Thursday, 1 September 2011

31st August

Numbers of birds remained quite low, but a few new odds and ends seemed to have arrived and a fair selection of species was seen. The first Marsh Warbler of the autumn near Bridesness was probably the pick of the passerines, although 3 Barred Warblers and 3 Common Rosefinches were also seen. Other small migrants included a Grasshopper Warbler, 10 Willow Warblers, a Garden Warbler, 5 Whinchats and 5 White Wagtails.

Nearly 6 hours in the seawatching hide produced an adult Pomarine Skua (a new species for the year), 31 Great Skuas, 1 Arctic Skua, 37 Sooty Shearwaters, 29 Manx Shearwaters, 35 Storm Petrels, 852 Gannets and 1156 Fulmars, one of which was a blue morph bird.

A Red-throated Diver and 2 Great Northern Divers flew by, an adult Peregrine was seen, and waders included a Wood Sandpiper, the same 5 Curlew Sandpipers and 27 Ruffs.

The day's non-avian highlight was another Basking Shark, this time loitering off the west coast.

Marsh Warbler is a description species in Orkney, so even the most distant photos are worth getting.

Basking Sharks, the second largest species of fish in the world, are now annual summer visitors to the waters surrounding North Ronaldsay. Today's individual was estimated at a fairly modest 5m in length, but some exceptional specimens have been known to exceed 12m.

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