Sunday 31st March 2019

The last couple of days of February were ridiculously warm with sunny skies and a southerly breeze emanating from North Africa. This really pushed the migrants forward and I saw my earliest ever Wheatear on the rocks at Pulias on 1st March (found by someone else though). My usual estimation for first Wheatear is the twelfth so this is a real early one even taking into account new phenology due to climate change.

Wheatear - Pulias, 1 Mar 19

Wheatear - Pulias, 1 Mar 19

Wren - Pulias, 1 Mar 19

Wren - Pulias, 1 Mar 19

The weather did get rather cooler again so the rest of the migrant birds didn’t really follow closer behind. Probably the best bird I found during the month was another Red-necked Grebe off Rousse on 8th March. There was a chance that it was the same bird I saw round there around Christmastime, but I’d have thought it was more likely to be a bird moving north. It wasn’t very close but it seemed to be quite close to breeding plumage with a white cheek, dark neck and blackish cap.

The seaweed at Pulias was attracting plenty of Rock Pipits and one bird in particular was in advanced moult and was clearly a Scandinavian Rock Pipit with its peachy underparts, blue-grey head and white supercilium. There were about ten others there and I suspected that most were also Scandie Rocks as they were edging towards a similar plumage. This was also suggested because, with about a week to go in March, these all suddenly upped and left, leaving just two or three, dull local birds. This sudden disappearance indicating that they were off to their breeding grounds, probably somewhere in Viking country.

Scandinavian Rock Pipit - Pulias, 11 Mar 19

Scandinavian Rock Pipit - Pulias, 11 Mar 19

Mid-month things were still very miserable weather-wise and not conducive for summer birds. Early in the morning before work on 12th March, I stopped briefly to scan the bay at Vazon/Fort Hommet when a falcon flew low over the car from the direction of the headland. It looked pretty neat and compact and I thought it was a Merlin, which it proved to be when it dumped down on the grass in front of me. It seemed to be a pretty tired migrant, perhaps battling its way against the wind, over the sea. It only stayed for a short while before moving further SW - I’ve not seen many perched Merlins recently over here.

Merlin - Fort Hommet/Vazon, 12 Mar 19

Merlin - Fort Hommet/Vazon, 12 Mar 19

Stock Dove - Fort Hommet/Vazon, 18 Mar 19

Stock Dove - Fort Hommet/Vazon, 18 Mar 19

By the 21st, things were starting to move with the odd Chiffchaff noted on the headland and a Firecrest at the Guet which I hadn’t seen all winter. After work on the 22nd I thought it would be rude not to pop down to the hide at Rue des Bergers where four Garganeys had appeared. By the time I got there three had flown off but a single drake was still swimming around right in front of the hide giving excellent views.

Garganey - Rue des Bergers, 22 Mar 19

Garganey - Rue des Bergers, 22 Mar 19

Garganey - Rue des Bergers, 22 Mar 19

Garganey - Rue des Bergers, 22 Mar 19

My first Sand Martins skipped over Fort Hommet headland on the 26th and a Great Crested Grebe was a new arrival off Pulias on the same day. A quick weekend pop-out to Pulias on 30th brought more Sand Martins but more surprisingly a single female-type Siskin which flew over the car parks towards the sea, before changing its mind and heading east up the coast. Think that is my first spring record for the patch. On the final evening of the month we had a meal out at the Deerhound and saw a Firecrest singing vociferously from the bushes in the car park.

I have been continuing to search for other wildlife before bird migration gets into full swing and have been adding many new lichens to the list. The one below, Phaeographis dendritica, found on a tree trunk by the Reservoir is officially species number 2700.

Phaeographis dendritica - Reservoir, Mar 19

Phaeographis dendritica - Reservoir, Mar 19

Ontholestes murinus - garden, 23 Mar 19 - a superb rove beetle which was new to me crawling up the garden wall

Ontholestes murinus - garden, 23 Mar 19 - a superb rove beetle which was new to me crawling up the garden wall

Andrena bicolor - Reservoir, 2 Mar 19 - male sneaking up behind a female - there was an active colony of these mining bees by the path-side

Andrena bicolor - Reservoir, 2 Mar 19 - male sneaking up behind a female - there was an active colony of these mining bees by the path-side

Andrena sp, - Reservoir, 2 Mar 19 - this was amongst the colony mentioned above but not sure if it is bicolor as it seems to have a orange-haired face and may be a different species

Andrena sp, - Reservoir, 2 Mar 19 - this was amongst the colony mentioned above but not sure if it is bicolor as it seems to have a orange-haired face and may be a different species

Rhomboid Leatherbug - Albecq/Hommet, 28 Mar 19

Rhomboid Leatherbug - Albecq/Hommet, 28 Mar 19

Sand Crocus - Albecq/Hommet, 28 Mar 19 - out in their thousands in the short turf

Sand Crocus - Albecq/Hommet, 28 Mar 19 - out in their thousands in the short turf

Early spring flowers - (clockwise from top left) Bulbous Buttercup, Dandelion, Bermuda Buttercup, Lesser Celandine

Early spring flowers - (clockwise from top left) Bulbous Buttercup, Dandelion, Bermuda Buttercup, Lesser Celandine

Zebra Spider - Pulias, 19 Mar 19

Zebra Spider - Pulias, 19 Mar 19

Thursday 28th February 2019

A sleepy first two months of the year with few birds to get excited about. The lack of cold snaps or crazy storms meant a quiet few weeks. It appears that at least one or two Buzzards have been roosting in the patch of tall trees a few gardens north of us and we have been seeing them daily from our front window. I don’t know whether it is a regular thing in the UK but we certainly have got suburban buzzards here. They are regularly seen flying low through the local gardens and resting in the larger trees. This bird below perched on a post at head height just across the road and the pic was taken from our lounge window.

Buzzard - Baubigny, 3 Jan 19

Buzzard - Baubigny, 3 Jan 19

The weather through most of January was a bit grotty so I had few trips out. The wintering Black Redstart was seen a few times on the beach at Pulias. One of the brighter days saw a lunch hour at Rue des Bergers where a Jack Snipe was still present.

Black Redstart - Pulias, 6 Jan 19

Black Redstart - Pulias, 6 Jan 19

Wigeon - Rue des Bergers, 10 Jan 19

Wigeon - Rue des Bergers, 10 Jan 19

The main bit of excitement was the return of the mighty Royal Tern on the island on 16th Jan - I thought that it had long gone and we’d seen the last of it. However, it took me a couple of days to catch up with it, finally going to see it when it turned up fishing in Belle Greve Bay in the evening of the 19th. Although it didn’t come very close it was great to see this magnificent beast again, making it now three years in a row.

Royal Tern - Belle Greve Bay, 19 Jan 19

Royal Tern - Belle Greve Bay, 19 Jan 19

I can’t remember the last time Anais woke me up in the middle of the night but she got up at 4 am on 21st January and I followed her downstairs. This was additionally very strange because this was the night of the lunar eclipse, something I had considered getting up for anyway but rejected as I was too damn tired. I was pleased in the end as the clouds were very scant, which meant I could take a few photos of the event, and I think I got some decent ones despite just doing it hand held.

Lunar eclipse - 21 Jan 19

Lunar eclipse - 21 Jan 19

Lunar eclipse - 21 Jan 19

Lunar eclipse - 21 Jan 19

February was even quieter than January, the only record I inputted into the database at all was the wintering Spoonbill asleep behind the Claire Mare on 19th. Finally the grotty weather broke and the final week of the month was beautiful, with southerly winds bringing early House Martin and Wheatear to the island. Anais and I enjoyed a great afternoon running around Petit Bot beach watching the Fulmars chasing each other to and fro around the colony there.

Petit Bot - 21 Feb 19

Petit Bot - 21 Feb 19

Fulmar - Petit Bot, 21 Feb 19

Fulmar - Petit Bot, 21 Feb 19

Fulmar - Petit Bot, 21 Feb 19

Fulmar - Petit Bot, 21 Feb 19

Frolicking dogs at Petit Bot

Frolicking dogs at Petit Bot

With reduced time out birding I worked through a few specimens finding a few new beetles for the list. I also spent a couple of hours round Vale Churchyard photographing lichens. Although identifying lichens is initially rather intimidating, armed with a list of species recorded locally, it is quite possible to make identifications of many species from photos. Some indistinct types you just have to write off and there’s others you need to take chemicals round with you to make sure by spot-testing - I think my field bag is full enough! But I’ve now identified over 40 species locally. I’m bound to have made a couple of mistakes but I’m getting to recognise something unfamiliar when I see it.

Rhizocarpon richardii - Vale Churchyard, 20 Feb 19

Rhizocarpon richardii - Vale Churchyard, 20 Feb 19

Diplotomma alboatrum (plus others) - Vale Churchyard, 20 Feb 19

Diplotomma alboatrum (plus others) - Vale Churchyard, 20 Feb 19

Melanelixia fuliginosa - Vale Churchyard, 20 Feb 19

Melanelixia fuliginosa - Vale Churchyard, 20 Feb 19

Belonia nidarosiensis - Vale Churchyard, 20 Feb 19

Belonia nidarosiensis - Vale Churchyard, 20 Feb 19

probably Bankesia conspurcatella - Baubigny, 20 Feb 19 - note what appears to be a tiny coleophora case stuck to the larger case - meta!

probably Bankesia conspurcatella - Baubigny, 20 Feb 19 - note what appears to be a tiny coleophora case stuck to the larger case - meta!