Sunday, 22 July 2018

19th-21st July

Sanderling numbers have gradually begun to build up, with 18 on the 19th rising to 24 on the 21st. Other waders on the 19th included a Green Sandpiper at Brides and 15 Bar-tailed Godwits. Arctic Terns have stayed steady at around 820 birds.
The 20th saw the Green Sandpiper return to Bewan and another Ruff on Garso, 4 Black-tailed Godwits were seen feeding in recently silaged fields and a lone Purple Sandpiper made its way back to the island. Otherwise the 20th was quiet with 5 Manx Shearwaters and 2 Sooty Shearwaters from the sea-watch hide.
The 21st bought in some more variable weather and some interesting birds, firstly a Juvenile Cuckoo was found flycatching on the fences around the Old Kirk, there’s a slight amount of intrigue as to where the Cuckoo has come from being a very young bird. A very tired, grotty and unseasonal Redwing was seen at Claypows and duck numbers have begun to increase with 7 Shoveler on Brides, 3 Teal and a lone Gadwall.
The biggest surprise of the day turned out to be an escape Saker Falcon! The bird was initially seen at Westness before heading North and finally settling outside the obs on nearby telegraph poles. Although the bird is an escape it’s an absolute cracker so we’re not complaining!
More moth news! The previously reported Gold Spot has been re-identified as a Lempke’s Gold Spot, a far scarcer moth, so we’re definitely not complaining. The second 1st for North Ronaldsay in a matter of days came in the shape of a Common Carpet. We assume these moths although scarce are regularly occurring on here but a lack of consistent trapping over the years has meant they’ve gone vastly under-recorded.

Fledgling Arctic Tern                                              George Gay

Common Carpet                         Lewis Hooper

Saker Falcon                                                   George Gay 
Saker Falcon                                                             George Gay

Thursday, 19 July 2018

16th-18th July

More bright and sunny weather has meant we’ve been able to get on with more Arctic Tern and Black Guillemot chick ringing. Away from the chicks the Little Stint remained on Bewan until the 17th giving decent views.
Waders have still been the dominant factor in the birding on the island. Numbers are beginning to rise all over the island with the Golden Plovers peaking at 560 on the 17th, Dunlin reached 126 on the same date, Knot numbers have been steady with 12 birds hanging around the North end. 7 Whimbrel on the 17th made for a good count as well.
A trio of Grey Herons at Hooking also on the 17th showed signs of being returning birds. The big highlights over the past three days were a long overdue Green Sandpiper found at Bewan in the morning on the 18th and the evening produced a very smart Roseate Tern on Tor Ness with the non-breeding Arctic Tern flock.
Away from birds the moth trap has had a few exciting additions aside from large numbers of commoner moths such as Dark Arches which posted a very respectable showing of over 100 individuals on the 17th. A Lempke's Gold Spot trapped on the 16th was a first for the island and a small influx of Small-dotted Buff’s have produced 3rd to 7th island records.

Green Sandpiper                                                      George Gay

Lempke's Gold Spot                                                George Gay

Knot                                                                         George Gay

Monday, 16 July 2018

13th-15th July

Calm and brighter condition on the 13th meant the day had to start in the sea-watch hide, without any real speed behind the wind numbers were pretty low as birds edged their way past the island at their own pace, 3 Sooty Shearwaters, 3 Manx Shearwaters and 2 Storm Petrels made up the highlights.
With silage still under way feeding wader flocks have been taking advantage of the recently exposed ground and we’ve seen a steady rise in numbers. The 14th took the prize for high counts, 440 Golden Plover, 250 Oystercatchers, 102 Lapwing and although not waders the Common Gulls have joined in on the act posting a respectable 73 also on the 14th.
With the 14th being one of the warmest days of the year it gave us a prime opportunity to check round the remaining Tern colonies, thankfully dry weather this year has meant overall success in terms of breeding numbers and fledged juveniles with numbers well into double figures now. The colony on Tor Ness has been supported by an ever-growing cast of non-breeders which totals up to 650 birds, quite an incredible sight once in the colony!
The highlight of the past three days has been a very smart adult Little Stint at Bewan, found on the 14th the bird was also present the following day feeding with a flock of around 70 Dunlin.
Whimbrel                                                                 George Gay

Little Stint                                                                 George Gay

Ringed Plover Chick                                                George Gay

Ringed Plover Parent                                              George Gay

Friday, 13 July 2018

9th-12th July

Bright conditions on the 9th provided good sea-watching conditions in the morning, 6 Manx Shearwaters, 4 Sooty Shearwaters, 7 Storm Petrels, 2831 Puffin and 5 Common Scoter made for an interesting couple of hours.
The Kittiwakes have continued to hang around despite gradually lowering in numbers with the total now down to 275 birds. A pair of Fieldfares are still hanging around the Gue Park area and at least 3 Chiffchaffs have spent their summer in the gardens at Holland House. The highlight for the 9th was undoubtedly a Summer plumaged Black-throated Diver that flew past the Beacon.
The 10th and 11th saw a band of thick wet fog roll in making for challenging birding conditions, but also some promising signs, our first 5 fledged Swallows of the year have boosted totals nicely. A pair of Whimbrels on the island were a welcome addition and Reed Buntings have also started to emerge with 14 on the 11th.
The 12th saw the fog lift and with the silage cut an inevitable increase in waders, Oystercatcher numbers climbed to over 200, a lone Ruff on Garso was a nice highlight, as was another Whimbrel and a very smart summer plumaged Bar-tailed Godwit in a flock of 27 birds.
The Common Tern re-appeared on Bewan with the Arctic Terns and Sandwich Tern was in with the depleting Kittiwake flock between the Sea-watch hide and Foghorn. Sea-watching again provided some entertainment, 6 Sooty Shearwaters, 4 Manx Shearwaters, 2 Storm Petrels and another flock of Common Scoter, this time consisting of 7 birds. A quick Sand Martin netting attempt managed 4 birds, excitingly two re-traps proved to be returning breeding adults for 2017! Finally our first Storm Petrel ringing session of the year gave us an early catch on 19 new birds and 1 re-trap.
Arctic Terns posing                                                   George Gay
Sedge Warbler                                                          George Gay

Bar-tailed Godwit                                                    George Gay

Monday, 9 July 2018

6th - 8th July

Largely bright and sunny throughout this spell with the wind generally in the west and generally decreasing over the last three days; a quiet day on the 6th, highlighted by the first Common Tern of the year at Bewan with an increasing number of Arctic Terns, slowly building up towards their usual late summer peak.

                Another year tick came on the 7th as a Marsh Harrier flew south over Gretchen and straight out to sea towards Sanday in the morning while other bits of note included the Heron still on Ancum, a male Ruff on Bewan where the Common Tern was still present, an excellent count of 185 fledgling Black-headed Gulls around Hooking (indicating another great breeding season for them!) and a male Common Redpoll at Holland.

                All of the interest on the 8th came during the morning’s seawatching which included 2 Red-throated Divers, 4 Sooty Shearwaters, an excellent total of 104 Manx Shearwaters, 2 Storm Petrels, at least 23 Arctic Skuas, 380 Kittiwakes, 800 Puffins, 950 large Auk sp. and a pod of 4 Risso’s Dolphins which moved quickly through.


Common Tern with the Arctics

Friday, 6 July 2018

3rd - 5th July

Settled still with generally light winds, plenty of sunshine and continuingly dry conditions – many lochs have or are in danger of drying up!   A good selection of waders on the 3rd included 45 Purple Sandpipers (the first returning birds arriving en masse), 87 Golden Plover, 37 Dunlin, 2 Black-tailed Godwits, 42 Bar-tailed Godwits, a Whimbrel and 80 Redshank.  

Other birds included a Sandwich Tern, a Collared Dove, a single Swift over the Obs and a couple of Chiffchaffs still in Holland.   Also of note was a Hummingbird Hawkmoth seen on The Links associated with a little arrival of Butterflies including 14+ Painted Ladies and 11 Large Whites.

A seawatch in the afternoon of the 4th produced the first Sooty Shearwater of the year along with 7 Manx Shearwaters, a Storm Petrel and 475 Puffins in an hour and a half.   Other little bits included 2 Sandwich Terns, the Heron still, a returning flock of 7 Wigeon on Ancum and the first Fulmar chicks starting to hatch.

A Spotted Flycatcher was an unusual July record in Holland while the female Garganey was seen again on Brides (but again, no chicks were seen) and two male Ruff on the rapidly disappearing Gretchen were the first returning individuals.

Purple Sandpipers

Our moth trap is slowly improving as we move into July and included this fine male Ghost Moth

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

30th June - 2nd July

More settled weather with sunny skies and light easterly winds; ringing Arctic Terns, Black Guillemots and wader chicks took priority with migrants largely restricted to a few returning waders which totalled 205 Golden Plover, 50 Redshank, 120 Oystercatchers, 38 Knot and 21 Black-tailed Godwits along with Whimbrel and Greenshank (only the second of the year) on the 1st and a breeding plumaged Grey Plover on the 2nd.

                A few uninspiring lingering birds included the Heron on Ancum, 2 Collared Doves and a couple of Chiffchaffs remained in Holland and one of the Gue Park Fieldfares reappeared, having a bath with a flock of Starlings.


Saturday, 30 June 2018

27th - 29th June

A settled few days with plenty of bright sunshine and light to moderate easterly winds (although the inevitable fog did drift in for a while on the 28th); Golden Plover numbers continue to rise reaching 130 on the 27th when there was still a single Red-necked Phalarope on Gretchen.   A bit more to mention on the 28th with 5 Swifts over The Links (only the second record of the year after a woeful spring for this species), a Heron on Ancum, 2 Whimbrel, a Sandwich Tern, at least 50 Sand Martins around the breeding colony on The Links, a Rock Pipit at Trolla (the first one since 14th May) and 7 Manx Shearwaters offshore during a brief seawatch.

                The Heron was still on Ancum on the 29th while 2 more Swifts were over Brides and 24 Bar-tailed Godwits included a Norwegian colour ringed individual.

Both Black-headed and Common Gull fledglings are on the wing now

Wednesday, 27 June 2018

25th and 26th June

A bright and sunny start on the 25th, it soon clouded over though but the winds remained light; it proved to be a decent day in the field with a nice selection of random scarcities across the island, in no particular order they included a summer plumaged Black-throated Diver off The Links, a female Garganey still on Hooking (but no sign of any chicks), an adult male Hen Harrier which flew north up The Links (very unusual mid-summer!), a pair of Red-necked Phalaropes on Gretchen and the Little Gull again, this time at Garso.

                Other little bits included 41 Golden Plover, 26 Dunlin, 21 Bar-tailed Godwits and at Holland a Woodpigeon, 5 Collared Doves and at least 2 Chiffchaffs.

                Light winds again on 26th but with lots more sunshine although it did cloud over in the afternoon; a single Red-necked Phalarope remained on Gretchen and a Whimbrel was at Ancum.   Promising news came from the Arctic Terns where a visit to this year’s biggest colony near Sangar produced 60 ringable chicks – almost double last year’s ringing total!

Plenty of baby Wheatears and Wrens around too

Sunday, 24 June 2018

22nd - 24th June

Mixed conditions again over these past three days with a bright and breezy 22nd seeing the first really obvious returning wader flocks which included 44 Golden Plover, a Whimbrel, 7 Knot and 17 Bar-tailed Godwits.  

The 23rd however, was a horrible day with a blasting westerly wind bringing nasty showers whipping in through the morning and then persistent and heavy, misty, murky, drizzly, foggy awfulness through the afternoon; all of the days interest came up at the north end where thousands of seabirds gathered on and offshore with conservative totals including 2,197 Kittiwakes (huge flocks came ashore when the worst weather came in during the afternoon), 800 Arctic Terns, 1,167+ Puffins (in 1.5 hrs), 1,700 large Auks (also in 1.5 hrs), 20 Arctic Skuas, 340 Gannets, 2 Storm Petrels, 11 Manx Shearwaters and 3 Red-throated Divers.

It changed again on the 24th but this time for the better as it was a lovely day with acres of bright sunshine and an easing wind; the previous days rough weather took its toll though as three out of the four Swallow broods we were due to ring today were unfortunately dead in the nest and the Raven chicks didn’t survive the westerly gales – although their nest was only a couple of metres above the high tide mark on the west coast

Out and about though a first summer Little Gull was bobbing around on Hooking Loch with 40+ Black-headed Gull fledglings, a Willow Warbler that was re-trapped at the Obs had originally been ringed on the 8th and good numbers of previously failed Arctic Terns re-laying at a number of sites.

Kittiwakes at the foghorn

First summer Arctic Tern being photobombed by a Fulmar

Friday, 22 June 2018

19th - 21st June

A real mixture of weather over the last three days with sunshine, strong winds, light winds (W or NW) and nasty little showers; there was very little – pretty much nothing, in the way of new arrivals with the main feature being an impressive build-up of Kittiwakes at the north end, reaching 750 by the 20th, while a fine sight it was sad in a way that they represented failed breeders with many of them calling like they were in a colony and carrying weed and mud around.

                There were regular Storm Petrels and Manx Shearwaters off the north end peaking at 28 Manxies on the 20th and small numbers of waders continue to be seen including Knot, Dunlin, Bar-tailed Godwits and Sanderling.   Our main focus is still on the breeding birds at the moment with waders chicks to ring, colonies to count and monitor and Swallows nests to find.

Curlew chick

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

17th and 18th June

Nice, bright and calm first thing on the 17th but the wind gradually picked up through the day; a few new little bits included an unseasonal 2cy Iceland Gull at Lenswick, 2 Canada Geese on Hooking, a male Greenfinch in Holland briefly (only the second of the year), a Heron, a cracking full breeding plumaged Grey Plover and 2 Common Redpolls at the Obs while at least 3 Chiffchaffs and 4 Collared Doves remained around Holland.

                A rough day on the 18th with a very strong SW wind blazing across the island bringing a few nasty little showers with it; there were at least 7 Storm Petrels and 6 Manx Shearwaters lingering off the north end along with the big flock of loafing Kittiwakes, now totalling c400 birds – there were quite a few 2cy birds mixed in but its still not a good sign!

                The Iceland Gull was still present along with a decent count of 32 Lesser Black-backed Gulls while the Heron, 3 Chiffchaffs and 3 Collared Doves also remained.

2cy Kittiwake

Sunday, 17 June 2018

15th and 16th June

After early morning rain had cleared through it was a pleasant day on the 15th with bright sunshine and easing winds which eventually swung round into the east; the dubious highlight of the day was a flock of 8 Canada Geese which spent most of the day loafing on Gretchen.

                Other birds were few and far between with single Manx Shearwater, Storm Petrel and Great-northern Diver offshore, 7 Collared Doves, 4 Chiffchaff and a Willow Warbler while gatherings of 110 Kittiwakes and 150 Arctic Terns up at Bewan suggested early breeding failures elsewhere.

                A nice day on the 16th with a light SE breeze produced a handful of late spring migrants with the highlight being a female Red-breasted Flycatcher trapped in Holland whilst other new birds included a Grey Wagtail, an extra Collared Dove (8 now!), 3 Chiffchaffs and a Carrion Crow.

                Three Pink-footed Geese were a bit of a surprise as they flew out south while wader totals included some already returning waders with 14 Golden Plover, 24 Knot, 34 Dunlin, 60 Bar-tailed Godwits and noticeably increasing non-breeding flocks of Lapwings, Redshank and Oystercatchers.

Red-breasted Flycatcher

Friday, 15 June 2018

13th and 14th June

A calmish start on the 13th but the wind gradually increased through the day bringing rain by late afternoon (the first rain for a long long time!); the Quail was again singing from near Holland while a new Chiffchaff and a new Blackcap were trapped in the gardens where the 6 Collared Doves remain.   Offshore, 6 Great-northern Divers and 2 Red-breasted Mergansers were of note.

                Heavy rain overnight led to a very rough day on the 14th with the SW wind reaching force 7 by the afternoon bringing frequent, vicious showers; some long hours were put in seawatching from the north end but in the rough weather the results were moderate as totals included 20 Manx Shearwaters, 3 Storm Petrels, 359 Gannets, 10 Arctic Skuas, 13 Bonxies, 205 Kittiwakes and 450 Auks sp.   Predictably birds on the land were limited, although a Kestrel was new at Holland where the 6 Collared Doves remained.

Wader chicks are appearing all over the island now, we hope they manage to hold out against this rough weather!

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

11th and 12th June

Another similar couple of days with light westerly winds and cloud cover coming and going; an early morning seawatch produced most of the highlights on the 11th with an unprecedented flock of 55 Common Scoters past the hide the pick (more than double the previous island record count!).   Also passing during the two hours were 36 Manx Shearwaters, 2 Storm Petrels, 2 Red-throated Divers, 3 Great-northern Divers, 195 Gannets, 45 Puffins and 1,544 Auk sp.

                A Quail was again singing in the Kirbest area while the only other migrants included the lingering Chiffchaffs in Holland and a Willow Warbler around the Obs.

                A fully spooned, adult Pomarine Skua was a bit of a surprise past the seawatch hide late afternoon on the 12th while other birds included a group of 6 Common Scoter in Nouster Bay, 2 Black-tailed Godwits on Gretchen which included a French colour ringed bird, 5 Collared Doves still at Holland and the Chiffchaffs and Willow Warbler still.

Arctic Tern

Monday, 11 June 2018

9th and 10th June

A very samey couple of days with extensive cloud cover and a light NE breeze (although this did swing round to the west by the evening of the 10th); the main focus at the moment is the nesting birds and it was great to get conformation of breeding Garganey with a female and six ducklings seen on Hooking.   Waders are already starting to build up with post / failed / non-breeding flocks of adults starting to form which on the 9th included 109 Oystercatchers, 128 Lapwings, 12 Golden Plover and 120 Sanderling.

                Landbirds were limited to 5 Collared Doves, 5 Chiffchaffs, a Willow Warbler, a Pied Flycatcher, the Siskin still and a Common Redpoll.   Also of note were 4 Great-northern Divers offshore and the first Storm Petrel of the year off the north end.

                A similar array of birds on the 10th with 7 Collared Doves, 3 Chiffchaffs, the Willow Warbler, the Pied Flycatcher and the Siskin on the land with 9 Great-northern Divers, a Red-breasted Mergansers and 7 Black-tailed Godwits elsewhere.   A pod of 15 Risso’s Dolphins off the north end were the first of the year.

Our Skuas are just starting to settle down

Saturday, 9 June 2018

7th and 8th June

A glorious day with light NE winds and wall to wall sunshine on the 7th; certainly, the day’s highlight was a very scruffy and tatty BLACK KITE which flew north over Brides, up to the lighthouse from where it spiralled up and continued of to the north – it was seen on Fair Isle a couple of hours later.   It was identified as the eastern race bird that has been seen sporadically on Orkney, possibly since last November and has been labelled ‘of suspect origin’ due to the heavy abrasion on both the wings and tail but who can tell....anything more than that is pure speculation!

                As the Obs crew were chasing the Kite up the island an Osprey came in from the north and flew south down the centre of the island – a late spring record and the first of the year but the rest of the day proved to be pretty quiet as waders included 91 Sanderling, 5 Black-tailed Godwits, 68 Bar-tailed Godwits, a Whimbrel, 2 Golden Plover and 34 Knot and landbirds just comprised 6 Collared Doves, a Blackcap and 5 Chiffchaffs.

                Still very calm on the 8th with a very light NE breeze but there was complete cloud cover for a change; the cloud cover seemed to drop a few new migrants into the island with a Marsh Warbler near the Obs the highlight along with 7 Collared Doves and single Whitethroat, Garden Warbler, Blackcap, Willow Warbler, Siskin and Common Redpoll.

                Other little bits included our first Common Scoter of the year which flew past the seawatch hide with 3 Great-northern Divers and 4 Red-throated Divers remaining on calm seas.

Scruffy looking Black Kite                             Simon Davies

Marsh Warbler                                       Simon Davies

Thursday, 7 June 2018

5th and 6th June

A glorious couple of days with acres of warm sunshine and light winds which swung round from the NW to the NE through the day on the 5th; we are getting more and more into the breeding season now and in combination with this and the end of the spring there were hardly any migrants to mention with just a selection of waders comprising 156 Ringed Plover, 6 Knot, 50 Sanderling, 19 Dunlin and 77 Bar-tailed Godwits (a large presumably non-breeding flock which looks set to over-summer).

                A handful of migrants were unearthed on the equally sunny 6th including a Woodpigeon, 4 Collared Doves, a Whinchat (only the third of the year!), 3 Chiffchaffs (with a couple of birds holding territory in Holland gardens) and 3 Jackdaws over The Links.   The most interesting sightings though involved a pair of Fieldfares around Gue Park acting very suspiciously and alarming – there has been one around the area for a while now but today was the first day that two have been seen together which raises obvious questions….

Knot and Bar-tailed Godwit

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

3rd and 4th June

Still pretty foggy through the day on the 3rd but there were signs that it wanted to clear – still no planes though!   The highlights were lingering birds again with the Red-backed Shrike still at Ancum and the Hawfinch and Long-eared Owl still around Holland while other landbirds included a Collared Dove, 2 Garden Warblers, 5 Chiffchaffs and a Pied Flycatcher.

                A few odd wildfowl emerged with 4 Wigeon, 3 Pintail and 2 Garganey perhaps hinting at breeding attempts while lingering waders were highlighted by single Little Stint and Curlew Sandpipers at Westness and Trolla respectively along with a Golden Plover, 153 Sanderling, 24 Knot, 2 Purple Sandpipers and 29 Bar-tailed Godwits.

                A quiet day for new migrants on the 4th with our focus slowly shifting to breeding bird monitoring but a Quail was seen at Kirbest and the Red-backed Shrike and Hawfinch remained in place; other bits and pieces included a Woodpigeon, a Collared Dove, a lingering Redwing at Holland, a Garden Warbler, 4 Chiffchaffs and a Spotted Flycatcher.

There are now trillions of baby Starlings emerging from everywhere!

Sunday, 3 June 2018

1st and 2nd June

Thick fog all day through the 1st made time spent in the field feel like a bit of a slog at times but there was still a good array of leftover scarcities to keep us entertained; the best birds included the Rose-coloured Starling around the centre of the island, the Hawfinch again round Holland, a new Red-backed Shrike at Sangar, the long awaited first Whinchat of the year at Westness and a singing Marsh Warbler at Veracott.

                Other birds across the island included a soggy Long-eared Owl at Ancum, a Tree Pipit, a Garden Warbler, 4 Chiffchaffs, a Willow Warbler and a Pied Flycatcher.   The dwindling wader totals included 31 Knot, 94 Sanderling and 32 Bar-tailed Godwits.

                A similar day on the 2nd, the fog did threaten to clear at times but always won out in the end with the now NW wind too light to make much of an impact on the visibility; many of the birds were the same with the Hawfinch re-trapped in Holland, the Red-backed Shrike still at Ancum and the lighthouse Marsh Warbler re-found at Bewan House.

                Other landbirds included 2 Collared Doves, the Long-eared Owl again, a Tree Pipit, a new Whinchat, a Whitethroat, 3 Garden Warblers, 5 Chiffchaffs and a Pied Flycatcher.   The Pink-footed Goose seems set to over-summer while 5 Barnacle Geese flew north and 17 Gadwall were a bit of an influx as were 18 Black-tailed Godwits.

Blackbirds, Starlings and House Sparrows are now starting to fledge

Friday, 1 June 2018

30th and 31st May

A cracking day on the 30th with the light wind enough north of east to keep the fog away and plenty of warm sunshine; it was a brilliant day in the field with a great cast of scarcities spread across the island, a stunning adult ROSE-COLOURED STARLING striding around with the sheep in the north of the island was the pick of the new arrivals but the supporting birds included a singing Quail at Brides, the Goosander off The Links, the first 2 Curlew Sandpipers of the year on Trolla, the Bee-eater again showing well around Holland, a lovely male Grey-headed Wagtail near the lighthouse, 3 Marsh Warblers scattered around the island, a female Red-backed Shrike caught in Holland and the Hawfinch again.

                It was also one of the better days of the spring for common migrants as totals included 5 Collared Doves, 2 Tree Pipits, the first 2 Redstarts of the year, a Fieldfare, a Garden Warbler, 10 Chiffchaffs, a Willow Warbler, 2 Spotted Flycatchers and 7 Pied Flycatchers.   Four Garganey were also seen along with 5 Purple Sandpipers, 9 Black-tailed Godwits and 2 Whimbrel.

                A similar day on the 31st but the anticipated fog rolled in rapidly from mid-afternoon; it was quieter for new arrivals but the Rose-coloured Starling was still roving around the middle of the island, a Little Ringed Plover was briefly at Bewan before being seen flying high south over the Obs – only the third record for the island after the second last month, the lighthouse Marsh Warbler was still present, a new Red-backed Shrike was caught at Holland and the Hawfinch was again around the Kirkyard.

                Other birds across the island included 2 Garganey, the redhead Goosander again, a Merlin at the lighthouse, 4 Purple Sandpipers, influxes of 75 Knot and 65 Bar-tailed Godwits, 3 Redstarts, the lingering Fieldfare, 5 Garden Warblers, 8 Chiffchaffs, 3 Willow Warblers, a Spotted Flycatcher and 3 Pied Flycatchers.

                Perhaps the most impressive feature of the day was the continued influx of Silver Y’s and Diamond Back Moths which literally carpeted every field – there must have been thousands involved!   Associated with these were small numbers of Red Admirals, Painted Ladies and Large Whites while the highlight was a Clouded Yellow seen flying across the airfield (not sure on the status on the island?).

Rose-coloured Starling                              Simon Davies

Grey-headed Wagtail                                Simon Davies

Curlew Sandpiper and Dunlin                             Simon Davies

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

28th and 29th May

A lovely start to the day on the 28th, warm and sunny with light easterly winds but inevitably the fog rolled in mid-morning and continued to drift in and out through the rest of the afternoon – although there were some good sunny spells thrown in.   The day’s highlight was certainly a cracking BEE-EATER, seen flying south over The Links before eventually being ‘pinned down’ at Holland House allowing everyone to get good views as it hunted and swooped around the garden – only the fourth record for the island, although the last bird in 2015 lingered for a long period.

                Other highlights through the day included a Red-necked Phalarope which circled the Obs several times before pitching down on Gretchen but soon disappearing, our first Reed Warbler of the year trapped at Holland and the lingering Hawfinch still bombing around the gardens.   A sprinkling of landbirds across the island comprised 2 Woodpigeons, a Collared Dove, a House Martin, a littoralis Rock Pipit, a Black Redstart, single Lesser Whitethroat and Whitethroat, 2 Garden Warblers, 7 Chiffchaffs, 3 Willow Warblers and a Redpoll sp.

                Also present were the tardy Pink-footed Goose, 3 Garganey, a Red-breasted Merganser and a selection of waders, although numbers are predictably starting to dwindle now with 109 Ringed Plovers, 142 Sanderling, 36 Bar-tailed Godwits, a Whimbrel and 2 Black-tailed Godwits counted.

                The reverse conditions on the 29th with a very foggy start to the day before steadily clearing later on but becoming foggy again by the evening all wafted in by a light easterly breeze; a good selection of highlights included the Bee-eater still lingering around Holland (at one stage perching on the top of the mist nets!), a cracking almost full summer-plumaged White-billed Diver which appeared in Nouster before drifting back out and becoming lost in the fog, a redhead Goosander also in Nouster (only just annual on the island) and the Hawfinch still.

                A few new landbirds made appearances as well with totals comprising a Tree Pipit, a Redwing, a Garden Warbler, 3 Chiffchaffs, a Willow Warbler, a Spotted Flycatcher and 2 Common Redpolls while 3 Purple Sandpipers, a Whimbrel and 2 Black-tailed Godwits remained.

Bee-eater                                         Simon Davies

Monday, 28 May 2018

26th and 27th May

A bright and sunny couple of days with light winds remaining in the easterly quarter; there were few new birds on the 26th with yesterdays Hawfinch still around Holland the pick while other land migrants included 6 Woodpigeons, a Black Redstart (again yesterdays bird), single Song Thrush and Redwing, 12 Sedge Warblers, a Garden Warbler, 10 Chiffchaffs and 2 Willow Warblers.

                Other birds included 2 Manx Shearwaters offshore, 2 Barnacle Geese, a single drake Garganey and 2 Red-breasted Mergansers the pick of the wildfowl and 2 Golden Plovers, 61 Knot, a Common Sandpiper and 245 Turnstone the pick of the waders.

                A similar picture on the 27th with the first Greenshank of the year over the Obs along with 11 Black-tailed Godwits new in while the Pink-footed Goose, 3 Barnacle Geese and 3 Garganey remained.   It was still quiet on the land with a House Martin, 2 Garden Warblers, 10 Chiffchaffs, 2 Willow Warblers and 3 Redpoll sp. the only birds of note.

Arctic Tern                                          Simon Davies

Snipe                                            Simon Davies

Saturday, 26 May 2018

24th and 25th May

Despite the great conditions on the 24th – light mist and fog drifting in and out on the brisk easterly wind it was a pretty quiet day with a Little Stint on Trolla the first of the year while the few migrants on the land included 2 Pied Flycatchers, a Spotted Flycatcher and 2 Fieldfares.   Other little bits included 4 Barnacle Geese (with a new group of three at Ancum), three drake Garganey on Brides, 3 Whimbrel, a new island record count of 49 Sand Martins, 11 Sedge Warblers (mainly birds on territory), 3 Chiffchaffs and a Common Redpoll.

                A lovely day on the 25th with bright and sunny conditions and a variable W / N breeze; the blast of easterlies yesterday produced a good array of scarcities across the island including a Red-breasted Flycatcher caught in Holland, a Marsh Warbler eventually pinned down near The Mill, a Hawfinch in Holland and at the Obs, a female type Common Rosefinch near Brides and a female Bluethroat at the school.

                A trickle of other migrants comprised 2 Woodpigeons, 3 Collared Doves, 2 House Martins, a Tree Pipit, a Black Redstart at Holland, 7 Sedge Warblers, 15 Chiffchaffs, a Pied Flycatcher and a good flock of 11 Tree Sparrows.   11 Great-northern Divers were offshore, the single Barnacle Goose was still around Hooking, 3 Garganey were still present and waders included 197 Ringed Plovers, 171 Sanderling and 66 Bar-tailed Godwits.

Red-breasted Flycatcher                  Simon Davies

Common Rosefinch                                 Tom Gale

Hawfinch                            Simon Davies