On the evening of the 26th, I headed north on the train, and met Zac Hinchliffe and Conor John, before spending the night at Susan Jones’ house in Bangor. We were picked up early in the morning by Matt Bruce who already had Josie Hewitt and Liam Curson on board. The five of us headed down the Lleyn Peninsula, and nipped across the sound to the Island.
Arriving at the observatory, we met the staff team: Steve Stansfield the warden, his wife Emma and his son Connor. The two assistant wardens; Steffan and Mark, and two volunteers; Mike, Ben (also an NGB) and Steve. They took us through the schedule for the week and gave us a brief talk outlining various health and safety points and rules for the trip. Throughout the talks, however, I was very aware that in the bushes behind the obs, a bird that I had not seen before was waiting.
Steve the head warden took me there immediately afterwards, and after some time the bird showed very well feeding in the open on elderberries – a BARRED WARBLER. The bird (a 1st-winter) soon disappeared back into the depths of the bushes. This wasn’t the end however, as the bird was later caught in the heligoland trap. It was one of the first birds I had ever seen in the hand, and Steve let me release it once the measurements and weight had been taken!
Once we had unpacked and settled in we went for a walk, heading north along the mountainside, around the north of the island and back along the west coast.
The birding was relatively slow here, but a couple of Whimbrel, a flock of eight Purple Sandpiper, a Hooded Crow, several Chough, many Grey Seals (most with pups) and some distant Risso’s Dolphins kept things going nicely!
Later, a few of us headed to the south end but didn’t see anything other than a Skylark which we flushed near the lighthouse.
After our evening meal, Steve gave an excellent illustrated talk about the birds and work carried out at the observatory, which really got us in the mood!
The day still held one last surprise though. We headed out after dark, in search of young Manx Shearwaters. We came across several, (including two which still had some downy patches) and they were all ringed and released with little difficulty. This was the first bird that I had ever ringed, and was a brilliant end to a great first day!