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
Photos Simon Davies