Friday, May 20, 2011

Well it's been a little while coming, but today saw yet another fantastic bird added to what has already been a really satisfying spring. A first-summer female Woodchat Shrike was located in the Northwest Fields during the morning census and was soon twitched by everyone on the island. The bird was feeding well, with bees seeming to form the staple and at one point a massive bumblebee met its demise. It was clear that the bird was preferring a particular stretch of gorse covered wall and was feeding in a loop which frequently included this preferred section. So when the bird was elsewhere we slipped in a couple of spring traps and a box trap baited with juicy meal worms. As the bird returned to its favourite bush above the traps an excited hush fell on us all. Almost immediately the bird perched on top of the box trap, before dropping inside, the weight of the bird closing the door above it. The bird was processed quickly and was found to have good reserves of fat. It is now up on the hill above the Obs and seems to be enjoying the honeybees.

A stunning bird, the first Bardsey record since 2000 and only the 25th for the island! (c) Richard Brown

In the hand the worn brown flight feathers of a first year are distinctive. The buffish feathering in the brownish ear coverts and the dull brown grey mantle both suggest the sex. The extensive white in the wing, extending 13.5mm beyond the primary coverts, show this to be of the nominate race. (c) Richard Brown

It was fantastic to see this beautiful female Little Owl  in the hand. Little Owls have been well studied on Bardsey, with one venerable female being retrapped in 1988 at the age of 10 years 12 days. The oldest Little Owl recorded in Britain was 2 months and 15 days older! (c) Richard Brown

Happily three pairs of Stonechat, two more than last year, have taken up residence on Bardsey. Two pairs have already fledged five young apiece. (c) Richard Brown

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