Tuesday, 13 November 2018

13th November

Fine weather again being almost flat calm at first light with the southerly wind slowly increasing through the day and with observer numbers back up to two it was no surprise that there were a few new birds seen which included the only Mistle Thrush of the autumn so far at Howar, 6 Blackcaps, a Rook (only the second record of the autumn) and 2 Greenfinches.   Other birds across the land included the male Hen Harrier, a Merlin, a Kestrel, 2 Jack Snipe, a Woodcock, 5 Meadow Pipits, 11 Rock Pipits, 7 Robins, 57 Blackbirds, 40 Fieldfare, 3 Song Thrush, 127 Redwing, a Linnet, 22 Twite, a Common Redpoll, 14 Snow Buntings and 10 Reed Buntings.

                Also of note were 7 Red-throated Diver, 3 Great-northern Divers, 2 Herons, the Whooper Swan, the Barnacle Goose, 338 Wigeon, 165 Teal and 4 Black-headed Gulls.


Monday, 12 November 2018

12th November

Another lovely day with light to moderate southerly winds and lots of bright, unbroken sunshine; it was very pleasant out in the field but there were few new birds with raptors the highlight in the fine weather comprising 3 Hen Harriers (a near-adult male and two first years), a young male Peregrine, a Kestrel and a Merlin all being seen on multiple occasions as they dashed around while the main oddity was a late Sooty Shearwater close in off The Links.

                Other totals through the day with time spent around The Obs, Hooking and Brides census routes included 9 Red-throated Diver, 4 Herons, 6 Whooper Swans (a family party of five south and the lone bird still on Gretchen – which may be unable to fly), the 5 Pink-footed Geese, 275 Wigeon, 12 Gadwall, 6 Pintail, 18 Tufted Ducks, 18 Long-tailed Duck, 5 Red-breasted Mergansers, a single Ruff in fields near Holland, a Woodcock, 18 Bar-tailed Godwits, 14 Skylark, 10 Meadow Pipits, 8 Rock Pipit, a Robin, 4 Chaffinch, a Brambling, a Greenfinch, 4 Linnets, a notably increased 60 Twite (with several flocks seen heading south), 4 Common Redpolls, 2 Snow Bunting and 4 Reed Buntings.

Hen Harrier



Sunday, 11 November 2018

11th November

A lovely day with light SSE winds and plenty of bright sunshine; a walk round the south end of the island first thing produced the usual array of birds including 16 Red-throated Divers, 3 Great-northern Divers, single Whooper Swan, Pink-footed Goose and Barnacle Goose with the Greylags, the Green-winged Teal on Gretchen, 3 Pintail, a Kestrel, 9 Meadow Pipits (including seven out to the south), a Chiffchaff, 9 Chaffinches, a Brambling, 36 Twite and 15 Snow Buntings.   After the Remembrance ceremony at the Memorial birds seen during a walk round Lenswick and Westness comprised 5 Herons, a Hen Harrier, a Jack Snipe, 14 Skylark, 16 Rock Pipits, another Brambling and 4 Reed Buntings.

                It was very calm by the evening so I opened the nets at Holland where a surprising selection of new birds included a Long-eared Owl, a Woodpigeon (a very young one with no neck patch), a Woodcock, 3 Robins, 3 Blackcap and a Greenfinch.


Saturday, 10 November 2018

10th November

A much better day with far lighter SSE winds and the sun coming out in the afternoon; walked round the north and south ends of the island and managed to open some nets at Holland in the evening, there was a good selection of birds but nothing really new; totals included 7 Red-throated Divers, a Great-northern Diver, 4 Herons, a Whooper Swan, the 5 Pink-footed Geese and the Barnacle Goose with 822 Greylags, 14 Gadwall, the Green-winged Teal on Gretchen, 8 Pintail, a drake Goldeneye at Brides, 2 Hen Harriers, single Sparrowhawk and Kestrel, a Jack Snipe, 5 Woodcock, 2 Black-headed Gulls, 285 Herring Gulls (big flock at the top end again), 6 Skylark, 2 Robins, 86 Blackbird, 187 Fieldfare, 4 Song Thrush, 223 Redwing, a lingering Chiffchaff in Holland where there was also a Goldcrest, 8 Chaffinch, a Brambling, 30 Twite, 2 Common Redpoll and 21 Snow Buntings.


Friday, 9 November 2018

9th November

A difficult day with a blazing force 8 SSE wind but I walked around Hooking and Brides, concentrating on the coast at high tide (with a little look up at Bewan later as well) and the main feature was a good build-up of Gulls in the stormy weather including a smart 3cy Kumlien’s Gull feeding in the surf at Brides (not an age I’m very familiar with) in amongst totals of 190 Common Gulls, 516 Herring Gulls and 270 Great Black-backed Gulls.

                Other birds included a Red-throated Diver, 2 Great-northern Divers, the Barnacle Goose (which has a white darvic ring – YUB was ringed on Islay in 2013), 14 Long-tailed Ducks, 5 Red-breasted Mergansers, a Hen Harrier, 2 Merlin, increased totals of 138 Ringed Plover and 45 Dunlin with big flocks on The Links, a Jack Snipe, 2 Black-headed Gulls, 11 Rock Pipits, a Robin, 62 Fieldfare, 95 Redwing, a Jackdaw by the lighthouse, a single Common Redpoll at Holland and 7 Snow Buntings.

(Excuse the first person narrative but I'm the only observer at the moment!)

Kumlien's Gull                              Simon Davies

Thursday, 8 November 2018

8th November

A much nicer day with lighter SE winds and plenty of bright, unbroken sunshine; unfortunately, due to other commitments (drinking in Kirkwall!) coverage was limited to the afternoon and just around the Obs and Holland but included a Whooper Swan, 5 Pink-footed Geese with the Greylags, the Green-winged Teal still on Gretchen where there was also a drake Goldeneye (only the second of the autumn), single Hen Harrier, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel and Merlin, 2 Ruff in fields near Holland – first ones since mid-October and only the fourth November record, 4 Woodcock, a Black-headed Gull, 3 Meadow Pipits, 35 Blackbirds (including a Danish control bird trapped at Holland at dusk), 42 Fieldfare, 2 Song Thrush, 55 Redwing, 2 Blackcaps, a Chiffchaff, 6 Chaffinches, a Brambling, 35 Twite and a Common Redpoll.


Another Woodcock picture!

7th November

More promising conditions through the day as we kept the strong SE winds and combined it with low cloud, murk and a few drops of rain (where were these conditions a month ago?!); there was a small selection of new birds across the island including a decent arrival of Thrushes as totals included 2 Hen Harriers, a Kestrel, 2 Merlin (including a new adult male), 5 Woodcock, 5 Meadow Pipits,4 Rock Pipits, 5 Robins, 80 Blackbird, 257 Fieldfare, 4 Song Thrush, 177 Redwing, a Blackcap, 2 Jackdaws, 6 Chaffinches, 3 Linnets, 42 Twite, 19 Common Redpolls and 28 Snow Buntings.

                Other counts of note comprised 2 Red-throated Divers, 2 Great-northern Divers, 5 Herons, 2 Whooper Swans, the Barnacle Goose, 253 Wigeon, 8 Gadwall, 160 Teal, 80 Mallard, 15 Pintail, 9 Shoveler, 16 Tufted Duck and 5 Red-breasted Mergansers.

Woodcock in off

6th November

A rough day with strong SE winds but it remained largely dry; it was quiet out in the field despite the good feeling conditions with the day’s highlights comprising a Whooper Swan, a new Barnacle Goose with the Greylags, the Green-winged Teal still on Gretchen, 2 Hen Harriers, 2 Knot up the west coast, 7 Woodcock, a Meadow Pipit, 8 Rock Pipits, 2 Robins, 64 Blackbirds, 83 Fieldfares, 4 Song Thrush, 129 Redwing, 2 Chaffinches, 2 Linnets, 30 Twite and 19 Snow Buntings.

Woodcock                                    Simon Davies

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

5th November

The southerly winds dropped right off through the day, almost becoming still for a spell, unfortunately through light but very persistent rain moved in a few hours after dawn which never stopped at all until dark; the days highlight was an almost certain Coue’s Arctic Redpoll at Ancum with 21 Common Redpolls – all the features seemed to fit apart from perhaps too much streaking on the rump.   There were a few new birds through the day including a Kestrel, 5 Woodcock, 8 Meadow Pipits, 3 Robins, 65 Blackbirds, 76 Fieldfares, 2 Song Thrush, 160 Redwing, 2 Blackcaps, a Chiffchaff, 5 Chaffinches, a Brambling, 16 Twite, 5 Snow Bunting and a Yellowhammer at Holland.

                Also of note were 3 Herons, 2 Whooper Swans, 185 Wigeon, 10 Gadwall, 9 Pintail and a Grey Plover.

Coue's Arctic Redpoll                           Simon Davies

Monday, 5 November 2018

4th November

We kept the strong southerly winds but there was more sunshine with long spells of clear skies; Gulls were again obvious with a smart juvenile Kumilen’s Gull the highlight, first at Westness, then on rocks at Lenswick, then in Nouster in the afternoon while other totals included 75 Common Gulls, 177 Herring Gulls and 142 Great Black-backed Gulls.   Other birds of note comprised 6 Herons, a Whooper Swan, the Green-winged Teal still, 12 Pintail and single Grey Plover and Knot with 111 Purple Sandpipers.

                The land was quieter with just 2 Merlin, 60 Blackbirds, 44 Fieldfare, 76 Redwing, 2 Chiffchaffs, 9 Chaffinches, a Brambling and 25 Twite to mention.

Kumlien's Gull                                         George Gay

Sunday, 4 November 2018

3rd November

A very strong southerly wind and heavy cloud replaced the fine conditions but it remained largely dry throughout the day; the main feature of the day was a big arrival and southerly passage of Gulls comprising 732+ Great Black-backed Gulls, 385+ Herring Gulls and 156 Common Gulls in amongst which were 2 Glaucous Gulls – both first year birds.   Other totals included 8 Red-throated Divers, 4 Great-northern Divers, 2 Whooper Swans, 185 Wigeon, 163 Teal, the Green-winged Teal still, 62 Mallard, 8 Pintail, 13 Shoveler, 15 Tufted Duck, 12 Long-tailed Duck, the long overdue first Goldeneye of the autumn, 5 Red-breasted Mergansers and 591 Golden Plover.

                On the land, migrants comprised 3 Hen Harriers (including the adult male still), a Merlin, a Jack Snipe, 5 Woodcock, a Woodpigeon, 64 Fieldfare, a Song Thrush, 73 Redwing, 2 Jackdaw, 19 Chaffinches, 4 Brambling, 41 Twite, 22 Common Redpoll, a Lesser Redpoll and 8 Snow Buntings.

Glaucous Gull                                     Simon Davies

2nd November

Another nice, sunny day with the light SW wind still; a couple of new arrivals included an adult male Hen Harrier at Brides, a new Long-eared Owl trapped in Holland and another Lesser Redpoll, also trapped in Holland.   Other birds across the land comprised a big female Peregrine, 3 Robins, a Wheatear hanging on, 10 Meadow Pipits, 58 Fieldfare, 79 Redwing, a Goldcrest, 2 Jackdaws, 5 Chaffinches, a Brambling, a Greenfinch, 42 Twite, 4 Common Redpoll, 18 Snow Buntings, a Lapland Bunting and 8 Reed Bunting.

                Also of note were 8 Red-throated Divers, a notable influx of 28 Long-tailed Ducks, 4 Red-breasted Mergansers and a Grey Plover.

Snow Bunting

Friday, 2 November 2018

1st November

Once the early morning rain had moved through it was another fine day with light SW winds still and some long spells of sunshine; there was the odd new bird found through the day with a trickle of Finches noted on the move which included 11 Chaffinches, 2 Brambling, 2 Greenfinches, a Goldfinch, an increase to 57 Twite, 14 Common Redpoll and a single Lesser Redpoll trapped at Ancum as it came into roost.   Other birds across the island included 2 Hen Harriers, a Kestrel, 2 Woodcock, a Woodpigeon, a Short-eared Owl, a Wheatear, 30 Fieldfare, 57 Redwing, 2 Goldcrest, a Jackdaw, a Lapland Bunting and 6 Snow Buntings.

                Other totals of note on the first day of the month comprised 8 Red-throated Divers, a Black-throated Diver in Nouster, a Great-northern Diver, 5 Herons, 4 Whooper Swans, 216 Wigeon, 10 Gadwall, 116 Teal, the Green-winged Teal still on Gretchen, 46 Mallard, 13 Pintail, 12 Long-tailed Duck, 9 Red-breasted Mergansers, 364 Golden Plover and a Grey Plover.


Migrant Wren (on the right), desperate times!

31st October

A fine day with light SW winds and largely clear skies; as a result there were few new grounded migrants (the phrase ‘its too nice’ was heard on multiple occasions) with totals comprising 2 Hen Harriers, 3 Merlin, a Peregrine, 3 Woodcock, 18 Skylark, 16 Meadow Pipit, 20 Rock Pipits, 5 Robins, a Wheatear, 56 Fieldfare, 15 Song Thrush, 109 Redwing, 3 Goldcrest, 7 Chaffinches, 6 Brambling, 21 Twite, 49 Common Redpolls still and 4 Snow Buntings.

                Other birds of note included 9 Red-throated Divers, 2 Great-northern Divers, 4 Herons, 12 Pintail, a Grey Plover and 2 Jack Snipe.


Tuesday, 30 October 2018

30th October

A decent day with the wind still bang in the east but much lighter than yesterday and plenty of bright sunshine encouraging folks to spend some long hours in the field; yet again the main feature and talking point of the day was the mesmerising array of very pale Common Redpolls across the island with at least 53 scattered around in small flocks, in amongst which was at least one bird that was scrutinised in depth and was probably a Coue’s Arctic Redpoll but not everyone was convinced so it will unfortunately have to be left – just give up and walk away!
                The other two highlights consisted of a lovely female Northern Bullfinch trapped at Holland in the evening where, shortly afterwards a Long-eared Owl was also caught and was found to be bearing a Norwegian ring.   Across the island other migrants comprised 2 Hen Harriers, 3 Merlin (with two seen hunting cooperatively around Ancum), 2 Kestrels, a Peregrine, 11 Woodcock, 29 Skylark, 33 Meadow Pipits, 16 Rock Pipits, 5 Robins, the Whinchat still, a Wheatear, 68 Blackbirds, an increase to 73 Fieldfare, 11 Song Thrush, 92 Redwing, a Chiffchaff, 6 Goldcrests, 2 Jackdaws, 11 Chaffinches, 9 Brambling, 21 Twite and 5 Snow Buntings.

Redpolls, there may or may not be an Arctic in there somewhere