Saturday, 24 September 2016

As the strong southerly winds continued huge waves and swell battered the island making for some fantastic sights but ground much migration to a hault on the island

Most productive passage unsurprisingly was out at sea where decent numbers were seen. Razorbills passed in small clusters all day, unconcerned by the raging storm 2,061 headed south during the course of the day. The first Red-throated Diver of the Autumn was spotted off the North End, whilst three Fulmars, 36 Manx Shearwaters, 152 Gannets, two Guillemots, seven Common Scoters and an Arctic Skua were recorded. Although not numerous, a nice variety of Gulls were also seen today, an adult Mediterranean Gull headed through the Bardsey Sound, four Black-headed Gulls, a single Common Gull off the South end, three Lesser Black-backed Gulls, three Herring Gulls, three Greater Black-backed Gulls and 592 Kittiwakes. Remarkably two Risso's Dolphins were also picked out amongst the rolling troughs and peaks.

Ringed Plovers on Solfach had increased with ten now darting about amongst the seaweed. Numbers of Dunlins seen today was also up on the previous days, 33 were logged, individuals passing south off the coast and feeding along Bardsey's shores. A single Bar-tailed Godwit was also present, possibly the same individual lingering, seven Purple Sandpipers huddled amongst their favoured rocks just south of Solfach and 43 Oystercatchers, one Whimbrel, 55 Curlews, 11 Redshanks and 57 Tunrstones were also noted.

Turnstones battling the elements

Inland there was very little change or movement noted as the wind whipped through the island. A couple of Skylarks were new in however and resided in the North West Fields and South End and 14 Swallows struggled into the wind heading south. Probably due to the strong winds, high counts of some species, in particular Robins and Goldcrests, had dropped dramatically with only eight and 12 recorded respectively. The only other notables included three Grey Herons, two Wheatears, two Chiffchaffs and 150 Linnets.

Friday, 23 September 2016

Winds moved round to a more southerly direction and increased considerably throughout the day making censusing more difficult and probably cloaking any visible movements or changes in numbers of birds, particularly smaller passerines.

Although reaching quite forceful winds towards the back end of the day visible passage out at sea off the coast was minimal. A Skua spent the afternoon frustratingly distant and briefly popping above the swell to then drop down on the sea again and disappear completely. Gannets passed in small amounts, totalling 33, and one Fulmar, three Manx Shearwaters and 53 Razorbills were seen. A small number of Gulls were also counted, three Black-headed Gulls, four Lesser Back-backed Gulls, two Herring Gulls, four Greater Black-backed Gulls and 66 Kittiwakes.

Goldcrest numbers were the most notable increase with 39 logged today, most of them preferring the mature spruce trees of the Plantation. With them were a small number of Phylloscopus Warblers, three Chiffchaffs and three Willow Warblers and a single Blackcap. Overhead a Siskin and six Goldfinches headed north, as did a small number of Hirundines amounting to six Swallows and a House Martin. A Sparrowhawk, an adult male and a Kestrel spent the day hunting around the island, two Water Rails squealed in the withies and two Little Owls called with their cat like "kee-ew". Pipit numbers were fairly consistent again, Meadow Pipits were found in small groups through the low lying areas of the island and numbered 50 whilst Rock Pipits, mostly favouring the Narrows and southern parts of the island stood at a healthy 51. Numbers of Wagtails logged had certainly decreased as no counts broke into the tens and just five Pied Wagtails and four White Wagtails were seen. Linnets totalled 124 and were the most numerous passerine of the day concentrated mostly around the Narrows and flitted through the grasses uttering their jittery, rubbery, squeaky calls to each other. Choughs around this time of year start to increase in number after the lull of breeding birds leaving the island for the mainland, these birds are now returning, along with other individuals from the mainland. Soon they will be frequenting Solfach, the main beach on the island, and sifting through the sand and seaweed in noisy groups, 25 were seen today. Other notables today included one Stonechat, four Wheatears, and 34 Mallards.

A similar affair down around the Narrows produced numbers consistent with the past week or so. Oystercatchers clocked in at 52, dotted around the rocks and grassy fields. Whilst on the beaches and bays seven Ringed Plovers (bottom Picture), two Knot (top picture), a good number and increase of Purple Sandpipers came to 15, there were 21 Dunlins (middle picture), 54 Curlews, 11 Redshanks, 86 Turnstones and elsewhere three Whimbrels, three Snipes and two Bar-tailed Godwits.


Unsurprisingly very few Lepidoptera were recorded today, six Red Admirals and two Speckled Woods were the only noted, other than individuals from the moth traps run.

A nice addition in the moth trap at Nant was this Vestal, an immigrant moth of which a few have been recorded on the island in the past week


A Western Conifer Seed Bug was found at Cristin - this represents the third record for the island

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Breezy south-westerly winds prevailed today, and cleared the skies for a largely sunny day. Despite the less then suitable wind conditions, a good selection of birds were seen across the island today. The highlight of the day came in the form of a total of three Wrynecks, two of which appeared to be new arrivals. 
One of three Wrynecks on the island. 
Birds were seen at Ty Capel, Carreg Bach and Traeth Ffynnon

The Melodious Warbler continued to stay in the garden into its fourth week, and was retrapped in the morning, allowing guests to admire this subtle and intriguing bird. Also of note was a single Lapland Bunting heard calling on the morning census route through the wetlands, whilst the Brent Goose appeared to have relocated to the other side of the Narrows and was seen briefly sat in one of the puddles in Henllwyn.

Melodious Warbler

The sea was reasonably calm and therefore not the centre of attention today, however, this didn’t stop 191 Razorbills and five Common Scoters passing the west coast.

The Narrows continued to hold a good selection of waders including nine Ringed Plovers, one Knot, two Purple Sandpipers, 24 Dunlins, two Bar-tailed Godwits, six Redshanks and 57 Turnstones. Wagtails and Pipits were also observed amongst the waders, with a total of 21 White Wagtails being seen on the Narrows.

Ringed Plover having a squabble with a neighbouring bird
 Ringed Plover head
 Turnstone
 Turnstone
mixed Wader flock
A singing solitary Pied Wagtail
and one of the 21 White Wagtails present

There were more signs of migration on the island, some migrants coming from nearby and others from further afield. Seen in the foliage were a Garden Warbler, three Blackcaps, six Chiffchaffs, three Willow Warblers and 44 Goldcrests. Whereas, 32 Swallows, 10 House Martins and 11 Grey Wagtials were evidence of visible migration. Additionally, there were two Teals, two Water Rails and four Snipes recorded on the island.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

The day started with a stiff breeze which continued throughout only to be intersected by brief spells of light drizzle. A decent array of birds were once again on our shores with Brent Goose being an addition to the year. A single juvenile of this species touched down in Solfach late morning before disappearing as quickly as it appeared.

A flighty Lapland Bunting was found on the South End in the morning cavorting with the migrant Meadow Pipit and Linnet flocks passing through. What was perhaps the same bird was heard over Plas in the evening too.

The mixed wader flock on the Narrows took up most of the attention during the afternoon with 81 Turnstones, eight Redshanks, one Snipe, five Purple Sandpipers, 14 Ringed Plovers, 24 Dunlins, two Knots, six Bar-tailed Godwit, and one Sanderling present. Most continue their habit of showing down to a few feet!

Bar -tailed Godwit
Ringed Plovers 
 Turnstone

Sea-watching produced four Arctic Skuas, one Mediterranean Gull, 172 Razorbills, one Common Scoter, and the first autumn trickle of Common Gulls, eight in total. Light ‘vismig’ produced 127 Swallows, 85 House Martins, one Yellow Wagtail, seven Grey Wagtails, and 13 White Wagtails, whilst one Kestrel, one Water Rail, two Blackcaps, four Chiffchaffs, one Willow Warbler, and 16 Goldcrests let themselves known around the island.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

The first trickle of early finches are starting to pass through the island and we can expect numbers to increase as we move into late September and early October. Today eight Chaffinches, a Siskin and 73 Goldfinches moved overhead. Resident Robins spent the day defending and marking their territories for the coming winter as migrant Robins were once again present in fantastic numbers, 67 being the grand total today. A pair of smart Whinchats were new in, one of them spending the day alongside a Wryneck at Nant. A small movement of raptors was observed as five Common Buzzards and two Kestrels, a male and female, moved over the island and an immature male Sparrowhawk cruised around the South End. A Skylark passed overhead along with 14 Swallows and nine Grey Wagtails, other Wagtails include 20 Pied Wagtails, 13 White Wagtails and pipits numbered 99 Meadow Pipits and a healthy 70 Rock Pipits mostly around the Narrows. A Water Rail was present in the Withies, the Long staying Melodious Warbler was spotted in the Observatory garden, managing to stay unobserved over the past few days, where a Reed Warbler was also seen. Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler and Goldcrest numbers remained fairly steady with 11, four and 26 noted respectively. Other sightings included two Little Owls, 20 Stonechats, four Wheatears, four Blackcaps and 72 Linnets.

A flock of 14 Ravens noisily croaked high above the island, whilst other corvids logged amounted to 13 Magpies, 12 Choughs and 42 Carrion Crows.


At least one Wryneck still resides around Nant
A consistent variety and number of waders noted over the past weeks has been fantastic and today was no exception, most groups tending to congregate around the Narrows and in particular one of the beaches, Solfach. Ringed Plovers, numbering five, scuttled around the beach as a noisy mass of two Knots, 23 Dunlins and 87 Turnstones picked and scrabbled over the seaweed. The very confiding Bar-tailed Godwit was also still present on the beach probing the sand with its slightly upturned bill. A handful of Golden Plovers rested on the rocks just off shore and elsewhere 31 Oystercatchers, four Snipes, five Whimbrels, 58 Curlews and one Redshank were seen.

With the winds dropping off considerably over the past few days visible movements out at sea have slowed in pace, although there were some still sightings of note from today. A Pomarine Skua and Arctic Skua kept up a good run of Skuas with individuals being seen almost most daily over the past week, a single Wigeon passed by whilst other Wildfowl amounted to eight Common Scoter and 29 Mallards. A couple of first winter Mediterranean Gulls were also spotted along with 19 Black-headed Gulls, three Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 14 Herring Gulls, nine Greater Black-backed Gulls and a respectable 621 Kittiwakes. Razorbills continued to pass the island with 255 seen today with five Manx Shearwaters and 30 Gannets were also logged.

Monday, 19 September 2016

The sun rose on a new day on Bardsey, and revealed the beautiful dew-spangled island. The light northerly winds held an air of freshness to them, and in the morning most eyes were trained on the sea. Small numbers of auks were recorded, consisting of 33 Razorbills and a single Guillemot, whilst five Golden Plovers and 13 Wigeons were seen along the west coast.

Again the waders on Solfach, were the highlight of the day for the photographers on the island with plenty of obliging species to choose from and in good number. Three Grey Herons, six Ringed Plovers, three Knots, 12 Purple Sandpipers, 20 Dunlins, two Bar-tailed Godwits, nine Redshanks and a high count of 98 Turnstones were all seen around Solfach or Henllwyn. The Narrows were also playing host to a small selection of Pipits and Wagtails, a total of 71 Rock Pipits and 22 White Wagtails were seen feeding amongst the usual Meadow Pipits and Pied Wagtails.


A confiding Bar-tailed Godwit to say the least

There was also plenty to see on the passerine side of things as well. The pick of the bunch being a Wryneck in Nant Valley, presumably a remaining individual from the many which have been seen passing through Bardsey this autumn. Also of note was a single Lapland Bunting flushed from amongst the grazing sheep. Additionally, a Whinchat, 11 Stonechats, one Whitethroat, two Garden Warblers, three Blackcaps, eight Chiffchaffs and 26 Goldcrests were recorded across the island today, whilst 50 Swallows and two House Martins were seen flying through on their epic migration back to south Africa for the winter.

Moths continue to amaze visitors after we caught another Convolvulus Hawkmoth in the trap. In 2013 the number of records on the island stood at 10, and in this year alone we have caught an astounding 9 individuals, with an incredible 3 in one day early last week.

Convolvulus Hawkmoth

Sunday, 18 September 2016


A dreary day with dark overcast conditions throughout turning to drizzle by the evening and eventually light rain in the night. This didn’t encourage the deluge of easterly migrants as hoped for but Bardsey always supplies plenty of interest none-the-less. The best today seemed to be wader-based with great counts obtained on the Narrows at high tide. Recorded were 56 Oystercatchers, 13 Ringed Plovers, three Golden Plovers, six Knots, ten Purple Sandpipers, 26 Dunlins, three Snipes, one Bar-tailed Godwit, one Whimbrel, 48 Curlews, 11 Redshanks, and 82 Turnstones.
Waders on Solfach have been showing fantastically well of late including the above Knot and Purple Sandpiper below.


A group of 11 Wigeons continue the species’ recent sea passage past the island whilst ten Common Scoters, two Arctic Skuas, two Great Skuas, two Mediterranean Gulls, 14 Black-headed Gulls, one Common Gull, three Sandwich Terns, and 113 Razorbills were a good supporting cast.

Robins have been arriving in big numbers the last few weeks and today was no exception, in fact, the year’s highest count of 40 birds was recorded. Quite a change from the handful of birds found during the summer! A good count of 30 White Wagtails alongside four Skylarks, two Grey Wagtails, and 20 Goldcrests were also recorded.

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Highlights on the Passerine front came in the form of a good arrival of Robins and Goldcrests, 53 and 41 respectively. A Wryneck, flushed from the mountain side above Nant, briefly perched before disappearing out of sight. Whether this is a lingering bird from previous days or a new arrival we will never know but this continued a fantastic run of sightings for this sometimes incredibly elusive species. A Whitethroat, Garden Warbler and two Spotted Flycatchers were new in and the first migrant Goldfinches, seven seen, passed overhead. Small numbers of Phylloscs were present with 18 Chiffchaffs and three Willow Warblers logged, Stonechats amounted to 20 individuals scattered about the island whilst three Sparrowhawks, two males and a female, a Common BuzzardWater Rail, two Little Owls, single Skylark, three Wheatear, eight Blackbirds, 14 Dunnocks, two Chaffinches and 290 Linnets were also present. Pipits and Wagtail numbers have been reasonably steady over the past couple of days but highlights today included three flyover Grey Wagtails and an excellent count of 38 White Wagtails around the narrows.

A Wryneck putting in an appearance near the Chapel at Nant
Rock Pipits gather in good numbers around the narrows, particularly on Solfach
Corvid numbers, specifically Carrion Crows are slowly increasing and we can expect numbers to rise further as the autumn progresses when mixed flocks of Corvids can be seen in their hundreds. Carrion Crows gathered mostly in the North West Fields and numbered 41, with them were a few of the 14 Magpies seen today as a noisy flock of 11 Choughs soared over the mountain with a pair of Ravens.

Wader numbers and species held steady and were similar to the previous day, although three Golden Plovers were an exciting addition for the day as the passed by the island. Solfach was resident to six Ringed Plovers, two Knot, nine Dunlins, a Bar-tailed Godwit, 24 Turnstones, 13 Oystercatchers, three Purple Sandpipers, two Whimbrels, 30 Curlews and eight Redshanks were close by.

Juvenile Ringed Plover, note the pale fringes to crown, mantle and wing feathers, creating a scalloped appearance

Turnstones continue to be present in decent numbers  
Very little was spotted off the coast, most notable being three Risso's Dolphins and a single Wigeon. Gannets amounted to 11, seven Cormorants headed south, and five Kittiwakes and two Razorbills  were the only other additions.

The calmer, warmer conditions helped to enticed out a few species of Lepidoptera today although counts were still fairly low in comparison to some days prior. Two Hummingbird Hawk Moths franticly fed around Nant, again another excellent tally of ten Speckled Woods and 15 Green-veined Whites, five Small Coppers, 11 Red Admirals, four Painted Lady's, 16 Small Tortoiseshells and ten Silver Y's put in an appearance.

Friday, 16 September 2016

A quick change in the weather saw the wind swinging round to a north westerly bringing with it a stiff cold breeze and an end to the high temperatures and calm winds of the past days.

Inland there wasn't much change, however a good selection of birds were on show. The Icterine Warbler was still present at the plantation, now into its sixth day on the island, the long staying Melodious Warbler also still resided in the Observatory Garden. Robins featured heavily again as a small passage continues, numbers amounted to 22 individuals today. A Whitethroat was seen in the Withies along with one of the two Spotted Flycatchers counted today, a single Blackcap, 13 Chiffchaffs, two Willow Warblers and 16 Goldcrests were also seen around the gardens, plantation and densely vegetated areas. Elsewhere on the island 15 Stonechats perched up on fence lines and 15 Wheatears dotted the fields and coast along with small flocks of Meadow Pipits, 89 today, 29 Rock Pipits, four Pied Wagtails, 19 White Wagtails and 24 Linnets. Very little was seen migrating overhead throughout the day except for 14 Swallow, 21 House Martins, two Grey Wagtails and seven Ravens. A Sparrowhawk was spotted in the Lowlands, presumably the same Common Buzzard was also present here, a Kestrel moved over the north end where a pair of Peregrines were also seen, two Little Owls called to each other and a Sklylark were the only other additions. 

One of two Spotted Flycatchers seen today
An excellent variety of waders were again on show today, continuing a good passage over the past few weeks. Solfach and the Narrow were particularly busy and where a large proportion of wader sightings today occurred. Oystercatchers fed on the short grassy fields and roosted on the low tide rocks, Ringed Plovers increased by a couple and now numbered 11, Dunlin numbers had also risen with 30 seen, a Golden Plover was seen on the South End, 68 Curlew, seven Redshanks, 49 Turnstones and singles of Purple Sandpiper, Common Snipe, Bar-tailed Godwit, Whimbrel and Common Sandpiper were logged.

Passage past the island was slow but steady and by the end of the day a nice assortment of species had been seen. A couple of species made up the bulk of the passage with 132 Gannets, 451 Razorbills and 16 Guillemots seen, most heading in a southerly direction. Small movements of ducks were seen as four Wigeon, a Teal and 21 Common Scoter passed. Fulmars and Manx Shearwaters trickled through in small numbers with 21 and 12 respectively, and two Arctic Skuas, six Great Skuas, an adult Mediterranean Gull, 346 Kittiwakes, two Arctic Terns and two Common Terns made up the numbers.

With the stronger and colder winds it wasn't a surprise that only a small numbers of Lepidoptera were seen on the island, but there were some interesting sightings none the less. Best of all was a fantastic count of 11 Speckled Woods seen around the Plantation, the highest count of the year and until this season not a regularly seen Butterfly on Bardsey. Red Admiral, Painted Lady and Small Tortoiseshell numbers had fallen after the high counts of the last couple of days but handfuls of each of these were seen today. A Hummingbird Hawk Moth fed around the Chapel garden with a Large White, three Green-veined Whites and two Silver Y's.

A Canary Shouldered Thorn from one of the moth traps

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Intermittent mist made for interesting birding today on the island. Very little was recorded out to sea the best of which were a dark morph Pomarine Skua, two Teals and a single Common Scoter which cruised past the West Coast. However, the indecisive weather did ground a good deal of migrants. Three Wrynecks were recorded across the island, two of which appeared to be new arrivals and one remained at Nant along with the Icterine Warbler, which gave brief but sometimes rewarding views.

Another day, another Wryneck...

The Melodious Warbler was still to be seen in the observatory garden, and has made it into its third week! Also in the garden were three Song Thrushes. Solfach seems to have drawn in a good selection of common waders, feeding on the invertebrates found in the seaweed and sand before moving on. Ringed Plover numbers have risen to nine, accompanied by eight Dunlins. Also of note was a Bar-tailed Godwit and a Common Sandpiper which was new in.

A single Ringed Plover from the crowd congregating on Solfach


Bar-tailed Godwit

Nant held a large proportion of the passerine migrants of the day, including the Pied 
Flycatcher and six Blackcaps. Additionally, there were plenty of other signs of migration on and over the island, a small selection of hirundines were seen including 12 Swallows and three House Martins, whilst a total of six Grey Wagtails were heard flying over. Also a Water Rail, one Skylark, nine White Wagtails, a Whinchat, 12 Wheatear, a Whitethroat, 18 Chiffchaff and 4 Willow Warbler were scattered across the island.

 Common Buzzard
Wheatear - this bird came in off the sea and sat for a while on the very northern tip of the island


Continuing on from the migrant lepidoptera that we've had recently an impressive three White-specks were found in the trap in the morning, the previos records to this year were one in the 1960s, several in 2000 and now four this year! There were also two Black Rustics and a Silver-y in the trap as well as over 70 Square Spot Rustics!.

Black Rustic

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Low-lying mist enveloped the island early on but it didn’t take long before it dissipated and left the island at its sun-drenched best. It soon became apparent there were plenty of new birds in and soon enough two Wrynecks were discovered at Nant. With people ensembled it soon became apparent there were actually Three (!) in the vicinity. If that wasn’t enough, shortly after an Ortolan Bunting was flushed out of the Cristin courtyards and landed on the Mountainside above Plas. Amazingly, our third record this year following an adult male in the Spring and a juvenile a few weeks ago. By midday the sun had begun to beat down in earnest but that didn’t stop another Wryneck being found halfway along the track between Cristin and the Limekiln. The bird went on to spend the afternoon between Gorse bushes and fence posts nearby. Last but not least, a juvenile Hobby powered northwards over Cristin Mountainside midday too, and in fact, the rarest bird of the day with only one other record this year so far.


One of the Wrynecks on show at Nant

A solitary Redwing at the Plantation was a bit of a shock, only a week or so later than the earliest ever recorded on the island. Visible Migration shows signs of increasing and today’s highlights include 16 Skylarks, 147 Swallows, three Tree Pipits, 133 Meadow Pipits, seven Grey Wagtails, and 26 White Wagtails. Both the Icterine Warbler at Nant and the Melodious Warbler at Cristin showed well again whilst an interesting ‘brown’ Lesser Whitethroat was glimpsed just south of the School House. The first Siskin of the autumn appeared at Nant with the Pied Flycatcher still present too, whilst further signs of passage include 35 Robins, 26 Stonechats, 11 Wheatears, one Song Thrush, one Reed Warbler, one Whitethroat, three Blackcaps, eight Chiffchaffs, five Willow Warblers, and 12 Goldcrests.

Icterine Warbler at Nant

A juvenile Pomarine Skua was easily the highlight from the sea today though 182 Herring Gulls heading south was notable. Waders amounted to five Ringed Plovers, one Purple Sandpiper, five Dunlins, ten Snipes, five Whimbrels, 52 Curlews, four Redshanks, and 56 Turnstones whilst two Water Rails were seen, one each in Ty Pellaf and Cristin Withy.


Common Buzzard

White Wagtail

Willow Warbler

Stonechat
Even with all this aforementioned avian activity one of the biggest talking points of the day was the obvious Lepidoptera movement through the island. The bulk of which were Red Admirals with streams of butterflies heading south all over the island. The final count of 296 is a vast under-count of the numbers actually passing through today. Some impressive counts of other species were made comprising seven Large Whites, 66 Green-veined Whites, 34 Painted Lady’s, 35 Small Tortoiseshells, eight Speckled Woods, two Hummingbird Hawkmoths, 98 Silver Y’s, and three Vestals.

Painted Lady