Wednesday, 2 April 2014

It was another migrant-filled day, with stronger easterly winds and low cloud cover encouraging another great selection of birds to make landfall on the island. There was an excellent variety of new species in the morning, which included the first Snow Bunting of the year over the South End, another Red-breasted Merganser in Solfach, the year's first four Swallows north over the Narrows, and a cracking male Firecrest at Nant. The first two Greenland-race Wheatears were present amongst the usual oenanthe birds on The Narrows, one of which was a cracking male, which spent the afternoon singing in competition against one of the island's Wheatears.

Phylloscopus warblers were scattered all over the island: some were moving through on the rocky shoreline of the narrows; other newly-arrived birds were seen feeding alongside Goldcrests in the coastal gorse; and yet more had managed to reach the gardens, and sheltered low down in the dense Damson bushes in Cristin garden. In total, 29 Willow Warblers and 48 Chiffchaffs were seen, although this is likely to be a large underestimate; 18 Goldcrests and two Blackcaps were also recorded, whilst passerine migrant numbers elsewhere included 145 Meadow Pipits (including about 50 Icelandic birds), 27 Wheatears, four White Wagtails, five Sand Martins and two House Martins.

This very fine male Firecrest was seen at Nant, remaining quite shy in the depths of the withies and the plantation
The first Greenland-race Wheatears of the year arrived on the island in the late afternoon- this particular bird spent an hour singing in rivalry with a male oenanthe, which was perched just three metres away! Note the extent of the orange, reaching from throat to vent, especially along the flanks; note also the different shade of blue on the mantle, speckled with to our first oenanthe Wheatear of the year...below

With calm, mild and very overcast nights, a good number of lepidoptera has been emerging, and finding their way into the moth traps. The most common moths at the moment include Common Quakers, Hebrew Characters, Early Thorns (top image below), Double-striped Pugs and Red Chestnuts. A Herald (lower image below) was a nice surprise in one of the traps.
Early Thorn
The Herald

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