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Monday 30 January 2023

23rd to 29th January – Some calm weather and early arrivals

Mild, especially on clear sunny days. Clear with light southerlies on the 23rd and 24th. Moderate westerlies on the 25th brought low cloud and drizzle. Mostly overcast with moderate winds from the west and northwest to end the week.

It is starting to feel spring-like in Millcombe with Song Thrush, Robin, Dunnock and Wren singing during the calm sunny mornings.

A high count of 15 Teal were seen on Pondsbury on 26th. The Greylag Goose continues to be seen in Barton Field with only occasional flights to other fields. A Feral / Racing Pigeon flew along the West Coast on 26th, very reminiscent of the Rock Doves they originally evolved from. A Woodpigeon was in Millcombe between the 23rd and 25th. Also in Millcombe, Water Rail continue to be heard calling from below Millcombe Pond. A Sparrowhawk was seen on 23rd and a Merlin on 23rd and 26th. The long-staying Jackdaw is still present in the Village and farm fields.

Merlin, West Coast © Stuart Cossey

Pairs of Oystercatcher are starting to defend territories along the East Coast with their calls easily heard. A single Golden Plover was recorded on the 24th and 26th. Three Snipe were flushed by Pondsbury on 26th.

Oystercatcher, Landing Bay © Stuart Cossey

There was some good seawatching this week with a few large flocks of Kittiwake off the East Coast. 300 were counted on 26th and 200 on 27th. Four Common Gull were seen with them on the 26th. Also on the 26th, a very early Manx Shearwater and 154 Fulmar were seen off the West Coast. A Great Northern Diver is still feeding in the Landing Bay and up to 200 Herring Gulls continue to be seen in the farm fields, attracted to the sheep feed.

The first Skylarks of the year were seen this week with one on 23rd and another on 28th. Up to four Goldcrest were recorded in Millcombe. A Mistle Thrush was by Quarter Wall on 23rd and a Redwing was seen on 24th. Stonechat were a more common sight with three on 23rd, two on 24th and singles on 27th to 29th. A Pied Wagtail was recorded on the 23rd and two were present on 26th.

The number of Chaffinch recorded has varied but the same flock of up to 22 is still in Millcombe. Single Siskin were seen on 23rd and 25th and a Goldfinch and three Linnet were seen on 24th.

In non-avian news, the easterly winds have washed a lot of debris onto Landing Bay Beach and Christie's Quay. As well as the unsightly plastic pollution there have been Goose Barnacles and a lot of shark and skate egg cases, including Blonde Ray, Spotted Skate and Small-spotted Catshark

Shark and Skate egg cases © Stuart Cossey

Goose Barnacles, Landing Bay Beach © Stuart Cossey

Contributors: Stuart Cossey, Rosie Ellis, Eleanor Grover

Monday 23 January 2023

1st to 22nd January – A new year and a busy shutdown

Strong westerly winds up to the 15th. Light winds from the northwest on the 2nd and light to moderate winds from the 16th.

It is now the end of another busy shutdown, the only month of the year when the island is closed to visitors. This allows us to complete important maintenance work on the properties.

Devil's Kitchen © Stuart Cossey

West Coast © Stuart Cossey

Kistvean Pond © Stuart Cossey

17 Mallard remain around the island and up to 11 Teal have been seen on Pondsbury. A male Common Scoter was off the Landing Beach on the 18th. The Greylag Goose remained in Barton’s Field. A single Woodpigeon was in Quarter Wall Copse on the 1st. Another was then seen in Millcombe from the 17th. Water Rail have been calling in Millcombe and one was flushed by Quarter Wall on the 17th.

A flock of 25 Oystercatcher were seen roosting bellow Tibbets on the 13th. Pairs have also started to spread out along the East Coast. Golden Plover were heard flying over on the 9th and 17th. Two were then seen in Brick Field on the 20th and were joined by a third on the 22nd. A Woodcock was flushed from Millcombe on the 20th and another from along the Lower East on the 22nd. Snipe have been common in the wet areas around the island and a single Jack Snipe was flushed on the 7th. A small flock of Purple Sandpiper seem to be wintering on the island with four seen at Brazen Ward on the 1st and nine there on the 13th.

Purple Sandpipers, Brazen Ward © Stuart Cossey

Purple Sandpipers, Brazen Ward © Stuart Cossey

Golden Plover, Brick Field © Stuart Cossey

Up to 280 Herring Gulls were in the farm fields during the strong winds at the beginning of the month. This then slowly dropped to around 100 as winds calmed down. Amongst the large gulls a Juvenile Yellow-legged Gull was seen on the 16th and an adult Iceland Gull on the 22nd. Off the East Coast the seawatching improved on the 16th when 500 Kittiwake were seen as well as eight Common Gulls. When the winds calmed Fulmar and Guillemot began to return to Jenny’s Cove to inspect nest sites. It was also easy to pick out six Red-throated Divers on the 20th and three on the 21st. Up to three Great Northern Divers have been in the Landing Bay.

Great Northern Diver, Landing Bay © Stuart Cossey

Iceland Gull, High Street Field © Stuart Cossey

A few birds of prey remained on the island over winter with a Kestrel seen on the 1st and 7th. Peregrine, Sparrowhawk and Merlin have been seen more regularly. The Jackdaw first seen on the 23rd October is still present and often seen foraging in the Camping Field.

It has been quiet for small birds. Two Goldcrest have been overwintering in Millcombe and were joined by three new birds on the 20th. Single Redwing were seen on the 2nd, 20th and 21st. The first Stonechat of the year was seen on the 7th and a pair were in South West Field on the 22nd. A small flock of Chaffinch have been roosting in Millcombe. 17 were seen on the 2nd and a few new birds increased the count to 24 on the 20th. Two Siskin flew over on the 16th. A few Linnet were seen flying over during calm weather. 22 were recorded on the 2nd, two on the 17th and 31 on the 20th.

Stonechat, Pointless Wall © Stuart Cossey

In non-avian news, a Harbour Porpoise was seen off Rat Island on the 7th and two were hunting off Brazen Ward and Gannets Rock on the 13th and 14th. Another was off The Battery on the 21st. Two small Portuguese Man o' war were washed up on Devil's Kitchen.

Portuguese Man o' War, Devil's Kitchen © Stuart Cossey

 Contributors: Stuart Cossey, Rosie Ellis