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twenty third to twenty ninth Could – Busy breeding birds

Overcast and cold at the start of the week,
brightening by Friday when winds shifted from the west to the northeast.. The
end of the week had clear skies and temperatures peaking at 15°.

Even though
there are few migrating birds, the island is very noisy at the moment with
numerous hungry mouths to feed. In Millcombe Wrens, Blackbirds, Robins, Chaffinches and Dunnocks
all have fledged chicks to feed. In the Gorse and fields the first young Linnets and Meadow Pipits have
fledged. The loudest chicks are the Starlings
which are calling from everywhere in the Village.

Juvenile Chaffinch, Millcombe ©
Stuart Cossey
Juvenile Starling, Village ©
Stuart Cossey

The two
female Mallards in Barton Field have
managed to keep their chicks for another week with broods of two and one on the
29th. Teal have also bred again this
year on Pondsbury with a female and eight ducklings seen on the 28th.

A small
passage of Swift was noted in the
northeasterlies with two on the 28th and 12 on the 29th. The Collared Dove remains in Millcombe,
often singing from the top of Millcombe Woods. A Cormorant flew north over the Battlements on the 28th before
changing course and heading west over the island.

The warmer
weather towards the end of the week was typical for migrating birds of prey and
as expected an Osprey flew low over
the East Coast on the 27th mobbed by the local gulls and Peregrine. A Hobby was
seen heading north over Ackland’s Moor on the 28th and two Merlin were reported on the 27th. The Kestrel pair are doing well with the male often seen taking prey
items back to the nest on the West Coast.

Small numbers
of hirundines continue to migrate over the island. One Sand Martin was seen on the 23rd, two on the 26th and 27th and
three on the 29th. House Martins were every day with a peak of
eight on the 23rd and 27th. High counts of Swallows
were 30 on the 27th and 36 on the 29th.

The majority
of warblers on the island at the moment are the local breeding birds. A pair of
Blackcap and at least three singing Whitethroats are in Millcombe. Willow Warbler were seen on 23rd to 25th and 28th and 29th including a few
singing males. At least one Chiffchaff
is singing in Millcombe with others seen along the East Coast.

A Golden Oriole was first seen on the
24th at the bottom of Smelly Gully before flying to St Helens Copse. It then
gave some brief views in the Sycamores above Millcombe House on the 25th. The final
sighting was on the 27th as it flew east down Millcombe Valley. It was identified
as an immature male given its greener plumage.

Spotted Flycatchers were seen up to the 28th with a high count of six on
the 26th. A male Black Redstart was seen on the 27th and 28th.
A Yellow Wagtail was still in Barton Field on the 23rd and two males
including a Blue-headed Wagtail were
there on the 29th. Two White Wagtails were recorded on the 23rd and
a single was present on the 27th.

Spotted Flycatcher, Millcombe ©
Stuart Cossey

A group of ringers are currently on the island colour ringing our breeding Wheatear. This allows us to work out where they breed each year and how old they are without having to catch them. If you do see any colour ringed Wheatear please make a note of the sequence or take a photo and email

Colour ringing Wheatear, West Coast © Rebecca Taylor

In non-avian
news, a Wall Brown was seen on the 24th, along with five Painted Ladies and a
Hummingbird Hawkmoth.

S Cossey, R Ellis, Z Wait, L Pirateque, J Dunning, P Holt, J Holt, C Clabburn,
P Blabburn, S Long, R Taylor, M Port

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