Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Bardsey - the home of Welsh Subalps!

A fine male Eastern Subalpine Warbler (S.c.albistriata) briefly graced the island this morning (managing to get through the obs garden and avoid ten mist nets that were all opened!). Pics will appear on 

Over the past ten years we have recorded 11 Subalpine Warblers on the island including four Eastern males and a pair last year that attempted to breed in the back garden of the obs! Why Bardsey is so good for this species is anyone's guess, but the Twite that was on the island yesterday and today was only the seventh in the past decade!! Since 1981 (past 30 years) there have been no fewer than 26 Subalps on the island, most appearing in the Obs garden, making this species almost annual, here but it is still mega rare elsewhere in Wales.

There were also very good numbers of commoner migrants too; three Whinchats, 145 Wheatears, 21 Grasshopper Warblers, 76 Sedge Warblers, 16 Whitethroats, 18 blackcaps and 65 Willow Warblers, three Ring Ouzels, and 97 Lesser Redpolls.

Tuesday dawned with clear skies and calm winds which heralded another brilliant and enjoyable day’s birding, with streams of hirundines and finches passing overhead, whilst warblers and wheatears occupied the land. A Twite discovered feeding with the Linnet flock in the north-west fields was by far the scarcest bird seen in island-terms during the day. Meanwhile, on the south end: a Red throated Diver was off coast, a Greenshank was heard by the south tip and a Reed Bunting and a Tree Pipit were in the gorse. Waders were again present in solfach at high tide in reasonable numbers: two Common Sandpipers, seven Ring Plovers, ten Dunlins, seven Turnstones and ten Whimbrels were seen. Hirundine passage included 96 Swallows, 80 Sand Martins and two House Martins, whilst 389 Meadow Pipits also moved over in flocks.  The second Whinchat of the year was in the wetlands, whilst an amazing 204 Wheatears were all over the island. Despite good numbers of common warblers, the only different sighting amongst them was three Lesser Whitethroats in the withies; 12 Grasshopper Warblers, 15 Sedge Warblers and six Whitethroats were also seen. A Song Thrush at nant and a Redwing trapped in the withies had arrived, and two Ring Ouzels were on the mountainside above Cristin. Three Lapland Buntings were in the north-west fields, a Kestrel flew over the north end and a ringtail Hen Harrier was seen by the plantation.

Redpolls are still causing headaches here, with the small brown ones being easy to do, then we have medium sized pale ones, large pale ones with whit rumps and then this monster which is presumably a Greenland bird (C.f.rostrata). The bird was photographed with a Blackcap and the photo recreated today with a lesser Redpoll for comparison of size.

Nortwestern Common Redpoll with Blackcap
Nortwestern Common Redpoll
Lesser Redpoll and Blackcap

Mondays update from our blog

 Monday saw another good day for birds with the wind swinging round to the east and the skies clearing. The highlight of the day came in the form of three Greenshanks that flew in over the south end and landed on Carreg yr Honwy with the other waders. Four Common Sandpipers were seen during the day, with other waders around amounting to: seven Ring Plovers, three Dunlins, seven Turnstones, a Snipe and eight Whimbrels; two Sandwich Terns were also later seen around the narrows. Migrant numbers remained steady: 62 Swallows, 108 Sand Martins, two House Martins,  228 Meadow Pipits, a Tree Pipit, 73 White Wagtails, 70 Wheatears, two Ring Ouzels, 20 Grasshopper Warblers, four Sedge Warblers, two Whitethroats,  20 Blackcaps, twenty nine Willow Warblers, thirteen Chiffchaffs and a Reed Bunting were seen. 130 Goldfinches passed overhead in small flocks, with fifty four Lesser Redpolls and thirty four Linnets also moving through.
Good numbers of White wags were on the beach
Lapland Buntings are still passing through
Picture+206-1.JPG (1024×576)
Good numbers of Willow Warblers continue to arrive


  1. Superb account Steve - nice one.
    Good to see Redpolls are gettng a grilling there too. At least we've put rostrata on the radar of Welsh birders this spring.

  2. Great report steve, the rostrata looks good compared to ours, or in support of ours rather! Are there any biometric pros?

    I think i was the last to see the ESAlpine male last year. I was sat by the bee hive and in went into the thick cover behind your place not to be reported again! Didnt flush it honest!

  3. Yes...I remember, the day before I arrived wasn't it Rob!!!!!