Bird Group Meetings held in 2008

20th January

Nine members met at Whale Chine car park on a very gloomy morning. As the weather had been very wet over the previous week the original planned walk was changed. Instead, we walked inland along a footpath from Whale Chine and did a circular walk taking in Windmill Copse on the way back. The Snowdrops were just beginning to flower, as were some Primroses. The farmland near Whale Chine has always been the traditional home for Corn Bunting on the Island but for the last few years they have become a vary rare sight and today was no exception as none were seen. Bird life in general was rather scarce but we did see two Peregrine Falcon, a Kestrel and three Buzzard during the course of the morning. Two small flocks of Starling were spotted, one of about 25 and one of about 50. A Red-legged Partridge was seen, as were several Pheasants. A Yellowhammer was heard and a flock of Goldfinch seen as well as at least 15 Sky Larks. In all 22 species were noted. During the walk through the woods several different fungi were spotted: Coral Spot, Earthball, Yellow Brain Fungus, Jews Ear, Velvet Shank and Candle Snuff.

9th February

Ten members met at the car park by Bembridge Lifeboat Station on a glorious February morning, ideal conditions in which to use the telescope. The tide was coming in so we walked along the beach to Foreland and returned to our cars by an inland route. Purple Sandpipers like to roost at high tide on the structure below the Lifeboat Station after they have been displaced from their preferred feeding area at low tide on Foreland ledges. On the off chance that they were already there, we had a look through the telescope at the beginning of the walk and saw two, at the end of the walk the number had risen to at least nine. We had not progressed very far into the walk when we all looked at two Guillemot
through the telescope and a little later picked up a Razorbill. All birds were sufficiently close in to see the difference in their bills. We had very good views of a male Stonechat, with some of us seeing a female. At least 14 Red Breasted Merganser were seen in the bay at Foreland and in the far distance 20 Curlew were seen roosting in a sandy bay. Although there were quite a few Greenfinches heard and seen during the course of the morning only one lone male Chaffinch was seen singing. We had a variety of Gulls: Great Black Backed, Black-headed, Herring, Common and a Mediterranean. In all 30 species were seen.

30th March

18 members met at Brading Railway Station on a fine, calm, mild morning for a walk along the old railway track towards St Helen’s. It was a good day for birding as there must have been a fall overnight. At the beginning of the walk four House Sparrow were feeding from bird feeders in one of the gardens by the Station. During the course of the morning Chiffchaff were heard and observed singing. Willow Warblers were also heard as well as Blackcap. A male Blackcap obligingly displayed for us as he sang. Three Wheatear were seen on the Marsh as were three Greylag and at least four Cetti’s Warbler were heard. On the sewage beds we saw two Grey Wagtail as well as four Reed Bunting. In all 49 species were recorded.

20th April

14 members attended a meeting at Culver Down kindly led by Jim Cheverton. A good variety of migrants were spotted during the course of the morning with three Sky Lark, a Swallow, two House Martin, at least 12 Meadow Pipit, two Rock Pipit and two Grey Wagtail seen. A lovely male Redstart, a Lesser Whitethroat, Common Whitethroat, Blackcap, and Chiffchaff were also seen. A Fulmar was seen flying as were two Lesser Black-backed Gull, a Great Black Backed Gull and a number of Herring Gull. Two Raven were seen but no Peregrine Falcon. In all 32 species were seen.

27th April

A joint meeting was held with I.W Ornithological Group at St Catherine’s Point beginning at 7am. The forecast had not been promising but the rain held off until just after 9 am enabling us to see some birds on passage. Before we got to our vantage point we saw three Yellow Wagtails, two flying overhead and one with the cattle. It was well worth getting up early as we saw two Common Whitethroat, 23 Linnet, one Common Sandpiper on the rocks below us, two Red-throated Diver, at least 58 Gannet flying east and 31 flying west, three Pomarine Skua, three dark phase Arctic Skua and one pale phase, at least nine Guillemot, a flock of six Whimbrel, five Shag, nine Common Scoter, two Sandwich Tern, one Swallow, at least 21 Herring Gull, at least three Great Black-backed Gull, at least two local Fulmar, two Cormorant, four Goldfinch, one Peregrine Falcon seen standing on Gore Cliff and one male Kestrel. Our thanks to IWOG and in particular to Dave Hunnybun and Graham Sparshot.

10th May

15 people met on a muggy, cloudy but pleasant morning for a walk on West High Down led by Caroline Dudley. Having missed out on Dartford Warblers for the last two years we were hoping to see one this time. We met Derek Hayle at the favoured Dartford Warbler spot by the extensive area of Gorse and he told us that he had seen some earlier. We waited and watched and eventually our patience was rewarded with good sightings of two. One favoured a particular tree and we were able to use the telescope. Another two species that can often be seen along this stretch of coast are Raven and Peregrine Falcon. Two Raven were seen soon after we started walking along the fence by the cliff edge but the Peregrine we had to wait for until we were on our return journey. Two Guillemot were picked out sitting on the sea and could be seen through the telescope. This is also a good place for fly passes of Gulls near the cliff edge and we saw Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Black-headed Gull and Fulmar. In all 34 species were seen during the course of the morning.

Jackie Hart

6th June

Five members met Tricia Merrifield at her home at Hillis Corner on a perfect June evening for a walk in Parkhurst Forest. A slight breeze in the early evening had faded to still conditions. At our first potential Nightjar site we drew a blank, similarly at our second. However, whilst waiting there two churring birds started up to the west and we followed the sounds past two young Long-eared Owls and were rewarded with a close view of one Nightjar flying directly overhead as well as hearing at close hand the ‘Krruit’ call. Two toads also presented themselves to us. The meeting ended at 11.30 pm. We probably heard three separated churring males.

David Biggs

19th July

Nine members met at Fort Victoria Country Park on a pleasant but blustery morning. We began with a sea watch and throughout the 35 minutes there was a passage of Sandwich and Common Tern flying east to west. We also saw many Gannet flying west; at least 35, some very near and we had great opportunities to see this beautiful bird close up. Immatures were well represented. Later the Gannet were noted flying east. We also saw Great Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull and Black-headed Gull. On the sea close to us we had a good view of Guillemot, one seemed to remain all morning near the derelict pier, as we saw one there on our return from the walk at mid-day. We then walked up through the wood past Fort Warden and back along the fields. We did manage to see a few Swallow, 6, House Martin, 3, and Swift, 16, and an immature Stonechat in the usual place.

28 species were seen or heard during the course of the morning.

17th August

Ten members braved the pot-holed track to meet at the far car park on Luccombe Down on a pleasant morning. Unfortunately, we had not had much of a fall of birds over night and only 22 species were seen during the course of the morning. A few Swallows and Sand Martins were seen but no House Martins – not many of the latter have been in evidence during the summer months. Four Swift were also noted. We were delighted to see three Dartford Warbler and a Raven was first heard and later seen. A Peregrine was seen near the radar station, three Kestrel hung in the air, three Buzzard used the thermals and a Wheatear remained on a fence post for some time for us to admire it. A Grey Heron flew over and was later seen flying toward the cliff at Luccombe.

7th September

David Biggs reported. Ten members met at the National Trust car park at Mottistone on a perfect autumn morning to walk up to Mottistone Common, through the grounds of Brook Hill House then back over Pay Down. Thence down to the Longstone and further down to the starting place. 33 species were definitely identified with a possible Hobby. Included in the number were 3 species of raptor – one each of Common Buzzard, Kestrel and Peregrine, two species of Woodpecker – three Green Woodpecker and one Great Spotted Woodpecker. There were five Sand Martin and abundant numbers of House Martin and Swallow. It was nice to see seven Mistle Thrush and in the warbler category – one Blackcap, one Garden Warbler, one Common Whitethroat, and three Chiffchaff.

12th October

In surprisingly bright and sunny conditions, considering that much of the rest of the Island was shrouded in fog, six members met at the Chalkpit car park at West High Down, for a leisurely walk up to the bushes, around the Beacon fence line and then down to the lower slope of the down opposite Warren Farm. Much of the time was spent watching seven obliging Stonechats and two Dartford Warblers in the gorse. Moving overhead were five Swallows, five House Martins, four Skylarks, five Pied Wagtails and four Siskins. In total, 14 Chiffchaffs were seen and/or heard and eight Jays, including a group of seven. There had been a recent influx of the latter species from the Continent. Also of note were a charm of 16 Goldfinches and two Ravens on the ground near Tennyson’s Monument. In all, 26 species were seen.

9th November

A total of 19 people set off from the River Road car park at Yarmouth on a walk that had been advertised to the general public in the Winter Walks leaflet produced by the Isle of Wight Council. This was the first walk advertised in this way by the Society for several years. The attendance by non-Society members was good and several people expressed an interest in joining the Society during the walk and were given membership forms. Everyone was glad to get out after a few days of very wet weather, although it was still very windy. The tide was initially high so we went directly to the old railway track to see what was on the station ponds and Rofford Marsh, where the water levels were high after being very low for most of the autumn. Most notable were the resident Mute Swan pair with this year’s three large young, five Shoveler, four Snipe that flew up from Rofford Marsh and good numbers of feeding Wigeon and Teal. We then walked back up the railway line to Mill Copse Scrape from where we could see two Grey Herons hunched down in the reedbed on the opposite side of the river, one Little Egret, two Oystercatchers and two Grey Plovers. On the way back to the car park, the tide had dropped exposing some fresh mud for a feeding Turnstone, which was much enjoyed by all. A total of 36 species was seen.

22nd November

Sixteen members met at Ryde Canoe Lake at high tide on a very cold morning for a walk along Ryde Sands and through Appley Park. The Sanderlings were feeding just above the tide on the beach opposite the lake and 105 were counted along with 19 Ringed Plovers and four Dunlins. On the Canoe Lake were 57 Mute Swans, 13 Canada Geese and many Mallards. The tide quickly receded and farther east along the beach we saw two adult Mediterranean Gulls and three Common Gulls, four Oystercatchers, 91 Brent Geese and a Little Egret. A single Great Crested Grebe and a few Cormorants were on the sea. We then headed inland to Appley Park, which was more sheltered out of the wind. Here we saw Great Spotted and Green Woodpeckers, a single Redwing, Mistle Thrush, several Goldcrests and Long-tailed Tits, and many Woodpigeons in the treetops, including young birds without white neck collars. Thirty species were seen in total.

14th December

Seaview – The morning began with fog but by the time nine members started the walk the fog had cleared. As usual we started with a sea watch along the Duver. Fortunately the sea was calm. We had good views of Mediterranean Gull, Red Breasted Merganser, Great Crested Grebe. Two of us saw two duck fly east, low and very near to us and identified them as two female Smew. We visited the Hersey Reserve next where we saw Little Grebe, Wigeon, Teal, Mallard, Coot, Moorhen, a very snooty Cormorant, 4 Lapwing, 32 Oystercatcher, 3 female and 2 male Tufted Duck, a Buzzard and a Fox. We continued walking along the sea front and met up with a group of IWOG who pointed out 7 Great Northern Diver swimming in the distance, but we had good views through the telescope. We then walked inland past the now closed Wishing Well where we saw the free flying Barnacle Geese – 172 in number, with a Snow Goose and a Blue phased Snow Goose as well. In the woodland we had Redwing, Mistle Thrush, Goldcrest, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Green Woodpecker, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Long Tailed Tit and Chaffinch. During the morning we saw 45 species in total.

Jackie Hart & Caroline Dudley