13th April

Consecutive days with plenty of birds - blimey, things really are looking up! The mould was set right as dawn broke when a Cirl Bunting appeared and was duly trapped in the Obs garden and there was no looking back after that, with the steady flow of common migrants having in their midst the season's first Yellow Wagtails (2), Garganey, Greenshank, Common Sandpiper and Sedge Warbler. The customary trio of Blackcap, Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff made up the bulk of the numbers, with Blackcap well to the fore on 150 or so around the south of the island; the two phylloscs shared out a similar total between them. Most of the other expected mid-April migrants were represented, with 7 Redstarts, 2 Whinchats, a Ring Ouzel and a Pied Flycatcher particularly popular around the south and singles of White Wagtail, Redwing and Grasshopper Warbler of note further north. The Garganey aside, sea interest included another 33 Pale-bellied Brent Geese through at Ferrybridge and 22 Red-throated Divers and a Velvet Scoter through off the Bill.

It'd be a fantastic event if we got Cirl Buntings back again this year for another breeding attempt and the recent series of arrivals certainly bodes well. The sexing of some of the birds seen lately in the middle of the island has apparently been problematic but there's no doubt that today's Bill bird was a female...

...We've got pretty minimal experience when it comes to ageing spring buntings but we did notice that the two outer tail feathers were noticeably fresher and more rounded than the other feathers - if you can be sure such a difference is down to design rather than accident this can helpful in giving you a bit of a steer on a bird's age, although in this case we'd have preferred to have seen this difference in the central feathers and also to have spotted some other helpful discontinuities in the wings for us to be sure it was a youngster rather than an adult © Martin Cade:

The third flock of migrating Pale-bellied Brents in two days © Pete Saunders:

Big differences in Great Northern Diver plumages are now evident - this adult passing the Bill was the first fully moulted one seen so far this spring © Matthew Barfield...

...whereas this one over Ferrybridge was still in full winter plumage - it looks as though you can just see the  'scaly' feathers characteristic of juvenile plumage on its shoulders so we're guessing this youngster probably won't get into full breeding plumage this summer © Pete Saunders: