Sunday, 15 September 2019

14th September

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

13th September

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

12th September

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

11th September

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

10th September

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

Barred Warbler

Common Tern

Tuesday, 10 September 2019

9th September

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.

Golden Plover

Sunday, 8 September 2019

8th September

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.


7th September

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

6th September

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

5th September

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. 

Lesser Whitethroat

Thursday, 5 September 2019

4th September

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

3rd September

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

2nd September

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.

alba Wagtail

Monday, 2 September 2019

1st September

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 just didn't feel like an Isabelline.

Saturday, 31 August 2019

30th August

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.