Thursday, 1st.February - southwesterly 2. Overcast, dark and wet.
Colby area and bay ny Carrickey
A quick search for the Little Egret that has been roving around the Colby
area for the last week or so proved fruitless. This bird had the strange habit
of associating with farm animals (in the manner of a Cattle Egret) and had
proved very elusive. In what turned out to be an inspired guess, I decided
to have a quick look at the beach in front of the Shore Hotel. Lo and
behold, there it was amongst the rocks asleep. Within only a couple of
minutes the bird awoke and flew inland and was lost to sight. Although
only distant views were to be had, the white plumage made the bird very
conspicuous against the rocky shore. In flight the bird was reminiscent of
a large white owl with long trailing legs and ridiculous yellow feet.
Saturday 3rd.January - north-westerly 5, overcast and dull.
North of the island
A couple of hours spent trawling through the finch flocks in the fields around Bride and Ballaghennie Ayres produced hundreds of Linnets and Greenfinches and a distinct passage of Meadow Pipits. A small mixed flock of finches and buntings at Smeale contained a male Yellowhammer and a pair of Reed Buntings, the male acquiring breeding plumage but with a hint of brown to the head pattern. 18 Ravens were being noisy at Ballaghennie Pig Farm but no sign of the hoped-for Tree Sparrows here. There were still 54 Wigeon at Glascoe Dubh feeding on the marshy ground where they repeatedly flushed several Snipe. A party of 11 Pink-footed Geese in the adjacent field looked particularly feral!
Tuesday 6th.February - Southwest 9/10 cloudy, slight drizzle.
Langness and Derbyhaven area
Extreme winds meant that very few birds were on show - mostly ducks and the odd curlew - but two Fulmars struggling into the wind offshore by the Aero Club were my first this year. Over at Langness there was no sign of the claimed Grey Phalarope or Green Sandpiper - but to be generous, the winds were horrendous today. At Scarlett, a party of 12 Turnstone was accompanied in their futile attempts at sheltering by 2 Purple Sandpipers.
Thursday 8th. February - northeasterly 2 bright, sunny and cold.
The Garey and The Ayres
The long staying, Great Spotted Woodpecker seen immediately on arrival, feeding on peanuts at the birdtable of Garey Farm (if you're reading this, Mr. And Mrs.Cowin, we did ring the doorbell a couple of times but got no answer!). A very shy bird, it flew into an adjacent fruit tree where it stayed for a couple of minutes before disappearing from view. Clearly a male with the red spot on the back of the head being very obvious when viewed from the rear. Not wanting to hang around without the landowner's permission, we departed. Back at the Garey Ford where we had left the car, there was a party of 21 Skylarks flying around and feeding in a stubble field. At Glascoe Dubh there were still 13 Pink-footed Geese, although these birds were reputed to be wild, there were at least two that were showing pale feathering at the base of the bill, indicating a degree of domestication or, less likely, hybridisation (x white-fronted goose?). The Point of Ayre proved less productive with none of the hoped-for divers offshore. A party of 20+ Tree Sparrows were in bushes bordering Ballaghennie pig farm.
On return to Ramsey there was still one Little Grebe on the river which flows into the harbour along with 7 Redshank on the shore. Quite a good afternoon really!
Thursday 15th. February - southwesterly 1, grey and overcast
Langness, Stinky Dubh
Whilst having my lunch in the car alongside the dubh, my attention was drawn to a medium-sized wader flying in and landing in the shallow water at the far edge of the pool. My initial reaction was that it was a Greenshank as it was so pale, but as soon as I put my binoculars on it, I could see that it was much too small and too 'slight' about the head with a very slim, all dark, bill. Unfortunately, the bird was very nervous and, after no more than a couple of minutes (just long enough to get a 10 second view through my 'scope) it was flushed by a nearby teal. The brief, view I got in flight, was of a pale, uniform coloured bird, with a pale, almost white, square rump patch and trailing legs. My gut reaction was that it was either a Lesser Yellowlegs or a Greater Yellowlegs. Subsequent reference to my fieldguides that evening, left me of the opinion that it was a non-breeding plumaged lesser. Across the way on Derbyhaven, a red head Goosander was at roost on the slipway.
Sunday 18th. February - northwesterly 2, bright sunny and cold
The Ayres pine plantation
After a ten-minute search, the resident Long-eared Owl was located at roost in the middle of the plantation. A very wary bird, it swivelled it's head as I vied for a decent vantage point to try and get a couple of photos. Fabulous ginger facial discs with bright orange, staring eyes and complex vermiculated plumage were noted. The false ear-tufts which give the bird it's name were constantly erect, indicating the bird's state of awareness. Also in the plantation were a pair of Ravens, which were being very noisy and gave the impression of a mating pair although no suitable nest structure was found during a brief search. Several male Chaffinches were singing in the wood, and at least 2 Skylarks and a male Stonechat on the heath.
Wednesday 21st.February. southwesterly 3 - Cloudy then bright later
The first two moth species of the year were in my light trap this morning. One was an immaculate Satellite, so named because of the two white spots which are adjacent to the main spots on the wing, the other species was a very 'fresh' specimen of Pale Brindled Beauty. A lot of these 'geometrid' species have a distinct green wash all over their wings when freshly emerged and the 'PBB' was no exception.