Tuesday, 8 September 2015

NGBs on Bardsey 2015

Bardsey Bird Observatory Trip Report 2015

"22nd of August saw the first four members of NGB making their way across to Bardsey Island. The weather was not your usual weather for August, but then again it is Wales! Between the rain and the wind the four members (Dan, David, Ephraim, George) split up and began birding. The first day was a quiet day where it was mainly exploring the island for the best birding spots and getting to know the names of the areas, which quickly went out the window as new names where then appointed: e.g Solfach was transformed to Solvent. 

The Sunday was a much better day for birding, despite the rain again. We set up my scope in a little alcove by the entrance to the Common room so we didn't have to go out into the rain. We collected a number of common species such as Common and Arctic tern. It was my turn to do some sea watching, after glaring into a misty sea, a tern caught my eye and after watching it come out from the mist, I could finally tell what it was: Black Tern! Sunday quickly turned into a Tern-kind-of-day with two hours later whilst down the hide at Solfach, Steve picked up on a Roseate Tern!" Dan Rouse

"The rest of us (Josie, Aidan, Jammy, Ben and I) came over to the island on Monday, after Birdfair, and it seemed that we brought the sunny weather with us, as it ended up being a very pleasant week, which was a huge relief after looking at the weather forecast a few days before and seeing day after day of rain! After a calm crossing and meeting the others, we soon started birding, with the notable birds of the day being a Mediterranean Gull and a Common Sandpiper, and of course the great birds we got used to seeing daily like Manx Shearwater, Chough, Wheatear, Raven and Common Scoter. Every evening we gathered in the common room to help with log, when one of the observatory staff would input all of the day's bird and other wildlife records into a laptop. After log on Monday evening, we ventured to the North end of the island in search of Manxie chicks. where we were able to see these amazing birds close up, and the ringers in the group got to ring a few. The Storm Petrel nets were also put up, and 4 birds were caught, so we all stood in awe at this superb bird, which was a lifer for many of the group. It was truly magical standing in the dark watching a Stormie in front of us (and selling it!) with Manxies calling overhead, and a Little Owl calling in the distance. 

On Tuesday, among the usual stuff we had a Whitethroat, Grey Wagtail, Peregrine and Purple Sandpiper, and whilst sea-watching from the observatory we had 3 Gadwall and a Teal fly north incredibly fast (good birds for Bardsey!). We also had a Great Skua, and there was a lot of excitement and the frantic setting up of scopes when a juv Long-Tailed Skua was called. The bird kindly flew at a leisurely pace reasonably close in, so everyone present at the time could get onto the bird and have good views, and it was a lifer for some of us.

Wednesday was quite a quiet day bird-wise, but we did see a Razorbill resting on the sea while on the beach at Solfach. Thursday was quite the opposite though, with some good waders seen whilst sea-watching from the Obs. I spotted a mixed flock of waders flying south, and soon Steve  had identified them as 9 Whimbrel, 8 Knot (first for the trip), at least 2 Bar-tailed Godwits (first for the trip) and a Grey Plover (the only one of the trip). In fact, Grey Plover is a scarce bird on Bardsey, with only 3 records from 2013, and my bird was only the second record for this year, so not a bad find! Ringed Plover, Redshank, Oystercatcher and Turnstone were the other waders seen that day. In the afternoon we headed up the mountain slightly in search of Manxie chicks to ring, and even the non-ringers in the group, Ephraim, George and I, were able to ring these incredible birds under the guidance of Steve, an A permit holder, which was a real privilege and an unforgettable experience. 

That evening all the NGbs, obs staff and birding visitors to the island gathered in Steve's house for the bird quiz, where we split into two teams each with a fair distribution of older birders and Ngbs. It was great fun, with questions about rare bird records, identifying and ageing birds, and some general bird-related questions, and in the end it was very close between the two teams.

Friday was the day of the bird race between the NGBs and the rest of the birders on the island (the warden and assistant wardens; Steve, Mark and Steffan, and two birders Kevin and Jess). The race technically started at midnight; when we all still in Steve's house after the quiz, and it ended at 7:30pm for log. In the morning out team split into pairs to cover the island, with Josie and I staying at the observatory to sea-watch, But before everyone else was up, George saw a Grey phalarope out to sea, the only one seen on the trip so a great tick, however it couldn't be counted in our race list as 2 people had to see every species. I managed to find a Pomarine Skua (the only one of the trip) and a Golden Plover (also the only one of the trip) but unfortunately in order to identify any birds found whilst sea-watching we had to alert 'the enemy', so the birds went on their day list too. In the end the NGBs saw 59 species, and the other team saw 60, painfully close! However, it could be argued (and we did) that the obs staff cheated, as they went to the East Side (where we weren't allowed to go because it's too dangerous) and played a Stormie tape into a Stormie burrow (that only they knew was there) and they heard the bird call back and ticked it-cheats! Also, during the day a couple of  Barn Owl feathers were found, so after log Jammy, Ephraim and Ben went out to find the owl, and they were succesful (albeit just a 3 second view), but that couldn;t be included in our bird race total as it was after 7:30, so technically I think we can say that the NGBs won!
Sorrel Lyall

"The ringers of the group got to experience a variety of species! The mist-nets in the garden in the obs provided the usual species for some of us, such as; Goldcrest, Robin, and Wrens. On the Saturday, one of my favourite birds appeared in the nets; Spotted Flycatcher! Once, Ben arrived on the island, we went down to the beach at Solfach to set up the portable Heligoland trap in the hopes of catching some Rock Pipits. The idea was a success with a few Pipits caught, however, the trap provided some very exciting birds such as a Dunlin which Josie ringed and a Redshank which I had the pleasure of ringing. We tried numerous times to trap the Turnstones that were strutting up and down the beach, but despite trying different methods it wasn't a success. On the last day, Steffan brought Steve some Goldfinch pulli which myself and Josie ringed, these little birds were tiny and just adorable to ring." D

"On Saturday afternoon we got the boat back to the mainland (after leaving Jammy on the island for another week!) and saw some close Manxies from the boat and a Guillemot on the water. 

From Saturday to Saturday NGBs and the obs staff saw exactly 100 species, and from Monday to Saturday NGBs saw 94 species, meaning we beat the Skokholm crew in the NGB Islands Bird Race by 10 species. So all in all a fantastic week!" S

- By Sorrel Lyall & Contribution by Dan Rouse

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