Sunday, May 1, 2011

Wind speeds topping thirty miles an hour are making birding difficult with the birds skulking through the wind battered vegetation. But it is clear that stuff is still moving and reasonable numbers of Willow Warblers and Whitethroats were logged this morning. Scarcer migrants included a Lesser Whitethroat, Whinchat and a male flavissima Yellow Wagtail. The first Cuckoo and Swifts of the spring have also been noted in the last couple of days. More conspicuous are the hundreds of Wheatear, predominantly leucorhoa, moving through the island and the Swallows and House Martins passing over. Waders are starting to move through and over 60 Whimbrel are present today, including a smart leucistic bird. Considering the thousands of Bar-tailed Godwits being recorded at some coastal sites at the moment, the two birds hanging around with the Whimbrel suggest that we aren't on the main flightpath of this particular species. Dunlin numbers hover in the high teens and we managed to dazzle three birds last night.

Whimbrels feeding among the Spring Squill on the South End. The leucistic bird appeared over night and, as might be expected, seems even more wary than is typical of these twitchy Numenius. (c) Richard Brown

This fantastic Bar-Tailed Godwit was sporting its summer plumage as it fed with one of the flocks of Whimbrel. (c) Richard Brown

We had to wait until well after 11pm for a decent amount of darkness to descend upon the island so we could go dazzling. It was still blowing a gale, which is good for dazzling because the waders don't hear our clumsy footsteps over the shingle. We were rewarded for Rich's stealthiness with three Dunlin. (c) Giselle Eagle

The first Ringed Plover nest of the year! They make a fantastic shallow scrape in the shingle which they line with tiny fragments of shale, shell and small pebbles. Ringed  Plover are a rare breeder on the island, but were successful last year with two pairs fledging seven chicks. Their success was partly due to the chicken-wire cages which Rich made last year, which sit over the top of the scrape, preventing sheep, corvids and gulls from destroying the nest. We erected the cage over this nest this morning, and the female bird returned almost immediately to continue to incubate her eggs. (c) Giselle Eagle 

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