Monday, 25 April 2011
Dawn Chorus Isle of May Style
Spring is happening on the island but it takes a little while to tune into it here because we don't have the markers that everyone looks for on the mainland. True we do have a beautiful carpet of celandine's along Holymans road, a few daffodils that are an echo of past lighthouse keepers gardening and the scattered few bushes of elder struggle to put out a few leaves. But there are no bursts of blossoms, no flushing of trees in leaf and no deafening dawn chorus. Instead spring here is measured in a gentle, slow green blush of green across the island and by the birds. Our daily blend of migrant birds changes with the season. The early travellers, wrens, blackbirds, redwings and robins are thinning out. The warblers such as willow warblers, chiffchaffs, whitethroats and blackcaps are appearing more frequently. Now wheatears flicker on the top of the island on their way to the uplands, the earlier males are now making way for the later moving females. The later migrants of flycatchers and if we are lucky bluethroats have yet to appear.
We also take our seasonal clues from the gradually changing behaviour of the seabirds. The puffins have become less visible as one of each pair starts to incubate, guillemots and razorbills take up the uncomfortable, feed-up looking pose of a birds trying to incubate an egg on a sloping ledge, the kittiwakes have suddenly started nest building and the first shags have chicks resulting in food runs from parents.
And the dawn chorus here ? It is a bit different, sometimes a passing willow warbler might rattle off a song in hope and for practice, otherwise it starts will the gulls and continues with the intermittent pipping of oystercatchers and continuous 'muckmuckmuckmuck' of the female eiders. It isn't going to inspire any poets but it is very much of the place.