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SPRING BIRDS SLOW TO ARRIVE 

The last weeks of winter were comparatively quiet with no cold weather movements from the mainland. The returning Lesser Black-backed Gulls brought with them a couple of Yellow-legged Gulls from the Mediterranean in late February.

The long staying birds seem to be mostly on Tresco. The Greenland White-fronted Goose was noted most days alongside the Great Pool. The American Pied-billed Grebe was often rather exclusive but did visit the pool at Porth Hellick, St. Maryís on 17th-20th March. Also visiting St Maryís was the Green-winged Teal. Both of these would go missing for days at a time. The Buzzard was still on Tresco by late March with the Hen Harrier visiting St. Martinís and Tresco on occasion. The Wilsonís Snipe was last seen on Lower Moors on 6th March. This bird was still attracting visitors from the mainland until the end of it stay. Both Long-eared and Short-eared Owls have been seen occasionally. One of the latter was found along Porth Loo lane in early March having damaged its wing, possibly hitting a wire.

Calm days meant it was much easier to find the Great Northern Divers that were wintering here. At least twelve were noted in late February with up to eight still around in late March. Two Black-throated Divers were seen from St. Maryís in early March. A female Eider has been noted from Tresco, off the south end of Pentle Bay. More unusually are the records of Grebes on the sea. One Slavonian was noted from St. Maryís on 7th with two on 17th and one being in the Eastern Isles on 20th. The latter was accompanied by a Black-necked Grebe. During rougher weather large numbers of Kittiwakes were feeding between the islands.

Apart from a scattering of Linnets there was no visible migration until 9th March when large numbers of Pied Wagtails and Meadow Pipits arrived many staying a few days. With these a few more Black Redstart appeared. The first Swallow of the year was over Lower Moors that day followed by the first Wheatear on 11th and the first Sand Martin on 13th. As more Linnets and Chaffinch reached the islands a Reed Bunting and a Brambling were found on Tresco on 13th. Another Brambling was found at Carn Friars on 16th, whilst looking for the latter a male Rustic Bunting was found in the same finch flock at Carn Friars. This rare eastern bird has occasionally reached Scilly during October but has never before been seen during the Spring. More migrants reached Scilly on 21st including the first Sandwich Tern of the year. The same day saw the islands second record of American Herring Gull, feeding along the Garrison shore, and later that morning a Yellow legged Gull off the back of the quay on St. Maryís.

So Spring is slowly underway. All we need now is some light southerly winds to bring us a few more migrants and our summer visitors.

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