Friday, 7 October 2016

The winds again blew from the east winds but dropped slightly in strength bringing some new arrivals to the island and some real signs of Autumn. Numbers of thrushes were the most obvious increase, three Ring Ouzels scattered amongst the mountainside and gardens, giving away their locations with their hard "tok tok tok" calls before darting from cover in a flash of silvery wings. Similar in behaviour were the Song Thrushes, 12 seen today, which can be surprisingly secretive until flushed from cover emitting their high frequency "sip" flight call. The first small arrival of Redwings buzzed around the island in small flocks amounting to 47 by the end of the day and Blackbirds numbered 13. Yellow-browed Warblers reached four individuals today and although very elusive at times this stunning Asiatic warbler did provide some great views. A Little Egret passing down the West Coast was a nice surprise, as was a late Reed Warbler trapped in the Observatory garden, the bird was swiftly checked over to make sure it wasn't one of the rarer Acrocephalus Warblers that can occur at this time. Other warblers included 14 Blackcaps, nine Chiffchaffs, a Willow Warbler 20 Goldcrests and rather dapper male Firecrest which sang in one of the gardens around Nant. Stonechats had arrived in small numbers which totalled 35 and could be seen peppering the fence lines, banks and vegetation around the island, Robins were also recorded in great numbers, 49 today. Throughout the day passerines and even some of the corvids were harassed by a variety of raptors which included three Sparrowhawks, a Common Buzzard, two Kestrels, a Merlin and a pair of Peregrines. A Short-eared Owl was seen on the mountainside which quickly went to ground amongst the  gorse and bracken, four Little Owls were also recorded. Overhead a couple of Skylarks passed as did small clusters of hirundines, 44 Swallows and six House Martins. Whilst below a Water Rail, 194 Meadow Pipits, 20 Rock Pipits, a Wheatear, 40 Starlings, 17 Chaffinches,  a single Siskin, four Goldfinches and 30 Linnets were also recorded.

Another good day of Wildfowl with the 26th record of Shoveller for the island, following one this earlier is spring. This individual was a female and spent a while just off shore with seven Wigeons. Common Scoters passed by further out and totalled 31 by the end of the day with three Teals and 38 Mallards also spotted.

Wader numbers and variety have slowly decreased over the passed week, however good numbers and a couple of interesting sightings kept it ticking over on the wader front. Lapwings were a frequent breeder on the island many years ago, although never in massive numbers, but the odd pairs used to nest through the centre of the island where habitat was suitable. Unfortunately they are no longer a breeding bird here but we get them on passage with two individuals were seen flying over the mountains ridge today. A few Common Snipes were flushed from low lying fields, a Bar-tailed Godwit pitched down on Solfach and a single Whimbrel, 46 Curlews, two Redshanks, 19 Turnstones and 28 Oystercatchers were also noted.

A flurry of Red Admirals passed through and individuals could be seen slowly fluttering through and feeding on slowly diminishing crops of flowers in the gardens throughout the island. Green-veined Whites which numbered five and 14 Silver Y's were the only other additions of Lepidoptera.

A Red-throated Diver powering down the West Coast was probably the highlight of a very slow passage out at sea although there was a variety of species seen. An Arctic Skua and a reasonable number of Gulls were recorded however, including four Mediterranean Gulls, 78 Black-headed Gulls, 32 Common Gulls, 34 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 53 Herring Gulls, six Greater Black-backed Gulls and 603 Kittiwakes. A "Comic" Tern also passed, along with ten Gannets and 84 Razorbills.

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