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Monday 13 February 2023

6th to 12th February – More stirrings of migration and the breeding season to come

Eleanor Grover reports on a spring-like week.

Unseasonably sunny weather, with one day of low fog on the 10th. Predominantly light south-easterly winds, switching to south-westerly on the 10th and 11th before reverting to south-east again on the 12th.

Three Teal were present on Pondsbury on the 8th. Also on the 8th, a Stock Dove was present in Millcombe, at one point companionably sharing a branch with a Woodpigeon (singles of which were present in Millcombe on the 6th, 8th and 11th, with one in Quarter Wall Copse on the 9th).

A faint call of Golden Plover was heard on the 8th and two birds were eventually located in Brick Field. Three Snipe were flushed from Pondsbury on the 7th. Singles of this species were startled from where they hid unnoticed near Kistvaen Pond and the water tanks on the 9th and 10th, respectively.

Regular feeding frenzies of Kittiwake have been sighted in the late mornings from the east coast. Outwith these, four Kittiwake were present at nest sites at Jenny’s Cove on the 8th, with a further 24 birds flying close inshore on the 9th. Whilst Jenny’s Cove may seem empty at first glance, the noise soon gives it away and a look through binoculars reveals the white dots to be a mass of seabirds. The constant calls of Guillemot fill the air, punctuated by the growling of Razorbill, cackling Fulmar and the occasional drawn out “kitti-waake”. Total numbers on land on the 8th were 1,918 Guillemot, 486 Razorbill and 46 Fulmar. The Razorbill often sat in couples, renewing their pair bond with behaviours such as preening and copulation. Guillemot – slightly later breeders – appear to be more of a rabble! In amongst the bickering birds a colour-ringed individual was spied returning to a ledge where it had first been spotted in 2021.

Jenny's Cove is getting busier – and noisier – by the day © Eleanor Grover

Off Benjamin’s Chair, too, large rafts of auks are gathering. These mostly comprise Razorbill, with 474 present on the 11th, but just 7 Guillemot. Two Great Northern Diver graced the Landing Bay with their presence on the 11th, one of which was starting to moult into breeding plumage.

The long-staying Jackdaw remained around the Village area. Skylark are being heard almost daily; with a high of three on the 8th and another singing bird on the airstrip on the 9th.

Thrushes fluctuate in numbers on a day-to day basis. Peak counts of 11 Blackbird were noted on both the 11th and 12th. The “cha-cha-cha” of a Fieldfare was heard before the single bird was spotted dropping down into Millcombe on the 8th. Five Redwing were foraging in the same area on the 6th and a single Song Thrush was singing from the valley all week. He was joined by a second singing bird on the 12th and the peak count of Song Thrush was eight birds on the 8th.

Full of eastern promise for the spring to come – sunrise over Millcombe © Eleanor Grover

The call of Stonechats, from whence their name is derived, is an ever increasing sound from amidst the gorse where these birds are often seen in pairs. A single Grey Wagtail was heard flying over Millcombe on the 8th. Three Pied Wagtail were recorded on the 6th, with singles on the 7th, 8th and 11th.

Single fly-overs of Greenfinch (8th) and Goldfinch (7th) were heard once each during the week. Siskin were more regularly recorded: one on each of the 6th, 8th and 12th. Linnet migration has begun – as if turned on by a switch. This species is now recorded on a daily basis, with a high count of 22 on the 6th. One male alighted for just a brief moment, looking resplendent in his pink apparel against the yellow gorse, gleaming in the sunshine. To further delight, he sang out a few brief bars before taking to the wing once more.

From breeding birds to migrants, it seems like it has been all things go this week. Spring is only just around the corner!

Contributors: Rosie Ellis, Eleanor Grover.

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