Visit Ramsey Islands RSPB Nature Reserve, regular guided walks and guided boat trips around Ramsey Island

BIRD WATCHING DIARY 2006
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Photograph by Janet Baxter





The following sightings were reported by  Ramsey Island RSPB Wardens Greg and Lisa Morgan
and Guide Lyndon Lomax

January sightings on Ramsey Island - Greg and Lisa Morgan,  Wardens
A quiet month.  Good chough numbers were revealed during transects with a peak of 30 birds on 14th.  These consisted of paired birds plus several feeding flocks, exclusively on the maritime grassland, of up to 8 birds.  Lapwing numbers fell from the bumper December numbers.  150 at the start of the month became 50 by the month end.  Curlew continued to use the island as a feeding and roosting station with the regular flock numbering around 55 birds this month.  Fieldfares and redwing were present occasionally with 16 and 48 logged respectively.  Single goldcrest, goldfinch, golden plover, greenfinch, water rail and woodcock were all recorded, along with 4 skylark heading south mid month.  Up to 12 buzzard were present all month, plus the regular peregrine pair and a single merlin recorded on 31st.   Fulmar were present most of the month but, interestingly, disappeared for two 5 day periods at the start and end of the month while the air pressure was at it’s highest and winds lightest.  A few guillemots and razorbills were recorded in the Sound during crossings to the mainland.  Kittiwakes were recorded offshore occasionally (up to 15).  The over wintering purple sandpipers remained at their high tide roost site (up to 11 recorded), with up to 8 snipe also over wintering.

February sightings on Ramsey Island - Greg and Lisa Morgan,  Wardens
Highlights of the month were a short-eared owl on 8th and a red kite on 20th.   In addition to guillemots on ledges on several mornings, razorbills appeared around the SE coast in good numbers on the 27th.   Fulmars were present on the cliffs up until the 18th and then disappeared for 10 days.  The first gannet of the year was seen offshore on 17th.    A red-throated diver was in Ramsey sound on 19th and 23rd and breeding plumage cormorants have been seen on the island on a regular basis (not a regular breeding species looking at past records).   7 LBB gulls were at Colomenod on 17th.   The curlew flock was again present all month, peaking at 67 on 17th. After dropping off at the end of January, lapwing numbers increased again to a peak of 350 on 9th before decreasing again to 30-40 birds by the month end. A flock of 15 golden plover on 17th were in the Northern fields.  Birds of prey were well represented with up to 16 buzzards in the month. 4 peregrines have been around occupying 2 distinct territories. A male kestrel was recorded on 3 dates.  Chough numbers continued to be impressive through February. 3 transects in the month revealed 22 individuals (6th), 19 (17th) and 33 (27th). Many pairs are now present at traditional sites, with territorial displays in evidence towards the end of the month.  Ravens continued nest building with 3 sites now located. Birds were lining nests towards the month end with moss and rabbit fur.  Canada geese reappeared on 23rd with 3 birds on Ynys Cantwr. Fieldfares were present most of the month with 46 logged (max 20 on 6th and 23rd). Redwings were also regular with 21 recorded (max 10 on 6th).  Other records of note were a grey heron (27th), skylark (8th) and regular pairs of stonechats taking up territory. A pied wagtail on 14th was the first record since Oct 8th.

March sightings on Ramsey Island - Greg and Lisa Morgan, Wardens

Migration began mid month with the first wheatears of the year on 16th (2 in central fields). Up to 3 recorded most days after that before an invasion of up to 50 birds around the island on 29th.  Swallows and sand martins both passed through for the first time on 29th (c. 10 of each heading East), plus the first chiffchaff (31st).  
A female house sparrow on 30th was an unusual record out here, likewise a mistle thrush that hung around the pump house on 20th and 21st March.   Signs of winter were still around with single fieldfares on 1st, 2nd and 19th and single redwings on 15th and 16th. Spring fought back with the first skylarks of the year singing on 11th.   Guillemots, razorbills and kittiwakes were present on ledges on several dates during the month and lesser black-backed gulls increased in numbers as the month progressed.   Lapwing numbers peaked at 21 on 10th with around 10 to 15 remaining by the month end. A peak of 35 curlew on 1st had dwindled to 14 by 21st with none remaining by the end of the month.   Chough began nest building on 19th and by the end of the month a record 9 pairs had been confirmed.   The number of ravens nests found increased to four during the month, while 2 pairs of peregrines appear to be holding territory. Single merlins were seen on 10th, 15th and 28th.    Other records were goldcrest (1 on 29th), goldfinch (1 on 31st), great tit (1 on 22nd), linnet (max flock of 25 on 6th) and Canada goose (up to 3 around the southern islets from mid month).

April sightings on Ramsey Island – Greg and Lisa Morgan, Wardens
Highlights of the month were a wryneck 24th, a male ring ouzel 6th-7th and a red kite 10th
The first willow warbler of the year returned on 2nd. In total there were 107 “bird days” in the month max. 45 on 15th. Chiffchaffs numbered 76 “bird days” max. 20 on 15th.  Other migrants were blackcap (9 in month), 16 goldcrest max 6 on 16th, common sandpiper single from 19th-21st, whimbrel 1 on 20th, 3 on 24th and whitethroat, an early bird on 17th then 8 on 22nd.  Hirundine passage got under way in earnest on April 3rd when 5000+ each of swallow and sand martin passed through (east). Swallow numbers for the month totaled 5464+, sand martin 5134+.  The first house martins appeared on 5th (3) with 62 recorded in total. Manx shearwaters were first heard at the bungalow on the night of 5th (the first night volunteers were up there).  Other records of note were 9 curlew 21st, great tit 5th, greenfinch 3 on 3rd, grey wagtail, single on 16th, linnet, max 30 on 20th, redpoll, single birds East on 22nd and 30th, and sandwich tern (16 North in month).  Purple sandpipers continued to occupy their winter roost site throughout the month with a maximum of 15 on 15th. Chough flock numbers peaked at 26 on 5th and a  female merlin has been present all month.

May sightings on Ramsey Island – Greg and Lisa Morgan, Wardens
Highlight of the month was undoubtedly the subalpine warbler that appeared on 23rd. Lisa did well to find it in an area in which it could so easily have been overlooked. It stayed around for 5 days in total and was seen by a good smattering of local birders.   Lyndon Lomax took some excellent photos and the general feeling was that the bird was an adult female (or possibly a first summer female). 
Other good birds for Ramsey were a garden warbler on 25th, a female house sparrow on 3rd and two records of sedge warbler.  Other migrants trickled through with a single blackcap (3rd), 4 records of chiffchaff and 6 of willow warbler during the month., 2 cuckoos (including a rufous type on 13th), common sandpiper (14th), collared dove on 6 dates, 8 dunlin (11th), 3 white wagtails (6th) and 67 whimbrel spread though the month. The first spotted flycatcher of the year appeared on 8th, with 14 records in total (max. 4 on 13th).   Swallow passage saw 323 logged (mainly heading west); house martins numbered 56 (west), sand martin 5 (north) with only 2 swift recorded (1st and 3rd).   The over wintering purple sandpipers lingered on with 3 on 6th and 2 still there on 24th. 2 female redpoll appeared mid month and stayed around, on and off, for 2 weeks. The first raven fledglings were out on 3rd, lapwing counts revealed 6 pairs while the chough flock peaked at 25 birds (mix of breeding and non breeding) on 23rd.   A female merlin turned up towards the month end while peregrine were feeding young at one site.   Puffins appeared off the south end in fog (up to 6) while a trip to the breeding site on the North Bishop on the evening of 31st revealed 32 individuals. Guillemots and razorbills were late laying, the first eggs not recorded until 13th.

June sightings on Ramsey Island – Greg and Lisa Morgan, Wardens
Two Red Kites on 4th were the highlight of any other quiet month.  Migrant wise there were single Chiffchaffs on 6 dates, spotted flycatcher on 3 dates, single house martins on 1st and 6th and a male cuckcoo singing at the start of the month.  Towards the end of the month saw the beginning of some return passage with the first curlew heard on the 24th with 2 more the next day.  Whimbrel followed shortly after with 21 on 26th.  The first starlings appeared on 26th with a flock of 30 and swift were heading south on a regular basis with 95 recorded (max. 70 on 26th).

The first chough fledglings were recorded on 13th.  In total 15 birds fledged (bad weather in may being responsible for two west coast sites failing).  The largest flock of he month was 24 on 15th.  Lapwing look to be having a decent year by Ramsey standards, 6 pairs bred and 6 fledglings were recorded towards the end of the month with a further 7 small chicks (week old) still present from 3 late broods on 30th.  Water levels remained good in the central area thanks to the pipe dam system despite lack of rain.  Seabird counts were carried out in the month and numbers are still being analysed.  Kittiwakes, guillimots and razorbills were all busy feeding chicks by the month end.  The peregrines at Aber Mawr had one large chick by the end of the month and a pair of kestrels on the east coast have two chicks almost at the point of fledging.  Wheatears had a good year again with 80 AOT and lots of fledgings around.  Although not censused, linnets look to have had a successful time with large numbers of fledglings around during the month.  An interesting record was breeding chaffinch, a pair fledged at least one young from a nest in the farmhouse garden.  Other birds in the month were golden plover on 3 dates, collared dove on 11 dates, up to 30 black headed gulls feeding in the Sound and a single merlin on 27th.

July sightings on Ramsey Island - Greg and Lisa Morgan, Wardens
A quiet month.  Wader passage was noted with common sandpiper on 20th and 26th, dunlin 3 on 26th, golden plover 20 on 15th and 2 redshank flying south on 14th, whimbrel passage was slow with a flock of up tp 14 most of the month and occassionally singles passing through.  Roosting curlew numbers built to 60 by the month end.  Other passege included single chiffchaff on 3 dates, and the first return willow warbler (juvenile) on 14th, with 5 more later in the month.  The first robin of the autumn was heard on 16th.  2 sand martin flew east on 14th and 45 swift logged south through the month.  Black headed gulls began appearing in the sound mid month.  Linnet numbers built to around 70.  Common scoter began moving through with 40 logged north during the month.  Chough families merge together with flocks of up to 30 birds.  The last 2 lapwings of the season finally fledged on 28th.  3 kestrels fledged from an east cost nest on 28th while the young peregrine continued to perform at Aber Mawr.  The seabird season began winding down.  There were no guillimots recorded on a round island trip on 28th and just 3 razorbills.  Puffin numbers at the north bishops peaked at 52 mid month before quickly disappearing.  The first kittiwake fledgling was noted on 28th.    Productivity of this species is still being monitored but initial findings indicated a mixed season with some sub colonies doing well while other have suffered a complete failure.  Fieldwork on Grassholm in the month saw some interesting wader records.    Common sandpiper, greenshank, redshank, whimbrel, curlew and turnstone were all logged.  Also of note were a little egret and sooty shearwater.  Up to 25 harbour porpoise have been in ramsey sound all month with occassional records of common dolphin seen from ramsey and a basking shark in the first half of the month.

August sightings on Ramsey Island - Greg and Lisa Morgan, Wardens
Highlights in a quiet month were a juvenile dotterel present from 24th – 28th August and a kingfisher on the NE coast on 27th.  Migration was slow. There were 28 willow warblers logged in month (max 4 on 11th and 18th) and just 2 chiffchaffs. 3 spotted flycatchers, 1 goldcrest, 3 sand martins, 1 sedge warbler and 2 collared doves made up the rest of a meagre haul!  Waders saw a single greenshank fly over (17th), a single golden plover (6th), single snipe on 23rd, a flock of 16 post breeding lapwing diminish to 8 by the month end and a flock of 85 curlew at the beginning of the month reduce to c.20 by the month end. Purple sandpipers returned to their winter roost site on 8th with 2 recorded. This number had increased to 5 by 10th but they were hard to find by the month end (thanks to the local boat operators for reporting these sightings to me).  A maximum chough flock of 25 was recorded on 29th, the near resident linnet flock peaked at 80 mid month, a male merlin was reported on 29th, with a female on 31st. Robin numbers built up as the month progressed with around 20 present by the end and a total of 6 sandwich terns headed North through the Sounds on various dates.  12 hummingbird hawkmoths in the month was a good haul.


September sightings on Ramsey Island - Greg and Lisa Morgan, Wardens
Highlight was a wryneck on 22nd and 24th September. Yellow wagtails were recorded on 7 days during the month, with common migrants recorded in small numbers: Willow warbler 26, chiffchaff 3, spotted flycatcher 5, pied flycatcher 3, whinchat 1 and goldcrest 17. Swallow passage peaked on 25th and 26th with 7000+ heading south. Wheatears and Manx shearwaters were still present at month end in small numbers. Ramsey sound produced a steady stream of passing seabirds with 21 common scoter, 20 arctic and 10 common tern, regular sandwich tern, large numbers of guillemot and 6 puffin all recorded during the month.  The chough flock peaked at 30 during the month.


October sightings on Ramsey Island - Greg and Lisa Morgan, Wardens
The highlights of the month all occurred at sea. A spell of strong to gale force SW followed by NW winds made for perfect seawatching conditions. Early morning and evening watches by staff and vols on several dates between 1st and 8th October produced a decent haul of sightings, the highlight being a Corys shearwater on 1st. Also of note were:  Artic skua (9 records), Balearic shearwater (11), common scoter (109), “commic tern” (75+), bonxie (29 – max 13 on 2nd), Manx shearwater (43), sandwich tern (150+  on 1st), storm petrel (1 on 1st), auk sp. (1578 west) and kittiwake (832 west). 
Passerines of note were few and far between with ring ouzel and black redstart being conspicuous by their absence. The only warblers logged were chiffchaff (2 singles), willow warbler (a single bird), garden warbler (single) and blackcap (23 in total, max 11 on 26th). Goldcrest showed in small but regular numbers all month.  Some passage did occur: skylark (181, mainly west), swallow (154 south – last date 17th), chaffinch (172 west), redwing (5 on 20th was first record, max 42 on 22nd), mistle thrush (single), reed bunting (single birds on two dates), andwhinchat (single birds on two dates).  Wader passage saw a flock of 21 golden plover on 2nd plus a single dunlin on 22nd. Lapwing numbers built up as the month went on with a max of 60 in the central fields by month end. Purple sandpipers seem to have returned to their winter roost with 18 on 13th and 10+ at the month end.  A female / juv merlin was present all month and a barn owl took to roosting in the compost toilets on days when rough weather meant no visitors.  Chough flocks fluctuated between 20 and 30 all month. A hummingbird hawkmoth on 21st was a late record.

December sightings on Ramsey Island - Greg and Lisa Morgan, Wardens
Highlight was two little gulls feeding in Ramsey Sound on 30th amongst kittiwakes and black-headed gulls. Large numbers of kittiwakes have been feeding around the island all month (up to 500). Interestingly a good proportion of these have been juvenile birds which normally disperse widely in their first year. Small numbers of winter plumage razorbills have been in the Sound all month, and, had we been here, probably some Leach’s petrels at the start of the month as part of the huge storm driven influx that occurred in nearby waters in the first week of December. 
Relatively quiet away from the water with up to 18 chough, 30 curlew and 150 lapwing over wintering (400+ in Dec 05 but this might have something to do with the relatively mild conditions on the continent). A female merlin was noted on two dates with kestrel, peregrine and buzzard (up to 12) completing the raptor records.  Local boatmen informed us that the purple sandpiper roost reached 18 during November but only one record of a single bird in December. Snipe were recorded on 22nd and 26thRedwings were sparse with only 7 records all month. An influx of song thrush occurred on 17th with 26 present.  Grey seal haul outs peaked at 69 on 24th  as they begin the winter moult.