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Wednesday 31 July 2019

26th to 30th July – Migrants heading south already

'Hot and sweaty' would be the theme of this period but despite the beautiful summer-like weather, the birding on the island has had much more of an autumnal feel, with numerous species showing obvious southbound passage and birds becoming increasingly gregarious, feeding and moving around the island in small flocks, e.g. flocks of 33 Linnet at Quarter Wall on the 26th and 23 Goldfinch in Millcombe on the 30th. Come the 30th, however, the winds picked up from the west making birding conditions rather tricky.

The Common Buzzard was seen again on the 26th by multiple observers up until around 12:30 pm when it was seen gaining height over St Helen’s Copse before heading out to sea and out of sight. Additionally, a possible Yellowhammer was seen in a flock of Linnet along high street field wall by the Reds contractors as they made their way home from working on the North Lighthouse on the 27th. Unfortunately the bird was not relocated, despite searching.

Common Buzzard mobbed by Herring Gulls over East Side, 26 July © Alex Sydenham

The Willow Warbler fall on the morning of the 27th ended up with at least 95 birds scattered across the island along with four Sedge Warbler as stated in the previous post.

Other birds of note have included: a single Curlew over the Village on the 26th, a fly-over Dunlin on the 27th, four Stonechat on the 26th (an adult male and three juveniles), a pair of Pied Wagtails feeding chicks in Millcombe on the 26th, five Blackcap on the 28th, 19 Willow Warbler on the 28th and two Sand Martin past the Church on the 28th, a Swift off South West Point on the 30th and the first returning Spotted Flycatcher in the Terrace willows.

On the non-birding front, the Warden had yet another very productive night’s moth trapping on the 26th at Benjamin’s Chair, which resulted in yet another new moth species for the island: Aethes francillana, a gorgeous little moth which is rather localised in its distribution, being normally found in coastal habitats where its food plant, Wild Carrot, grows.

The micro-moth Aethes francillana trapped at Benjamin's Chair, 26 July © Dean Jones

An Emperor Dragonfly was seen ovipositing in Quarter Wall Pond on the 28th and no fewer than 12 Giant Tachinid Flies (Tachina grossa) were present along the East Side and Millcombe on the 28th, out on the hunt for Fox Moth and Oak Eggar caterpillars on which to lay their eggs.

Emperor Dragonfly Anax imperator ovipositing in Quarter Wall Pond, 28 July © Dean Jones

Giant Tachinid Fly Tachina grossa Upper East Side Path, 11 July © Dean Jones

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