Wednesday, 20 March 2019

20th March

Not a bad morning with a moderate westerly breeze and some sunshine but it deteriorated by the afternoon becoming wet and windier; the day’s highlight was a lovely adult Kumlien’s Gull at Bewan in the afternoon.   There were some other hints of early spring movements through the day with a female Stonechat at Howar, a much-improved total of 12 Pied Wagtails and a further influx of 168+ Black-headed Gulls (including 70+ back at the Hooking colony).

                A seawatch first thing produced decent totals of 167 Kittiwakes and 565 Auk sp. while a trickle of Skylarks and a couple of Golden Plover came in off.   

Other totals with some good coverage included 7 Red-throated Divers, 5 Mute Swans, 6 Shelduck, 189 Wigeon, 6 Gadwall, 205 Teal, the drake Green-winged Teal still on Gretchen, 10 Pintail, 35 Tufted Duck, 8 Long-tailed Ducks, 3 Goldeneye, 20 Red-breasted Mergansers (the highest total of the year so far), a Hen Harrier, 334 Golden Plover, 174 Lapwing, a Knot, 147 Purple Sandpipers, 19 Dunlin, 105 Redshank, 150 Turnstone, the 2 Woodpigeons still, 140 Skylarks, 16 Rock Pipits, 2 Chaffinches, 32 Twite, a Common Redpoll and a Snow Bunting.


Kumlien's Gull                                               Simon Davies

Tuesday, 19 March 2019

19th March


A breezy, overcast day with an increasing force 6 south-westerly bringing periods of rain, especially in the afternoon; migrants comprised 4 Pied Wagtails and a female Sparrowhawk (the second one of the year).   Other birds included 4 Herons, 5 Shelduck, a Merlin, 180 Purple Sandpipers, 27 Bar-tailed Godwits, an influx of 104+ Black-headed Gulls (with increased numbers very noisy around the Hooking colony), 5 Meadow Pipits, 13 Rock Pipits, a Song Thrush, 5 Twite and 3 Snow Buntings.

Skylark



Monday, 18 March 2019

18th March


A glorious day with wall to wall sunshine and very light southerly winds, a real contrast to yesterday’s blazing strong NW wind and hail showers; an hour’s seawatch first thing produced some increased totals including 80 Gannets, 91 Kittiwakes and 1,352 Auk sp. – mainly Razorbills.   There were still limited new arrivals as birds of note comprised 5 Mute Swans still, 5 Shelduck, 3 Goldeneye, 2 Hen Harriers, a adult female Peregrine, a Merlin, the 2 Woodpigeons still, 3 Chaffinches and a bit of an influx of 10 Linnets.   More excitingly though, George is back for a month, expect big things....

Hen Harrier

Saturday, 16 March 2019

16th March


After a rough and windy day yesterday, it was a much better birding day with lighter winds becoming almost still at lunchtime but a few showers – including a prolonged spell of rain late afternoon preventing a trip to the nets.   Totals through the day included 4 Herons, 5 Mute Swans, 5 Shelduck, 8 Gadwall, 127 Teal, the drake Green-winged Teal still, 12 Shoveler, 3 Goldeneye, 9 Rock Pipits, a Pied Wagtail, a Robin, 21 Fieldfare, 2 Chaffinches, 3 Linnets and 2 Snow Buntings.

Cormorant

Thursday, 14 March 2019

14th March


Overcast and calm first thing becoming sunny and calm becoming sunny and breezy by the end of the day; some increased coverage in the pleasant conditions produced some increased counts but it didn’t seem like there was much new around but the first Snipe was drumming and Black-headed Gulls were displaying at Westness, illustrating that the spring is indeed progressing, albeit slowly!   Totals included 29 Great-northern Divers, 5 Mute Swans, the Eurasian White-fronted Goose and 3 Pink-footed Geese still, the drake Green-winged Teal on Gretchen, 19 Long-tailed Ducks, a Hen Harrier, 380 Golden Plover, 51 Sanderling, 70 Black-headed Gulls, the 2 Woodpigeons, 210 Skylark, 10 Rock Pipits, 53 Twite, a Common Redpoll and 12 Snow Buntings.

Fulmar having a bath

Wednesday, 13 March 2019

13th March


Another very similar day with bright and sunny conditions and a brisk, chilly NW wind; the underwhelming bird highlights comprised 3 2cy Mute Swans new in on Garso and now 2 Woodpigeons at Holland.   Other birds included 3 Pink-footed Geese, 4 Shelduck, 106 Teal, 9 Gadwall, 7 Pintail, 16 Shoveler, 67 Ringed Plover, 390 Golden Plover, 285 Lapwings, 48 Sanderling, 35 Dunlin, the Ruff still, 83 Curlew, 139 Redshank, 166 Turnstone, 290 Skylark, 21 Fieldfare, 14 Redwing and a single Snow Bunting.

Shoveler and Pintail

Ruff

Tuesday, 12 March 2019

12th March

Bright and sunny most of the day again with very few clouds to be seen but the very strong SW wind made it difficult out in the field; the first Woodpigeon of the year in Holland was the day’s only new bird but other totals from around the south of the island included the drake Green-winged Teal still, 16 Shoveler, 290 Golden Plover, 75 Skylark, 2 Meadow Pipits and 4 Rock Pipits.



Eiders feeding in the surf

Monday, 11 March 2019

11th March

Generally bright and sunny but with a strong and increasing SW wind and a few sharp hail showers; birds seen through the day included 2 Pink-footed Geese, 4 Shelduck, 6 Gadwall, 18 Shoveler, a Hen Harrier, 370 Golden Plover, the Ruff, 36 Bar-tailed Godwits, 57 Dunlin, 165 Skylark, 4 Chaffinches, 2 Linnets and 14 Snow Buntings.

Lapwing

Skylark

Sunday, 10 March 2019

10th March

A gorgeous day with plenty of sunshine and light westerly winds after a couple of horrible, wet and windy unbirdable days; some good coverage in the fine weather revealed that everything was still in place and nothing had changed (the only out-of-place birds were two Coots wandering around on The Links!).   Totals through the day included 3 Pink-footed Geese, 208 Wigeon, 5 Gadwall, 180 Teal, the drake Green-winged Teal still on Gretchen, 8 Shoveler, 20 Tufted Duck, 17 Long-tailed Ducks, a Hen Harrier, 116 Oystercatchers, 46 Ringed Plovers, 260 Golden Plover, 172 Lapwing, a Knot, 53 Dunlin, the Ruff again, 120 Snipe, 220 Snipe, 4 Meadow Pipits, 14 Rock Pipits, 6 Fieldfares, 8 Redwing, the 5 Chaffinches still, 40 Twite, 2 Common Redpolls, 17 Snow Buntings and 5 Reed Buntings.

                It was nice and calm in the evening so I opened the nets at Holland for the first time in ages and while not much was caught, the catch did include a couple of very long-winged, adult male Blackbirds which suggests that the first few migrants are sneaking back through.   Two Linnets also came into roost, the wintering Water Rail was seen again and a new Robin was trapped.



The waves were still crashing in to the west coast - the remnant's of yesterdays strong winds 

Thursday, 7 March 2019

7th March

Once the rain had moved through, it was generally a bright and sunny day but the blazing force 7-8 northerly wind made conditions tricky in the field; a couple of new bits included 2 Stonechats along the road at Claypows and a Ruff near Hooking – presumably one of the wintering birds popping back up but they were last seen on 10th February.   Other totals included the Eurasian White-fronted Goose still, 15 Shoveler, 11 Red-breasted Mergansers, a Hen Harrier and increased numbers of Gulls feeding in the surf at high tide with 41 Black-headed Gulls, 415 Common Gulls, 65 Herring Gulls and 128 Great Black-backed Gulls.



Stonechats and Gulls

Wednesday, 6 March 2019

6th March

A very similar day to yesterday, overcast with the cold, NE breeze still cutting through you; an hour’s seawatch first thing was slow as totals just included 46 Kittiwakes and 172 Auk sp. while elsewhere the highlights unsurprisingly remained the same with the drake Green-winged Teal on Gretchen, the drake Smew on Bewan and the Eurasian White-fronted Goose still.   Other birds included a Pink-footed Goose, 6 Pintail, a Merlin, the 5 Chaffinches still, 55 Twite and the 3 Common Redpolls.

Snow Buntings


Tuesday, 5 March 2019

5th March

Overcast but dry with a chilly, moderate NE breeze; all the highlights remained the same with the drake Green-winged Teal on Gretchen and the drake Smew on Bewan.   Other birds included 3 Pink-footed Geese, 5 Goldeneye, single Hen Harrier and Merlin, 12 Rock Pipits and 33 Snow Buntings. 

Curlew

Monday, 4 March 2019

4th March


A decent day, overcast with a light westerly breeze; it remained pretty constant out in the field with little in the way of new arrivals as totals included 8 Great-northern Divers, 6 Herons, the Eurasian White-fronted Goose, 2 Pink-footed Geese, 5 Shelduck, the drake Green-winged Teal still on Gretchen, 16 Shoveler, the drake Smew still on Bewan, a Hen Harrier, 360 Golden Plover, 2 Knot, 70 Sanderling, 38 Dunlin, an adult Lesser Black-backed Gull near the Mill, 165 Skylarks, 7 Meadow Pipits, 7 Rock Pipits, 21 Fieldfares, 18 Redwing and 4 Chaffinches.


Sunday, 3 March 2019

3rd March


Generally bright and sunny with a strong SW wind making it uncomfortable out in the field; birds seen during brief looks at likely spots around high tide included 7 Herons at Westness, 2 Pink-footed Geese, 8 Gadwall, 6 Pintail, 17 Shoveler, 5 Goldeneye, the drake Smew still on Bewan, 13 Red-breasted Mergansers (the highest count of the year so far), 270 Golden Plover, 211 Purple Sandpipers, a notable influx of 72+ Black-headed Gulls, 225 Common Gulls, 97+ Great Black-backed Gulls, 200+ Skylarks and 4 Chaffinches.


Saturday, 2 March 2019

2nd March

After a damp start it was a nice and bright middle of the day with a moderate but increasing southerly breeze bringing rain by the end of the afternoon; there was little new in the south end of the island as totals included the Eurasian White-fronted Goose, a Pink-footed Goose, the drake Green-winged Teal still, 246 Golden Plover, 9 Black-headed Gulls, 244+ Skylarks (with several flocks heading south and a big flock of 150+ near the school), 3 Chaffinches, 42 Twite, 2 Common Redpolls and 36 Snow Buntings.   The pond in front of T1 is chock full of mating Common Frogs with a conservative 400 present including an amazing looking albino individual – never seen the like!



The North Ronaldsay Golden Frog

Friday, 1 March 2019

1st March


A decent day, bright with an increasing SE breeze; a walk up the west coast and back down the middle combined with a little drive around didn’t produce too many new birds with the exception of 4 Ravens which flew very high south and a few flocks of Skylarks heading south at sea.   Other totals included the Eurasian White-fronted Goose, 3 Pink-footed Geese, 8 Gadwall, the drake Green-winged Teal still on Gretchen, 8 Pintail, the drake Smew still on Bewan, 139 Skylarks, a Pied Wagtail, 2 Song Thrush and the 5 Chaffinches.

Not all the Tysties have turned black yet

Thursday, 28 February 2019

28th February

Another lovely day with varying cloud cover and more very light NE winds, still warm as well; there was though, little evidence of many new arrivals as totals from some good coverage included some increased Diver totals on the flat sea with 24 Red-throated Divers and 29 Great-northern Divers, 4 Herons, the Eurasian White-fronted Goose and 2 Pink-footed Geese still, 5 Shelduck, 189 Teal, the drake Green-winged Teal still, 15 Long-tailed Ducks, 5 Goldeneye, the drake Smew back at the top end (last seen on the 17th), 6 Red-breasted Mergansers, a Hen Harrier, 205 Lapwing, 2 Knot, 200+ Black Guillemots massing off the south end with the first ones noted coming ashore, 9 Meadow Pipits, 14 Rock Pipits, a Pied Wagtail, 20 Fieldfares, the 5 Chaffinches and 40 Snow Buntings.

The first Tystie back on the rocks


The pond in front of T1 is hopping with frogs



Wednesday, 27 February 2019

27th February

A ridiculous day!   A murky start but it soon burned off to leave an amazing morning with plenty of warm sunshine and not a breath of wind, I’ve never seen the like in February before!   Inevitably though, as if it was a summer’s day thick fog had rolled in by the afternoon; not much was seen though with 3 Linnets and a male Stonechat at the Obs, a Hen Harrier flew past, 6 Red-throated Divers were in the bay and the Eurasian White-fronted Goose and 2 Pink-footed Geese were in the fields.



Fulmar

Tuesday, 26 February 2019

26th February


A lovely, bright, sunny day with a brisk but easing SW breeze; the main feature of the day was an excellent count of 576 Skylarks – a new island record count and the first figure of 500+ since the mid 1990’s, there were several flocks of 100+ roaming the island with smaller flocks in virtually every field although there was no obvious visible migration taking place.   Other landbirds included 3 Stonechats – with males at the Obs, the School and Cauldhaim, a Merlin, 8 Meadow Pipits, 2 Song Thrushes, the 5 Chaffinches, 60 Twite, 2 Common Redpolls and 45+ Snow Buntings.

                Also of note were 4 Mute Swans, the Eurasian White-fronted Goose still, 4 Pink-footed Geese (the usual three plus a single which flew out south), 3 Shelduck, 8 Gadwall, the drake Green-winged Teal still on Gretchen, 10 Pintail, 20 Shoveler (the highest count of the year so far), 32 Bar-tailed Godwits and 30 Black-headed Gulls – more and more each day now.

Stonechat

Merlin

Monday, 25 February 2019

25th February


A damp, grey day with very light winds developing into rain by mid-afternoon; birds seen during walks round the north and south ends of the island including another 2 Stonechats (a male at Purtabreck and a female at Senness), single Hen Harrier and Merlin, 75+ Skylarks, a Pied Wagtail, a Robin, a Song Thrush, 9 Hooded Crows and the 5 Chaffinches.   Other totals comprised 3 Herons, 13 Gadwall, the drake Green-winged Teal still on Gretchen, 10 Pintail, 8 Goldeneye and 4 Red-breasted Mergansers.

Starling

Sunday, 24 February 2019

24th February


A lovely, bright and sunny day with light southerly winds; there were a few new birds found across the land as would have been hoped for in the fine conditions which included a female Stonechat at Brides and an increase to 216 Skylarks and 7 Meadow Pipits.   Other landbirds of note comprised 2 Peregrines – an adult female and a 2cy male seemingly hunting together over Trolla, a Hen Harrier, 20 Rock Pipits, a Pied Wagtail, the 5 Chaffinches still (I thought I saw six at one stage but couldn’t confirm!), 60 Twite, 3 Common Redpolls, 52 Snow Buntings and 7 Reed Buntings.

                There were a few increases noted amongst the wildfowl and waders as well with a few species posting their highest counts of the year during some good coverage across high tide including 284 Teal, 123 Mallard, 61 Coot, 390 Lapwing, 171 Snipe, 107 Curlew, 168 Redshank and 25 Black-headed Gulls.

                Other birds of note comprised 10 Red-throated Divers, the Black-throated Diver again in Nouster, 5 Great-northern Divers, 5 Herons, 4 Mute Swans, the Eurasian White-fronted Goose and 3 Pink-footed Geese with the Greylags, 3 Shelduck, 295 Wigeon, 14 Gadwall, the drake Green-winged Teal still on Gretchen, 18 Long-tailed Ducks, the flock of 47 Black-tailed Godwits again on Brides (last seen flying high south, out to sea), 22 Bar-tailed Godwits, 295 Purple Sandpipers and 228 Turnstone.          

Stonechat

Raven

Bar-tailed Godwits

Friday, 22 February 2019

22nd February


An overcast day with a brisk southerly wind; there were few new arrivals noted around the Obs and Brides as totals included 17 Red-throated Divers, 5 Great-northern Divers, 2 new Mute Swans at Brides, the 3 Pink-footed Geese, the drake Green-winged Teal still on Gretchen, 4 Pintail, 8 Shoveler, 12 Long-tailed Ducks, a Merlin, 56 Skylarks, 8 Rock Pipits, the 5 Chaffinches, 60 Twite, 3 Common Redpolls, 35 Snow Buntings and 6 Reed Buntings.

Pintail

Thursday, 21 February 2019

21st February


A good birding day with light S / SE winds and overcast conditions; it was the first day of the year that there seemed to be some decent landbird migration over the island, highlights included the first Pied Wagtail of the year at the pier, the first 2 Linnets of the year in off the sea from the south, the first Sparrowhawk of the year at Holland, 2 Peregrines (2cy male and 2cy female) causing havoc amongst the waders and a good total of 173 Skylarks seemingly moving in all direction with c50 trickling south through the day, a flock of 38 which left to the north from the lighthouse and a big flock of 65 in East Loch Park.

                Other totals from some good coverage included 10 Red-throated Divers, the Eurasian White-fronted Goose still, a single Pink-footed Goose, 15 Gadwall (highest count of the year so far), the drake Green-winged Teal on Gretchen, 38 Tufted Ducks (highest count of the year so far), a Merlin, 84 Ringed Plover, 550+ Golden Plover, 80 Sanderling, 162 Snipe (highest count of the year so far), 90 Curlew, 124 Redshank, 20 Black-headed Gulls and 461 Common Gulls (both the highest counts of the year so far), the 5 Chaffinches, 40 Twite, the 3 Common Redpolls and 56+ Snow Buntings.

Peregrine

20th February

A wet morning and a grey afternoon; the first Lesser Black-backed Gull of the year – an adult on Garso, was the only new bird seen during limited coverage through the day.   Other birds of note included 6 Red-throated Divers, a single Pink-footed Goose, 4 Shelduck, 5 Gadwall, 10Pintail, 10 Shoveler, 24 Tufted Duck, 6 Red-breasted Mergansers, a Merlin round the Obs, 40 Twite and 15 Snow Buntings.


Common Gulls and Purple Sandpipers

Tuesday, 19 February 2019

19th February

A decent day, bright and clear with a decreasing WNW wind which dropped off to almost nothing by late afternoon; some good coverage from a walk round the coast from the Obs to The Links and then a drive round the rest of the lochs produced some further increases in wildfowl and wader numbers including year’s high counts of 246 Teal, 97 Mallard, 9 Red-breasted Mergansers and 370 Lapwings.   Other totals of note comprised 4 Little Grebes (with birds now on Brides, Hooking and Garso), 3 Pink-footed Geese (not sure where they’ve been since they were last seen on the 10th), 263 Wigeon, 7 Gadwall, 6 Pintail, 11 Shoveler, 22 Tufted Ducks, 220 Golden Plover, a Knot, 25 Dunlin and 170 Common Gulls.

                There were some increases on the land as well, most notably a total of 107 Skylarks along with a Hen Harrier, a Song Thrush, 4 Chaffinches, the 3 Common Redpolls, 55+ Twite and 80 Snow Buntings.   With the very calm conditions in the late afternoon I opened the nets at Holland and was rewarded with a beautiful young female Merlin which, as well as getting caught herself managed to chase five Fieldfares into the nets.


Red-breasted Mergansers getting in the groove



Monday, 18 February 2019

18th February


Bright and sunny throughout the day but we kept the strong southerly wind which made things tricky in the field; walked up the west coast to Westness and back down the middle of the island and birds of note included the 2 Whooper Swans which landed on Gretchen, the drake Green-winged Teal also on Gretchen, an adult male Peregrine (only the second record of the year - probably the same bird as in January) causing havoc over Loch Park, a Merlin round the Obs and c70 Snow Buntings dotted around the place.

Wigeon



Sunday, 17 February 2019

17th February


Largely overcast with a strong southerly wind throughout; with summer migrants amazingly turning up on Shetland today, there was a smidgeon of anticipation out in the field but there was little new to mention as totals from around the island consisted of long-staying or regularly commuting birds.   Numbers included 4 Herons, the 2 Whooper Swans which didn’t leave after all, the Eurasian White-fronted Goose still, 4 Shelduck, the drake Green-winged Teal still on Gretchen, 97 Mallard, 10 Pintail, 10 Shoveler, a further increase to 36 Tufted Duck, the drake Smew once again on Bewan (last seen here on the 5th and present on North Loch, Sanday yesterday), 4 Red-breasted Mergansers, 47 Coot, 50 Black-tailed Godwits still on Brides, 12 Fieldfare, 5 Chaffinches and 15 Snow Buntings.

White-fronted Goose

Saturday, 16 February 2019

16th February


A lovely calm start with a light easterly breeze slowly increasing through the day; there was no evidence of any other new arrivals after yesterday’s ‘excitement’ as totals around the south end of the island and a brief look at the north end included 11 Great-northern Divers, the 2 Whooper Swans which left to the south in the morning, the Eurasian White-fronted Goose still, 8 Pintail, 19 Long-tailed Ducks, a Hen Harrier, 61 Oystercatchers, a Knot, a noticeable build-up of Black Guillemots around the south end starting to display, 29 Skylarks, a Robin at Holland, the 5 Chaffinches, 60 Twite, 3 Common Redpolls and 51+ Snow Buntings.

Shag

Friday, 15 February 2019

15th February

Bright and sunny throughout with a brisk southerly wind; good coverage through the day consisting of a walk round the coast from the Obs to The Links, working round the Obs and a drive round the lochs produced some notable influxes of a few things hinting at the spring to come.   These included an excellent build-up of 60 Coots (the highest count since 2012) – up to 20 have been present through January and early February, a much-improved count of 83 Skylarks (with a flock of 59 near the school) – c30 over-wintered, year’s high counts of 27 Tufted Ducks, 96 Mallard and 13 Black-headed Gulls and three new Mute Swans on Bewan (with the resident pair still on Garso).

Other totals through the day included 4 Herons, the 2 Whooper Swans still, a Pink-footed Goose seen leaving out to the south, 220 Wigeon, 175 Teal, 6 Pintail, 8 Shoveler, single Hen Harrier and Merlin, 450 Golden Plover, 275 Lapwing, a Knot, 35 Bar-tailed Godwits, the flock of 51 Black-tailed Godwits again on Brides (last seen on the 6th, maybe commuting between here and Sanday), 12 Rock Pipits, 2 Chaffinches, 60 Twite, 2 Common Redpolls and 49+ Snow Buntings.

Black-tailed Godwits

The Brides Great Black-backed Gull pair have started to get aggro already