Friday 2nd March: Unsurprisingly like elsewhere in the country, Saturday was a very cold and extremely windy (gusting 70+mph) day with lots of hail and snowfall adding to the already towering snow drifts along the roads and thick carpets on the plateau. After a few days of very cold weather previously, the ground (and everything else at that matter) had frozen solid, making it extremely difficult for a lot of birds to find food.
Unsurprisingly, conditions for birding were very poor but I did manage to get out of the wind somewhat on the SW point for a few hours. Here I witnessed numerous birds, mostly thrushes, desperately trying to leave the island for a more hospitable place to hide away from the rest of the storm. A total of 17 Song Thrushes, 12 Redwings, 14 Skylarks and a lone female Stonechat were seen moving south along the sideland and out to sea past Great Shutter Rock. Most of these birds, once out past the point, were immediately met with the strong easterlies, leading them to make a hasty retreat back to the island. A few Song Thrushes were not so lucky and were flung right out to sea, eventually disappearing from view – desperate times!
Additionally flying around Great Shutter Rock were two Lapwings, 12 Common Gulls (mostly adults) and two adult winter Black-headed Gulls.
I then tried to pop over to the east coast as I had been told there were some big flocks of gulls being pushed close to the lower shore. I found very little shelter in the Ugly but did manage to pick out a further three Common Gulls and another adult Black-headed amongst the hundreds of feeding Herring Gulls.
Saturday 3rd March: The strong easterlies continued throughout the day but instead of more snow we received some well needed rain and a slight rise in temperature. The first round of birding produced some impressive numbers of Herring Gulls in Tillage Field and within the Landing Bay (total c.800). In the bay, birds were attracted to and were busily feeding on washed up bits and bobs on the lower shore, brought forth by the lofty easterly swell (see photo below). The biggest surprise though was a total of 152 Common Gulls (mostly adults) and 11 Black-headed Gulls within the mixed Larid frenzy.
|Mixed gull flock on rocks in the Landing Bay, 3rd Mar. © Dean Jones|
Highlights from elsewhere:
• A Grey Heron seen flying east near the Quarries (Dave Oddy).
• 15 Fieldfares, 35 Redwings, 10 Blackbirds and 13 Song Thrushes all scattered around the village, Millcombe Valley and SW Point.
• Two Stonechats (1 male & 1 female) in SW Field.
• A lone Lapwing near the Old Light.
• Four Snipe flushed from within Millcombe Valley (one from the edge of a gorse bush next to Old School).
• A lone Dunlin busily feeding in Millcombe Pond (see photo below).
• Finch numbers still low: two Linnets.
|Dunlin, Millcombe Pond, 3rd Mar. © Dean Jones|
Sunday 4th March: A beautiful spring-like morning/early afternoon, complete with singing Skylarks and seabird-covered ledges – quite the contrast to the previous two days on the island.
• Gannet: a count of 12, most of which were seen from the North end – the highest count yet for 2018.
• Fulmar: 185 on ledges in Long Roost, Gannets’ Rock and Jenny’s Cove.
• Cormorant: two were seen flying east past Rat Island mid-morning.
• Curlew: one over the village in the early morning.
• Common Gull: an adult bird and two 2cy individuals in the Landing Bay.
• Black-headed Gull: a beautiful adult summer bird and a single 2cy.
• Kittiwake: a total of 80 were counted on ledges in Aztec Bay and Jenny’s Cove.
• Guillemot/Razorbill: an estimated 2,000 in rafts along the West Side and on ledges (Mandy Dee & Andy Bell).
• Woodpigeon: three above the Terrace being chased by a Peregrine (Trevor Dobie).
• Sparrowhawk: one seen above the farmyard in the afternoon (Trevor Dobie).
• Redwing: 257 scattered all over the island from SW Point up to the North Light. Main congregations of birds were found in Barton’s, Tillage and Brick Fields.
• Fieldfare: a total of 20 birds scattered around the island.
• Song Thrush: 14 birds, most of which were in the Millcombe/Farm area.
• Blackbird: seven, again mostly in the Millcombe/Farm area.
• Pied Wagtail: four in Tillage/Brick Fields.
• Stonechat: a female in SW Field and a pair near the North End.
• Meadow Pipit: a noticeable increase of birds (42 counted), most of which were seen in small mobile flocks beyond Threequarter Wall.
• Linnet: two.
Monday 5th March: A reasonably calm but very wet morning and afternoon.
• Still lots of thrushes about but the highlights of the day were two Manx Shearwaters flying SW past Rat Island in the early morning, and two very showy Water Rails feeding together in Smelly Gully. Additionally a Curlew, thought to be the same bird as yesterday, was heard calling in Tillage Field.
Tuesday 6th March: A lovely warm, still and sunny day.
• Good numbers of thrushes still about: 140 Redwings, six Fieldfares, eight Song Thrushes and 12 Blackbirds.
• Small arrival of Pied Wagtails: eight counted from the Village/Pondsbury area.
• Noticeable arrival of Stonechats, with a total of eight males and four females, most of which were found in the Pondsbury area.
• Skylark: 21 scattered in areas from Halfway Wall south.
• Meadow Pipit: 42 scattered in areas from Halfway Wall south; first displaying bird of the year was seen/heard near Quarter Wall.
• Kestrel: one hovering over Ackland’s Moor mid-morning.
• Golden Plover: three in SW Field (see photo below).
• Highlight of the day was a total of 12 Red-throated Divers and a lone Great Northern Diver in the Landing Bay at around 15.00.
|Golden Plover, South West Field, 6th Mar. © Dean Jones|
Wednesday 7th March: Another beautiful sunny day but a tad colder due to reasonably strong SW winds.
• Thrush numbers lower than previous days: 48 Redwings, one Fieldfare, six Song Thrushes and 14 Blackbirds.
• Continued arrival of Stonechats, with 13 males and 11 females noted – most of which were found on Ackland’s Moor near the ‘Pointless Wall’.
• Merlin: a female perched on the ground in SW Field in the early morning.
• Woodpigeon: six in Millcombe Valley.
• Water Rail: a total of four – two in Smelly Gully and two next to Millcombe House.
• Teal: two drakes and five ducks on Pondsbury.
• Super diver numbers were again the highlight of the day. A total of nine Red-throated Divers were feeding in the Landing Bay in the early afternoon, along with a lone Black-throated Diver in near full summer plumage – what a bird!