Enlli: Migration in action

For those who are unaware I’m once again back on the isle of Bardsey, not for some college work experience nonsense but instead to carry out a 5 week internship. Having simply fallen in love with the place on my last adventure to Bardsey I couldn’t help but ask to come back for more of this transfixing island.

As it stands I’m currently on my 3rd week and so far its been going pretty well; I feel accepted into the Bardsey community, the birding’s had its interesting moments, we were joined by a group of young birders for the annual Next Generation Birders trip, everyone seems to be impressed with my work quality and ethic, and to round it all off I’ve managed to fit in the odd spot of photography here and there.

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This years Next Generation Birders visiting the island: Kate Fox, Josie Hewitt, Ben Porter, Harry King, Jacob Spinks, Lizzie Forest, George Dunbar, Eleanor Grove, Luke Anderson & Luke Harris (Image – Colin Evans)

So then, if you’ve been keeping track of Bardsey’s blog (BBFO BlogSpot), then you’ll have noticed that compared to our enemy down the coast at Skokholm, then we’ve not been having the best of times. So far this year Bardsey’s arch rivals have scored Marsh Warbler, Bluethroat (eastern race “magna“), Western Cattle Egret, Yellow-rumped Warbler (ssp. coronata), Common Crane, Great Bittern, Ring-billed Gull and most recently Great Shearwater. Yet here on Bardsey after not one, but two Pallas’s leaf Warblers were trapped and ringed in the spring its been a fairly dull year with only a European Honey Buzzard and Balearic Shearwater in mid summer being the only notable birds.

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Yellow-rumped Warbler (ssp. coronate)

During my stay on the island since the 27th of July (as I’m writing this in the observatory office I still have 2 weeks left of this epic site), Bardsey’s been slowly but surly heating up: Mediterranean Gull were present July 31st, August 4th, 12th, 19th, a cream-headed Western Marsh Harrier headed south over Christin on the 8th, Little Egret was nice find on the 9th, Tree Pipits passed over on the 9th & 13th, Balearic Shearwater headed south on 16th, Long-eared Owl was present from the 14th-16th and narrowly avoided being caught in a mist net, Common Greenshank was great bird to have on overhead wader passage on the 14th, Great Spotted Woodpecker was trapped and ringed at Nant on the 15th, Phalarope sp was picked up but couldn’t be identified on July 31st and to round it all off on today two Sooty Shearwaters put on a flawless performance in the morning and evening along the west side of the island.

Excluding the “rarities”, migrants in the much commoner form over the past few weeks such as Arctic Tern, Ruddy Turnstone, Willow Warbler, Black-legged Kittiwake, Common Scoter, Eurasian Curlew, Northern Wheatear, Goldcrest and Northern Gannet have also been filtering through in nice numbers: Great Skua (13th, 15th & 18th), Common Tern (1st, 14th, 15th & 18th), Arctic Tern (13th, 14th, 15th & 18th), Sandwich Tern (7th, 14th, 15th, 18th & 19th), Black-tailed Godwit (15th), 37 Willow Warbler (13th), 89 Northern Fulmar (18th), Arctic Skua (13th, 14th, 15th, 16th & 18th), 386 Barn Swallow (13th), 7394 Manx Shearwater (18th), 5 Purple Sandpiper (16th), 194 Linnet (13th), Atlantic Puffin (16th), 2 Northern Wheatear (ssp. Leucorhoa/14th & 16th), Common Swift (14th), 1948 Black-legged Kittiwake (15th), Common Cuckoo (1st), Great Spotted Woodpecker (15th), 24 European Sand Martin (13th), 80 Northern House Martin (13th), 3 Eurasian Teal (14th), European Golden Plover (10th & 13th) and last but not least Red Knot (10th), are just some of the migration highlights of commoner species that we’ve been documenting at the observatory as part of our work here on Bardsey.

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Northern Wheatear (ssp. leucorhoa) – These “Greenland” birds are back on the move with several being noted on the island, including an exhausted female in the observatory compound where it was caught by the hand. Along with this cracking male on the islands south end seen whilst on a sea watch.

Besides the vain highlights on Bardsey then the island offers a wide range of botanical highlights such as Rock Sea Lavender, Autumn Lady’s Tress, Western Clover & Western Gorse, Bell Heather, Small Adders Tounge and Sheep’s-Bit. Shortly before this years NGBs arrived on the island I had good friend Joshua Styles come and join for a few days to have a sneek peek at the island botany. We had a pretty good time with a new species for the island (Common Poppy), along with re-discovering Strawberry Clover and encounter the nationally scarce Allseed.

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Sheep’s-bit (Jasione montana) – Its the attractive blue flower that in plenty on Bardsey, yet in Lancashire its now been reduced to just two flowers in the entire county. A species that’s now most likely extinct.

 

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