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Sunday 5 May 2019

5th May – Swifts increase, Hooded Crow and Western Subalpine Warbler

Much lighter winds – though still from a chilly direction backing from NE to NW during the day – and long spells of unbroken sunshine meant that today was somewhat more springlike for birds and birders alike.

Starlings were once again prospecting for nest sites around the Village, farm and Old Light, having joined together in a single large flock for much of the last week; there was a modest overnight influx of warblers; and the island recorded by far its highest Swift count of the year so far, with at least 15 passing north.

Other migrant totals included: 9 Sand Martin, 150 Swallow, 100 House Martin, 30 Willow Warbler, 9 Sedge Warbler, 7 Whitethroat, 30 Blackcap, a Garden Warbler and a Spotted Flycatcher. The single Turtle Dove and Collared Dove continued to feed together near the Lambing Shed, whilst the Continental Coal Tit was still singing in Millcombe during the morning, but observed flying high to the East several times, making a curious shrill call, and was not seen or heard later in the day; has it left the island?

A Hooded Crow flew NW with six Carrion Crows early in the morning, and a likely hybrid hirundine, showing some characteristics of Red-rumped Swallow, was seen around the head of Millcombe and the Village during the afternoon. Most surprising of all, the male Western Subalpine Warbler ringed in Millcombe on 1st May reappeared in Millcombe during the late afternoon.

The female Sparrowhawk was soaring off the East Side, where a male Kestrel and single Merlin were also seen, and a Cormorant flew south.

Ringing totals: 40 birds ringed, of which, Woodpigeon 1, Willow Warbler 10, Chiffchaff 4, Sedge Warbler 6, Blackcap 14, Garden Warbler 1, Whitethroat 3, Wren 1, Blackbird 1.

In spite of the chilly breeze, the sunshine seemed to trigger an emergence of male Emperor Moths, with at least 28 over the heathland between Quarter and Halfway Walls. In Middle Park, a sample transect recorded more than 1,200 plants of Small Adder's-tongue Fern Ophioglossum azoricum.

Compiled from observations by Zoë Barton, Sam Bosanquet, Tim Davis, Rob Duncan, Dean Jones, Tim Jones and David Kightley.

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