Sunday, August 26, 2012

Well it wasn't all bad getting stuck off the Island for an extra couple of nights. When news broke on the evening of the 21st that there was a Broad-billed Sandpiper at Seaton Snook, we were already well into our third pints down the local. It was perhaps a bit hopeful to expect the bird to return to the same high tide roost the following evening, but it did. The crappy digiscoped images don't really do justice to the views we had, but it was cracking. The bird usually kept a lower profile than the Dunlin, crouching down in dips and troughs. As the flock worked up towards the gathered crowd of 20 or so birders, we were all hoping for some great views. But the flock was quite active and various dog walkers were not helping them to settle. But the birds kept getting closer. However, for no apparent reason, the star bird suddenly departed with a small group of Dunlin and was last seen flying high over the South side of Teesmouth, perhaps on its way to Nosterfield. But even without the sandpiper, it was an excellent roost. The tern flock, primarily made up of a three figure count of Common Terns, also held a few Arctic Terns, a couple of Sandwich Terns, two Black Terns and an adult Roseate Tern joined the group late on. Two Curlew Sandpipers were with the Dunlin flock.

Rather poor photos of the juvenile Broad-billed Sandpiper and a Black Tern. This is a truly fantastic site, but it is sadly disturbed by dog walkers on a far too regular basis. Surely there must be a way of dissuading people from the Seaton Snook area at high tide? The vast majority of dog walkers are totally oblivious to the disturbance they are causing, indeed most were oblivious to the big group of people watching them walk through the birds. Perhaps some big dog shaped signs could kindly ask them to walk their dogs on the couple of miles of beach in the other direction? This was only the second Broad-billed Sandpiper of 2012 following on from one in the Outer Hebrides back in May. (c) Richard Brown

A little way to the South, at Lockwood Beck, the Osprey was again showing very well, occasionally fishing below where we were sat. Our yearlist, severely hampered by nine weeks in the Caribbean, scraped over the 200 mark with this bird (watch out Tonks and Aimes, we're coming). (c) Richard Brown

Back on Bardsey and a trickle of migrants are continuing to pass through. It's been a great autumn for Pied Flycatchers with numbers considerably up on recent years. The broad white outer edges to the tertials which step in at the feather shaft show this to be a bird hatched this year. Hopefully many people recognise this particular plumage from our little competition at the BOC stand at the Birfair. (c) Richard Brown

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

It has been ages since we've blogged. Our only excuse is that we've been quite busy. Back on Bardsey we have managed to build a second Heligoland Trap in the Obs garden. We were inspired by the fact that the original trap has provided us with an average of exactly 450 new birds a year between 2000 and 2011. Also by the decent birds which have recently been taken in the original, including Woodchat Shrike, Melodious Warbler and Greenish Warbler. It hasn't been easy, but we have now managed to build a second trap which uses the east wing of the original to form the new trap's west wing. The new trap thus catches birds approaching from the South whereas the old trap takes birds coming from the North. But we'd only just finished the trap (and caught the first few Willow Warblers in it), when it was time to leave Bardsey to represent the Bird Observatories Council at the Birdfair. We've missed a few birds whilst we've been away, most notably record numbers of Pied Flycatchers along with a Hobby, a Wood Warbler, a Wryneck, a couple of trips of Dotterel and a few more 100+ Willow Warbler days. However we can't really grumble as we had a cracking time at the Birdfair. We're now waiting for the weather to allow us to return to Bardsey, with Thursday looking like it will be good for a crossing. Whilst we wait we've picked up a few more birds for the yearlist, most notably the Black Tern and Black-necked Grebe just down the road at Nosterfield and the very showy Osprey at Lockwood Beck Reservoir.

Our new Heligoland Trap in the Obs garden. Many a Subalpine Warbler has vanished into the Gorse in this part of the garden; hopefully a few will now find the back of the trap. With the exception of the chicken wire, the whole trap has been made out of offcuts and unwanted materials lying around the island. (c) Giselle Eagle

Monday, August 6, 2012

A few Willow Warblers in the South End Gorse early on suggested that migrants were on the move. But it was only when we crossed the Narrows that we realised that it was going to be a pretty decent day. The first withy we came to held nine more Willow Warblers and Rich located a Melodious Warbler. It showed well and eventually found a mist net. Often the best way to pick it up as it moved through the vegetation was by the sound of its bill snapping shut on insects. It was clearly feeding well so it was no surprise that its body was surrounded by a layer of fat. Willow Warblers continued to move through during the day; tonight's adding up will no doubt give a figure of well over 150. Add to this a Whinchat, two Spotted Flycatchers and a Tree Pipit and autumn is well and truly under way. 

The first Melodious Warbler to be reported in the UK this autumn. The fresh plumage shows this to be a bird of the year. Adults do not moult until they reach their wintering grounds so their plumage shows the wear picked up during the breeding season. This is the 112th Melodious Warbler recorded by BBFO since 1953! Why Bardsey is so attractive to these short winged Hippos is not clear. (c) Richard Brown

This is the ninth year that Redpolls have nested on Bardsey, but the first time with more than one pair. The three pairs have fledged a minimum of seven between them, a new island record. This smart male is currently feeding three streaky brownpolls. (c) Richard Brown

Although this lingering Cuckoo spent a lot of time begging at the Meadow Pipits, it probably came from the mainland. It spent most of its stay gorging on Six-spot Burnets. (c) Richard Brown