Tuesday 23rd March
A gloomy and overcast start to the morning, becoming progressively brighter as the day went on – light SSW winds first thing picking up to a stiff SW by the afternoon. Max temperature 11°C.
|What a difference a lick of paint makes! Stoneycroft gleaming in the sun, 23 Mar © Dean Jones|
Highlights from the day included the Long-tailed Tit which has remained in Millcombe from the last post (arriving 21st March). A Black Redstart dropped into the allotments at Paradise Row briefly in the mid-morning, a Jackdaw was foraging in High Street Field later in the day – possibly the same bird from earlier in the month – a single White Wagtail was in Barton Field, and nearby a lone Firecrest was in Millcombe. Three Cormorants circled high over Landing Bay shortly after daybreak – the first of the year!
Other birds logged included a number of Shag starting to build nests along the east coast, five Woodpigeon, 19 Skylark, seven Chiffchaff, one Blackcap, 14 Goldcrest, four Redwing, two Stonechat, two Wheatear, three Pied Wagtail, three un-raced alba wagtail, small numbers of Meadow Pipit, four Chaffinch, six Goldfinch, three Linnet and a single Siskin.
Wednesday 24th March
A calm and cloudy morning, the cloud quickly clearing, resulting in some beautiful sunshine and blue skies for the majority of the morning – the cloud then rolled in again in the afternoon bringing with it a brief shower around 14:00 hrs. Winds were blowing but a breeze from the SW first thing, picking up gradually to a light wind throughout the day. Max temperature 10°C.
A better day for visible migration with the first Merlin of the year flushed from Quarter Wall in the afternoon. A total of eight Sand Martin flew north in small groups throughout the morning and a nice arrival of Chiffchaff (18), Blackcap (three – all trapped and ringed) and Goldcrest (12) were scattered in Millcombe and along the lower east.
Lingering scarcities included the Jackdaw, again in High Street Field, the Long-tailed Tit in Millcombe and a White Wagtail in Barton Field – presumably the same bird logged yesterday.
Other sightings included four Woodpigeon, a single Water Rail calling from Smelly Gully, 14 Skylark, two Stonechat, three Wheatear, five Pied Wagtail, one Redwing, two Chaffinch, five Goldfinch and a Linnet.
Non-avian sightings included a Peacock butterfly on the Terrace and a Barrel Jellyfish offshore from Quarry Beach.
Thursday 25th March
A wet and overcast start to the day, which dried and brightened up by 07:30 hrs – low WSW winds first thing, gradually picking up to gale force by the late evening. Max temperatures 10°C.
Birds of note today included a Black Redstart briefly in Barton Field in mid-morning, two fly-over Sand Martin, a small arrival of six Wheatear along the south-west part of the island (still no colour-ringed breeders though), seven Cormorant that flew over the Jetty in the afternoon, and the Long-tailed Tit, Merlin and Jackdaw all remained for another day.
Other sightings included four Woodpigeon, a single Water Rail calling from Smelly Gully, a Common Snipe flushed from South West Point, nine Skylark, four Chiffchaff, three Goldcrest, one Redwing, five Stonechat, two Pied Wagtail, 30 Meadow Pipit, four Chaffinch, two Goldfinch and a single Linnet.
Friday 26th March
A rather driech start to the day with bouts of drizzle, low cloud and a stiff SW wind first thing. Things then brightened up somewhat by the late morning, though there were a few scattered showers and one bout of heavy hail in the afternoon. The winds then picked up to gale force again, gusting up to 48mph by the late afternoon. Max temperature 11°C.
Unsurprisingly due to the wet and wild weather, there wasn’t much in the way of migrants other than a small but steady movement of Manx Shearwater past Rat Island first thing. Some 222 birds passed through in about 30 minutes of observations before the low cloud rolled in.
Other birds of note included the Long-tailed Tit, singles of Firecrest and Chiffchaff and six Goldcrest all in Millcombe, and small numbers of Stonechat, Chaffinch and Linnet scattered around the Village and the South End.
Saturday 27th March
A gorgeous sunny morning give or take a few brief spells of thick cloud – moderate/strong westerly winds in the morning, picking up to a chilly, gale-force northerly by the afternoon. Max temperature 9°C.
There wasn’t much in the way of birds overhead, so it was the island residents which provided much of the entertainment – be it the small gangs of frisky male Dunnocks, flicking wings and calling seductively to a number of female birds in the valley, the electric song of two singing male Goldfinches from breezy treetops, or the South End Ravens giving chase to passing Peregrines in the strong onshore winds.
As the day went on, a few migrants showed face whilst exploring the breezy west coast. These included a Black Redstart flying down Punchbowl Valley and at least 11 Northern Wheatear scattered along the west coast from South West Point to Jenny’s Cove (the highest count so far this year), a total which included the first returning colour-ringed bird of the year – a female in Jenny’s Cove!
|...and this the colour-ringed female 'yellow over black, right leg' at Jenny's Cove © Dean Jones|
Other sightings of note included a Swallow foraging along the Terrace in the afternoon, the Long-tailed Tit and Jackdaw in their usual haunts, four Woodpigeon, two Chiffchaff, four Goldcrest, two Pied Wagtail, 47 Meadow Pipit, two Redwing, two Stonechat, three Goldfinch and two Chaffinch.
|This chipping male House Sparrow was one of many resident birds showing signs|
of breeding behaviour in Millcombe, 27 Mar © Dean Jones
Sunday 28th March
Spells of drizzle, low cloud and mist throughout, coupled with gale-force SW winds in the morning – peaking at 53mph – swinging to the north by the afternoon. Max temperature 9°C.
A rather tricky day's birding due to the strong winds and poor visibility. The Lower East Side Path was much more pleasant to walk between the squalls, though birds here were few and far between and mostly hiding away in thick scrub or behind walls, rocks and grassy tussocks – and thus out of sight from any waterproof-clad birders.
Much the same bird-wise to the 27th. Sightings included a Great Northern Diver in the Landing Bay, the remaining Long-tailed Tit in Millcombe, the Jackdaw in the Camping Field, a single Firecrest that provided a nice splash of colour in a rather driech Millcombe first thing, seven Woodpigeon, a calling Water Rail in Millcombe, 18 Skylark, 22 Meadow Pipit, four each of Chiffchaff and Goldcrest, a single Stonechat, two Chaffinch and three Goldfinch.
|Great Northern Diver in the Landing Bay near Miller's Cake, 28 Mar © Dean Jones|
Monday 29th March
Another driech start with low cloud, drizzle and strong SW winds in the morning up until around 13:30 hrs. From here the mist gave way to some beautiful sunshine and blue skies, as well as a gradual drop in the wind to a SW breeze. Max temperature 11°C.
Well, what a day! Unsurprisingly, due to the very poor visibility first thing, there wasn’t much about migrant-wise throughout the morning. In fact, other than two Goldcrest and a single Chiffchaff in Millcombe, it was another morning of counting and enjoying the ongoing antics of the island's resident birds.
Then, as the low cloud and mist dissipated in the early afternoon, there was a small eruption of birds moving north, particularly hirundines along the more sheltered east coast. By the end of the day a very unexpected 162 Swallows were counted moving north, either as single birds or in small groups of up to four birds. Sand Martins too were moving in big numbers, with a total of 212 logged northbound by the evening – most of which were moving together in small numbers, though two tight flocks of 16 and 19 birds were also noted! This is the highest number of Swallows yet to be counted in the month of March, albeit the end of the month, and although breathtaking to watch, the experience of seeing so many of these spectacular migrants so early in the spring was a rather unnerving one – one which has most definitely come about due to a changing climate.
Other birds of note included a Great Northern Diver offshore from White Beach, the Jackdaw again in High Street Field, four Woodpigeon, 28 Skylark, 84 Meadow Pipit, 10 Wheatear, six Pied Wagtail, a White Wagtail in South West Field, five Goldfinch, nine Linnet, three Siskin and a Reed Bunting at Quarter Wall.
|Skylark taking a well-deserved rest from singing all day, 29 Mar © Dean Jones|