Sunday, 15 September 2019
A horrible day as we kept the blazing force 7-8 westerly wind but had almost constant driving rain thrown in to the mix; unsurprisingly there were few birding highlights for the day with a total of 380 Pink-footed Geese seen with quite a few grounded flocks in the awful weather, single Red-throated and Great-northern Divers, 2 Mute Swans (the first ones since the end of July – possibly the breeding pair returning after their summer holidays) and 2 Sand Martins of note.
Saturday, 14 September 2019
The blasting westerly wind picked up again a touch making life difficult in the field; the main feature of the day was a decent movement of 431 Pink-footed Geese, generally in small flocks. The other highlights were offshore as well with a juvenile Pomarine Skua the pick along with a Red-throated Diver, 2 Blue Fulmars amongst the steady stream of Fulmars, 34 Sooty Shearwaters, 4 Manx Shearwaters, a Common Scoter (the first one since the spring), an Arctic Skua and 26 Bonxies. Other little bits included a Heron, 92 Wigeon, single Merlin and Peregrine, 13 Black-tailed Godwits and single Willow Warbler and Pied Flycatcher.
Friday, 13 September 2019
Rough still, although the WSW / W wind was slightly less than yesterday, it remained difficult in the field especially with the sometimes-heavy squalls which swept through in the morning; the Little Bunting popped up again in Funny Park and showed well at times while other lingering passerines included a Tree Sparrow at Hooking (the second of the autumn) and single Lesser Whitethroat and Pied Flycatcher. Other birds included 2 Herons, a total of 96 Pink-footed Geese south (in several flocks), influxes of 87 Wigeon and 50 Teal, the first Red-breasted Merganser since July, a Hen Harrier, 2 Kestrels, a Merlin, 119 Ringed Plover, 497 Golden Plover, single Ruff and Whimbrel, 160 Redshank, a small influx of 12 Black-headed Gulls and 30 Common Gulls, 7 Sand Martins, 51 Wheatears and 2 Lapland Buntings – Westbeach and Westness.
Thursday, 12 September 2019
Inevitably, just as we experienced our best day of the autumn so far, the wind switches into the WSW and picks up to an uncomfortable force 7-8 thus putting an end to our eastern dreams for the time being! It was very difficult birding conditions in the strong wind and the small passerine totals consisted of lingering birds with the Red-backed Shrike still at Cursiter, 8 Willow Warblers, a Goldcrest and a Pied Flycatcher. Other birds dug out included 2 Herons, a Merlin, an increase to 1,050 Golden Plover, 35 Knot, a Ruff, 4 Whimbrel, the juvenile Common Tern with 3 Arctic Terns lingering in Nouster and 6 Sand Martins.
Wednesday, 11 September 2019
A good start to the day with a light SSE wind and plenty of birds but after mid-afternoon the wind rapidly picked up to a very strong southerly wind bringing rain by dusk; the long list of scarcities across the island included a Common Buzzard high south (the first of the year), a Marsh Warbler trapped at Holland House, 3 Barred Warblers – Funny Park, Antabreck and the Sandback bird still, the Red-backed Shrike still at Cursiter, 2 Common Rosefinches – Funny Park and Scottigar and the first Little Bunting of the year going between the Obs and Funny Park. Other totals comprised a Kestrel, 2 Merlins, 39 Knot, single Ruff and Black-tailed Godwit, a juvenile Common Tern on Nouster Pier, a Sand Martin, 2 Rock Pipit, a flava Wagtail in flight by The Mill, 9 Whinchat, a Reed Warbler, a Whitethroat, 4 Lesser Whitethroats, 15 Garden Warblers, 4 Blackcap, 15 Willow Warblers, a Goldcrest and 3 Pied Flycatchers.
Little Bunting Dante Shepherd
Tuesday, 10 September 2019
Another nice day with a moderate NW breeze which eased off slightly towards the evening; a decent spread of migrants across the island showed some small increases in numbers including the first 3 Rock Pipits of the autumn, 4 Whinchats, yesterday’s Barred Warbler still at Sandback, 2 Lesser Whitethroats, 4 Garden Warblers, 10 Willow Warblers, 3 Goldcrest and 5 Pied Flycatchers. Other birds of note comprised 3 Herons, a Hen Harrier, 2 Kestrels, 2 Merlin, a Peregrine, a Grey Plover, 2 Ruff, a Black-tailed Godwit and the Shorelark still at Trolla.
Sunday, 8 September 2019
Bright and sunny throughout but the southerly wind increased steadily, rapidly becoming a hinderance in the field even though it was clear there were some good birds to be found; migrants comprised 5 Whinchats, 110+ Wheatears, a Barred Warbler at Sandback (the second of the year), 16 Willow Warblers, a Goldcrest, 4 Pied Flycatchers and a Common Rosefinch at Senness (the first of the autumn). Other little bits included 87 Teal, single Hen Harrier and Peregrine, a Black-tailed Godwit and the Shorelark still around the Lighthouse.
Bright and dry throughout the day with a brisk NW dominating until the evening when the wind dropped off to practically nothing producing a stunning picture-postcard evening; there was a nice spread of new migrants across the island, perhaps hinting at things to come, highlighted by a juvenile Red-backed Shrike at Cursiter (our first of the autumn) along with a Short-eared Owl, 6 Sand Martins, 65 alba Wagtails, 3 Whinchats, 73 Wheatears, a Lesser Whitethroat, 13 Willow Warblers, a Pied Flycatcher and a Lapland Bunting. There was still some action offshore including 9 Red-throated Divers, 3,165 Fulmars, 31 Sooty Shearwaters and 10 Manx Shearwaters while other birds of note comprised a Hen Harrier, 2 Peregrines and 21 Knot.
Pied Flycatcher and Wheatear
Saturday, 7 September 2019
After a few squalls swept through early morning it was a dry and bright day with a brisk westerly breeze moving into the north by the evening; todays seawatching totals comprised 7 Red-throated Divers, 1,044 Fulmars, 37 Sooty Shearwaters, 6 Manx Shearwaters and 185 Auk sp. Other birds included single Merlin and Peregrine, 108 Ringed Plover, 12 Bar-tailed Godwits, 26 Sand Martins, 2 Whinchats, 97 Wheatears, a Whitethroat and a Willow Warbler.
Friday, 6 September 2019
A nice day only marred by a few light showers on the moderate westerly wind until some very heavy rain arrived at dusk; the pick of the birds were again on the sea, highlighted by a lovely adult SABINE’S GULL floating past the seawatch hide late afternoon (always a scarce bird on here, with the last one in 2013). Other seawatching totals comprised 3 Red-throated Divers, 2,069 Fulmars, 97 Sooty Shearwaters, 12 Manx Shearwaters, a Storm Petrel and 14 Bonxies. Also unearthed today were 4 Herons, 79 Teal, 750 Golden Plover, a Grey Plover, 52 Knot, a Black-tailed Godwit, the Shorelark back up at Trolla, 29 Sand Martins, 110 Swallows, 100 Wheatears and a slight increase in passerines with a Whinchat, a Lesser Whitethroat, a Whitethroat and 12 Willow Warblers.
Thursday, 5 September 2019
A decent first half to the day with moderate WSW winds and bright conditions, it gradually deteriorated though eventually cumulating into a blazing north-westerly and driving rain by mid-afternoon; more seawatching producing the totals of 1,062 Fulmars, 31 Sooty Shearwaters, 23 Manx Shearwaters, 20 Bonxies, 80 Kittiwakes and the super early Little Auk seen again off the Beacon. Other birds through the day comprised 4 Herons, 41 Wigeon, the first Sparrowhawk of the autumn, 2 Merlin, 817 Golden Plover, 192 Lapwing, the Shorelark making a rare foray down to Gretchen, 24 Sand Martins, 96 Swallows, a Whinchat, 87 Wheatears and 3 Willow Warblers.
Wednesday, 4 September 2019
A stunning start to the day, super flat calm, clear and sunny but the wind gradually picked up, eventually bringing some heavy rain by late afternoon; the pick of the birds were again on the sea with the highlight being a very early, surprise Little Auk (unsurprisingly our earliest ever!) along with 8 Sooty Shearwaters, the first Great-northern Diver since July and 4 Risso’s Dolphins. Other birds included 3 Herons, the first 4 Pink-footed Geese of the autumn, single Hen Harrier and Peregrine, a Grey Plover, 148 Knot, 3 Whinchat, the Barred Warbler glimpsed briefly at Holland, single Whitethroat and Lesser Whitethroat and 3 Willow Warblers.
Tuesday, 3 September 2019
Not a bad day all in all, with a moderate westerly wind and some sunshine but with a few hours of rain in the afternoon before clearing up again to produce a fine evening; most of the interest was offshore during the morning with a couple of hours producing the best totals so far this autumn including 105 Sooty Shearwaters, 124 Manx Shearwaters, a Storm Petrel, 200 Kittiwakes, 500 Auk sp. and a Minke Whale. The passage was short lived though with subsequent watches drawing a Shearwater blank, although a Basking Shark was lingering off the Lighthouse in the afternoon – our second of the year. Other birds of note comprised 2 Herons, an influx of 28 Wigeon, a Hen Harrier, 735 Golden Plover, 234 Lapwing, 2 Black-tailed Godwits, the Shorelark again at Westness, a Whinchat, 168+ Wheatears, a Whitethroat and 4 Willow Warblers.
Monday, 2 September 2019
We pretty much wrote off the 31st with hard, driving rain pretty much throughout the day but the 1st was much nicer, consisting of light / moderate SW winds, a bit of sunshine becoming calmer by the evening. A decent spread of migrants across the island included 4 Sooty and 1 Manx Shearwater off the Lighthouse, 8 Herons, 112 Teal, 7 Pintail, 10 Shoveler, single Hen Harrier and Peregrine, a Grey Plover, 78 Ringed Plover, 88 Knot, 4 Ruff, the Shorelark again on Torness, 22 Sand Martins, 285+ Meadow Pipits, a Whinchat, 202+ Wheatears, the Barred Warbler re-trapped in Holland (first caught on 25th August), 4 Willow Warblers and the first 2 Lapland Buntings of the autumn.
This Wheatear on Torness made us stop, very pale looking with a suspiciously Isabelline-like tail but we just couldn't take that final step with it as it had dark underwings, buffy supercillium and forehead and too much colour on the underparts...it just didn't feel like an Isabelline.
Saturday, 31 August 2019
A wet and windy morning, easing off by lunchtime but the showers not really stopping until mid-afternoon when the southerly wind also died away; some good totals were posted through the day, especially after the rain stopped but there was nothing really different in amongst the high counts. Numbers included a Red-throated Diver, 12 Sooty Shearwaters, 4 Manx Shearwaters, 2 Herons, single Hen Harrier and Peregrine, 665 Golden Plover, 128 Lapwing, 46 Knot, 115 Sanderling, a Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Whimbrel, 112 Redshank, 2 Green Sandpipers, 247 Turnstone, a good 14 Swifts (a good count for this late in the year), 240 Meadow Pipits, a Whinchat, 260+ Wheatears, 4 Willow Warblers and the Holland House Linnet roost up to 340.
A decent day with moderate southerly winds and plenty of sunshine until some nasty showers moved in late afternoon; a quiet day really with some dedicated seawatching producing 35 Sooty Shearwaters and 38 Manx Shearwaters whilst elsewhere on the island, totals comprised 9 Pintail, 58 Teal, single Hen Harrier and Peregrine, 2 Ruff, a Whinchat, a Song Thrush, a Garden Warbler, 6 Willow Warblers and a Goldcrest.
Thursday, 29 August 2019
After the thick fog and outbreaks of rain had cleared by mid-morning, it was a pleasant day with a moderate SSW wind and spells of sunshine; there was a light sprinkling of birds across the island with long-staying individuals providing the highlights as totals comprised 9 Herons, single Hen Harrier and Peregrine, 349 Golden Plover, 66 Knot, a Ruff, a Whimbrel, 97 Curlew, a Green Sandpiper, 3 Common Terns past Trinley, the Shorelark which reappeared on Torness, 129 Swallows, 254+ Meadow Pipits, 4 Whinchat, 119+ Wheatears, a Garden Warbler, the Greenish Warbler still at Senness, 3 Willow Warblers and 2 Pied Flycatchers.
Wednesday, 28 August 2019
A stunning day, very calm, bright, warm sunshine, a light easterly breeze and amazingly…no fog! Perhaps unsurprisingly, there were fewer grounded migrants than yesterday in the fine conditions but still a decent spread across the island as highlights included the Greenish Warbler still at Senness, the Wood Warbler still in Holland, a Corncrake flushed from Senness (presumably a migrant, not one of the breeding birds) and more excitingly, a little covey of 5 Quail flushed together from near Kirbest Farm – surely a family party and the first confirmed successful breeding on the island (a male was singing in this area in the spring). Other birds comprised 2 Sooty Shearwaters off the Lighthouse, the Hen Harrier, single Merlin and Peregrine, 3 Ruff, a Short-eared Owl, 2 Swifts, 170+ Swallows, 2 Whinchats, 124+ Wheatears, a Lesser Whitethroat (first of the autumn), a Whitethroat, 6 Willow Warblers, a Goldcrest and a Pied Flycatcher.
Monday, 26 August 2019
A real mixed bag of weather with the light easterly breeze the only constant – it started off damp, drizzly and autumnal before thick fog moved in until mid-afternoon when the sun broke through to produce a couple of hours of very warm, sunny loveliness with the fog returning in the evening. It was perhaps the first day of the autumn when birds were popping up throughout with a fine spread of migrants across the island; highlights included a GREENISH WARBLER at Senness, the Melodious Warbler still in the crop field near the Obs, yesterday’s Barred Warbler re-trapped at Holland and a Wood Warbler caught at Holland in the evening. Other birds included a Red-throated Diver, the Hen Harrier, a Kestrel (first of the autumn), a Merlin, the ringed Little Stint still, 2 Whimbrel, 3 Swifts, 90+ alba Wagtails, 3 Whinchats, 175+ Wheatear, a Song Thrush, single Blackcap and Garden Warbler, 5 Willow Warblers, a Pied Flycatcher (first of the autumn) and the juvenile Common Crossbill still.
Greenish Warbler Dante Shepherd
A super, stunning flat calm start to the day with the easterly breeze slowly picking up and bringing in a spell of fog for a few hours from lunchtime but it cleared by late afternoon to leave a lovely evening with a light SE wind; the day started well with a Barred Warbler trapped at Holland House first thing – our overdue first of the year before picking up late morning when a MELODIOUS WARBLER was found around the Heligoland traps at the Obs, it gave us the run about for a while before eventually making its way into a trap to confirm its ID (only the seventh record for the island and the first since 2003). A good supporting cast included an influx of duck with 70 Mallard, 4 Pintail and 9 Wigeon on Hooking, the young female Peregrine still, the first Hen Harrier of the autumn, single Black-tailed Godwit and Whimbrel, 4 Ruff, a Short-eared Owl at Hooking, a Swift, the Grey-headed Wagtail again, an early Fieldfare, a Willow Warbler and a juvenile Common Crossbill at the Obs.
Melodious Warbler Simon Davies
A nice day with a moderate SSE breeze and plenty of sunshine but a few light showers creeping in during the evening; the unremarkable day was saved when a SUBALPINE WARBLER was glimpsed in the thick garden at Upper Linney, the bird was super skulking so a net was put up and the bird was easily caught. It was still not clear which subspecies was involved, even in the hand as it was in heavy wing and tail moult but the best guess would be a Western – the very fact that it was in such heavy moult strongly suggested that it had been present for a good long time as it would not have even attempted a sea crossing in such a state! Other birds included 6 Sooty Shearwaters, 17 Manx Shearwaters and 2 Storm Petrels off the Lighthouse, the young female Peregrine still, 60 Knot, a Sandwich Tern and a Willow Warbler.
Saturday, 24 August 2019
Spitting, drizzly rain through much of the day, only clearing up by mid-afternoon with the moderate SSE wind dropping off as well; we hoped at least a few birds would pop up after the rain stopped but in keeping with the autumn so far, this was not to be, it was more a case of old birds reappearing with the Shorelark again at Westness (last seen on the 17th), the Grey-headed Wagtail near Hooking (last seen on the 13th) and a Song Thrush re-trapped in Holland (originally ringed but not seen since, on the 1st). Other bits included 3 Sooty Shearwaters, 5 Manx Shearwaters and 5 Storm Petrels off the Lighthouse in the afternoon, a Greenshank, still little flocks of juvenile Knot scattered around in funny places, 11 Ruff and last night’s ringed Little Stint at Westness.
Sanderlings, as well as Knot seem to have had a good breeding season with many spangly juveniles in the flocks
A decent day, weather-wise with moderate winds and some bright sunshine until mid-afternoon when a nasty little weather front moved in, bringing strong winds and some driving rain; it was quiet birdwise but somewhat enlivened by the impromptu first dazzling session of the autumn, inspired by the rough weather when I managed to catch a cracking juvenile Little Stint on Gretchen along with single Ruff, Knot and Dunlin. Other birds seen during the pleasant morning included 14 Whimbrel (a 3 and an 11) heading south, 2 Swifts and 2 Willow Warblers.
Thursday, 22 August 2019
A steady few days, dominated by brisk SSE winds, long spells of sunshine interspersed by showers sweeping through; waders continued to pass through as high counts through this period included 102 Knot, 242 Sanderling, 16 Black-tailed Godwit, 14 Ruff, a Green Sandpiper and 192 Turnstone. Other birds comprised a decent seawatch on the 21st with 26 Sooty Shearwaters and 39 Manx Shearwaters past the Lighthouse in the morning while a Swift also came in off, up to 3 Peregrines, a Merlin, 2 Stonechats still, a Collared Dove and a Garden Warbler on the 20th.
Monday, 19 August 2019
After a few showers in the morning it was a decent day with moderate SSE winds which died off in the evening; it was a good day in the field with a few new arrivals hinting that proper autumn might just be on the way. Birds seen included a Sooty Shearwater off the Lighthouse, a Heron, a Merlin, 107 Oystercatchers, 495 Golden Plover, a good 179 Knot (still mostly juveniles), 23 Ruff (again, mostly juveniles), an excellent arrival of 62+ Black-tailed Godwits, 2 Green Sandpipers, a Wood Sandpiper north over Hooking, a Greenshank, 3 Sandwich Terns – first ones for ages and finally a few passerines with 30 Wheatears, 2 Reed Warblers (Scotsha and Holland), a Whitethroat at the Obs and a Willow Warbler.
Ruff (and Redshank)
A breezy, showery morning improving into a bright, sunny afternoon; a few new bits were found through the day including 2 Herons, a Merlin, the first Grey Plover of the autumn, 79 Knot, 9 Ruff, the Shorelark again at Westness and the first Goldcrest of the autumn around the Obs - certainly a dispersing youngster from Orkney rather than a Scandinavian migrant!
Sunday, 18 August 2019
Saturday, 17 August 2019
A different day with strong NW winds but plenty of sunshine, the wind added a new dimension into the Fulmar ringing, dramatically increasing their spitting range if you approached from the wrong side; birds of note seen through the day included a Sooty Shearwater, a Wigeon, the first Merlin of the autumn at the Obs, 78 Knot, a Ruff, 6 Black-tailed Godwits, 3 Whimbrel, a Greenshank, 2 Green Sandpipers, 223 Turnstone, 2 Willow Warblers and the first Tree Sparrow of the autumn.
Thursday, 15 August 2019
Fine again with light but increasing winds with the forecast rain not arriving until dusk; a similar array of birds across the island to previous days but a good mix and notable increases in many wader species - counts included 982 Golden Plover, 193 Lapwing, 151 Knot, 23 Ruff, 4 Black-tailed Godwits, 86 Curlew, 136 Redshank, 2 Greenshank, 2 Green Sandpipers and 228 Turnstone. Other birds of note comprised 3 Sooty Shearwaters, 6 Manx Shearwaters and 3 Storm Petrels off the Lighthouse, 2 Peregrines (the big juvenile female and new adult male), 2 Woodpigeons, the Shorelark again, a Black Redstart at Brides, a juvenile Stonechat at the Obs, 36 Wheatears and a Willow Warbler.
Wednesday, 14 August 2019
A fine, lovely day with plenty of warm sunshine and light NW winds; birdwise we’re still just ticking along with no passerine migrants coming through yet but a steady turnover of waders with Ruff and Knot most prominent. Totals today included a Sooty Shearwater and 3 Manx Shearwaters off the top end, a Heron, the juvenile female Peregrine again, 160 Knot, 6 Ruff, 16 Black-tailed Godwits, a Greenshank, the first juvenile Bonxie of the year on The Links (not one of ours), the Shorelark and Grey-headed Wagtail still, 3 juvenile Stonechats – the first of the autumn, presumably from not too far away elsewhere on Orkney and 3 Willow Warblers.
We've ringed 170+ Fulmar chicks so far and with many more to go there is a constant oily smell amongst the staff!
Tuesday, 13 August 2019
Lovely, bright and sunny with a light NW wind; a decent spread of birds were across the island but little in the way of new things as totals included 2 Manx Shearwaters off the top end, 3 Herons, a juvenile female Peregrine, 670 Golden Plover, 132 Knot, 8 Ruff, 5 Black-tailed Godwits, single Greenshank and Green Sandpiper, the Grey-headed Wagtail which reappeared on the beach at Westness and a single Willow Warbler. Also of note was the confirmation of breeding Woodpigeons in Holland House – the first breeding record for the island and a Hummingbird Hawkmoth along the coast at Stennabreck.
Monday, 12 August 2019
A rough, windy day with a strong, cold NNW wind raking the island; it was tough going in the field but birds seen did include 87 Knot (the majority being juveniles), 4 Ruff, 12 Black-tailed Godwit, a Greenshank, 2 Green Sandpipers, a juvenile Lesser Black-backed Gull (the first one for a while), a Woodpigeon and the Shorelark which reappeared again at Westness.
Sunday, 11 August 2019
A bit of a mixed day with generally light N / NE winds and fog which kept drifting in and out throughout but in between foggy spells it was really warm and sunny; coverage was limited the day after the final dance of the sheep festival with a few sore heads but birds did include a female Grey-headed Wagtail at Ancum (another unseasonal bird after the male last month), a new Reed Warbler trapped in Ancum Willows, 5 Ruff, 12 Knot, 3 Green Sandpipers, 2 Greenshank and 3 Willow Warblers.
Nice conditions for the majority of the day until a heavy band of rain finally reached us in the early evening to produce a wild, wet and windy night; the main interest was offshore where 3 Sooty Shearwaters, 16 Manx Shearwaters, 450+ Puffins, at least 18 Arctic Skuas, 11 Bonxies and a pod of 4+ Risso’s Dolphins were off the Lighthouse in the afternoon. Other birds included a Greenshank and 4 Ruff while a new Willow Warbler was the token migrant passerine.
A noticeable increase in Arctic Skuas have included a few lovely stripy first year birds
Friday, 9 August 2019
Dry again but a brisk NE through most of the day made its presence felt but this eased off in the evening leaving a lovely, sunny, picture postcard end to the day; the bird highlight was a fine, bright adult ROSE-COLOURED STARLING found mid-morning near the School but it soon disappeared, not showing up again until the evening when it was with the main Starling flock in the pre-roost at Holland House. A few birds through the day almost made it feel like autumn including a little influx of 18 Shoveler and 18 Teal, 25 Knot, 6 Ruff, 6 Black-tailed Godwits, a Green Sandpiper at Cauldhame, 2 Woodpigeons, the first Short-eared Owl of the autumn in front of the Surgery and a Willow Warbler.
Thursday, 8 August 2019
A decent, dry day with an increasing NE wind; the first 2 Sooty Shearwaters of the year passed the Lighthouse and the first Peregrine of the autumn – a juvenile male, was over Phisligar. Other little bits included a Heron, presumably the same two Garganey back on Gretchen, 18 Knot with an influx of juveniles, 7 Ruff, a Whimbrel, 2 Greenshank and the largest build-up so far of 205+ Kittiwakes on the rocks off The Lurn.
Wednesday, 7 August 2019
A mixed couple of days with generally light winds from the east allowing us to get out and about as long as we avoided the occasional shower and the inevitable fog which was always lingering there or thereabouts, causing many flights to be cancelled; its still fairly quiet birdwise though, as bits included 4 Herons, up to 490 Golden Plover, 4 Ruff, the first returning juvenile Knot and Black-tailed Godwit, a Whimbrel, 160 Redshank, 2 Greenshank over the Obs on the 6th, an adult Common Tern at Bewan on the 6th, the first Willow Warbler of the autumn trapped at Holland (a particularly young bird which had hardly started its post juvenile body moult – obviously hadn’t come far!) and a general build-up of Swallows and Sand Martins with dispersing Sedge Warblers appearing in odd places.