A stunning day with wall to wall sunshine and a warm southerly breeze, it was an excellent day in the field with a succession of highlights, getting folks chasing around all over the place, running after birds and cetaceans with varying degrees of success! The highlight for many was an awesome pod of 6 ORCAS which spent a good hour mooching off the north end of the island; the group, which contained a large bull, two young males and three smaller animals was last seen heading south off the east coast towards Sanday and were different to another group seen off Papa Westray shortly afterwards.
The selection of avian highlights was headed by a brief Little Egret which flew up the east coast and out towards Fair Isle to the north – an excellent bird for the island being only the third record! Other good birds included an immature White-tailed Eagle which came in off the sea at Westbeach and continued north, a Marsh Harrier which came in off the sea at Brides and also went north, a 1st summer Little Gull on Gretchen and a Quail flushed from Waterhouse.
White-tailed Eagle, photo Simon Davies
The Curlew Sandpiper was again at Westness with a good selection of other waders including 120 Ringed Plover, 105 Knot, 156 Sanderling, 68 Dunlin, 6 Whimbrel, 562 Turnstone and a rapidly reducing 13 Purple Sandpipers. Landbirds were also well represented as totals comprised 3 Sparrowhawks, a Woodpigeon, a little influx of hirundines with 8 Sand Martins, 12 House Martins and 90 Swallows, a Black Redstart, 11 Sedge Warblers (with good numbers setting up territories), a Garden Warbler, 3 Blackcaps, 7 Chiffchaff, 3 Willow Warblers, 2 Spotted Flycatchers, 2 Pied Flycatchers, 2 Jackdaws south over Holland, a Chaffinch and 3 Mealy Redpolls.
The 22nd felt really good with an increasing south-easterly breeze and building cloud after a sunny morning with a female type Common Rosefinch near the lighthouse the start but also unfortunately the end of the day’s highlights; a Garden Warbler trapped at the Obs and a Whimbrel on the coast are the only other things I can think to mention!
Little Gull, photo Simon Davies
Swallow, photo Simon Davies
House Martin, photo Larissa Simulik