Overcast and very calm first thing on the 10th so we took advantage of the conditions, made a dawn start and carried out a whole-island Black Guillemot count; we ended up with a total of 792 breeding plumaged birds around the coast – 50 down from last year which was a record count so its still a very good total.
The good conditions also led to a great days birding with lots of obvious vis mig going on including the first decent arrival of 71+ Wheatears – with birds seen launching themselves over the sea to the north from the rocks by the lighthouse, another leap to 553+ Meadow Pipits – with many seen over the sea, flocks of Greylags and Curlews heading noisily north and the first Yellowhammer of the year at Lurand – the first spring record since 2012.
Other totals on the land comprised a Sparrowhawk, 2 Merlins, 3 Woodcock, 4 Woodpigeons, 160 Skylark, 17 Rock Pipits, 2 Grey Wagtails, 2 White Wagtails, 47 Pied Wagtails, 4 Dunnock, 60 Robins, 2 Black Redstarts, 145 Blackbirds, 122 Fieldfares, 18 Song Thrushes, 76 Redwing, 7 Mistle Thrush, 5 Chiffchaff, 4 Goldcrest, 4 Chaffinch, 8 Brambling, 92 Linnets and 2 Snow Buntings.
Elsewhere, 30 Great-northern Divers were offshore, the Whooper Swan and 3 Barnacle Geese remained, 277 Golden Plover were in Loch Park while other waders included a Grey Plover and 3 Black-tailed Godwits and 5 Sandwich Terns were off The Links.
A different day on the 11th with a strong force 6-7 SE wind making things difficult in the field but it remained dry and bright and with many of yesterday’s birds having departed it was a much quieter day’s birding; the first Manx Shearwater of the year passed the seawatch hide late morning while also offshore were 6 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, a Merlin heading out to the north and handfuls of Pipits coming in. Other notable birds included a Woodpigeon, a Grey Wagtail, 51 Wheatears, 3 Mistle Thrushes, 2 Black Redstarts, 5 Chiffchaff and 2 Snow Buntings while the 3 Barnacle Geese and 2 Goldeneye lingered on.
Sparrowhawk and Goldcrest Simon Davies