Sunday, September 30, 2012

We've been away from Bardsey for the past week. It was inevitable that we were going to miss a bird or two; it was the last week of September after all. At the start of the week it seemed as though we might get lucky; howling winds and persistent rain kept attention focused on a rather quiet sea. But with so much having arrived on the East Coast, and with the winds dropping, it was only a matter of time before Bardsey would collect another Welsh Rare. It came in the form of a rather brief but obliging Little Bunting, the first since 2005 and only the 13th for Bardsey. The following day saw a skulking Locustella which was probably smaller than a Grasshopper Warbler. We had only been back on the Island for an hour when a Barred Warbler was located near the Chapel. It was clearly on a mission and soon flew over the assembled crowd and off up the mountain.

So why leave such a fantastic place in the last week of September? Well there would have to be a pretty good reason. And there was. The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales were looking to appoint a new Warden for Skokholm. We are very pleased to announce that they have appointed two. From the start of January we will be the Skokholm Island Wardens! Skokholm is home to approximately 20% of Europe’s breeding Storm Petrels and 15% of the world population of Manx Shearwaters. The seabird assemblage is of international importance. Throw in a few Nationally Scarce species of Lepidoptera and plants, a spectacular landscape of old red sandstone, Skokholm’s reputation as a migration hotspot and it is no surprise how excited we are. It hasn’t really sunk in yet. Skokholm was also Britain’s first Bird Observatory, started by Ronald Lockley in 1933. It is a real honour to be able to follow in the footsteps of such a pioneering naturalist. We would like to extend a massive thank you to everyone who has helped and supported us on Bardsey, and to all the guests who have become good friends over the years. We will of course be hoping to see you all on Skokholm in the future.

We are very excited about having a final autumn on Bardsey and hope to go out with a bang (well a nice selection of rares anyway).  

The Barred Warbler which greeted us back on Bardsey. There seems to be a moult contrast in the greater coverts of both wings. This, coupled with the limited barring to the underparts and the broad pale edges to the tertials and secondaries, suggest a bird of the year. (c) Richard Brown

Although our trip to Pembrokeshire this week was on business, there was a bit of time to go birding. The Wryneck on Skomer is a long-stayer and is frequenting the same bushes where I saw many a Wryneck during my time as Assistant there. The Glossy Ibis is right outside the Marloes Mere YHA where we were staying. This bird has been back and forth to Ireland a couple of times during its stay. It has also visited Skokholm (we can only hope that it continues to do so next year)! But these movements are tiny compared to what it's capable of - recently observations of a ringed bird revealed a movement of 600km in a single day. (c) Richard Brown


  1. Congratulations to you both! Very exciting. Is Emyr taking over the Bardsey Fudge franchise?

  2. Rich & Giselle, congratulations on the appointment to Skokholm. Look forward to meeting you and to hopefully seeing some of the fantastic birds you will no doubt find there! It's a wonderful island.
    Dave Astins (Pembrokeshire birder)

  3. David, Emyr has the secret fudge recipe. But will he use it?
    Dave, we'll do our best to have you visiting Skok plenty of times next year!

  4. Congratulations on getting to be wardens at Skokholm. Will you need any volunteers?