Monday, November 21, 2011

It's said that Bardsey is home to 20,000 souls. There are a lot more being added at the moment. Death seems to be everywhere, and some of it is rather Pulp Fiction. In the land of the living a few finches and thrushes continue to trickle through and we've had up to six Chiffchaff, a Bullfinch and a Snow Bunting linger. Perhaps the most unusual record was a late Storm Petrel, although November records are more regular than we would have thought. 

This gruesome Stormy is the third latest Bardsey record following birds on the 26th November 1959 and the 24th November 2006. Surprisingly Storm Petrels have been recorded in ten Novembers since Bardsey records began, all of which have been attracted to the Lighthouse. The reason that the head has been skinned, presumably by Field Mice, is uncertain. Birds at the base of the tower usually go unmolested by the rodents and Rich picked this bird up in heavy rain at 3am so the little critters didn't have too long to perform their ghastly act. Perhaps it was the strong scent of the petrel which attracted the mice? (c) Richard Brown

This juvenile female Sparrowhawk was found dead in the lowlands. Puncture wounds and a torn neck suggest that it came off second best in an argument with another bird, possibly a Peregrine. It is unlikely to be related to the juvenile male pictured below as young birds tend to disperse in different directions, a good way of avoiding inbreeding in birds which tend not to disperse very far. This bird was massive compared to the ringed male, indeed the Sparrowhawk shows a greater difference between the weights of males and females than any other raptor in the world. The average weight of a male in winter is around 150g, compared to a whopping 290g for a female. Two possible reasons for such a large difference are that sexes can specialise in different prey items and thus avoid competition when occupying relatively small territories, or that a larger female is better equipped to store food whilst incubating (and will therefore breed more successfully). (c) Richard Brown

1 comment:

  1. Hi Rich,
    in some ways it is actually a little surprising that Bardsey hasn't recorded more November and even December Stormies as many juveniles from colonies such as Foula don't fledge until Nov! Its very possible that the majority hit the atlantic and make a hasty journey south past the western seaboard of Ireland rather than through the Irish Sea as they tend to be rarely recorded in the big winter Leach's wrecks.

    Great blog and keep up the fantastic posts!


    Dan Brown