Friday 5th May 2017

Arriving back in the last week of April should mean that migration is in full-swing and I should be out looking for rare migrants, but not surprisingly, it wasn't quite like that. The limited free time that was available was mostly migrant-free with few birds present on the patch and elsewhere. It wasn't until 30th April that I saw my first Willow Warbler of the year which is almost obscene. There was a few bits and bats seen on the island but nothing rare enough to dash off for.

One thing I spent time doing was testing out my camera, as I didn't think it was quite working properly, especially the focussing which was ridiculously slow and hardly ever seemed to get things exactly sharp. I only knew this from trying out Mike's camera in Corsica and seeing the difference in speed between his newer model and mine. As a birder, one of the main things that you look for in a camera is speed of focus, catching the fast-moving birds for records shots. After testing my camera using the subjects below I made the decision to buy the newer model. I've only had the camera about 5 years but, as with any technology nowadays, cameras have improved a lot in that time, and the newer model of the Lumix has a lot more features than I currently have. So the photos in this post are the final ones with my present camera.

 Wren, Pulias, 24 Apr 17

Wren, Pulias, 24 Apr 17

 Coot, Rue des Bergers, 2 May 17

Coot, Rue des Bergers, 2 May 17

 Coot, Rue des Bergers, 2 May 17

Coot, Rue des Bergers, 2 May 17

 Common Sandpiper, Vale Pond, 1 May 17

Common Sandpiper, Vale Pond, 1 May 17

I did have one good bird in this period. I popped out for lunch to Fort Hommet on 3rd May and as I rounded the corner below the bunker, I flushed an excellent Cuckoo from just in front of me. Not an especially rare species, but I have been watching this stretch of coastline for 15 years or more and this is the first I have ever seen on the headlands - a patch tick. Recently, no doubt because they are getting rarer, I have only recorded Cuckoo a few times - up at Pleinmont and also a single record from the house. I can't remember the last time I heard a singing bird in Guernsey. When we first moved here we definitely used to hear them every now and again.

This bird had the decency to perch up on some twigs for some excellent views (although taking pictures was tricky). What was even more surprising was that I saw it in exactly the same place the next day, eating hairy caterpillars as Cuckoos are wont to do. The island's proper photographers managed to get some superb shots of this bird. You can view pics on the Guernsey Birds website by Dan, Andy and Adrian (here, here and here).

 Cuckoo, Fort Hommet, 3 May 17

Cuckoo, Fort Hommet, 3 May 17

Things started looking a bit brighter on 5th May when the beach at Pulias had 5 White and 3 Yellow Wagtails, 2 Wheatears and 3 Whimbrels all feeding together on the vraic. Hopefully May would have a few top class rarities on offer.

 Cattle Egret, Vale Pond, May 2017

Cattle Egret, Vale Pond, May 2017