Wednesday, 20 September 2017

18th and 19th September

A decent day on the 18th with the moderate wind still firmly in the NW; the day’s highlight (for one person anyway!) was the reappearance of the Long-billed Dowitcher (assuming it is the same bird anyway) at Brides Loch, it showed well feeding with the Snipe but had disappeared by the time the rest of the crew was assembled.   Other waders across the island included 105 Ringed Plover, 1,419 Golden Plover, 4 Grey Plover, 2 Little Stints still, 20 Ruff and a Jack Snipe amongst the steadily growing 184 Snipe.

                Grounded migrants were again mainly lingering birds with the Marsh Warbler seen briefly again in Holland, the 2 Barred Warblers still, 3 Yellow-browed Warblers, 3 Lesser Whitethroats, 2 Garden Warblers, 3 Willow Warblers, a Chiffchaff, a Robin, 79 alba Wagtails, 2 Mealy Redpolls and 2 Snow Buntings.

Bar-tailed Godwit,  photo Simon Davies

                The light winds were yet again still in the NW on the 19th but there was plenty of sunshine in the afternoon to make it pleasurable out in the field; there was the merest hint of some new birds across the island with a lovely female Bluethroat trapped at Holland first thing, where there was also a Yellow-browed Warbler and a Common Rosefinch.   Other landbirds included a Robin, one of the lingering Barred Warblers still, 4 Lesser Whitethroats, single Blackcap and Garden Warbler, a Chiffchaff, 3 Willow Warblers, 2 Mealy Redpolls, 3 Lapland Buntings and 4 Snow Buntings.

                Offshore, birds included an increase to 9 Great-northern Divers, 4 Red-throated Divers, 3 blue phase Fulmars, 15 Sooty Shearwaters, a Manx Shearwater and a skein of 26 Pink-footed Geese; other bits of note comprised an increase of 154 Wigeon, single Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Merlin and Peregrine, 2 Little Stints still and 64 Black-tailed Godwits including several flocks coming in from the north.

Bluethroat,  photo Simon Davies

Monday, 18 September 2017

16th and 17th September

We kept the brisk NW wind on the 16th but it was a much nicer day overall with far fewer showers and plenty of sunshine; the seawatch hide provided the bird of the day with a Balearic Shearwater heading north at 19:10 along with decent totals of 5 Red-throated Divers, 101 Sooty Shearwaters, 6 Manx Shearwaters, 54 Storm Petrels and 2,283 Fulmars including 5 blue phase individuals.

                There was a thin scattering of grounded migrants across the island comprising 2 Barred Warblers (birds caught at the Obs and Holland), 2 Yellow-browed Warblers, a Common Rosefinch, 2 Mealy Redpolls, 8 Rock Pipits, a Lesser Whitethroat, 2 Blackcaps, a Chiffchaff, 6 Willow Warblers, a House Martins, 6 Lapland Buntings and a Snow Bunting.   Other little bits included 7 Herons, 2 Kestrels, a Merlin, a Grey Plover, 2 Little Stints at Bewan still and 63 Black-tailed Godwits.

Sanderling,  photo Simon Davies

                A lovely day on the 17th with much lighter northerly winds swinging round to the NE for a spell but despite the promising conditions and a good selection of eastern rares turning up nearby it was a quiet day for new arrivals with a worn adult Marsh Warbler trapped at Holland in the morning the highlight; other landbirds largely consisted of lingering birds with the 2 Barred Warblers still, a Yellow-browed Warbler, a Mealy Redpoll, a Goldcrest, 3 Lesser Whitethroats, a Garden Warbler, 5 Willow Warblers, a Short-eared Owl, 3 Snow Buntings and a Lapland Bunting.

                Remarkably, a second Balearic Shearwater passed the seawatch hide at 08:50 this morning along with 37 Sooty Shearwaters, 7 Manx Shearwaters, 4,117 Fulmars (including 18 blue phase birds), a Great-northern Diver, 3 Red-throated Divers and 11 Common Scoters while 6 Risso’s Dolphins frolicked offshore.   The first Whooper Swan of the autumn arrived on Ancum, with counts of 18 Gadwall, 80 Teal and 17 Shoveler while the 2 Little Stints remained on Bewan, a Grey Plover was on The Links and single Peregrine and Kestrel bombed about.
The Marsh Warbler had a huge fat score of 7 and weighed a monstrous 19.4g - it obviously had been feeding up for a while not too far away

Yellow-browed Warbler,  photos Simon Davies

Saturday, 16 September 2017

14th and 15th September

A tough day in the field on the 14th with a blazing NW wind bringing with it frequent and heavy showers; the first Snow Bunting of the autumn was one of the few new passerine arrivals while the Ortolan Bunting was seen again around Nouster but remained very elusive but 37 Wheatears, a Garden Warbler and a Willow Warbler were the only other migrants of note.

                A year’s high count of 1,406 Golden Plover was made through the day along with a Little Stint, 2 Curlew Sandpipers, 51 Ruff, 33 Black-tailed Godwits, 32 Bar-tailed Godwits and a Wood Sandpiper again.   Four Sooty Shearwaters were offshore along with a Red-throated Diver, 4 Arctic Terns, a Common Tern and good numbers of Kittiwakes while 108 Wigeon, 7 Gadwall and 40 Teal were counted; the Marsh Harrier was still present along with a Merlin and 3 Herons.

Golden Plover,  photo Simon Davies

                A pretty much identical day on the 15th as we kept the blasting NW wind and the many showers sweeping across the island; the first 13 Pink-footed Geese of the autumn passed south at sea in the morning with 6 Sooty Shearwaters, 4 Great Skuas and 2 Red-throated Divers.   A new Lesser Whitethroat was at the top end along with a Snow Bunting while 6 Rock Pipits were on the coast by the Obs and waders included the 2 Little Stints, 2 Curlew Sandpipers and Grey Plover.

Little Stint,  photo Simon Davies

Thursday, 14 September 2017

12th and 13th September

Still a few showers whipping through on the 13th but nowhere near as wet as race day there were however, few new arrivals with a Barred Warbler at Rue the highlight along with 2 Lesser Whitethroats, 2 Garden Warblers, a Blackcap, 8 Willow Warblers, a Goldcrest and 3 Lapland Buntings.   Some good wader counts were centred round the flooded fields at Cauldhame again with 3 Grey Plovers, 3 Little Stints, 2 Curlew Sandpipers, 90 Ruff, 65 Black-tailed Godwits, 24 Bar-tailed Godwits and 279 Redshank.

                Offshore 22 Sooty Shearwaters, a Great-northern Diver, a Red-throated Diver and 34 Arctic Terns passed by while 5 Herons were on the island and the Marsh Harrier, a Sparrowhawk and a Kestrel were seen.

Ruff,  photo Simon Davies

                While the rest of the country was being battered by storms the 13th was a lovely, calm day with a light NW breeze with a selection of new arrivals including our second Ortolan Bunting of the year found at dusk near the Obs, a very flighty Barred Warbler around Ancum/Burray/Brigg, 2 Common Rosefinches at Holland and Phisligar, a Stonechat (continuing the great year for this species) and a Wood Sandpiper which dropped into Ancum.

                Other landbirds included the first Hen Harrier of the autumn, single Merlin and Kestrel, 3 Blackcaps caught at Holland, 2 Garden Warblers, a Lesser Whitethroat, a House Martin, a Reed Warbler, 3 Sedge Warblers, 12 Willow Warblers, 2 Chiffchaffs and 7 Lapland Buntings.   Also of note were 2 Little Stints and 2 Curlew Sandpipers again, even better counts of 101 Ruff and 106 Black-tailed Godwits and a least 6 Water Rails running round Ancum squealing away.
Reed Warbler,  photo Simon Davies

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

11th September - Bird race day!

Today was the island based Bird Observatory bird race, competed between Fair Isle, Bardsey, Skokholm, Cape Clear and us – hopefully the first of a soon to become regular event; we were hampered by continuous, heavy, driving rain from dawn right through until mid-afternoon but it brightened up after 15:30 into a nice and sometimes sunny afternoon.   Even in the heaviest spells of rain we were out in the field and there were new birds to be found with the first 3 Yellow-browed Warblers of the year at Holland, Lochend and Haskie and the first Jack Snipe and 3 Blackcaps of the autumn unearthed.

                Other landbird migrants included the Arctic Warbler making a surprise reappearance, 2 Garden Warblers, single Redstart and Chiffchaff, the flava Wagtail still by the Beacon, a House Martin, 3 Goldcrests, a Short-eared Owl, the Marsh Harrier again quartering Hooking and Brides, a Kestrel and 9 Lapland Buntings.   Some decent waders were highlighted by 2 Curlew Sandpipers and 2 Little Stints again at Bewan, a Grey Plover on The Links and 73 Black-tailed Godwits and 87 Ruff amongst big numbers of other waders on the now very flooded fields around Cauldhame.

                Given the conditions, our total of 85 proved to be very respectable and with the other islands experiencing similar trying weather conditions it was an even contest, much fun was had in hindsight (at the worst of the weather questions were asked!) and some good birds were found.

Purple skies

Sunday, 10 September 2017

9th and 10th September

A pleasant day on the 9th with bright conditions and a light westerly breeze; there weren’t too many new grounded migrants but there was still a turnover of waders with 2 Little Stints and 2 Curlew Sandpipers at the north end, another increase to 48 Ruff, a Whimbrel and counts of 58 Black-tailed Godwits and 128 Redshank.   Another influx of ducks included 69 Wigeon, 105 Teal and 60 Mallard while the first 3 Long-tailed Ducks of the autumn passed the seawatch hide.

                The only new landbird in the nice weather was a Redstart at Phisligar while other birds included single Sparrowhawk and Merlin, 3 Sand Martins, 70 Swallows, a Rock Pipit, 76 Wheatears, 5 Willow Warblers, 5 Lapland Buntings and a high count of 326 Linnets.

flava Wagtail,  photo Bryony Baker

                Promising conditions on the 10th with a hint of east in the brisk and increasing southerly wind and numerous showers, it was however seawatching that stole the show with our third Great Shearwater of the autumn passing north past the seawatch hide late afternoon along with 85 Sooty Shearwaters, 7 Manx Shearwaters, 600+ Gannets, 18 Arctic Terns, a Common Tern and 160 Razorbills counted in just a couple of hours along with small numbers of Risso’s Dolphins lingering off the north and west coast of the island.

                There was a hint of some new arrivals with a Common Rosefinch at the north end, the first Dunnock of the autumn at Holland, 2 Tree Pipits, 5 Rock Pipits, a new Lesser Whitethroat and an increase to 10 Lapland Buntings noted.   Other birds comprised the Marsh Harrier still, single Peregrine and Kestrel, the flava Wagtail still at the Beacon, 3 Willow Warblers and the Redstart still.
Sedge Warbler,  photo George Gay

Tystie and Kitt,  photo Simon Davies

Saturday, 9 September 2017

7th and 8th September

A decent morning on the 7th with a light southerly breeze but a long spell of drizzly rain moved in at lunchtime which probably produced the bird of the day as an ARCTIC WARBLER was trapped at the Obs in the early evening – a real island blocker being only the 6th record and the first since 2003.  Other land migrants comprised a Marsh Harrier (probably a different individual to the one last week), 2 Sparrowhawks, single Merlin and Peregrine, 12 Sand Martins, 78 Swallows, 3 Rock Pipits, the same flava Wagtail again, 2 Whinchats, a Garden Warbler, 3 Willow Warblers and 3 Lapland Buntings.

                29 Sooty Shearwaters passed offshore while another influx of ducks included 81 Wigeon, 7 Gadwall, 112 Teal and a Pintail; a nice selection of waders were highlighted by a notable arrival of 83 Black-tailed Godwits along with 129 Ringed Plover, 205 Lapwings, a single Curlew Sandpiper, 4 Ruff and 2 Wood Sandpipers again.

Arctic Warbler,  photo Simon Davies

                A weather reversal on the 8th as after some morning drizzle moved through it was an incredible warm, sunny, almost flat calm day; the Arctic Warbler remained around the Obs while the rest of the day’s grounded migrants largely consisted of lingering birds in the fine weather but there was a large, obvious arrival of 250+ Wheatears and a new Redstart and 2 Goldcrests along with 7 Lapland Buntings, a Pied Flycatcher, 8 Willow Warblers, a Lesser Whitethroat and the flava Wagtail still.

                A single Sooty Shearwater and a Great-northern Diver were offshore while a Fulmar ‘stranding’ in the traditional field at Brides resulted in 77 being ringed (plus one ringed as a chick in 2014).  Single Kestrels and Peregrine bombed around while 14 Herons and 28 Ruff were much improved counts along with 35 Black-tailed Godwits and a Curlew Sandpiper.
Merlin,  photo George Gay

Curlew Sandpiper,  photo George Gay

Sanderling,  photo Simon Davies

Thursday, 7 September 2017

5th and 6th September

The recent blazing winds died away dramatically overnight leaving a very pleasant day on the 5th with a nice array of birds across the island without anything too amazing; landbirds included a Common Rosefinch trapped as it came in to roost at Holland, 4 Lapland Buntings, a good post-breeding count of 22 Reed Buntings, 8 Willow Warblers, 2 Garden Warblers, the first Lesser Whitethroat of the autumn, a Whitethroat, a Reed Warbler, 2 Whinchats and 3 Swifts.   Commoner migrants included 60+ alba Wagtails, 487+ Meadow Pipits, 145 Swallows, 28 Sand Martins across the island.

                Some good wader totals comprised the first juvenile Curlew Sandpiper of the autumn, 134 Ringed Plover, 1,110 Golden Plover, 137 Lapwing, 17 Knot, 113 Sanderling, 54 Dunlin, 6 Ruff, 19 Black-tailed Godwits, 23 Bar-tailed Godwits, 9 Whimbrel, 109 Redshank and 129 Turnstone.   Other birds of note included the Marsh Harrier again which was seen to properly leave away to the south this time, 2 Sparrowhawks, a Kestrel, decent counts of 28 Mallard and 31 Wigeon and 9 Herons on the move.

Lapland Bunting

                The morning of the 6th saw a brisk southerly wind bring wave after wave of drizzle showers but by the afternoon the sun had come out to produce a lovely second half of the day; the main feature of the day was the arrival of some good waders with the definite highlight being the second LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER for the island seen and heard in flight over Mildam before landing briefly on The Links with some Bar-tailed Godwits, it soon flew off with the Godwits though and despite some intensive searching it was not seen again.   Other decent waders included 3 Curlew Sandpipers, 2 Wood Sandpipers in off the sea at Trolla, 2 Green Sandpipers, a Grey Plover and an increase to 40+ Black-tailed Godwits.

                Landbirds were thinly spread but did include the first flava Wagtail of the autumn (probably a Blue-headed), an increase to 7 Lapland Buntings, a Pied Flycatcher, a Whinchat, 4 Swifts, a Rock Pipit and 60+ Wheatears.   Other bits and pieces included another influx of ducks with 37 Wigeon and 92 Teal and single Sparrowhawk and Merlin while offshore were 6 Sooty Shearwaters and 2 Red-throated Divers.
Curlew Sandpiper


Photos Simon Davies

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

3rd and 4th September

A very tough day in the field on the 3rd with a very strong SE wind blasting across the island making even walking around a tiring business!  Two Common Rosefinches were the day’s highlight with juveniles seen at Holland and Westness while also on the land a Pied Flycatcher was new at the Lighthouse along with a Lapland Bunting, 3 Willow Warblers, 21 Wheatears, 67 alba Wagtails and a Collared Dove.

                Seawatching conditions had deteriorated from yesterday with just 7 Sooty Shearwaters, a Manx Shearwater and 6 Puffins logged; 4 Herons, 24 Teal, 20 Black-tailed Godwits and 16 Bar-tailed Godwits were also seen through the day.

                An awful day on the 4th as we kept the blazing force 7-8 SE wind and gained constant, heavy, driving rain pretty much throughout the whole day, not drying up until the evening only giving us a couple of hours of decent weather.   Despite the day being ‘unbirdable’ for long periods some good totals were unearthed including the first Whitethroat of the autumn at Holland, a Grasshopper Warbler trapped at the Obs in the evening, a Swift over the Obs, 2 Willow Warblers, a Chiffchaff, 3 Collared Doves and a Woodpigeon on the land.

                A decent spread of waders included a Grey Plover, 6 Greenshank, a Whimbrel, 2 Ruff and 9 Black-tailed Godwits while also of note were 2 Common Terns which flew through in the morning (the first since mid-July), 5 Arctic Terns, 33 Teal and a Sparrowhawk.

Sunday, 3 September 2017

1st and 2nd September

Overcast with the continuing SW wind on the 1st again meant there were few new grounded migrants so most of the day’s attention ended up being directed out to sea again which handsomely paid off with another Great Shearwater north past the seawatch hide at 15:10 while other totals included 82 Sooty Shearwaters, 11 Manx Shearwaters and 327 Kittiwakes.   Otherwise it was still quiet with the elusive Barred Warbler still in Holland along with a female Sparrowhawk, 13 Black-tailed Godwits, 23 Bar-tailed Godwits and 2 Willow Warblers.

The Holland Barred Warbler

                The moderate SW wind gradually moved round into the SE by the afternoon of the 2nd and the overcast morning gradually turned into a sunny, bright afternoon; it was another day with most of the attention focused on the sea and yet again, it definitely paid off with a [presumed] FEA’S PETREL which flew past the seawatch hide at 15:50, it was however quite distant and the three observers feel that it will likely end up as ‘just’ a Pterodroma sp. even after a full description is submitted however awesome the sighting was!

                Long hours staring out to sea produced some other decent day totals which included 337 Sooty Shearwaters, 45 Manx Shearwaters, 2 Storm Petrels, 6 Red-throated Divers, 2 Great-northern Divers, 7 Arctic Skuas, 16 Great Skuas, 856 Kittiwakes, 7 Arctic Terns and 394 Auk sp. with the vast majority being Razorbills with a handful of Guillemots and Puffins.

                It was quiet across the rest of the island but with seawatching and other events coverage was perhaps reduced but the switch to the SE wind did produce the first Common Rosefinch of the autumn at Holland House in the evening along with 5 Willow Warblers and a new Garden Warbler.
Willow Warbler

Purple Sandpiper

Photos Simon Davies

Saturday, 2 September 2017

30th and 31st August

A brisk SW wind was the main feature of the day on the 30th and while this didn’t equate to many grounded migrants it was excellent conditions for some visible migration with 880 Meadow Pipits and 130 alba Wagtails the main event – although this is bound to be an underestimate of the true numbers.   There was a selection of other landbirds to be seen through the day, albeit very thinly spread with the first Pied Flycatcher of the autumn at Rue, a Spotted Flycatcher, a Goldcrest, a Grey Wagtail in Nouster, 5 Willow Warblers, a Chiffchaff, a Whinchat, 21 Sand Martins and 4 Collared Doves.

                Offshore, counts included 20 Sooty Shearwaters, 6 Manx Shearwaters and the first Great-northern Diver of the autumn while other birds of note comprised 4 Herons, an influx of 84 Teal and 7 Gadwall, the Marsh Harrier still floating around, a Kestrel, 160 Lapwings and 26 Black-tailed Godwits.   Also worth a mention was a probable American Golden Plover which came in off the sea over the seawatch hide and headed south but unfortunately despite extensive searching it could not be re-found.


                The wind had dropped right off to almost nothing on the 31st leaving a very pleasant day to be out in the field; the main feature of the day was the kicking off in style of the autumn’s seawatching with a single Great Shearwater north past the seawatch hide at lunchtime along with 69 Sooty Shearwaters, 49 Manx Shearwaters, 9 Storm Petrels, a Great-northern Diver and 6 Red-throated Diver.   Other highlights through the day included the Holland Barred Warbler reappearing in a mist net, the first Lapland Bunting of the autumn at Nether Linney, the Marsh Harrier still and some more visible migration with the first 2 Rock Pipits of the autumn with 126 Swallows, 871 Meadow Pipits and 146 alba Wagtails logged.

                The very few grounded migrants included 12 Willow Warblers, 2 Chiffchaffs, 2 Garden Warblers, a Whinchat and a Robin while 2 Sparrowhawks, 2 Kestrels and a Peregrine bombed around.   Also of note were 42 Black-tailed Godwits, a Grey Plover, 39 Teal and 23 Wigeon (a bit of an influx).

Lapland Bunting


Photos Simon Davies

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

28th and 29th August

A tough day in the field on the 28th with heavy rain first thing brightening up through the day but with a strong and increasing SW wind blasting across the island; the first visiting birders of the autumn combined with a Heatherlea tour group made sure there was some good coverage though and a range of birds were eventually seen, the highlights were lingering birds from yesterday with the juvenile Marsh Harrier at Hooking and the elusive Barred Warbler still in Holland Gardens.   Other grounded passerines were in short supply with 8 Willow Warblers, 2 Reed Warblers and a Whinchat logged while 60 Swallows, 8 Sand Martins and 3 Swifts were overhead.

                Seawatching totals included 12 Sooty Shearwaters, a Storm Petrel, 17 Great Skuas and a Red-throated Diver while other mentionables comprised 4 Herons, 21 Teal, 7 Shoveler, 2 Peregrines, a Kestrel, 33 Black-tailed Godwits, 33 Bar-tailed Godwits, 124 Redshank and 4 Ruff.

Kittiwake playing in the wind at the pier

                Bright and sunny again on the 29th but the strong SW still swept across the island meaning it was again sometimes an effort to keep bashing around in the field; perhaps the most interesting [new] bird was an adult Red-necked Phalarope on the small pool at Westness which, on very close views was revealed to have an orange colour ring suggesting it was the same individual that was last seen on Gretchen on 29th July which, we now believe to be a Shetland ringed bird which originally had a geolocator attached to its back but has now fallen off.

                The Marsh Harrier was still present along with 2 Peregrines, 3 Kestrels and a Merlin while some increased seawatching efforts produced 40 Sooty Shearwaters, 15 Manx Shearwaters, a Storm Petrel, 21 Great Skuas and 20 Arctic Terns.   Other birds of note included 5 Wigeon, 7 Shoveler, 4 Herons, 17 Black-tailed Godwits, 4 Ruff, a Whimbrel and an influx of 16 Lesser Black-backed Gulls while landbirds comprised the first House Martin and Spotted Flycatcher of the autumn, 7 Willow Warblers, 3 Sedge Warblers and 7 Sand Martins.   Also of great note was a Convolvulus Hawkmoth picked up off the road near the Post Office. 
Great Skua coming back to the Mallard it just killed

Adult and juvenile Purple Sandpiper

Red Admirals

Photos Simon Davies

Monday, 28 August 2017

26th and 27th August

With the wind still firmly in the east, expectations were still high on the 26th but the promised rain never arrived and it proved to be a stunning, warm, sunny day which, while lovely, did not equate to a great many grounded migrants.   This, combined with reduced coverage led to a slower day in the field with the Greenish Warbler still present around the Obs, a Kestrel, 3 Short-eared Owls, 2 Whinchats, 56 Wheatears, a Garden Warbler, 13 Willow Warblers and 2 Grasshopper Warblers the migrants of note across the island.

                Other birds included 3 Herons, a Merlin, 6 Ruff and 20 Sand Martins while a notable influx of butterflies which comprised at least 30 Red Admirals, 2 Painted Ladies and a Large White indicated a more southerly influence.

Short-eared Owl,   photo George Gay

                The wind did indeed move round into the south on the 27th and gradually picked up through the day which produced the first Barred Warbler of the year, skulking away in Holland Gardens but skilfully staying away from the nets and a juvenile Marsh Harrier which floated around Brides and Hooking before attempting to leave away to the south but bottled it and came back!

                The Greenish Warbler was seen again first thing but disappeared for the rest of the day (a pattern its repeated over the last few days) while other birds included 8 Herons, 28 Black-tailed Godwits, a Sandwich Tern in Nouster in the evening (the first for over a month), 15 Arctic Terns lingering around Seal Skerry, a Short-eared Owl, a Kestrel, a Sparrowhawk, 2 Whinchats, a Tree Pipit, a Garden Warbler and 17 Willow Warblers.
Wheatear,   photo Simon Davies

This Garden Warbler had a rough start to life by the state of its tail!   photo Simon Davies

Friday, 25 August 2017

25th August

Overcast throughout but it remained dry with a consistent, moderate easterly breeze; expectations were still high and we were rewarded with a cracking BLYTH’S REED WARBLER which showed very well at Sandback, sometimes together with a Reed Warbler for an excellent comparison (there was no comparison!).   The rest of the day was a bit of a slog with lots of tramping around for limited reward, there was however like yesterday, a light sprinkling of migrants across the island with the Greenish Warbler still around the Obs, the first 2 Reed Warblers of the autumn, 3 Whinchats, a Garden Warbler, one of yesterday’s Grasshopper Warblers still and 7 Willow Warblers.

                Other bits of note included 5 Herons, 2 Wigeon, 22 Teal, 4 Kestrels still, a juvenile Peregrine, 3 Ruff, 29 Black-tailed Godwits, 2 Greenshank and a Whimbrel – the wind is forecast to remain in the east tomorrow, so it remains to be seen how ill-timed the staff night out in Kirkwall will end up to be!!

Blyth's Reed Warbler

together with a Reed Warbler

Photos Simon Davies

23rd and 24th August

The strong easterly wind continued through the day on the 23rd which, coupled with the overcast conditions and rain moving in by late afternoon built expectations up further and further; the first and best bird to mention though was a summer plumaged adult AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVER seen well by one observer in torchlight up near the Lighthouse – it was located as we were on a dazzling expedition and the lucky (or unlucky) individual nearly had the net on the bird before it disappeared into the night, not to be seen again, hopefully he got enough on the bird to put a good description in!

                The rest of the day proved to be a bit of an anti-climax with the merest trickle of new arrivals hinting what was out there waiting for the rain to drop them in; new birds included 3 Kestrels, 10 Willow Warblers, a Garden Warbler and a Short-eared Owl along with 3 Herons, 15 Black-tailed Godwits and a Greenshank.

The recent rough nights have been great for dazzling, with the 4th and 5th Black-tailed Godwits ever to be ringed on the island the highlights

                After a very wet and windy night, dawn on the 24th was oddly calm and dry allowing a two-hour window in which to open some nets at Holland House and pretty much the first bird caught was a cracking GREENISH WARBLER – autumn had finally arrived!  

The weather then proceeded to throw a variety of conditions at us, with several hours of solid rain, followed by several hours of thick fog followed by a calm, clear evening revealing a thin but widely scattered spread of new migrants with a juvenile Dotterel on Torness new for the year and 3 Tree Pipits and 2 Grasshopper Warblers new for the autumn along with, 5 Kestrels, 4 Garden Warblers, a Whinchat, 21 Willow Warblers, a Chiffchaff and 2 Robins.   Other birds included a Pintail (first one since 6th July), 2 Grey Plovers, 2 Green Sandpipers, 3 Ruff, 15 Black-tailed Godwits, a Short-eared Owl and 20 Sand Martins.

Greenish Warbler

Tree Pipit

Photos Simon Davies

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

21st and 22nd August

A glorious day on the 21st with pretty much wall to wall sunshine with a light NW wind which had swung round into the east by the afternoon; landbird passage was still slow with 5 Willow Warblers the only grounded migrants while other counts included the 4 Collared Doves still, 14 Sand Martins, 73 Swallows, 196 Meadow Pipits and single Sparrowhawk and Merlin whizzing around.

Grey Plover,   George Gay

                Some decent wader counts comprised 1,312 Golden Plover, a Grey Plover still, 41 Purple Sandpipers, 28 Black-tailed Godwits, 22 Bar-tailed Godwits, a Whimbrel, 153 Redshank, a Greenshank and an autumn high count so far of 342 Turnstone along with 4 Herons and 2 Red-throated Divers while the one that got away was a large raptor sp. seen over Stennabreck into the sun which was probably a Common Buzzard but views were inconclusive.

                With the wind now firmly in the east expectations began to grow on the 22nd but the fine weather that came with it didn’t equate to many more migrants with 10 Willow Warblers the highlight.   A disappointingly quiet day also produced single Merlin, Peregrine and Sparrowhawk, 33 Black-tailed Godwits on Gretchen and best of all, a good pod of 7 Risso’s Dolphins playing around off the west coast.
Risso's Dolphin,   George Gay

Peregrine,   Simon Davies