Tuesday, 4 September 2012
Rare here, common elsewhere
It has been blowing a bit of a hoolie today, right from first thing this morning. No boats at all and no visitors, at least no human ones but it was the perfect morning to take my coffee out on to the sheltered side of PK and watch bird visitors. There above me coastal migration was happening right from the start of the day. This is when our breeding birds start to head south and head down the coast to do it. The Isle of May is a useful stepping stone as they cross the Firth of Forth and most don't land here and today they just took what shelter they could from the island before heading off towards St Abbs head and the next bit of cover. These were meadow pipits and hirundines mainly, that is swallows, house martins and sand martins. It is tremendously;y exciting to see these birds purposefully slip between gusts as they head south usually in small groups, sometimes as singles and once a group of about 30 house martins together. By 9 o clock the rush has dwindled to a trickle until the next morning.
Following these birds are ones that eat them. The birds of prey numbers have suddenly gone up in the last few days with peregrine, merlin and kestrel all seen. Today on the island we had 2 sparrowhawks and a buzzard. Buzzards aren't regularly seen on the island, according to the records there have been only about 40 records since the bird observatory opened nearly 80 years ago. This is surprising since you wouldn't have to go far on the mainland to see one but the stretch of water is obviously quite a barrier.
A common buzzard being given a hard time by the local island gulls.
We have had a couple of others birds in the past week that are also rare on the island but relatively common elsewhere. The juvenile greater spotted woodpecker was the first one seen for 11 years. The day after, a flock of 25 tree sparrows turned up, the highest count since 1973 and these are not seen every year on the island. What would really get the heart racing would be a blue tit, only sighted 8 times on the island or even a great tit only recorded 7 times before. It is fascinating how different birds are programme to disperse and travel different amounts and at different times of the year.