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Tuesday 9 August 2022

1st to 7th August – Willow Warblers arrive in force

After strong winds from the southwest the first week of August has been bright and warm. Light winds from the north and northeast have brought migrants south, occasionally in big numbers.

With most ponds drying up in the hot weather, these have been good locations to look for birds. Pondsbury and Rocket Pole Pond are the only two still with good levels. A female Teal was seen on Pondsbury on the 3rd and 7th with a juvenile Garganey skulking around the edges of Pondsbury on the 3rd.

The last of the water at Quarter Wall Pond © Stuart Cossey

A group of 23 Swift were seen foraging over the Village on the evening of the 6th. Numbers of Woodpigeon increased to seven on the 5th which included one juvenile bird.

Waders continue to be seen or heard over the island. A Ringed Plover was heard by the Terrace on the 1st and over South West Field on the 6th. A Snipe was heard over the village on the evening of the 1st with birds then being flushed on the 5th and 7th.

During the sunshine on the 6th, flying ants emerged across the island causing large flocks of up to 500 Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gulls to swarm and circle above South Light. A Common Gull was seen off the North End on the 3rd and a Black-headed Gull over the Village on the 6th. Last week’s young Grey Heron is still at Pondsbury and occasionally take flights over the island. Possibly the last Puffin of the year was seen off the North End on the 5th and a Red-throated Diver was unexpected during a seawatch at the North End on the 3rd. The Manx Shearwater chicks in the artificial nest boxes were ringed on the 6th and should be ready to fledge by the end of August. 

A late night Storm Petrel ringing session took place towards the North End on the 1st. 20 birds were caught around a breeding colony. These included three controls (already ringed). One from North Wales, one from Skokholm Island, Pembrokeshire and one from the Lizard, Cornwall. The oldest was ringed as an adult in 2016. Storm Petrels are one of the smallest seabirds in the world and are roughly the same weight as a House Sparrow. They spend most of their lives at sea and only come to land at night in the summer to breed.

Hirundines continue to move through in small numbers with 11 and 10 Sand Martin on the 6th and 7th. Swallow passage peaked at 23 on the 1st and 25 on the 7th. Seven House Martins were seen on the 7th.

Switching of winds to the north on the 1st brought a huge fall of Willow Warblers. 207 were seen on the morning census with at least 400 seen throughout the day. Other warblers seen on the 1st included four Chiffchaff, ten Sedge Warbler and three Whitethroat. Only four Willow Warbler were seen on the 2nd but the rest of the week remained at between 20 and 40 seen each day. Chiffchaff and Sedge Warblers have been seen most days. On the 4th a Blackcap was ringed in the Secret Garden and a Grasshopper Warbler was reeling briefly.

A Redstart was seen in Millcombe on the 6th. A pair of Stonechat by Old Light are trying for a late brood and were seen taking food to a nest on the 6th. Wheatear continue to be seen with a high count of 25 on the 7th. A Tree Pipit was heard over Millcombe on the 4th. Small numbers of Meadow Pipits and Pied Wagtails have been heard migrating over the island.

Northern Wheatear, Ackland's Moor © Stuart Cossey

Goldfinch numbers are building with 40 counted on the 7th. Small flocks are present in Millcombe and around the thistles on Ackland’s Moor. Two Siskin flew over Millcombe on the 4th.

In non-avian news, Common Dolphin are being seen regularly with eight off the North End on the 3rd and four off the East Coast on the 6th and 7th. This time of year hundreds of Spider Crabs move to shallower water to moult. We are lucky enough to have large numbers in the Landing Bay and around Rat Island that can be seen whilst snorkelling and rockpooling. Two Convolvulus Hawk-moths were seen by Paradise Row on the evening of the 1st and a Pipistrelle species was over Millcombe on the 7th.

Spider Crabs, Rat Island © Stuart Cossey

Contributors: S Cossey, R Ellis, Z Wait, J Dunning, M and J Webber

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