The combination of the brisk NE wind, new moon and drizzle, rain and murk all added up to a big lighthouse attraction overnight on the 17th; a conservative estimate of 7,000+ Redwings made up the bulk of the migrants swirling around in the arrows of spinning light, often just appearing as little, dancing, shining, points of light as they get caught in the beckoning beams – an awesome spectacle tempered by the many which do not survive such attractions, paying the cost of migration. Other migrants involved included Song Thrushes, Fieldfares, Robins, Goldcrests, Bramblings, Rock Pipits and a juvenile Gannet!
The wind had died down a little bit by dawn but rapidly increased again to at least force 8, making a very tricky day in the field; a rough seawatch paid off though later in the day with our third Balearic Shearwater of the year passing the hide along with 3 Sooty Shearwaters, 2 Manx Shearwaters and a Bonxie.
Whooper Swans were down to ‘only’ 190, mainly on Ancum, while other migrants included 2 Sparrowhawks, 2 Merlins, a Grey Wagtail, 25 Robins, 7 Wheatears, 12 Fieldfares, 118 Song Thrushes, single Garden Warbler and Blackcap, 34 Bramblings, a Siskin and 2 Snow Buntings although counts were reduced in the difficult conditions.
The wind had dropped off to a really light easterly breeze on the 18th and with the overcast conditions we knew we’d be in for a good day; the conditions allowed us to keep the nets open in Holland gardens all day producing an excellent (for here!) total of 121 new birds ringed including 80 Redwings, only the fourth Grey Wagtail to be ringed on the island and the first Greenfinch of the year.
An afternoon seawatch again produced the day’s highlight with our second FEA’S PETREL (type) of the year past the seawatch hide at 16:00 along with a Storm Petrel, 5 Manx Shearwaters, 5 Sooty Shearwaters, 4 Pomarine Skuas, 2 Blue Fulmars, 340 Kittiwakes, the first two Little Auks of the autumn, 1,115 large Auk sp. and 2 Bonxies while calmer seas allowed totals of 2 Slavonian Grebes, 10 Great-northern Divers, 7 Long-tailed Ducks, 4 Red-breasted Mergansers and a late Arctic Tern. 88 Whooper Swans were counted today with many of them heading south in the good conditions leaving just a few family parties on Ancum Loch where the Scaup was seen again along with 8 Barnacle Geese.
In the calm weather, a few of the lingering scarcities of late resurfaced with the Bluethroat again at Quoybanks, the Dusky Warbler again in Holland and the Red-breasted Flycatcher still; other migrants included 2 Sparrowhawks, up to 3 Peregrines, 2 Merlins, a Jack Snipe, 8 Robins, 6 Wheatears, 400+ Redwings, 2 Lesser Whitethroats, 6 Blackcaps, 2 Chiffchaffs, 3 Goldcrests, 6 Chaffinches, 37+ Bramblings, a Lapland Bunting and 21 Snow Buntings.
Photos Simon Davies