January sightings on Ramsey Island – Greg and Lisa Morgan, Wardens
The Lapwing flock increased steadily during the month reaching a peak of 250+ birds by month end being joined by up to 70 curlew. Also in close association with the Lapwing, 400+ starling made for quite a spectacle. Other waders present were Snipe, Turnstone and a solitary record of Woodcock on 15th. Chough were present in good numbers all month with a maximum daily total of 32 mid month and a regular roost at Aber Mawr of a dozen birds. A male Merlin was present on 24th. The only unusual sighting of the month was a Hooded Crow, being mobbed by Ravens on 29th, but it didn’t suffer this abuse for long, soon heading east to the mainland
February sightings on Ramsey Island – Greg and Lisa Morgan, Wardens
Highlights were a black redstart on 12th Feb, 4 red kites together over the island on a glorious day on 18th, the first gannet of the year offshore on 19th, and a very early, solitary, puffin in Ramsey Sound on 26th. Chough numbers remained high throughout the month with a maximum of 26 on 18th. There was a regular roost at Aber Mawr of 20+ birds most evenings. A similar number of birds also fed together on the east coast slopes most mornings and evenings in the middle of the moth. One of the ringed birds in the flock had not been recorded for 2 years and is presumably a mainland breeder. Lapwing numbers peaked at 300 on 14th, but had dwindled to less than 50 by month end as birds dispersed to breeding grounds. Several males were seen displaying on 24th. Curlew numbers peaked at 50 mid month, with very few left by the month end. Also of note were: Raven nest building on 14th, starling flocks of up to 300 all month, 30 common scoter south on 18th, flocks of up to 40 linnets on various dates, single Merlin on 27th, single woodcock on 25th, and the first fieldfare of the winter on 27th!
April sightings on Ramsey Island – Greg and Lisa Morgan, Wardens
Highlights were a great northern diver on 30th which flew right over the middle of the island, two mute swans which circumnavigated the island on 24th, a female ring ouzel on 5th + 6th, plus a male on 12th, and a whinchat on 26th. Migration was steady all month. Willow warblers (max 60 on 11th) and chiffchaffs (max 20 on 26th) were present throughout in varying numbers, blackcaps trickled through (max 4 on 26th), whitethroats appeared for the first time on 26th (5), with a singing sedge warbler the same day (unusual out here). Whimbrel passage was sporadic with a peak of 25 on 23rd. A solitary common sandpiper was seen on 20th and the purple sandpiper roost peaked at 17 on 5th before falling off to 5 by the month end. Swallows totalled 1338+ in the month (mainly north and west) with 1000+ of those on 24th. There were 75 sand martins and 9 house martins logged, with just two swifts on 26th. Manx shearwaters were heard for the first time on 3rd, and were passing by offshore in good numbers all month. 8 pairs of chough are holding territory with a non breeding flock of between 10 and 15 present all month. The first lapwing count of the season revealed 6 pairs (as last year), whilst peregrines have increased to 3 territories. A pair of shelduck have been present all month which would be an interesting breeding record if anything comes of it. Linnet numbers peaked at 60 on 3rd, with good numbers of singing males remaining throughout the month
May sightings on Ramsey Island – Greg and Lisa Morgan, Wardens
Highlight was a female Lapland bunting in full adult plumage on 29 and 30 May. The bird was extremely confiding allowing close viewing whilst feeding on the east coast ponds. Other good records for the island were a short eared owl on 9th, wood warbler on 14 May, 2 red kites on 21st, yellow wagtail on two days and a kingfisher in the harbour on 31st. Other migrants included cuckoo on 4 days, spotted flycatchers throughout the month with a scattering of pied flycatchers too. Willow warbler, blackcap and chiffchaff had dried up by mid month, but a determined sedge warbler set up territory and continued singing all month desperately trying to attract a passing female. Swift, house and sand martins were few in number with swallows peaking at 300+ moving west on 29 May. The non breeding chough flock peaked at 14 during the month, whimbrel peaked at 33 on 14th, dunlin were logged on 4 dates (max 3 on 15th) and the purple sandpiper winter roost finally moved on with a solitary bird being the last record on 15th. At sea, 17 puffin was the peak count at the North Bishop on 25th, 12 common scoter moved through on 5th and a dark phase arctic skua was chasing kittiwakes around the Bishops on 29th
June sightings on Ramsey Island – Greg and Lisa Morgan, Wardens
Highlights were a little egret flying south over the island on 9th, a turtle dove on 9th, a short eared owl on 15th, a female type black redstart for two days from 19th and a possible flava yellow wagtail briefly on 26th. A single chiffchaff was present on 6th, a collared dove on 3 dates, spotted flycatcher were present most of the month, usually singles and probably the same bird, but with a max of 5 on 5th. A single cuckoo was logged on 18th. Return movements began with the first starlings present on 17th (a family party of 10), with the first curlew on 17th, building to 28 by the end of the month. A single golden plover went over calling on 7th. 77 swift were gged during the month, along with 6 house martins and a single sand martin. The one visible peregrine nest had one small chick by 26th, and the only pair of ravens that successfully nested this year fledged two very late young at the second attempt. 6 pairs of chough fledged 14 young during the month, but our 6 pairs of lapwing failed completely due to predation. At sea, 11 sandwich tern headed north through the Sound on 17th, puffin numbers peaked at 30 at the North Bishop, with an increasing number of sightings of birds (max close in around various parts of Ramsey itself. 8 common dolphin were recorded from the island on 26th, with the usual sightings of harbour porpoise in the Sound all month. Our boat operator, Thousand Islands, had a spectacular sighting of 8 killer whales near The Smalls lighthouse on one of their offshore trips on 22nd. Two red deer calves were recorded on 17th, and two early seal pups were born around the same time.
July sightings on Ramsey Island – Greg and Lisa Morgan, Wardens
A relatively quiet month. Highlights being a green sandpiper on two dates (16th & 28th), a kingfisher on the cliffs of Aber Mawr (23rd) and a merlin on 31st. Migration was slow to get going with a single chiffchaff (19th), and 8 willow warblers spaced evenly through the month. There were two whimbrel records (8th and 19th), a single golden plover (21st), a turnstone (31st), and the curlew roost built up to 70 birds by the month end. A juvenile cuckoo appeared for two days at the end of the month and there was a single grey wagtail logged on 19th. Swallows were still rearing late broods around the farm buildings but other hirundines were on the move, with 350+ swift heading west through the day on 19th, 12 sand martins though the month, and just two house martins. Chough numbers built up through the month, with up to 40 present on 25th, including a regular noisy flock of 25+. Linnet numbers also built through the month with up to 50 present by 15th. Guillemots and razorbills had mostly fledged by mid month and appear to have had a reasonable season. Kittiwakes hung on but the study plot failed completely this year. Casual records from smaller colonies around the island suggest that no more than 10- 15 birds will have fledged from Ramsey this year. Fulmars seem to be having a bad year too. Many ledges have been deserted and there are very few chicks to be seen.
August sightings on Ramsey Island – Greg and Lisa Morgan, Wardens
A quiet month on the bird front with a short eared owl on 29th being the highlight. Waders passage was evident with 11 redshank (27th), single dunlin (28th), 5 lapwing (30th), single snipe (11th), single golden plover (25th), plus 5 on 27th, 5 whimbrel records through the month, 4 purple sandpiper back on their winter roost and the curlew roost peaking at 36 on 13th. At sea an arctic skua went through on 20th, single common scoters on 19th and 20th, plus 3 on 28th, and 9 sandwich terns moving north on 26th. Manx shearwater numbers tailed off towards the month end, while black headed gulls began to increase in Ramsey Sound. A basking shark just off the north end of the island on an early morning seawatch on 28th was a good reward. Passerine migration was limited with a steady trickle of willow warblers all month (max 7 on 25th), a single chiffchaff (25th), 6 goldcrests from 23rd onwards, single spotted flycatchers (probably the same bird) from 24th-26th, single grey wagtail (29th), and single yellow wagtails on two dates. Chough were present in good numbers all month (20+) with a max flock of 37 on 7th. The linnet flock peaked at 50 by 29th, by which time robin numbers were gradually building, just in time to scare off any autumn vagrants that might drop by!
September sightings on Ramsey Island – Greg and Lisa Morgan, Wardens
Highlights were two dotterel on Carn Llundain on 12th, a barn owl on 13th, two red throated divers offshore on 22nd, a hoopoe from 23rd to 25th which was seen feeding with the chough flock on one occasion, a little gull heading north on 25th and two red kites over the island on 27th. Seawatching in the month produced 3 arctic skuas, 2 bonxies, 39 common scoter, 7 “commic” terns, Manx shearwaters at a rate of up to 100/hr on 17th and guillemots in small parties off the north end in rough weather. Fulmars were last recorded offshore on 17th and bad weather grounded a sandwich tern in heather on 19th. Swallow migration began in earnest mid month and peaked at 5,000+ on 30th. Willow warblers were steady all month but no big falls, the maximum being just 7 on 5th. Stonechats moved through and peaked at 24 on 23rd, wheatear were present all month usually in single numbers. Goldcrests and whitethroats trickled through with a grey wagtail on 3rd. The chough flock peaked at 22 at the end of the month, the linnet flock at 50 and the purple sandpiper roost returned by the end of the month with 16 on 29th. Common dolphins were recorded from the island on two dates – 15 to 20 on 5th and 4 on 18th.
October sightings on Ramsey Island – Greg and Lisa Morgan, Wardens
Highlights were the island’s first Dartford warbler on 24th, a yellow browed warbler (7th and 8th), firecrest (7th), black redstarts on 10th, 21st and 22nd, single ring-tail hen harriers on 2nd, 3rd and 25th, with 2 on 21st. Red kite on 6th and 24th, mistle thrush (19th), short eared owl on 26th and 28th and a great northern diver at sea on 30th. Other migrants included blackcap (max 7 on 6th), single brambling (4th), common redstart (6th and 7th), goldcrest (small numbers all month), grey wagtail (2 on 10th), reed bunting (female on 30th), spotted flycatcher (one on 2nd), whinchat (2 on 10th) and the last willow warbler recorded on 12th. Wheatears trickled through most of the month with the last record (to date) on 25th. A Greenland type was logged on 12th. Visible movement of migrants was noticeable as ever in October, the monthly summary being: Chaffinch (131 south), blackbird (max 30 by month end), swallow (3,535 south – last 24th), fieldfare (first 10th. 29 in month in total), goldfinch (90 south), greenfinch (max 14), house martin (75 south), jackdaw (300 west), skylark (183 south), lapwing (11 west and 60 roosting on island by month end), linnet (117 south), meadow pipit (210 south and east), redwing (first on 2nd – 74 in month in total) and siskin (104 east). Chough were present all month with a peak of 23 on 25th. A barn owl was present most of the month, making use of the compost loos at night! The curlew roost reached 30 by the month end, Manx shearwaters were still being heard over the house at night on 31st, and the purple sandpiper winter roost was up to 23 by 24th. The highlight cetacean wise was 4 Rhisso’s dolphins in Ramsey Sound on 10th.
November sightings on Ramsey Island – Greg and Lisa Morgan, Wardens
Highlights were two Whooper swans on 4th (second record for the island), single black redstarts on 2nd and 17th, a ring tail hen harrier from 18th-20th, a juvenile Lapland bunting from 6th-8th, a male house sparrow (rare out here!) on 4th, 3 jack snipe on 6th and single short eared owls on 5th and 7th. A frustratingly fleeting, naked eye view of a bird at dusk over the new pond on 15th was possibly a very late nightjar, or better? Manxies were last heard calling over the house on the night of 3rd, chough numbers peaked at 22 on 4th, then tailed off towards the month end. Roosting lapwing numbers had reached 125 by the month end, with curlew reaching 50. Other waders were 2 dunlin on 21st, and the regular purple sandpiper roost – counted at 16 on 7th. Snipe were present throughout (max 4). Vis mig was still noticeable, with 197 skylark logged going over through the month, plus 27 siskins. Redwing (total 43) and fieldfare (total 15) dropped in but both had dried up by 22nd. A mistle thrush was present on 2nd. Starling movement was noted with 550+ going east on 4th. Single chiffchaffs were recorded on several dates plus the odd blackcap. Peregrine were present thoughout, max 5, as were merlin (usually single females but two males on 26th). Buzzards were resident with up to 3 on the island at once. Fulmars returned to the ledges on 8th, and were regular after 16th. Over 200 black headed gulls fed in the Ramsey Sound tide race through the month, and were joined by kittiwakes on occasions. Other notable records were 17 stonechat on 4th, a water rail on 28th, single woodcock on three dates and 15 linnet on 21st. Reed bunting, usually a scarce autumn record out here, were regular through the month this year, with up to 5 at once on occasions. Greenfinch and goldfinch were present throughout feeding on seed heads (max 20 of each). A new seal pup was born on Porth Lleuog on 21st, with the adult haul out reaching 64 on this beach alone. A local boat operator reported 50 porpoise off the south end of the island on 15th.
December sightings on Ramsey Island – Greg and Lisa Morgan, Wardens
Bird highlights were a short-eared owl at the beginning of the month, and Merlin hunting around the garden late month. Chough were using the island to feed and roost with a maximum of 15 birds recorded at month end. 5 peregrine were present all month, 2 pairs holding territory and a single female in and around the harbour. Waders were present but only in small numbers. Lapwing and Curlew were sporadic with a maximum of 50 each at month end and snipe present around the island ponds. Small numbers of winter thrushes continued to move through with song thrush taking refuge on the island. At sea, feeding flocks of 200 black-headed gulls and 200 kittiwakes were regular in the flood tide, with razorbills and guillemots thrown in for good measure. Fulmars returned to the ledges on 22 December after an absence of 3 weeks and herring gulls were back holding territories from 20th. A seal pup was born on 23rd at Porth Lleuog and although facing the full force of the SW gales is growing fast and looking healthy 10 days on. Adults seals were hauled out at Porth Lleuog and on ‘the Bachelor Pad’ during the month as they move into their winter moult with over 100 animals between the two sites.