22 Mallards resided.  

Notable sightings at sea concerned an Arctic Skua which spend the evening hassling Kittiwakes off the South End of which 959 were seen. A single Sandwich Tern just off the west side, five Razorbills, including one juvenile, a Puffin and a small passage of Cormorants, 11 seen today with various small groups high above the island moving through and 29 Shags. Further out 17 Fulmars, 1,050 Manx Shearwater and 25 Gannets passed.

 Curlew - the flock around the island's coast is slowly increasing in number with incoming migrants
 juvenile Herring Gull playing with some dried sheep poo
There have been some impressive gatherings of Kittiwakes in the last couple of weeks - in excess of 1000 birds in some cases! At least 15 colour-ringed birds from France have been sighted, and we'll post up the interesting stories behind these birds in the coming days

Lepidoptera and other sightings numbered three Large Whites, 205 Green-veined Whites, four Red Admirals, five Painted Lady's, one Small Tortoiseshell, 12 Peacocks, 22 Meadow Browns, 15 Silver Y's. A Migrant Hawker was also spotted around the farm.

Three species of Underwing, Lesser Yellow Underwing (top), Large Yellow Underwing (centre) and Least Yellow Underwing (bottom)

Saturday, 13 August 2016

A juvenile Marsh Harrier spotted during the morning was harried and harassed by corvids down the west coast. It alighted briefly when it spotted some carrion on the ground but was soon moved on by a group of Carrion Crows.
Other raptors seen today included a male and female Sparrowhawk, two Kestrels over the mountain and a Peregrine Falcon over the farm. Disappointingly both pairs of Peregrines failed to raise any young this season and have since been extremely elusive or have briefly left the island. Hopefully they will be more successful next breeding season.

Sparrowhawk stalking the Linnets around Nant
Reasonable passage again at sea amounted to 2,753 Manx Shearwaters, 54 Gannets, 10 Fulmars, 12 Common Scoters and a single Sandwich Tern. An Arctic Skua and a Great Skua were spotted off the west coast heading south as well as a flock of six Bar-tailed Godwits, a species which has been recorded multiple times in the last week. Gull numbers logged have risen over the past few weeks as birds pass through the island and roost in clumps around the island, today was no exception with good numbers present again. The most interesting concerning two colour ringed Kittiwakes picked out of the 950 seen today. Black-headed Gulls numbered 12, whilst other counts came to 56 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 286 Herring Gulls and 38 Greater Black-backed Gulls.   

Passerines were fairly thin on the ground today. The Wood Warbler was present for another day, and spent its time flitting around the eastern end of the Plantation. Other Phylloscopus warblers today included four Chiffchaffs and 20 Willow Warblers. A couple of Blackcaps and Goldcrests, 12 Stonechats, mostly the resident pairs and their young, and 16 Wheatears towards the southern end of the island were noted. Linnet numbers were down on yesterdays count but a respectable 186 were still recorded along with 55 Meadow Pipits, 11 Rock Pipits, eight Pied Wagtails and hirundines numbering 55 Swallows and eight House Martins.

Not the greatest image but the only one obtained of the Wood Warbler as it flitted restlessly amongst the trees at the Plantation
Oystercatcher numbers have taken a tumble over the past weeks as birds presumably leave the island. Counts of over one hundred were common place during the breeding season as the island holds a healthy breeding population, the count was 45 individuals. Accompanying these were three Whimbrel, 23 Curlews, three Redshanks, two Common Sandpipers and 23 Turnstones.

The first Hummingbird Hawk Moth of the season feeding in one of the gardens around Nant
Using its extremely long proboscis to sip nectar from flowers
Other Lepidoptera news came in the form of nine Large Whites, 58 Green-veined Whites, two Common Blues, 11 Red Admirals, three Painted Ladies, one Small Tortoiseshell, 11 Peacocks, 34 Meadow Browns, and eight Northern Eggars scattered around the island.