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 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

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.