Monday, 25 September 2017

We haven't managed any top drawer rarities amongst this latest pulse of migration, but when the island is as full of birds as it was today we can't have any complaints! It was fantastic to be out today, with migration really seeming to be in fuller swing than its been all autumn, and a great diversity of species logged.

Among the most numerous were 293 Goldfinches passing through overhead. They were the headlines of a decent finch day, with 23 Chaffinches, six Siskins and five Lesser Redpolls also around or overhead. Until today we'd had just one Reed Bunting all autumn, so a minimum of seven today was a considerable improvement. A brief Lapland Bunting also dropped into the Narrows early in the afternoon, but moved swiftly on. 398 Swallows and 79 House Martins were streaming north, while Meadow Pipits seemd to be constantly on the move, with the 208 logged underestimating the real numbers by an unknown rate. 44 Rock Pipits were around the coast, while Pied Wagtails seem to have firmly supplanted White Wagtail as the dominant species, 30 of the latter and just one of the former were seen today, the first time that Yarrelli has been moving in any great numbers this autumn. An additional 17 alba Wagtails passed through overhead, alongside 14 Grey Wagtails and 23 Skylarks, the largest passage of the latter this autumn. Two each of Buzzard and Sparrowhawk (including a young male trapped at the Plantation) also moved through, alongside a cream-crown Marsh Harrier, the third of the year.

first-winter male Sparrowhawk, trapped and ringed at the Plantation this afternoon

Its impossible to know just how many Goldcrests were moving through the island today, with birds constantly on the move along the Mountainside and the lack of retraps in the Obs Garden suggesting few were hanging around. 198 was the final total at log, but the real number must have been considerably higher. 73 Chiffchaffs represented the largest movement of the autumn so far, with other Warblers noted just nine Blackcaps, five Willow Warblers and two Grasshopper Warblers. 45 Robins, 25 Stonechats, nine Wheatears, four Spotted Flycatchers and two Song Thrushes were also noted. A Wryneck was around the Plantation/Ty Capel area, and a Water Rail  was in Cristin Withy.

Two Sabine's Gulls were noted again today, with one off the South End early in the morning and one, probably the same as yesterday, briefly flying over the Narrows and heading towards Carreg Yr Honwy. The first notable arrival of Black-headed Gulls of the autumn saw at least 320 offshore, alongside 2100 Kittiwakes. An excellent 102 Common Scoters was the other highlight of species moving through. Otherwise, sea passage was represented by 55 Razorbills, seven Arctic and two Great Skuas, two Common Gulls and a single Arctic Tern. Waders for the day featured 70 Oystercatchers, 52 Curlews, 34 Turnstones, five Redshanks, five Whimbrels, two Dunlins and a Snipe, with two Grey Herons including one adult that was new in. 

Finally, some mention should be made of the "hidden migration", species we might not even suspect to be on the move if it wasn't for daily censusing. However, counts of 175 Herring Gulls, 36 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 38 Carrion Crows and 15 Blackbirds were all sufficiently higher than recent counts to firmly suggest passage of all four species. Both Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gulls tend to pass south high over the island or along the coastline throughout the day here, but if it wasn't for the fact it's almost all "one-way traffic" you could very easily assume they were just on local movements.

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