Sunday 1st. April. Southwesterly 2 - warm and sunny
Jurby area, Ramsey and Port Mooar
Another glorious spring day, with plenty of wayside Promroses and Lesser Celandine in bloom. There was a 'new' male Wheatear, of the Greenland race, at Ramsey harbour and we 'flushed' a Small Tortoiseshell butterfly from the waste ground here. Over at Port Lewaigue, even though the coastal footpath was closed because of Foot and Mouth precautions, we located a singing male Chiffchaff and a pair of Blackcaps in the bushes adjacent to the car park. A brief visit to Port Mooar at low tide produced little of note, although the local Greenfinches were being particularly noisy with their monotonous 'buzzing' songs. Lots of wild garlic in the hedgerows here and small clump of a strange plant which was later identified as Greater Horsetail, the flower heads of which, gave off a mass off spores when disturbed - something akin to a puffball fungus.
Tuesday 3rd. April - southwesterly 4, bright and sunny
Very little of note on the Stinky Dubh, but a superb, male
Ring Ouzel around the disused buildings above Maddock's
Pool. Basically similar to a Blackbird, but with a large white
crescent-shaped patch on the upper breast and silver grey
patches on the wings. Although they pass though every year,
this was the first time I've seen this species on the island.
No other migrants seen, but a male Hen Harrier was hawking
over the pools and a male kestrel was hovering in the area of the
Herring Tower. Also, a group of 8 Eider were sat on the rocks
below Maddock's Pool.
Thursday 5th.April - southeasterly5, wet, overcast and cold
The old adage about "One Swallow doth not a summer make" was never more apt than today! My first this year flew along the road on the outskirts of Ballasalla, before disappearing over adjacent farmland. What on earth can these first arrivals find to feed on during such atrocious weather conditions - nature can certainly be very cruel. Imagine having flown all the way from Africa, via the Sahara, Straights of Gibralta, the English Channel, etc. only to starve to death when you arrive at your destination……….
Saturday 7th. April - southwesterly 4, grey and overcast with bright periods
Whilst out birding, I got a call on my mobile from Chris Sharpe, of the Manx Bird Atlas, saying that he had just received a report of a possible Osprey feeding in the area of the Sulby River at the Whitebridge.
On arrival at the site there was no sign of the bird, or at Ballacaine Dubhs, which was another possible location for a migrating bird to call in. Back at the Whitebridge there was a singing male Blackcap, several Sand Martins and my first House Martin of the year. Never mind, you win some you lose some!
Monday 9th.April- southerly2 - sunny
Following a report of two Waxwings in gardens in the north of Ramsey, I went up at lunchtime to see 3 birds flying over the road and disappear into a back garden. Remarkably similar in silhouette to Starlings, it's only when the pinky-peach colour is seen that the true identity of the birds is revealed
Tuesday 10th.April - southwesterly3 - sunny
Ronaldsway Industrial Estate
Whilst at work, I glanced over to the factories to the west of our building and noticed what I first took to be Heron getting mobbed by 4 Jackdaws. But it wasn't 'quite right' so I watched a little longer, becoming more suspicious all the time about the bird's identity. Suddenly, it banked towards me to avoid a particularly aggressive Jackdaw - an Osprey!!!
I immediately rang the Manx Bird Atlas and a couple of friends in the area to alert them to the bird's presence. The bird drifted off towards Langness and was lost to sight. 10 minutes later the bird was reported fishing in Derbyhaven Bay and then an hour or so later heading toward Scarlett.
Wednesday 11th.April - southwesterly3 - sunny and warm
Ronaldsway Industrial Estate
Whilst (again) sat at my desk in work, I heard what sounded like a bird hitting the office window. Dashing over to where the sound came from, I arrived just in time to see the glorious 'blue' upperparts and orange underparts of a male Sparrowhawk as it took off and flew into nearby bushes with a male Blackbird in it's talons! Needless to say all the 'girlies' in the office thought it was cruel, whereas all the blokes thought it was pretty cool! Two excellent sightings in two days from my office window.
Saturday 14th.April - southerly 3 - bright and sunny
Point of Ayre
Nothing much of note seen, but 2 Sandwich Terns flying north were the first for the island this year. Also, a male Shoveler at Glascoe Dubh, displaying rich chestnut flanks, glossy green head and bright yellow eyes.
Sunday 15th.April - northerly 3 - bright and sunny
Ramsey Bay and Ballaugh Curragh
8 more Sandwich Terns feeding offshore in Ramsey Bay. In the late afternoon, a brief walk around the curraghs revealed several singing Willow Warblers and at least 2 calling Water Rails (one of which was seen in a drainage ditch before disappearing from view). Most of the interesting walks (including Close Sartfield nature reserve) are still closed because of Foot and Mouth precautions. Whilst I can understand the need for vigilance, the continued restrictions are becoming less and less understandable - especially as many reserves are re-opening in the UK in areas affected by the disease. Perhaps it is about time - after two months without incident - that controlled access was made possible to some of the island's more interesting areas.
Saturday 21st.April - southwesterly 1 - bright and sunny
Point of Ayre, Glascoe Dubh & Port Mooar
A pleasant circuit of some of the coastal areas in the north of the island produced little in the way of migrants. There were 6 Sandwich Terns feeding at 'The Point' and several pairs of Ringed Plover displaying. One Swallow was also here, flying around the lighthouse tower. At Glascoe a summer-plumaged Little Grebe was swimming around under the overhanging willows and 2 Sand Martins paid a brief visit. Across at Port Mooar a Common Sandpiper was feeding along the edge of the few rocks that were visible at high tide.
Tuesday 24th.April - southerly 2 - damp and overcast
Stinky Dubh, Langness
Several White Wagtails feeding on the shore edge tide wrack also 1 Tree Pipit amongst them. Out on the few exposed rocks on the high tide were 2 Eider, a drake and a duck. The local Choughs were very busy flying back and to from the nest site (the location of which is a closely guarded secret). 14 Shoveler displaying on the pool were very noisy, their various whistling and 'chattering' calls carrying for quite a distance. In the afternoon, a male Peregrine attacked the local Starlings and a female Hen Harrier was quartering the waste ground behind the office.
Saturday 28th.April - southerly3 - bright and sunny
Given that Close Sartfield remains closed, I decided to take a walk around the area of Laxey Weir and Wheel to see if I could find any Holly Blue butterflies (based on information received). Within 5 minutes a small orange butterfly flew past me - a male Small Copper. I watched the insect for a short while as it basked in the warm sunshine, it's brilliant copper/orange upperwings being particularly stunning against the dark green undergrowth. Up in the car park of the world famous, Laxey Wheel, there were at least 4 flying male Holly Blues one of which landed close enough to be photographed. Very flighty insects they spent most of their time in arial territorial battles at a height of over 5 metres when their distinctive, pale blue underwings could be seen quite clearly.