Day 6 was the day of the Big Bardsey Bird Race! When the visiting Next Generation Birders took on the Bardsey Bird Observatory Staff.
Obviously, we were clear underdogs, as – until this week – none of us had ever visited the island. Compare that with the obs staff, who lived on and birded the island every day – and you will realise that our chances were slim. Nevertheless, we were all out as dawn broke, frantically birding the island. The rules were simple; the team, to see or hear the most species during the day would win. However, at least two people from each team had to see each species before it could be counted.
While the others birded the area around the obs, I headed down to the wetlands with Liam. There were plenty of commoner species around, such as Meadow Pipit, Linnets and Stonechat and we managed to flush a Snipe from the wetlands. We heard several Siskin fly over, followed by a couple of Grey Wagtail. A couple of Skylarks flew over Plas Withywhich also held a few Chiffchaff, Goldcrest and Wren. Next we headed through the lowlands, picking up a Reed Bunting by ear, a Goldfinch and a few more Skylark. The first decent bird came through, when a Yellow Wagtail called as it flew fairly low overhead. Another Grey Wagtail followed it, calling amongst the abundant Meadow Pipits and Pied Wagtails.
Pleased with our work so far, we headed through the north west fields picking out several more groups of Skylarks on the way. We reached the north hide, and began seawatching. A few Razorbill, Gannet and Great Black-Backed Gull were around, along with a neat second-winter Mediterranean Gull. As we headed to Nant, the sun was just rising over the mountain, and we met ‘Icky’ Steve (volunteer) here. More and more Skylarks were passing over, along with several Meadow Pipits and another Yellow Wagtail. There were very few birds in the trees of the plantation, with only a few Goldcrest, a couple of Chiffchaff and a Blackcap seen. A pair of Peregrines circled overhead and out to sea, a group of four Common Scoter flew by. (Unfortunately Liam was unable to get onto these birds and this cost us later). A pair of Sandwich Terns also flew by as we headed back for breakfast.
(to be continued…)