Saturday, 24 September 2016

Bardsey Week 4 (17-23/09/16)

Southerlies and westerlies continued to prevail over the island this week, despite this there were good numbers of migrants passing through. The most common of course being Chiffchaff and Goldcrest. The numbers are still to reach their peak, and are steadily on the increase. Amongst them are the occasional Spotted Flycatcher or migrant warbler, for example Willow Warbler, Blackcap, Garden Warbler and Reed Warbler. Chats are still passing through in good number, including Stonechat, but especially Robins, which have numbered up to 70 or so birds on some days. The odd Whinchat or even Lapland Bunting have also cropped up and both Grey Wagtail and Snipe have been seen passing through almost daily.

 Manx Shearwater

 Spotted Flycatcher

However, the highlights of the week have been more Wryneck, and the incredibly confiding waders on Solfach. It’s been very enjoyable being able to see Wryneck on almost a daily basis, and even having the privilege of encountering a slightly more showy individual.


As I said earlier the Waders on the beach have been posing for the cameras and have allowed for some enjoyable photography sessions. Not to mention the number present. Turnstone are numbering up to 80 or so birds whilst Dunlin are breaking 20 and Ringed Plover are managing double figures. The occasional Knot or Sanderling have also been present.

 Ringed Plover

 Purple Sandpiper


We’ve taken advantage of the number of wader and attempted woosh netting twice, both times having reasonable success, with almost 20 birds caught in the second session.

Moths continue to be trapped in the garden, largely consisting of Square-spot Rustics or Lunar Underwings, but other more interesting species have also been caught, including another Convolvulus Hawkmoth.

Convolvulus Hawkmoth

Oh, I almost forgot, the Melodious Warbler is also somehow, still in the observatory Garden smashing its way into its fourth week here! How I’ve not got a single picture of the bird is beyond me…

Friday, 23 September 2016

Bardsey week 3 (10-16/09/16)

Week three started again with quite a surprise. I was climbing out of bed when Steffan charged into the hut and shouted he had a Great Shearwater cruising past the west coast! Of course I scrambled about and ran outside to the scope. I was instantly put on the bird and I was able to make out a few features before the bird disappeared behind a building. A great start to the week! I don’t envy him for finding it, since I hear they can be an absolute pain to get accepted by the Welsh Records Panel.
The second surprise of the day came in the evening, when a Wryneck was found at Pen Cristin, on the south east side of the island. A quick dash over there and some searching eventually produced my first Wryneck of the autumn! The bird stayed at a fair distance, but still allowed me to enjoy reasonable views through my binoculars.


The week continued to hold a reasonable number of migrants and a new Icterine Warbler at Nant, provided a helpful comparison with the long-staying Melodious Warbler in the observatory garden and my first fly over Lapland Bunting of the autumn was a pleasant surprise.

Wednesday was where it got slightly more hectic. In the morning of the 14th the sun broke through the mist which had fallen over the island overnight, and revealed a beautiful day. Following my morning census of the Withies and Lowlands it was clear there were new birds in. I made my way shortly after to Nant, in hope of something new dropping in and maybe getting some photographs of the Icterine Warbler, which was still present at Nant. It wasn’t long before a new Wryneck was discovered, a small group of us observed the bird before it flew off, being chased by a second Wryneck! After some thorough searching, it became clear there were around three Wrynecks at Nant alone! At the end of the day Wrynecks stood at a grand total of 4 birds, and a single Ortolan Bunting only seen by Steve unfortunately. The next day, Wrynecks continued to parade around the island with some new individuals and others which began to take up grounds for a longer stay.

Ringed Plover

Bar-tailed Godwit

Bar-tailed Godwit


Gold Spot

Canary-shouldered Thorn

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Bardsey week 2 (03-09/09/16)

My second week on Bardsey started with a bang! I was pulled out of bed by reports of a Buff-breasted Sandpiper on the South End, the first on the island for exactly 36 years! I chucked my stuff on and ran, by the time I arrived I saw gloomy faces, not the faces of people who had just seen their first Buff-breasted Sandpiper. The bird had flown off, and been lost. The team gave the island a thorough searching despite the 19mm of rain which fell in just a few hours, but to no avail. However, the Melodious continued to show into its second week at the obs.

Meadow Pipit

Seawatching throughout the week produced good numbers of auks flying through and the occasional Skua. Despite good efforts the best bird I could find was a Canada Goose, with under 40 records it makes it a scarcity on the island, but it wasn’t quite the scarcity I was hoping for. Other common migrants were about, including some Spotted Flycatchers, a few Snipe and a Redstart in the Withies. The island was covered in fog for 2 consecutive days on the 5th and 6th, which made birding difficult. However, on the 7th the fog had lifted and revealed a migrant filled island. The morning produced a new record count of fly over Grey Wagtail on the island, totalling over 60 birds! Snipe were also to be observed across the wetlands, White Wagtails covered the Narrows and the usual suspects were still to be seen including Willow Warblers, Chiffchaffs, Goldcrest and even a flock of 40 House Martins past the North side of the island. The rest of the week held similar species, but not quite of the same magnitude.

Bar-tailed Godwit


Personally the highlight of the week for me was the ringing. Early in the week we attempted a Wagtail roost and caught about a few Pied Wagtails and a White Wagtail. Later in the week Ben and I opened the nets in the Withies, which produced a good haul of birds, including Willow Warblers, Goldcrests, a Chiffchaff, a Whitethroat, a Swallow and best of all a Pied Flycatcher! On the Friday evening we managed to get out and do some Manx Shearwater ringing, at this time of year, the adults have abandoned the babies, leaving them to convert the fat that they’ve built up over the feeding period into muscle, ready for their huge migration around the Atlantic. This means 100% of the birds we ringed were juvenile.


Grey Heron


Pied Flycatcher

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Bardsey week 1 (27/08/16-02/09/16)

My volunteering stint on Bardsey began on Saturday the 27th of August. Although one of the first birds I saw on my arrival was a juv. Peregrine, the first week has been quiet. There has been a trickle of common migrants passing through, but primarily with westerly winds dominating the weather maps we are still mostly watching the left-overs from last week’s Willow Warbler fall. Which brings us to the highlight of the week, a long staying Melodious Warbler. It has been favouring the south side of the garden and showing most days reasonably regularly. On the 1st of September we were lucky enough to retrap the bird and enjoy close views of a Bardsey specialty.

Melodious Warbler

As I said before, the westerly winds have made migrants scarce on the ground, but we have enjoyed good numbers of Willow Warbler. Close to the beginning of the week we saw a small rise in chat numbers including both Stonechat and Robin, and I was lucky enough to bump into my first Whinchat of the autumn. Other than that Goldcrest numbers have been increasing with the occasional odd migrant, such as Spotted Flycatcher.

Spotted Flycatcher



Other migrants have included some sylvias both Whitethroat and Blackcap, and it was a surprise to find out that Reed Warbler was an uncommon migrant on the island having found 2 at Nant in 3 days. Friday has brought the largest number of migrants in on my end with another 4 fly over Grey Wagtails, 2 Spotted Flycatcher, a Grasshopper Warbler and a Redstart.


Little Owl

On the ringing side of things, I was thrilled to be able to ring my first ever Rock Pipit and White Wagtail, using a portable Heligoland trap! We were able to trap around 15 Rock Pipits in one session, which was quite a success.

Comparison between Rock and Meadow Pipit

Mist netting was also relatively successful with numerous Goldcrests and a Garden Warbler being the highlight.


Also of note was a Convolvulus Hawkmoth!