Monday, 29 August 2016

28th August

I left you on a bit of birdy cliffhanger yesterday, so we'll get to resolving that. We arrived back at Ancum in the early hours and set up, after half an hour or so of searching the bird appeared and almost instantly went straight into the mist net, it wasn't quite what we expected, a Grasshopper Warbler, our first of the autumn and sign of things to come for the day!
It was pretty clear to see there was new birds in with noticeable amounts of Willow Warblers and Wheatears all over the place, Willow Warblers finished the day with at least 60 individuals on the island and Wheatears broke the century posting an impressive 102 birds.
A Yellow Wagtail was the first bird of note, an unraced female was present between Sjavier and Bewan for the most part of the afternoon, 3 Barred Warblers made an appearance a with one at Seness and two in the garden at Bewan, a very obliging Icterine Warbler showed almost all day at Sangar, a Rosefinch was hanging round with House Sparrows by the Nether Linnay stubble field, the Wryneck was still present at Gravity and a Wood Warbler was trapped at the obs.
The day was far from done, some new arrivals and firsts for this autumn, a Blackcap and Rock Pipit added to the days excitement.
Waders didn't fair to badly either with 6 Little Stint, 1 Wood Sandpiper, 1 Greenshank, a Curlew Sandpiper and a Grey Plover, the third of the year. Other commoner migrants included 2 Lesser Whitethroat, 5 Chiffchaffs, 2 Tree Pipit, 11 Pied Flycatchers, a Spotted Flycatcher and 3 Redpoll.
Even cetaceans made for good viewing with 3 Risso's Dolphins and remarkably 2 Bottlenose Dolphins! A very rare site in our waters!
Now I think there was something else but I'm not sure.... Oh yeah!
A phonecall from Pete Donelly at 4pm proved to be the bird of the day, he phoned initially to say he thought he had a Booted Warbler, so off we went to meet him, on seeing the bird the decision was made that trapping it was the only way to correctly identify it. The net went up and the bird promptly disappeared, we'd all seen it fly behind the sheds at Lochend, but alas, our searches came up empty, it was dinner time by now and some of the obs staff had to leave, leaving Gavin and Sam in charge of the net.
 It's now 18:30 and the phones going again, this time though the birds in the hand. So with biometrics done, and everything taken into account, our Booted warbler....wasn't a Booted Warbler at all! It was a Syke's! High-fives and hugs ensued and a general feeling of euphoria that only comes with a bird of that magnitude was on high! The bird was released and everyone went home smiling from ear to ear! What a day!
Icterine Warbler - George Gay

(Excuse the naff photo) Syke's Warbler before it disappeared behind Lochend

It's in there somewhere! Birders looking for Syke's
Syke's Warbler - George Gay

26th-27th August

The 26th was a day of preparing for a island event so coverage was very limited and bird news few and far between.
The 27th however was a better day, a sea-watch gave good numbers of Sooty Shearwaters, providing 28 birds along with 4 Manx Shearwaters and more surprisingly 3 very distant but identifiable Orca.
On the shore lines waders much of the same as they have been in recent days, 5 Little Stint and a singles of Curlew and Common Sandpiper bringing it home in that category.
A clear influx of Meadow Pipits was clear for all to see with 310 being counted by all parties, no doubt some were missed too, Wheatear numbers also showed a noticeable increase, pushing their numbers just shy of the ton with 99 birds.
As for passerine numbers nothing had really changed, the clear out of previous days was apparent with only 8 Willow Warblers being recorded, a Garden Warbler was present in Holland also.
.Hirundine movement hasn't been a huge feature this autumn and it hasn't really picked up, 4 Swift and a House Martin being the noteables, but a far cry from last years huge movements! The only real bird to mentioned wasn't actually identified until early the following morning, a Locustella sp. was discovered in Ancum Willows in the late evening and despite the teams best efforts it evaded capture and we lost the light and had to pack up, But we hadn't given up and a plan was hatched to catch the bird early the next morning, but I'll let you know how we got on tomorrow...

Wheatear - George Gay

Willow Warbler - George Gay

Friday, 26 August 2016

24th-25th August

With signs of birds easing away and a couple of days of bright weather the 24th and 25th still had some surprises left for us!
Land migrants were much of what we had on the 23rd, one of the Red-backed Shrikes around the obs remained present as did the Redstart, 3 Spotted Flycatchers and 9 Pied Flycatchers remained, singles of Lesser Whitethroat and a Black Redstart at Holland kept things interesting.
A big jump in Golden Plover numbers has them topple the 1000 mark with 1108 being the highest total from the two day spell, no doubt there will be more to come!
Other wader number seemed to stay fairly similar 4 Little Stint were recorded on both days, 12 Ruff on the 25th was the highest count for a while. The Wood Sandpiper still remained on Gretchen and another joined it for a brief spell on the 24th.
The Merlin that's been present is still hanging around and Peregrines have been seen both days, we assume they're hunting over here from other islands.
A sea-watch provided the bird of the period, a single Cory's Shearwater was seen heading West at 13:20 on the 25th, while be accompanied by 10 Sootys and 4 Manxies.
Last but not least a Marsh Warbler was found late yesterday afternoon at Bridesness, it hung around long enough for everyone to get a good look.
It seems this short period of good migrants is perhaps coming to a close, but as they say, you never know!
On a sadder note, Gary Prescott the biking birder has moved on to Fair Isle for the next two months, it's been a privilege to learn from him for the last 3 weeks and the obs staff will certainly miss having him around! We wish him all the best on his quest for 300 species and hopefully we'll have something good enough this autumn to draw him back!

(apologies for the lack of photos in this post, having a few technical issues!)  

23rd August

The easterlies continued and the birds didn't certainly begin to disappoint, a first sea-watch for a few days provided 9 Manx Shearwater, 2 Sooty Shearwater and 2 Storm Petrels, perhaps more excitingly though two pods (one of 5 and one of 6) of Risso's Dolphins were seen and enjoyed by all observers heading West in the early afternoon with 2 Harbour Porpoise.
On the land a single Lesser Whitethroat was at the Post Office, 2 Common Whitethroats, 3 Spotted Flycatchers, 7 Pied Flycatchers, singles of Reed Warbler at Scottigar and a Redstart at the Stormie hut, a further 2 Barred Warblers at Holland and Upper Linnay and an extra Red-backed Shrike down at the obs provided the same amount of excitement as in previous days, despite the clear departure of commoner migrants.
Waders continued to be a staple in our birdy diet with 5 Little Stint, 3 Greenshank and 2 Wood Sandpipers frequenting pools and lochs around the island.
Another bird that caught our eye was a melanistic Grey Heron on the loch at Garso, not as good as we first thought it was going to be but definitely a noteworthy addition.
The weather looks set to continue in the same way, so no rest for the wicked as they say and we'll be out looking for more!
Little Stint - George Gay

Melanistic Grey Heron - George Gay

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

21st-22nd August

The 21st was a good follow up to a fantastic previous day, an early morning session in Holland produced 8 Willow Warblers, a Reed Warbler, 2 Pied Flycatchers, 2 Garden Warblers and a very nice Barred Warbler. Not a bad start, an Icterine Warbler was also present in Holland.
A total of 13 Little Stints were counted at various locations, a single Curlew Sandpiper, 6 Ruff, 2 Greenshank, 2 Common Sandpiper and a single Wood Sandpiper on Gretchen.
Other passerines about consisted of 2 Redstart, a Whinchat, a Lesser Whitethroat, 26 Willow Warbler, 6 Pied Flycatchers and 2 Spot Flycatchers.
The birds of the day were a Wryneck that turned up at Charlie's Quoy in the middle of the afternoon and the big bird was a Greenish Warbler found around 17:30 at Bewan house, the bird showed well for all concerned.
The 22nd was much of the same, not that we have any complaints about that! A Barred Warbler was seen dissappearing into the thick fog in the early morning. Singles of Reed Warbler, Lesser and Common Whitethroat, Spotted Flycatcher, a further 22 Willow Warbler, 6 Pied Flycatchers and yet another Wryneck was present, this time at Brides Loch.
A Great-northern Diver was seen flying over the obs a mid-day heading out South towards neighboring Sanday, 6 Little Stints were together at Westness, 3 Common Sandpipers, the same Wood Sandpiper was present again and a solitary Greenshank.
A late Red-backed Shrike showed up just before dinner around T4 which was our 2nd for the autumn.
Greenish Warbler - George Gay

Sunday, 21 August 2016

20th August

As predicted the weather bought us birds! Lets start with waders, things kicked off with 3 Common Sandpipers in various locations around the island, these were followed by 2 Green Sandpipers, 2 Curlew Sandpipers, a Greenshank and 5 Little Stint, all a good sign of migration and things to come!
An Icterine Warbler was found at about 10am on the coast between the Lurn and Lurand, more surprisingly in the process of finding the Icky a juvenile Red-Backed Shrike was caught in T5 and this very much set the tone for what was set to be a migrant filled day!
With a clear arrival of birds everybody went out having seen the Shrike. The most numerous of the newly arrived migrants came in the shape of Willow Warblers, a very respectable day count of 35 individuals kept proceedings going with a supporting cast of 27 Pied Flycatchers dotted around in various crofts.
A Barred Warbler was found in the thistles near Cauldhaim and this was closely followed by a second Icterine Warbler of the day at Gravity.
Other passerine numbers were as follows, 68 Wheatear, a clear increase of birds involving migrants, 5 Whinchat, 2 Lesser Whitethroat, 7 Garden Warblers, 2 Reed Warblers at Rue and Bridesness, 2 Tree Pipits, a Black Redstart at the school and 2 Spotted Flycatchers.
As for migrant non-passerines a female Kestrel was at Rue and a juvenile Peregrine was chasing waders around the coast up the top end.
A fantastic day of birding that will hopefully only get better tomorrow.
Garden Warbler - George Gay

Pied Flycatcher - George Gay

Whinchat (with Meadow Pipit) - George Gay

Willow Warbler - George Gay

19th August

It was more about quality than quantity today, a noticeable increase in duck numbers, with the Teal total rising to 67, Shoveler totals staying at a moderate 6 and Tufted Ducks decreased by two with a total of 5 on Brides.
The same female Merlin was seen again along with a Peregrine, notable wader numbers were 1108 Golden Plover, 207 Lapwing, 118 Knot, 80 Sanderling, 10 Ruff, a Curlew Sandpiper and a Greenshank at Howar.
Passerine wise there was signs of things to come perhaps for tomorrow 10 Willow Warblers, 2 Swift, a single Chiffchaff, a Pied Flycatcher and the bird of the day went to a very confiding Wryneck found a Cott.
Tomorrow looks really promising and with todays arrivals, you never know!

Wryneck - Both photos George Gay

Friday, 19 August 2016

17th-18th August

With the winds in the right direction all we need are avian its accompaniments and they're starting to trickle through as we speak, the 17th was really dominated by finishing off the Fulmar chick ringing, but in doing so some migrants were found hanging around in spots not yet visited that day, a Merlin was seen hanging around the Garso area, a single Lesser Whitethroat was feeding around the pund by the lighthouse, a Woodpigeon was seen flying into Holland and a Green Sandpiper was on Gretchen.
Census was limited due to the ringing, but still a good sign of birds starting to move our way 3 Ruff , singles of Collared Dove, Curlew Sandpiper, Redpoll and Willow Warbler rounded off the day nicely.
With the Fulmar ringing done and everybody rested the 18th promised much, a morning net session provided us with our first Pied Flycatcher of the autumn, which was joined by 5 new Willow Warblers and the long staying Chiffchaff and Robin.
Waders that showed noticeable increases in their numbers were Lapwing, rising to 216, Knot up to 144 and Snipe numbers rose to 130. The previous days Green Sandpiper and Curlew Sandpiper were still present also.
An extra 3 Willow Warblers were added in the afternoon taking the day total to 8, a female Merlin was hunting the golf course and a young male Peregrine was seen heading over the obs. The two surprise packages for the day came in the shape of a Common Tern on Gretchen and a Grey Wagtail in the irrigation ditch at Cauldhaim.
The forecast for Saturday looks very promising, so we'll be eating our Weetabix and finding those migrants!
On a side note it's the Birdfair in Rutland this week, so make sure you head over to the birds obs council stand and say hello to Kevin and Alison, you'll find them at marquee 1 stand 9. They'll be happy to answer any questions about North Ron and it's birds.
Cormorant - George Gay

Gavin and Larissa ringing a Fulmar chick - Finlay Wallis

Grey Wagtail - George Gay

Merlin - George Gay

Pied Flycatcher - George Gay

Willow Warbler - George Gay

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

15th-16th August

Things are slowly starting to move on here, the 15th was much of the same, a sea-watch provided smaller numbers than in recent days, 5 Sooty Shearwaters, 3 Manx Shearwaters, 3 Storm Petrels, 95 Kittiwake and 15 Puffin.
Waders were again much of the same, 85 Dunlin, 146 Knot, 782 Golden Plovers and a single Curlew Sandpiper.
Passerine numbers are starting to pick up a little, the Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler are still lingering around in Holland, more surprisingly a Robin was re-trapped in the morning, also at Holland, it was first trapped in the spring and has hung around, elsewhere 4 Twite were present up the top end.
This is where things start to get interesting, well more interesting than it already was at least. The provided very little with only a single Sooty Shearwater and 2 Puffin.
A female Kestrel was seen coming in off the sea, a good sign of migration and there was more to come, a Peregrine was seen tearing around Quoybanks in the late afternoon, wader numbers showed a slight increase 162 Knot, 16 Ruff, 1117 Golden Plover and now 2 Curlew Sandpipers.
3 Grey Herons came in off the sea in the early evening and toured the island before heading back out again, a Collared Dove was still hanging around the gardens, the Sedge Warblers at the obs have fledged, but there are 10 around the island including the obs birds, an encouraging increase in Willows Warbler bought the numbers up to 7, hopefully that rare is just around the corner!
A Carrion Crow was present around the obs and the 4 Twite were still at the top end.
With rain coming in over the weekend it looks good for a little fall over the weekend.
Curlew Sandpiper with Dunlin - George Gay

Knot - George Gay

Twite - George Gay

Willow Warbler - Gary Prescott

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

14th August

Much of the same I'm afraid apart from a couple of extra additions. Sea-watching gave good numbers, 39 Sooty Shearwater, 10 Manx Shearwater, 14 Storm Petrels and 22 Puffins being the highlights.
Wader numbers are still staying steady and very much as you were, 705 Golden Plovers, 110 Knot, 73 Sanderling, 20 Ruff, 6 Whimbrel and more interestingly a single Common Sandpiper was seen on the rocks at Iris Taing.
Elsewhere there where 2 Little Grebes on Garso, the Grey Heron is still hanging around and will probably do so well into the autumn.
Passerine wise it's still very quiet a single Sand Martin was present at Hooking, the same Chiffchaff is still in Holland as it has been since the spring, the number of Sedge Warblers shows encouraging signs of breeding with a total of 11 birds around the island and last but not least the Redpoll that's been seen regularly is still hanging around in the Ancum area.
Meadow Pipit - George Gay

Sedge Warbler - George Gay

Sunday, 14 August 2016

12th-13th August

It's been a relatively quiet couple of days for us bird wise, but that's to be expected for now with winds set into the west. The 12th saw a noticeable increase in duck numbers for the first time this autumn, 23 Teal, 4 Wigeon and 2 Gadwall being the most noteworthy.
Wader numbers stayed on par with recent days 63 Knot and 6 Ruff the highlights in that category. Otherwise numbers from the sea were also steady 4 Sooty Shearwaters, 6 Manx Shearwaters, a single Storm Petrel and a staggering 2028 Fulmar. Elsewhere other birds of note for the 12th were singles of a Little Grebe and Grey Heron, 5 Twite and 25 Kittiwake.
The 13th didn't feature very much of note at all, strong and prevailing westerly winds kept things as they were.
Teal numbers stayed around the same with 21 birds being recorded.
Snipe numbers increased to 28 as did Black-tailed Godwit and Whimbrel rising to 25 and 8 respectively. There was a single Lesser-black backed Gull, 9 Sedge Warblers and another Redpoll that we assume to be a breeding bird.
Outside of the birding we were all treated to a presentation by Gavin on his recent trip to Tanzania, Gavin went out to teach children about Scotland and to learn a bit of Swahili while he was at it, aside from the teaching and learning they took part in drumming, dancing and storytelling. The highlight of the trip for Gav and the presentation for us was a safari at the Serengeti national park, I think it made a lot of the onlookers very jealous! The bit weren't so jealous of was Gavin's contraction of Malaria, a proper souvenir, thankfully Gavin has made a full recovery and is back and ready to find some birds this autumn!
Dunlin - George Gay

Grey Heron - Larissa Simulik

Sanderling - Larissa Simulik

Gavin giving his presentation on Tanzania - George Gay

Friday, 12 August 2016

11th August

The wet and windy continued, but with a bit more about I think we can safely say autumn is creeping into view and it was all kicked-off by an unexpected first for the year! A Turtle Dove was seen briefly between the school and the mill before flying off towards Holland gardens, attempts to re-locate the bird proved fruitless, but all the same a good record for the island.
Elsewhere a sea-watch provided respectable numbers, but usual fodder, 1 Manx Shearwater, 2 Storm Petrels, 1 Blue phase Fulmar, 9 Sooty Shearwaters and a solitary Puffin being the highlights.
Waders provided good viewing again as numbers continue to rise, 767 Golden Plovers were present in flocks around the island, other numbers include 351 Turnstones, 111 Knot, 13 Purple Sandpipers, 44 Dunlin, 11 Ruff, 38 Snipe, 24 Bar-tailed Godwits and 27 Black-tailed Godwits.
Other notable non-passerines came in the shape of a Grey Heron seen between Brides and Hooking and a Sandwich Tern seen from the links.
Passerine wise there was a notable increase in Meadow Pipit, with the day total rising to a respectable 103. Sedge Warbler numbers were also on the rise with a final count of 9 birds, otherwise it was much the same the Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff were still present in Holland, there were 6 Twite up the top end of the island and 3 Redpoll including a juvenile, suggesting they've bred on the island for a second consecutive year. The weather looks to stay much the same over the coming days but winds appear to swing into the South-South East after the weekend, giving us hope of more to come.
Golden Plover - George Gay

Sedge Warbler - George Gay 

Thursday, 11 August 2016

10th August

Much of the same for the 10th but numbers still edging through, with a little more variety from the migrants on the land, but waders have been the main staple of our birding diet for the last few weeks and it looks set to continue for a little while yet. A clear start to the day provided good conditions for a sea-watch, but with winds not being too favorable all that was on offer was a single Sooty Shearwater. As previously stated waders have been our main course for a while, Golden Plover remained at similar numbers with 437 been counted, Knot showed an increase to 21, other notable totals include 7 Bat-tailed Godwits, 61 Redshank, 119 Turnstone, 8 Ruff and singles of Whimbrel and another Curlew Sandpiper. 
Land migrants provided little variety but variety all the same! Singles of Collared Dove, Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler. Other birds of note were 2 Sedge Warblers around the Obs and 2 Twite.
Black-tailed Godwits - George Gay

A very distant Sooty Shearwater - George Gay

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

9th August

A slightly quieter day today, with most notable species coming from a sea-watch, a single Storm Petrel, 4 Sooty Shearwaters, 2 Manx Shearwaters, 167 Kittiwake, 340 Fulmar, 216 Gannet, 176 Arctic Terns. Elsewhere of 47 Sanderling, 5 where colour ringed, so we'll look into that and see where they're from!
In other news we've got a guest that a few of you may have met on your travels at various spots around the UK. He's called Gary Prescott, otherwise known as the biking birder, his quest is quite simple, to see as many birds in the UK by using only his bike, he was up here last year and is back for the rest of the month to try and add to his tally, so we'll do our best!
You can follow Gary's journey on his own blog. It's certainly worth a look, plus it's for a superb cause!

Arctic Skuas mobbing an Arctic Tern - George Gay

Sanderling with colour flags - George Gay

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

5th- 8th August

Wader numbers are continuing to build on the island as more return from their breeding grounds and begin to head south, Golden Plover numbers hit their highest on the 5th with 532 being recorded around the island.
Knot and Black-tailed Godwit numbers continued to rise as well, with 124 Knots on the 7th and 33 Black-tailed Godwits on the 8th.
Wader highlights were a Curlew Sandpiper present on Bewan and 20 Ruff in various locations on the 5th and a Greenshank at the sea-watch hide on the 7th.
The 7th also provided good sea-watching conditions and a two hour stint at the top end provided good viewing for all those concerned, 12 Sooty Shearwaters, 43 Manx Shearwaters, 28 Storm Petrels and a single Harbour Porpoise was a nice surprise, meanwhile a single Leach's Petrel was seen lingering around the bay in Nouster.
Another surprise from the sea was a single female Red-breasted Merganser seen from the links on the 6th.
The land provided a few migrants but nothing major, that'll come later (we hope!) singles of Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler and Redpoll were recorded on the 5th, a Peregrine was partnered by a lonesome Woodpigeon on the 6th and a further 2 Redpoll on the 7th.
The 8th wasn't such a good day for birds, but weather wise, high winds and rough seas provided slight entertainment, unfortunately for them the Eiders in the picture below may disagree slightly!
Eider with Chicks - George Gay

Greenshank - George Gay

Peregrine - George Gay

Monday, 8 August 2016

1st-4th August

As August starts, the waders have started to build up in their numbers with Knot peaking on the 3rd with 39 being present in various locations on the island, Ruff have also started to return with 5 on the 1st and 16 on the 4th. Godwits of both species have kept numbers steady with Bar-tailed Godwits lingering in the low teens, 13 on the 1st and 4th, a lowly 7 birds where counted on the 2nd and they topped off with 14 on the 3rd.
The Black-tailed Godwits have been less numerous overall, with single figures on the 2nd, 3rd and 4th, although 15 where recorded on the 1st. Golden Plover numbers also continued to increase and peaked at 511 on the 4th, the most noteable wader of the last four days was a Curlew Sandpiper on Sjaver, assumably the bird that showed up in late July on Bewan.
2 Collared Doves where accounted for on the 1st, of which one stuck around until at least the 4th, a Woodpigeon was seen at Hooking on the 4th also. A single Sandwich Tern was seen flying over Holland on the 2nd.
Hirundine numbers have been slow this year, so 16 Sand Martins on the 2nd where a welcome addition, the bulk of them coming in the shape of a large flock seen feeding round Hooking farm.
Perhaps the bird of the period was one that snuck under the radar a bit, a Soft Plumage Petrel was seen during a short Sea-watch from Westness on the 1st, the bird wasn't in view for long before heading East towards the lighthouse, with no pictures the bird can't be positively identified as Fea's or Zino's. Other notable birds from the period include a Redpoll on the 3rd, a Manx Shearwater on the 1st and Whimbrels present on all days.
Manx Shearwater - George Gay

Black-tailed Godwits - George Gay

Ruff - George Gay