Saturday, 12 May 2018

It was an absolutely glorious day, with the sun beaming down on the island from the word go. Billy continued the second Common Bird Census (CBC) of the season, walking through the wetlands and lowlands at dawn and logging territories of singing birds as he went. First impressions of the breeding season are that certain species have really taken a hit. Meadow Pipits appear to be down on last year as do Stonechats (potentially only three pairs of the latter this year compared to eight in 2017), and Linnets have returned to the island this spring in far fewer numbers than previous years. Only time will tell how it all pans out.

After the observatory had been given a good clean down and the new set of guests welcomed onto the island, Oystercatcher nest counts became the order of the day. Starting at the north end and working our way down the west coast we mapped 26 territories, 14 of which had nests with eggs in. There's still plenty more coastline to cover, and Oystercatcher pairs will continue laying throughout the month so we'll need to carry out several return visits before we have an idea of the final nest count.

The Red-backed Shrike remained overnight and put in a tantalisingly brief appearance this morning before disappearing again into the gorse by the Schoolhouse. Other birds logged on a generally quiet day for migrants included two Manx Shearwaters, 11 Gannets, a Sparrowhawk, two Buzzards, a Kestrel, two Peregrines, a Purple Sandpiper, seven Whimbrels, two Collared Dove (they've been hanging around for a while now - but will they breed?), a Little Owl, 16 Sand Martins, 69 Swallows, three House Martin, a Stonechat, six Wheatears, four Sedge Warblers, a Whitethroat, seven Chiffchaffs, three Willow Warblers, a Goldcrest, a Firecrest, a Spotted Flycatcher, three Rooks, three Chaffinches, a Siskin, nine Goldfinches, 21 Linnets and two Lesser Redpolls.

There's an Oystercatcher nest somewhere between Mark and Ephraim.  From this photo it looks like they decided that engaging in deep thought was the best way to locate it.

Dozens of Pyrausta despicata are now flying around the maritime grassland of the west coast.

The Observatory balcony at midday, ready for a welcome talk in the sunshine.

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