Dawn Marsh Harrier

Dawn Marsh Harrier

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Bardsey & Back....& Back & Back.

Saturday 13th June. Unlucky for some. 01.00am met up with Sharpy, Bren & Dave and a 5+ hour trek to Porth Meudwy to catch a boat to Bardsley Island where a much coveted Cretzchmar's Bunting was lurking. On arrival the weather was far from mid-June like. More akin to a disappointing day in February as the rain was driven in on the cold wind. The winter coat that I grabbed as a last minute afterthought  on the way out was little help. A wet and bedraggled Kestrel sought shelter on the quayside cliff.

A choppy and wet boat crossing took us to Bardsey where it was a bit colder than the mainland. The Bunting hadn't been located by this time so it was up to us to find it. We didn't and neither did anyone else. A cuckoo being mobbed by Meadow Pipits in the plantation was as good as it got.

A slight detour through Warwickshire on the way home brought some consolation in the shape of a singing and reasonably showy Melodious Warbler.

If I had been asked to name this bird I would probably have opted for Cacophonous Warbler but it was great to listen to and a lifer for my good self so something salvaged from the day.

Needless to say the Cretzchmars was reported early the next morning and every day throughout the next week. Bren and Dave managed to get back over during the week so it was just me and Sharpy for the return trip on Saturday. The weather was looking good as we boarded the boat and indeed stayed that way for the crossing. A few Manx Shearwaters were... well...shearing the water and as we neared Bardsey there were auks aplenty including a couple of Puffins.  Always a joy.

We docked at Bardsey within about 20 mins and as we stood up to disembark the boat a few large raindrops could be felt on my bald pate. A brief passing shower I optimistically decided. Well over an hour later I was stood on a dry stone wall overlooking the lighthouse garden where the bird had been making regular appearances and I like everyone else was soaked to the bone. Unsurprisingly there was no sign of the bird and no sign of a break in the leaden skies across the Irish sea. But eventually the rain did stop and the sky became a lighter shade of grey and 'HALLELUJA' !!!....the holy grail appeared before us.

I've never seen so many smiling faces on so many drowned rats. Relief and euphoria all round. Funny ol' lot aren't we. The bunting fed in front of us for 5 mins or so before flying off but returned 10 mins later for an encore. When it flew the 2nd time it was agreed that a well earned cup of tea was in order. We set off towards the island's cafe and by now the sun was making a proper appearance. A party of resident Chough seemed to be enjoying the turn in the weather as well.

Even a great lumbering Grey Seal lifted his idle head in appreciation.

A pot of tea for two and a chinwag with fellow triumphant birders, all gradually drying out in the sun, was just what the doctor ordered. Feel good factor was in the air. With time to spare before our boat back we couldn't resist another go at the star attraction, so we made our way back to the lighthouse where our bunting friend (we weren't calling him that last week) obliged us with two more appearances. Great stuff. All's well that ends well.

Bardsey Island is a beautiful place to while away a day, especially when the sun shines and you see a Cretzchmars Bunting.

The local people who made this twitch possible for all of us deserve a great deal of praise and appreciation. Steve and his team at the obs, Colin and co on the boat and the warm and friendly lady at the cafe. This bird had them run off their feet for nearly 2 weeks and yet they could not have been more welcoming and accommodating. Many many thanks on behalf of all us loony tune twitchers.

So knackered but happy we set off homeward bound. As we approached the Welsh English boarder, Sharpy asked me to pull over as he needed to relieve himself. Fair enough I thought. When ya gotta go and all that. Little did I realise what he had in mind.

Note the red face.

Unfortunately for him the Knockin shop was closed so no pulled pork sandwiches to be had but another great day out it was. Here's to the next one.


  1. Great read. I was the sunburnt one at the cafe, a great day all round as we dried out !

    1. Thanks Paul. It certainly was an enjoyable trip. Nice to be able to celebrate with a cuppa with other birders as well. Doesn't happen at your typical twitch.