The wind did die off on the 23rd but the long spells of light rain (including pretty much all afternoon!) spoiled the effect slightly; a two hour seawatch from first light when the weather was at its best for the day produced 2 Manx Shearwaters, 5 Arctic Skuas, 10 Bonxies, 615 Fulmars including a smart dark Blue Fulmar, 330 Kittiwakes and a Long-tailed Duck.
There were other birds to see in the wet conditions with the highlights being a juvenile Iceland Gull on Trolla and some notable Corvid passage with the first Jackdaw of the year along with 21 Carrion Crows while the count of 14 Hooded Crows probably included some migrants. Other little bits of note comprised the drake Garganey, 4 Whimbrel, a Swallow, a steadily increasing 53 Wheatears and 10 Redwings.
Iceland Gull, photo Simon Davies
Any vague thoughts of spring were swiftly banished the following morning with a freezing cold northerly wind bringing with it long periods of heavy snow forcing most folks to abandon their census routes until the afternoon which, in fairness was very pleasant with plenty of sunshine; the Black-throated Diver reappeared in Nouster with 5 Great-northern Divers while there was some wader passage noted including a smart flock of 39 stunning summer plumaged Black-tailed Godwits along with a Grey Plover, 516 Golden Plover, 83 Sanderling, 142 Redshank and 299 Turnstone across the island.
An increased 59 Wheatears and 495 Meadow Pipits also showed that some birds were making it through despite the wintery conditions, while other landbirds included 6 Snow Buntings, 2 Lapland Buntings, a Chiffchaff, 9 Redwings and 3 Woodpigeons. Single Merlin and Sparrowhawk dashed around while the 2 Whooper Swans and 24 Pink-footed Geese with 472 Greylags were counted; meanwhile the 6 Sandwich Terns half-heartedly carried fish around and displayed.
Black-throated Diver, photo Simon Davies
The first Lapwing chicks were noted, hence much aggression! photo Simon Davies
While the Eider boys just fought amongst themselves, photo Simon Davies