Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Having started so well, May has now become rather quiet. The first two Reed Warblers of the year have passed through, but a report of a probable Wood Warbler wasn't confirmed. A leucistic Wheatear provided some entertainment, as does the regular appearance of unidentified Redpolls. The general consensus seems to be that some Common Redpolls are passing through, but that some intermediate type birds are perhaps best left unidentified. The most interesting news came via a comment left by Si on this blog. It seems that our Red-rumped Swallow may have reached St Mary's, Scilly, on 6th May, four days after it tore across Bardsey. See for some photos of a bird closely resembling our streamer-deficient individual.

The leucistic Wheatear that spent a few days in the field below the farm. Although clearly a leucisitc bird, having very pale feathers to the wing, the question of a 'leucistic what?' could be posed. When certain plumage features can't be used, separating Northern Wheatear from Isabelline Wheatear becomes a bit more of a challenge. The pale feathers are so much weaker than they should be that this bird's plumage is already completely shot, the bird looking a mess compared with the nice fresh Wheatears surrounding it. So field characters such as the relative spacing of the primaries and primary projection are of no use. The tail band is quite broad, but not as broad as in Isabelline. The face pattern is also very pro-Northern, with the supercilium pale in front of the eye and bolder behind. (c) Richard Brown

As with other sites, this year seems to be a remarkably good one for passage Blackcaps. The 226 Blackcaps ringed so far this year has already surpassed the best ever Bardsey year total of 205 recorded in 1988. That's a pretty good year considering that the trapping of passage migrants has been occurring on Bardsey since 1953. (c) Richard Brown

The Black-headed Gull mentioned the other day. It spent just a few minutes feeding behind the harrow, but as soon as the job was done the bird was off. Although mud and poor views mean that the darvic can't be fully read, the partial sequence is enough to know that this bird was ringed at Southport Marine Lake, Lancashire on 10 February this year. For more information see (c) Richard Brown

Several sites have noted that a higher than normal percentage of the Garden Warblers passing through this spring seem to have large pollen horns. This is perhaps as a result of the bad weather earlier this year stranding the birds in warm climates where foraging would result in such a build up of pollen. The horns are also well in evidence on Bardsey this year. (c) Richard Brown

At least we can dream. A few more educational shots from our time in the Caribbean. Least Sandpipers (taken on 16, 23 and 24 February), Semipalmated Sandpiper (both taken on 24 February), Semipalmated Plover (taken 24 February), Stilt Sandpiper (taken 2 February) and Spotted Sandpiper (taken 7 February). (c) Richard Brown

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