23rd October

So where do we start with the 23rd!!! I guess we should begin by thanking hurricane 'Gonzalo' as it delivered some truly special birds to the island today. A Grey Phalarope found sheltering off the Links golf course was a decent start to the day but the pandemonium that followed has left us all a bit short of breath!!! At around 1.30pm, while trying to get a better view of a frosty Redpoll (it turned out to by an islandica/north-western type) a Merlin chased a bird into the gardens at Holland House. You'd have expected it to have been one of the 932 Redwings on the island, but astonishingly it was Orkney and North Ronaldsay's first BLACK-BILLED CUCKOO. This absolutely astounding find only stayed in the gardens, showing well, but deep in sycamores for just 2 or 3 minutes and was only seen by 3 fortunate staff members before leaving to the west to not yet be re-located. Such a brief encounter, but absolutely magical for the lucky few-it has to still be on the island somewhere so fingers crossed we'll track it down tomorrow. And it didn't end there.... With all available legs hastily searching the south of the island for the Cuckoo, a 'small Thrush' was reported at Cruesbrek and this  heralded a frantic sprint to the location and then it happened again. Just before dusk the second American bird of the day was identified-a GREY-CHEEKED THRUSH and another first for the island! There'll be an anxious wait for most overnight though as yet another Yankee mega eluded the masses (that's about 10 people) going to roost before most had arrived on site. Not quite sure where we go from here, but other bits and bobs from an incredible day include 14 Whooper Swans (9 new), 1113 Greylag Geese passing through, 36 Rock Pipits, a late Wheatear, 8 Chiffchaffs (including 2 'tristis', and 2 'eastern' types), 62 Twite and at least 6 north-western Redpolls and a Mealy Redpoll. A truly unbelievable, EPIC day, and one which the North Ron faithful will never forget...

Grey Phalarope-we wish we could show you photo's of today's American mega's but the Black-billed Cuckoo was so brief (and the finder opted to get his mates rather than reach for the camera) and it was almost dark by the time the Grey-cheeked Thrush had been identified-surely both will resurface and co-operate more tomorrow.