I am on the island. A rough, wet and cold trip out with a boat full of bedding, food and equipment but with the help of the ever excellent Colin at the helm of the RIB Osprey plus Mark, Carrie and Adam with the unloading it is good to be back on.
It is not as if there hasn’t been a presence on the island for much of the winter, we have had a variety of contractors on the island plus some researchers but being back marks the beginning of our island season .
It is an early start, and the snow flurries don’t help with the misapprehension that it is still winter. The birds are not really geared up either with a handful of kittiwakes mooching around offshore, very few shags lingering and a few guillemots on the cliffs in the morning but apart from the fulmers and the herring gulls no-one else is showing much interest in breeding.
Of even more concern is that we are finding dead puffins. These are part of this east coast wide wreck but it will be a few days before we get a better idea of the scale of the wreck and how many are dying around the island. These cold east winds are not helping the seabirds but they are blowing in some interesting migrants. Yesterday Mark found woodcock, thrushes, a flock of lapwing, a short-eared owl, a group of skylarks and of most interest a stonechat and best of all a woodlark. Both were still here today and I got a buzz out of seeing them. .Stonechats live on the mainland coast within sight of the island but rarely make it across the water, woodlarks are even more infrequent with only about 20 records for the island previously. This is one is the earliest island record. Tomorrow is unpackign and clearing the island ready for the first visitors.