The last in a short series of diaries about birds on the reserve from Ken Croft. Hopefully, in the future we'll round of the previous month with one of his summaries..!
"In a month with no real highlights here are the highlights. A Little Grebe dropped in on 30th, Grey Herons were regular visitors, Greylag Geese reached a max of 36 on the 3rd, a Shelduck was seen on the 8th and 8 Common Scoter flew north on the 4th as did 3 Sanderling.
Offshore on the 4th, 13 Sandwich Terns were feeding alongside 7 Arctic Terns and a Common Tern on the 28th was the month's only record for this species. A good count of 16 Puffins were present on the 18th and a group of 7 Feral Pigeons that had strayed into the area were "Peregrined". Only two sightings of Cuckoo this month on 10th & 12th, five Swifts flew over on the 3rd and a single Sand Martin on 29th was this month's only record. The last reported Wheatear was seen on the 3rd, a Grasshopper Warbler was 'reeling' on the 2nd and Spotted Flycatchers were seen up until the 5th. A single Starling on the 22nd was followed by a group of 19 on the 24th feeding on cut silage. 12 Siskin showed well on the 2nd and singles were seen on the 5th and 16th. By the end of the month a flock of 54 Linnets had assembled, Lesser Redpolls were present all month and Reed Buntings began to appear from the 18th onwards.
It has been a very good breeding season and the following species were either feeding young or had fledged young already in the area; Cormorant, Mallard, Kestrel, Moorhen, Herring Gull, Kittiwake, Woodpigeon, Swallow, Meadow Pipit, Rock Pipit, Pied Wagtail, Wren, Dunnock, Robin, Stonechat, Blackbird, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Goldcrest, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Magpie, Chough, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Raven, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Goldfinch and Linnet."
Hope you have enjoyed these....
Here's another look back at activities on the reserve from our local expert Ken Croft:
"The 2nd was a special day starting with a female Marsh Harrier hunting over heathland above the cafe fields, then at 0930hrs a male Monatagu's Harrier was quartering the lower slopes of the mountain. A good day for raptors and Peregrine and Kestrel are soon added to the day-list. A Common Sandpiper flew over calling and 2 Yellow Wagtails are feeding under the hooves of the Shirehorses, another appearance by the Hooded Crow and the day ends with the Montagu's Harrier hunting along the ridge south of Twr Reservoir.
The next morning the Montagu's continues to hunt the area and a Hobby is seen near Penlas Rock. The 5th sees the first Swifts flying over and next day 3 Spotted Flycatchers are new arrivals, there is no sign of the Yellow Wags but in their place are 9 White Wagtails. A Sparrowhawk flies over carrying some unfortunate "little brown job" and is quickly followed by a party of Whimbrel. The first Garden Warbler of the year is singing on the 8th and 2 Cuckoos are calling on the mountain slopes.
The 13th proves to be a lucky day when the 'rasping' call of a Corncrake is heard in a grassy meadow, it remains in the area until at least the 21st. Whilst listening to it calling in the cool of the evening on the 20th a flock of 16 Chough are doing cartwheels over Pen Y Bonc farm.
On the 22nd a party of 19 Arctic Terns are feeding off the lighthouse. The Hooded Crow makes it's final appearance on the 25th and a Black Guillemot flew north the next day. In the strong NW winds on the 27th a Storm Petrel was seen fluttering in the waves and Manx Shearwaters poured through at a rate of over 1000 per hour up to midday. The next day a Great Skua flew north."
Thanks to our local bird-expert I am happy to share with you a retrospective look at the months gone by on the reserve. Here is April's 'birding' summary in the words of Ken Croft:
"The first Swallow arrived on the 2nd along with at least 60 Chiffchaffs and 6 Blackcaps. A late Redwing was in the cafe fields the next day, these fields also produced a Hooded Crow on the 6th and a Snipe the next day. Skylarks were singing on the 9th and passage birds included 14 Wheatear, 10 Willow Warbler and 38 Lesser Redpoll. A male Black Redstart was in the hut circles on the 10th, a Golden Plover on the mountain, Redpoll had increased to 83 and 5 pairs of Stonechat were on territories.
The first Manx Shearwaters of the year off the Range and a breeding plumaged Great Northern Diver was just offshore on the 11th and the first Whitethroat also arrived this day. Two Ring Ouzels were seen on the 17th and the Hooded Crow again made a brief appearance. A male Redstart arrived for a five-day stay on the 18th along with the first Grasshopper Warbler and 14 White Wagtails, a Raven's nest on the Range contained 3 young. More passage was observed the next day with 30 Wheatears, 13 Collared Doves, 2 Tree Pipits, a Yellow Wagtail and a Ring Ouzel. The 20th saw the first Sedge Warbler and there were now 3 Ring Ouzels on the mountain.
Stonechat and Mistlethrush were feeding young on the 21st and at least 10 Grasshopper Warblers were "reeling" in the hut circles area. An arrival of over 100 Meadow Pipits and 50+ Linnets were on the Range on the 22nd, with 4 Skylarks singing high over thier territories. The Range also featured on the 25th with 5 Whimbrel and a pair of Shelduck looking for a Rabbit burrow to nest in..? 3 Red-throated Divers and 3 Common Scoter flew north offshore. A new arrival on the 28th was a Lesser Whitethroat and a Golden Plover dropped-in onto the Range. The year's first Cuckoo announced it's arrival on the 29th and 4 Common Sandpiper made a very brief stop."
Here is a list of arrival dates for our summer migrants:
March 14. Wheatear
23. Sand Martin
24. Chiffchaff. House Martin. Puffin.
29. Willow Warbler
April 2. Swallow. Blackcap.
9. Sandwich Tern. Common Sandpiper.
10. Black Redstart.
11. Manx Shearwater. Whitethroat.
17. Ring Ouzel.
18. Redstart. Grasshopper Warbler.
19. Tree Pipit. Yellow Wagtail.
20. Sedge Warbler.
28. Lesser Whitethroat.
May 3. Whinchat. Hobby.
6. Spotted Flycatcher.
8. Garden Warbler.
The 16th-31st July is the Butterfly Conservation societies "Big Butterfly Count". We've kicked off the survey on the reserve today as the sunshine has returned! We are providing laminated guides to give visitors a helping hand when it comes to identification. It's a fifteen minute species count that be can be conducted anywhere, whether sat still or walking. To find out more about the event and how simple it is to take part, go to www.bigbutterflycount.org.
Of particular note, the reserve is home to the beautiful Silver-studded Blue, a Welsh sub-species of the variety. We have also recently has visits from the spectacular Hummingbird Hawkmoth, which comes all the way from Africa!
Kelvin, one of our residential volunteers, used today's sunshine to get out and about on the reserve and complete a butterfly survey for himself (he will submit his sightings to the above address). He managed to catch up with a red admiral, meadow brown, three burnet moths and even a silver-studded blue! Another of our residential volunteers, Doug Shapley, took the stunning photograph below. He saw his silver-studded blue on a trip across Holyhead mountain on his day off - so thanks Doug! We also have records from Ken, our local expert and new volunteer. He saw six meadow brown, six-spot burnet, silver-studded blue and a beautiful blue-tailed damselfly.
Hopefully we're in for some more sunny days and we'll see many more beautiful butterflies!
Our auk colony; the Razorbills, Guillemots and Puffins have stayed with us for their breeding season and will soon be leaving to complete their year out at sea before returning to us next March/April.
Many of our visitors ask when these fishing marvels will leave us and we've often replied "mid-July"...And here we are half way through the month so these really are the last few days to catch the noisey little fellows.
There are still 'jumplings' dotted around the cliffs, much to the delight of the onlooking Ravens, and we expect the young Kittiwake and Fulmar to stay with us a little while longer...
Although we can't give you a definitive count for all the breeding pairs, we can confirm that five of the reserves pairs of Chough have managed to fledge twelve juveniles between them! That's not to say that the other six breeding pairs have failed to fledge young, just that it is increasingly difficult to see which juveniles have come from which parents! Whilst we ring juvenile Chough to keep an eye on them throughout their lives, we cannot access all of the nests and this is where some confusion arises. I can say that we see plenty of juveniles around so we would hope that the success of the five aforementioned pairs has been replicated by the remaining six pairs.
Please do come and say hello when you visit, as did our juggling South Stack fan (you know who you are!),