Saturday, 29 November 2008

26th November - 3rd December

Quiet as expected but casual sightings have included lesser redpoll, woodcock and 'eastern' chiffchaff on 27th and stonechat and common scoter on 28th. Also on this day was the unexpected and rare sighting of an otter at Stennabreck and again on 29th at Twingness. Up to 3 robins have been seen daily plus 2 song thrush, 2 fieldfare, up to 70 snow buntings and both male and female hen harrier.

Late news from an islander was of 3 killer whales off Bewan on 22nd November.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

22nd - 25th November

The only noteworthy sighting was the pretty amazing rediscovery of the presumed blyth's pipit at Garso on 24th, still no nearer to identification and present on the morning of 25th, the bird was trapped and proved to be a richard's pipit.

Initially seen briefly on 21st this bird was assumed likely to have been blyth's, compact with a small pipit-like jizz, neat plumage and bold crown and mantle streaking. The photographs taken that day certainly point this way too, but with fully juvenile median coverts, and no tail pattern or call it remained unidentified. Relocated on 24th and trapped on 25th the pattern of T5 instantly identified the bird as Richard's Pipit, and in hand biometrics were all outside the range of Blyth's. Biometrics: wing 98.0, tarsus 29.8, hind claw 19.0

Friday, 21 November 2008

19th - 21st November

A presumed BLYTH'S PIPIT spent a frustratingly short time sheltering on the golf course, showing pro blyth's plumage, behaviour and structural features but all too briefly. Other bits and pieces over the previous days included a Greenland white-fronted goose, a black redstart and stonechat by Nouster, single chiffchaff and woodcock and a few robins.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

15th - 18th November

Present throughout were the scaup and canada goose, whilst at the Observatory the song thrush remains and a water rail appears to be wintering in the ditch. Daily totals of robin and chiffchaff fluctuated between 3 and 4, and 3 woodcock and single stonechat and black redstart have been seen over the 4 day period. A juvenile glaucous gull was noted on 15th and a total of 255 purple sandpiper was a reasonable count, as was 27 dunlin on 16th. A few new arrivals on 16th included most notably a yellowhammer at Gravity, singles of greenfinch and common redpoll and a flock of 56 snow buntings at Twinyess. 3 grey heron were still in Garso Wick when last checked, 5 sooty shearwater were at sea on 17th and the male hen harrier made an appearance on 18th.

Saturday, 15 November 2008

14th November

It rained all day! The few notable migrants that were out and about included a black redstart and greenfinch by Holland, 2 chiffchaff, and 3 woodcock. A goldeneye was on Gretchen Loch and the female scaup was still present on Bewan Loch.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

13th November

Waders on the Links included 71 ringed plover, 79 sanderling, 11 dunlin and 20 bar-tailed godwit, and a hen harrier was at nearby Hooking. Singles of black redstart and stonechat were seen along the west side, and 3 common scoter flew past.2 robins were at Holland and other migrants still present included 2 woodcock and 6 chiffchaff. A sooty shearwater was seen on the sea and a scaup was on Bewan Loch.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

12th November

A handful of migrants today, including a very late common redstart at Sandback, black redstart at the Observatory, 2 stonechat, a blackcap, 3 robin and 6 chiffchaff. A lapland bunting was mobile at the north end, notable finches comprised singles of brambling, greenfinch and meally redpoll and thrush numbers had decreased to just 32 blackbirds, 44 fieldfare, 63 redwing and 3 song thrush. A juvenile glaucous gull dropped in briefly on Garso Loch, the canada goose is still at Bridesness and a count of 296 wigeon is the largest for some time.

This interestingly late 1st winter female redstart showed buff fringes to the tertials and secondaries, creating a distinct pale wing panel most evident in the field. With this, the date and long wing length, 1mm within its range, it is tempting to assume this bird is of eastern origin. However, the eastern form samamisicus is currently regarded as indistinguishable from nominate phoenicurus in this plumage. Shame....

11th November

A juvenile iceland gull was amongst the many gulls at Bridesness, where the canada goose and 11 barnacle geese remain. A common scoter was in Nouster Bay and 23 long-tailed duck and 8 red-breasted merganser were in Linklet Bay. A dunnock at Westness is amazingly the first this autumn, and other counts included a blackcap, 3 chiffchaff, a goldcrest, 9 robins and 17 woodcock. Thrushes consisted 5 song thrush, 119 fieldfare, 91 blackbird and 93 redwing.

Monday, 10 November 2008

10th November

Today's few new arrivals included a black redstart, blackcap at Westness and a kestrel in the north, with a female scaup on Bewan Loch and common scoter in Garso Wick also of note. Leftovers of Fridays arrival consisted of 92 blackbirds, 81 fieldfare, 103 redwing, singles of song thrush and goldcrest, and 14 woodcock.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

9th November

A grey phalarope was in Nouster bay, as were 11 long-tailed duck and 2 red-breasted merganser. Thrushes had decreased today with just 55 fieldfare, 59 redwing and 36 blackbird, 2 stonechat were around Twingness and black redstarts were at the Lurn and Westness. 2 each of robin, goldcrest and chiffchaff were at Holland, where the 3 common redpoll remain.

Saturday, 8 November 2008

8th November

The HUME'S LEAF WARBLER was still present at Bridesness in the morning, and whilst watching this an OLIVE-BACKED PIPIT dropped in calling. It showed for some 15 minutes before heading off towards Stennabreck. There was limited coverage in the afternoon but thrushes were still in reasonable numbers, a single waxwing flew through and a black redstart was by Gretchen hide. 2 brambling were at Nether Linnay and in contrast to yesterday only 14 woodcock were seen. Other migrants included 13 goldcrest, 2 chiffchaff, 2 blackcap and 9 robin.

Friday, 7 November 2008

7th November

A fantastic day today with a record breaking count of 84 woodcock, and good numbers of thrushes which consisted 221 fieldfare, 156 blackbird, 3 song thrush and 166 redwing. A taiga bean goose flew south along the west coast, 2 black redstart and a chaffinch were new in the north, as was a stonechat at Kirbest. A waxwing was at the Kirk, the blackcap was still at the Observatory and other small migrants included 6 chiffchaff, 17 goldcrest, 16 robin and 4 common redpoll. The bird of the day came in the afternoon when a HUME'S LEAF WARBLER was found at Bridesness - 1st North Ronaldsay record. Despite giving something of a chase the bird finally settled, calling frequently for good measure. Also at Bridesness were singles of short and long-eared owl, whilst the canada goose and 12 barnacle geese were nearby at Greenwall. Another feature of today were large gulls, with flocks by the lighthouse and on the Links consisting of 711 herring gulls and 185 great black-backed gulls.

6th November

Thrushes were trickling in through the day with final totals of 231 redwing, 112 blackbird, 99 fieldfare and 5 song thrush, and woodcock were well represented with 18. 2 Long-eared owls were in the North, as was the day's highlight with a pallas's warbler at Ires Taing. Other passerines included a black redstart at Garso, 8 robin, 7 chiffchaff, 27 goldcrest and a minimum of 24 waxwing. A greenfinch was by the lighthouse, 3 brambling in East Loch Park and 2 lapland bunting by Kirbest. Elsewhere on the island the canada goose remains at Bridesness, 3 jack snipe were at Westness and 47 dunlin in fields with golden plover.

23rd October - 5th November

Apologies for lack of updates, Internet connection was lost during severe gales on 23rd.

October remained quite with strong Westerly winds throughout, though a small arrival of thrushes on 23rd included 360 fieldfare and 200 redwing. The last wheatear was seen on the 26th and white-winged gulls included juvenile glaucous gull on three dates and a juvenile iceland gull on 27th. 8 grey phalaropes on 27th slowly dwindled to just 1 by November, whilst the end of the month produced a maximum of 5 chiffchaff, all of the race abietinus or east of, a late pied flycatcher and 4 common scoter on the sea.
Seawatching on 1st consisted of 3 sooty shearwater and a manx shearwater and a juvenile pomarine skua, with a great skua the following day. Also on 2nd were 5 goldcrest, 4 robin, 6 chiffchaff and a count of 125 snow bunting. The 3rd produced an island rarity in the form of a canada goose, and the first woodcock of the autumn. Up to 3 hen harriers and 11 barnacle geese were present through the week and after a few singles a flock of 6 waxwing were in Holland Gardens on 5th. The peak redwing count was of 67 on 5th and a maximum of 6 common redpoll along with 19 twite were noted on 5th.