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Monday 28 March 2022

21st to 27th March – First Willow Warblers and beautiful Black Redstarts

21 March

Bright and warm with a slight wind from the east.

It was a busy day in Millcombe with the first three Willow Warblers, 11 Chiffchaff, two male and a female Blackcap and the female Firecrest from last week. A small group of four Fieldfare, five Redwing and a Mistle Thrush were feeding together in Barton Field.

A female Black Redstart was recorded along with 25 Pied and five White Wagtails. The number of Brambling seen beat last week’s record with a final total of 40 across the island. Other birds of note include a Kestrel, two Jack Snipe at Pondsbury, a Grey Heron over the Village and a Great Northern Diver off the East Coast. A Peacock butterfly was also recorded.

22 March

Sunny with a slight wind from the east.

It was the first major count of Puffins on land at Jenny’s Cove today with 39 in the main colony area and a further 19 rafting on the sea. Also at sea, three Red-throated Diver were seen, two off North Light and one off Rat Island, as well as five Black-headed Gulls.

In Millcombe, a Stock Dove was seen along with one Willow Warbler, seven Chiffchaff and four Blackcap. Other visible migration included four Swallows, one House Martin, three Fieldfare, 31 Linnets, 22 Brambling, 77 Meadow Pipits, 23 Pied Wagtails, nine continental White Wagtails, six Golden Plovers and five Cormorants. A total of 50 Skylarks were recorded with males singing all across the island. Along the West Coast 19 Wheatear were counted including 15 males, most of which were singing. Two female Black Redstarts, a Grey Heron, Merlin and eight Peregrine were also seen across the island. In non-avian news, a Peacock and two Small Tortoiseshell butterflies were recorded.

Male Wheatear, West Coast © Stuart Cossey

23 March

Continued calm and sunny weather

During the morning census a Willow Warbler, 12 Chiffchaff and two male Blackcaps were recorded in Millcombe and a Stock Dove was in Barton Field. Around Pondsbury eight Teal were counted and a Dunlin was in Punchbowl Valley. A male Kestrel was seen on the slopes near the Battery, four Cormorants were flying north and a Grey Heron was seen again. Two Sand Martins and four Fieldfare were also recorded. 27 Brambling, 19 Linnets, 80 Meadow Pipits, 21 Pied Wagtails and nine White Wagtails were seen across the island.

24 March

Another day of light easterly winds and clear blue skies.

A total of nine Woodpigeon is the highest count so far this year. Eight Black Redstarts were seen including two stunning males. Finch migration included ten Brambling, 21 Goldfinch, two Siskin, 24 Linnets and a female Bullfinch. Five Willow Warblers, 30 Chiffchaffs, three male Blackcaps and six Goldcrest were counted. Whilst spraying Rhododendron on the East Coast a number of warblers were seen in the flowering Gorse including a male Firecrest.  Also seen today were a Sand Martin, male Kestrel, Great Northern Diver, Swallow, a Fieldfare, seven Wheatear, nine Pied Wagtails and six White Wagtails. At the end of the day a Red Admiral flew over the Nook in the Village during some after work drinks!

Male Black Redstart, Benjamin's Chair © Stuart Cossey

25 March

Blue skies and light easterly wind continues.

In Millcombe six male Blackcaps, four Chiffchaffs and two Willow Warblers were seen.  Three Swallows, a female Black Redstart, three Wheatears, eight Pied Wagtails and two White Wagtails were also seen across the island. 

Male Blackcap, Millcombe © Stuart Cossey

The number of Brambling is slowly dropping as they continue their northerly migration, only three were seen today. Other finches seen include three Siskin, ten Goldfinch and 19 Linnets. A total of 99 Meadow Pipits were seen including a single flock of over High Street Field. A Golden Plover was seen flying low over the Water Tanks and a Grey Plover was heard calling high over Ackland’s Moor. Also recorded were a Great Northern Diver, 12 Redwing, one Fieldfare and Jack Snipe at Pondsbury. At Jenny's Cove a total of 90 Puffins were seen on the cliff with a further 19 rafting.

Puffins, Jenny's Cove © Rosie Ellis

26 March

Clear and bright with a moderate wind from the east.

A quieter day on the island with only two Chiffchaffs counted. A total of ten Teal were on Pondsbury. Two Stock Dove were in Barton Field and a Kestrel flew over Lower Lighthouse Field.  Also of note were a Fieldfare in Millcombe, four Brambling and 11 Chaffinch including a flock of eight in Bull’s Paradise. A female Black Redstart and Sand Martin were also recorded.

27 March

Clear but hazy with a strong wind from the east.

A total of ten Chiffchaffs were recorded but only one Willow Warbler and two male Blackcaps. These included the first singing Chiffchaffs and Willow Warbler of the year. Two Stock Dove and a Mistle Thrush were in Barton Field, a Fieldfare flew north over Tent Field and the first Tree Pipit of the year was seen at the top of a tree in Millcombe. A total of five Sand Martins were recorded including two foraging over Pondsbury which flew off briefly as a female Merlin headed south. A female Black Redstart was below Old Light and nine male and a female Wheatear were counted along West Coast. Three Bramblings are still present and a male Siskin flew north along East Side. A Jack Snipe and Reed Bunting were recorded above Gannets Coombe.

Sand Martin, Pondsbury © Stuart Cossey

Contributors: S Cossey, C Baillie, P Lymbery, N Trout

Monday 21 March 2022

14th to 20th March – First Swallows, House Martin and Blackcaps and a Brambling influx

Assistant Warden Stuart Cossey provides an update from a busy week on the island.

14 March

Clear and warm with a slight wind from the northeast.

It was a busy morning in Millcombe with loud dawn chorus. The Song Thrush is still singing from the top of the valley with other species including Robin, Dunnock, Wren and Chaffinch. 31 Linnets, 41 Meadow Pipits, five Pied Wagtails and four Wheatear were recorded. Skylarks are everywhere at the moment with 19 seen, most of which were singing over Southwest Field and Ackland’s Moor. A small flock of five Redwing were seen in the morning as they flew out of their roost in Millcombe Valley. Also of note was a Rook which was seen being mobbed by Crows over the Village in the morning and then heard by Brick Field in the afternoon.

Male Wheatear, West Coast © Stuart Cossey

The first Bumblebee survey was completed with four seen including a queen White-tailed Bumblebee and a queen Buff-tailed Bumblebee.

15 March

Sunny with a light breeze from the southeast.

Numbers of Meadow Pipits were higher today with a total of 75 seen, the biggest flock was 28 over the East Side. Also moving north were Linnets with 45 seen including a single flock of 27 by Rocket Pole. A female Brambling was calling in the trees by the Casbah during the morning census, this species is usually seen on the island during Autumn. The first Swallows were seen today with one near the Lambing Shed and a flock of six over Halfway Wall. A Sand Martin was also seen heading southwest in the afternoon. At Jenny’s Cove a total of 80 Puffins were seen on the water.

Linnet, Old Light © Stuart Cossey

16 March

Overcast with a cold westerly wind. Some periodic low cloud and rain throughout the day.

The first moth trap of the year was completed overnight with three moths recorded in the morning. An Early Thorn, Dotted Border and the micro moth Caloptilla stigmatella. In avian news, the low cloud had brought in a few more migrants including a Stock Dove south of Pondsbury and two Golden Plover by the Airstrip. Seven Chiffchaff were seen with four in Millcombe, one by Rocket Pole, one by Pondsbury and another by the Farmyard. A single Redwing was in Millcombe and four male and three female Wheatear were counted along the West Coast. At Jenny’s Cove 42 Puffins were counted with one seen on land. Also at Jenny's Cove were around 700 Guillemots and 400 Razorbills.

Puffins, Jenny's Cove © Stuart Cossey

17 March

Clear and bright with a moderate wind from the southwest.

A Sand Martin flew southwest over South West Field during the morning census. A male Kestrel flew north along the Upper East Coast during the guided walk and the first Blackcap of the year, a female, was seen by the LFS working party as they planted Willow in St. John’s Valley. Five Wheatear were recorded today as well as three Redwing, 48 Meadow Pipits and four Pied Wagtails. A Great Northern Diver was still off the East Coast.

18 March

A foggy start with a clear afternoon. Moderate wind from the southeast.

Four Wheatear and 64 Meadow Pipits were seen today with a Snipe flushed by Pondsbury. A Sparrowhawk was seen hunting Starlings over Barton’s Field in the late afternoon.  In Millcombe a female Firecrest was seen foraging around the Gas Store.

Signs of spring were obvious today with Starlings seen with nest material around Barton's Row. The first Soay lambs were seen today including a mum with triplets by Earthquake.

Soay family, West Coast © Stuart Cossey

19 March

Strong and cold easterly winds but clear blue skies.

A male Blackcap was seen in Millcombe during the morning census and the female Firecrest was also still present. During the day a total of 49 Meadow Pipits, 24 Linnets and 12 Pied Wagtails were counted. Two male Bramblings were seen, one at Jenny’s Cove and another on the track by High Street Field. They were then both seen together feeding with the House Sparrows by the Laundry.

Female Firecrest, Millcombe © Stuart Cossey

Rosie and Stuart spent the afternoon checking the Manx Shearwater nest boxes on the West Coast before they return to the island. Whilst down on the slopes they recorded a female Black Redstart and three singing male Wheatear including one colour ringed bird. The first Manx Shearwater of the year was heard calling from its burrow. Also of note was a Merlin seen at Halfway Wall and a flock of seven Grey Herons heading North past Jenny’s Cove

Grey Herons, Jenny's Cove © Stuart Cossey

20  March

Clear and bright with continued strong easterly winds.

It was an excellent day for migration with a record highest spring count of Brambling with 33 recorded across the island. At one point 20 were seen under the feeders by the Camping Field but small flocks and single birds were turning up everywhere. Other visible migrants include 155 Meadow Pipits, four Cormorants, two Redwing, a Fieldfare, a Sand Martin, three Swallows and the first House Martin of the year at North Light. Also at the North End were two Gannets and a Red Admiral butterfly. A Dunlin was flushed off one of the streams past Threequarter Wall and a Jack Snipe and two Snipe were flushed by Pondsbury. A Stock Dove was seen heading south past Rocket Pole before then being seen heading north followed by a Peregrine! The first Feral Pigeon / Rock Dove was seen in the Village, the lack of rings proving it was a wild bird and not a racing pigeon. A total of 13 Pied Wagtails and six White Wagtails, which are the continental subspecies of Pied Wagtails were recorded.

Male Brambling. West Coast © Stuart Cossey

White Wagtails, Barton's Field © Stuart Cossey

One Puffin was seen at Jenny’s Cove as well as 430 Kittiwakes. It was a dark evening and at least 14 Manx Shearwaters were seen and heard coming in to land around Benjamin’s Chair and the South West Point.

Manx Shearwater, South West Point © Stuart Cossey

Contributors: C Povey, L Lo-Vel, L Cookson, K Williams, K Dobie, T Larose, A Rowland, J Hedger, S Waterfield,  H and P Lymbery, R Ellis

Monday 14 March 2022

7th to 13th March – First Wheatears, Sand Martin and Puffins

7 March

Overcast with an easterly wind.

A Merlin over the East Side was one of the few birds of note.  Skylark numbers are building with 15 counted including birds singing over Castle Hill, South West Field and Ackland’s Moor. 29 Meadow Pipits, four Pied Wagtails and six Linnets were counted during the morning census today.

8 March

Light rain showers with a moderate southeasterly.

Amongst today’s arrivals were the first two Wheatear of the year with a pair seen above Quarry Pond. Also seen were two Goldfinch, seven Linnets and 24 Meadow Pipits. Four Goldcrests were recorded across the island and a Chiffchaff and two Water Rail were in Smelly Gully. Of note were three Snipe flying over in the (late) evening whilst walking back from the Tavern.

9 March

Dry with strong southerly winds.

Two Cormorants flew north along the West Coast. A Grey Wagtail was seen on Barton’s Pond late afternoon and three Snipe were flushed from the rush. A Chiffchaff was seen and heard calling in the trees above Millcombe House.

10 March

Overcast with wind from the southwest.

The lighter winds really boosted numbers today. A total count of 108 Meadow Pipits were recorded, with a large flock of 34 over Barton’s Field. The first Sparrowhawk of the year was seen briefly over the fields above Quarter Wall Copse and the first Sand Martin flew along the East Coast. The Landing Bay was calm and so it was possible to see a Great Northern Diver. Yesterday’s Grey Wagtail was recorded again. It was in the Pig Sty during the morning census and then by Brambles Pond in the late afternoon. Also of note was the arrival of four Chiffchaffs with three in Smelly Gully and one by Stoneycroft, though we are yet to hear any making their characteristic song. Finally a Reed Bunting was heard calling above Pondsbury, could this still be one of the pair first seen on 25th November.

Grey Wagtail, Brambles Pond © Stuart Cossey

11 March

Light rain showers with moderate winds from the southeast.

A quieter day with only 11 Meadow Pipits recorded. The Grey Wagtail was heard briefly as it flew out of St John’s Valley and headed south. A Collared Dove was also reported today. 

12 March

Overcast with strong wind from the southwest. Heavy rain in the afternoon and overnight.

Three male Wheatear were along the West Coast between Old Light and the Battery. 38 Meadow Pipits and nine Pied Wagtails were seen across the island. Four Chiffchaffs were seen including one individual sheltering in the dry stone wall by Tillage Field.

Male Wheatear, West Coast © Stuart Cossey

At Jenny’s Cove the first Puffins were seen with eight rafting together. The number of Puffins should increase towards the end of the month. A Great Northern Diver was in the Landing Bay and a Red-throated Diver was off Rat Island.

13 March

Dry and sunny in the afternoon with wind continuing from the southwest.

After yesterday’s strong winds a raft of 29 Shag were seen in the Landing Bay. A single male Wheatear was at the western end of the Airstrip and 42 Meadow Pipits were seen. Surprisingly a bat was recorded flying around Quarry Pond at 13:00. Photos and size suggest either a Noctule, Leisler's or Serotine Bat.

Male Chaffinch, Village © Stuart Cossey

Monday 7 March 2022

28th February to 6th March – Meadow Pipits continued…

28 February

Low cloud and rain all day with some clearer spells in the afternoon.

As has been expected this year, another helicopter changeover was delayed by low cloud. The consistent light rain only slightly slowed the Meadow Pipit migration with 40 recorded across the island. A total of eight Teal were on Pondsbury, 13 Chaffinch and a Greenfinch were in Millcombe.

Singing in the rain. Robin, Millcombe © Stuart Cossey

1 March

Clear with moderate winds from the southeast.

A Merlin was seen hunting Starlings across Tillage Field. A Jack Snipe was flushed from the north of Brick Field whilst working to install new fences.  Meadow Pipit numbers are still high with 44 counted today. A single Linnet was also heard heading north.

2 March

Wet and overcast in the morning but clearing in the afternoon. Winds continuing from the southeast.

Another wet morning census with two Redwing in the top of Millcombe Valley the highlight. The clouds cleared in the afternoon for a guided walk with a Goldfinch singing in Millcombe, Kestrel seen over the East Side and three Woodpigeon above St Helen’s Copse. There are still Meadow Pipits heading north with 32 recorded.

3 March

Cold and overcast with strong winds from the northeast.

After a week without being seen a Great Northern Diver was fishing in the Landing Bay this morning. A visitor also recorded a Gannet off North Light. The three Woodpigeon were seen feeding in Barton’s Field. Ten Skylark were recorded with many singing and likely holding territory. A total of 60 Meadow Pipits were seen heading north today. Pied Wagtails and Linnets were also on the move with five of each recorded across the island.

Meadow Pipit, St John's Valley © Stuart Cossey

4 March

Clear with some light rain. Wind from the north.

Meadow Pipits are still migrating over the island in good numbers with 46 recorded. A 1st winter Yellow-legged Gull was seen with 116 Herring Gulls and four Lesser Black-backed Gulls in Tillage Field in the afternoon. Five Oystercatcher pairs are now on territory in the Landing Bay and Rat Island.

5 March

Clear and bright but with a cold wind from the north.

A similar day to the rest of the week with not a lot moving through other than Meadow Pipits, 58 of which were seen today. Also recorded flying over were nine Linnets and one Goldfinch. More surprisingly a Cormorant flew north along the East Side.

Male Stonechat, Pointless Wall © Stuart Cossey

6 March

Overcast with a cold wind from the northeast.

The strong wind blowing up Millcombe Valley reduced the numbers seen today. A group of 10 Teal on Pondsbury was included three males in breeding plumage. Also of note were a Merlin by Quarter Wall and 7 Woodpigeon along the East side (four in Millcombe and three at Quarter Wall Copse). Meadow Pipit migration was also affected by the strong winds with 38 seen today. A group of nine Skylark were seen in the wet flush above Jenny’s Cove.