BIRD WATCHING DIARY 2008
 
The following are random sightings reported by our boat crews, guides and RSPB wardens

Ramsey Sightings – January 2008 - Greg Morgan, Warden
Chough transects revealed a maximum of 18 on 6th, while curlew roost numbers were no higher than 25 by the month end which is less than recent years. Fulmar were present for most of the month on ledges during the day, with guillemots in summer plumage putting in an appearance on 27th.  Wintering lapwing were sporadic in their appearance with 130 in the arable plot on 27th being the maximum count. Snipe were present most of the month in the damp areas -  maximum of 4.   Water rail in the farmhouse garden on two occasions was a rare sight out here, as was a single woodcock on 6th.  The only redwing of the month were 3 heading east on 3rd. Linnet were few and far between with 3 on 6th and 4 on 28th the only records. Regulars around the farmhouse were goldfinch (max 5), a single great tit all month plus the usual blackbirds and robins.  A surprise on our return to the island after a spell of annual leave was the discovery of two new grey seal pups on Porth Lleuog, both around five days old. That brings the winter pup total to 3 so far. The pup born in late December was nearing 21 days when we left the island and was a good size. It was nowhere to be seen two weeks later, so is presumed to have weaned successfully.

Ramsey Sightings – February 2008 - Greg Morgan, Warden
Highlights were a female type black redstart on 6th, a flock of 12 redpoll on 13th, a jack snipe on 21st and a ring tail hen harrier on 27th. A common gull, scarce out here, was in the Sound on 18th.  The first gannet of the year was seen offshore on 1st, along with a further two on 18th and a single on 22nd. Other “firsts of the year” were lesser black backed gull on 5th and little owl on 10th. There were single pied wagtails, rarely recorded before March, on two dates.  The over wintering curlew flock reached 65, the maximum chough flock was 15, with up to 70 lapwing at times at the start of the month. These dwindled away as the month progressed with the first resident birds displaying on 27th.  12 purple sandpipers were recorded on the usual roost on 10th, a flock of up to 16 ravens were present towards the end of the month with the first nest building recorded on 24th. Guillemots were present on breeding ledges on calm sunny mornings on several days.  Other records of note included a single fieldfare on 10th, female reed bunting on 12th and 13th, siskin on 3 dates, female merlin on 6th and the gradual return of skylarks.  Another grey seal pup was born on one of the beaches during the month, bringing the winter pup total to 4. Up to 55 adults were present at haul outs.
Ramsey Sightings – March 2008 - Greg Morgan, Warden
Highlights were a female ring ouzel on 31st, a red throated diver offshore on 17th, a mistle thrush on 27th and a male house sparrow on 31st. A non-avain highlight was the sighting of an otter by one of our boat skippers swimming just off the south of the island.  First wheatears of the year arrived on 16th with a party of 12. They were seen every day after that with numbers beginning to build by the month end. Also on 16th was the first chiffchaff of the year, with singles on several dates following that, culminating in a fall of 19 on 31st. The first sand martin of the year was also on 16th with 23 having passed through by the end of the month. The first swallows of the year just made it onto the month list with a party of 20 around the farmhouse on 31st. Other migrants included our first goldcrests of the year with an impressive fall of 39 dotted around the island on 31st and two male blackcaps on the same date. There were over 100 meadow pipits on the island on 31st as well.  Cormorants, which don’t breed here, are often present in March in breeding plumage but a movement of 31 north on 27th was an unusual sight. Up to 30 of our over-wintering curlew were present until mid month. Lapwings decreased as the month went on from 21 at the start to leave just breeding birds by the end (around 5 males seen displaying at the end of the month). Linnets began arriving during the month with up to 30 by the end. Maximum chough count was 25 on 12th with nest building from 17th – 6 pairs confirmed so far. 11 purple sandpipers were present on the usual roost site throughout the month.  Three pairs of peregrine are present again this year with probably two pairs of buzzard from casual observations. A male kestrel on 31st was the first sighting for quite some time, as was a little owl on 5th. A female merlin was present on 29th and 31st. Rabbit numbers might be on the increase slowly as two pairs of ravens were incubating by the month end (none by this time in 2007). Rabbits were certainly more obvious but myxomatosis is still present in the population around the farm area.  Grey seals reached a maximum of 177 spread over three haul sites by the month end. 

Photo taken by Lyndon Lomax in April

Two of  Ramseys new additions.  Photo by Lyndon Lomax
Ramsey Sightings – April  2008 - Greg Morgan, Warden
Highlights included an obliging hoopoe for 3 days between 18-20th and then another briefly on 24th, ring ouzel on 4th and wryneck on 17th. Other records of interest were barn owl on 12th, 3 single red kites moving through, a female Merlin early in the month and records of redstart, black redstart and a lone brambling. First dates for returning migrants were noted as 5th April for blackcap, 29th a single cuckoo, house martins moving in small numbers from 9th, and a couple of pied flycatcher on 20th. Swift were first seen on 26th and whitethroat were back in suitable habitat on the island from 22nd April.  Overnight conditions produced a fall of common migrants on 20th April, with large numbers of blackcap, chiffchaff and at least 165 willow warbler in the islands scrub and valleys.  Lapwings were  seen to be incubating early in the month, although no chicks are yet evident and only 9 birds were recorded on the walk-through towards month end. We are maintaining a watch on the nesting area to investigate the causes of disturbance. Chough had finished nest building by month end and incubation was confirmed at 5 sites by mid April.  The Grey seal haul out peaked at 300 individuals mid-month, followed by a steady reduction in their numbers after that, with adult moults completed. Two seal pups were recorded at month end, one being at least 14 days old when first seen. Presumably these are from the same cows that gave birth last April and are now out of synch.

Ramsey Sightings – May  2008 - Greg Morgan, Warden
Highlights were a first summer male subalpine warbler on 15/5 and an incredible 3rd hoopoe of the spring on 8/5. Also of note were 4 red kites in the month (2 together on 13th), 4 house sparrows, a mistle thrush on 11th, SEO on 31st and only the second reed warbler in 6 years on 16th. Other migrants included a single cuckoo, chiffchaff and willow warbler in small numbers most of the month and a scattering of spotted flycatchers (max 4). Swallow movement began to slow down with a daily maximum of just 300 on 22nd. Small numbers of other hirundines also passed through.  3 dunlin and a redshank were the only wader passage noted in the month.  Juvenile wheatears were first noted on 28th. 22 puffins were counted on the evening of 29th on the North Bishop. A maximum of 25 chough were present mid month.

Ramsey Sightings – June  2008 - Lisa Morgan, Warden
Bird highlight was undoubtedly a beautiful Bee-eater on 24 June. Although only on the island for half an hour before departing east, most of our day visitors managed good telescope views of the bird whilst having their afternoon cuppa! The following day a visiting birder reported an albatross going through Ramsey sound with the gannets, on what was a stiff southwesterly breeze. Unfortunately, island staff did not see the bird, but black-browed would seem the most likely candidate.  Other good birds for the month included two red kite and a black redstart on 9th and spotted fly on 29th. A wood pigeon was a Ramsey rarity also on the 29th.  Feeding swift numbered over 100 on many days early in the month.  Our first Chough fledged on 16 June and by month end 4 sites had each produced 3 young with one site still feeding chicks in the nest. Lapwing were still present at month end with one bird still defending territory and maybe chicks. The fate of 3 small (stage 1) chicks on the 15th is uncertain. A seal pup was reported mid month and our first red deer calf was also born. Two killer whales were seen on an offshore trip to Grassholm by one lucky member of the Ramsey staff!