Monday, 31 August 2015

30th August

A fantastic and enjoyable day was reward for a strong effort by the wardening team and the small number of visiting birders resulting in a diverse range of species, recorded in some impressive totals. In a brisk southerly wind there were three main events of the day, beginning with a quite staggering passage of southbound  Swifts during the first few hours of the morning. The former day record of 182 was easily broken (in about 20 minutes) when a 'viz-mig' session from Holland House between 7 and 10am recorded 352 passing south. This included flocks of 143 and 80 and with additions from birds arriving later in the afternoon the final tally came to a minimum of 395 birds. Next came a mid-morning slice of luck when a juvenile/first-winter Citrine Wagtail flew in calling and landed on a small puddle next to one fortunate team member near Hooking Loch. It remained for just 20 seconds before heading off in the Bridesness direction but despite this being a traditional hotspot for the species it wasn't re-found today. Star act number 3 was very much a local affair, when a species commoner further south but only North Ronladsay's third ever record of a Red Kite, was picked up drifted in from the east Links mid-afternoon before settling and performing well on the west coast.

Onto commoner species, and birds moving rapidly south were again the most evident with 229 Swallows, 2 Sand Martins, 627 Meadow Pipits, 21 White Wagtails, 38 unidentified 'alba' Wagtails and 90 Wheatears logged. Wildfowl and waders were also moving as 106 Wigeon, 7 Pintail, 70 Ruff, 140 Snipe, 232 Redshank, 6 Greenshank, 2 Green Sandpipers, 3 Wood Sandpipers and the Curlew Sandpiper were also recorded. The sea-watchers also had a better day notching up 11 Sooty Shearwaters, 13 Arctic Skuas 25 Great Skuas (although 7 of these were mobbing the Kite a one stage!) and 182 Kittiwakes - 174 of them juveniles so the species has had a decent breeding season somewhere. There were also 112 Arctic Terns, 3 Common Terns and 79 'Commic' Terns (most of those on sea-watch) while other odds and ends included 2 juvenile Marsh Harriers again, 3 Kestrels and 18 Willow Warblers.

Citrine Wagtail - 17th island record (photo Jonathan Scragg) 

Red Kite (both photos George Gay) 
Wood Sandpiper (photo Stephen Rutt)
Wigeon flock with Pintail (photo George Gay)

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