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Sunday 12 May 2019

10th to 12th May – Biggest Swallow and House Martin passage of the spring

Friday 10th May

Records included two Cuckoos, five Swifts, 500 House Martins, four Willow Warblers, 10 Chiffchaffs, 13 Blackcaps, two Garden Warblers, three Whitethroats and three Spotted Flycatchers.

Saturday 11th May

A moderate north or north-westerly wind blew throughout the day, making it feel cold in spite of the largely sunny skies. The crossing from Ilfracombe was unusually quiet for the time of year, with not a single Manx Shearwater seen, though a Cory's Shearwater was reported close to the North Devon mainland duing the return crossing in the evening. Rob Duncan and David Kightley came to the end of their three-week ringing trip, closing it out in style with the trapping in Millcombe of Lundy's fifth Subalpine Warbler of the spring, this one a female Eastern. Also of note were: the long-staying female Sparrowhawk, a calling Cuckoo, seven Woodpigeons, six Swifts, a Sand Martin, 30 House Martins, a singing Willow Warbler in Millcombe, three Chiffchaffs, a Sedge Warbler (Milllcombe), two Blackcaps, a Goldcrest, a Spotted Flycatcher, a female Common Redstart (on the wall of South West Field near the stonecrusher), a male Stonechat (carrying food next to the Beach Road), and a single Siskin (Millcombe/St John's Valley).

Female Eastern Subalpine Warbler, Millcombe, 11 May © Dean Jones

Tail of female Eastern Subalpine Warbler, Millcombe, 11 May © Dean Jones

Sunday 12th May

After a cold start, with a stiff NE breeze, the sun shone strongly all day and the wind fell away completely by dusk. There were few grounded migrants, but the strongest hirundine passage of the spring got going by mid-morning and lasted until around 17.30. Dean & Philip Jones made timed spot counts of between 101 and 141 Swallows per minute passing north along the West Side from 10.00 to 14.00 hrs, whilst Tim Davis & Tim Jones counted a minimum of 516 birds over the plateau and along the West Side, mainly later in the afternoon. Consolidated counts suggest a conservative estimate of 4,000-5,000 Swallows for the day. Also notable were: two Teal, flyover Ringed Plover (one) and Dunlin (two), a Snipe at Quarter Wall Pond, 62 Puffins (on the water at Jenny's Cove at about 15.30), a male Kestrel, an immature male Merlin, a single Sand Martin, several hundred House Martins, a Willow Warbler, four Chiffchaffs, a Sedge Warbler (Quarter Wall Pond), three Blackcaps, two Whitethroats, a pair of Stonechats, and two Yellow Wagtail (male at Threequarter Wall and female at South End).

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