BIRD WATCHING DIARY 2010
 
The following are random sightings reported by our boat crews, guides and RSPB wardens

BBC Countryfile – Matt Baker, Lisa and Greg

RSPB Wardens Greg and Lisa with Matt Baker from BBC Countryfile

This week we popped Matt Baker over to Ramsey Island with his film crew to make an episode on Ramsey Island for BBC Countryfile.  Lisa said “ It was a beautiful day, full of chough, seals, peregrines and deer.  In fact, everything on our wish list performed for the cameras, we even managed a sheepdog training session with our trainee Border collie, Dewi, Greg and presenter Matt Baker, who gave us some valuable tips.  Dewi seemed to know he was on film and was on his best behaviour, showing good style and stealing the show!

Guided Walk on Ramsey with Lyndon Lomax 16th Sept

This weeks guided walk on Ramsey Island was lead by local birder Lyndon Lomax, besides the lovely secenery here are some of the sightings spotted by the group:
2 x Peregrine Falcon   .   8 x Chough   .   Ravens   .   Buzzards   .   Kestrels
Lots of Atlantic Grey Seals and their pups
6+ Porpoise in Ramsey Sound
1 x Bottle Nosed Dolphin in Ramsey Sound

August 2010 – RSPB Wardens Greg and Lisa Morgan

A brief bird and seal report for the season on Ramsey Island so far.
With the breeding season approaching an end (for birds if not seals!) here is a breakdown of some of the highs and lows:
Chough – fledged 17 young from 7 nests (2.42 per pair,  joint 3rd highest productivity on record).
Lapwing – 2 pairs managed to fledge 1 young between them (not a bad effort!).
Wheatear – 106 pairs – surely the densest site in Wales for this species?!
Stonechat – down from 25 pairs in 2009 to 6 pairs this year.  No doubt a casualty of the cold winter.  In fact we noticed that all small passerine species that are resident in the UK and breed on Ramsey (e.g.  Meadow and rock pipit, blackbird, dunnock) were also slightly down this year too.
Seabirds – a good year generally.  No sign of food shortage although kittiwakes were down from 225 pairs in 2009 to 191 pairs (following 3 years of increase) and how low productivity at the study site (0.26 per pair, although the Cantwr site at the southern end seemed to do much better based on very helpful reports from boat operators).
A full storm petrel survey on the Bishops and Clerks revealed 149 occupied sites (the highest estimate for this site).  The few, newly discovered, birds on Ramsey continue to do well with all 5 from 2008 relocated and a new site found too.
Kestrel – 1 pair fledged 4 young.  Good news for a species that is in decline in Wales (red kites now outnumber them!).
Peregrine – 2 pairs although no young seen to fledge.
Grey seals – going well with well over 100 seal pups born so far on our 9 monitored sites so far.

April 2010 – RSPB Wardens Greg and Lisa Morgan

7 pairs of chough confirmed as breeding.   An 8th pair was settling down when a 3rd bird intervened and put everyone off!   Only 2 pairs of lapwing made it back this year unfortunately, presumably not helped by the cold winter.  There are 3 peregrine territories this and a pair of kestrel.  4 pairs of raven are on the verge of fledging young while the whitethroats are only just arriving back.

Highlights included hoopoe (2+3/4), a female yellowhammer on 10/4 (4th record since RSPB records began), snow bunting (21/4 to end month), 5 ring ouzels through April, Cetti’s warbler (25/4), bullfinch (16/4), black redstart (7/4), 4 common redstarts in April, barn owl (16/4), grasshopper warbler (23+30/4), green sandpiper (12/4), hooded crow (21/4), jack snipe (24/4), white wagtail (14/4), redpoll (15/4), hobby (24/4), yellow wagtail (21/4), 5 red kites in the period plus a female/juv merlin through March and April, joined by a male at times. 

First returning dates: wheatear (7/3) plus Greenland race on 3 dates in April, sand martin (19/3), chiffchaff (25/3) swallow and house martin (3/4), blackcap (4/4), willow warbler (7/4), whitethroat (18/4) and swift (22/4).

An otter was seen on the west coast of the island by boat staff on 17/4 and a fresh spraint was found on the harbour steps on 22/4.  Grey seal haul outs peaked at 150+.

March 2010 – RSPB Wardens Greg and Lisa Morgan

A cold month following on from a very cold winter has affected some species.  Chough were a bit late to get going, more interested in feeding up after a tough few winter months than getting round to breeding. First nest building was on 22/3.   By the end of the month 5 pairs had been confirmed with another 3 on territory and we hope they will start nest building soon.

Lapwing had an equally tough winter and although it is too early for us to establish final breeding numbers yet, a max of 6 birds displaying is down on recent years at this stage. 

Another species seemingly hit by the weather is stonechat.  They disappeared from the island after Christmas and only a very few have returned so far.

Wheatears however, which spend the winter in Africa, have returned in apparently good numbers. In 2009 we had 115 pairs nesting on Ramsey (over 25% of the Pembrokeshire population) and the first migrants returned on 7/3 this year. Male birds are the first to be seen as they head back in advance of the females to reclaim their territories. 

Other regular breeders setting up territory are peregrine falcon (2 pairs), buzzard (2 pairs) and raven (4 pairs).   Skylarks and meadow pipits have been singing for most of the month, a sure sign that spring is round the corner……

Returning migrant dates include chiffchaff (25/3) and sand martin (19/3).  Two merlins (a male and a female) were seen on and off during March.   A red kite on 25/3 was a relatively rare sight out here.

Our cliff nesting auks (guillemots and razorbills) have been on and off the ledges throughout March. They will keep up this sporadic attendance until they lay their eggs in late April / early May.

Moulting grey seals can be readily seen around the island at this time of year. Up to 150 have been hauled out on the main beaches during March and good numbers should continue through April. Anyone approaching by boat should do so with care as they are very jumpy at this time of year and moulting is a very important process for them; the quality of their new coat affecting their health for the remainder of the year. An out of season seal pup was born in early March. It has done very well and is on the verge of weaning

 

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!