Monday 29 June 2015

The MELODIOUS WARBLER in the West Midlands

Melodious Warbler (singing male)
Mercote Mill Farm, Cornets End, West Midlands.
Photo by Dave Hutton

During the early part of the afternoon on the 11th June, exciting news emerged of a Marsh Warbler singing just a stone's throw away from the private Marsh Lane Nature Reserve near Hampton-in-Arden. A hour later, following better views of the bird by the finder Alan Dean and Nick Barlow, the identification received an upgrade to either an Icterine Warbler or a Melodious Warbler.

Whatever species it was, I needed both of these scarce Hippolais warblers for my Warwickshire County list* and my West Midlands regional list. Finally by 3.00pm, after close scrutiny of the song and further improved views, the identification was clinched as a definite Melodious Warbler. Obviously, I was eager to leave work and get myself to Cornets End as quickly as possible.

* Along with the vast majority of Warwickshire birders, I do not recognise the 'metropolitan county' of the West Midlands for bird listing purposes and follow the old 'Vice County 38' recording structure.

Melodious Warbler (male)
Mercote Mill Farm, Cornets End, West Midlands.
Photo by Dave Hutton

Upon arrival at Mercote Mill Farm there were just three other birders on site. After an agonising twenty minutes or so I eventually heard a brief snatch of song followed by fleeting views of a pale-coloured, beefy looking warbler in the bright early evening sunshine. From the bird's uncooperative behaviour I could understand why it had taken a while for the correct identification to be confirmed. Following a further wait of around thirty minutes the Melodious Warbler then showed amazingly well out in the open, belting out its fabulous song from various vantage points on both sides of the bridleway. 

Melodious Warbler (singing male)
Mercote Mill Farm, Cornets End, West Midlands.
Photo by Dave Hutton

The rare visitor from southern Europe performed well for a while before disappearing into a patch of gorse and immediate falling silent. As familiar faces from around our region started to gather, eager as I was to see the bird, there was no sign or sound for well over two hours. Then, just as folks started to get a little desperate and despondent, the Melodious Warbler appeared once again, singing loudly just above our heads. The time was a little before 8.00pm. The bird then started to become restless and even left its small territory to fly along the entire length of a nearby hedgerow for a while. Fortunately, it returned to the favoured area of scrub before dusk where everyone eventually enjoyed decent views.    

Melodious Warbler showing shortish primary projection.
Mercote Mill Farm, Cornets End, West Midlands.
Photo by Dave Hutton

As I write, the bird is still present (up until 29th June) and is still tenaciously holding territory in a vain attempt to attract a mate. Even when in full song this is a species that is not usually that easy to observe in comparison to its more conspicuous cousin the Icterine Warbler. With a little patience though you can be rewarded with some stunning views, as demonstrated by this collection of fine photographs provided by Dave Hutton

During my visits I have heard quite a selection of mimicry, with Whitethroat being the most common. Other species copied include Blackbird (alarm call), Song Thrush ('zit' call), colybita Chiffchaff (contact call) as well as both Swallow and Sand Martin and very rarely the 'zerrrrr' of a Wren has been heard. If any visiting birders can add to this repertoire then I would be grateful if you could let me know.

Melodious Warbler (male)
Mercote Mill Farm, Cornets End, West Midlands.
Photo by Dave Hutton

The MELODIOUS WARBLER in the West Midlands region

As most keen birders will already know, seeing this species in Britain during spring is a very rare treat indeed. The vast majority of Melodious Warblers that occur in Britain are young birds recorded from August until mid-October following their presumed random dispersal from their breeding grounds in southern Europe. As would be expected, most of the records in Britain occur along the south and southwest coasts of England from Dorset to the Isles of Scilly at this time of the year.

In Europe the species breeds throughout the Iberian peninsula and France, north to the southern parts of Belgium, southeast Netherlands, southwest Germany and southwest Switzerland. There are also breeding populations on the island of Corsica, throughout Italy and out over to western Slovenia and northwest Croatia. In northwest Africa it can also be found albeit far less abundantly in northern Morocco, northern Algeria and in northwest Tunisia.

During winter the species non-breeding range consists of tropical west Africa from the Gambia, southern Senegal, southern Mali and Nigeria south to the Guinea coast and extending eastwards to central Cameroon.

From a British perspective we were averaging around 32 records of Melodious Warbler per year around the mid-1990s however this has now fallen to around 20 records per year, despite an increase in observer coverage. This may well reflect a decline in the species overall breeding density despite a slight increase in their range northeast in recent years.

Taking all of the above into consideration, it is therefore far from surprising the species is an extremely rare visitor to our region. The only other records are as follows:

2000 - Warwickshire - Brandon Marsh Nature Reserve - Adult - 3rd June only (trapped and ringed) - Andy Hale, Fred Stokes and Dave Stone.
1996 - Staffordshire - The Westlands, Newcastle-under-Lyne - 20th May only - WJ Low.

From a historical perspective the first official record of Melodious Warbler for Britain was of a bird killed near Looe, Cornwall on the 12th May 1905. There is a degree of controversy regarding this initial record however as a previous bird was allegedly shot dead some years before on the 30th April 1897 at Burwash, Sussex. Unfortunately this earlier record became tainted as the skin came into contact with the infamous Mr George Bristow. It was therefore later dismissed and rejected as part of the Hastings Rarities scandal.

Special thanks to Alan Dean for initially finding the bird and for providing all us rarity starved West Midland birders the opportunity to sample an avian taste of continental Europe right on our doorstep. An excellent account from Alan along with a study of the song and identification pointers can be found on his website at Birds In Particular.

My thanks and appreciation also go to Dave Hutton for letting me use a few of his excellent photographs here. It has taken him multiple visits and many hours in the field to finally get a series of shots he is happy with, being the perfectionist that he is.

This particular blog post is dedicated to the memory of West Midlands birding legend Eric Philips who sadly passed away suddenly on the 30th May 2015. A moving tribute to the great man by Steve Nuttall can be found at Belvide Birding. The many comments at the end of Steve's post show just how well regarded he was by all who knew him. 

Rest in peace Eric, the birding community of the West Midlands will miss you greatly. 

A 1970's caricature of Eric by Bryan Bland.

Video Footage: The Melodious Warbler by Philip Parsons

Monday 15 June 2015

The CRETZSCHMAR'S BUNTING on Bardsey Island - Part Two

A view from Porth Meudwy towards Aberdaron.
Photo by Adam Archer

Whilst stuck in traffic just north of Southampton yesterday, I briefly considered taking a second shot at the CRETZSCHMAR'S BUNTING we had dipped just twenty four hours before. Throughout the day I had received pager messages reminding me of the bird's continued presence around the lighthouse on Bardsey Island. I also received calls and texts from frantic mates asking what I was doing and what the logistics were for getting over to the Welsh island.

With work commitments the following day there was no way I would be able to make it. If I was to put my efforts into a further attempt then it would need to be later in the week.  Then, whilst visiting our birding friends Kate and Fergus in Stratford-upon-Avon, my mind began to drift. I knew Nadia could sense my twitchiness and she looked concerned. I joked that we should all head to Wales overnight. Despite the room being full of bird nuts, the house fell quiet and I was looked upon as if I should be sectioned with immediate effect.

Whilst heading back home something snapped inside me. Maybe it was the fact that crossings on the Tuesday looked risky and the crossings on the Wednesday had already been ruled out due to the weather forecast. I told Nadia that I would text my boss to see if I could book a day's holiday. If by some miracle he would agree to such a ridiculous request at 10.00pm on a Sunday evening then I would make my way over to Wales. Within a few seconds I had received a text in response to say 'OK'! I could hardly believe it. There was now just the small matter of getting a few hours sleep and seeing if anyone else from the West Midlands was crazy enough to join me.

Initially there was no interest from the usual suspects and other lads I knew who were on their way were already fully booked. Then just as I was nodding off, Jase Oliver texted me to say he had changed his mind. He agreed to be at mine place at 00.45am for an extremely early departure.  

Colin Evans - The man for all your Bardsey boating needs!
Photo by Adam Archer

The journey was a true test of our endurance but sharing the driving and downing a strong coffee or two meant we arrived safely at Porth Meudwy just after 4.00am. There were already plenty of empty vehicles parked up which meant only one thing, the queuing for the boat crossing had already started in ernest. We quickly grabbed our kit and scrambled down to the quayside where we found a crowd of bleary-eyed reprobates shuffling around in the half light. A gentleman with a scrap of paper then lurched forward to take our names. A list had been made and thankfully we were both secured on a crossing. The only problem was, we were down for the third boat which was not due to leave for Bardsey until 9.30am.

To be fair, the hours passed by pretty quickly with plenty of banter and laughter with Steve Nuttall, Dave Jackson and the rest of the West Midlands brethren. We also received news that the CRETZSCHMAR'S BUNTING was still present at around 7.00am which managed to stem the nervousness slightly and keep birders fairly relaxed. The only tense moment came when the boatman Colin Evans arrived and was immediately mobbed by a well known year lister who happened to share the same surname. There were accusations that names had been put onto the list who were not even on site and that the number of folks on the list did not match those of us waiting at the quayside.

In the end we managed to assure Colin that everything was organised and at 7.30am the first consignment of a dozen eager birders were off. In all, it was agreed that seven trips would be made throughout the day and that would be the limit. Unfortunately birders continued to arrive as the morning progressed. Unfortunately for the latecomers they would need to come back early the following day or find an alternative way across to the island.

The favoured feeding area in the compound.
Photo by Adam Archer

Just before 10.00am, Jase and I were on site and in prime position at the lighthouse. The word on the street was that the bird had been coming to seed within the compound about every forty minutes or so but would only stay for a short while before flying off again. It was also spotted singing from a patch of gorse nearby but would go missing for agonisingly long periods. The birders already on site were obviously happy that they had connected with the bunting but had been disappointed by the brevity of the views.

A view of beautiful Bardsey looking north from the lighthouse.
Photo by Adam Archer

As the clock ticked away the resident House Martins and the odd Northern Wheatear and Pied Wagtail were the only birds to be seen around the lighthouse. A scan of the gorse produced many Meadow Pipit and Linnet along with the occasional Stonechat. This was exactly the same roll call as Saturday. Over a hour had passed and there was still no sight or sound of the elusive mega rarity. The look on Jase's face said it all. I reminded him we still had plenty of time, as I handed him my hankie to blot away the tears welling up in his desperate eyes. If required, we would be able to stay on the island until 5.30pm.

Then at around 11.15am a mystery bird flew low over the cropped turf right in front us, bounded over the stone wall and landed in the seeded area. I could see movement amongst the thrift but initially I could not make out any features on the bird at all. All of a sudden, the top of a steely blue head appeared along with a beady, black eye framed by a cream coloured orbital ring. It was the CRETZSCHMAR'S BUNTING. I did my best to call out instructions and ensure as many people could get onto the bird as possible. Eventually though the bird appeared out in the open and showed well as long as you were in the right position. Panic then ensued amongst the crowd and I sensed the bird was becoming agitated. After a few minutes of it nervously feeding it then flew off towards the area of gorse and promptly disappeared. 

Bardsey Island, Gwynedd.
Photo courtesy of Bardsey Bird Observatory

We had done it. All of the pain, nervousness and fatigue evaporated in an instant. The dip just forty eight hours previously was now well and truly laid to rest. We had really done it.  I turned to Jase, shook his hand and slapped him on his back. He did the same back to me but not quite as gentle. At times like this though I always spare a thought for my pals who are not there to share the moment with me, especially Steve Allcott, Tony Barter and Steve Richards who we had made the journey with on that fateful Saturday. 

 Twitch on.... that's me in the cream cap!
Bardsey Island, Gwynedd.
Photo courtesy of Bardsey Bird Observatory

At last we could now relax and enjoy the occasion but I was hungry for more prolonged views. Finally, about a hour later the bird flew in once again. This time the crowd were more settled and remained deathly quiet as the bird fed happily just a few yards away. The exemplary behaviour resulted in the bird remaining in view for a full twelve minutes. This was ample time to appreciate such a wonderful bird in amazingly beautiful surroundings. The sun had even decided to make an appearance on what had started out as a particularly dull and overcast day.

We remained on site for a further hour or so but the bird did not return for a third time. With our stomachs rumbling we made our way down to the cafe to grab a bite to each and quench our thirst. After all the excitement and with the adrenaline levels now beginning to get back to some kind of normality, tiredness began to kick in. We took a slow walk back down to the quayside in hope that we could catch an earlier boat back to the mainland.

A dozen happy birders on the return trip to Porth Meudwy.
Photo by Adam Archer

Other species encountered around the island included a flock of 73 Common Scoter offshore and two pairs of Chough. There were also a trio of Raven in flight over the mountain as well as many Gulliemot, Razorbill and Kittiwake around the rocky shoreline. The odd Puffin and Gannet was also spotted from the boat on the return crossing.

Well what a hectic three days of early starts, lack of sleep, highs, lows and awesome birding that turned out to be!

Special thanks must go to Steve Stansfield and the rest of the superb staff and volunteers at Bardsey Bird Observatory. They were all really supportive during the 'no show' on the Saturday and fantastically well organised and patient during our time there on Monday. To check for updates please see their excellent blog at Bardsey Wildlife. A special mention must also go to the boatman Colin Evans for his efforts in getting as many people over to the island as he could. 

Me (left) and Jase (the other one) with Bardsey to the rear.
Photo by Dave Jackson


The breeding range of this species is restricted to southeast Europe and the Middle East. It breeds in Greece, Albania, western and southern Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and Jordan and spends the winter in Sudan and Eritrea. If accepted this will be just the sixth record for Britain and the first for Wales. We await the first record for England with baited breath. All previous records are as follows:

2014 - Shetland - Burkle and Boini Mire, Fair Isle - Male - 27th April to 2nd May.
2008 - Orkney - Sangar, North Ronaldsay - First-winter male - 19th to 21st September.
1998 - Orkney - Stronsay - Male - 14th to 18th May.
1979 - Shetland - Fair Isle - Male - 9th to 10th June.
1967 - Shetland - Fair Isle - Male - 10th to 20th June (trapped and ringed on 14th June).

Proof of our attendance.
Courtesy of the Bird Journal App'

Sunday 14 June 2015


After the slight disappointment of the previous day it was time to brush myself down and pick myself back up. The ideal way for me to do this is to get back out in the field as soon as possible and immerse myself in whatever delights nature has to offer. Luckily Nadia was also keen to make the most of her day off and so we decided to get up early and head south. There had been a stunning male BLACK-EARED WHEATEAR of the eastern race melanoleuca showing well in the New Forest, Hampshire yesterday. The plan was to make that bird our priority and then explore the area for butterflies and dragonflies.

Unfortunately for the second day in succession though, the pesky rare bird had other ideas. As we made our way down the A34, a message was received to say there was no sign of the wheatear. Our tactics were changed and instead of branching off west we decided to head east along the south coast. As we made our way past Portsmouth another golden nugget of rarity news I had been dreading came through. The CRETZSCHMAR'S BUNTING had reappeared on Bardsey. I was far from surprised and although it was difficult to swallow I was determined to block it out of my mind and enjoy our day.   

Bee Orchid at Pagham Harbour RSPB.
Photo by Adam Archer

The first port of call was Pagham Harbour in West Sussex, an area that carries an anti-Archer curse as far as I am concerned. Over the years, I have always failed to see whatever special vagrant had been there the day before. Out of all the rarities and scarcities that have turned up at this famous site, the best I have done is a singing SAVI'S WARBLER and that remained hidden out of sight all day. As we arrived along the west side of the estuary near Thrift Shelf, it appeared as though the jinx was still in place. An HUDSONIAN WHIMBREL that had been showing since first light had decided to fly off and roost on an island and out of sight just ten minutes before we arrived.

After a scan of the area for a while we managed to find a couple of Whimbrel and Curlew as well as a trio of Bar-tailed Godwit but unfortunately there was no sign of the American Numenius. With the weather looking to take a turn for the worse we decided to cut our losses and return to the site at low tide instead. A quick scan of Ferry Pool on the way back to the RSPB visitor centre produced my first Green Sandpiper of the year, at long last. Also feeding in this area were 6 Avocet, 88 Black-tailed Godwit and few Common Redshank.

We then stopped of to gather supplies for a picnic and headed back west and into Hampshire where we hoped for better luck with another American shore bird. The sun was now beginning to shine and the temperature increased considerably as we parked up in the pleasant village of Titchfield. After weaving our way through the dozens of irresponsible dog owners and their unruly mutts we eventually reached Posbrook Floods. We were told on our way down that the adult GREATER YELLOWLEGS was showing well however upon our arrival there was no sign. It had apparently strutted off out of sight to roost with the godwit flock. Could our luck get any worse? After trying numerous different positions along the path though, I eventually spotted the obscured bird fast asleep with its head tucked under its wing.

All we could do was relax in the sunshine, scoff our M&S meal deals, enjoy the surroundings and wait. Eventually, the stunning wader reappeared and started to feed back out in the open where we enjoyed fantastic views. It was interesting to note it feeding with a bit of a sweeping Avocet type motion in comparison with the stop and probe action of the accompanying 70 or so Black-tailed Godwits.

Titchfield, Hampshire.
Photo by Dave Aitken

I had only seen one other GREATER YELLOWLEGS in Britain before, a first-winter bird up in Northumberland during November 2011 so it was great to connect with an adult bird in all its summer finery. After feeding for a while it eventually headed back out of sight, much to the annoyance of those birders just arriving. Once again I managed to find it roosting through a narrow gap in the willows but the views were far from ideal. With the afternoon whizzing by we decided to give the dreaded Pagham Harbour another shot before heading home.

Titchfield, Hampshire.
Photo by Dave Aitken

Earlier on in the afternoon the HUDSONIAN WHIMBREL had been spotted distantly from the east side of the estuary before flying back towards Church Norton. With the tide now well on its way back out, we were hopeful that the bird would pop out from where it was hiding and show itself for a while. We arrived back on site to find plenty of birders scanning the area but still there was no sign. Whilst Nadia snuggled down for a nap I continued to search the area but once again all I could find was the odd Curlew, Whimbrel and Bar-tailed Godwit. A couple of Little Tern and Common Tern passed through and a Hobby made a brief appearance.

As we had to be back in Warwickshire that evening to see friends we decided that 4.30pm would be the deadline to call it a day. As the clock ticked away and I began to grow weary from the two consecutive early mornings I noticed Kev Hale strolling by. It appeared that he was also a victim of the evil Pagham curse. Whilst we stood there moaning and feeling sorry for ourselves for while I heard a whimbrel type call. As I lifted my bins there it was, a dark-rumped whimbrel with darkish underwings flying south. Luckily the bird landed nearby amongst a pair of our usual pale-rumped European birds and started to feed.

Pagham Harbour, Church Norton, West Sussex.
Photo by Dave Aitken

Unlike the solitary HUDSONIAN WHIMBREL I had seen in Cumbria in 2007, it was useful to view this bird in the company of its European cousins. The American vagrant was a sandier brown colour in comparison and had a noticeably longer bill with a distinctive pinkish base to the lower mandible. The head markings were way more defined and there were buffy tones to the vent. It was one distinctive bird indeed. 

We watched the bird for about twenty five minutes as it picked out small crabs from the surface of the mud, waved them around for a while and swallowed them whole. It is always tough to turn your back on a rarity that is showing so well, but eventually we had no choice but to head back northwest. It had been pretty exhausting but nevertheless a thoroughly enjoyable day.

Pagham Harbour, Church Norton, West Sussex.
Photo by Dave Aitken


Up until 2011 the Whimbrel of the Old World and the New World were lumped together as belonging to the very same species. A split was then announced by the British Ornithologist's Union following research into the morphological distinctiveness and corresponding differences in DNA of hudsonicus. If accepted, the Pagham bird will become only the ninth individual for the British Isles and just the third for England. All previous records are as follows:

2013 - Shetland - Mid Yell & Whalefirth, Yell - Juvenile - 30th September to 2nd October.
2009 - Western Isles - Bornish, South Uist - Juvenile - 12th September only.
2008 - Isles of Scilly - Porthloo, St Mary's - Juvenile - 5th to 28th September.
2007 - Shetland - Buness, Fair Isle - Adult - 29th to 31st August.
2007 - Cumbria - Walney Island - First-summer - 14th June to 19th August.
2002 - Gwent - Goldcliff Pools - 3rd to 4th May (presumed to be the same bird as 2000).
2000 - Gwent - Goldcliff Pools - 6th to 7th May.
1974 - Shetland - Out Skerries - 24th July to 8th August.
1955 - Shetland - Malcolm's Head, Fair Isle - 27th to 31st May. 

Pagham Harbour, Church Norton, West Sussex.
Photo by Dave Aitken

Saturday 13 June 2015

The CRETZSCHMAR'S BUNTING on Bardsey Island - Part One

On Wednesday the 10th of June it was was brought to the attention of Britain's tick obsessed birders that a CRETZSCHMAR'S BUNTING had made landfall on the relatively accessible island of Bardsey in North Wales. Unfortunately there was only one brief sighting of this extremely rare vagrant near the bird observatory. Despite an extensive search there was no sign at all during the rest of that day or the following day either. Then, just as we all thought the trail had gone cold, the bird reappeared once more, early on Friday afternoon in the south of the island. A couple of brief views were obtained but the bird was highly elusive and extremely mobile and once again the rarity disappeared with not so much as a sniff of the bird again by dusk.

In preparation of our visit to Cymru!
Photo by Adam Archer

After weighing up the pros and cons of heading to Bardsey we eventually made a group decision to make the journey west and give it our best shot. With my risk assessing brain in overdrive I estimated that we only had about a 5% chance of success. The lads thought it cynical of me but I was just trying to be realistic and not set our expectations too high. Then again, I had a far better chance of seeing a CRETZSCHMAR'S BUNTING over in Gwynedd than I did moping around in North Warwickshire. 

After finding a BLACK KITE and seeing a Melodious Warbler in my home county earlier in the week, I knew the chance of something else as mouth-wateringly rare dropping in locally would be miniscule. We were relatively safe to turn our backs on the West Midlands and head across to Cymru for a day. 

After a very early start we arrived at Porth Meudwy just west of Aberdaron at about 7.15am. After a hike down to the beach we were greeted by the familiar face of Steve Richards who quickly informed us that a boat load of a dozen eager birders had already departed. As we awaited the next crossing in the rain, a Chough showed well and the local Fulmar population wheeled around the cliffs providing a bit of pre-twitch entertainment.

The Bardsey crossing: Steve Richards, Jason Oliver & Jack Oliver.
Photo by Adam Archer

On the rapid crossing over to Bardsey we encountered the odd Shag and Cormorant as well as several Manx Shearwater gliding by. As we approached the island we also saw several Puffin with good numbers of both Razorbill and Guillemot too. As we docked we were greeted by Steve Stansfield, the warden of the Bird Observatory who provided us with a plotted history of the bunting's movements and a few rules to adhere to during our brief visit. Following our induction, we then split into small groups to begin the search.

With the first group of birders having already covered the southern section around the lighthouse we decided to grill the western side and northern tip of the island. As we made our way through the fields dodging the sheep and cattle we could see that both Meadow Pipit and Linnet were present in decent numbers along with several Northern Wheatear and the odd Stonechat. Every single passerine we encountered was scrutinised. 

The site of St Mary's Abbey.
Photo by Adam Archer

Although the island is just over a mile long and only half a mile at its widest point, it was soon pretty evident that a degree of luck, as well as hard work would be required if we were to relocate the rarity, especially with the blustery and damp weather conditions. As we approached the old ruins of the 13th century St Mary's Abbey, I stopped briefly to pay homage to the 20,000 Saints that the island is known for. Maybe one of them could take control of my spiritual side and point me in the right direction? With only thirty other birders bothering to make the journey to Bardsey we needed all the assistance we could muster, whether it be alive or dead.

A steady walk scanning Mynydd Enill, the rocky, gorse strewn ridge along the east of the island looked pretty good for harbouring a CRETZSCHMAR'S BUNTING. All we could find though were the usual suspects, mainly Meadow Pipits and Linnets along with the occasional pair of Chough. After a quick search around the Bird Observatory, Steve Richards and I decided to head back south and concentrate around the lighthouse and the southerly tip.

Bardsey Lighthouse (built 1821)
Photo by Adam Archer

The area around the lighthouse was busy with feeding Oystercatcher, Linnet, Meadow Pipit, Northern Wheatear and House Martin. There was also the odd pair of Rock Pipit, Pied Wagtail and Stonechat along with a few Starling. Offshore there were a scattering a Shelduck and an estimated 30 Grey Seals loafing in the bay. Despite our best efforts there was no sign of our target bird and so we concluded the search back along the main track that runs north to south along the length of the island.

Grey Seal on Bardsey Island, Gwynedd.
Photo by Adam Archer

Grey Seals on Bardsey Island, Gwynedd.
Photo by Adam Archer

After just over three hours of searching, our time on the island had come to an end. Although disappointed at not seeing a CRETZSCHMAR'S BUNTING, I had thoroughly enjoyed the adventure. Bardsey is a beautiful island full of character and history. In medieval times, it was said that three pilgrimages to Bardsey had the equivalent benefit to the soul as one to Rome. I was convinced that the bird was still lurking in some quiet area of Ynys Enlli (Welsh for 'the island in the currents') and I had a sneaky, little feeling that a second pilgrimage would be required sometime soon. I honesty did not believe we had heard the last of this elusive visitor from southeast Europe.