Ok lets start at the top and work backwards through today and then catch up with the highlights of the last week !
Around 5pm today 13th March the first Swallows of Spring arrived ! Reported by Paul Veron at Mannez and then at 1730hrs by assistant warden Justin Hart. We have been kind of expecting Sand Martins any time soon but these 2 Swallows took us by surprise ! Justin completed the ABO daily census walk this morning reporting a male Black Redstart from the ‘Target Wall’ and 2 Wheatears on Whitegates fields. I continued setting up nets this morning at Rose Farm and opened a couple as I went catching a handful of new birds including two male Firecrests. I wonder what kind of year this species will have this year, spring last year was poor compared to spring 2016 but 2017 was a very good autumn for this species with over 250 were ringed here.
Single Brent Geese have been recorded on the 6th and 10th of March with 2 on the 11th. The last of the wigeon that came in with the cold was a single female at Longis pond on the 11th. In fact by the 4th the Gadwall, Pintails, Tufted Duck, Shovelers and Teal had all cleared out. Chris Brown had a female Hen Harrier at Vallee des Trois Vaux. Water Rail has been heard or seen at Longis almost daily and the hope is that they will again stay to breed. Waders outside of our common resident species have been sporadically recorded as is usual; a Dunlin and 2 Sanderlings have been frequenting Platte Saline beach and up to 4 Grey Plovers regularly at Saye. Snipe numbers at Longis pond reached 6 on the 12th and on the 3rd 44 Lapwing were present on the Bonne Terre fields. 3 Whimbrels were recorded during the daily census on the 10th.
There are a handful of Mediterranean Gulls hanging around with up to six roosting at the north end of Braye Bay, a good spot to regularly find this species is the Fort Doyle sewage outflow. As sightings of Lesser black backed Gulls increase (70 at corbletts beach on the 3rd) Black headed Gulls all but disappear as most have headed off to breeding grounds. An adult and a juvenile Sandwich Tern are being regularly seen along the coast fishing between Mannez lighthouse and Houme Herbe. Small rafts of Guillemots and Razorbills are arriving and appearing just off shore. Movements of Meadow Pipits with flocks in excess of 50 have been evident along with regular records of both White and Pied Wagtails passing through the island. Stonechat numbers are also picking up. I was delighted with a fine male Black Redstart at the target wall on the 12th (still present 13th) and our first Wheatear of the spring was found by Justin on the 11th. Small groups of Redwings have been passing through and they are noticeably elusive around this time of year. Blackcap migration has not arrived yet but Chiffchaffs are slowly increasing in numbers as are Firecrests. Lee Sanders reported a male Brambling from the south cliffs on the 11th, and a Reed Bunting was recorded at Mannez on the 11th and possibly the same bird was seen at Longis on the 12th. A surprisingly rarely recorded species here, there were no Reed Bunting records at all last spring and just a handful during the autumn.
This last week has been particularly good for seeing seals and Dolphins along the NE coast. Bottle nosed Dolphin was observed on 4 separate days (one pod of at least 12) and single seals were recorded from Houme Herbe and Saye. Oh and a single Peacock butterfly on the 13th !
Lastly a big thank you to all at Boardmans pharmacy in St. Annes for collecting empty small tubs for us of all sizes, these enable us to quickly and efficiently weigh the birds we study. Island life is most definitely a team game and we thank you for your support.