A blustery week of mostly unhelpful Westerly winds included a touch of north here and there bringing us falls of migrant birds.  Marsh Harrier was recorded daily 1st-7th  (2 on the 2nd). An increase in both Sparrowhawks and Kestrels has been evident. The former regularly observed chasing down Swallows during the last throws of each day. The autumn movement of Firecrests continued to be impressive with almost 40 ringed this week, observed movements of ‘Crests’ have generally seen Firecrest outnumbering Goldcrest. Over 500 Swallows were also ringed with roosting birds preferring Longis pond or Mannez quarry for a sheltered night amongst the reeds. Water Rails have been very vocal at both Longis and Mannez, at least 6 birds present on Longis pond are fairly easy to view from the Naturetrek hide towards dusk. Mediterranean Gulls have been present at the north end of Braye bay daily, peaking at 14 on the 2nd,  a single Sandwich Tern with the Med Gull flock was present until the 5th. The Great Spotted Woodpecker remains present at Rose Farm. Both Linnet and Goldfinch numbers increased steadily, about 100 Linnets around the Giffoine and 35 on Tourgis Hill. Goldfinches have been spotted in flocks across the island the largest numbers being around 60 birds around rose farm. Meadow Pipits have also been moving through with around 200 in the vicinity of the airfield on the 6th. Overall a slower month than hoped for but considering that each days’ wind direction including the word ‘west’ perhaps not such a bad week for sightings. From the 6th Oct last year we had just over 3 weeks consecutive easterly winds, we would settle for just one day at the moment !

1st – A very windy start to the month allowing limited ringing in Mannez first thing and then a short PM session in Essex Farm as the wind turned NW. A single Firecrest the highlight of 17 migrants processed. Justin and I made best use of the poor conditions by giving the Obs ringing room a major over-hall in preparation for next years official opening.

2nd – Very strong westerly gales overnight brought us the last gasps of the recent US hurricane. Birding conditions were hard going with the few passerines present keeping to sheltering in the undergrowth. In Braye bay a single Sandwich Tern kept the company of 14 Mediterranean Gulls. An inquisitive Grey seal was spotted in Braye harbour by Catherine Hanlon. There was an increase in Blackbirds across the island and a half a dozen Wheaters shared the NE coastline and Longis Common. In Longis bay 1 Dunlin, 9 Ringed Plover, 32 Curlews, 5 Little Egrets and a Grey Heron.  In Barrackmasters Lane a Spotted Flycatcher, Grey Wagtail and Yellow Wagtail. Despite the conditions and wind direction a light but steady flow of Swallows and to a lesser extent House Martins

3rd -A late in the season Female Redstart at Mannez, Yellow-browed Warbler and Spotted Flycatcher at Essex Farm. Over 140 birds were ringed including 6 Firecrests.

4th – Over 100 birds were ringed, Firecrest into double figures, Blackcap and Chiffchaff making up the bulk of the numbers. A single Skylark was seen over Longis common.

5th  – 30mph West winds and showers overnight and well into the day. A short sea-watch from Paul and Catherine Veron produced a Sooty Shearwater who also had a Hen Harrier in Barrackmasters Lane. A Kingfisher was spotted flying across Crabby quarry and a Spotted Flycatcher in Mannez Quarry.

6th – An influx of Snipe involved 9 over Longis bay and 2 seen over Rose Farm where there were also around 20 House Martins, 25 Song Thrushes and 20 Siskins over.  Thrush movement was evident on the Western side of the island with both Blackbirds and Song Thrushes in excess of 100 birds in the bonne terre valley. Visiting ringer/birder Colin McShane spotted our first Fieldfare of the autumn in the Vaux du Sau valley where he estimated a fall of around 50 Chiffchaffs. Colin also had a Dartford Warbler towards fort Tourgis and another behind the airport. A Water Pipit presented itself on the bare ground right in front of the hide on Longis pond as we awaited the evening Swallow roost.

7th, 6 Siskin over Barrackmasters Lane, a major increase in Starling numbers with around 300 roosting at Kiln Farm.


Mannez Lighthouse

Mannez Lighthouse overlooking Mannez Quarry Nature Reserve – photo – Stevie Phe