19th May

More cloud in the sky today - particularly when a spectacular electric storm and downpour rolled in during the afternoon - that dropped another steady arrival of late migrants and also brought down to audible and just visible height a surprise package in the form of 2 Bee-eaters departing to the south over the Obs. The migrant variety included 20 Spotted Flycatchers, 6 Turnstones, 5 Willow Warblers, 4 Chiffchaffs, 4 Blackcaps, 2 Wheatears, a Whimbrel, a Dunlin and a Reed Warbler around the south of the island and 20 Ringed Plovers, 6 Dunlin, 3 Sanderling and a Black Redstart at Ferrybridge; at least 2 of the long-staying Corn Buntings were also about on the land. Overhead passage wasn't as conspicuous as it had been at times earlier in the week but Swifts and Swallows were still on the move and a lone Yellow Wagtail passed through at the Bill. As they have been for several weeks, Manx Shearwaters were ever-present offshore; 48 Common Scoter, a few tardy Common Gulls and singles of Red-throated Diver and Arctic Skua also passed through off the Bill.

The second Cypress Tip Moth Argyresthia cupressella for the island was trapped overnight at Sweethill.

In days gone by there'd have been no tangible evidence for the pass overhead by the Bee-eaters - today's event happened so quickly that even folk close by dipped them - but these days by the simple expedient of leaving the nocmig recorder running we get left with something to review at our leisure. In this case things weren't helped by the dish pointing a good 90° away from the birds and the world and his wife talking loudly right beside it; however, with the volume maxed out the birds are quite audible and the sonogram clearly shows the four loudest calls that we've highlighted (we have had to chop out a few seconds of really intrusive extraneous racket between each call so the calls are a little closer together than they were in real time):

With the ecological breakdown manifesting itself most obviously in our moth-traps we haven't had much to report lately bar a steady few mostly routine immigrants - the majority of indigenous species have been in pitifully low numbers all spring. However, there have been a few Radford's Flame Shoulders showing up in the traps and with Flame Shoulder also now on the wing there have been some nice comparisons to check out. The differences visible at repose are well enough documented in the standard literature and show up well enough in this side-by-side photograph...

...however, we do sometimes see specimens that are trickier - most often because they're worn or damaged - and then it pays to have a quick 'manipulation' to make sure the ID's correct; this is easily done by nipping the end of one of the forewings to expose the abdomen and give a clear view of the hindwing - on a Radford's the white hairs at the base of the abdomen and the altogether silkier-white hindwing immediately contrast with creamier abdomen hairs and duller hindwings of an 'ordinary' Flame Shoulder.

Incidentally, we've been pleased to see a few Radford's this spring after their quite catastrophic fall in numbers last year: having been relentlessly on the up and reaching a remarkable year-total of 620 in 2021, last year's total plunged to just 30 © Martin Cade.