Sunday, 17 June 2018

15th and 16th June


After early morning rain had cleared through it was a pleasant day on the 15th with bright sunshine and easing winds which eventually swung round into the east; the dubious highlight of the day was a flock of 8 Canada Geese which spent most of the day loafing on Gretchen.

                Other birds were few and far between with single Manx Shearwater, Storm Petrel and Great-northern Diver offshore, 7 Collared Doves, 4 Chiffchaff and a Willow Warbler while gatherings of 110 Kittiwakes and 150 Arctic Terns up at Bewan suggested early breeding failures elsewhere.

                A nice day on the 16th with a light SE breeze produced a handful of late spring migrants with the highlight being a female Red-breasted Flycatcher trapped in Holland whilst other new birds included a Grey Wagtail, an extra Collared Dove (8 now!), 3 Chiffchaffs and a Carrion Crow.

                Three Pink-footed Geese were a bit of a surprise as they flew out south while wader totals included some already returning waders with 14 Golden Plover, 24 Knot, 34 Dunlin, 60 Bar-tailed Godwits and noticeably increasing non-breeding flocks of Lapwings, Redshank and Oystercatchers.


Red-breasted Flycatcher

Friday, 15 June 2018

13th and 14th June


A calmish start on the 13th but the wind gradually increased through the day bringing rain by late afternoon (the first rain for a long long time!); the Quail was again singing from near Holland while a new Chiffchaff and a new Blackcap were trapped in the gardens where the 6 Collared Doves remain.   Offshore, 6 Great-northern Divers and 2 Red-breasted Mergansers were of note.

                Heavy rain overnight led to a very rough day on the 14th with the SW wind reaching force 7 by the afternoon bringing frequent, vicious showers; some long hours were put in seawatching from the north end but in the rough weather the results were moderate as totals included 20 Manx Shearwaters, 3 Storm Petrels, 359 Gannets, 10 Arctic Skuas, 13 Bonxies, 205 Kittiwakes and 450 Auks sp.   Predictably birds on the land were limited, although a Kestrel was new at Holland where the 6 Collared Doves remained.



Wader chicks are appearing all over the island now, we hope they manage to hold out against this rough weather!

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

11th and 12th June


Another similar couple of days with light westerly winds and cloud cover coming and going; an early morning seawatch produced most of the highlights on the 11th with an unprecedented flock of 55 Common Scoters past the hide the pick (more than double the previous island record count!).   Also passing during the two hours were 36 Manx Shearwaters, 2 Storm Petrels, 2 Red-throated Divers, 3 Great-northern Divers, 195 Gannets, 45 Puffins and 1,544 Auk sp.

                A Quail was again singing in the Kirbest area while the only other migrants included the lingering Chiffchaffs in Holland and a Willow Warbler around the Obs.

                A fully spooned, adult Pomarine Skua was a bit of a surprise past the seawatch hide late afternoon on the 12th while other birds included a group of 6 Common Scoter in Nouster Bay, 2 Black-tailed Godwits on Gretchen which included a French colour ringed bird, 5 Collared Doves still at Holland and the Chiffchaffs and Willow Warbler still.


Arctic Tern

Monday, 11 June 2018

9th and 10th June


A very samey couple of days with extensive cloud cover and a light NE breeze (although this did swing round to the west by the evening of the 10th); the main focus at the moment is the nesting birds and it was great to get conformation of breeding Garganey with a female and six ducklings seen on Hooking.   Waders are already starting to build up with post / failed / non-breeding flocks of adults starting to form which on the 9th included 109 Oystercatchers, 128 Lapwings, 12 Golden Plover and 120 Sanderling.

                Landbirds were limited to 5 Collared Doves, 5 Chiffchaffs, a Willow Warbler, a Pied Flycatcher, the Siskin still and a Common Redpoll.   Also of note were 4 Great-northern Divers offshore and the first Storm Petrel of the year off the north end.

                A similar array of birds on the 10th with 7 Collared Doves, 3 Chiffchaffs, the Willow Warbler, the Pied Flycatcher and the Siskin on the land with 9 Great-northern Divers, a Red-breasted Mergansers and 7 Black-tailed Godwits elsewhere.   A pod of 15 Risso’s Dolphins off the north end were the first of the year.



Our Skuas are just starting to settle down

Saturday, 9 June 2018

7th and 8th June

A glorious day with light NE winds and wall to wall sunshine on the 7th; certainly, the day’s highlight was a very scruffy and tatty BLACK KITE which flew north over Brides, up to the lighthouse from where it spiralled up and continued of to the north – it was seen on Fair Isle a couple of hours later.   It was identified as the eastern race bird that has been seen sporadically on Orkney, possibly since last November and has been labelled ‘of suspect origin’ due to the heavy abrasion on both the wings and tail but who can tell....anything more than that is pure speculation!

                As the Obs crew were chasing the Kite up the island an Osprey came in from the north and flew south down the centre of the island – a late spring record and the first of the year but the rest of the day proved to be pretty quiet as waders included 91 Sanderling, 5 Black-tailed Godwits, 68 Bar-tailed Godwits, a Whimbrel, 2 Golden Plover and 34 Knot and landbirds just comprised 6 Collared Doves, a Blackcap and 5 Chiffchaffs.

                Still very calm on the 8th with a very light NE breeze but there was complete cloud cover for a change; the cloud cover seemed to drop a few new migrants into the island with a Marsh Warbler near the Obs the highlight along with 7 Collared Doves and single Whitethroat, Garden Warbler, Blackcap, Willow Warbler, Siskin and Common Redpoll.

                Other little bits included our first Common Scoter of the year which flew past the seawatch hide with 3 Great-northern Divers and 4 Red-throated Divers remaining on calm seas.

Scruffy looking Black Kite                             Simon Davies

Marsh Warbler                                       Simon Davies

Thursday, 7 June 2018

5th and 6th June


A glorious couple of days with acres of warm sunshine and light winds which swung round from the NW to the NE through the day on the 5th; we are getting more and more into the breeding season now and in combination with this and the end of the spring there were hardly any migrants to mention with just a selection of waders comprising 156 Ringed Plover, 6 Knot, 50 Sanderling, 19 Dunlin and 77 Bar-tailed Godwits (a large presumably non-breeding flock which looks set to over-summer).

                A handful of migrants were unearthed on the equally sunny 6th including a Woodpigeon, 4 Collared Doves, a Whinchat (only the third of the year!), 3 Chiffchaffs (with a couple of birds holding territory in Holland gardens) and 3 Jackdaws over The Links.   The most interesting sightings though involved a pair of Fieldfares around Gue Park acting very suspiciously and alarming – there has been one around the area for a while now but today was the first day that two have been seen together which raises obvious questions….


Knot and Bar-tailed Godwit

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

3rd and 4th June


Still pretty foggy through the day on the 3rd but there were signs that it wanted to clear – still no planes though!   The highlights were lingering birds again with the Red-backed Shrike still at Ancum and the Hawfinch and Long-eared Owl still around Holland while other landbirds included a Collared Dove, 2 Garden Warblers, 5 Chiffchaffs and a Pied Flycatcher.

                A few odd wildfowl emerged with 4 Wigeon, 3 Pintail and 2 Garganey perhaps hinting at breeding attempts while lingering waders were highlighted by single Little Stint and Curlew Sandpipers at Westness and Trolla respectively along with a Golden Plover, 153 Sanderling, 24 Knot, 2 Purple Sandpipers and 29 Bar-tailed Godwits.

                A quiet day for new migrants on the 4th with our focus slowly shifting to breeding bird monitoring but a Quail was seen at Kirbest and the Red-backed Shrike and Hawfinch remained in place; other bits and pieces included a Woodpigeon, a Collared Dove, a lingering Redwing at Holland, a Garden Warbler, 4 Chiffchaffs and a Spotted Flycatcher.


There are now trillions of baby Starlings emerging from everywhere!

Sunday, 3 June 2018

1st and 2nd June


Thick fog all day through the 1st made time spent in the field feel like a bit of a slog at times but there was still a good array of leftover scarcities to keep us entertained; the best birds included the Rose-coloured Starling around the centre of the island, the Hawfinch again round Holland, a new Red-backed Shrike at Sangar, the long awaited first Whinchat of the year at Westness and a singing Marsh Warbler at Veracott.

                Other birds across the island included a soggy Long-eared Owl at Ancum, a Tree Pipit, a Garden Warbler, 4 Chiffchaffs, a Willow Warbler and a Pied Flycatcher.   The dwindling wader totals included 31 Knot, 94 Sanderling and 32 Bar-tailed Godwits.

                A similar day on the 2nd, the fog did threaten to clear at times but always won out in the end with the now NW wind too light to make much of an impact on the visibility; many of the birds were the same with the Hawfinch re-trapped in Holland, the Red-backed Shrike still at Ancum and the lighthouse Marsh Warbler re-found at Bewan House.

                Other landbirds included 2 Collared Doves, the Long-eared Owl again, a Tree Pipit, a new Whinchat, a Whitethroat, 3 Garden Warblers, 5 Chiffchaffs and a Pied Flycatcher.   The Pink-footed Goose seems set to over-summer while 5 Barnacle Geese flew north and 17 Gadwall were a bit of an influx as were 18 Black-tailed Godwits.


Blackbirds, Starlings and House Sparrows are now starting to fledge

Friday, 1 June 2018

30th and 31st May


A cracking day on the 30th with the light wind enough north of east to keep the fog away and plenty of warm sunshine; it was a brilliant day in the field with a great cast of scarcities spread across the island, a stunning adult ROSE-COLOURED STARLING striding around with the sheep in the north of the island was the pick of the new arrivals but the supporting birds included a singing Quail at Brides, the Goosander off The Links, the first 2 Curlew Sandpipers of the year on Trolla, the Bee-eater again showing well around Holland, a lovely male Grey-headed Wagtail near the lighthouse, 3 Marsh Warblers scattered around the island, a female Red-backed Shrike caught in Holland and the Hawfinch again.

                It was also one of the better days of the spring for common migrants as totals included 5 Collared Doves, 2 Tree Pipits, the first 2 Redstarts of the year, a Fieldfare, a Garden Warbler, 10 Chiffchaffs, a Willow Warbler, 2 Spotted Flycatchers and 7 Pied Flycatchers.   Four Garganey were also seen along with 5 Purple Sandpipers, 9 Black-tailed Godwits and 2 Whimbrel.

                A similar day on the 31st but the anticipated fog rolled in rapidly from mid-afternoon; it was quieter for new arrivals but the Rose-coloured Starling was still roving around the middle of the island, a Little Ringed Plover was briefly at Bewan before being seen flying high south over the Obs – only the third record for the island after the second last month, the lighthouse Marsh Warbler was still present, a new Red-backed Shrike was caught at Holland and the Hawfinch was again around the Kirkyard.

                Other birds across the island included 2 Garganey, the redhead Goosander again, a Merlin at the lighthouse, 4 Purple Sandpipers, influxes of 75 Knot and 65 Bar-tailed Godwits, 3 Redstarts, the lingering Fieldfare, 5 Garden Warblers, 8 Chiffchaffs, 3 Willow Warblers, a Spotted Flycatcher and 3 Pied Flycatchers.

                Perhaps the most impressive feature of the day was the continued influx of Silver Y’s and Diamond Back Moths which literally carpeted every field – there must have been thousands involved!   Associated with these were small numbers of Red Admirals, Painted Ladies and Large Whites while the highlight was a Clouded Yellow seen flying across the airfield (not sure on the status on the island?).


Rose-coloured Starling                              Simon Davies

Grey-headed Wagtail                                Simon Davies

Curlew Sandpiper and Dunlin                             Simon Davies

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

28th and 29th May


A lovely start to the day on the 28th, warm and sunny with light easterly winds but inevitably the fog rolled in mid-morning and continued to drift in and out through the rest of the afternoon – although there were some good sunny spells thrown in.   The day’s highlight was certainly a cracking BEE-EATER, seen flying south over The Links before eventually being ‘pinned down’ at Holland House allowing everyone to get good views as it hunted and swooped around the garden – only the fourth record for the island, although the last bird in 2015 lingered for a long period.

                Other highlights through the day included a Red-necked Phalarope which circled the Obs several times before pitching down on Gretchen but soon disappearing, our first Reed Warbler of the year trapped at Holland and the lingering Hawfinch still bombing around the gardens.   A sprinkling of landbirds across the island comprised 2 Woodpigeons, a Collared Dove, a House Martin, a littoralis Rock Pipit, a Black Redstart, single Lesser Whitethroat and Whitethroat, 2 Garden Warblers, 7 Chiffchaffs, 3 Willow Warblers and a Redpoll sp.

                Also present were the tardy Pink-footed Goose, 3 Garganey, a Red-breasted Merganser and a selection of waders, although numbers are predictably starting to dwindle now with 109 Ringed Plovers, 142 Sanderling, 36 Bar-tailed Godwits, a Whimbrel and 2 Black-tailed Godwits counted.

                The reverse conditions on the 29th with a very foggy start to the day before steadily clearing later on but becoming foggy again by the evening all wafted in by a light easterly breeze; a good selection of highlights included the Bee-eater still lingering around Holland (at one stage perching on the top of the mist nets!), a cracking almost full summer-plumaged White-billed Diver which appeared in Nouster before drifting back out and becoming lost in the fog, a redhead Goosander also in Nouster (only just annual on the island) and the Hawfinch still.

                A few new landbirds made appearances as well with totals comprising a Tree Pipit, a Redwing, a Garden Warbler, 3 Chiffchaffs, a Willow Warbler, a Spotted Flycatcher and 2 Common Redpolls while 3 Purple Sandpipers, a Whimbrel and 2 Black-tailed Godwits remained.



Bee-eater                                         Simon Davies

Monday, 28 May 2018

26th and 27th May


A bright and sunny couple of days with light winds remaining in the easterly quarter; there were few new birds on the 26th with yesterdays Hawfinch still around Holland the pick while other land migrants included 6 Woodpigeons, a Black Redstart (again yesterdays bird), single Song Thrush and Redwing, 12 Sedge Warblers, a Garden Warbler, 10 Chiffchaffs and 2 Willow Warblers.

                Other birds included 2 Manx Shearwaters offshore, 2 Barnacle Geese, a single drake Garganey and 2 Red-breasted Mergansers the pick of the wildfowl and 2 Golden Plovers, 61 Knot, a Common Sandpiper and 245 Turnstone the pick of the waders.

                A similar picture on the 27th with the first Greenshank of the year over the Obs along with 11 Black-tailed Godwits new in while the Pink-footed Goose, 3 Barnacle Geese and 3 Garganey remained.   It was still quiet on the land with a House Martin, 2 Garden Warblers, 10 Chiffchaffs, 2 Willow Warblers and 3 Redpoll sp. the only birds of note.


Arctic Tern                                          Simon Davies

Snipe                                            Simon Davies

Saturday, 26 May 2018

24th and 25th May


Despite the great conditions on the 24th – light mist and fog drifting in and out on the brisk easterly wind it was a pretty quiet day with a Little Stint on Trolla the first of the year while the few migrants on the land included 2 Pied Flycatchers, a Spotted Flycatcher and 2 Fieldfares.   Other little bits included 4 Barnacle Geese (with a new group of three at Ancum), three drake Garganey on Brides, 3 Whimbrel, a new island record count of 49 Sand Martins, 11 Sedge Warblers (mainly birds on territory), 3 Chiffchaffs and a Common Redpoll.

                A lovely day on the 25th with bright and sunny conditions and a variable W / N breeze; the blast of easterlies yesterday produced a good array of scarcities across the island including a Red-breasted Flycatcher caught in Holland, a Marsh Warbler eventually pinned down near The Mill, a Hawfinch in Holland and at the Obs, a female type Common Rosefinch near Brides and a female Bluethroat at the school.

                A trickle of other migrants comprised 2 Woodpigeons, 3 Collared Doves, 2 House Martins, a Tree Pipit, a Black Redstart at Holland, 7 Sedge Warblers, 15 Chiffchaffs, a Pied Flycatcher and a good flock of 11 Tree Sparrows.   11 Great-northern Divers were offshore, the single Barnacle Goose was still around Hooking, 3 Garganey were still present and waders included 197 Ringed Plovers, 171 Sanderling and 66 Bar-tailed Godwits.


Red-breasted Flycatcher                  Simon Davies

Common Rosefinch                                 Tom Gale

Hawfinch                            Simon Davies

Thursday, 24 May 2018

22nd and 23rd May


Another nice day on the 22nd with light northerly winds and plenty of bright sunshine; the few highlights through the day comprised the 2 Dotterel still on Torness with the male particularly approachable and the first Swift of the year over Longar.   Other birds of note included a pair of Garganey, 2 Wood Sandpipers (Ancum and Garso), a Woodpigeon, a House Martin, a littoralis Rock Pipit, a Garden Warbler, 6 Chiffchaffs and a Willow Warbler.

                A stunning day on the 23rd with wall to wall sunshine and very light winds; an elusive female Bluethroat found in Kirbest ditch and a different first-summer Little Gull on Brides Loch proved to be the picks of the days birds while other birds on the land comprised 2 Woodpigeons, a Collared Dove, a Cuckoo around Holland House, 38 Sand Martins, 65 Swallows, a Redwing still, a Garden Warbler, 7 Chiffchaff, 9 Tree Sparrows again round Holland, 3 Common Redpolls and a Carrion Crow.

                The Pink-footed Goose and Barnacle Goose remained around Hooking and a single drake Garganey was seen while the bulk of the waders were made up of 176 Ringed Plover, 280 Sanderlings and 189 Turnstone.


Dotterel                                             Simon Davies

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

20th and 21st May


Bright and sunny again but a bit breezy on the 20th, the days highlights comprised the Great White Egret still on Ancum, now 2 Dotterel on Torness, a 1st summer Little Gull on Bewan and the first Common Rosefinch of the year – a brown individual at Brigg.   Other migrants continued to trickle through on the land as totals comprised a Sparrowhawk, 4 Woodpigeons, 7 Collared Doves, 4 House Martins, a Black Redstart in the Kirkyard, 60 Wheatears, a Fieldfare, 9 Sedge Warblers, a Blackcap, 4 Chiffchaffs, a good flock of 9 Tree Sparrows at Holland, 2 Goldfinches and 5 Carrion Crows.

                A very different day on the 21st with constant heavy drizzle and low cloud almost throughout with a marginally drier spell in the middle of the day; this produced a couple of new birds with our first Pied Flycatcher of the year – a male at the lighthouse and a Cuckoo at Westness the highlights while presumably yesterday’s Common Rosefinch revealed itself to be a male by singing at Holland and the Great White Egret remained on Ancum.

                Other birds on the land included 36 Sand Martins, 5 House Martins, a White Wagtail, a Whitethroat, 3 Chiffchaff and 2 Common Redpolls.   The Whooper Swan, Pink-footed Goose and Barnacle Goose remained along with a drake Garganey while wader totals included 197 Ringed Plover, 3 Golden Plover, a Grey Plover, 108 Knot, 317 Sanderling, 138 Dunlin, a Common Sandpiper, 105 Bar-tailed Godwits, 3 Whimbrel and 532 Turnstone.




Great White Egret, Little Gull and Pied Flycatcher                George Gay

Saturday, 19 May 2018

18th and 19th May


Another lovely day on the 18th, very calm with varying cloud cover coming and going; the days two main highlights came early on with a GREAT WHITE EGRET found on Ancum Loch early morning (a real island mega - only the 4th island record!) closely followed by a cracking female Hawfinch caught in Holland House gardens – our overdue first for the year.   The short list of other grounded migrants included 3 Woodpigeons, 2 Collared Doves, a Redwing, 9 Sedge Warblers, a Blackcap, 8 Chiffchaffs, 2 Willow Warblers, 7 Tree Sparrows and 2 Lesser Redpolls.

                The selection of lonely wildfowl still lingered with the Whooper Swan, Barnacle Goose and Pink-footed Goose remaining, a Wood Sandpiper was on Garso, 4 Garganey were spread over the lochs, influxes of 18 Great Skuas and 14 Lesser Black-backed Gulls were noted at the top end and the Kumlien’s Gull remained.

                Calm and sunny again first thing on the 19th but the southerly wind gradually picked up through the day to reach force 7 by the evening; there were again a nice list of scarcities across the island with the Great White Egret still on Ancum, a stunning female Nightjar trapped in Holland and a smart female Dotterel found in the afternoon on Torness – this seems to be the pattern so far this spring, a good spread of scarcities but very few common migrants (we still await our first Redstart, Whinchat, Pied Flycatcher and Grasshopper Warbler).

                Other migrant totals on the land comprised a Woodpigeon, 3 Collared Doves, a Black Redstart around Holland, a Fieldfare, a Whitethroat, a Blackcap, 9 Chiffchaffs, a Goldfinch, a Siskin, a Common Redpoll and 6 Carrion Crows.

                Wader totals included 196 Ringed Plovers, 3 Golden Plover, a Grey Plover, 95 Knot, 298 Sanderling, 90 Bar-tailed Godwits and 411 Turnstone while the pair of Garganey were still on Gretchen and the Kumlien’s Gull was still floating around.


Hawfinch                       Simon Davies

Nightjar                                Richard Yarnell