|Sunrise over South Light on 30 Jan – the start of the perimeter walk © Tim Jones|
The last day of January brought blustery NW winds and heavy showers, while February started cold and bright, with plenty of sunshine but a chilly northerly wind, which at least gave a chance for a very soggy island to start drying out. Notable sightings included: four to five Red-throated Divers off Rat Island/South Light on 31st, three Water Rails in Millcombe on 1st, 11 Snipe on 1st, two female-type Black Redstarts at Benjamin's Chair on 31st, two Fieldfares on 2nd and two Meadow Pipits, also on 2nd. The lone overwintering Coal Tit and pair of Goldfinches continued to be seen daily, but there was no sign of the Firecrest after 29th (though it may simply have taken to deeper cover as colder conditions arrived). The same change in the weather, with clear skies at night and a good tail wind for anything wanting to make the short hop to Hartland, seemed to have prompted a partial exodus of thrushes, with numbers of Blackbirds and Redwings noticeably reduced by the end of our visit. On the other hand, numbers of Skylarks appeared to be building up slowly as the first breeding birds return to take up their territories; an almost complete absence, despite thorough searching, was a noticeable feature until the last two or three days. We watched one (first picked up distantly through a telescope whilst seawatching) fly in off the sea at North Light on 30th.
|Skylark near Dead Cow Point on 26 Jan © Tim Jones|
Flushes of flowering Snowdrops in Millcombe and Primroses in abundance at Quarter Wall Copse, alongside singing Wrens, Robins, Dunnocks, Song Thrush (sub-singing in Millcombe) and Starlings, and a pair of Ravens carrying sticks to their nest site along the East Side on 1st gave a distinct feeling of approaching spring.
|Singing male Starling at Barton Cottages, 2 Feb © Tim Jones|