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

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