Thursday, October 27, 2011

A rather blustery and showery few days has nonetheless provided some decent birding and a few additions to the Bardsey year list. The highlight was a stunning Pallas's Warbler which spent yesterday evening feeding on the hillside above Nant. The previous day had seen a reported Little Egret miraculously turn into only the second ever record of Spoonbill for the Island. We flushed a Long-eared Owl at Nant Withy which was also the first of the year. A lingering mass of Kittiwakes and Black-headed Gulls off the East continues to pull in other species including double figure counts of Mediterranean Gull and Common Gull and a couple of Sabine's Gulls. The three commoner species of Skua continue to harass the flock on and off through the day. Vis migging has been pretty good with reasonable thrush and finch passage, although we've only had a couple of Snow Buntings and Lapland Buntings to spice it up a bit. We continue to flush a few Short-eared Owls and Woodcocks through the day and a few Goldcrests, Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps remain.

The third Pallas's Warbler in two years was also the third to find Nant Withy to its liking. Pallas was a German zoologist who has lent his name to a plethora of mega species including his Grasshopper Warbler, Reed Bunting, Fish Eagle and Sandgrouse. He discovered this fantastic seven-striped sprite on the Ingoda River, Siberia in 1811. (c) Richard Brown

The bill colouration, black primary tips and black secondary shafts all show this to be a first-year bird. Spoonbill is a sporadic breeder in the UK but this year again bred in Norfolk. Apparently all the youngsters were ringed so this is likely to be a wanderer from the Continent. The first Bardsey record was on the 5th July 1953 when a single bird circled with gulls over the South End; this bird also circled with gulls, but this time above Pen Cristin and the Narrows. (c) Richard Brown

A typical Bardsey view of Long-eared Owl. The finely barred tail and primary tips along with no white trailing edge to the secondaries makes identification straightforward even on a very brief view of a bird disappearing off up the mountain. (c) Richard Brown

Great Skuas have recently become the commoner of the skuas harassing gulls to the East. Geneticists have found surprising similarities in the DNA of Great and Pomarine Skuas, despite their obvious differences in appearance. Two possibilities for this were proposed by Furness and Hamer in 2003. Either the Great resulted as a hybrid of Pom and a large Southern Hemisphere species, presumably as a result of vagrancy to the Northern Hemisphere by the Southern species, or that Pom evolved from hybridisation between Great and one of the smaller Arctic species of skua. (c) Richard Brown

1 comment:

  1. Hi Rich and Gis, cracking birds, brilliant photos, keep up the good work on this SUPERB blog. I am looking forward to getting back there in April. Rob.