October 2001 Diary
Friday 5th. October southeasterly 4 - wet then bright and sunny
Stinky Dubh, Langness
Good numbers of Curlew and Golden Plover on the high tide roost at lunchtime, all watched over by an
adult Peregrine, which sat lazily preening on nearby rocks. Amongst the Golden Plover were two Grey
Plovers. Obviously larger birds and very much paler with only a hint of a buff wash on the scapulars.
Tuesday 9th. October - westerly 4 or 5 - bright and sunny
Little of note at the Stinky Dubh. Recent strong winds and high tides have carpeted the pool edges with masses of rotting sea weed and reducing the area where small waders might feed. Therefore I decided to try my luck in the muddier bay of Derbyhaven. There were a lot more birds on show here, mostly Ringed Plover, Turnstone and Oystercatcher but with the odd Redshank and Dunlin scattered about. I noticed a very small wader with the Ringed Plover and, after some deliberation, identified it as a juvenile Little Stint and a new Manx bird for me.
Wednesday 10th. October - westerly 3 - sunny
Returning from my usual half hour at Langness this lunchtime (which, incidentally, was particularly unproductive), a huge orange butterfly with black and white wing-borders flew across the road in front of my car, no more than a few feet off the end of my bonnet. I immediately recognised the insect as a Monarch, it's lazy 'lolloping' flight being quite deceptive as it made remarkably rapid progressand disappeared in nearby gardens. These insects are almost twice the size of the largest Manx butterfly (Red Admiral) and arrive from the Americas in small numbers to the British Isles annually.
Saturday 13th. October -variable 2 - sunny
Maughold, Pt. Lewaigue, Smeale & Glen Mooar
The usual local patch circuit from first light on was particularly unproductive with little or no evidence of migration. Port Lewaigue was without doubt the highlight of today's foray with good numbers of Goldcrests having recently arrived. Amongst the Goldcrest flock was a Garden Warbler and we heard a Yellow-browed Warbler but never managed to actually see the bird. Over in Ramsey Bay, below the Grand Island Hotel, the Great Northern Diver that had been present all week, was still present and giving remarkable views down to 20 feet.
2nd Winter Great Northern Diver. Photo courtesy Kevin Scott
Wednesday 17th. October - southeasterly 3 damp but warm
A short walk in the woods behind the house this afternoon in search of fungi. Now, I must stress that I know very little about these plants so I must apologise for the lack of names with the photos. The stars of the show, however, were a small patch of what I believe were Large Cuckoo-Pint.
Friday 19th. October - southeasterly 4 - cloudy
A couple of spent wandering round the area in search of migrants was 'busy' and even a little dramatic! Greenfinches and Chaffinches were in large numbers and all gorging themselves on a massive harvest of blackberries, amongst them were quite a few Robins, Dunnocks, Blackbirds, Song Thrushes and a pair of Blackcaps. The most spectacular event of the afternoon was, without doubt, the sudden arrival of over 250 Redwings as they flew in off the sea - every bush seemed to have at least a couple of birds in it for an hour or so, until they started to move on. Even after these birds had mostly 'drifted' off there was still a constant stream of birds flying over and calling - one wonders just how many birds had arrived on the island today.
Saturday 20th. October - southeasterly 4 - wet 'n' 'oribble, then bright and sunny
Port Mooar, Maughold Churchyard, Port Lewaigue, Glascoe Dubh and Point of Ayre
The usual Saturday morning run started off in the most atrocious weather conditions - wind, fog and rain - ideal for the arrival of passage migrants. Although nothing startling was seen there were over 1000 Redwing and 40 Fieldfare between Port Mooar and Port Lewaigue. At Glascoe, there were 4 Shoveler and 4 Pink-footed Geese, the latter accompanied by a Greylag Goose, which may, or may not have been a wild bird.
Up at the Point of Ayre there was a huge movement of Guillemots, Razorbills and a couple of Black Guillemots all heading south. At one stage, a group of 7 Little Auks also passed through, and gave excellent views at only 50yds. range.
Sunday 21st. October - northwesterly 3 - bright but cloudy
Just for a change we went for a wander round the curraghs this afternoon. Imagine my surprise, when walking past Close Sartfield, to see that the barriers preventing access to the reserve and the notices explaining about the foot and mouth restrictions had gone!! Surely this was a mistake? I had not heard nor read anything indicating this ridiculously long-overdue turn of events! Certainly there were no livestock in the fields immediately bordering the reserve car park - not that that's ever stopped the MWT from keeping the place closed. I decided that it had to be a mistake and walked past (being the law-abiding sort!).
Actually we didn't see much of note apart from a couple of Tree Sparrows and some very interesting but unidentified fungi (see below).
Saturday 27th. October. - southeasterly 3 - bright and sunny, but cold
Grand Island Hotel, Ramsey
Whilst doing my usual rounds this morning, I came across the bird, shown below, on the beach below the hotel. Obviously a wheatear sp. birds this late are always worth a second look. Similar to a young Northern Wheatear but with obviously darker wings and, perhaps, a more upright stance the bird showed very little or no white in the tail apart from a small amount at the very base of the outer tail. I managed to get a few photos (below) through my telescope and, whilst not brilliant, the small amount of white in the tail is apparent. In flight the bird did show white in the tail but not as much as expected on a Northern Wheatear.
Sunday 28th. October - westerly 2 - bright and sunny
The strange wheatear from yesterday located 3 miles further up the coast from where it was yesterday. Much better viewing conditions provided us with excellent views, when the distribution of white in the tail could be better ascertained. Again, when feeding on the ground, the bird showed no white in the tail. However, when making frequent 'leaps' into the air to catch insects, a distinct black and white 'T' pattern could be seen. Although it must be said that the black bar at the end of the tail extended way beyond what would be expected from a Northern Wheatear (white/black split is normally around 60/40, but this bird's was more in the region of 40/60). Our conclusion was that this was a Greenland form of Northern Wheatear but with 'extra' black in the tail. Interesting nonetheless and illustrates just how difficult the identification of non-breeding plumage wheatears can be.
Tuesday 30th. October - westerly 6 or 7 - dull and overcast
The usual lunchtime trawl around Langness and Derbyhaven produced little of note apart the bird in the photograph below, which was amongst a flock of over 500 European Golden Plover. Because of the atrocious weather conditions a specific identification could not be ascertained, but the bird was very reminiscent of several juvenile American Golden Plovers that I have seen over the years.
Wednesday 31st. October - northwesterly 5 - bright and sunny
No confirmed sighting of yesterday's pale plover sp. but one bird was seen briefly twice just before the entire flock took flight and circled the bay repeatedly. From the brief views I had, the bird appeared to be very attenuated at the rear and was very 'capped' in appearance.