Sunday, 7 December 2014

5th-7th December

There's been a definite 'chill' in the air as a strong north-westerly wind and frequent hail or sleet showers can make for unpleasant conditions. A couple of late Chiffchaffs on 5th included a ringed 'tristis' type at Brigg and there was an equally late (or perhaps even wintering) Black Redstart at Hooking on 6th. A check of the waders on the links the same day saw 45 Ringed Plovers and 76 Dunlin counted and 25 Shovelers were on the loch at Hooking. The drake Green-winged Teal has been present throughout and the hybrid American x Eurasian Wigeon reappeared on the latter two dates. Some other good counts of ducks were made on the 7th amounting to 407 Wigeons, 10 Gadwalls, 177 Teal, 20 Pintails, 33 Tufted Ducks, 20 Long-tailed Ducks, 8 Goldeneyes and 338 Eiders. There were still 12 Tundra Bean Geese (including the juvenile which hadn't been seen since 30th Nov) plus the Greenland White-fronted Goose, 59 Pink-footed Geese, 7 Barnacle Geese and the Pale-bellied Brent Goose. Other odds and sods of note included 9 Red-throated Divers on the sea, 148 Purple Sandpipers and 14 Snow Buntings.

Green-winged Teal

Thursday, 4 December 2014

1st-4th December

Paperwork, maintenance and all those jobs we ignored in the autumn tend to take priority at this time of the year but we do always try and get some fresh air each day-even if its just a walk with the dogs. Decent weather during the period has allowed most sections of the island to be visited at least once and its the current influx of Tundra Bean Geese which have been the most noteworthy. Between 7 and 10 have been seen daily, but we know there are at least 15 actually present while the juvenile Greenland White-fronted Goose remains, as does the Pale-bellied Brent Goose, 7 Barnacle Geese but some new Pink-footed Geese have arrived as their number reached 62 on 4th. Other wildfowl include 4 Whooper Swans, a Shelduck (3rd-4th) and peak counts of 215 Wigeon, 15 Pintails, 25 Tufted Ducks, 184 Eiders (all 3rd), 22 Shovelers (2nd), 163 Teal and 86 Mallard (4th) and the drake Green-winged Teal has been present throughout. The Grey Plover is still here, a late Short-eared Owl was at Ancum (2nd) and there have been up to 3 Hen Harriers, 2 Merlins and a Pergrine present. Passerine numbers are thinning rapidly but the Dunnock, Blackcap and at least 3 Chiffchaffs remain and peak Thrush counts came to 62 Blackbirds, 23 Fieldfares, 67 Redwings and 8 Song Thrushes. Perhaps as many as 40 Robins are lingering on the isle but the highest daily count has been 17 on 2nd and Twite and Snow Bunting numbers both peaked at 48 on the 3rd.

Reed Bunting

Monday, 1 December 2014

28th-30th November

There was nothing significant to report from a wet 28th and other than a Jack Snipe and Chiffchaff the 29th was a quiet day too. A mild and calm 30th drew most attention but a chance to work through the Geese revealed little change with the juvenile Greenland White-fronted Goose still present as were 9 Tundra Bean Geese (including the unassigned juvenile from 27th which we now believe to be of this race), 48 Pink-footed Geese and the 7 Barnacle Geese still. The drake Green-winged Teal remains on Gretchen, but 6 Woodcocks included a few new birds and the 20th individual of 2014 was caught and ringed with a new Water Rail also caught somehow in the falling apart Heligoland 1! The calm conditions also allowed the nets at Holland to be opened and with nearly 40 birds processed (29 new) it was a surprisingly productive session. Thrushes made up the majority of the days passerine total with 72 Blackbirds (23 new birds trapped/ringed), 39 Fieldfares, 28 Redwings and 4 Song Thrushes logged. A new Dunnock and Blackcap were also ringed, with a second of the latter at the Post office with 9 Robins, 14 Rock Pipits, 13 Twite and 35 Snow Buntings also recorded-not a bad day considering its December tomorrow..

Thursday, 27 November 2014

27th November

A bit more time in the field today with 2 out the 6 census routes visited and an hour also spent sea-watching. A late Great Skua, 2 Little Auks and a 'dark phase' Fulmar were the highlights from that session with 139 Fulmars, 95 Kittiwakes and 91 Auk sp. also counted. There were 10 Tundra Bean Geese (3 near the Lighthouse, 3 Surgery and 4 Gretchen) while an 11th individual-a juvenile of currently unassigned race (but perhaps Taiga?) was also near the Surgery. The Pale-bellied Brent Goose was still at Trolla Vatn and there were also 49 Pink-footed Geese, at least 1 Grey Plover and a Black Redstart at Senness was the only passerine worth mentioning.

 Bean Goose ssp. The bill length and shape, lack of a forehead and fairly long looking neck are perhaps more indicative of Taiga Bean Goose? Or are the apparent differing features from all the recent Tundra Bean Geese simply a result of this bird being a juvenile?

For comparison a record shot of the 3 Tundra Bean Geese near the Lighthouse

24th-26th November

In better weather some outdoor trap and maintenance work has taken priority but there have been a few bits and pieces seen during the period. The drake Green-winged Teal has been seen on Gretchen daily, while up to 9 lingering Tundra Bean Geese on 24th was the maximum count. The juvenile Greenland White-fronted Goose and Goosander were also seen on that date and on 25th an Iceland/Glaucous Gull passed the Lurn too quickly to be identified with certainty. Passerines have included c30/40 new Redwings/Blackbirds daily, with the occasional Chiffchaff, Blackcap and Robin also new in. At least 3 Black Redstarts included a stunning adult male caught in the Heligolands on 25th on which date a Greenfinch also flew over.

Black Redstart

Sunday, 23 November 2014

22nd-23rd November

Strong south-easterlies and heavy rain on 22nd made for difficult birding conditions once again, but a few hours on the sheltered west coast found reasonable numbers of Robins and Thrushes-some likely new arrivals. Presumably last weeks drake Goosander was now off Nether Linnay, where there was also the first Grey Plover in a while and a Short-eared Owl in the fields. 10 Tundra Bean Geese included 3 possible new birds at Lenswick, with at least 7 still near Gretchen and this was confirmed on 23rd when a whole island 'Goose census' revealed 13 Tundra Bean Geese to be present. A total of 1142 Greylag Geese were counted, plus 56 Pink-footed Geese, the same juvenile Greenland White-fronted Goose and 7 Barnacle Geese. It was also a good chance to tot up some wildfowl numbers and some 335 Wigeon (plus the hybrid), 155 Teal, the Green-winged Teal, 50 Mallards, 9 Pintails, 13 Tufted Ducks and 22 Long-tailed Ducks were among the species logged. There was a movement of Gulls mid-morning with 27 Black-headed, 980 Common, 330 Herring and 75 Great black-backed Gull all recorded heading north up the east coast in an hour, with many passing back south a short time later. There were also 17 Red-throated Divers on the sea, another high count of 179 Rock Doves while passerines included a Black Redstart, 2 new Blackcaps in Holland gardens, a Common Redpoll, 55 Twite and 62 Snow Buntings.

Friday, 21 November 2014

20th-21st November

The sun finally came out on the 20th but not for long-it was gone again by the following day as signs of the next south-easterly storm began to show itself by afternoon. A ringing session at Holland gardens early on the former date yielded at least 3 unexpected Long-eared Owls about at dawn (2 of which were later trapped and ringed) and also a late Dunnock. A Short-eared Owl was then seen flying south past the Observatory over the sea on 21st when 2 Goldfinches popped up at the north end. We don't usually report Rock Doves but an impressive build up of 118 in the crop fields around the Observatory was noteworthy with the same food source no doubt attracting the Yellowhammer which was seen on both dates. The Green-winged Teal remains as do 7 Barnacle Geese, up to 50 Pink-footed Geese and the 2 European White-fronted Geese. There have been a few more Tundra Bean Geese and a turnover of birds seems likely, with 7 on the 20th becoming at least 9 (possibly 10) on the 21st.
Long-eared Owl

17th-19th November

Apologies for the lack of recent updates-we've had a few internet issues lately. Most of the interest from the three day period has been Goose orientated with at least 5 Tundra Bean Geese present throughout, along with 2 European White fronted Geese-with the juvenile Greenland White-fronted Goose still on 17th, Up to 54 Pink-footed and 7 Barnacle Geese throughout and the Pale bellied Brent Goose again on 19th. The drake Green-winged Teal continues to be seen daily, slightly odd was a Little Auk which flew inland from Nouster Bay on 18th while dwindling numbers of Woodcock left just 6 by the 17th. Thrushes continue to feature with 2 Mistle Thrushes and a Ring Ouzel new on 19th, a peak count of 12 Song Thrushes the same day while approximate daily totals of the other species have fluctuated at around 150 Blackbirds, 200 Fieldfares and 80 Redwings. Occasional Chiffchaffs and Goldcrests have been seen daily, the highest count of Robins was 18 on 17th when the Tree Sparrow was also seen again. A couple of Goldfinches on 18th included at least 1 un-ringed (hence new) bird and on 19th there were 3 Woodpigeons, a smart male Mealy Redpoll at Rue and an impressive count of 225 Snow Buntings.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

16th November

The never ending Autumn continues (not that we're complaining!) with blustery easterlies again seeing large numbers of birds sheltering on the leeward coast. The day's highlight though was a duck, with a less than annual (but 3rd this year) drake Goosander on Gretchen for a few minutes early morning. After yesterday's single it looks like we're on for another Tundra Bean Goose influx, 6 today began with a pair in fields east of Holland House followed by a group of 4 more near the Observatory in the evening. Mirroring the last, 2011 influx they were joined by 2 (adult) European White-fronted Geese on the west coast but bucking the trend was a juvenile Greenland White-fronted Goose in the company of the first 2 Bean's. There were also 58 Pink-footed Geese still, plus 14 Woodcocks, a Jack Snipe, 647 Herring and 109 Great black-backed Gulls. More waves of Thrushes seemed to arrive, with increased counts of 281 Blackbirds, 24 Song Thrushes and 210 Redwings while Fieldfare numbers reduced to 147. A couple of  Short eared Owls were on the west coast and other passerines included 2 Black Redstarts, 21 Robins, 2 Blackcaps and 4 Common Redpolls-the later at least were definitely new.

Goosander-one day the sun will come out!!
And almost as bad-2 of today's Tundra Bean Geese

Saturday, 15 November 2014

14th-15th November

Not so much to report from the 14th, but a Yellowhammer was new at Holland gardens, a few more Woodcock were seen (5) and there were still large numbers of 'big' Gulls around with 565 Herring and 210 Great-black backed Gulls counted. Heavy rain overnight brought more new birds on a calmer 15th, the highlight being a Tundra Bean Goose at Viggay and also seen were 54 Pink-footed Geese, the 7 Barnacle Geese and Pale-bellied Brent Goose again at Bewan. The Green-winged Teal was still present (as was the American x Eurasian Wigeon hybrid at Bridesness) and presumed wintering Tufted Ducks increased to 23. There were also 14 Woodcocks, a Short-eared Owl at Stennabrek, a Black Redstart at Howar, Ring Ouzel at Viggay, 200 Blackbirds, 298 Fieldfares, 3 Chiffchaffs, a ringed Goldfinch at Howar, a Siskin new at Bridesness and 97 Snow Buntings.

Friday, 14 November 2014

12th-13th November

Its a bit late for the strong south-easterlies of the last few days to bring masses of birds but newcomers are still arriving and the birding is good given it's mid-November. Another wave of thrushes late in the afternoon on 13th saw Blackbirds treble from recent numbers to 173-the majority on the sheltered west coast. There were also 80 Redwings, 3 Black Redstarts (including an adult male), 8 Blackcaps, 5 new Chiffchaffs while 2 Goldfinches were likely the birds from the 11th. Increased numbers of Gulls are also typical during such winds and 589 Herring Gulls and 321 Great black-backed Gulls were present. The following day 632 of the former and 453 of the latter were counted and there was also a Great Skua, 3 Whooper Swans, 59 lingering Pink-footed Geese, the Pale bellied Brent Goose again and 12 Pintail.  The drake Green-winged Teal was on Gretchen Loch on both dates while 2 Short eared Owls at Torness were new on 13th. Robin numbers were up on that date to 24, Fieldfares up to 107, at least half of the 171 Blackbirds were likely different from the 12th as were 2 of the 3 Black Redstarts. There were also 12 Song Thrushes, a handful each of new Dunnock's, Goldcrests, Finches and 71 Snow Buntings.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

10th-11th November

The 10th was another still, windless day but a change on 11th to the strong south-easterlies again means there's no let up in the birding just yet. The main sightings from the former date were of 2 Sparrowhawks (with a new male trapped and ringed), 3 Hen Harriers, 4 Knot, 26 (late) Black-headed Gulls passing south, a Woodpigeon, 34 Twite, 2 Goldfinches and 40 Snow Buntings. The drake Green-winged Teal was present on Gretchen on both days and there was also a smattering of new Robins and Warblers, while any Thrushes seen were thought to be mainly lingering birds. On 11th the Short-toed Lark was found to still be present in the stubble field at Nether Linnay and of the new arrivals 9 Goldcrests on the western coast were the most notable. There was also a Water Rail on the coast, 2 Dunnocks were likely new and a Black Redstart was caught and ringed in the new Heligoland trap.
Black Redstart


Sunday, 9 November 2014

8th-9th November

Much more pleasant conditions over the last few days have allowed us to have a good look around the island in the aftermath of the latest south-easterly storm. The 8th was definitely a day for the ringers with the mist-nets at Holland House open all day and 110+ birds were trapped and ringed. A good total of some 88 Blackbirds were processed while the 12 Woodcocks caught and ringed represents a new annual record in itself-a total of 9 were ringed in 2013, and the annual total most years is of only 4 or less! A Yellow-browed Warbler in the Nether Linnay crop and Great Grey Shrike near the School were the highlights and counts from the day came to 6 Barnacle Geese, a Sparrowhawk (trapped on 9th and found to be wearing a Norwegian ring), 39 Woodcocks, 2 Woodpigeons, a Short-eared Owl, a Dunnock, 22 Robins, 228 Blackbirds, 230 Fieldfares, 11 Song Thrushes, 182 Redwings, 3 new Blackcaps and a Common Redpoll. Most of those listed above were present in similar numbers on 9th, but 33 Rock Pipits were counted, Robins increased to 33, there were also 3 Black Redstarts, 308 Fieldfares, 3 more new Blackcaps and 6 Chiffchaffs included 3 'Siberian' type birds with newcomers at Newbiggin and Holland gardens. Presumably the same juvenile Pale-bellied Brent Goose reappeared at Trolla Vatn, likewise a Great Grey Shrike in the middle of the island was presumed to be yesterday's, but 10 Rooks were new in as was a Water Rail in the rocks at Stromness Point and Snow Bunting numbers were up to 95.

Saturday, 8 November 2014

7th November

Another torrid day weather wise, with heavy rain throughout although the strong south-easterly wind was more tolerable by late afternoon. After almost 24 hours of being stuck indoors we had to just get outside and with the first walk of the traps resulting in a Great Grey Shrike caught and ringed and 10 Woodcocks seen there was plenty of incentive to go and get wet!! A second Great Grey Shrike was found sheltering along the west coat near the airfield and the Woodcock total reached a record breaking 174-although with less than a third of the island covered the real total would have no doubt been in excess of 300!!! Only the (apparently) sheltered north and west coastline were checked in 4 hours of afternoon birding with remaining sightings comprising 2 Long-eared Owls (Antabrek/Dennishill), 3 Short-eared Owls (2 on the rocks off Senness/West dyke), a Black Redstart, 356 Blackbirds, 55 Redwings, 185 Fieldfares, 10 Song Thrushes and 21 Snow Buntings.

Great Grey Shrike

Thursday, 6 November 2014

5th-6th November

A couple of completely different days with a cool, northerly wind yet pleasant day on 5th replaced by south-easterly gales and heavy rain rendering the 6th un-birdable past 12pm! On the former date the Short-toed Lark was found to still be present in the stubble field at Nether Linnay while the drake Green-winged Teal remained on Gretchen Loch. Also seen were 13 Pintails, a late Kestrel, 2 Black Redstarts-including a new individual at Howar, a similar selection of the usual Thrushes, Robins and Warblers also included some new birds, 75 Twite, a Mealy Redpoll and 61 Snow Buntings. An early attempt at sea-watching on 6th had some unexpected results, with 4 eared-Owls (too distant to be identified) picked up separately and then coming in-off west of the Lighthouse in just an hour! A juvenile Pomarine Skua, Great Skua and 'dark' phase Fulmar were more predictable while an attempt at birding around the (slightly) sheltered Westness area found a Long-eared Owl offshore and attempting to come in there which was presumed different from the sea-watch birds. There were also at least 5 Woodcocks and a Jack Snipe plus several Thrushes and Robins sheltering around the walls so it'll be interesting to see what's around when the weather's more co-operative.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

3rd-4th November

Some cracking winter sunshine on 3rd allowed for plenty of time in the field and the mist-nets at Holland House to be opened for most of the day. There were no stand out birds and Thrush numbers were much reduced but counts of other passerines came to 73 Robins, 2 Black Redstarts, a Dunnock, 14 Blackcaps, 4 Chiffchaffs, 15 Goldcrests, 11 Chaffinches, 5 Bramblings, singles of Greenfinch, Siskin and Mealy Redpoll and 45 Snow Buntings. We've been keeping an eye on a 'quack' we originally identified as a moulting/1st winter American Wigeon and from the onset there had been a few nagging concerns that it "wasn't quite right"! Its been seen well at Bridesness a couple of times over the last week and we're now fairly sure it has to be a hybrid American x Eurasian Wigeon-never mind! Other birds on 3rd were 4 (perhaps wintering) Little Grebes, 4 Hen Harriers, 8 Woodcocks and a Great Skua. The 4th really did feel like winter wasn't far away with a cooling northerly wind blowing all day. The drake Green-winged Teal was seen on again on Gretchen and the 1st winter male Bluethroat was still present in the seaweed furrows on the beach at Hooking. A drake Goldeneye was also seen and 3 Black Redsarts included at least 2 new birds at the north end of the golf course.
Whooper Swan
Presumed hybrid American x Eurasian Wigeon

Sunday, 2 November 2014

2nd November

There's still plenty of birds coming and going through the island as there's no sign of the autumn finishing just yet. Today's quality was provided by the second drake Green-winged Teal of the autumn on Gretchen Loch from mid-afternoon. Clearly a much less advanced individual than the 'full adult' present on 26th October, it still has a large number of un-moulted juvenile/eclipse plumage in the form of 'barred' feathers in the flank and covert areas. Also worthy of a mention were a Long-eared Owl near Longar, a Grey Wagtail at the Pier and a smart, adult male Lesser Redpoll caught and ringed at Holland gardens. Counts of commoner species were essentially similar to yesterday, with 8 Woodcocks, 78 Robins (fewer than on 1st, but there's clearly some turnover as none of the recently ringed birds were re-trapped) , a Black Redstart, 2 Ring Ouzels, 715 Fieldfares, 619 Redwings, 9 Song Thrushes, 68 Blackbirds, 2 new Blackcaps and 18 Goldcrests. There was also a Greenfinch at the Observatory and single Sparrowhawk and Peregrine among the raptors seen.

Green-winged Teal
Lesser Redpoll

Saturday, 1 November 2014

1st November

Inevitably, in brighter conditions and a moderate southerly wind there wasn't quite the sheer volume as yesterday, but nonetheless it was a very enjoyable day in the field with plenty of newly arrived birds. Highlights included the Bluethroat at Hooking again (which was still being ultra elusive and its exact race has still to be determined), a Yellow-browed Warbler in the irises at Garso Loch while a late female Redstart at the Lighthouse was surprisingly, ordinary looking! Counts of passerines came to 124 Robins (with 59 of them in section F-the only route fully covered today!!), 3 Black Redstarts, 2 Ring Ouzels, 133 Blackbirds, 589 Fieldfares, 13 Song Thrushes, 1705 Redwings, 10 Blackcaps, 9 Chiffchaffs, 16 Goldcrests, 2 Siskins and a Mealy Redpoll. A Common Scoter off the north end was perhaps the bird off the links a few days ago, while other wildfowl of note were 391 Wigeons, 6 Gadwalls, 9 Pintails, 7 Whooper Swans, 41 Pink-footed and 7 Barnacle Geese. At least 4 Hen Harriers were present as were single Long-eared and Short-eared Owls. Just 6 Woodcocks were typical of the brighter skies, 3 Jack Snipes were also flushed, a Grey Plover at Bewan and 2 Great Skua's passed by at sea.
Water Rail

31st October

After all of yesterday's wind and rain, we thought there might be the odd new bird in today. And there certainly was-thousands of them!!! From first light Thrushes, in particular Fieldfares filled the fields around the Observatory with many flocks moving straight out to sea and others not even landing, passing down the west coast and on towards mainland Orkney. The days total of 6561 (including 4500 out south) is actually a conservative one, yet still represents a new island record while also chipping in were some 1655 Redwings, 187 Blackbirds, 2 Ring Ouzels and 25 Song Thrushes. The best bird was a Bluethroat at Hooking, a male which was likely of the 'white-spotted' race but it was frustratingly elusive and this wasn't confirmed. Robins were also pretty evident with 137 counted perhaps not truly representing the total on the island-there's probably at least 300 here with both of the 2 (out of 6) census routes which were covered today each housing 50+! Also logged were 6 Black Redstarts, a Wheatear,11 Blackcaps, 12 Chiffchaffs, 31 Goldcrests, the Tree Sparrow, 3 Mealy Redpolls, 32 Snow Buntings and a Yellowhammer. There were 2 Greenland White-fronted Geese on the west coast, 2 Sparrowhawks seen, a Short-eared Owl (with another found dead), at least 51 Woodcocks, a Woodpigeon, and a Water Rail trapped and ringed at the Observatory-just another breathless day on North Ron!!!

Thursday, 30 October 2014

The Canada Goose on North Ron 9th-11th Oct 2014

We don't see many Canada Geese on North Ron and those which we do see are usually the large, feral British birds. This individual was first seen on 9th Oct with Tundra Bean Geese (among which it clearly looked smaller) and was later seen/photographed with Pink-footed and Barnacle Geese.

 We're novices at the 'small race' Canada Geese and originally considered the bird might have been a Todd's Canada Goose Branta canadensis interior but we're now thinking it's too small and a shorter looking neck has led us to consider Lesser Canada Goose B.c.parvipes and Taverner's Canada Goose B.c.taverneri as possibilities.
Features of note include;
-largely brown breast and flanks with a small whitish collar at the base of the neck
-narrow brown fringes to coverts
-very obvious black gular line
-lower half of chinstrap appears creamy white, brightening to be whiter at the top
-possibly a rounded head shape
-difficult to be certain of the bill size/shape-seems medium sized, possibly too large for taverneri and perhaps a better fit for parvipes
-small overall appearance, size is only slightly larger than Pink-footed Geese with relatively short looking neck (perhaps not long enough for Todd's?) and fairly short looking legs with a similar looking 'carriage' to the Barnacle Geese.

Expert opinion would certainly be appreciated-anyone with much experience of these forms can email us directly at with their thoughts

30th October

A strong south-easterly wind left us all chomping at the bit to get out but heavy rain from mid-morning made for pretty torrid conditions. Only the west coat of the island was checked during the afternoon, but it was pretty evident that the majority of birds were dropping into the island during the very final hour of daylight so tomorrow looks like being an even better day. Several scarcities were found such as a soggy Short-toed Lark at Nether Linnay, where there was also a Hawfinch and a very late (and also soggy) Spotted Flycatcher caused some alarm briefly! A Red-breasted Flycatcher at Doo-geo in the near darkness will be double checked for the rarer option tomorrow, while counts from less than 20% coverage were 6 Woodcocks, 19 Robins, a Ring Ouzel, 19 Blackbirds, 28 Fieldfares, 15 Song Thrushes, 478 Redwings, 6 Blackcaps, 3 Chiffchaffs, 14 Goldcrests, 4 Bramblings, a Common Redpoll and 13 Snow Buntings.

29th October

A beautiful 'spring' like day, with no wind and plenty of sunshine. The calm seas finally allowed us to add Common Scoter to the year list with a bird off the links, where there were also 20 Long-tailed Ducks offshore. There were no stand out highlights, but passerines worth mentioning included a Grey Wagtail at Hooking, 2 Wheatears (Beacon, Hooking), 58 Meadow and 30 Rock Pipits, 718 Redwings, 190 Twite (which included 134 south in 3 hours), 2 Greenfinches and a new Yellowhammer at Neven.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

27th-28th October

A strong southerly wind on 27th encouraged more Whooper Swans to get moving with 73 recorded across the day and also passing through south were a flock of 12 White-fronted Geese. A 2nd winter Iceland Gull was at the north end but the only passerines of note on another blustery day were 4 unspecified Redpolls at Holland. Better conditions on 28th in moderate south-westerlies after heavy rain overnight resulted in another widespread arrival of Redwings at dawn. A minimum of 1200 were noted across the half of the island which was checked and among them came the odd highlight. Most notable were a Richard's Pipit in fields near Kirbest, a Yellowhammer at Neven, and a single late Swallow and Wheatear while other passerines included 4 Blackcaps, 4 Goldcrests, the Tree Sparrow and 66 Snow Buntings. Wildfowl on the increase were 7 Pintails, 21 Shovelers and 271 Wigeon, a couple of Woodcocks were flushed and a juvenile Iceland Gull off the Bridesness coast.


Monday, 27 October 2014

26th October

Difficult conditions again today with frequent rain and a strong, blustery southerly wind blowing all day. Our fabulous week continues with a drake Green-winged Teal found at Bewan Loch mid-morning becoming the fourth American bird to have been seen on the island in the last 5 days! There was also a bit of an influx of Whooper Swans with at least 37 present while the Brent Goose was seen again at Trolla Vatn with 3 Pintails and 8 Gadwall also at the north end. The Iceland Gull was off Nevan, an hours sea-watch before the weather deteriorated revealed 2 Sooty Shearwaters, 2 Pomarine and 2 Artcic Skua's and a Little Auk, while the best of the passerines were a north-western Redpoll and 27 Snow Buntings.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

24th-25th October

After the stunning events of the 23rd, it was back down to earth today when thorough searches in the morning of the respective area's of yesterdays American visitors drew a blank. A return to more routine census in the afternoon turned up a few things though with 2 juvenile Iceland Gulls in Nouster Bay and 2 Greenland White-fronted Geese down the west coast the highlights. There were also 20 Whooper Swans (17 of which came in off the sea at Torness), 6 Barnacle Geese still and feeding in the swell with all the Gulls in Nouster were an impressive 300 Sanderlings. A late Swallow was also of note, along with 723 Redwings, 6 Blackcaps, the Tree Sparrow, Siskin, 4 'north-western' Redpolls and the Yellowhammer. A windier 25th wasn't without interest either and once again there were large numbers of Gulls present. One of the Iceland Gulls was still in Nouster while and also counted were 230 Common, 186 Herring and 246 Great-black backed Gulls. A Spotted Crake in the Irises at Westness was the clear highlight, but there also seemed to be a few new birds with 58 Song Thrushes showing an obvious increase especially given that less than 20% of the island was actually birded today! There was probably a few new Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs in too, plus an un-ringed (so assumed new) 'rostrata' type Redpoll at Parkhouse.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

23rd October

So where do we start with the 23rd!!! I guess we should begin by thanking hurricane 'Gonzalo' as it delivered some truly special birds to the island today. A Grey Phalarope found sheltering off the Links golf course was a decent start to the day but the pandemonium that followed has left us all a bit short of breath!!! At around 1.30pm, while trying to get a better view of a frosty Redpoll (it turned out to by an islandica/north-western type) a Merlin chased a bird into the gardens at Holland House. You'd have expected it to have been one of the 932 Redwings on the island, but astonishingly it was Orkney and North Ronaldsay's first BLACK-BILLED CUCKOO. This absolutely astounding find only stayed in the gardens, showing well, but deep in sycamores for just 2 or 3 minutes and was only seen by 3 fortunate staff members before leaving to the west to not yet be re-located. Such a brief encounter, but absolutely magical for the lucky few-it has to still be on the island somewhere so fingers crossed we'll track it down tomorrow. And it didn't end there.... With all available legs hastily searching the south of the island for the Cuckoo, a 'small Thrush' was reported at Cruesbrek and this  heralded a frantic sprint to the location and then it happened again. Just before dusk the second American bird of the day was identified-a GREY-CHEEKED THRUSH and another first for the island! There'll be an anxious wait for most overnight though as yet another Yankee mega eluded the masses (that's about 10 people) going to roost before most had arrived on site. Not quite sure where we go from here, but other bits and bobs from an incredible day include 14 Whooper Swans (9 new), 1113 Greylag Geese passing through, 36 Rock Pipits, a late Wheatear, 8 Chiffchaffs (including 2 'tristis', and 2 'eastern' types), 62 Twite and at least 6 north-western Redpolls and a Mealy Redpoll. A truly unbelievable, EPIC day, and one which the North Ron faithful will never forget...

Grey Phalarope-we wish we could show you photo's of today's American mega's but the Black-billed Cuckoo was so brief (and the finder opted to get his mates rather than reach for the camera) and it was almost dark by the time the Grey-cheeked Thrush had been identified-surely both will resurface and co-operate more tomorrow.

21st-22nd October

Pretty torrid birding conditions on the 21st saw little seen but lingering thrushes with calmer conditions on the 22nd resulted in a better tally of birds. The 1stW drake American Wigeon was relocated on the coast off Bridesness, where 3 new groups of Whooper Swans passed south (totalling 15 birds) with the 4 still on Bewan Loch. The Yellowhammer and Tree Sparrow were both seen again and the Redwing total reached 819 birds. A sea-watch in the afternoon was hampered somewhat by poor visibility but 8 Sooty Shearwaters, 4 Long-tailed Ducks and an Arctic Skua were of note.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

19th - 20th October

A long awaited first for the year was at the bird observatory on 19th - a Yellowhammer, still present on 20th when a Knot was amongst 206 Sanderling in Nouster Bay. 59 Snow Bunting were seen and the Observatory crop Fields held 13 Brambling, 24 Twite  and a North-western Common Redpoll.
North-western Common Redpoll

Saturday, 18 October 2014

16th-18th October

With only a handful of common migrants still around the 16th and 17th were quiet. The American Wigeon was still present on the 16th and there was a Long-eared owl on the 17th.
On the 18th, with strong easterly wind and rain overnight which didn't stop until mid morning, when it backed southerly, it was soon clear that there were many thrushes around. Conservative counts included over 1300 redwing, 120 song thrush, 65 blackbird, 4 fieldfare and 3 ring ouzel. There were relatively fewer numbers of other small migrants - a dunnock, 6 robin, 15 blackcap, 4 chiffchaff (2 "eastern" types) and 22 goldcrest. Finches included 5 chaffinch, 12 brambling, 2 greenfinch and a siskin.
An influx of wigeon made a total of 360, with other ducks including 120 teal, 6 gadwall and 4 pintail. The most notable non passerines were 6 woodcock, a jack snipe, 2 woodpigeon and a marked influx of 102 rock dove.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

15th October

With redwings passing under clear skies during the night, there was an expected arrival with at least 204 present-although many cleared out during the day. The surprising highlight though was not from the east but from the west-a 1st W or moulting drake American Wigeon which spent the afternoon feeding in the rock-pools adjacent to Gretchen Loch. The count of 273 Wigeon was the largest for a while with their American cousin perhaps 'tagging a lift' with them while the Scaup was alos still present and 4 Long-tailed Ducks were off the north end. New passerines included a Yellow-browed Warbler in the Irises at Ancum Loch, 3 Lesser Whitethroats-included a halimodendri/blythi type trapped and ringed (we'll investigate this further), 4  'Siberian' type Chiffchaffs and 3 Greenfinches. There was also a late Swallow, Tree Pipit, 4 Fieldfares, 4 'regular' Chiffchaffs, 24 Goldcrests, 2 'north-western' Redpolls, 33 Snow Buntings and at least 3 Hen Harriers.

 American Wigeon

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

14th October

A few bits and pieces on a cloudy day, with a light easterly wind promising more as the week progresses. Leading the way were a female type Bluethroat in the Neven area and the first Yellow-browed Warbler for a while at Breckan, near Bridesness. A lengthy sea-watch saw 24 Sooty and 7 Manx Shearwaters, 365 Fulmars, a Pomarine Skua, 13 Great Skua, 3 Puffins and the first Little Auk of the autumn logged in 2 and a half hours while 1130 Gannets were recorded in the first hour. Also new in today were a Mistle Thrush, Pied Flycatcher and Common Redpoll. There were a few more Redwings and Blackbirds, but Song Thrushes were down to just 14. 17 Blackcaps and 8 Chiffchaffs also included some new birds while hangers-on included the Scaup, 9 Grey Herons, a Swallow, Tree Sparrow and 16 Snow Buntings.
'Siberian' Chiffchaff or just 'Eastern' Chiffchaff? One of 2 interesting birds today-this silent individual was in the Irises at Garso and we used to label these 'grey and white' birds as 'abietinus'. However the exact status of that particular form in the UK is currently unclear so this bird may in fact be a Siberian Chiffchaff after all. A second, much 'browner' toned bird which gave a thin, high-pitched 'eehp' call at Vincoin looked and sounded more like the real deal but sadly it evaded the camera! 

Monday, 13 October 2014

12th-13th October

After being spoilt so far this autumn the last couple of days have felt pretty quite as the conditions have been favourable for migrants to move on. Counts of Thrushes were much reduced with just 30 or so each of Redwing and Song Thrush on both dates and Blackcaps have been down to around about 15 daily, although ringing at Holland gardens has indicated a steady turnover. The most interesting passerines were the Grey Wagtail and Black Redstart still, 30 Snow and a Lapland Bunting on 12th and a late Whinchat, Garden Warbler and a flyover Redpoll on 13th. The Scaup and Goldeneye remain on Gretchen and there was some Greylag Goose movement noted with 340 on 12th including 190 south and 497 on 13th clearly also involving some incomers.

Scaup and Goldeneye

Saturday, 11 October 2014

10th-11th October

A couple of calmer days and while there was no obvious large scale arrival there was a trickle of incomers and attention was paid to some of the census areas which were neglected in the stronger winds. With so many in our part of the world, it wasn't that surprising when an Olive-backed Pipit was found at (the previously unchecked) Greenwall on 10th and photographs (and the lack of a ring) would appear to suggest its the 5th individual of the week. The other most notable new birds from that date were a drake Scaup on Bridesness Loch, Sparrowhawk, Grey Wagtail and Black Redstart. More routine fare included the Canada Goose, 30 Moorhens, 9 Jack Snipe, the Common Sandpiper still and there was an influx of some 167 Common and 9 Black-headed Gulls. Passerine totals were made up of 2 Tree Pipits (outnumbering OBP's for the first time in a while!), 25 Rock Pipits, 33 Robins, 2 Fieldfares, 96 Song Thrushes, 37 Redwings, 20 Blackcaps, 10 Chiffchaffs, a late Willow Warbler, 12 Goldcrests, 62 Bramblings, 14 Siskins, a Lapland Bunting and 23 Reed Buntings. Sea-duck and Divers were the most conspicuous newcomers in Nouster and Linklet Bays on the 11th with 11 Red-throated and 2 Great Northern Divers, 10 Long-tailed Ducks and 6 Red-breasted Mergansers plus a Slavonian Grebe at the former site. A Turtle Dove at Holland House was a good late record and the best of the day's other sightings were 4 Barnacle Geese, 8 Woodpigeons,2 Black Redstarts, 2 Garden Warblers, a Greenfinch and 28 Twite.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

9th October

A day with much more rain than was forecast with a light westerly wind increasing to become more breezy by the afternoon. None of yesterday's rare Pipit's were seen today but this could be due to the rotation of the census routes with only the OBP from the observatory really searched for. However given the stunningly bright moon and clear night it seems equally likely that many birds (rarities included) moved on with much fewer Thrushes and just a handful of re-traps at the nets from yesterdays large haul supporting this theory. There was still plenty to see though with a smart Long-eared Owl caught and ringed early on and there was a mid afternoon influx of Tundra Bean Geese with at least 14 present around the south end. The species has become more regular in recent years and after a pair had been seen in the morning, a group of 11 and then a single came in off the sea at Nouster (there could be 6 more) while there was also a Canada Goose with 135 Pink-footed Geese also present and 78 Barnacle Geese flew south. Also of note today were a Goldeneye, 2 Kestrels, a late Common Sandpiper, 11 Woodpigeons and a Short-eared Owl. Thrush numbers were reduced to as low as just 63 Song Thrushes and 60 Redwings. A Tree Pipit was still around and there was also a Grey Wagtail, a Redstart, 22 Blackcaps, 16 Goldcrests, half of yesterdays Bramblings and Chaffinch but an increase in Twite numbers to 30.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

8th October

With the easterly winds of the previous two days subsiding overnight to leave dry, cloudy conditions at dawn we certainly had high expectations of a few things crawling out of the woodwork today. And it didn't disappoint with plenty of variety and included c120 birds trapped and ringed but once again we only managed to cover about a third of the island with ringing commitments and rarity chasing causing distractions. It began with the confirmation that the 3 Olive-backed Pipits from the 6th were all still present and correct, with the Observatory bird lingering all day after a brief jaunt northwards early on and 2 birds still at Nether Linnay, where a Corncrake was also flushed early doors. A fourth Olive-backed Pipit was then seen at Westness (with the nearby Nether Linnay birds both checked for and both still present shortly after) and quite where the individual trapped and ringed at Holland Gardens at dusk fits into things we'll have to wait till tomorrow to find out-could there be 5!!! After last week's magical half hour it happened again early afternoon when the autumn's second Pechora Pipit was discovered at Sandar (a nice 50th birthday present for the finder) just after a Blue Tit had been located on the coast near the airfield. The former was generally elusive but showed well in flight many times and occasionally 'running' through the grass and becomes the 5th island record whereas the Tit showed brilliantly, was even heard singing and is only the 6th island record and the first since the previous 5-all in 1988!! It seemed odd to leave a national rarity to go and twitch a common garden bird but that's the northern isles for you. So here's the tally for another hectic day...Non-passerines included the Brent Goose still, 62 Barnacle Geese, 129 Pink-footed Geese, the autumn's first Long-tailed Duck, 12 Grey Herons, 2 Kestrels and a Short-eared Owl, 5 Jack Snipe, a Woodcock and 12 Woodpigeons. There were 2 Tree Pipits, a 'flava' Wagtail, 24 Robins, Black Redstart, 4 Ring Ouzels, 136 Song Thrushes, 57 Redwings, 20 Blackbirds, a Grasshopper Warbler (caught and ringed at the obs), 23 Blackcaps, Willow Warbler, 4 Chiffchaff, 12 Goldcrests, Pied Flycatcher, 97 Bramblings, 26 Chaffinch, 11 Siskins, 18 Snow and 2 Lapland Buntings. Not a bad day, so a few hours sleep and we'll do it all again tomorrow..
Blue Tit

7th October

There was another massive arrival of birds today-but it was frustrating that we just couldn't get out there and count them. The conditions were incredibly difficult with heavy rain not subsiding until after lunch and by then we were chomping at the bit as we could see it was littered with thrushes outside just from the warm and cosy Observatory lounge! A 3 hour scramble of the westernmost coast, equating to about a third of the island being covered we returned Thrush totals of 490 Song Thrushes, 292 Redwings, 73 Blackbirds and a Ring Ouzel. None of the OBP's could be found (but are just as likely to still be present)  but the Short-toed Lark was still at Nether Linnay. Also counted were 2 Kestrels, 7 Woodcocks, 13 Woodpigeons, 48 Skylarks, 13 Robins, a Black Redstart, 20 Blackcaps, a Garden Warbler, 20 Chaffinch, 114 Bramblings, a Greenfinch and a new 'north-western' Redpoll. Tomorrow could be fun...

Monday, 6 October 2014

6th October

Well, here we go again... A strong, touching gale force south-easterly wind had whipped up overnight and from dawn it was pretty obvious there were birds everywhere. The sheltered walls and boulder beaches along the west coast were particularly lively with Song Thrushes shooting out from what seemed like every corner. While the conditions made birding difficult there was plenty of top quality on offer, headlined by not 1, not 2 but a staggering 3 Olive-backed Pipits!! All were found mid-morning with birds discovered at Gretchen, Torness and Nether Linnay, and all were observed at the same time and photographed (there might actually be a fourth present with another possible heard/seen in the south of the island on a couple of occasions but not confirmed). Nether Linnay was clearly the hotspot of the day with a Short-toed Lark in the stubble field there and a Little Bunting in the sheep pund. There were also 2 Long-eared Owls along the west coast and other non-passerines seen today included 4 Grey Herons, 30 Whooper Swans, 203 Pink-footed and 37 Barnacle Geese, 255 Wigeon, a Kestrel and Merlin in the west and 3 Jack Snipe. It was the passerines though that summed up what the day was all about, although the figure of 211 Song Thrush in the log was likely double that number as they proved almost impossible to count by darting all over the place. There were also 73 Redwings, a Ring Ouzel, 33 Blackbirds, plus single Tree, 21 Rock and 116 Meadow Pipits, 9 Blackcaps, 27 Bramblings, 18 Snow and 3 Lapland Buntings. It really was another great day on North Ron!!
Olive-backed Pipit 1-Found by Sara mid-morning right next to the hide at Gretchen before moving the short-distance to the Lurn in the afternoon
Olive-backed Pipit 2-First found along walls at the north end of Torness just a few minutes after bird 1, before moving into the Irises and crop field at Nether Linnay.
Olive-backed Pipit 3-Found in the weedy fields at Nether Linnay. This individual was particularly bright-faced and was seen alongside bird 2 on several occasions over a 2 hour period.

5th October

There's a storm brewing... There wasn't a great deal seen today but some visible passage over the south-west end of the island indicated plenty of birds on the move, and perhaps signalled at an exodus of many of the recent arrivals. 3 Lapland Buntings, 31 Skylarks, 2 Chaffinch and 60 Meadow and 2 Rock Pipits were noted in 2 hours along with 30 more Pink-footed Geese. An hour and a half's sea-watch was particularly productive with 48 Sooty Shearwaters passing and there were now 17 Whooper Swans present while grounded passerines were limited to a handful of Warblers, the Pied Flycatcher and the lingering north-western Redpoll.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

3rd-4th October

The 3rd was a quieter day, with the Hawfinch still present at Holland House but a Collared Dove (unusual at this time of year) there too was a surprising highlight. 50 plus Bramblings, 5 Snow Buntings and the 'north-western' Redpoll were still around as were 5 Jack Snipe and the best a 3 hour sea-watch could offer was an Adult Pomarine Skua and 12 Sooty Shearwaters. The 4th began in much the same way with a 3.5 hour (rain prolonged) watch of the sea from dawn producing 62 Sooty and 25 Manx Shearwaters, 890 Fulmars (including 2 'blue' phase), 849 Gannets and the days highlight-a Scaup which came in with a group of Wigeon and Teal. Pink-footed Geese were on the move again with 755 passing over once the rain subsided, along with 39 Barnacle Geese. 9 Whooper Swans were at Bewan Loch, and there were now 3 Woopigeons present, 224 Meadow Pipits suggested some southbound movement, a Yellow-browed Warbler was in the Irises at Kirbest and the Hawfinch remains.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

2nd October

It was another blustery one, with a strong southerly wind throughout making the birding tricky at times. The days highlights comprised the Bluethroat still at Viggay banks early in the morning only and 2 Yellow-browed Warblers in the north of the island. An elusive 'locustella' Warbler provided some fun and games in the Irises at Garso Loch before eventually giving itself up to be confirmed as a Grasshopper Warbler while 4 Jack Snipe were found in the process. An adult Pomarine Skua and 31 Sooty and 3 Manx Shearwaters were clocked during a 2 hour sea-watch, the Brent Goose remains at the north end and raptors included 2 Hen Harriers, 2 Merlins, a Kestrel and a Peregrine.
Grasshopper Warbler
Hen Harrier

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

1st October

Neither of yesterday's headline makers could be found today but there were still some smart new arrivals to be enjoyed in the bright and breezy conditions. Bird of the day went to an obliging 1st winter (female) Bluethroat in coastal Irises on Viggay Banks, near Bridesness found by one of our birding guests late afternoon which went on to show well to staff. Earlier, a Hawfinch spent the morning in Holland gardens where a Pied Flycatcher was also present. The Brent Goose was still at the north end, while other lingering birds included the Ruff near Holland and late Common Sandpiper at Trinley. We haven't had everyone's counts in yet but at least 3 Jack Snipe were flushed, a Sand Martin seen along with a Tree Pipit, 3 Yellow-browed Warblers and at least 43 Brambling.

Bluethroat (photo by Kevin Kelly)

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

30th September

Here we go.... The day started off pretty well with the first mini arrival of Redwings in Holland gardens and a few Bramblings, Pipits and Larks flying south. Upon returning to the Obs it would be fair to say it 'kicked off' as North Ron scored with not one but two rarities within about half an hour. First the fourth island record of Pechora Pipit was picked up on call and then watched for almost a minute flying around the track before departing to the east for what could easily have been a mile much to the observers distress! Although the views were brief, the under-parts were seen well and the bird called constantly so there is some hope of acceptance if we can't find it again. Just while gathering the search party Kitty Mermagen walked in with news an unusual Thrush, calmly checked the Collins guide before declaring she'd seen "an EYEBROWED THRUSH!!!!" Err... what do you do with that except sprint out the door. 10 minutes later the whole team was enjoying the most stunning adult male Eyebrowed Thrush just meters from the Observatory. Census pretty much went out the window, but aside from time with the thrush a 3 hour scramble around the south of the island in search of the Pipit turned up 8 Yellow-browed Warblers, 54 Bramblings, 2 Siskins, Tree Sparrow, 16 Song Thrush, 88 Redwings and a Sand Martin. A Brent Goose on Trolla Vatn was another fine addition to the days tally, and there were now 2 Woodpigeons, 3 Jack Snipe were flushed, the Lesser-black backed Gull seen again and 11 Sooty Shearwaters the highlight from a sea-watch.

Back of the camera shot of the Eyebrowed Thrush (photo by Kevin Kelly) 
And a few more... (Mark Warren) 

29th September

We won't dwell too much on the 29th-its the 30th your all waiting for.... However 2 Yellow-browed Warblers and the 'Greenland' Redpoll were the days highlights while 542 Pink-footed Geese passed south, 10 Barnacle Geese lingered, 14 Grey Herons, 88 Wheatears and 8 Snow Buntings were also seen.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

28th September

With the wind dropping after the recent gales, the first 3 and a half hours were spent sea-watching. Totals for the session were 3 Pomarine Skua's (2 adults and a juvenile), 20 Great Skua's, an Arctic Skua and 2 which were left un-identified.10 Sooty and 2 Manx Shearwaters also passed along with 1049 Gannets, 309 Fulmars, 5 Puffins, 120 Kittiwakes a Great Northern and 4 un-identified Divers. By midday Geese were on the move again and the minimum totals were 1454 Pink-footed Geese (out south), 10 Barnacle and 264 Greylag Geese (grounded) and at least 250 un-identified Geese passed way out at sea. A group of 14 Whooper Swans landed briefly at Bridesness, and 3 Jack Snipe were at Kirbest. There was a little bit more interest on the ground with an increase to 15 Rock Pipits, a thin spread of Warblers including some new ones, while the Red-breasted Flycatcher and Yellow-browed Warbler both remained in Holland gardens. With the current winds we were expecting a few Redpolls of 'north-west' origin and 2 birds around the Observatory were just that, and one of them was particularly dark and a decent 'Greenland' candidate. 

'North-western' Redpoll  
'Greenland' type Redpoll

Saturday, 27 September 2014

25th-27th September

The 25th was another grinding day in the field, with only the lingering scarcities and a thin selection of common migrants on offer. The Pectoral Sandpiper was still in the Bridesness area (also seen 26th), the Short-toed Lark still near Kirbest, Barred Warbler at Ancum Willows, 2 Yellow-browed Warblers and the Red-breasted Flycatcher at Holland (the latter lingering to 27th) A House Martin was new, the Wood Warbler re-appeared and the 2 'flava' Wagtails were still at Westness. In 50-60mph westerly winds the 26th was largely forgettable despite a few attempts to get out in the field. Other than the scarcities already mentioned an Arctic Tern and 8 Rock Pipits at the north end were all else that was worth a mention. Geese were prominent once again on 27th with 1354 Pink-footed Geese (including a dozen which were found on the walkway at the top of the Lighthouse!!!), 300 un-identified Grey Geese and 18 Barnacle Geese heading out south during the day. Two highlights were a storm driven Grey Phalarope on Gretchen Loch and the years first Corncrake flushed from cover near the Airfield. A juvenile Lesser black-backed Gull and 4 Black-headed Gulls were those respective species first records for a while and the Woodpigeon remains. There wasn't a lot of passerine action on another breezy day but there was a smattering of Common Warblers, a Common Redpoll, the ringed Common Rosefinch while 93 Wheatears (Greenland types) possibly offer some hints as to the origins of things to come....

'flava' Wagtail