Sunday, 23 November 2014

A change of wind direction to the north west did not seem to change a great deal in terms of movements out to sea, although over 2000 Guillemots flew South past the coast in the early morning, in flocks of up to 70. Also out to sea were two Red-throated Divers, a Mediterranean Gull and a Fulmar. A single Merlin inland was seen at various places, as was a female Sparrowhawk. A Water Rail was heard calling in Ty Pellaf Reed Bed, and two Goldcrests were present in the withies.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

It was a day of low winds and clear skies; this encouraged a few of the island's smaller avian inhabitants to emerge after yesterday's storm. A Siberian Chiffchaff was found at Nant in the afternoon, where two Chiffchaffs, two Goldcrests, two Song Thrushes and a Blackcap were also recorded. A total of 170 Starlings were feeding amongst the Rock Pipits on Solfach today, although this flock was subject to very frequent attacks by the south Peregrine Falcon pair, which nonetheless failed to capture any. Out to sea, the usual fare of gulls amounted to 105 Black-headed Gulls, 37 Common Gulls, 11 Mediterranean Gulls and 446 Kittiwakes.

The usual flock of Choughs (reaching a maximum of 27 individuals at the moment) continues to make use of the extensive piles of rotting seaweed on Solfach. However, it appears that this flock is currently comprised mostly of island breeding pairs and 'residents'- there are very few 'new' mainland birds amongst the flock, save for one or two birds. Note the ear in the fourth image- a rare sight on birds in the field! 
Adult Mediterranean Gull. It has been an excellent year for this species on Bardsey, with a count nearing 60 towards the end of October breaking the record for a day total of this sepcies
Siberian Chiffchaff

Friday, 21 November 2014

Gale force south-easterly winds were the dominating weather feature today, and were accompanied by drizzly rain at intervals during the day. A Great Skua was perhaps the highlight of a sewatching session off the South End in the morning. This was amongst a passahe that included one Fulmar, six Gannets, three Common Scoters, a Whimbrel, 23 Mediterranean Gulls, 29 Common Gulls, 362 Kittiwakes and 864 Guillemots. Elsewhere, singles of Redwing and Song Thrush were seen inland, along with a Greenfinch and a Skylark.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

A day of much lighter winds, still from the east, saw a reasonable selection of passerines making an appearance during the day. A total of at least five Chiffchaffs was very good, considering the time of year, whilst a single female Blackcap, 10 Goldcrests, a Grey Wagtail, a Brambling, a Lesser Redpoll, seven Song Thrushes and 650 Starlings were also seen during the day. Out to sea, the usual gull flock was seen at intervals during the day, with a minimum count of 21 Mediterranean Gulls made in the morning, amongst some 450 Black-headed Gulls and 230 Kittiwakes. The usual Hooded Crow remained around The Narrows.


Wednesday, 19 November 2014

It was day of stronger easterly winds, which encouraged a respectable movement of seabirds out to sea. The highlight of a morning's seawatching was undoubtedly a male Goosander which flew south over the South End- this is a very rare species on Bardsey, despite breeding so close in a geographical sense. The last record of this species was over ten years ago. This species also takes Bardsey's 2014 year list to 200- a fantastic number that is very rarely achieved here.

In other news, a good passage of other seabirds included a Great Northern Diver, a Red-throated Diver, two Wigeons, a Shelduck, seven Common Scoters, five Little Gulls, 15 Mediterranean Gulls, 22 Common Gulls, 37 Razorbills and 85 Guillemots. Inland, it was clear that the easterly winds were also encouraging an arrival of thrushes to take place. A total of 13 Blackbirds, four Song Thrushes, nine Redwings and six Fieldfares were recorded, whilst somewhere in the region of 3000 Starlings were also seen around the island during the day, many flying past out to sea in scattered flocks.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

It was a very pleasant day all in all, with light easterly winds encouraging a light movement of larks, pipits and thrushes, whilst the clear blue skies gave the sun a chance to make an appearance over the isle. Two Snow Buntings spent the day feeding along the track between the Boathouse and Ty Pellaf, giving excellent views and showing down to less than 5 metres. The long-staying Siberian Chiffchaff was seen in Cristin Withy, accompanied by a 'normal' Chiffchaff and two Goldcrests. A total of 354 Starlings were recorded during the day, with much of this total comprising small flocks heading eastwards over the mountain; thrushes were somewhat up in figures, with the day's tallies amounting to 18 Blackbirds, two Song Thrushes and 5 Redwings. A single Lapwing was present around The Narrows.

Snow Buntings

Solfach has been the centre of activity for a great number of species recently, with the rotting piles of Kelp providing a bounty of insects and fly larvae for birds to feed on. Choughs, Starlings, Rock Pipits, the near-resident Hooded Crow, a handful of Magpies, a few Carrion Crows and a small selection of waders and gulls have all been utilising this area, though some have been unwilling to share it... 

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Calmest day of the week so far brought a small influx of finches and thrushes. 75 Chaffinches were seen along with 20 Linnits, eight Goldfinches, two Siskins and one Greenfinch. Thrush wise 18 Blackbirds and eight Song Thrushes were present mostly in the Gardens. An interesting Chiffchaff, again Tristis like in plumage was seen briefly in the farm garden but quickly dissipated in the vegetation there and was not seen again. The sprawling mass of Starlings are still around amounted to 520, most of which spent the day at the north end of the island although a small number were still feeding among st 16 Chough on the beaches.

It was generally quiet around the narrows and the beach although a nice, and very approachable mixed flock of 22 Turnstones and 16 Purple Sandpipers spent sometime around the rocks by Solfach. Also a Hooded Crow, Grey Heron, small number of Herring Gulls, Greater-black Backed Gulls and 30 Rock Pipits were close by.

One of the Purple Sandpipers from a mixed flock including Turnstones

Friday, 14 November 2014

Three Manx Shearwaters heading south off the west coast was a nice surprise early morning, the first for a week or two. Along with them were one Gannet, three Common Scoters, 144 Black-Headed Gulls, 84 Kittiwakes, one adult Mediterranean Gull, and 91 Razorbills.

A confiding Snow Bunting was seen late morning feeding along the track towards the lighthouse, 220 Starling still roamed in a chattering flock, a Lapwing was seen in the north west fields along with one Skylark, a Water Rail skulked in the withies giving the occasional squeak, five Redwings, one Song thrush and a handful of Chiffchaffs were also present there.

Finch numbers took a plummet today with only six Chaffinchs and three Goldfinches seen, however some of the other resident species such as Wren, Robin and Dunnock have resumed their normal business after the gale force winds that seemed to dampen their presence.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Howling south easterlies and persistent rain have been taking their toll on the counts of birds on the island with most species including resident birds becoming inconspicuous. A Short-eared Owl was spotted on the side of the mountain as it flew from the bracken and headed north up the island. A small number of Kittiwakes and Black-headed Gulls accompanied by 9 Common Gulls were seen off the coast. A number of Gulls, mostly Herring Gulls have been frequenting the rain ponds on the narrows where they have been bathing, 45 were present there today.

One Chiffchaff, one Goldcrest and a very small number of the resident species were counted whilst two Song Thrushes, two Redwings and two Blackbirds were the only Thrushes to be seen today, these were all sheltering in the gardens and thick vegetation.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

There was very little in the way of new migrants even with the slight drop in winds, more easterly direction and occasional showers that could have the potential to ground new migrating birds. However a very smart first winter Grey Phalarope was found on the beach pattering by the shoreline where there was floating seaweed and vegetation for it to feed amongst.

The bird was initially very flighty at high tide when the waves were breaking almost over the top of the bird. As the tide went out the bird settled on one of the flood pools on the narrows and became very approachable and a mist net was dropped over the bird.

The Phalarope was latter caught and became the fourth to be ringed on Bardsey following the last one in 2009. The bird was returned to the pool after ringing where it swam off and continued to feed and preen.

In other news further north on rest of the island it was generally quiet with the odd Chiffchaff, Skylark, Common Snipe and Goldcrest seen. Around the narrows the Curlew flock had now increased to around 60 birds, 344 Starling mingled around the grassy areas in loose flocks, a single Lapwing, Grey Heron and Hooded Crow were also present.

Monday, 10 November 2014


Four Mediterranean Gulls, 15 Common Gulls, 271 Black-headed Gulls, 287 Kittiwakes and 120 Razorbills were the most numerous counts today. Notables on the ground were five Skylarks, 5 Song Thrushes, 3 Redwings, five Chiffchaffs including the Tristis type from that last day, 11 Goldcrests and a lingering Water Rail. Visible migration counts amounting too two Goldfinches, 60 Chaffinches, two Greenfinches, seven Siskin, 24 Linnits, 3 Lesser Redpolls and five Reed Buntings.


With a drop in the winds again bought another day of finch passage with the odd bunting, this amounted too 108 Chaffinches, one Brambling, nine Greenfinches, one Linnit, one Lesser Redpoll and three Reed Buntings. Elsewhere on the island 798 Starling flew south with 22 Skylarks, 21 Rock Pipits were scattered along the coasts and two Woodcocks, a Water Rail, six Stonechats, three Song Thrushes, three Redwings, one Mistle Thrush, a lone male Blackcap, six Chiffchaffs and seven Goldcrests were recorded.

Around the narrows and the beach 49 Oystercatches sheltered in the bays along with 11 Redshanks, 42 Curlews and a small selection of gulls which amounted too 74 Herring Gulls, three Lesser Black-backed Gulls and five Greater Black-backed Gulls.

Passage off the coasts had quietened considerably today with only a small number of Kittiwakes, Black-headed Gulls, Razorbills and Guillemots. However one Great Northern Diver and three Common Scoter were seen as they made their way south.

Saturday, 8 November 2014

A Black-Throated Diver was pick of the bunch out at sea today when it was seen off the west coast, also recorded were a lingering flock of 116 Kittiwakes, 17 Black-headed Gulls moving south, four Gannets, two Common Gulls and 61 Razorbills. 280 Herring Gulls gathered on small pools that are forming on the narrows due to so much rain.

Numbers were thin on the ground and the strong southerly winds and rain made for a difficult census. However a smart adult male Black Redstart was seen briefly at the north end. Six Skylarks, five Chiffchaffs, five Stonechats, three Goldcrests, one Goldfinch and one Song Thrush were the highlights of a slow day.

This Chiffchaff discovered in the withies had many of the plumage characteristics of tristis or Siberian Chiffchaff. The overall plumage of the bird was very pale grey brown, the breast and flanks again were pale grey with no hint of any yellowish buff, pale supercillium and brownish tinge to the ear coverts, distinct pale fringes to the covers forming a wing bar and a slight greenish tinge to the primaries and secondaries. Unfortunately the bird did not call whilst being observed but appearance wise looked a good candidate for a Siberian Chiffchaff.

Friday, 7 November 2014

A first winter Sabine's Gull was nice surprise in an otherwise quiet sea watch today, it passed south down the west coast along with a hand full of Kittiwakes, Black-headed Gulls, Razorbills, two Common Gulls and one Mediterranean Gull. 

On the island a total of four Woodcocks, one unfortunate individual took flight around the plantation and was moments later spotted by an adult Peregrine soaring above the mountain which stooped after it and tremendous speed, whether it got its prey is unknown but it goes to show how sharp eyed the Peregrine is. Again a Short-eared Owl was flushed from the mountain vegetation.

Finch numbers seem to have dropped off again as the wind has picked up from the west, one Lesser Redpoll, eight Goldfinches and 12 Chaffinches were the only ones seen. A small scattering of 11 Chiffchaffs, eight Goldcrests, one female Blackap, ten Blackbirds, three Song Thrushes and 6 Redwings were present. Starling numbers have also decreased but a total of 380 were still seen mostly feeling in the fields and the wash up kelp and seaweed on the shores. 

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Forty odd mile and hour winds and horizontal rain on and off throughout the day proved hard work for staff and birds alike.

Before the rain began small numbers were passing out off the west coast. Ten Common Scoter flew throught the Bardsey sound whilst 93 Kittiwakes, 64 Black-headed Gulls, five Mediterranean Gulls, 20 Common Gulls, 17 Herring Gulls, 27 Razorbills and one Gannet went south.

In and around the plantation at the north end three Fieldfares, one Redwing, two Song thrushes, one Chiffchaff, six Goldfinches, one Siskin and a handfull of Goldcrests were the only notables visible today. Whilst south of the island the Curlew Flock grew to 51 individuals, 23 Choughs, eight Turnstones and 100 Starlings battled with the driving winds and rain. One Common Snipe was flushed from fields just south of the farm.

Flock of Choughs finding shelter underneath the over hanging banks that boarder the beach Solfach, just about sums up the day

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

The day got off to a good start when three Woodcocks were seen in the observatory garden, all of them flushed from a small area at the end of one of the net rides. Two Short-eared Owls were also flushed from the vegetation on the side of the mountain becoming the second record for this season. As the morning began to brighten up the familiar "chuping" sound of Chaffinch flocks could be heard, 248 were counted today along with two Bramblings, two Greenfinches, two Lesser Redpolls, two Linnits and one Reed Bunting. A flock of 15 Skylarks continue to frequent some of the crop fields in the northwest corner and a single Snow Bunting was heard later on in the day just south of the observatory somewhere along the mountain side. The Whitethroat frequenting the withies is now the latest of its species to have been recorded on Bardsey. Another Yellow-browed Warbler was seen today in the Obs garden. 

Thrush numbers were on the increase today with 30 Blackbirds, four Fieldfare, 14 Song Thrushes, 27 Redwings and 30 Robins recorded. A small influx of Stonechats was also noted with 12 individuals scattered across the islands fence lines. Starlings made an impressive appearance with a single flock of 800 working their way through the fields in the center of the island. A minimum of 100 Carrion Crows were seen and a single flock of 200 Jackdaws were present in the morning. 

Butterfly numbers have dropped off over the past month, with the odd one or two being seen each week. One Red Admiral and three Painted Lady's were present today, this particular one deciding to catch a bit of warmth from the last rays of the setting sun.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Finch Passage seemed to make up the bulk of the bird numbers today with a variety migrating overhead. 226 Chaffinches, 17 Greenfinches, seven Goldfinches, three Linnits, two Lesser Redpolls, a Reed Bunting and one Bullfinch were counted. A scarce bird for Bardsey, this is the second Bullfinch record this season. A Ring Ouzel made a brief appearance at the Obs early on, however, bird of the day came in the form of a smart Yellow-browed Warbler which was discovered around the plantation early morning. Prior to the 2014 season there were 132 previous records of this species. 14 Chiffchaffs and 12 Goldcrests fed in the vegetated areas and ever present Whitetroat was again spotted skulking in the withies, now equaling the latest departure date for this species on Bardsey.  

In other news, one Common Snipe was flushed from the now water logged areas in the centre of the island, four Water Rails were heard squealing in the withies, the roaming flock of 37 Curlew toured the bays to the south of the island with a lone Whimbrel spotted on the rocks around the beach where six Turnstones, four Redshanks and a Grey Heron also spent the day. 

Corvid Passage early on amounted to a flock of 36 Carrion Crows, six Rooks and severn Jackdaws which all passed over the plantation and headed north. On the beach a Hooded Crow made an appearance feeding alongside 18 Choughs and a small number of Starling, of which 660 were counted today.

A small selection of raptors were also seen today, a Merlin around the south coasts, the resident Peregrines soaring over the mountain, two Sparrowhawks hunting at the plantation and a male Kestrel resting on the dry stone walls in the north-west corner of the island.

The sea was relatively quiet today with a few small numbers of birds passing the island. 255 Black-headed Gulls, 3 Mediterranean Gulls, Three Common Gulls and 177 Razorbills.

Although some of the seal pups from this year are off the island and swimming there are still a few moulting getting ready to take the plunge.

Monday, 3 November 2014

Brief sea watches in between rain showers didn't produce massive numbers of birds however it did provide a few nice sightings. Another Goldeneye, a female/immature, was spotted moving off the west coast making up only the 28th record for the island since records began here and the second sighting of this species this season. Two Brent Geese (pale bellied), One Red-throated Diver, Two Wiegon, a single Teal, three Common Scoter, four Mediterranean Gulls, two Common Gulls, 184 Razorbills and 245 Kittiwakes were also spotted off the coasts today.

Bird numbers on the island today were a bit thin on the ground but the most notable birds today were a Woodcock flushed from the observatory garden was the third record of the autumn, Ten Skylarks, Two Song Thrushes, a single flock of 44 Greenfinches moving through, 415 Starlings, One Reed Bunting, 13 Chiffchafs including one possible Tristis type bird in one of the withy beds and a lingering Whitethroat again made an appearance. The Whitethroat is only one day off equalling the latest departure date for this species on Bardsey, which was held by a bird in 1982 which departed on 4th November.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

A drop in the strong winds of the past few days, showers and sunshine was the order of the weather today.

The most notable sighting of the day came in the morning when another first winter Red-breasted Flycatcher was discovered at the north end of the island in one of the gardens situated there. This is the third Red-breasted Flycatcher of the year, two of which have appeared within a few days of each other. The one found a few days ago showed extensive and obvious buff throat and breast, the bird found today seemed to lack these obvious buff tones the previous one had and was overall paler around the throat and breast.

A brief flurry of passage at sea produced counts of 30 adult Mediterranean Gulls, 559 Black-headed Gulls, 307 Kittiwakes and 109 Razorbills, all heading south.

On the passerine front numbers were not so large but included two Skylarks heading south, four Song Thrushes, a scattering of  12 Chiffchaffs in the vegetated areas on the island, three Goldcrests, 207 Starlings moving north, 54 Chaffinches some of which dropped into the gardens in small groups and the rain showers began, a loan Greenfinch and two Lesser Readpolls.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

After the excellent end-of-season party last night, staff were a little groggy in the morning. Still, the island census is done rain or shine, and today was no exception. The morning was mostly overcast and breezy but throughout the day the rain and wind picked up, with the evening bordering on monsoon weather.

The Great Spotted Woodpecker remained in the Withies whilst a Woodcock was flushed from Nant in the morning. 

Out to sea two Fulmars glided by with one Manx Shearwater, four Common Scoters, four Mediterranean Gulls, 112 Black-headed Gulls, eight Common Gulls, and 970 Kittiwakes (mostly in one flock).

The Narrows were busy at high tide with 33 Oystercatchers, one Snipe, one Whimbrel, 46 Curlews, 12 Redshanks, 14 Turnstones and a Heron. Inland, 15 Skylarks, two Grey Wagtails, seven Song thrushes, five Redwings, nine Chiffchaffs, ten Goldcrests, one Jackdaw, 374 Starlings, 33 Chaffinches, one Siskin, one Lesser Redpoll, one Reed Buntingone Merlin, and two Water Rails were found. 

Friday, 31 October 2014

There was only a small scattering of birds around the island today, with little movement overhead or out to sea (though most of the day was spent preparing for tonight's BBFO end-of-season party). Still, two Barred Warblers put in an appearance with one at Cristin and another at Plas Withy, potentially the sixth and seventh birds of the autumn. Though likely to be new birds, our recent run of records makes it difficult to confirm. Can other birds really be ruled out?

Elsewhere two Little Gulls were seen on the West Coast and the Great Spotted Woodpecker showed well in the Withies. A Shelduck flew by the island, two Lapwings were still loafing around The Narrows, a Purple Sandpiper was on Carreg Yr Honwy, and an adult Mediterranean Gull showed at the North End.

Other sightings around the island include three Song thrushes, five Redwings, eight Chiffchaffs, four Goldcrests, 441 Starlings, four Goldfinches, and nine Linnets

Thursday, 30 October 2014

The island breathed a sigh of relief today after the weight of yesterday's birds. I'm not saying it was devoid though, there were still a decent spread of quality migrants around.

The cream of the crop was a brief Yellow-browed Warbler calling at Cristin and three Siberian Chiffchaffs that were dotted around the island. A 1st winter Black Redstart put in an appearance whilst a Woodcock flushed from the Mountain was the first this autumn. One of yesterday's Great Spotted Woodpeckers could still be found in Cristin Withy, as well as the late Whinchat in the Wetlands. Another interesting late sighting was a Whitethroat found in Cristin Withy, not too shy of our latest ever record.

Other sightings from today include one Mediterranean Gull, 23 Black-headed Gulls, and seven Common Scoters out at sea. On The Narrows one Heron34 Oystercatchers, three Lapwings, one Whimbrel, 11 Curlews, eight Redshanks, and 19 Turnstones were found.  Migrants recorded inland include the first Collared Dove for many months, 29 Skylarks, one Grey Wagtail, 26 Blackbirds, 33 Song thrushes, 23 Redwings, two Blackcaps, 21 Chiffchaffs, 19 Goldcrests, 783 Starlings, 31 Chaffinches, two Greenfinches, two Goldfinches, 16 Linnets, and one Water Rail.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Sometimes a day comes around where everything falls right into place. After a week of rather dreary weather, today's bright sunshine and cool breeze invigorated the island, with quality birds found in every bush. The sheer amount of migration in action today made counting birds difficult and tiring, though without doubt one of the most enjoyable days of the year. I could carry on with superlatives for today but i feel the following haul does it most justice:

Ten Yellow-browed Warblers, six Siberian Chiffchaffs, one Red-breasted Flycatcher, and one Barred Warbler (new) were the standout birds of the day, though running close behind are four Woodlarks, two Black Redstarts, two Great Spotted Woodpeckers, fiveRing Ouzels, one Stock Dove, one Hawfinch, one male Bullfinch (new for the year), one Treecreeper (new for the year), one Little Egret, one Firecrest, two House Sparrows, one Goldeneye (new for the year), and a Hobby (new for the year). 

In addition to above, an extremely late Whinchat frequented the Wetlands with two Jack Snipes, singles of Merlin and Buzzard flew over, and three Water Rails squeeled around the island. All these were recorded with 231 Skylarks, 91 Meadow Pipits, 34 Woodpigeons, two Grey Wagtails, eight 'alba' Wagtails, 99 Blackbirds, 37 Song thrushes, 20 Redwings, one Mistle Thrush, 11 Blackcaps, 46 Chiffchaffs, 58 Goldcrests, 595 Jackdaws, 48 Rooks, 83 Carrion Crows, two Hooded Crows, four Ravens, 680 Starlings, 455 Chaffinches, five Bramblings, 67 Greenfinches, 16 Siskins, 62 Goldfinches, 35 Linnets, two Lesser Redpolls, and 23 Reed Buntings.

 Jackdaws -595 were counted, but there could easily have been more
 The first Bullfinch of the year
 Good numbers of Blackcaps

 One of the Siberian Chiffchaffs from Nant

 ...and this one from the farm

Where it shared the Apple Tree with Golcrests (above) and 
the Red-breasted Flychatcher (below)