Friday, May 4, 2012

The first few days of May have been fantastic. We awoke on the 1st to a South End jumping with migrants. The Gorse alone held 103 Willow Warblers, including a couple of grey northern birds, 14 Blackcaps, 66 Wheatears, a male Redstart, a Tree Pipit, two Whitethroats, two Sedge Warblers and the first Lesser Whitethroat of the year. We then bumped into the first Yellow Wagtail of the year, a smart male flavissima. The migrant totals for the day came to two Short-eared Owls, three Cuckoos, six Tree Pipits, 12 White Wagtails, seven Redstarts, three Whinchats, 279 Wheatear, seven Grasshopper Warblers, 15 Sedge Warblers, the Lesser Whitethroat, 12 Whitethroats, 57 Blackcaps, 14 Chiffchaffs, 322 Willow Warblers, three Goldcrests and two Reed Buntings. A few finches were also on the move, mainly Goldfinch but also 18 Redpolls including two that didn't look very Lesser Redpoll like at all.

Every spring we get quite a few Redpolls that make us want to look away and pretend we never saw them. In the hand, wing lengths, although towards the top end for Lesser Redpolls, still fall within the range of that species. But both in the hand, and here in the field, they just don't look like proper Lesser Redpolls. They are cold and lack any of the warm brown tones to the breast and flanks. So they're possibly diminutive Common Redpolls, but where from? (c) Richard Brown

The following day was equally as exciting with 757 Swallows, 25 Sand Martins and 39 House Martins streaming through. We were ringing at Nant when a Red-rumped Swallow also swept through, briefly circling the Plantation before heading North. One of the tail streamers was snapped, so perhaps this bird can be tracked as it tours Britain. Although the Swallow was the obvious highlight, the day was brilliant throughout with migrants littering field margins and track sides. The ringing total for the day topped 150 with a good variety of common migrants, including the first Redstart of the year, and a Chiffchaff which looked a good candidate for a tristis. Island totals were slightly up on the first with ten Redstarts, four Whinchats, 454 Wheatears, two Ring Ouzels, 12 Grasshopper Warblers, 47 Sedge Warblers, four Lesser Whitethroats, 18 Whitethroats, 34 Chiffchaff and seven Goldcrest but there were only 213 Willow Warblers. The first five Spotted Flycatchers of the year were also recorded. 

A Chiffchaff not from these parts. Two Chiffchaffs looking almost identical to this were trapped back in April 2008. They were submitted as tristis and were met with mixed opinions, some feeling that the birds were more like fulvescens. Sadly the bird did not call on release and was not relocated. (c) Richard Brown

The third was a quieter day, but the first four Garden Warblers of the year were logged along with 359 Swallows, five Tree Pipits, five Whinchats, 34 Whitethroat, eight Spotted Flycatchers and a female Pied Flycatcher

Up until this year 127 Tree Pipits had been ringed on Bardsey since 1953. A further three have been caught recently, including two ringed by Giselle on the third. (c) Richard Brown

The last few days have been littered with migrants. This Grasshopper Warbler was going in and out of the stone wall which separates the Narrows from the South End. Where this guy spent the winter is a bit of a mystery. There have been just four trans-Saharan ringing recoveries, all either to or from Senegal. (c) Richard Brown


  1. That streaky redpoll is amazing! Don't Icelandic birds look something like that?

  2. A Single tail streamered RRS was on St Mary's, Isles of Scilly on Sunday 6th May - Same bird perhaps ?