August 2001 Diary
Friday 3rd. August westerly 2 - sunny and warm
A ‘flying visit’ to the fire-pool near the entrance to the plantation in search of Black Darter dragonflies proved
successful. There was one male sat on a log out in the middle of the pool and a female ovipositing along the reedy
shoreline. This is the only known site for the species on the island and, due to it’s small size, affords really excellent views of the
insects it attracts. Other species regularly seen here include Common Hawker, Common Darter, Large Red Damselfly and
the comical ‘Whirligig Beetle’.
Saturday 10th. August southwesterly - 3 hot and sunny
Leaving Ramsey mid-morning, we drove through the heaviest rainstorm I’ve ever experienced. Fortunately it was very localised and, on arrival at Smeale 10 minutes later, we were bathed in glorious sunshine. We had a look at the plantation in the hope of locating the Long-eared Owls but, as is often the case with these birds, we were unsuccessful.
On the heath, the heather was in full bloom and the air was thick with the buzzing of a myriad of insects collecting pollen – unfortunately there were also hundreds of Horseflies/Clegs on the wing and we did very well to avoid being bitten. Other insects on the wing were Grayling, Dark-Green Fritillary, Common Blue, Small Heath, Peacock and Meadow Brown butterflies.
Interesting plants of note were Isle of Man Cabbage and Grass of Parnassus (the former is pushing it a bit, describing it as interesting!).
Tuesday 14th. August southwesterly 6 - cloudy but bright
Dreswick Point, Langness
A two-hour seawatch from just east of the lighthouse produced hundreds of Manx Shearwaters moving west along with at least 10 Storm Petrels, 20+ Gannets, 10+ Kittiwakes and a single Grey Heron! Unfortunately, only 10 minutes after I departed, a Sooty Shearwater moved through with a party of 'manxies' and a Bonxie loitered, with intent, just offshore.
Once again, as it has been for the last couple of weeks, there was nothing of note - not even a Dunlin - on the main dubh.
Saturday 18th.August southeasterly 2 - cloudy and warm with prolonged showers later.
Lots of butterflies feeding on the buddleia bush in the front garden despite the cloudy weather conditions. These included; Small Tortoiseshell (4), Red Admiral (2), Peacock (3), Green-veined White (2), Large White (1) and a stunning Painted Lady - my first this year and an indication of the possibility of a few migrants arriving from the continent.
Point of Ayre Lighthouse
A brief walk around the area of the lighthouse walled garden produced at least 20 Wheatear on passage along
with a superb male Black Redstart (finally, after all the searching I did for the reported ones in the south of the
island in January), although not as black as a spring bird (there was a distinct brown cast on the wings and mantle)
it's white wing-flashes and forehead being quite obvious over a reasonable distance. Only when the bird flew a
short way was the brick-red tail seen.
Out to sea there was very little of note apart from the usual auks, Cormorants, Shags and Gannets - although a
couple of Harbour Porpoises were seen in the distance
Sunday 19th.August northeasterly 3 - foggy and wet, but warm
Point of Ayre and 'north-east corner'
Following yesterday's 'fall' of migrants I decided to return to 'the point' for first light. The conditions could not have
been better for migrants - offshore northeasterly wind, fog and rain. What did I get? Nowt! Just one bedraggled
Wheatear at the point and about 40 Manx Shearwaters offshore. Down at The Phurt, there was a decent sized flock
of over 200 House Sparrows amongst which were approximately 30 Tree Sparrows. Back to bed then!
Tuesday 21st.August southerly 6 gusting 7 or 8 - cloudy with occasional showers
Dreswick Point, Langness
A seawatch from 9.30am to 4pm produced up to 15,000 Manx Shearwaters, at least 3 Balearic (Mediterranean) Shearwaters and at 11.15am, a fabulous, juvenile Sabine's Gull. Also a male Merlin hunting by the 'Stinky Dubh'.
Thursday 23rd. & Friday 24th. August. Calm - hot and sunny then cloudy and wet
North to South
A fall of over 200 Meadow Pipits was overshadowed by a huge, hunting, female Goshawk at the Point of Ayre. Across at Smeale there were 140+ Sandwich Terns on the beach and several harbour Porpoises out to sea.
Down at South Barrule the Black Darters were performing well as were the 12 or so Common Hawkers. But the major surprise was the family part of Spotted Flycatchers that was accompanied by 2 juvenile Pied Flycatchers.
The high tide at Langness was also very good with Common Sandpiper, male Hen Harrier, 200+ Curlew, 1 Whimbrel and a superb Greenshank. A passerine that flew over and was calling constantly was possibly a Richard's Pipit. Although we didn't get good views the fact that it was a pipit sp. and the call, which was similar in intonation to a House Sparrow, meant that it couldn't have been anything else.
A stunning day's birding.
The following day we repeated the early morning start at the Point of Ayre and were rewarded with a juvenile Whinchat, similar numbers of Meadow Pipits, and lots more Harbour Porpoise. Down at Port Lewaigue there were several phylloscopus warblers and a skulking, Garden Warbler. There was a second Garden Warbler at Port Mooar and, again, dozens of phylloscs. Up at Maughold churchyard there were even more phylloscs and a Spotted Flycatcher briefly. These last two days definitely constituted 'viz. mig.' - to use the parlance! Unfortunately we failed to see the Monarch butterfly which spent 15 minutes in a garden at the Dhoon Glen.
A SELECTION OF RAPTORS SEEN IN AUGUST
Saturday 25th.August easterly 2 - cloudy then very wet
Another early morning start in search of migrants was a little disappointing after the last couple of days. However there were still
plenty of Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs in the area and a 'fall' of over 40 Goldcrests provided a pleasant diversion as I trawled through
them looking for something that bit different I was pleasantly rewarded by a juvenile/female Redstart that was keeping low in the sallow bushes.
Also amongst this noisy flock of birds was a Treecreeper and at least 2 Coal Tits, the latter were very pale in plumage - possibly of the
A Greenshank was flying around the rocky outcrop, below the carpark, in typically noisy fashion.
On returning home, the strange Crow that has been frequenting the local gardens was again on a neighbours front lawn.
Sunday 26th.August. westerly 2 - sunny and warm
A return visit to what has been a very productive site in the last few days provided me with one of my favourite birds - Wryneck. The bird was located in a dead tree that had brambles and bindweed climbing up it. It gave stunning views for 15 minutes before diving into deep cover not to be seen again. At one stage the bird was joined by a Garden Warbler, causing the Wryneck to raise it's crown feathers in display. Judging from the amount of buff-yellow on the head and upper-breast and the very 'fresh' state of the plumage overall, I would say that the bird was a juvenile.
Wednesday 29th. August westerly 2 hot and sunny
Dhoon Glen, Maughold
A short detour on my way home to see a moth that had been caught at Callan Farm in the Dhoon Glen - a second generation, male Oak Hooktip and new to the Isle of Man. Apparently, it was quite fortunate that this insect had been caught, as it was not actually in the moth trap but 'languishing' on the outside and caught the trapper 'napping'. Luckily the insect stayed in situ while he fumbled around in his bag to get a catching pot (in a state of blind panic).