Wednesday, 30 August 2017

28th and 29th August

A tough day in the field on the 28th with heavy rain first thing brightening up through the day but with a strong and increasing SW wind blasting across the island; the first visiting birders of the autumn combined with a Heatherlea tour group made sure there was some good coverage though and a range of birds were eventually seen, the highlights were lingering birds from yesterday with the juvenile Marsh Harrier at Hooking and the elusive Barred Warbler still in Holland Gardens.   Other grounded passerines were in short supply with 8 Willow Warblers, 2 Reed Warblers and a Whinchat logged while 60 Swallows, 8 Sand Martins and 3 Swifts were overhead.

                Seawatching totals included 12 Sooty Shearwaters, a Storm Petrel, 17 Great Skuas and a Red-throated Diver while other mentionables comprised 4 Herons, 21 Teal, 7 Shoveler, 2 Peregrines, a Kestrel, 33 Black-tailed Godwits, 33 Bar-tailed Godwits, 124 Redshank and 4 Ruff.

Kittiwake playing in the wind at the pier

                Bright and sunny again on the 29th but the strong SW still swept across the island meaning it was again sometimes an effort to keep bashing around in the field; perhaps the most interesting [new] bird was an adult Red-necked Phalarope on the small pool at Westness which, on very close views was revealed to have an orange colour ring suggesting it was the same individual that was last seen on Gretchen on 29th July which, we now believe to be a Shetland ringed bird which originally had a geolocator attached to its back but has now fallen off.

                The Marsh Harrier was still present along with 2 Peregrines, 3 Kestrels and a Merlin while some increased seawatching efforts produced 40 Sooty Shearwaters, 15 Manx Shearwaters, a Storm Petrel, 21 Great Skuas and 20 Arctic Terns.   Other birds of note included 5 Wigeon, 7 Shoveler, 4 Herons, 17 Black-tailed Godwits, 4 Ruff, a Whimbrel and an influx of 16 Lesser Black-backed Gulls while landbirds comprised the first House Martin and Spotted Flycatcher of the autumn, 7 Willow Warblers, 3 Sedge Warblers and 7 Sand Martins.   Also of great note was a Convolvulus Hawkmoth picked up off the road near the Post Office. 
Great Skua coming back to the Mallard it just killed

Adult and juvenile Purple Sandpiper

Red Admirals

Photos Simon Davies

Monday, 28 August 2017

26th and 27th August

With the wind still firmly in the east, expectations were still high on the 26th but the promised rain never arrived and it proved to be a stunning, warm, sunny day which, while lovely, did not equate to a great many grounded migrants.   This, combined with reduced coverage led to a slower day in the field with the Greenish Warbler still present around the Obs, a Kestrel, 3 Short-eared Owls, 2 Whinchats, 56 Wheatears, a Garden Warbler, 13 Willow Warblers and 2 Grasshopper Warblers the migrants of note across the island.

                Other birds included 3 Herons, a Merlin, 6 Ruff and 20 Sand Martins while a notable influx of butterflies which comprised at least 30 Red Admirals, 2 Painted Ladies and a Large White indicated a more southerly influence.

Short-eared Owl,   photo George Gay

                The wind did indeed move round into the south on the 27th and gradually picked up through the day which produced the first Barred Warbler of the year, skulking away in Holland Gardens but skilfully staying away from the nets and a juvenile Marsh Harrier which floated around Brides and Hooking before attempting to leave away to the south but bottled it and came back!

                The Greenish Warbler was seen again first thing but disappeared for the rest of the day (a pattern its repeated over the last few days) while other birds included 8 Herons, 28 Black-tailed Godwits, a Sandwich Tern in Nouster in the evening (the first for over a month), 15 Arctic Terns lingering around Seal Skerry, a Short-eared Owl, a Kestrel, a Sparrowhawk, 2 Whinchats, a Tree Pipit, a Garden Warbler and 17 Willow Warblers.
Wheatear,   photo Simon Davies

This Garden Warbler had a rough start to life by the state of its tail!   photo Simon Davies

Friday, 25 August 2017

25th August

Overcast throughout but it remained dry with a consistent, moderate easterly breeze; expectations were still high and we were rewarded with a cracking BLYTH’S REED WARBLER which showed very well at Sandback, sometimes together with a Reed Warbler for an excellent comparison (there was no comparison!).   The rest of the day was a bit of a slog with lots of tramping around for limited reward, there was however like yesterday, a light sprinkling of migrants across the island with the Greenish Warbler still around the Obs, the first 2 Reed Warblers of the autumn, 3 Whinchats, a Garden Warbler, one of yesterday’s Grasshopper Warblers still and 7 Willow Warblers.

                Other bits of note included 5 Herons, 2 Wigeon, 22 Teal, 4 Kestrels still, a juvenile Peregrine, 3 Ruff, 29 Black-tailed Godwits, 2 Greenshank and a Whimbrel – the wind is forecast to remain in the east tomorrow, so it remains to be seen how ill-timed the staff night out in Kirkwall will end up to be!!

Blyth's Reed Warbler

together with a Reed Warbler

Photos Simon Davies

23rd and 24th August

The strong easterly wind continued through the day on the 23rd which, coupled with the overcast conditions and rain moving in by late afternoon built expectations up further and further; the first and best bird to mention though was a summer plumaged adult AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVER seen well by one observer in torchlight up near the Lighthouse – it was located as we were on a dazzling expedition and the lucky (or unlucky) individual nearly had the net on the bird before it disappeared into the night, not to be seen again, hopefully he got enough on the bird to put a good description in!

                The rest of the day proved to be a bit of an anti-climax with the merest trickle of new arrivals hinting what was out there waiting for the rain to drop them in; new birds included 3 Kestrels, 10 Willow Warblers, a Garden Warbler and a Short-eared Owl along with 3 Herons, 15 Black-tailed Godwits and a Greenshank.

The recent rough nights have been great for dazzling, with the 4th and 5th Black-tailed Godwits ever to be ringed on the island the highlights

                After a very wet and windy night, dawn on the 24th was oddly calm and dry allowing a two-hour window in which to open some nets at Holland House and pretty much the first bird caught was a cracking GREENISH WARBLER – autumn had finally arrived!  

The weather then proceeded to throw a variety of conditions at us, with several hours of solid rain, followed by several hours of thick fog followed by a calm, clear evening revealing a thin but widely scattered spread of new migrants with a juvenile Dotterel on Torness new for the year and 3 Tree Pipits and 2 Grasshopper Warblers new for the autumn along with, 5 Kestrels, 4 Garden Warblers, a Whinchat, 21 Willow Warblers, a Chiffchaff and 2 Robins.   Other birds included a Pintail (first one since 6th July), 2 Grey Plovers, 2 Green Sandpipers, 3 Ruff, 15 Black-tailed Godwits, a Short-eared Owl and 20 Sand Martins.

Greenish Warbler

Tree Pipit

Photos Simon Davies

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

21st and 22nd August

A glorious day on the 21st with pretty much wall to wall sunshine with a light NW wind which had swung round into the east by the afternoon; landbird passage was still slow with 5 Willow Warblers the only grounded migrants while other counts included the 4 Collared Doves still, 14 Sand Martins, 73 Swallows, 196 Meadow Pipits and single Sparrowhawk and Merlin whizzing around.

Grey Plover,   George Gay

                Some decent wader counts comprised 1,312 Golden Plover, a Grey Plover still, 41 Purple Sandpipers, 28 Black-tailed Godwits, 22 Bar-tailed Godwits, a Whimbrel, 153 Redshank, a Greenshank and an autumn high count so far of 342 Turnstone along with 4 Herons and 2 Red-throated Divers while the one that got away was a large raptor sp. seen over Stennabreck into the sun which was probably a Common Buzzard but views were inconclusive.

                With the wind now firmly in the east expectations began to grow on the 22nd but the fine weather that came with it didn’t equate to many more migrants with 10 Willow Warblers the highlight.   A disappointingly quiet day also produced single Merlin, Peregrine and Sparrowhawk, 33 Black-tailed Godwits on Gretchen and best of all, a good pod of 7 Risso’s Dolphins playing around off the west coast.
Risso's Dolphin,   George Gay

Peregrine,   Simon Davies

Monday, 21 August 2017

19th and 20th August

After a little lighthouse attraction overnight, which consisted of mainly waders and Meadow Pipits the 19th (despite a damp start to the day and a moderate NW breeze) there was some renewed anticipation for a day in the field but the first Garden Warbler of the autumn was the only real grounded migrant; there were also noticeable influxes of 102 Wheatears (including several Greenland birds), 162 Meadow Pipits, 110 Swallows and 94 alba Wagtails – many of them Whites. 

                The White-winged Black Tern was seen again – this time in torchlight at Bewan in the wee small hours while waders of note consisted of 183 Ringed Plovers, 112 Dunlin, 3 Ruff, 36 Black-tailed Godwits, 23 Bar-tailed Godwits, 120 Redshank, a Greenshank and 187 Turnstone.   Other birds of note through the day included 6 Herons, a Sparrowhawk, our ringed, juvenile Arctic Skua still on Torness and a Short-eared Owl while a single Risso’s Dolphin put on an impressive breaching display off the north end.

                With the autumn properly starting on Fair Isle and Shetland to our north we were hoping that the little burst of easterlies two days ago, would have produced something for us on the 20th but the best we could manage was 5 Willow Warblers, the Garden Warbler and 2 Short-eared Owls – the damp conditions first thing and the brisk NW wind hasn’t helped us!   Other birds included 10 Sooty Shearwaters, a Manx Shearwater and a Red-throated Diver offshore, 4 Herons, a Sparrowhawk in Holland, 5 Ruff and roving parties of Black-tailed Godwits coming together to roost on Gretchen in the evening.


Our juvenile Arctic Skua still on Torness

Photos Simon Davies

Saturday, 19 August 2017

17th and 18th August

A pleasant day with plenty of sunshine and a moderate southerly breeze on the 17th although the wind had dropped to almost nothing by the evening; there was still no real signs of any grounded passerines through the day but it was an enjoyable day in the field with some early autumn passage noted including 169 Swallows, 41 Sand Martins and 5 Swifts south (mainly down the west coast) while other landbirds also showed some increases with 130 Meadow Pipits, 7 Ravens (including 3 seen heading off south), a Short-eared Owl, 2 Sparrowhawks and a Peregrine.

                Obviously waders also had a good day with the Buff-breasted Sandpiper still present on The Links, 181 Ringed Plover, 854 Golden Plover, a Grey Plover, 162 Lapwings, 115 Sanderling, 2 Little Stints on Gretchen, 18 Purple Sandpipers, 5 Ruff, 47 Black-tailed Godwits (roosted on Gretchen overnight), 109 Curlew, 192 Redshank, 2 Greenshank, single Wood and Green Sandpipers and 237 Turnstone with mixed flocks seen heading south.   Other waterbirds also showed signs of passage with notable influxes of 94 Mallard, 61 Teal and 21 Shoveler along with 5 Gadwall and 3 Herons.

Kittiwake at the pier

                A calm day on the 18th with the light breeze coming mainly from the east, sunny in the morning, the cloud built through the day with the promised rain not arriving until late evening; the day was most notable for the first ‘proper’ grounded migrant of the autumn with a juvenile Whinchat seen near Lenswick – not a big rarity but a bird that brings with it much promise!

                Other birds seen through this quieter day included the Buff-breasted Sandpiper still, 2 Short-eared Owls, 1,275 Golden Plover, 21 Black-tailed Godwits, 3 Whimbrel, 3 Greenshank, good numbers of loafing Great Skuas still (including one which killed a Mallard), a single Swift and a decent post-breeding flock of 12 Reed Buntings at Peckhole while 40 Storm Petrels were caught overnight.
Little Grebe chick at Brides

Sedge Warbler

Some of the Fulmar chicks are looking like they'll be off soon

Photos Simon Davies

Thursday, 17 August 2017

15th and 16th August

Heavy, persistent rain lingered across the island until late morning on the 15th delayed proceedings but it brightened up into a lovely, sunny afternoon; despite the rain and poor visibility 13 Manx Shearwaters and 2 Storm Petrels passed the seawatch hide but it generally wasn’t until the afternoon that people got out into the field.   Unsurprisingly, waders dominated the day’s log with the Buff-breasted Sandpiper still on The Links while other totals comprised 720 Golden Plover, 3 Ruff, 3 Black-tailed Godwits, 2 Whimbrel, 123 Curlew, 185 Redshank, a Green Sandpiper and 263 Turnstone with added interest coming from a Norwegian colour flagged Ringed Plover which, after being ringed in Norway in September 2016 was seen on North Ronaldsay shortly afterwards, so this is the second autumn in a row that it has been seen here.

There are still some Arctic Terns remaining, some of which have juveniles in tow, so are still aggressive!

                Other little bits included a Heron, still 63 Arctic Terns (including several juveniles, either from here or further north), 3 Collared Doves still in Holland, a single Swift and good roost totals of 160 Linnets and 1,140 Starlings.

                Pleasant throughout the day on the 16th although the southerly wind gradually increased to become very strong by the evening; waders today included a few new odds and ends in amongst the larger flocks with 1 or 2 Wood Sandpipers, a Green Sandpiper, 14 Black-tailed Godwits, 4 Ruff and a Grey Plover while 850 Golden Plover and 110 Lapwings were in the fields around the Obs.

                A big, juvenile female Peregrine was cruising around, 30 Teal on Ancum was a notable influx, 10 Sand Martins were over Gretchen and a distinctive, dark, melanistic Heron which came in off the sea caused a few pulses to race and maybe was the same individual that was seen last autumn.
Its been a tough breeding season but now its time to relax!

Black Guillemots are starting to moult now that their breeding season is over

Photos Simon Davies

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

13th and 14th August

A decent day on the 13th with lightish winds and a fair bit of sunshine poking through, especially in the afternoon; it proved to be a great day in the field despite much of the time being taken up with the continued Fulmar chick ringing around the island with the two standout highlights consisting of a fine adult Buff-breasted Sandpiper found feeding at the southern end of The Links, associating with Ringed Plovers and then Bar-tailed Godwits and the reappearance, yet again of the adult White-winged Black Tern up at Bewan – it looked very different to when it was here two weeks ago as it is now in full moult, so I guess there is a chance of it being a new bird?

Buff-breasted Sandpiper,   Simon Davies

                The other feature of the day was a good total of 57 Black-tailed Godwits, which included a flock of 42 which came in from the north along with counts of 5 Ruff, 32 Bar-tailed Godwits and 161 Turnstone.   Two juvenile Peregrines caused havoc across the island while 5 Wigeon, 5 Gadwall, 19 Teal and 10 Shoveler were noteworthy and offshore a Sooty Shearwater, 3 Manx Shearwaters and 120 Kittiwakes were seen.

                The wind had swung into the east on the 14th and with rain forecast, hopes were high for the first signs of autumn Passerine migration but even though the rain duly arrived at lunchtime, it proved to be a vain hope with wader passage again, pretty much the only signs of movement!   They were highlighted by an excellent total of 73 Black-tailed Godwits with several flocks heading south through the day while other good counts included 1,175 Golden Plover, 2 Ruff, 22 Bar-tailed Godwits and 3 Herons while the Buff-breasted Sandpiper still strutted around on The Links.

                Offshore today were 9 Manx Shearwaters, a Sooty Shearwater and 3 Storm Petrels (including one close in to Gretchen) with good numbers of southbound Great and Arctic Skuas lingering around the island.
White-winged Black Tern,   George Gay

The Water Rails around Ancum hide are unusually active and obvious with their chicks getting bigger,   Simon Davies

Sunday, 13 August 2017

11th and 12th August

Still breezy and overcast with a few spots of rain on the 11th with the major surprise of the day being the typically brief reappearance of the White-winged Black Tern in front of the seawatch hide to a visiting birder – with the vast majority of the Arctic Terns already departed south we naturally assumed that it had also headed off back to whence it came!   As with every blog post this summer, the rest of this one will end up with a list of wader numbers which today included 167 Oystercatchers, 1,110 Golden Plover, 63 Sanderling, 83 Dunlin, 4 Ruff, 4 Black-tailed Godwits, 136 Redshank, 2 Greenshank and 215 Turnstone.

                Other little bits of note included a couple of medium sized Little Grebe chicks which appeared on Brides Loch, 9 Manx Shearwaters offshore, a Heron, 8 Wigeon (the first ones for about a month), 5 Lesser Black-backed Gulls (very scarce over the summer) and another juvenile Stonechat at Westness.

Ruff,   photo George Gay

                Still overcast on the 12th but with much lighter winds, only a couple of brief showers and the end of the time consuming Sheep Festival we finally had the chance to concentrate on ringing the now pretty well grown Fulmar chicks spread around the island and enjoy the sights, sounds and definitely the smells of this joyful task!   There was some time for birding though and today’s wader report comprised 86 Ringed Plover on The Links (a notable increase), 1,086 Golden Plover, 135 Lapwing, 25 Purple Sandpipers, 2 Ruff, 4 Black-tailed Godwits, 29 Bar-tailed Godwits and 2 Whimbrel.

                Also seen today were a female Peregrine south past the airstrip, 4 Manx Shearwaters, a Heron, 3 Gadwall, 13 Teal, 12 Shoveler, 9 each of Arctic Skua and Great Skuas marauding about the place, a start to the post-breeding build-up of Kittiwakes roosting along the coast with 46 off The Lurn including several juveniles and 9 Sand Martins.
Twite,   photo Simon Davies

Wheatear,   photo Simon Davies

Friday, 11 August 2017

9th and 10th August

A bit more cloud on the 9th with a brisk westerly breeze and a few little spells of drizzle; there was single Sooty and Manx Shearwater, 2 Storm Petrels and 2 Tufted Ducks offshore in the morning, although the seawatch was more notable for a big bull Orca which surfaced once before disappearing as suddenly as it had appeared and yet another pod of 6 Risso’s Dolphins which came in close to the seawatch hide.

                The rest of the day was fairly quiet with 3 Herons, an increase to 18 Mallard, single Ruff and Black-tailed Godwits, 10 Bar-tailed Godwits, 82 Curlew and only 46 Arctic Terns which have all but moved on now.

and let the lion lay down with the lamb..

                Overcast through the day with a much stronger westerly wind than we have been used to of late on the 10th; there was some good signs of wader passage through the day as 1,364 Golden Plover was a much larger total - the first time they have passed a thousand birds this year and several flocks of Black-tailed Godwits were seen to fly straight through the island, perhaps totalling 45 birds.

                Other birds included 5 Ruff, 3 Whimbrel, a little influx of ducks with 30 Mallard, 7 Gadwall and 6 Shoveler on Ancum, a Red-throated Diver, 2 Sooty Shearwaters and a Manx Shearwater offshore and at least 9 Arctic Skuas and 11 Bonxies were obvious across the island terrorising anything that crossed their path!
Black-tailed Godwits passing through Gretchen

Just had the details of this colour ringed Turnstone that was in Nouster in May.  It was ringed in December 2012 in Mauritania, NW Africa, was re-sighted there the following winter but it hadn't been seen again until our sighting (although the letters on the flag had faded away to nothing, leaving just indentations that could only be read at very close range)

Photos Simon Davies

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

7th and 8th August

Rain overnight and through the first few hours of the morning soon departed, leaving a fine, bright and sunny day on the 7th; the day’s highlight was a brief adult Pectoral Sandpiper on Torness with a Golden Plover flock but it soon flew off to the north, not to be seen again.   Also up the west coast, a Grey Plover was with the same Goldie flock while 8 Purple Sandpipers were on the rocks and 9 Arctic Skuas patrolled up and down.

                The only other birds of note were offshore during an early morning seawatch and included a single Sooty Shearwater, 9 Manx Shearwaters, 150 Puffins and 170 Fulmars with 2 Risso’s Dolphins also of note.

Fledgling Pied Wagtail, Simon Davies

                Another stunning summer’s day on the 8th however, most of the focus was directed at rounding up sheep and building dykes but with many eyes working long hours along the islands coastline and a very calm sea it was a recipe for some cetacean success and we were rewarded with 2 Orcas seen in the morning off the north end, followed by two pods of Risso’s Dolphins with c10 seen of The Lurn at lunchtime and then another 5 seen heading past the Obs in the evening.

                Birds of note were few and far between but 3 Ruff and a Greenshank were on the excellent looking Brides Loch while 19 Knot and 11 Purple Sandpipers were also noted.
Dunlin and Ruff, Simon Davies

Ruff, George Gay

Monday, 7 August 2017

5th and 6th August

Overcast with a brisk westerly breeze and the occasional shower on the 5th but with most of our focus on the array of other things happening at the Obs time in the field was limited; the first Short-eared Owl of the autumn was flushed off a freshly killed Redshank at Brides was the highlight while the Goldcrest lingered in Holland gardens and a Heron and a good selection of waders were around the Brides coast.

                A completely different day on the 6th with endless blue skies, warm sunshine and a light westerly breeze which had switched round to the east by the afternoon.   Good counts of 47 Ringed Plover, 69 Sanderling and 390 Golden Plover were on The Links, a Merlin flashed by the school and just 5 Sand Martins remained from the unprecedented breeding numbers this year.   Two juvenile Willow Warblers were trapped in Holland during the evening, perhaps a result of the easterly wind where there were also 150 Linnets coming into roost and the 4 Collared Doves still.

Short-eared Owl,   photos Simon Davies

Saturday, 5 August 2017

3rd and 4th August

Wet and windy on the 3rd and the paucity of records through the day reflects that time was spent on other tasks than being out in the field as the only records came from round the Obs with 2 Herons, 330 Golden Plover, 8 Bar-tailed Godwits and 10 Knot of note.

The Fulmar chicks have definitely passed the cute and fluffy stage and moved on to the scraggly, angry and spitty balls of vengeful vomit stage

                Still overcast and windy on the 4th but largely dry and we made up for yesterday by spending some good time out in the field which produced the unexpected surprise of a Stock Dove coming in off the sea at Brides – a pretty rare bird on the island, usually seen in early spring and late autumn so an August record is doubly noteworthy!   More in tune with the time of year our attentions naturally turn to seawatching and with large Shearwaters finally starting to appear in the North Sea we have our targets – a nice start today produced 10 Sooty Shearwaters, 18 Manx Shearwaters, 2 Storm Petrels and 326 Puffins in just two hours watching.

                Other birds of note through the day included the first Gadwall for a few weeks, 890 Golden Plover (the highest count so far this autumn), 40 Dunlin (including a second fledgling in East Loch Park), 10 Bar-tailed Godwits, a Green Sandpiper, 92 Turnstone, at least 17 Arctic Skuas (including 8 roosting together at Bewan), 3 Collared Doves still, a new Chiffchaff and the Goldcrest lingering in Holland.
Skylark fledgling

The second Dunlin fledgling in East Loch Park, photo George Gay

This unfortunate looking (I hesitate to use the word ugly!) Chiffchaff has over summered in the Holland House gardens
Other photos Simon Davies

Thursday, 3 August 2017

1st and 2nd August

Beautiful, calm and sunny again on the 1st with the nets at Holland first thing providing the first surprise of the day with a juvenile Goldcrest trapped early on – it hadn’t quite finished its post-juvenile moult so it hadn’t come too far, just from elsewhere in Orkney you would suspect; also in the gardens were a Willow Warbler and a Common Redpoll while just below Holland an almost fully grown Dunlin was running happily down the middle of the road – proof that a second pair of Dunlin bred successfully on the island in the Loch Park / East Loch Park area.

Dunlin chick

                The second surprise of the day came later on when some of the volunteers took a lighthouse tour and when at the top, the first bird they saw was the adult White-winged Black Tern flying in to Bewan after its jaunt up to Fair Isle but typically it soon disappeared and was not seen again – there are far fewer Arctic Terns present now for it to hang around with than when it was last here.  

Other birds of note included the Black-throated Diver still in Nouster, the first Merlin of the autumn up the west coast, 550 Golden Plover, 39 Knot, 7 Black-tailed Godwits, the first fresh juvenile Kittiwake lingering off Torness, 2 Collared Doves and at least 5 Swifts.

The 2nd was (if possible) an even better day with wall to wall sunshine and hardly a breath of wind; the many eyes and calm seas produced the highlights of the day with 2 Orcas seen off Seal Skerry which cruised round the coast to the Beacon then out to sea and included a huge bull and later in the day a pod of 12-15 Risso’s Dolphins frolicked off the west coast.

Birdwise it was a bit quieter in the fine conditions with two small Water Rail chicks showing well next to the Ancum hide perhaps the highlight while other totals included 2 Herons, 580 Golden Plover, 12 Bar-tailed Godwits, 8 Whimbrel, a Greenshank and at least 3 Swifts.

Our Arctic Skua chick is now flying!

The Water Rail chicks at Ancum are not yet!

and this Kittiwake has been for a while!
photos Simon Davies

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

30th and 31st July

Another gorgeous day on the 30th, sunny and warm with a light easterly breeze; a huge juvenile female Peregrine was causing havoc wherever she went through the morning – the first dispersing juvenile of the autumn and a Kestrel flew south pursued by squadrons of Arctic Terns in the afternoon.   Other landbirds included the 4 Collared Doves still and 2 Swifts heading south while 5 Tufted Duck on Brides perhaps included a couple of returning migrants.

                Waders included a Wood Sandpiper, 2 Green Sandpipers and a Little Stint on the excellent looking Brides Loch (there’ll be something good there soon!), 551 Golden Plover and 2 Black-tailed Godwits while typically, after six weeks of constant presence and just after we spotted the geolocator there were no Phalaropes on Gretchen – we have heard that it certainly is not a Shetland ringed bird which, like most of the other geolocator projects attach the device to the birds back, so we still have no clue to the birds origin!

Tysties are bringing in bigger and bigger fish to feed their bigger and bigger chicks

                A mixed bag of weather on the 31st with an overcast start with light winds and even a hint of misty fog brightening to produce a stunning, warm, sunny afternoon; the first Ruff of the autumn was at Brides while other wader counts comprised 82 Sanderling, 5 Purple Sandpipers, 113 Dunlin, 18 Bar-tailed Godwits, single Green and Common Sandpipers and at least 20 Whimbrel with an obvious afternoon passage of southbound migrants.

                Other bits and bobs included a Heron, an influx of 324 Greylag Geese, 13 Teal, a single Garganey again, 2 Sandwich Terns, 5 Swifts heading south and a new Chiffchaff while overnight a Leach’s Petrel was singing away up at Bewan (without the stimulation of payback) – maybe one to watch!

In amongst the regular turnover of Sanderling there are usually a few colour ringed individuals, most regular are those, like this bird who have a lime coloured flag in the combination, indicating it was ringed next door on Sanday
Photos Simon Davies