Thursday, June 14, 2012

Long to Rain Over Us

June 2 to 9 ( or 10) My week on Bardsey with Steve Hughes and his family started with a beautiful day. on Saturday June 2. There had been a good sighting from the beach at Aberdaron of Risso's dolphin. Could this be a foretaste of things to come. We had a calm crossing with Colin on his boat enabling us to see several manx shearwaters, razorbills, guillemots and one kittiwake. I dipped on the kittiwake.
It was good to be back on the island again and to be staying in the Observatory. By the time we had unpacked our bags and settled into our accommodation it was time for lunch. There were several other folk staying in the Bardsey Trust houses including a party of twenty seven singers. I took a walk round enjoying the sound of the choughs as they wheeled and danced in the sky. As I may have said before that they seem do it just out of sheer pleasure. Gannets were easy to pick out with their snow white plumage and the black tips to their wings. The calm day meant that only a few were seen. I had taken an ID sheet for grasses and was able to note about 12 just in the short distance from the harbour to the school house. Connor, the son of the Observatory's warden came to show us a slow worm. It was a superb specimen. Steve, the Warden then lifted a stone in the garden to show me some ant woodlice, platyarthrus hoffmannseggi. In a pot, in the fridge, (where else?) was a small elephant hawk moth that had been caught the previous evening. This edged my total over the 600 mark !!
We had our usual early start on Sunday morning, walking through Ty Pellaf withy to Solfach.This meant we had good views of dunlin, ringed plover and a pair of shelduck with twelve young. Later that day we discovered they had increased their creche to nineteen. Returning to base for second breakfast meant we did not miss the woodchat shrike the staff had caught. Though it did mean I got distracted from washing up. Later that day they also caught a melodious warbler. This was a life tick for me
The wind had been in the East with some slight rain, which had been good for these two species. We only caught one moth, a brown silverline.
Monday June 4 was a gorgeous sunny day. I did some plant surveying and then headed for a spot just south of the narrows where there is the " hole in the rock". Lunch was taken here with all of us watching the seals and listening to their plaintiff calls. Several swallows, a few house martins and some sand martins devoured the local insect population with their usual aerobatic feeding. Fortunately they did not eat a Painted Lady butterfly which was in the area. This was also the day when Bardsey would be part of the vast number of beacons lit to mark the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty the Queen. By most of the folk on the island had gathered on the mountain summit and then at the appointed time the beacon was lit. we were able to see some fireworks both to the north and south of where we were and also the lights on Snowdon. It was all very impressive
That was to be our penultimate fine day.
Tuesday - rain in the morning as I went to the north hide. A family of 5 stonechats were very noisy as I passed through their territory but I did have good views of the peregrine they were warning me about. On the edge of the cliff three whimbrel paused for about five minutes and a single turnstone in magnificent summer plumage caught my attention as I eventually arrived at the hide. Apart from the close views of Manx shearwaters, razorbills and guillemots, I also had my first glimpse of a puffin with its bright orange/red legs trailing behind it. In the afternoon we had fun rock pooling. The result was finding shrimps, prawns, a shore crab, a blenny and a sea slater. The sea weed was amass with sand hoppers which gave a feast to the gulls, wagtails, rock pipits and various waders gathering in Solfach.
Wednesday, Thursday and Friday all had rain at some part of the day, but we did have enough breaks to see common blue butterfly, small copper and a few small whites. Another "lifer" for me was a red breasted flycatcher near Hendy plantation. I also managed to see the very bedraggled little owl. A quick trip up the mountain ensured I photographed the Golden Haired Lichen which grows just by the path.

 On the Friday I almost had a minor tragedy. Ben Porter had noticed a Greenish warbler near his home. It was a very wet search for all of us and whilst wiping rain drops from my spectacles, one of the lenses fell out. I am glad to report I found it and Kathryn Pollard managed to fit the lens back in - phew!!. I didn't look forward to driving home using only one eye. We did find the warbler in the Heligoland trap, and duly had it ringed.

 When we were doing some sea watching from the North hide I spotted a seal which seemed to be bleeding from its mouth. It turned out to be skinning and eating a pollock. The following two pictures were taken by Ben Porter.

Our departure from Bardsey was delayed by a day due to the rough seas created by the strong winds from the previous few days. It did mean that we were able to enjoy a very sunny, warm and dry day on the Saturday. We had some more really good sea watching and eventually on this my last day I saw a kittiwake myself. Later I found heath spotted orchid and trailing St Johnswort.
 A flat calm sea on Sunday meant no further delay and an early start meant I had time to visit the little tern colony at Gronant on the way home. I had been able to add a further 72 to my challenge list without too much effort and £20 to my Just Giving total from two of the other island visitors. The week was a holiday as well and I had a quite relaxing time

Total now 650 - Should I re-set my target higher?

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