Saturday, 30 November 2013

29th-30th November

An un-birdable 29th resulted in a day of paperwork until dark when a hunt around various Lochs for Waders and Wildfowl to catch and ring found 3 Jack Snipe among other species. Another 2 were flushed near Longar during daylight the next day where the Greenland White-fronted Goose and Canada Goose were nearby. There were also still 80 odd Twite at Kirbest with 22 Skylarks also there, 3 Robins spread around the middle of the Island and 53 Snow Buntings.

Also today, a Long-finned Pilot Whale was found washed up at Westness. A shame to see this magnificent animal in such a way but we'll be keeping an eye on the carcass with Arctic Gulls in mind.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

26th-28th November

Not a huge amount to report, especially given the extremely poor weather of the first two days when other than 7 Whoopers Swans there was little more than the usual collection of wintering Wildfowl and Waders. The 28th was a better day and 115 Twite in the crop field at Kirbest was the most noteworthy sighting. A 'presumed' Siberian' Chiffchaff was a also there while lingering thrushes around the centre of the Island included 15 Redwings and 2 Fieldfares. 12 Snow Buntings were seen, along with a different Peregrine and the lingering Canada Goose.

'presumed' Siberian Chiffchaff

Monday, 25 November 2013

24th-25th November

A pleasant couple of days with calmer winds and plenty of cloud before the stormy weather returns again tomorrow. There has been no sign of the Dowitcher on either date although the drake Green-winged Teal was still on Gretchen Loch on the former. After going missing for a week the Greenland White-fronted Goose was at Sandar the 25th, there was a Little Auk in the bay at Nouster while the 32 Moorhens counted must be a record? Other odds and ends include a couple each of Woodcock, Hen Harrier and Merlin, 5 Robins, 4 lingering Fieldfares among 30 or so each of Redwings and Blackbirds and 7 Snow Buntings.

Snow Bunting

Saturday, 23 November 2013

23rd November

A pleasant day with light winds, just the occasional shower and even a bit of sunshine for a time. The SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHER was with the Golden Plovers at Trolla Vatn in the morning and was successfully twitched by three birders from Orkney mainland-bringing the total to 8 who have now seen this ultra rare Wader during its week long stay so far!!!! The drake Green-winged Teal also spent the day at its favourite haunt-Gretchen Loch and an Iceland Gull flew past the Lighthouse at midday. There were also a few raptors about with at least 2 each of Hen Harrier and Merlin plus the first Peregrine for a long time, while 18 Skylarks together are worth mentioning.

Friday, 22 November 2013

21st-22nd November

Much better weather the last couple of days and although there was no sign of the SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHER during a brief search on the 21st, it was back at Lenswick again and showing well on the 22nd. On the latter date the drake Green-winged Teal was also on Gretchen Loch again while 11 Pintails were the only new wildfowl, with 16 Shovelers and 24 Tufted Ducks lingering birds. Twite numbers have at last started to show signs of increasing with 95 on the former date along with 60 Snow Buntings and a Chaffinch also. A surprising 3 Chiffchaffs were recorded with the lingering bird at Kirbest and 2 new individuals which weren't seen until they came into roost at Holland House gardens-both certainly sounded like Siberian Chiffchaffs but it was too dark to judge their plumage and they weren't seen the next morning. The oddest sighting during the period though goes to a very confused Golden Plover at the south end in full summer plumage!

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

20th November

A truly horrendous day with a cold northerly wind and regular showers but some time was still spent out in the field. The SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHER was with the mixed wader flocks at Lenswick in the morning with 5 Whooper Swans also there. There were a few other sightings of note with a Little Auk, female Common Scoter and 14 Long-tailed Ducks in Linklet Bay and an immature Scaup on Hooking Loch. A total of 317 Wigeon were counted, most on the Links where the Grey Plover remains with 26 Dunlins and 72 Ringed Plovers. Passerine sightings were limited to a Chiffchaff and 2 Snow Buntings. 
 Whooper Swans

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

19th November

The SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHER was re-located again this morning and has now even been heard calling several times-most satisfying!! It was around Bewan Loch again for the first hour of the day before visiting a number of sites around the north end up with the roaming wader flocks until at least midday. On a cold day, with frequent sleet and hail showers there wasn't much else to report with 22 Snow Buntings and a couple of Merlin's all that's worth mentioning.

A quick reminder that the Observatory is still open to guests, so if your thinking of coming to try and see the Short-billed Dowitcher then contact us on 01857 633200 or by the e.mail address on the homepage for accommodation information. The bird will be looked for daily and the birding information services updated accordingly.

Monday, 18 November 2013

18th November

Despite extensive searching there was no sign of the Short-billed Dowitcher today, but it could easily still be lurking somewhere on the Island. This has clearly been the case with the Green-winged Teal, which after a couple of days of absence re-appeared on Gretchen in the afternoon. Other birds found during the day included a Grey Phalarope with the Redshanks at Scottigar, the lingering Greenland White fronted Goose and a White Wagtail and at least 16 Snow Buntings.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

17th November

Wow, what a day-North Ron scores big-time! A Dowitcher sp was found among feeding Redshanks and Turnstones in the Bewan/Rue area mid-morning and once the sheep started to behave themselves it showed well until lunchtime allowing plenty of photo's to be taken. Originally it was considered to be a Long-billed but limited experience of the two species and nagging doubts prompted several hours of research in the afternoon and after much circulation and correspondence on-line, the current consensus is that the bird is a first-winter SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHER-just the fourth British record! All other news is largely irrelevant although a cursory glance at the sea logged 2 Little Auks while the late White Wagtail remains at the surgery.



Friday, 15 November 2013

14th-15th November

A blustery couple of days with the gale force westerly winds making walking difficult, let alone birding! Christmas shopping, packing and a leucistic Redwing pretty much sum up the 14th, but we'd like to take this opportunity to thank Simon (who heads south today) and all the seasonal staff and volunteers for all their hard work and company during the season. The 15th must have been the 'greyest' day of the year so far, with so much cloud it didn't seem to get light! A Grey Phalarope in the bay at Nouster seemed like a fair return for a hike around the more sheltered south-eastern coast. But this proven merely to be the entre with a drake Green-winged Teal found sleeping among the wildfowl at Bridesness a few hours later-the eighth North Ronaldsay record and the fourth in 3 years. A couple of Merlin's were also seen, along with 5 Red-throated Divers, 2 Woodcocks, a Jack Snipe and 25 Snow Buntings.

Somewhere in this rubbish photo there's a Green-winged Teal!

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

12th - 13th November

A very windy day on the 12th with plenty of vicious showers whipping through made things difficult out in the field but we put the effort in and got some good coverage across the island; the female-type eastern-type Redstart was seen again near Burray in the morning but when we returned with spring-traps to attempt to catch the bird it was nowhere to be found!   The late White Wagtail was also still present along with 130 Blackbirds, 150 Snow Buntings, 18 Woodcock, 2 Jack Snipe, 11 Whooper Swans and a Yellowhammer.   A [slightly] calmer day on the 13th produced little in the way of new birds but the Yellowhammer was caught at Holland where there were still 60 Blackbirds, 40 Fieldfares and 45 Redwing.   Wildfowl totals included 7 Whooper Swans, 5 Gadwall, 12 Shoveler, the long staying Scaup and 5 Goldeneye.


Monday, 11 November 2013

10th - 11th November

A lovely calm day on the 10th produced little in the way of new birds with a Little Auk in Nouster Bay, a single Chiffchaff still with small numbers of lingering Thrushes and Robins and 9 Whooper Swans and the Canada Goose the pick of the wildfowl.   The weather rapidly deteriorated through the night, culminating in a really rough patch in the wee small hours but had largely blown through by the morning to leave a good day with only a few showers to hide from; the rough weather produced a good November arrival of birds with an intriguing female-type Redstart at Ancum showing an obvious whitish wing patch the highlight - surely of eastern origin.   Other birds included three Yellowhammers, at least 54 Woodcock, a White Wagtail, 330+ Blackbirds, 55+ Fieldfares, 2 Woodpigeons and 4 Blackcaps.   Three Mealy and a Lesser Redpoll remain along with a Chiffchaff and a Black Redstart while at least two Merlins enjoyed themselves, being seen to catch several migrants including Snow Bunting and Blackbird.

Interesting Redstart

Some of the Woodcock were particularly approachable with one keen to improve our ringing totals by catching itself in a lobster creel!

Saturday, 9 November 2013

8th - 9th November

A windy day on the 8th produced few highlights although the Little Bunting in Kirbest crop soldiers on where there was also three Mealy Redpolls, three Chaffinches, a Chiffchaff and 5 Reed Buntings in amongst the 100 or so Twite and Linnets; two Woodcock were also seen while two Little Auks and 14 Red-breasted Mergansers offshore were notable and 11 Whooper Swans were seen.   The wind dropped off on the 9th to leave a nice day until showers moved in late afternoon; a look at the sea in the morning produced three Sooty Shearwaters and a Bonxie while wildfowl totals in the calm conditions included 9 Whooper Swans (all different birds to the previous day), the lingering White-fronted Goose, 24 Tufted Duck, the long staying Scaup, 12 Long-tailed Ducks and 4 Goldeneye.   There was a scattering of migrants on the land as well with a late Wheatear on the shore at Scottigar, a Black Redstart at Senness and two Goldfinches most note worthy; other birds included 13 Robins, 3 Chiffchaffs, single Mealy and Lesser Redpolls and 85 Snow Buntings while two Hen Harriers and a Merlin still floated and zoomed around.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

6th - 7th November

A fairly nice couple of days if you could avoid the showers (some of which admittedly were pretty fierce!); the Little Bunting was still in Kirbest crop on 6th when a look at the sea at lunchtime produced just two Sooty Shearwaters, two Little Auks and a Puffin while 20 Long-tailed Ducks and 10 Red-breasted Mergansers were counted off the east coast.   There was still a mixed flock of 200 Thrushes hanging around Holland House on 7th with several Robins and single Blackcap, Goldcrest, Chaffinch and Brambling still present.  A new Lesser Redpoll was trapped in the evening along with a lingering Mealy Redpoll and other bits of note included 7 Whooper Swans and a good count of 190 Purple Sandpipers.
Little Bunting
This Hooded Crow was caught at the Obs on the 7th

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

5th November

A lovely, still day with sunny spells which, although being pretty cold meant it was a pleasure to be out in the field; the sea provided most of the interest with a seawatch from the north end in the morning producing 17 Sooty Shearwaters, a single Manx Shearwater, three Blue Fulmars in amongst 1,400 white ones, a Bonxie, 240 Kittiwakes and 11 Little Auks.   With calm seas for once birds counted on the sea included 9 Great-northern and 7 Red-throated Divers, 30 Long-tailed Ducks, 6 Red-breasted Mergansers and a Scaup.   The land was quieter for new arrivals with a flock of 21 Waxwings in off the sea by the lighthouse the highlight; other birds of note included the Little Bunting still in Kirbest crop, 90 Fieldfares, 320 Redwings, 4 Mealy Redpolls, a single Blackcap remaining, two Lapland Buntings and 140 Snow Buntings.   Also of note were 4 Whooper Swans, the single White-fronted and Canada Geese and a total of 7 Herons.
Long-tailed Duck

Monday, 4 November 2013

3rd - 4th November

The 3rd was a truly horrendous day with a blazing, gale force northerly wind and constant driving rain throughout with a Black Redstart and a Woodcock seen during the short time we were out in the field.   Although still breezy it was a much better day on the 4th with a single European White-fronted Goose seen with the Greylags while the long staying Canada Goose was also seen again.   Other migrant totals included 5 Woodcock, 9 Robins, 62 Blackbirds, 63 Fieldfares, 282 Redwings, 4 Chiffchaffs, 2 Blackcaps, 2 Goldcrests. a Rook, 2 Chaffinches, 5 Bramblings and two Mealy Redpolls.

'eastern' Chiffchaff

Saturday, 2 November 2013

1st - 2nd November

The 1st of the month saw the island swept by strong southerly winds which led to a quiet days birding with a Black Redstart, 4 Woodcock, 7 Whooper Swans and a count of 130 Sanderling of note.   The winds dropped right off on the 2nd to leave a very pleasant day with a good variety of late autumn migrants with the Little Bunting still in the Kirbest crop the pick; other birds on the land included a Black Redstart, a Wheatear, 2 Blackcaps, three Chiffchaffs, a flyover Redpoll sp. a slight influx of 300 Redwings and 11 Robins.   A further 15 Whooper Swans flew south through the day, a Common Scoter was new on the sea, a count of 86 Purple Sandpipers was much higher than of late and the long staying Wood Sandpiper and Black-tailed Godwit were still around while three Hen Harriers, three Merlins and two Peregrines added excitement.