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Monday 16 May 2022

9th to 15th May – An excellent spring for breeding passerines and a brief Bluethroat

Another week with mostly beautiful warm and clear days. Some heavy rain on 10th. Moderate westerly wind for the first half of the week with a shift to the east on the 15th.

At least four broods of Mallards were seen this week with families on Pondsbury, Barton Ponds and Church Field gully. A male Teal was seen on Pondsbury on 11th and 15th and a female on the 14th. It has been an excellent week for Swifts with records every day. The highest count was 18 on the 11th. A male Cuckoo was heard on the 9th and another was seen flying over the East Side on the 15th. A male Collared Dove has been singing in Millcombe Valley all week, being briefly joined by a second bird on the 10th.

There was good variety in waders this week. Singles of Golden Plover were recorded on the 13th, 14th and 15th. Whimbrel were recorded on 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th and 14th and a Curlew was heard over Ackland’s Moor on the 13th. Last week’s Bar-tailed Godwit was last seen on the 9th in the rush at the west of High Street Field. Single Dunlin were seen on the 14th and 15th, a Common Sandpiper was in the Landing Bay on the 13th and a Purple Sandpiper was present at Brazen Ward at high afternoon tide on the 15th. The first ever May record of Woodcock was on the 13th as one was chased by a Peregrine over Pondsbury. Unfortunately the Peregrine was successful and it carried the Woodcock off towards the West Coast.

Bar-tailed Godwit, High Street Field © Stuart Cossey

Puffins are back along the West Coast in high numbers with a count of 258 around Jenny’s Cove and St Mark’s Cove on the 15th. There was a count of 61 Shag on the 15th and two and three Cormorants were reported on the 9th and 11th respectively. Paul St Pierre and Antony Bellamy of the RSPB are currently on the island undertaking a population census of the gull colonies. This is very important as many coastal gull colonies are declining.

Manx Shearwater, MS Oldenburg © Richard Campey

The pair of Kestrel are still being seen around the south end of the island and a high count of 10 Peregrine on the 15th suggests at least 5 pairs are present. A Merlin was seen on the 13th and 14th near Halfway Wall. Hobby were seen briefly as they flew over on the 11th and 15th. A Hooded Crow was in the Aerogenerator Field on the 12th.

Hooded Crow, Aerogenerator Field © Richard Campey

There have been several days of strong hirundines passage with totals on the 14th of 28 Sand Martins, 1000 Swallows and 200 House Martins. Another high count of Sand Martins was on the 10th with 32 counted.

Although numbers of warblers are dropping off there is still a good variety. Two Wood Warbler were present on the 15th with a male singing in Millcombe and another seen at the bottom of Gannet’s Combe. One or two Willow Warbler were seen on the 10th, 11th, 12th, 14th and 15th. Chiffchaff and Sedge Warbler were singing in Millcombe every morning. High counts of six Chiffchaff were on the 13th and 14th and seven Sedge Warblers on the 14th. A Reed Warbler was seen on the 14th, Grasshopper Warblers were present on the 10th, 11th and 14th and three Garden Warblers were recorded with one on 13th and two on the 14th . Blackcaps and Whitethroats were seen every day with the highest counts on the 15th of five and seven respectively.  A female Goldcrest was present in Millcombe from the 9th to the 11th.

Wood Warbler, Millcombe © Richard Campey

It appears to be an excellent year for breeding Starlings. At the moment chicks are calling from nearly every wall and at least 60 nests have been noted around the Village. There are Stonechats breeding all across the island with at least 15 pairs noted. The first fledgling Blackbirds have been seen in Millcombe this week. It seems that the rat eradication was not only beneficial to the seabirds but also for many breeding landbirds.

Spotted Flycatchers have begun to arrive again after a quiet period between the 4th and 9th. Three were seen on the 10th and 11th, six on the 12th, seven on the 13th, eight on the 14th and 15 on the 15th. A female Redstart was recorded on the 13th and a female Whinchat was ringed on the 9th. Low numbers of Wheatear still seem to be heading north through the island with a high count of 35 seen on the 13th. 

Spotted Flycatcher, Millcombe © Richard Campey

Female Whinchat, Barton Field © Stuart Cossey

The best bird of the week was a female Bluethroat seen by Tim Davis and Tim Jones on the Lower East Side path below Gannet’s Combe. Flight views clearly showed the classic tail pattern and brief perched views allowed confirmation with a slight blue throat and strong white supercilium.

One Yellow Wagtail was heard on the 14th over the Lodge and then three were counted on the 15th including a Blue-headed Wagtail and male flavissima in Barton Field. Grey Wagtails were heard over the island on the 12th, 14th and 15th and two White Wagtails were seen from 10th to 13th with three on the 14th and one on the 15th. A Tree Pipit was in Millcombe on the 10th and then two were seen in Millcombe on the 12th.

Yellow Wagtail, Barton Field © Richard Campey

Blue-headed Wagtail, Barton Field © Richard Campey

Tree Pipit, Millcombe © Stuart Cossey

Numbers of Linnet are still high for the time of year with a flock of 70+ being seen in Barton Field on the evenings of 13th to 15th. A Hawfinch was in Millcombe Valley on the 13th and Lesser Redpoll were seen in Millcombe on the 12th and 13th.

In non-avian news, other than the usual butterflies, a Painted Lady was seen on the 15th, Peacock on the 12th and Brimstone on the 9th. The first Small Heaths were recorded on the 12th. The first Green Tiger Beetles of the year were seen on the 15th along the West Coast. Highlights from the moth trap include Galium Carpet (first island record), Small Angle Shades and Pale Tussock as well as numerous Marbled Coronet.

Contributors: S Cossey, R Ellis, Z Wait, L Pirateque, R Duncan, D Kiatley, J Dunning, R Campey, T Davis, T Jones, P St Pierre, A Bellamy, K Dobie, J Boyle.

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