April brought some warmer dry spells interspersed with periods of wetter southerly and westerly winds, which kept the lochs and wetlands topped up, but also kept many fields wetter than normal. In general, spring migration was a little earlier than last year with the Barnacle Geese departing en masse from Ruaig on the evening of 12th – three days earlier than in 2008, with the bulk of the Greenland White-fronts setting off northwards the day before. Some spring arrivals were also early with the earliest ever record for the island of a Blackcap at Balephuil (11th) and the earliest ever Cuckoo at Carnan Mor (17th). By the end of the month, most of the regular breeding migrants were back, albeit in small numbers so far, including Willow Warbler (from 10th), Little Tern (from 14th), Arctic Tern (from 25th), Sedge Warbler (from 28th) and Common Sandpiper (from 29th). The first Corncrake was also early (9th) and some 30 or so calling males had been widely reported around the island by the month-end. Co-ordinated night time counts of calling male Corncrakes will start later in May to see how numbers compare to last year. With numbers of birds dropping on both Coll and the Outer Hebrides in 2008, Tiree’s currently thriving Corncrake population has become even more important.
The preceding was extracted from the paper version of An Tirisdeach.