Even when the wind is howling, when ferocious seas batter the shoreline, and when curtains of heavy drizzle assail the land, there is always an abundance of wildlife to be discovered. Whilst much of the day was spent inside, preparing more tags to deploy on shearwaters and proof-reading the BBFO’s 2016 Annual Report amongst other things, it was great to get out into the bracing conditions and see plenty of flora and fauna…
An afternoon meander through the island’s damp lowlands gave the opportunity to appreciate the abundance of wildflowers that have emerged over recent weeks. They certainly added some much-needed colour to the greys of an overcast day, although a driving southerly wind was giving them a good battering!
A herd of 25 cattle are a strategic part of the island’s land management here on the island, being moved about to encourage certain floristic habitats and discourage others. In the winter, for example, the cattle are moved onto the mountain for five months in an attempt to break up the tough Bracken rhizomes and prevent it’s domination of the diverse habitats that can prevail there; at this time of year we move the herd around the lowland areas to encourage the stunning mosaic of wildflowers that can spring up amongst the more dominant Juncus rush
This year we have also set aside a number of meadows that won’t be grazed at all until late summer, and it’s amazing to see a myriad of common spotted orchids, ragged robin, meadow buttercups, red clover, self-heal and countless other flowers studding the grassland already. We sowed yellow rattle in one area of pasture a few years ago, and it has really worked its hemiparasitic wonders: suppressing the grasses and allowing for vetches, oxeye daisies and other species to flourish.
My trusty Sigma macro lens has been off for repairs over the last two weeks, but arrived back aboard the visitor boat yesterday. It was great to focus down to a macro level and enjoy a surprising amount of insect activity in the withy beds in the afternoon: Soldier Beetles and Click Beetles creeping along sedges, Yellowtail caterpillars gorging on sallow leaves, and plenty of micro moths too: Caloptilia stigmatella, Argyresthia pygmaella and Anthophila fabriciana to name a few.
The wheezy calls of Wren chicks are slowly pervading the island’s soundscape, with the first of the island’s broods fledging out in the last few days. Considering Liam counted over 95 singing male Wrens on the mountainside alone back in his April Common Bird Census, we can expect A LOT more to come!!!
It looks like we’ve had the worse of the misty, drizzly conditions now, with tomorrow set to be a bright and breezy one. After yesterday’s full moon, the high tides will be highest in the coming two days; this is often the best time for encountering some passage waders stopping off on The Narrows to probe about amongst the sand and seaweed. Today we had a skinny-looking Bar-tailed Godwit and Sanderling amongst the usual Whimbrels, Curlews, Oystercatchers and Turnstones.
If you’d like to keep up-to-date with all the specifics of daily wildlife sightings here on Bardsey, keep your eye on the BBFO blog