Sunday, October 16, 2011

With the rest of the UK littered with good stuff we've spent the last couple of days trudging the island in search of Rufous-tailed RobinRed-flanked Bluetail, anything Isabelline or even a Red-breasted Flycatcher. By midday today none of these had appeared, so we decided that we'd settle for a Yellow-browed Warbler. But even that was too much to ask. It hasn't been all that grim though, we flushed five Short-eared Owls from the gorse this morning and there are at least another 19 on the island. The first Jack Snipe and Woodcock of the autumn flushed from below our feet in the badlands yesterday and two Little Grebes were in the bay, a rare species on Bardsey. Rich tells me I have to re-phrase that and say "It's a sad October day, when two Little Grebes are the best we can find". Two Bullfinch, three Great Tits, two Coal Tits, a Yellowhammer and a couple of Brambling were equally as exciting. Two skulky Wrynecks remain.

Desperate to find something good, we traversed the mountain-side, hopping our way through dense patches of gorse. Rich flushed an interesting lepid that turned out to be just a Small Copper. (c) Giselle Eagle

In an attempt to cheer a borderline depressed Rich up, I've turned to 'The Law of Averages' which clearly states that the scattering of scarce and rare birds on the mainland will even out and as a result we will get a chance to bask in some of its avian glory. Wikipedia has just informed me, however, that the 'law' usually reflects bad statistics or wishful thinking. My attempt therefore has failed. So if you're reading this and you are any of the species mentioned in the opening paragraph of this post, please drop in sometime (very soon).

An unprecedented influx of at least 24 Short-eared Owls was never going to please everybody. We're not alone either, with several sites across the country logging impressive numbers including 18 at Portland Bill and an amazing 50 in off the sea at Titchwell. A Scandinavian origin seems likely for a lot of these birds, so why so many? Studies have shown that, in Finland and Sweden, Short-eared Owl productivity increases significantly with increases in the abundance of Field Vole and Sibling Vole. So presumably it's been a good year for the little critters. (c) Richard Brown

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