Bird & wildlife news from 2018


Saturday 18th Aug

Wind increased from the west a Black Tern and a Sooty Shearwater were notable

Friday 17th Aug

Wind continued from the west with little or no migration noted.  Highlights were 5 Golden Plover passing over and 1 Grey Heron at the South Horn.

Thursday 16th Aug

Continuing Westerly winds resulted in few migrants. A count of waders from the west side of Rona and the South Horn found 2 Teal, 125 Turnstones, 49 Purple Sandpipers, 7 Redshank, 36 Oystercatchers, 61 Curlews, 3 Whimbrels, 5 Dunlin and 1 Common Sandpiper.

Wednesday 15th Aug

Wind continued from the West and Willow Warbler numbers declined.  1 Garden Warbler was the only other migrant passerine. A Common Snipe was flushed from the main path near Sheep’s Well and 2 Whimbrel were seen at Kirkhaven.  Highlight of the day was 1 Osprey flying south over the Island.

Tuesday 14th Aug

Wind increased from the west with good visibility and the occasional showers produced the highest numbers of Willow Warblers (circa 30). Another Pied Flycatcher was caught and ringed.

 Monday 13th Aug

Conditions continued in the same vein as Sunday until the afternoon, when wind dropped and visibility improved. More migrants arrived in the morning including Willow Warblers, 2 Pied Flycatchers, 1 Common and 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 1 Whinchat and 1 Robin. Two Storm Petrels were tape lured during the night.

Sunday 12th Aug

Wind turned easterly and the poor visibility brought 5 Golden Plover,  6 Wheatears and 3 Tree Pipits. Highlights of sea watching were 1 Common Gull and up to 85 Manx Shearwaters feeding with Kittiwakes off the Low Light. A night time trip to Rona dazzled 1 each of Curlew, Oystercatcher, Redshank and Turnstone and 4 Purple Sandpipers.

Saturday 11th Aug

 Light westerlies and good visibility brought 1 juvenile Black Redstart and a juvenile female Long -eared owl.

10th August

Storm Petrel 3 ringed plus 1 control, its 8th visit to the Isle of May. Green Sandpiper. Short-eared Owl departed heading North late afternoon. Black Redstart.

9th August

Storm Petrel 3 ringed. Green Sandpiper, Redshank, Short-eared Owl. 4 Willow Warbler ringed.

8th August

Storm Petrel: 4 ringed, 1 retrapped, 1 control.

Influx of Willow Warblers with 10 ringed plus at least 10 more scattered across the island. Swift 2 S.

7th August

Storm Petrel 5 ringed. Turnstone 2, Wheatear, Spotted Flycatcher, Swift 2 S.

6th August

Overnight: 7 Storm Petrels ringed plus 1 control. Redshank, Wheatear.

5th Aug

Overnight: 6 new Storm Petrels ringed, plus 1 controlled.

Grey Heron 1, Turnstone 9, Purple Sandpiper 8, Curlew 2, Whimbrel 1, Swift 1, Skylark 1, Blackbird 1, Whinchat 1, Willow Warbler 10, Chiffchaff 1.

4th Aug

More Willow Warblers with turnover demonstrated by ringing. Also Whinchat and first Wheatear of autumn.

Manx Shearwater 1, Green Sandpiper 1, Curlew 1, Wheatear 2, Whinchat 1, Willow Warbler 20, Chiffchaff 1.

3rd Aug

The first decent arrival of Willow Warblers along with a Cuckoo and a Pied Flycatcher.

Common Scoter 4, Green sandpiper 2, Curlew 1, Cuckoo 1juv, Willow Warbler 16, Chiffchaff 2, Pied Flycatcher 1, Swallow 11s, Starling 60.

2nd Aug

Manx Shearwater 1, Curlew 1, Green Sandpiper 1, Black-headed Gull 1, Swift 2, Woodpigeon 1, Black Redstart 2.

1st August

First thorough wader count included 2 Knot.

Whimbrel 1, Curlew 34, Turnstone 64, Knot 2, Purple Sandpiper 87, Common Sandpiper 2, Green Sandpiper 2, Redshank 2, Black-headed Gull 1, Swift 4, Chiffchaff 1.

29th July

Manx Shearwater 3, Redshank 1, Green Sandpiper 1, Common Sandpiper 1, 45 Purple Sandpiper 45, Curlew 1, Black-headed Gull 1, Short-eared Owl 1, Swift 5, Woodpigeon 1, Chiffchaff 1, Willow Warbler 5, Pied Flycatcher 2, Black Redstart 1.

28th July

Manx Shearwater 6n, Redshank 1, Turnstone 3, Green Sandpiper 1, Curlew 1, House Martin 1, Swift 1, Black Redstart 2juv, Willow Warbler 3, Chiffchaff 1, Pied Flycatcher 2f, Carrion Crow 1.

27th July

Turnstone 1, Common Sandpiper 2, Whimbrel 1, curlew 2, Redshank 1, black-headed Gull 1, Sandwich Tern 8, Peregrine 1, Woodpigeon 5, Willow Warbler 2, Chiffchaff 1, Pied Flycatcher 1f, Black Redstart 1juv, Skylark 1.

26th July

Manx Shearwater 4, Redshank 1, Black-headed Gull 2, Peregrine 1, Skylark 1, Swallow 7s, Sand Martin 59s, Chiffchaff 1, Black Redstart 1.  Minke Whale 1.

25th July

Manx Shearwater 15, Curlew 1, Common Sandpiper 1, Turnstone 1, Black-headed Gull 2, Swift 6, Wren 1, Willow warbler 1. Porpoise 6.

24th July

Common Scoter 12, Manx Shearwater 2, Dunlin 1, Redshank 1, Kestrel 1f, House Martin 2, Willow Warbler 1, Carrion Crow 2.

23rd July

The third highest island count of 61 Swift in five minutes at 9pm ahead of an arriving weather front.

Manx Shearwater 3n, Red-throated Diver 1, Purple Sandpiper 10, Redshank 1, Whimbrel 1, Curlew 2, Swallow 7w, Sand Martin 1, Swift 62.

22nd July

Turnstone 18, Purple Sandpiper 2, Curlew 2, Dunlin 2, House Martin 8, Wren 1.

21st July

Manx Shearwater 6, Redshank 2, Common Sandpiper 3, Curlew 29, Great skua 1, Black-headed Gull 2, Sandwich Tern 4, Peregrine 1, Kestrel 1, Skylark 1, Wren 1, Willow Warbler 2, Chiffchaff 2, Linnet 1.

20th July

Redshank 7, Black-headed Gull 3, Peregrine 1, Swift 19s, Chiffchaff 1.

19th July

Common Scoter 7, Manx Shearwater 3, Curlew 1, Common Sandpiper 1, Black-headed Gull 2, Sandwich Tern 2, Peregrine 2, Swift 1, Chiffchaff 1, Willow Warbler 1.

18th July

Velvet Scoter 13w, Common Scoter 7w, Manx Shearwater 26, Curlew 3, Redshank 3, Common Sandpiper 1, Black-headed Gull 2, Sandwich Tern 5, Kestrel 1, Peregrine 1, Willow Warbler 2, Chiffchaff 1, Black Redstart 1m.  Porpoise 1, Comma 1.

17th July

Sandwich Tern 3, Woodpigeon 1. Chiffchaff 1.

16th July

Curlew 2, Whimbrel 2, Starling 60.

15th July

Manx Shearwater 2, Common Sandpiper 1, Swift 1, Woodpigeon 3 (inc 1 juv). Porpoise 1.

14th July

The highlights were 3-4 Bottle-nosed Dolphins which circumnavigated the island early afternoon and a dramatic influx of Green-veined & Small White Butterflies late in the afternoon.

Dunlin 1, Common Sandpiper 1, Swift 1, Song Thrush 1. Bottle-nosed Dolphin 3-4. Small White 30, Green-veined White 20.

13th July

Common Scoter 47, Teal 3, Manx Shearwater 124, Red-throated Diver 2, Grey Heron 3, Curlew 2, Peregrine 1, Swift 4, Cuckoo 1juv, Starling 60.

12th July

Manx Shearwater 4, Great Skua 1, Black Redstart 1f

11th July

Manx Shearwater 38, Grey Heron 1, Curlew 1, Kestrel 1, Chiffchaff 1, Porpoise 1.

10th July

First Sooty Shearwater of the year.

Manx Shearwater 137, Sooty Shearwater 1, common Scoter 162, Redshank 2, Common Sandpiper 1, cormorant 15, Great Skua 1, Peregrine 1, Kestrel 1, Chiffchaff 1.  Porpoise 7

9th July

A juvenile Cuckoo was caught and ringed and lingered for the afternoon.

Curlew 13, Common Sandpiper 1, Kestrel 1f, Cuckoo 1juv, Chiffchaff 1.

 Cuckoo (Lila Buckingham)

8th July

Grey Heron 1, Curlew 3, Kestrel 1f, Crow 1.

7th July

Redshank 1, Crow 2, Starling 108

6th July

Autumn wader passage with 13 returning Purple Sandpipers and a Redshank.

5th July

Grey Heron 1, Black-headed Gull 1ad 1 juv, Woodpigeon 2.

4th July

Swift 3

3rd July

Two Storm Petrels were caught overnight, the first of the year.  A juvenile Black-headed Gull was the first of that age this year.

Storm Petrel 2, Manx Shearwater 3, Red-throated Diver 2, Goosander 5, Ringed Plover 1, Redshank 1, Curlew 1, Black-headed Gull 1juv, Song Thrush 1, Chiffchaff 2.  Harbour Porpoise 6. 

1st July

The highlight was a Black-tailed Godwit in summer plumage heading south, the first of the year.

A large arrival of Silver Y moths with several hundred across the isle.

Manx Shearwater 3, Black-tailed Godwit 1, Curlew 7, House Martin 1, Chiffchaff 3.

30th June

Curlew 6, Whimbrel 1, Swift 1. Painted Lady 6, Red Admiral 3, Small Tortoiseshell 2.

29th June

Curlew 2, Kestrel 1f, Starling 40, Song Thrush 1, Blackbird 1, Willow Warbler 1, Chiffchaff 1

28th June

Curlew 1, Kestrel 1f, Swift 3, Chiffchaff 1

27th June

Tufted Duck 3m, Peregrine 1, Spotted Flycatcher 1, Chiffchaff 2, Starling 30, Crossbill 3s.

 Tufted Duck (David Steel)

26th June

A Mistle Thrush was very unseasonal.

Curlew 5, Carrion Crow 2, chiffchaff 1, Mistle Thrush 1.

25th June

Common Scoter 6, Shelduck 1, Manx Shearwater 1, Cormorant 3, Curlew 2, Kestrel 1, Swift 4, Starling 30.

24th June

Common Scoter 4, Shelduck 2, Black- Headed Gull 1, Swift 1.

23rd June

Manx Shearwater 2, Common Scoter 19, Shelduck 1, Curlew 1, Kestrel 1f, Chiffchaff 2, Starling 14

22nd June

Manx Shearwater 19, Common Scoter 6, Red-throated Diver 1, Curlew 1, Sandwich Tern 4, Roseate Tern 1, Song Thrush 1, Willow Warbler 1, Woodpigeon 3 inc 1 Fledgling, Starling 20.

21st June

A Roseate Tern was in the Kirkhaven roost.

Black-headed Gull 1, Kestrel 1, Chiffchaff 1, Sedge Warbler 1, Linnet 1.

 Roseate Tern (David Steel)

20th June

In addition to the Starling flock and resident Kestrel and Chiffchaff the one arrival was a female Cuckoo with two Manx Shearwaters passing the isle.

19th June

A flock of 30+ Starling included the first juveniles of the year.

18th June

The first Tern and Kittiwake chicks were noted.

Song Thrush 1, Chiffchaff 1, Linnet 1.

15th June

Two juvenile Stonechats were a surprise.

 Juvenile Stonechat (Ian Halliday)

14th June

Weather: Storm Hector: 50+mph westerly winds.

The Storm wiped out some lower ledges of guillemots but also brought three Spotted Flycatchers and a Whinchat.

13th June

Weather: Manly overcast with light rain from late afternoon. E2 veering W4.

Canada Goose 13, Common Scoter 3, Manx Shearwater 2, Kestrel 1, House Martin 3, Swift 1, Robin 1, Starling 3.

12th June

Weather: High cloud. Calm becoming E3.

Common Scoter 35, Manx Shearwater 4, Great Skua 2, Peregrine 1, Chiffchaff 2.

11th June

Weather: Harr and drizzle until late morning. Afternoon mainly cloudy with lighter spells. Calm throughout.

Snipe 1, Kestrel 1, Chiffchaff 3, Siskin 2, Starling 12.

 Snipe (Mark Newell)

10th June

Weather: E1-2. Hazy sunshine

A light arrival with a male Grey Wagtail near the hides the most unseasonal.  Two Roseate Terns were the first of the year.

Greylag Goose 2, Manx Shearwater 4, Grey Heron 1n, Curlew 1, Black-headed Gull 2s, Swift 5n, House Martin 1n, Collared Dove 1, Grey Wagtail 1m, Chiffchaff 4, Willow warbler 1, Sedge Warbler 2, Pied Flycatcher 1f, Spotted Flycatcher 1, Robin 1, Starling 16, Linnet 1.

9th June

Weather: E1, overcast, clearing from lunchtime.

Canada Goose 34n, Pink-footed Goose 1n, Manx Shearwater 5n, Sandwich Tern 13, Kestrel 1f, Chiffchaff 1, Starling 5, Redpoll 1n.

7th June

Manx shearwater 4, Black-headed gull 1, Collared Dove 1, kestrel 1, willow warbler 1, chiffchaff 5, Starling 4, spotted flycatcher 1, linnet 1.


6th June

Weather: E1, clear.

A surprisingly productive seawatch.

Barnacle Goose 18n, Teal 1, Velvet Scoter 4m, Manx Shearwater 2, Kestrel 1, Skylark 1, Willow Warbler 1, Chiffchaff 4.

5th June

Weather: E3 decreasing calm

The Rose-coloured Starling appears to have departed but the first brood of Shelducklings were seen attempting to swim through the surf out of Kirkhaven.  Two flyover Crossbill were the first of the year.

Shelduck 2+5 ducklings, Manx Shearwater 2, Turnstone 1, Kestrel 1, Garden Warbler 2, Willow warbler 1, Chiffchaff 3, Linnet 1, Crossbill 2..

4th June

Weather: E1. Early haar then overcast.

Rose-coloured Starling still present.

Canada goose 20N, curlew 2, turnstone 1, kestrel 1, chiffchaff 4, spotted flycatcher 3, Rose-coloured Starling 1, pied flycatcher 1, Tree pipit 1.

3rd June

Weather: Mainly calm.  Light rain and haar morning then overcast.

The Rose-coloured Starling remains while a flock of Canada geese on the sea circumnavigated the isle with others seen totalling the highest day count

Canada Goose 131, Ringed Plover 1, Whimbrel 1, Curlew 1, Peregrine 1, Kestrel 1, Chiffchaff 5, Garden warbler 1, Pied Flycatcher 1f, Rose-coloured Starling 1.

 Canada Geese (David Steel)
 Rose-coloured Starling (David Steel)

2nd June

Weather: E1 or calm.  Hazy sunshine.

The Rose-coloured Starling and an Icterine Warbler were still present while a flava Wagtail was only seen in flight.

Greylag Goose 1, Red-breasted Merganser pair, Kestrel 1f, House Martin 1, Lesser Whitethroat 1, Pied Flycatcher 1, Flava Wagtail 1, Wheatear 2, Rose-coloured Starling 1, Linnet 1.

1st June

Weather: E1 or calm. Haar clearing, thunderstorm nearby.

The Rose-coloured Starling was still present but less showy while the Short-toed Lark was again around the Helipad/Haven Road and Thrush Nightingale seen briefly.  Two Whooper Swans flew north out of the haar

Whooper Swan 2, Canada Goose 35, Greylag goose 12, Black-headed Gull 2, Short-toed Lark 1, Swift 2, House Martin 1, Pied Flycatcher 2, Spotted Flycatcher 1, Short-toed Lark 1, Thrush Nightingale 1, Lesser Whitethroat 2, Whitethroat 1, Garden Warbler 1, Willow warbler 2, Chiffchaff 3, Rose-coloured Starling 1, Linnet 1.

31st May

Weather: E1, variable haar.

A cracking end to the month with the isle’s third Rose-coloured Starling which turned out to be a splendid female when it ended up in the Bain Trap.  Previous records were in June 1983 and September 1991.  A brief Thrush Nightingale was somewhat overshadowed.  Icterine Warbler and Short-toed Lark still present too.

Black-headed Gull 1, Short-toed Lark 1, House Martin 1, Pied Flycatcher 2, Short-toed Lark 1, Thrush Nightingale 1, Icterine Warbler 1, Lesser Whitethroat 1, Whitethroat 1, Garden Warbler 1, Willow warbler 3, Chiffchaff 5, Rose-coloured Starling 1, Siskin 1, Linnet 1.

 Rose-coloured Starling (Mark Newell)

30th May

Weather: E2, mainly overcast with variable visibility.

Icterine Warbler still present.

Woodpigeon 3, Peregrine 1, Kestrel 1, Wheatear 2, Icterine Warbler 1, Willow warbler 3, Chiffchaff 2, Lesser Whitethroat 2, Garden Warbler 2, Siskin 1.


29th May

Weather: E1, harr lifting for a time in the afternoon when clear.

No apparent new arrivals but the Short-toed Lark and an Icterine Warblers were still present.  An unseasonal movement of Barnacle Geese occurred with approximately 125 past the isle while a Ringed Plover was the first of the year.

Barnacle Goose 125, Ringed Plover 1, Kestrel 1, Peregrine 1, Short-toed Lark 1, Icterine Warbler 1, Lesser Whitethroat 4, Whitethroat 1, Willow Warbler 4, Wheatear 1, Spotted Flycatcher 4, Tree Pipit 1, House Martin 1, Linnet 1.

28th May

Weather: E1, harr lifting for a time in the afternoon when clear.

No apparent new arrivals but the Greenish warbler, Short-toed Lark, Red-backed Shrike and two Icterine Warblers were still present.

Sparrowhawk 1, Kestrel 1, Short-toed Lark 1, Greenish Warbler 1, Willow Warbler 2, Chiffchaff 4, Icterine Warbler 2, Lesser Whitethroat 4, Whitethroat 2, Blackcap 1m, Red-backed Shrike 1f, Whinchat 1, Wheatear 3.

27th May

Weather: E2, harr. Lifting for a short while late afternoon.

A Greenish Warbler was the rarest new arrival with 3 previous spring and 12 previous autumn records.  Initially seen in Tarbet before flying onto Rona, presumably the same bird was found along Palpitation Brae.  The Short-toed Lark was seen again when the harr cleared in the afternoon while a female Red-backed Shrike was the first of the year.  A second Icterine Warbler joined yesterday’s bird in the Top Trap.

Sandwich Tern 2, Woodpigeon 1, Kestrel 1f, Peregrine 1, Red-backed Shrike 1f, Short-toed Lark 1, Skylark 1, Willow Warbler 5, Chiffchaff 5, Greenish Warbler 1, Sedge Warbler 1, Icterine Warbler 2, Blackcap 1m, Garden Warbler 1, Lesser Whitethroat 4, Whitethroat 2, Pied Flycatcher 1f, black Redstart 1, Whinchat 1, Wheatear 3, Meadow Pipit 1.

 Greenish Warbler (Scott Jones)
 Red-backed Shrike (Sam Oates)
 Short-toed Lark (David Steel)

26th May

Weather: E5/6 decreasing 2/3 by end of the day.  Moderate harr until late morning then clear before returning late afternoon.

Highlight of the y and rarest species of the year was a Short-toed Lark mobile around the area to the south of the Beacon before disappearing as conditions cleared.  Only the sixth accepted record for the isle and first since 1998.  Hot on its heels was a Marsh Warbler favouring the rhubarb patch before being caught in the Low Trap, with less than thirty records of this species.  An Icterine Warbler caught in the Top Trap was another welcome addition to the year list after a blank year in 2017.  The Swallows in the Bath House were found to have four eggs.

Kestrel 1f, Peregrine 1, Short-toed Lark 1, House Martin 1, Willow Warbler 3, Chiffchaff 5, Icterine Warbler 1, Marsh Warbler 1, Blackcap 2m, Lesser Whitethroat 3, Whitethroat 2, Spotted Flycatcher 1, Pied Flycatcher 1f, Black Redstart 1, Wheatear 3, Whinchat 1, White Wagtail 1, Tree Pipit 1, Linnet 1.

 Short-toed Lark (Mark Newell)
 Icterine Warbler (Mark Newell)
 Black Redstart (Mark Newell)
 Marsh Warbler (Mark Newell)

25th May

Weather: E2 inc E5 from midday.  Harr clearing to generally clear conditions.

The first Pied Flycatcher of the year joined the other two flycatcher species.  Woodpigeon are proved to be breeding again.

Curlew 1, Kestrel 1f, Willow Warbler 3, Chiffchaff 2, Whitethroat 1, Blackcap 1m, Garden Warbler 2, Spotted Flycatcher 4, Pied Flycatcher 1f, Red-breasted Flycatcher 1, Wheatear 2, Tree Pipit 1, Linnet 2.

24th May

Weather: E2 or less. Cool with variable harr.

The Red-breasted Flycatcher remains while an increase on other common migrants.

Spotted Flycatcher 10, Red-breasted Flycatcher 1, Whinchat 1, Wheatear 1f, Blackcap 1m, Garden warbler 2, Whitethroat 7, Willow Warbler 7, Chiffchaff 2, Sand Martin 1, House Martin 3, White Wagtail 1, Starling , Meadow Pipit 1. 

23rd May

Weather: E1-2

Finally a scattering of migrants and the first scarce migrant of the spring with a female type Red-breasted Flycatcher.

Manx Shearwater 4, Red-throated Diver 1, Great Skua 1, House Martin 2, Chiffchaff 4, Willow Warbler 3, Sedge Warbler 5, Blackcap 1m, Whitethroat 1, Whinchat 1, Wheatear 1, Spotted Flycatcher 3, Red-breasted Flycatcher 1.

 Red-breasted Flycatcher (David Steel)


21st May

Weather: SE1-NE5 from mid-evening. High, patchy cloud.

A Brambling was a rather late record.  The first Kittiwake egg of the year was found.

Manx Shearwater 2, Turnstone 1, Black-headed Gull 1, Willow Warbler 1, Chiffchaff 4, Blackbird 1f, Jackdaw 1, Starling 2, Brambling 1f.

20th May

Weather: SW3.  Hazy sunshine.

House Martin 2, Redwing 1, Blackbird 1, Robin 1, Wheatear 1, Whinchat 1, Redpoll 1, Willow Warbler 2, Chiffchaff 4.

19th May

Weather: Calm then SE2. Clear

Common Scoter 11, Red-throated Diver 1, Manx Shearwater 2,m Purple Sandpiper 4, Whimbrel 1, Common Tern 20, Arctic Tern 200, Sandwich Tern 2, Swallow 6, Chiffchaff 3, Goldfinch 1. Green-veined White 1, Bilberry Bumblebee 1.

18th May

Weather: Calm then SE2. Clear.

Mallard 1m, Common Scoter 9, Manx Shearwater 8, Common Sandpiper 1, Whimbrel 1, Curlew 1, Great Skua 1, Peregrine 1, Kestrel 1f, Woodpigeon 5, Swift 1, Chiffchaff 4, Wheatear 2, Swallow 12, Linnet 1.

17th May

Weather: Variable 1, clear.

Common Scoter 12, Velvet Scoter 2, Goosander 4, Manx Shearwater 5, Great Skua 1, Black-headed Gull 5, Skylark 1, Chiffchaff 5, Swallow 8.

16th May

Weather: Variable 1, clear.

Common Scoter 6, Manx Shearwater 5, Purple Sandpiper 1, Great skua 1, Kestrel 1f, Swallow 2, Blackbird 1, Chiffchaff 4, Linnet 1.

15th May

Weather: Light Variable until SW3 for a time. Light rain late afternoon.

Great Skua 1, Kestrel 1f, Wheatear 3, Chiffchaff 4, Linnet 1.

14th May

Weather: SW backing SE 1-2. Clear.

First Eider ducklings.

Purple Sandpiper 10, Arctic Tern 200+, Sandwich Tern 3, Woodpigeon 1, Kestrel 1f, Carrion Crow 4, Whitethroat 1, Willow Warbler 1, Chiffchaff 5, Redstart 1m, Wheatear 4, Linnet 1.

13th May

Weather: mainly calm.  Light rain until late morning then clear.

A Cuckoo was a new arrival along with two new Whitethroat.  The first Fulmar egg of the year.

Mallard pair, Curlew 1, Dunlin 1, Great Skua 1, Cuckoo 1, Wheatear 5, Whitethroat 2, Chiffchaff 7, Goldfinch 1, Siskin 1.

12th May

Weather: light SE, clear.

The first Common Sandpiper of the year and an increase in Arctic Terns.

Common Sandpiper 1, Purple Sandpiper 2, Whimbrel 1, Arctic Tern 70+, Sandwich Tern 4, Great Skua 2, Chiffchaff 2, Whitethroat 1.

11th May

Weather: SE4. Overcast, moderate visibility, cold.

Despite the promising conditions little arrived.

Whimbrel 2, Peregrine 1, Kestrel 1, Lesser Whitethroat 2, Garden Warbler 1, Chiffchaff 3, Wheatear 6.

10th May

An Osprey flew north up the west side of the island was the highlight.

Osprey 1, Sandwich Tern 3, Wheatear 10, Carrion Crow 2, Jackdaw 1, Tree Pipit 1, House Martin 5, Blackcap 1, Chiffchaff 4.

9th May

Weather: Calm, increasing SW 4. Clear then overcast from late morning, light rain from mid-afternoon.

The first Swift of the year flew over.

Shelduck 3, Tufted Duck 1f, Common Scoter 9, Dunlin 1, Purple Sandpiper 12 Black-headed Gull 3, Sandwich Tern 2, Swift 1, Swallow 6, Wheatear 8, Willow Warbler 1, Chiffchaff 2, Whitethroat 1.


 Tufted Duck (David Steel)

8th May

Weather: Calm and clear morning. SW3 pm with light rain for a time.

The first Cuckoo of the year was briefly at Tarbet.

Greylag Goose 3, Shelduck 6, tufted Duck 1f, Manx Shearwater 1, Arctic Skua 1dp, Collared Dove 1, Kestrel 1, Peregrine 2, Cuckoo 1, Swallow 16, House Martin 6, Sand Martin 2, Whinchat 1f, Wheatear 5, Carrion crow 13, Blackcap 1m, Garden warbler 1, Willow Warbler 2, Chiffchaff 4, Linnet 3.

7th May

Weather: ESE 2. Mainly clear with high cloud occasionally.

A waft of easterly winds didn’t bring a fall of migrants but brought an interesting selection of birds.  An Arctic Skua was the first of the year as was a Tree Sparrow briefly at the Top Trap before flying off north.  A Stock Dove near the hides was a notable sighting as they are not annual while a female Tufted Duck appeared on the Loch in the evening to become the fourth addition to the year list.

Tufted Duck 1f, Shelduck 4, Common Scoter 4w, Mallard/Pintail hybrid, Manx Shearwater 5, Red-throated Diver 1, Purple Sandpiper 21, Arctic Skua 1, Sandwich Tern 3, Arctic Tern 20, Kestrel 1, Peregrine 1, Woodpigeon 7, Stock Dove 1, Short-eared Owl 1, Swallow 14, House Martin 1, Willow Warbler 3, Chiffchaff 15, Blackcap 1f, Garden Warbler 2, Whitethroat 1, Blackbird 2, Redstart 1f, Whinchat 1f, Wheatear 15, Tree Sparrow 1, Meadow Pipit 1, Linnet 2, Lesser Redpoll 2, Goldfinch 1.

Year List: 114

 Short-eared Owl (Mark Newell)
 Peregrine (Mark Newell)

6th May

Weather: Variable mainly SW2 or less. Clear

A noticeable clear out of yesterday’s birds but a Collared Dove and White Wagtail were new arrivals.

Whimbrel 1, Purple Sandpiper 1, Sandwich Tern 2, Arctic Tern 16, Kestrel 1f, Collared Dove 1, Swallow 8, House Martin 1, Pied Wagtail 16, White Wagtail 1, Blackbird 2m, Willow warbler 9, Garden warbler 1, Wheatear 12, Linnet 2. Porpoise 1.

5th May

Weather: SW2. Clear

The first Spotted Flycatcher of the year while an Osprey flew north late evening.  Distinct turnover of birds with none of yesterday’s warblers being retrapped, but Garden Warbler, Sedge Warbler and Willow Warbler all in song.

Curlew 1, Whimbrel 1, Osprey 1, Arctic Tern 20, Sandwich Tern 2, Peregrine 1, Kestrel 1, Sand Martin 2, Swallow 30, House Martin 3, Willow Warbler 50, chiffchaff 6, Sedge Warbler 1, Blackcap 3m, Garden Warbler 2, Whitethroat 2, Blackbird 1, Spotted Flycatcher 1, Robin 2, Whinchat 1m, Wheatear 20, Meadow Pipit 2, Linnet 4, Redpoll sp 1, Goldfinch 1. 

4th May

Weather: SW2/3. Generally overcast with brighter spells.

The Force was with us today as despite the unpromising wind direction it was one of the best days of the year so far.  A healthy arrival of Willow Warblers with a steady hirundine passage was eclipsed by a Thrush Nightingale in the Low Trap. The 22nd individual on the isle and one of earliest ever, it remained around the Bain Trap for the rest of the day.  A Garden Warbler was the first of the year.  The Pintail-Mallard hybrid was seen wandering after a male Eider near the hides and was sporting a blue leg flag. 

Curlew 11, Turnstone 1, Black-headed Gull 1, Sandwich Tern 2, Arctic Tern 7, Kestrel 1, Skylark 1, Sand Martin 9, Swallow 60, House Martin 4, Willow Warbler 35, Chiffchaff 5, Sedge Warbler 1, Garden Warbler 1, Whitethroat 3, Starling 1, Robin 1, Thrush Nightingale 1, Wheatear 20, Meadow Pipit 16, Tree Pipit 1, Chaffinch 1,  Linnet 12, Goldfinch 8.

 Thrush Nightingale (Mark Newell)

3rd May

The first Sedge Warbler of the year while an apparent female Pintail-Mallard hybrid was in Tarbet briefly.

Turnstone 6, Kestrel 1, Blackcap 1m, Sedge Warbler 1, Willow warbler 9, Chiffchaff 8, Lesser whitethroat 1, Tree Pipit 1, Robin 1, Wheatear 3, Wren 1, Swallow 12, Chaffinch 2, Linnet 2, Goldfinch 3.

30th April

Weather: ENE3 decreasing calm by late afternoon. Clear.

Shelduck 2, Sandwich Tern 2, Woodpigeon 8, Swallow 2, Lesser Whitethroat 1, Blackcap 1, Robin 1, Wheatear 1, Chiffchaff 2, Willow Warbler 1, Goldcrest 3, Linnet 2.

29th April

Weather: E2 or less. Clear.

Shelduck 2, Turnstone 1, Curlew 1, Purple Sandpiper 1, Snipe 1, Peregrine 2, Sandwich Tern 2, Woodpigeon 3, Wheatear 3, Robin 1, Wren 2, Swallow 2, Willow Warbler 4, Goldcrest 2, Carrion Crow 5, Linnet 2, Siskin 2.

28th April

Weather: E2, early morning light rain then clear.

The first Arctic Terns (3) of the year flew north.

Greylag Goose 3, Curlew 1, Purple Sandpiper 2, Redshank 7, Black-headed Gull 1, Common Gull 1, Arctic Tern 3, Swallow 1, Lesser Whitethroat 1, Willow Warbler 3, Chiffchaff 2, Wheatear 4, Robin 1, Linnet 2, Goldfinch 3.

27th April

Weather: SW2 backing SE1.  Clear.

The highlight was the first island record of Bar-headed Goose which circled around the isle several times in the evening.  Unfortunately it will have to be added to the escapee list along with the Budgie and Cockatiel. 

Bar-headed Goose 1, Golden Plover 1, Snipe 1, Purple Sandpiper 1, Turnstone 3, Redshank 30, Kestrel 1, Swallow 8, Jackdaw 2, Crow 2, Wheatear 2, Robin 1, Blackcap 1, Linnet 2, Goldfinch 1. 

 Bar-headed Goose (Bex Outram)

26th April

Weather: SW5. Clear with brief afternoon showers.

A small arrival of Willow Warblers with two in song.

Snipe 1, Kestrel 1, Great Skua 1, Swallow 8, Wheatear 3, Wren 2, Willow Warbler 5, Chiffchaff 2, Starling 1, Linnet 4.

25th April

Weather: SW2/3 inc 4/5 in afternoon then 3 in evening. Mainly clear.

A Bonxie devouring an adult Herring Gull off the South Horn was probably the highlight.

Shelduck 4, Red-throated Diver 1n, Manx Shearwater 1, Sparrowhawk 1imm, Peregrine 2, Whimbrel 1, Black-headed Gull 2, Great Skua 1, Woodpigeon 5, Swallow 4n, Sand Martin 2n, Meadow Pipit 6n, Robin 1, Wheatear 4, Blackbird 1, Song Thrush 1, Chiffchaff 3, Goldfinch 4, Linnet 7, Siskin 2, Carrion Crow 3.

24th April

Weather: SW4/5 decreasing 2 late afternoon.  Mainly clear.

With less than 20 records a female type Marsh Harrier which flew south was notable.  An Iceland Gull (1st summer) in the evening roost was the first of the year as were two Canada Geese which flew north.

Canada Goose 2n, Mallard pair, Manx Shearwater 1n, Buzzard 1, Marsh Harrier 1imm/f, Peregrine 1imm, Curlew 51, Whimbrel 2, Purple Sandpiper 8, Snipe 2, Iceland Gull 1, Common Gull 1, Swallow 12n, House Martin 2n, Wheatear 2, Robin 1, Redstart 1m, Ring Ouzel 1m, Blackbird 2m, Dunnock 3, Willow Warbler 1, Chiffchaff 1, Rook 1, Linnet 4, Goldfinch 1.  

23rd April

Weather: SW4/5 decreasing 2 late afternoon. Clear morning, light rain from late afternoon.

The Mallard pair were again prospecting. Light hirundine passage.

Shelduck 4, Mallard 2, Purple Sandpiper 8, Turnstone 12, Curlew 1, Snipe 1, Kestrel 1, Peregrine 1, woodpigeon 4, Swallow 15n, Sand Martin 1n, House Martin 5n, Willow warbler 3, Chiffchaff 2, Dunnock 1, Ring Ouzel 1, Blackbird 2, Wheatear 2, Redstart 1m, Linnet 9, Meadow Pipit 4. Porpoise 1.

22nd April

Weather: Calm becoming SW4. Overnight rain, overcast morning, clear afternoon.

A pair of Mallard were seen wandering across the isle; a potential breeding attempt.

Sightings: Mallard 2, Teal 3, Snipe 1, Purple Sandpiper 19, Curlew 1, Grey Heron 1, Black-headed Gull 2s, Sandwich Tern 1, Sparrowhawk 1, Kestrel 1f, Peregrine 2, Woodpigeon 2, Swallow 20, Meadow Pipit 24, Willow Warbler 3, Chiffchaff 4, Dunnock 1, Lesser Whitethroat 1, Blackcap 1m, Robin 1, Redstart 1m, Wheatear 3, Ring Ouzel 1m, Blackbird 1m, Linnet 11, Goldfinch 4, Redpoll sp 3n, Carrion Crow 4.  Porpoise 2.

21 April

Weather: Calm becoming SE3 from mid-afternoon. Clear.

A Collared Dove was a surprise find on Rona while Scoters passed the north end.

Common Scoter 46, Velvet Scoter 7w, Red-throated Diver 1, Manx Shearwater 1n, Cormorant 36, Purple Sandpiper 2, Curlew 1, Sandwich Tern 1, Great Skua 1, Woodpigeon 8, Collared Dove 1, Kestrel 1f, Peregrine 1, Carrion Crow 3, Swallow 6n, Willow Warbler 1, Chiffchaff 4, Blackcap 1f, Goldcrest 4, Wren 4, Starling 1, Blackbird 3, Fieldfare 1, Robin 3, Wheatear 5, Dunnock 2, Linnet 6n, Redpoll sp 1, Goldfinch 3, Siskin 1.  Porpoise 3.

20 April

Weather: SW3-4, clear.

Sandwich Tern, Tree Pipit, Yellow Wagtail and House Martin were all first for the year.

Pink-footed Goose 8n, Sandwich Tern 4, Golden Plover 1n, Fieldfare 6, Blackbird 4, Song Thrush 1, Ring Ouzel 1, Redwing 1, Wheatear 16, Robin 3, Dunnock 2, Wren 5, Willow Warbler 3, chiffchaff 3, Blackcap 3, Goldcrest 4, Tree Pipit 1n, Meadow Pipit 58n, Yellow Wagtail 1, Goldfinch 6, Linnet 22, Common Redpoll 1, Redpoll spp 2n, Siskin 2n, Reed Bunting 1, House Martin 2n, Swallow 4n, Black-headed Gull 2, Sparrowhawk 1, Kestrel 1, Peregrine 3, Jackdaw 3, Carrion Crow 6.

 Yellow Wagtail (David Steel)

  Ring Ouzel (David Steel)
  Black Redstart (David Steel)
 Hawfinch (David Steel)

Isle of May Early Spring Summary

Noticeable highlights of the spring

  • Shoveler                     drake with Eiders off west side on 31st March, first since 2010
  • Raven                         one north over Fluke Street, 10th record and first since 2010

  • Hawfinch                    male on 31st March and 13th April (10th & 11th records)

  • Osprey                       One north on 26th March

  • ‘White’ Wagtail          two males on 11th April

  • Lapland Bunting       female on 15th April

Spring has struggled to start due to easterly winds although gradually summer migrants have been filtering thought the island with dates shown below (dates in brackets are the arrival dates from 2017) 

Chiffchaff                               22nd March                  (23rd March 2017)

Whinchat                                23rd March                  (earliest ever island record)

Ring Ouzel                             30th March                   (28th March 2017)

Blackcap                                11th April                      (1st April 2017)

Swallow                                 14th April                      (8th April 2017)

Willow Warbler                      14th April                      (8th April 2017)

Lesser Whitethroat               14th April                      (30th April 2017)

Sand Martin                           19th April                      (8th April 2017)

Sandwich Tern                      20th April                      (8th April 2017)

Tree Pipit                               20th April                      (19th April 2017)

Yellow Wagtail                       20th April                      (14th May 2017)

Year list at 20th April: 93

 Migration Summary

The coverage on the Isle of May during January-March is intermittent due to the lack of any residents on the island at that time of year, with only brief visits by island staff during this period. The Bird Observatory was manned after a delayed start (due to weather) with the work party moving out on 21st March and recording becoming more regular thereafter. 

The late winter period produced a typical light scattering of over-wintering birds with up to seven Short-eared Owls which eventually dwindled to one by 30th March. Small numbers of Thrushes, Wrens and Robins over-wintered and early spring highlights including Lapwing on 8th-9th January (only two records the previous year) whilst the first Woodcock of the year was discovered on 10th January. Single Snow Buntings were recorded on 22nd February, 28th March and 15th April whilst a Red-necked Grebe on 10th January increased to two the following day with a single still on 12th March.

The ‘beast from the east’ brought heavy snowfall (which is rarely seen on the island) in late February and early March, bringing with it a noticeable influx of Black Guillemots during this period. Small numbers sheltered together in the lea of the island off the west cliffs with numbers peaking at six on 3rd March. At least one then went on to linger until 13th April. Early spring wildfowl passage produced herds of Whooper Swans on northerly passage including 24 on 26th, 10 on 28th March and 2 on 1st April. Other highlights included passage of Long-tailed Duck’s with 9 on 2nd, 3 on 7th and 4 on 8th April. Single drake Velvet Scoter was noted on 1st April, two Goosander on 4th April and a Red-breasted Merganser on 11th April. However star-billing went to a drake Shoveler seen with Eiders off the west side of the island, the first live record since July 2010.

An easterly weather front in late March produced a good fall of Robins, Dunnocks and other birds associated with early spring. Woodcock numbers peaked at 6 on 30th-31st March whilst a Water Rail in the Low Trap on 28th was the first spring record since 2008 and it or another was seen on 11th April. Migrants included huge influxes of Robins with 100 on 30th, 150 on 31st and over 200 on the 1st-3rd April, with Dunnock numbers peaking at 40 on 1st April.

During this spell, northern bound thrushes were very evident with up to four Mistle Thrush present for over a week. Noticeably the island supported good numbers of Ring Ouzel with daily records from 30th March-19th April peaking with 6 on 11th-12th April. Spring eventually arrived with the arrival of summer migrants including the first Wheatear on 30th March with a peak of 4 the following day, Chiffchaffs from 22nd with a peak of 12 on 30th March, first Blackcap on 11th April, Swallow on 14th and an early Lesser Whitethroat the same day. Interestingly the island welcomed a good number of Black Redstarts including several adult males, with some birds singing although all moved on by mid-April. Other highlights included Greenfinch on 28th March and 9th April (an increasingly scarce visitor) and a flurry of Brambling with a peak of 7 on 30th March including a resplendent adult male.

To cap a good start to the season, a cracking male Hawfinch was discovered feeding on the ground near the Chapel on 31st March, with another on the cliffs at the South Horn on 13th April. These represented only the 10th and 11th island records but hot on the heels of two the previous year.

12th March

Weather: Calm, overcast but bright.

A pair of Mallard off Altarstanes were the first of the year as were Stonechat which appeared early afternoon a reached a total of eight (2m,6f), the second highest ever total but some way off the 19 in March last year.  Four Mistle Thrush was a good total while a Red-necked Grebe and two Black Guillemot remained off Altarstanes.

Passage: Gannet 10, Skylark 3,

Present:  Shelduck 1, Mallard 2, Teal 10, Red-necked Grebe 1, Cormorant 40, Oystercatcher 25, Curlew 20, Turnstone 1, Woodcock 2, Redshank 2, Black Guillemot 2 (1 ad winter, 1 1st winter), Woodpigeon 3, Kestrel 1, Peregrine 1, Wren 2, Starling 4, Blackbird 15, Fieldfare 10, Redwing 1, Song Thrush 15, Mistle Thrush 4, Robin 3, Stonechat 8, Pied Wagtail 2. Porpoise 4.

Thursday 22nd February

Weather: SW3. Clear & sunny

Passage: Snow Bunting 1, Skylark 6, Linnet 1, Pink-footed Geese 64n, Golden Plover 1s

Present: Curlew 70, Snipe 2, Kittiwake 20, Black-headed Gull 2, Redwing 1, Woodpigeon 2, Short-eared Owl 2.

Wednesday 21st February

Weather: NW-E1, clear and sunny after overnight frost

A Mistle thrush and Siskin were the first of the year.

Passage: Red-throated Diver 1s, Gannet 15, Kittiwake 3,

Present: Shelduck 1, Snipe 1, Puffin 1, Woodpigeon 1, Short-eared Owl 1, Kestrel 1, Peregrine 1, Skylark 3, Blackbird 4, Song Thrush 1, Mistle Thrush 1,

Tuesday 20th February

Weather: NW-N2. Clear and sunny, almost warm.

A few firsts for the year with Skylark, Pied Wagtail, Meadow Pipit and Lesser Black-backed Gull

Passage: Skylark 2

Present: Teal 40, Grey Heron 2, Oystercatcher 50, Curlew 30, Turnstone 50, Purple Sandpiper 10, Redshank 3, Lesser Black-backed Gull 3, Woodpigeon 2, Short-eared Owl 6, Kestrel 1, Merlin 1, Peregrine 2, Carrion Crow 2, Wren 6, Blackbird 2, Redwing 1, Song Thrush 1, Fieldfare 1, Robin 4.

Friday 16th February

Pink-footed Geese 40s, Kestrel 1, Grey Heron 1

Thursday 1st February

Weather: W-NW5. Bright but overcast

Present:  Grey Heron 1, Gannet 1, Sparrowhawk 1, Kestrel 1, Kittiwake 12, Black-headed Gull 1 Fieldfare 1, Redwing 1, Blackbird 3, Robin 3.

 Immature female Sparrowhawk (Mark Newell)

Wednesday 31st January

Weather: Clear, cold and sunny. W5-7

Little change with the wind making conditions tricky.

Present: Purple Sandpiper 1, Redshank 4, Woodpigeon 1, Short-eared Owl 1, Kestrel 1, Carrion Crow 2, Wren 4, Blackbird 2, Redwing 1, Robin 4.

Tuesday 30th January

Weather: Bright, W4 inc 6.

A Shelduck on Rona was an early record while a Woodpigeon was the first of the year.

Passage: Pink-footed Geese 4w

Present: Shelduck 1, Teal 30, Eider 32, Turnstone 15, Purple Sandpiper 6, Redshank 2, Kittiwake 1, Woodpigeon 1, Short-eared Owl 4, Kestrel 1, Merlin 1, Peregrine 1, Carrion Crow 2, Wren 4, Blackbird 3, Fieldfare 1, Redwing 2, Robin 4.

Monday 29th January

Weather: Clear, SW3 inc 5 from late morning.

A flock of Pink-footed Geese were the first of the year as was a Merlin and a Song Thrush which was consumed by a Sparrowhawk. Four Short-eared Owls remain.

Passage: Pink-footed Geese 145N

Present: Teal 30, Eider 20, Grey Heron 1, Sparrowhawk 1, Short-eared Owl 4, Kestrel 1, Merlin 1, Peregrine 1, Wren 3, Blackbird 4, Fieldfare 3, Redwing 8, Song Thrush 1, Robin 3.

Thursday 11th January

Weather: Overcast & light rain first thing, then clearing. W1.

Two Red-necked Grebes were together off Colm’s Hole.  Two Red-throated Divers flew past making it onto the year list.  Kestrel, Peregrine and Sparrowhawk all seen.  Coverage on the isle will now cease for about 10 days.

Wednesday 10th January

Weather: W1, overcast with occasional light drizzle. Poor visibility

A Red-necked Grebe off the Low Light was a significant record and follows one lingering last winter.  A Woodcock was the first of the year as was an immature Gannet, otherwise little change.

Present: Grey Heron 2, Red-necked Grebe 1, Gannet 1, Razorbill 12, Short-eared Owl 7, Carrion Crow 2, Blackbird 4, Fieldfare 6, Redwing 1, Robin 2, Wren 2, Rock Pipit 10.

 Short-eared Owl (Calum Scott)

Tuesday 9th January

Weather: Overcast, several degrees above freezing. SE5

Presumably yesterday’s flyover Lapwing was seen a couple times while a Starling was new. Otherwise a similar selection of birds.

Present: Grey Heron 2, Peregrine 1, Razorbill 2, Short-eared Owl 5, Carrion Crow 2, Blackbird 6, Fieldfare 9, Redwing 4, Robin 4, Wren 3, Rock Pipit 10, Starling 1.

Monday 8th January

Weather: clear and cold with all pools frozen.  SE2 increasing SE5

First day of human presence on the Isle of May in 2018.  The rarest bird in island terms was a Lapwing which flew in from the north, especially given there were only two sightings in 2017.  An increase in thrushes from the end of last year while seven Short-eared Owls were still present.  Two Puffins, an adult and a 1st winter were offshore.

Passage: Lapwing 1s

Present: Teal 22, Eider 15, Grey Heron 5, Sparrowhawk 1, Razorbill 4, Puffin 2, Short-eared Owl 7, Kestrel 1, Carrion Crow 2, Blackbird 6, Fieldfare 9, Redwing 4, Robin 4, Wren 3, Rock Pipit 10.

 First bird caught in 2018, a Robin ringed last autumn.

Alan Lauder,
Jan 20, 2014, 5:49 AM
Mark Newell,
Jan 31, 2015, 4:56 AM
Mark Newell,
Jan 16, 2016, 12:01 PM
Mark Newell,
Jan 14, 2017, 1:33 PM
Mark Newell,
Jan 8, 2018, 12:57 PM