Sunday, 21 October 2018

20th October

Still a tad breezy but a decent day to be out and about although a long night at the Harvest Home last night reduced efforts in the field somewhat!   The day’s highlights comprised a very late Yellow Wagtail over the Obs (it’ll go down as a flava ssp. but it just sounded like a ‘normal’ Yellow Wagtail with no eastern hints in the call) and the returning drake Green-winged Teal of Gretchen – its probably been present for the last few weeks but is now well on its moulting way, revealing its main features allowing us to confirm its presence for yet another winter.

                Migrants across the land included 2 Hen Harriers, single Sparrowhawk, Merlin and Kestrel, 3 Wheatears, a further reduced 132 Redwing, single Blackcap, Chiffchaff and Willow Warblers, 23 Chaffinches, 44 Brambling and the 4 Yellowhammers still at Kirbest.

                Other bits of note were 4 Herons, 234 Wigeon, 5 Pintail, 5 Red-breasted Mergansers, 602 Golden Plover and a Grey Plover with 9 Puffins and a Bonxie offshore during an hour’s seawatch.

Green-winged Teal                              Simon Davies

19th October

A bit breezier through the day than of late with ever dwindling numbers of migrants left over from the arrivals in the last week; totals across the land did include 2 Hen Harriers, 2 Merlin, 2 Kestrels, a Redstart lingering at the Lighthouse, 5 Wheatears, 37 Song Thrush, 222 Redwing, 3 Blackcap, a Chiffchaff, a Willow Warbler, 3 Goldcrest, 50 Chaffinches, 107 Brambling and 34 Snow Buntings.

                Other birds of note comprised 11 Red-throated Divers, a Slavonian Grebe at Westness, 3 Herons, 4 Whooper Swans, a Jack Snipe, 3 Black-tailed Godwits and an Arctic Skua and 2 Bonxies offshore.

Redwing, Song Thrush and Willow Warbler

Saturday, 20 October 2018

18th October

Another good day in the field with lightish SW winds and only the occasional spell of drizzle; the main feature of the daywas an impressive passage of Redwings with 2,200+ moving across the island in big rolling waves as flocks of 2-300 settled briefly in the fields while the flock behind them moved through then they would take their turn and head slowly south.   Other migrants across the land included 2 Hen Harriers, 2 Kestrels, 2 Merlins, a new Long-eared Owl trapped in Holland, 85 Skylarks, 93 Meadow Pipits, 16 Robins, a late Whinchat hanging on, 5 Wheatears, 35 Song Thrush, 3 Blackcap, a Chiffchaff, 3 Goldcrest, the Great Grey Shrike still, the first 3 Rooks of the autumn, 51 Chaffinch, 165 Brambling, 23 Snow Bunting and 2 Yellowhammers.

                Also of note was a decent movement of wildfowl including 91 Whooper Swans, 70 Pink-footed Geese, 1,125 Greylag Geese, 12 Barnacle Geese, 10 Red-breasted Mergansers and most noteworthy, 2 Shelduck which flew down The Links – only the fifth ever October record and the first since mid-July!

Whooper Swans

Golden Plover

Thursday, 18 October 2018

17th October

Still breezy but mainly dry through the day; a greater variety of migrants were logged than yesterday which included single Hen Harrier, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel and Merlin, the Long-eared Owl again, 72 Skylark, 27 Robin, 7 Wheatears, 50 Fieldfare, 79 Song Thrush, 612 Redwing, 2 Blackcap, 3 Chiffchaff, a Willow Warbler, 3 Goldcrest, 56 Chaffinches, 178 Brambling, 26 Twite, 15 Snow Buntings and an impressive 6 Yellowhammers.

                Other counts through the day included 3 Herons, 22 Whooper Swans, 31 Pink-footed Geese, 753+ Greylag Geese, 177 Wigeon, 14 Gadwall, 180 Teal, 3 Pintail, 2 Long-tailed Ducks and 4 Red-breasted Mergansers.

Yellowhammer                                   George Gay

16th October

A real change in the weather with a blazing strong force 8 SW wind and some nasty little showers whizzing through, making things difficult out in the field but there was a constant flow of Redwings and Fieldfares heading into the wind low across the island in small flocks right through the day creating a brilliant spectacle.   Conservative totals in the tricky conditions included 1,280 Redwing, 583 Fieldfare, 266 Song Thrush and 123 Blackbirds along with other migrants such as yesterday’s Long-eared Owl, a Grey Wagtail, 20 Robins, 4 Wheatears, a Ring Ouzel, 2 Blackcap, a Chiffchaff, 2 Goldcrest, 29 Chaffinches, 95 Brambling and a single Snow Bunting.

                Other birds included 15 Whooper Swans, 2 Long-tailed Ducks, 2 Red-breasted Mergansers, 2 Hen Harriers, single Kestrel and Merlin, 437 Golden Plover and a late Bonxie.


Tuesday, 16 October 2018

15th October

Nice again through the day with light westerly winds and sunshine coming and going; there were limited new arrivals but a few nice bits were seen through the day which included a distinctive looking [presumed] Siberian Lesser Whitethroat at Stennabreck, the Great Grey Shrike still around Ancum, a Yellow-browed Warbler trapped at Holland, a good total of 5 Yellowhammers and the first 2 Siberian Chiffchaffs of the autumn.

                Other birds across the land included 2 Hen Harriers, 2 Kestrels, a Peregrine, a Woodcock, a Woodpigeon, a Long-eared Owl trapped at Holland late in the evening, 3 Short-eared Owls, 73 Skylark, 31 Robin, single Redstart and Whinchat, 18 Wheatear, 37 Song Thrush, 321 Redwing, a late Reed Warbler caught in Holland, 11 Blackcap, 5 Chiffchaff, 2 Willow Warbler, 3 Goldcrest, 73 Chaffinch, 238 Brambling, 8 Greenfinch (a much better autumn than of late for this species), 29 Twite, 12 Snow Bunting and 24 Reed Bunting.

                Also seen across the island were 6 Red-throated Divers, a Great-northern Diver, 21 Whooper Swans (two flocks), 56 Pink-footed Geese (two flocks), a Long-tailed Duck, 4 Red-breasted Mergansers and 2 Jack Snipe.

Siberian Lesser Whitethroat                       Simon Davies

Whooper Swans                                    Simon Davies

Monday, 15 October 2018

14th October

Another busy day out in the field with the light winds making it a joy to be wandering around in the middle of the tiwnkling Finch flocks that have been a feature of the last few days; the scarcities across the island were generally lingering birds with the Richard’s Pipit near Sangar still, the Great Grey Shrike still around Ancum and the Common Rosefinch with the Bramblings by the Obs but a Bluethroat at Scotsha was a new discovery.

                Migrant totals across the land included 2 Hen Harriers, single Kestrel, Merlin and Peregrine (which actually bounced out of a net at Holland!), a Woodpigeon, 83 Skylark, 4 Swallows, a Grey Wagtail, the first Dunnock of the autumn, 37 Robins, 18 Wheatears, 80 Song Thrush, 340 Redwing, 9 Blackcap, 8 Chiffchaff, a Willow Warbler, 8 Goldcrest, a Jackdaw, 51 Chaffinches, 269 Brambling, 7 Greenfinch, a Goldfinch, 4 Siskins, 22 Twite, 22 Snow Buntings, a Yellowhammer and 6 Reed Buntings.

                Other birds of note comprised 25 Whooper Swans (with several flocks going south), 160 Ringed Plover, 522 Golden Plover, 2 Ruff, 3 Jack Snipe, 17 Bar-tailed Godwit, 81 Curlew, 157 Redshank, a late Common Sandpiper on the coast at The Lurn and 215 Turnstone.


Whooper Swans

Saturday, 13 October 2018

13th October

An excellent day again right across the island with much lighter winds making things much more comfortable out in the field but unfortunately light and persistent rain moved in mid-afternoon spoiling it a tad; there was another good spread of scarcities seen through the day including our first Richard’s Pipit of the year at Sangar, yesterday’s Great Grey Shrike trapped at Holland, a Hawfinch south over Gretchen, the Common Rosefinch still lingering in Kirbest and 3 Yellowhammers – two at the Obs and one in Gue Park.

                Migrant totals across the land included 2 Hen Harriers, 2 Sparrowhawks, single Kestrel, Merlin and Peregrine, a Woodpigeon, 2 Swallows, 213 Meadow Pipits, 43 Rock Pipits, a Grey Wagtail, 23 Pied Wagtails, 63 Robins, a Black Redstart, 2 Redstarts, 2 Whinchat, 10 Wheatears, a Ring Ouzel, 90 Blackbirds, 105 Fieldfares, 95 Song Thrush, 438 Redwing, 16 Blackcap, 16 Chiffchaff, a Willow Warbler, 7 Goldcrest, the first Jackdaw of the autumn, 70 Chaffinch, an excellent total of 332 Brambling, 5 Greenfinches, 2 Goldfinches, a Siskin, 29 Twite, a Lapland Bunting, an increased 96 Snow Buntings and 11 Reed Buntings.

                Other birds of note comprised 13 Red-throated Divers, 3 Great-northern Divers, 7 Heron, 5 Whooper Swans, 266 Snipe, a good 9 Jack Snipe and a single Woodcock.

Calmer conditions let us do much more ringing today, with the Great Grey Shrike the highlight along with plenty of Bramblings and small numbers of lovely black-billed northern Blackbirds

Friday, 12 October 2018

12th October

Another fantastic day in the field following on from yesterday but somewhat tinged with a sense of frustration as the blazing force 8 SE wind made things extremely hard work out and about, giving us the feeling that we were only touching the surface of the big numbers of birds present across the island.   The underwhelming highlight of the day was a LITTLE EGRET seen briefly by Neven and eventually pinned down on Garso Loch – only the fourth record for the island!   Also picked out in amongst the large numbers of common migrants was a fine male Red-breasted Flycatcher at Lenswick, a Bluethroat at Howar, a Great Grey Shrike at Westness and 2 Yellow-browed Warblers.

                Migrant totals across the island comprised 2 Hen Harriers, 4 Sparrowhawks, a Kestrel, a Merlin, a Woodpigeon, a Long-eared Owl seen at Holland at dawn, a Short-eared Owl, 11 Swallows, 38 Rock Pipits, 181 Meadow Pipits, a Grey Wagtail, 86 Robins, 2 Redstarts, a Black Redstart, a Whinchat, 16 Wheatears, the first 4 Ring Ouzels of the autumn, 91 Blackbirds, 65 Fieldfares, 131 Song Thrush, 819 Redwing, a late Sedge Warbler, 26 Blackcap, 7 Chiffchaffs, 5 Willow Warblers, 8 Goldcrests, a Pied Flycatcher, 76 Chaffinches, 134 Brambling, 2 Goldfinch, 7 Siskin, a Lapland Bunting, 30 Snow Bunting and 14 Reed Bunting.

                Other birds of note included 5 Whooper Swans, 37 Pink-footed Geese, 52 Barnacle Geese, 635 Golden Plover, a Jack Snipe, 411 Snipe, the first Woodcock of the autumn and some big flocks of Gulls sheltering from the rough weather comprising 290 Common, 224 Herring and 510 Great Black-backed Gulls.

Little Egret                                    George Gay

Red-breasted Flycatcher                          Simon Davies

Great Grey Shrike                              Simon Davies

Thursday, 11 October 2018

11th October

Finally, finally, a proper autumn day!   A brisk SE wind, low cloud and general misty, murky conditions gave the day an exciting feeling (especially after five weeks of westerlies!) and even though the numbers involved were not massive, it was a brilliant day with the bonus of a brilliant quality rare.   The bird of the day and probably the autumn so far was a lovely and very distinctive looking BLACK-EARED WHEATEAR which showed very well around Senness, showing off as it fed actively in the deteriorating conditions of the afternoon – a great first for the island!

                Other migrant totals through the day across the island (with birds seemingly arriving throughout) included 2 Little Buntings at Trebb and Senness (a third ‘ticking’ Bunting was also seen and heard very briefly at the Obs), the first Long-eared Owl of the autumn, a Short-eared Owl, 2 Hen Harrier, 2 Merlin, a Woodpigeon, 6 Swallows, 30 Rock Pipits, 30 alba Wagtails, 23+ Robins, a Redstart (first one for ages!), 14 Wheatears, 60 Blackbirds, 31 Fieldfare, 4 Song Thrush, 160+ Redwing, 2 Blackcap, 3 new Chiffchaffs, a Willow Warbler, 10 Goldcrest, the overdue first Chaffinch of the autumn, 39 Brambling, a Siskin, a Lapland Bunting and 40 Snow Buntings.

                It was all about the landbirds today but other little bits of note included 11 Whooper Swans, 13 Pink-footed Geese, 3 Jack Snipe and 275+ Snipe.

Black-eared Wheatear                                George Gay

Little Bunting                                     Simon Davies

Long-eared Owl                                       Simon Davies

9th and 10th October

Heavy drizzle persisted through the morning on the 9th but it cleared up by midday to produce a very pleasant afternoon in the field; some good totals on the land included 2 Hen Harriers, 2 Kestrels, 2 Merlin, a Woodpigeon, 2 Short-eared Owls, 134 Skylark, 10 Swallows, 320 Meadow Pipits, 22 Rock Pipits, 17 Wheatears, 60 Blackbirds, 132 Redwing, a Blackcap, a Willow Warbler, the long, long overdue first Goldcrest of the autumn, 20 Brambling, the Common Rosefinch again, a Lapland Bunting, 34 Snow Buntings and 18 Reed Buntings.

                Other birds of note comprised 24 Red-throated Divers and 5 Great-northern Divers offshore, 11 Whooper Swans, 102 Pink-footed Geese south, 424 Greylag Geese with flocks coming in from the north, 2 Grey Plover, 577 Golden Plover, a Ruff, 2 Jack Snipe and 290 Snipe.

                A lovely day on the 10th with much lighter winds and plenty of warm sunshine but it was a bit quieter in the field; landbirds included 2 Hen Harriers, 2 Kestrels, a Merlin, a Peregrine, a Woodpigeon, a Short-eared Owl, 11 Swallows, 25 Rock Pipits, a Robin, 10 Wheatears, a Blackcap, 2 Greenfinches over the Mill (only the third record this year), a Crossbill south down the west coast (only the third record this year) and 6 Snow Buntings.   Also of note were 9 Herons, 11 Whooper Swans, 2 Ruff and 2 Black-tailed Godwits.

Rock Pipit

Red-throated Diver

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

7th and 8th October

A truly horrendous day on the 7th to perfectly coincide with the now annual Bird Observatory Bird Race with force 8 SW winds and hard, stinging, driving rain pretty much throughout the whole day; we managed a very respectable 74 species through the day considering the challenging conditions with the bird of the day going incredibly to a Robin found behind one of the few sheltered walls on the island – that in itself is the ideal illustration of the autumn so far!   Other bits through the day included a Heron, 2 Whooper Swans, a Pintail, a Red-breasted Merganser, single Peregrine and Kestrel, 2 Jack Snipe, a Black-tailed Godwit, the late Arctic Tern still lingering on Gretchen, a Swallow, 10 Wheatears, single Fieldfare and Song Thrush and 7 Bramblings which amazingly appeared to come in late in the day.

                A decent day on the 8th with much, much lighter winds and dry conditions through until more rain moved in late afternoon; wildfowl were on the move through the day as totals included 91 Pink-footed Geese, 424 Greylag Geese, 33 Barnacle Geese, a single Pale-bellied Brent Goose and 127 Wigeon.   Much improved landbird totals comprised a Hen Harrier, a Kestrel, 2 Merlin, 2 Peregrine, the first Woodpigeon of the autumn, 128 Skylark, 4 Swallows, 248 Meadow Pipits, 15 Rock Pipits, 10 Wheatears, 52 Blackbirds, 5 Fieldfares, 120 Redwing, 2 Blackcap, a Willow Warbler, 8 Brambling, the first 2 Goldfinches of the autumn, a Lapland Bunting and 23 Snow Buntings.


Sunday, 7 October 2018

4th - 6th October

Back to the horrible, energy sapping, strong SW winds on the 4th that have plagued the autumn so far; the main feature of the day was some good wildfowl movement highlighted by 4 Pale-bellied Brent Geese lingering off The Links (new for the year) along with 5 Whooper Swans, 76 Barnacle Geese south, 213 Wigeon, 176 Teal, 17 Shoveler, a Long-tailed Duck, 3 Red-breasted Mergansers and the Slavonian Grebe still.   Other watery birds included a Grey Plover, 2 Jack Snipe, 3 Black-tailed Godwits, 2 Arctic Skuas lingering in Nouster and 2 Bonxies.

                Birds across the land comprised single Hen Harrier, Sparrowhawk, Merlin and Kestrel, 2 Peregrine, 3 Short-eared Owls, 6 Swallows, 236 Meadow Pipits, 16 Rock Pipits, a slight increase to 47 Wheatears, the 2 summering Fieldfares, a Song Thrush, 32 Redwing, a Willow Warbler, 16 Twite, 2 Common Redpoll, a Lapland Bunting and 9 Snow Buntings.

                Still windy on the 5th but with plenty of sunshine so it wasn’t too bad out in the field; some increased counts on the land included 96+ Redwing and 197+ Skylarks with some good passage noted along with 2 Kestrels, 2 Merlin, 2 Peregrine, a Short-eared Owl, 7 Swallows, 233 Meadow Pipits, 17 Rock Pipits, 21 Wheatears, a Willow Warbler, 2 Common Redpoll, a Lapland Bunting and 2 Snow Buntings.

                Other birds across the island included 12 Red-throated Divers, 8 Great-northern Divers, the Slavonian Grebe, 6 Herons, 27 Barnacle Geese south, the Long-tailed Duck, 5 Red-breasted Mergansers, a Grey Plover, 730 Golden Plover, 2 Jack Snipe, 4 Arctic Skuas offshore and a little, late passage of 21 Black-headed Gulls.

                A wondrous, oasis of calm on the 6th with hardly a breath of wind at times and plenty of warm sunshine had everyone chomping at the bit to be out and about with popular phrases like ‘slack weather’, ‘filter down from Shetland’ and ‘today’s the day’ bandied around indiscriminately through the build-up!   The birds had other ideas though as it was a bit of a disappointment really with a Common Rosefinch caught at Holland at dusk the highlight of the day; other birds across the land included a Hen Harrier, a Sparrowhawk out south, 3 Kestrels, a Peregrine, a Short-eared Owl, 3 Swallows, 13 Wheatears, a proper, honest-to-goodness migrant Fieldfare, a Song Thrush, 40 Redwings, a Willow Warbler, a Lapland Bunting and 6 Snow Buntings.

                Other birds included 400 Gannets, 11 Sooty Shearwaters and a Manx Shearwater offshore, 6 Herons, 10 Whooper Swans on Ancum (including the first four juveniles of the autumn), 8 Barnacle Geese, 7 Red-breasted Mergansers, a Jack Snipe and a late Arctic Tern floating around Nouster.

Wheatear, Redwing and Raven

Wednesday, 3 October 2018

1st - 3rd October

The wind dropped off significantly by mid-morning on the 1st making it much nicer to be out in the field through the day; the most notable feature was some good Skua passage past the north end in the afternoon which included a juvenile Long-tailed Skua, 2 Pomarine Skuas, 24 Arctic Skuas and 6 Bonxies along with 9 blue Fulmars (with a steady flow of Fulmars), 8 Sooty Shearwaters and 2 Manx Shearwaters.   Other birds across the island included 5 Whooper Swans, 4 Kestrels, single Merlin and Peregrine, a Grey Plover, 71 Skylark, 12 Swallows, 21 Rock Pipits, 9 Wheatears, the over-summering Fieldfare still, 2 Redwings, a Willow Warbler, 8 Twite, a Common Redpoll (of northwestern origin), 3 Lapland Buntings and 6 Snow Buntings.

                The least said the better about the 2nd with absolutely blasting force 8-9 WNW winds and frequent, prolonged, vicious squalls rushing through; a flock of 13 Sooty Shearwaters past the seawatch hide were the only birds of note – although limited effort was made!

                Blessedly calm on the 3rd becoming almost flat calm for a time in the morning but persistent rain moved in by mid-afternoon; the days highlight was definitely the 2 BLYTH’S REED WARBLERS found in the morning – the first was found in a mist-net at Holland House first thing (it was very weak, was fed sugar water and released ASAP but was unfortunately found dead later in the day) while the second was a much more active bird in ditches and along walls around the surgery and Purtabreck.   There were actually few other new landbirds picked out through the day (its all to come as it filters down from further north!) but bits did include a Kestrel, 3 Merlins, 3 Peregrines, 2 Short-eared Owls, 6 Swallows, 12 Rock Pipits, 15 Wheatears, a Song Thrush, 8 Redwings, a Blackcap, a Common Redpoll, 3 Lapland Buntings, 5 Snow Buntings and 14 Reed Buntings.

                There was plenty of action offshore as well as totals included 1,700+ Fulmars (including 3 Blues), 9 Sooty Shearwaters, a Manx Shearwater, an excellent total of 7 Pomarine Skuas, 24 Arctic Skuas, 7 Bonxies, 2,000+ Kittiwakes, a Commic Tern, 12 Red-throated Divers, 10 Great-northern Divers, 2 Slavonian Grebes and the first Long-tailed Duck of the autumn.   Other birds also included 4 Herons, 7 Gadwall, 556 Golden Plover, a Grey Plover, a Jack Snipe and 287 Snipe.

Blyth's Reed Warbler #1               Simon Davies

Blyth's Reed Warbler #2                              George Gay

Lapland Bunting                                  Simon Davies

Greenland / Northwestern / Common Redpoll, whatever you want to call it

Monday, 1 October 2018

29th and 30th September

The tough conditions continued on the 29th with a blazing NW wind and plenty of sharp showers sweeping through; landbirds were at a premium through the day with a Short-eared Owl seen in Loch Park after dark, 2 Kestrels and 2 Merlins still 10 Rock Pipits, 11 Wheatears, 4 Redwings and 5 Snow Buntings.   Other birds included 4 Red-throated Divers, 2 Great-northern Divers, 3 Whooper Swans, 44 Pink-footed Geese, 2 Red-breasted Mergansers, a Grey Plover and a single Black-tailed Godwit.

                Slightly calmer conditions on the 30th but it was still a slog out in the field with birds across the island including single Kestrel, Merlin and Peregrine, 31 Skylarks, 18 Rock Pipits, the Black Redstart still, 18 Wheatears, one of the summering Fieldfares still, 3 Redwings, a pale looking north-western Redpoll, 3 Lapland Buntings and 3 Snow Buntings.

                Other noteworthy totals included the Slavonian Grebe again, 6 Whooper Swans, 10 Pink-footed Geese, an increase to 188 Teal and 2 Pintail while wader numbers comprised 82 Ringed Plover, 573 Golden Plover, 225 Snipe, 27 Bar-tailed Godwits, 68 Curlew, 100 Redshank and 206 Turnstone.  

Merlin                                                    Simon Davies