March 2009

March 2009

The first sign of returning spring birds were the flocks of Skylarks and Meadow Pipits in the fields on the 5th. Up until this time they were very occasionally seen as lone individuals. A week later and there was a lot of local movement, as Greylag Geese could be seen flying around the farm and Curlews and Common Gulls started to be seen inland exploring breeding habitats as opposed to their usual winter haunt at Calgary beach, whilst some of the Meadow Pipits and Skylarks were singing and Pied Wagtails were back around Treshnish House.
The first summer migrant to return to Treshnish is the Wheatear, which usually appears first at the prime sites between Haunn and Crackaig. This year the first were seen on the 18th a week earlier than the previous earliest record in 2007.
On the 19th the first Lesser Celandine of the year were seen flowering at Duill cottage.
On the 20th a Lapwing was heard near Treshnish cottages. We hear the odd Lapwing throughout the early summer and are hoping that one year they will breed on Treshnish farm as a couple of pairs breed on the neighbouring farm at Ensay.
By the 21st some Wheatears had spread up to around Haunn cottages and on the same day a Reed Bunting was seen just a few feet from the front door of Treshnish House, again a week earlier than the previous earliest record. Reed Buntings leave Treshnish for the winter and looking at previous first records; in 2006 the first was at Toechtamhor cottage on 30 March, in 2007 the first was a pair between Treshnish & Haunn cottages on 2 April with another pair at Treshnish Old Schoolhouse on 4 April and in 2008 the first was in low-lying area below Haunn cottages on 30 March. Another surprise on the 21st were at least 2 Greenfinches in Treshnish House garden, which Carolyne had also seen a couple of days earlier. One might not think this note-worthy but the strange thing is that Greenfinch was virtually absent in 2008 whereas they had been regular in 2006 and 2007 at least in late summer when the rose hips were ripe, so it will be interesting to see what happens this year.
On the 25th 2 more Wheatears were along the coastal road towards Calgary and after this date were seen elsewhere in suitable habitat. Also on 25th the first Gannet of the year was in Calgary Bay (two weeks after last year but probably due to lack of sea-watching). Gannet is not a true migrants but I have not yet seen any yet in the winter months. 2 Wood Pigeons were also seen flying from Treshnish wood.
On 26th a Peregrine Falcon was seen over Tobermory harbour.
On the 29th there was a Golden Eagle on Cruachan Treshnish
On the 30th Barren Strawberry was flowering near Ensay Burn and there was a Lapwing flying inland over Treshnish wood.
On the 31st 2 Sand Martins were hunting over the Ensay Burn/Treshnish wood area. These were the first of the year and 18 days before last year although a few days before some were seen at Calgary Bay and reported on the Mull Birds website. These were possibly all the same birds from the breeding colony there. On the same day a Drinker moth caterpillar and flowering Wood-sorrel (-10) were seen along south shore of Calgary Bay.
Moth trapping on the 31st was very poor with only two species caught and a third attracted to a window light. A moth-trapper on the east of the island was catching 10-12 species a night in the same period.

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