Monday 1st.January 2001. - North-westerly force 4, overcast and dull.
Mooragh Park, Ramsey
The Kingfisher that was first reported on Friday 29th.December, was
again located at the eastern edge of Mooragh boating lake. Although
only distant views were had in poor light, the bird stayed motionless
for several minutes allowing it to be identified as a female. The recent
spell of harsh wintry conditions was probably responsible for this and
several other birds arriving on the island. Also here were over 100
redwings and other thrushes which arrived around the same time.
A quick look at Kerrowdhoo Reservoir revealed 8 Tufted ducks, 42
Mallard, 6 Goldeneye, 12 Wigeon and a couple of Cormorants, although
there was no sign of the reported female Smew which was here on
Unfortunately, my car started 'playing up' causing me to return prematurely to Ramsey and abort my planned trip to the Manx Aero Club and Port St.Mary to look for the two Black Redstarts which had been seen recently. On arriving home there were several Siskins feeding in the front garden and a roving party of Long-tailed tits also paid a brief visit accompanied by other tit species and 2 Goldcrest.
Tuesday 2nd.January. - Winds light and variable. Mild and cloudy.
Manx Aero Club, Derbyhaven
No sign of the reported female/1st.Winter Black Redstart by the 'Wigeon pool', but at least a dozen Rock and Meadow Pipits feeding off insects in the tide wrack. 1 winter plumaged Water Pipit found here, showing distinctive pale plumage, bright eye stripe, 'pinky' underparts (reminiscent of a summer-plumage bird) and white outer tail feathers. When seen next to a Rock pipit, the bird was clearly paler and more 'clean' looking with a less blotchy appearance to the breast streaking. This was only the second Water Pipit I have seen on the island.
A quick look at the Sandwick shoreline produced nothing of note, the Glaucous Gull seen recently having departed in the last week or so.
A second Black redstart had been reported from the 'walkway' at Port St.Mary but again there was no sign. A nice male Stonechat was in the bayside bushes here, but little else of note.
A brief stop at the Round Table crossroads in the hope of seeing a Red Grouse failed to produce the goods, but we did get a brief glimpse of a quartering, female Hen Harrier. A further short stop at South Barrule Plantation also failed to produce the hoped-for Crossbills.
A second attempt for the Smew at Kerrowdhoo Reservoir again resulted in a dip - this was getting ridiculous - but a large party of Fieldfare (100+ birds) was a pleasant diversion. Ah well, back to work tomorrow! (O, Joy).
Thursday 4th.January - light variable winds, bright and sunny.
Still no sign of the Black redstart, presumably it's gone. Nothing much of note seen, but 3 Eider (2m,1f) in the bay were nice. Also a party of 9 Twite feeding in the car park and 1 male Stonechat at the Aero Club.
Friday 5th.January - Still, misty and cold.
Front garden, Ramsey
Feeding station very busy with up to 8 Siskins, 4 Coal Tits, 3 Blue Tits and a Great Tit. Also 1 Dunnock 'grovelling ' around on the ground underneath the bird table picking up the spillage from those feeding above.
Saturday 6th.January - Southeasterly 4 , cold and clear.
Conrhenny and Axnfell Plantations
Having given up all hope of seeing the reported 30+
Waxwings in Douglas (supposedly behind the Rosemount Pub)
I decided to spend some time in search of Crossbills. One of the
best sites in the north of the island is Conrhenny Plantation
where parties of over 10 birds are regularly seen. After a two
hour search, and still not having seen or heard a Crossbill, I
ventured across to the nearby Axnfell Plantation. Immediately
on arrival, I could hear at least two birds calling and located
them with some ease feeding in the tops of roadsides pines.
There was one, brick-red male and a dull, olive-green female.
Both birds were chattering noisily to each other and gave the
impression of being a 'matched pair' (Crossbills breed in late
January early February). A third bird of indeterminate sex
briefly joined them before being chased away by the female.
Sunday 7th.January - Winds light and variable, cold and cloudy.
The 56 Whooper Swans located immediately on arrival feeding in a potato field (to be honest it would have been hard to miss them!!). Quite an amazing sight on the Isle of Man in recent years as numbers have seldom got into double figures. Mostly adults, but with 11 first-year birds (dirty plumage, pink not yellow on the bill) amongst them. The birds seemed to be split into several family parties rather than one large flock.
Tuesday 9th.January - North-easterly 3, cold and clear.
Ideal conditions for viewing the Lunar Eclipse, although, to be honest, it wasn't that dramatic and the moon certainly didn't change to the vivid red that I remembered it doing on the previous occasion in the mid-90's. Still, it was better than the rubbish that was on the TV. (one particular programme being shown was using a 'background noise' tape that was obviously recorded at a Bee-eater colony - the programme was taking place near Bristol in Winter! The BBC, bless 'em).
Saturday 14th.January - Southeasterly 4, cold and bright
Mooragh Park 10am. - Nothing of note seen.
Glascoe Dubh area 10.30am - Usual collection of Mallard, Teal & Wigeon. One absolutely superb, male Hen Harrier watched hunting just outside the car and down to just a few feet. Three 'ringtails' seen just down the road from here also.
Point of Ayre - just a few Guillemots on the sea along with several dozen Shag. 1 Peregrine flew over the road at Cranstal.
Smeale Shore - Circa 100 Golden Plover, 10+ Sanderling on the shore. A party of 16+ Eider were flying West out to sea as were several unidentified diver sp. Male stonechat in the dunes.
Ballaugh Cronk - Now 60 Whooper Swans in the 'usual' field.
Peel Castle - No sign of the usual Purple sandpipers here, but a Red-throated Diver was fairly close inshore. 18 Turnstone were basking in the afternoon sunshine at Fennella Beach.
South Barrule - Male and Female Peregrine hunting over the clearing adjacent to the car park. The male was quite a 'pink' bird underneath and was absolutely dwarfed by the female.
Kion Slieu Reservoir - 2 Tufted Ducks and 8 Pochard along with several Coot were the only 'genuine' birds here.
Bishop's Dubh - 8 Teal and at least 6 Snipe were hiding in the poolside vegetation, but little else of note other than 1 Reed Bunting and a Fieldfare.
Not a great day, I'm going to stop going out with Nick Pinder - he's a jinx! Certainly no sign of any of these 'Fantasy Waxwings' that are being claimed left, right and centre.
Sunday 15th.January, Westerly 4, cold and bright.
A beautiful afternoon and quite warm if you could get out of the wind. So much so that we caught a glimpse of a Red Admiral butterfly as it flew past us on our way down to the bird hide! We went just after lunch to avoid the crowds at the Hen Harrier roost and were rewarded with a fabulous ringtail just outside the hide.
On arriving home at 3pm, there was a message from Chris Sharpe on our answer phone saying that there were 19 Waxwings in Selbourne Road in Douglas at 1pm!! More fantasy waxwings!! The ensuing journey across the mountain was 'hairy' at best and downright terrifying most of the time - why is it that, when you're in a hurry, you get slowed down by every old granny trundling along at 5mph totally oblivious of the tail back she is creating? Finally after 20 minutes we arrived on site to see the waxwings basking in the glorious, evening sunlight which made them even more pink than usual. After the hours I've put in recently for these critters, I can at least say that I deserved them! Stunning.
Tuesday 16th.January - Southeasterly 4. Cold, cloudy
Stinky Dubh, Langness
Excellent views of a Jack Snipe feeding out in the open with Starlings. Obviously smaller, with the plumage basically similar to a Common Snipe, but appearing more boldly marked with extra striping on the head. A distinctive, and comical, bobbing action (almost akin to Common Sandpiper) appeared to be strangely independent of the legs!
Saturday 20th.January, - Still, cold and sunny
North of the island
Over 270 Wigeon on Glascoe Dubh, along with 60+ Teal and at least 8 Snipe. The Wigeon were calling constantly, their wonderful whistles creating an evocative atmosphere with the frost on the ground and the pool half-frozen.
At least 18 Goldeneye on the sea in Ramsey Bay around the area of the sewerage outflow. The males in wonderful black and white plumage with an iridescent sheen to their heads. One or two birds seen to be displaying, holding their heads down over their backs and then throwing them forward suddenly. Several Ringed Plover also on the beach here.
Sunday 21st. January - still, cold and sunny.
Ballaterson Manor, Ballaugh
6 Grey Partridge in a stubble field just to the right of the road. Some males 'churring' constantly and seemed very nervous, immediately running further into the field as soon as I stopped the car. Dumpy, grey and brown birds with rich chestnut face patches and a deep chestnut 'heart-shaped' patch on the lower breast. An increasingly rare sight in the British Isles these days.
Wednesday 24th.January - southwesterly 6. Bright and sunny.
Ronague and Cringle Reservoir area
No sign of the reported 'small white heron' in the area around Ronague Chapel nor at Cringle reservoir. 2 Ravens in arial display over the neighbouring plantation but nothing else of note. Another failed attempt for the Red Grouse in the Round Table area.