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CJW's Local Patch

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Old Saturday 27th September 2003, 12:46   #1
CJW
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CJW's Local Patch

I must admit at the outset that it’s not a Local Patch in the strictest sense of the word, more a series of ‘good looking’ habitats that I cover every Saturday morning.
Here’s this morning’s session:
Port Mooar (pronounced ‘more’) SC488908
A small bay with rocky pools and exposed patches of sand. Just inland is a small wooded and scrubby ‘valley’, very reminiscent of a miniature Cornish valley.
I arrived here this morning just as the sun was starting to peep over the Cumbrian hills on the horizon. There was fairly strong easterly breeze blowing and after last night’s heavy downpours it had great potential for an arrival of migrants.
The very first bird I heard as I got out of the car was a Greenshank calling from the rocky pools on the shore and I quickly located it as it flew across the bay. There was actually very little on the shoreline apart from the usual Redshank and Oystercatchers, but on the pebble bank just before the beach there were several Rock Pipits, Meadow Pipits and Pied Wagtails. A Grey Wagtail was also seen as it stood on the rocks in the middle of the stream the crosses the beach and a Stonechat was on top of the bushes at the side of the car park. Walking inland to the small valley I immediately picked up on Robin song – the bushes were alive them. “This has potential”, I though to myself and proceeded to find shelter from the wind so I could scan the rest of the cover in comfort. There were many Goldcrests calling amongst them were several Chiffchaffs and a male Blackcap.
Just then two Choughs flew overhead calling closely followed by a circling female Sparrowhawk.
I suppose, like many ‘patch workers’, we all have a favourite area on our rounds. Mine is a single hawthorn bush which is heavily overgrown with brambles and Honeysuckle. It’s strange phenomenon, but any bird in this valley will sooner or later pay a visit to this bush. This morning it held a good variety of species – Song Thrush, Blackbird, more Chiffchaffs, a Whitethroat, several Greenfinch and Goldfinch and one of my particular favourites, a small party of Long-tailed Tits, along with Blue Great and Coal Tits. I watched the area for a while but nothing else of note caught my attention so I decided to move on to the next stop on my route.
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Old Saturday 27th September 2003, 12:48   #2
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Maughold Churchyard (pronounced ‘mackled’) SC485916

An old cemetery surrounded on three sides by open grazing land and on the western edge by a large mature garden.
Getting out of the car I was immediately struck by how many Meadow Pipits were in the area along with several dozen Pied Wagtails there must have been a couple of hundred of them. Following the circular path round the edge of the cemetery, the usual gang of House Sparrows were chatting away and a young Wheatear was perched on the only gravestone that didn’t hold a Meadow Pipit. Again there were a lot of Robins but there was nothing else of note that I could locate as the bushes of the garden were getting battered by the annoying wind. So on to the next stop.
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Old Saturday 27th September 2003, 12:49   #3
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Gob-ny-Rona, Port Lewaigue (pronounced ‘laig’). SC471932

A small promontory on the southern edge of Ramsey Bay, it has many bushes and brambles with a few scattered willows.
Again the first birds I heard were Robins and a small party of Goldfinch were feeding noisily in the rough ground beside the car park.
There were several Goldcrest calling from a nearby willow and on investigation I also found 2 Blackcap and about half a dozen Chiffchaff. Then I got abrief glimpse of large grey warbler as it dived into dense cover. I waited for what seemed like an age (but, in reality, was only about 2 minutes) for the bird to show itself. Eventually it popped out onto a bramble branch and started to devour the blackberries – a Garden Warbler, a local rarity.
It now started to pour down with rain so I took shelter overlooking a small hollow which in the past has held Wryneck and Redstart. Again, there were Robins everywhere and a couple more Blackcap but after 10 minutes I didn’t get on to anything of particular and, as I was getting very wet, headed back to the car to scan the bay in relative comfort.
There were several Redshank and Oystercatchers on the beach and a lone Heron, looking very bedraggled, on the rocks. Unfortunately a dog-walker managed to spoil any hope I had of sitting out the rain so I moved on to the next stop.
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Old Saturday 27th September 2003, 12:51   #4
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Ramsey Promenade and the Grand Island Hotel SC450961

The tide was still quite well out and the rain still pouring heavily so I stayed in the car to scan the area (lazy, I know). There was a party of Starlings, about 60 strong, feeding on the tide wrack and amongst them were Rock pipits, Meadow Pipits and Pied Wagtails with a group of Turnstone and Ringed Plover - but no sign yet of the traditional over-wintering Black Redstart.
Up at the sewerage out-flow there were a few Black-headed Gulls and Shags but there was nothing else on the sea here - a favoured area for the wintering flock of Goldeneye.
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Old Saturday 27th September 2003, 12:52   #5
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Glascoe Dubh SC447988

A small pond which attracts a variety of wildfowl and ‘plastics’.

Just a few Mallard and Teal on the pool, but a ringtail Hen Harrier put in a brief fly-by.
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Old Saturday 27th September 2003, 12:53   #6
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The Phurt NX467027
An area of coastal scrub, disused farm buildings and gardens

Offshore the last few remaining Gannets were involved in something of a feeding frenzy, with a few Curlew, Redshank and Oystercatchers on the beach. In the bushes I managed to locate 2 Sedge Warblers (quite late for the island), several Stonechat and a female Reed Bunting set the pulse racing for a short time (last week I had briefly seen a bunting here that looked very like an Ortolan).
There were still one or two House Martins around the small colony and Swallows were ‘streaming through’ overhead – they got very agitated by the presence of a hunting female Peregrine which blasted down the shore.
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Old Saturday 27th September 2003, 12:54   #7
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Point of Ayre NX467051

Low heather and gorse with a pebble beach and a working lighthouse with walled garden. There is also a large refuse tip.

Round the coastal side of the tip there were hundreds of gulls washing themselves in the surf and despite my best efforts I couldn’t see anything out of the ordinary – just Herring, Lesser and Greater Black-backs, Common and Black-headed gulls. On the fence bordering the tip I counted 38 Raven, 4 Hooded Crows and 2 Magpie.
There were several small parties of Meadow Pipits and Skylarks flying overhead and my second Wheatear of the day gave tantalising views amongst the gorse.
Up by the main lighthouse (there’s a smaller, disused one that we use when sea watching) there were more Meadow Pipits and Pied Wagtails and 7 more Wheatear running around.
Offshore the usual flotillas of Shags, Cormorants, Razorbills, Guillemots were present with the odd Black Guillemot amongst them.
2 Red-throated Divers flew past in the distance and a dozen or so more Gannets, 30 Kittiwakes and 4 Sandwich Terns were feeding offshore. A school of 10+ Harbour Porpoise moved through also.

All in all a fairy typical morning, but slightly disappointing for migrants.
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Old Saturday 27th September 2003, 12:55   #8
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Migod what a beautiful area, CJ! How are rates at the Grand Island?
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Old Saturday 27th September 2003, 13:02   #9
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Bleeding extortionate!
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Old Saturday 27th September 2003, 13:43   #10
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Very enjoyable read and lovely photographs.
It's many years since I visited the Island and it brought back pleasant memories.
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Old Saturday 27th September 2003, 13:45   #11
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Blimey, it was raining up there today..
Wierd that, Ive got sunburn from down south this morning! :)
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Old Saturday 27th September 2003, 14:23   #12
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That's not all you've got is it Pete! Excellent find, bloody well done mate.
For those of you who don't know, Pete found a juvenile Rose-coloured Starling on his local patch this morning. See his photos on:
www.iombirding.co.uk
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Old Saturday 27th September 2003, 14:31   #13
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Excellent read Chris, and a good way of putting it across as several different posts. I'll have to think of something similar - I'm sure I can match your photos with some of mine from St. Helens.

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Old Saturday 27th September 2003, 14:34   #14
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Not so many lighhouses and beaches there though, mate
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Old Saturday 27th September 2003, 14:58   #15
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Hi all,
Chris : nice photos,don't remember much about IOM(was there once,when I was SIX!)
Pete:great pic of the RC Starling,nice find!
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Old Saturday 27th September 2003, 15:32   #16
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Excellent descriptive piece & nice pic's.

Is there still a large winter Harrier roost on the island?

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Old Saturday 27th September 2003, 16:04   #17
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Ta Harry.
Stevie yep the Island has still got the largest winter roost of Hen Harriers in Europe.
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Old Saturday 27th September 2003, 19:23   #18
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Hi CJW,

Enjoyed the write up very much. It's great when photos illustrate a patch - you can almost imagine you're there! What a lovely place to live and bird!

Hi Pete,

Well done with the starling. Was it easy to spot? Doesn't look it...

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Old Saturday 27th September 2003, 23:25   #19
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Hi Chris,
"Maughold Churchyard" is that the one with loads of Celtic carved stones near the entrance and the Monk/Hermit holes amongst the graves?
Great images brings back many memories, thank you.
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Old Saturday 27th September 2003, 23:45   #20
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Yep, that's the kiddie Dave!
A beautiful spot, just below Maughold Head where there's a decent-sized seabird colony with Chough and Peregrine to boot.
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Old Sunday 28th September 2003, 08:06   #21
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CJW, A great tour of your patch. When I see another patch description I think 'ooh, I'd like to go birding there'. Hope you find the 'Ortolan' before October is out.
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Old Sunday 28th September 2003, 11:07   #22
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Yes CJW, fine stuff there.

Look like some good places to set up with the scope & foldaway chair for a few hours

2 Questions - What sort of distance does that cover ? and what are 'plastics' ?
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Old Sunday 28th September 2003, 11:24   #23
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A definite 5 star account of your local patch, CJW. I'm afraid I've not visited the IOM since I was about 5!
Really nice to see the pix too.
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Old Sunday 28th September 2003, 11:24   #24
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Great Stuff, CJ... thanks for giving us all an insight into your birding area. It looks superb... plenty of variety.

Pete... congrats from me also on the RCS!

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Old Sunday 28th September 2003, 12:51   #25
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Quote:
Originally posted by Carlos GY
Yes CJW, fine stuff there.

Look like some good places to set up with the scope & foldaway chair for a few hours

2 Questions - What sort of distance does that cover ? and what are 'plastics' ?
Thanks all, glad you like the look of the place, perhaps you could all save up and have a BF Weekend over here sometime.
Me and Pete have done the same circuit this morning for very little reward - unless you count the returning flock of 16 Pinkfeet. Oh, and 2 Kingfishers together (they don't breed here and are rare visitors with only 1 or 2 a year) - I've attached one of Pete's record shots taken half an hour ago! Hope you don't mind, Pete.

Carlos, to answer your questions:
1) As the crow flies from the Port Mooar to Point of Ayre is about 9 miles.
2) Plastics is a general term used to encompass all farmyard/hybrid ducks.
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