Tuesday 1st.May northeasterly 2 - hot and sunny
An extended walk around the peninsular produced the year's first Whitethroats and Sedge Warblers in the roadside brambles and gorse. Several Wheatears were 'moving through' the area and at least 10 Whimbrel were on the rocky shoreline. Three butterfly species were recorded, but only individual insects; Female Orange Tip and a Small Tortoiseshell at Langness and a fabulous Peacock was on the beach behind the Turbot Hatchery.
Saturday 5th.May - southeasterly 2 - warm and sunny
Callan Farm, Dhoon Glen, Maughold
Thank heavens for mobile phones! Whilst out doing the rounds of my local patch (Port Lewaigue and Port Mooar), I received a phone call from Les Kneale of the Dhoon Glen area saying that he had just seen a Golden Oriole fly into the valley and land in a patch of gorse and dead trees. The ensuing journey was best described as 'hairy', with me getting on site 5 minutes after the call! Les pointed out the area where the bird was last seen and a 40 minute wait followed before I finally got a brief glimpse of something yellow in the gorse bushes - not notably unusual as they were in flower, but this particular patch of yellow was in flight! The bird disappeared from view, until 10 minutes later it was flushed by a male Blackbird and I got a prolonged (3 or 4 second) view as it flew into another patch of gorse and landed briefly before again vanishing - never to be seen again. Fabulous!
Sunday 6th.May - easterly 3 - cloudy at first then bright and sunny
Point of Ayre and Blue Point
2 brief seawatches produced Gannets (100+), Guillemot and Razorbill (200+), Kittiwakes (30+), Eider (2), Shelduck (2), Sandwich Tern (10+), Little Tern (2), Red-throated Diver (3+), Black-throated Diver (3) and Great Northern Diver (2). The latter 3 species all in full summer plumage, which was the first time I'd seen all three species in this condition. Between the dunes and shooting range at Blue Point, a male Grasshopper Warbler was singing from atop a patch of brambles. In the Cranstal area, pair of Red-legged Partridge were flushed from the roadside.
Over at Glascoe a pair of Tufted Ducks were asleep on the pool and several dozen Sand martins were busily feeding low over the water. A fairly productive morning really!
Friday 11th.May - hazy sunshine, warm
Most people when asked about moths say that they are dull brown insects. What they don't realise is that the vast
majority of the 2000 or so species in the British Isles are anything but! Take the specimen below for instance,
this species, known as The Streamer, is a wonderful little creature, no bigger than a 1p piece, it is well marked with
silver grey and contrasting black streaks and wedges and a subtle maroon wash over the lower half of the wings.
Although a fairly common species on the island, very few people actually get to see them as they frequent damp
woodland and hedgerows and are seldom attracted to domestic electric lights.
Friday 11th.May - southerly 3-4 warm and sticky
Ballaugh Curraghs, Penny Holding's Lane
An evening's walk got off to a good start with several Brown Hares in the fields and a Red-necked Wallaby in the curraghs. The area was 'alive' with Grasshopper Warblers, Blackcaps and Willow Warblers. Later, during a few hours moth trapping, we had excellent views of a roding Woodcock, the peculiar squeaks and grunts giving away the bird's presence from some distance. The catch in the trap the following morning was a little disappointing, with only a dozen or so species, the highlights of which were several Puss Moths in the surrounding vegetation, a fabulous female Emperor Moth and lots of Cockchafers (or May Bugs as they are colloquially known).
Sunday 13th.May - southeasterly 2. Sunny and warm
An early morning walk in the area of Penny Holding's Lane produced 2 singing Lesser Whitethroats and a small party of Red-necked (Bennett's) Wallabies containing at least 4 individuals. These marsupials escaped from the nearby wildlife park several years ago and are flourishing in the wild with an estimated population of at least 40 animals. It is certainly something of a surprise to come across them for the first time, although they seldom give prolonged views being shy creatures, the best times to see them being at dawn and dusk. Alongside the ditches that criss-cross the area there were clumps of Marsh Violets adding a splash of blue to the predominantly green vegetation
Tuesday 15th.May - southerly 3 wet 'n' orrible
Quite a good list of waders during my half-hour lunchbreak today (despite the atrocious, wet weather). There were several Whimbrel, Ringed Plover, Dunlin and Golden Plover but the real highlight was a Black-tailed Godwit in full breeding plumage that spent most of it's time being harassed by the local Lapwings until I, accidentally, flushed it whilst trying to get a photo. The bird flew strongly across Castletown Bay in the general direction of Gansey Point
Wednesday 16th.May - southerly2 damp and grey
A short walk around the area at lunchtime revealed a second Black-tailed Godwit had now joined yesterdays bird, although this new one was only in drab, first summer plumage. The overnight rain and southerly breeze had obviously brought in a second wave of migrants, with species such as Whitethroat, Sedge Warbler, Grasshopper Warbler, Swallow, House Martin, Sand Martin and Wheatear being decidedly more numerous than recent days.
I stumbled across a Skylarks nest containing 4 eggs in the roadside grasses. Something of a fluke really, as these birds invariably walk away from the nest before taking flight. All 4 eggs displayed a curious ring of markings around the top of the shells.
Saturday 26th.May - southerly 2, hot and sunny
Point of Ayre to Ayres NNR
A walk for a couple of hours down from the point to just inside the Ayres National Nature Reserve (which, by the way, was still closed although there were no signs saying so!) produced a plethora of sea birds just offshore. At least 150+ Gannets, 1000+ Kittiwakes, 30+ Sandwich Terns, 20+ Little Terns, 10+ Arctic Terns and one Common Tern all appeared to be feeding on Sand Eels just 50 yds. offshore.
Inland, on the heath, there were dozens of Common Blue butterflies chasing each other in territorial disputes. Flowers in bloom included Bird's Foot Trefoil (locally known as 'Eggs and Bacon' because of it's colour), Sea Campion, Sea Kale and some fabulous puffball fungi littered the area.