Saturday, 30 September 2017

29th September

Another similar day with dry conditions and a very strong SE wind blazing across the island so there were still plenty of birds to be seen, concentrated on the sheltered western side; scarcities were again well represented with a Rustic Bunting found hopping around the lighthouse in the morning (and apparently joined by a second bird briefly in the afternoon!), the Blyth’s Reed Warbler re-trapped in Holland early evening, at least 2 Olive-backed Pipits still (Obs and Nether Linney, with another couple of possibles seen), a new Red-breasted Flycatcher at Greenwall, a Common Rosefinch and 3-4 Little Buntings littered around the place.

                The long roll call of other migrants included 2 Woodpigeons, 4 Tree Pipits, a flava Wagtail, 2 Grey Wagtails, a Dunnock, 35 Robins, 29 Redstarts, a Whinchat, a Stonechat (seen briefly so we were unable to get any more details on it), 70 Wheatears, 3 Fieldfares, a big influx of 124 Song Thrushes, 28 Redwings, a Grasshopper Warbler, 5 Lesser Whitethroats, 3 Garden Warblers, 23 Blackcaps, 6 Yellow-browed Warblers, 31 Chiffchaffs, 11 Willow Warblers, 5 Goldcrest, 6 Spotted Flycatchers, 29 Chaffinches, 17 Bramblings, 9 Siskins, 6 Mealy Redpolls, 7 Lapland Buntings and 4 Snow Buntings.

                Our focus was certainly looking for grounded migrants along walls and in sheltered spots but a few other bits were seen including 6 Red-throated Divers and a Great-northern Diver offshore, a single Pintail with a good count of 332 Wigeon, 2 Sparrowhawks and 3 Kestrels floating around and single Little Stint, Jack Snipe and Woodcock in amongst good numbers of lingering Ruff, Black-tailed Godwits and other waders.

Rustic Bunting

Spotted Flycatcher and Blackcap

Blackcap, 2 Chiffchaffs and a Tree Pipit

Snow Bunting

Pictures Simon Davies

Friday, 29 September 2017

27th and 28th September

Dry again on the 27th with the marvellous, brisk, SE winds still sweeping across the island; there was a trickle of new arrivals with a few more scarcities to keep us on our toes, these included 2 Olive-backed Pipits – one at Sangar and one expertly coaxed into a Heligoland trap at the Obs, a Marsh Warbler near the pier, the Red-breasted Flycatcher again around Senness/Garso and a Common Rosefinch at Westness.

                The day’s commoner migrants totals comprised a flava Wagtail at Garso, 2 Grey Wagtails, 8 Robins, 8 Redstarts, 50 Wheatears, 31 Song Thrushes, 15 Redwings, single Sedge and Reed Warblers, 2 Lesser Whitethroats, a Whitethroat, 2 Garden Warblers, 8 Blackcaps, 4 Yellow-browed Warblers, 7 Chiffchaffs, 16 Willow Warblers, 5 Goldcrests, 5 Spotted Flycatchers, 10 Chaffinches, 18 Bramblings, 3 Lapland Buntings, 5 Snow Buntings and a Woodpigeon.

                Other little bits included the first Woodcock of the autumn at the back of Nouster, 15 Herons, 2 Kestrels, 2 Grey Plovers, a Curlew Sandpiper, the Wood Sandpiper on Gretchen again and a single Common Tern offshore.

Redstart,   Simon Davies

                A long spell of rain moved across the island in the small hours of the 28th, lingering until lunchtime all the while driven through by the strong SE wind, giving us all a massive sense of anticipation and while there was a noticeable and varied arrival of common birds, the day’s scarcities largely consisted of long-staying individuals with 2 Olive-backed Pipits still (one at North Manse was probably the original bird from the 24th and the Obs bird was still present), the Ortolan Bunting re-found near Gretchen, the Red-breasted Flycatcher at Senness, a Barred Warbler at Trolla (which was probably a new bird), a Little Bunting at Lenswick (possibly a new bird as well) and the Marsh Warbler still skulking round Twingness.

The excellent array of common migrants spread over the island included the first Ring Ouzel, Fieldfare (3) and Siskin (5) of the autumn along with 4 Kestrels, 3 Jack Snipe, the Wood Sandpiper again, a Common Sandpiper (the first one since July), 2 Woodpigeons, 2 Tree Pipits, a Grey Wagtail, 31 Robins, 16 Redstarts, a Whinchat, 57 Song Thrushes, 20 Redwings, a Grasshopper Warbler, 4 Lesser Whitethroats, a Garden Warbler, 8 Blackcaps, 4 Yellow-browed Warblers, 13 Chiffchaffs, 5 Willow Warblers, 6 Goldcrest, 9 Spotted Flycatchers, 4 Chaffinch, 8 Brambling, 6 Lapland Buntings and 4 Snow Buntings.

Olive-backed Pipit,   Simon Davies

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

25th and 26th September

Another good-looking day on the 25th with spitting rain through until mid-morning driven across the island by the brisk SE wind; there was a steady arrival of new passerines with bits and pieces trickling in throughout the day, the highlights being our first Red-breasted Flycatcher of the year at the south end of The Links, a Bluethroat at Southness, a Common Rosefinch at the top end and 4 Yellow-browed Warblers.   Other migrant totals included 2 Robins, 2 Redstarts, 2 Whinchats, 65 Wheatears, 5 Song Thrushes, 2 Redwing, a Lesser Whitethroat, a Garden Warbler, 4 Blackcaps, 2 Chiffchaffs, 6 Willow Warblers, 2 Goldcrest, 2 Spotted Flycatchers, a Pied Flycatcher, 4 Chaffinch, 2 Brambling, 2 Common Redpolls, 2 Lapland Buntings and 3 Snow Buntings.

                Six Red-throated Divers, a Great-northern Diver, a single Manx Shearwater and our first 2 Red-breasted Mergansers of the autumn were offshore while an influx of 415 Great Black-backed Gulls and a few big, dark, ugly argentatus Herring Gulls was noteworthy.   Two Kestrels were also present along with a Grey Plover, a Little Stint, 2 Curlew Sandpipers, a Jack Snipe with 225 Snipe and 30 Black-tailed Godwits.

Red-breasted Flycatcher,   Simon Davies

                The SE wind continued to blaze across the island on the 26th with spells of mist and murk coming and going but with it staying largely dry it was an awesome day in the field with plenty of new arrivals including some quality birds thrown in.   It started well with a BLYTH’S REED WARBLER trapped at Holland, closely followed by an ‘Eastern’ Lesser Whitethroat (presumably a blythi bird – to be confirmed either way later on I hope!) and then the day’s highlight of a cracking SIBERIAN STONECHAT found along the northern edge of the airstrip which showed well for a short time before disappearing.

                The supporting cast of a/the Olive-backed Pipit near Holland, a Richard’s Pipit around Ancum (first of the year), a Red-breasted Flycatcher at Garso, the Bluethroat again at Southness, a Little Bunting at Rue, an Ortolan Bunting at Gretchen and 10 Yellow-browed Warblers made for a fantastic day.

                The long list of other migrants included 2 Woodpigeons, a Short-eared Owl, 2 Grey Wagtails, a Dunnock, 8 Robins, 5 Redstarts, a Whinchat, 69 Wheatears, 33 Song Thrushes, 34 Redwings, a Lesser Whitethroat, a Garden Warbler, 9 Blackcap, 8 Chiffchaffs, 9 Willow Warblers, 6 Goldcrests, 4 Spotted Flycatchers, 7 Chaffinches, 7 Bramblings and 3 Snow Buntings.   Other little bits of note included 9 Herons, 3 Red-breasted Mergansers, 2 Kestrels, a Wood Sandpiper briefly at Gretchen, a late Arctic Tern, 400 Linnets coming into roost and a bit of an influx of 20 Red Admirals – autumn has kicked off in style now!!
Blyth's Reed Warbler,   Simon Davies

Siberian Stonechat,   Simon Davies

Monday, 25 September 2017

24th September

A great day with the autumn finally kicking off with a good variety of passerine arrivals through the day; we kept the very strong SSE winds with rain at dawn and a few spots throughout the rest of the day but the wind must have been coming from further away today and not just from Fraserburgh, as the highlights comprised a flighty OLIVE-BACKED PIPIT in the Docks and grass around Longar and a fine Little Bunting on the beach at Garso.

                The accompanying cast included the first 3 Redwings, 3 Bramblings and 2 Chaffinch of the autumn, a Grasshopper Warbler which gave us the run around for a while before being confirmed, 2 Grey Wagtails, 3 Yellow-browed Warblers, 3 Robins, 2 Garden Warbler, 2 Blackcaps, a Spotted Flycatcher, a Chiffchaff, 6 Willow Warblers, 4 Mealy Redpolls, 4 Lapland Buntings, a Snow Bunting and 2 Kestrels.

                Other birds included a Little Stint on Gretchen, a Curlew Sandpiper on Bewan, a Greenshank which flew south down the west coast, a Jack Snipe, a Grey Plover, 6 Red-throated Diver, a Great-northern Diver and single Arctic Tern and Great Skua offshore.

Olive-backed Pipit,   George Gay

Little Bunting,   George Gay

Common Redpoll,   Simon Davies

Spotted Flycatcher with Devil's Coach Horse,   Simon Davies

Sunday, 24 September 2017

22nd and 23rd September

There was a hint of some east in the southerly wind on the 22nd but the weather maps showed it was coming directly up from Fraserburgh and not any further!!   Landbird wise it was still a slog in the field especially with the wind steadily increasing through the day and totals included 19 Rock Pipits, a Robin, 3 Lesser Whitethroats, a Blackcap, a new Yellow-browed Warbler, a Chiffchaff, 3 Willow Warblers, a Mealy Redpoll, 7 Lapland Buntings and a Snow Bunting.

                Offshore, birds of note comprised 6 Red-throated Divers, 3 Great-northern Divers, 6 Sooty Shearwaters and 8 Manx Shearwaters while some decent, noteworthy totals for commoner species included 134 Cormorants, 11 Herons, 182 Wigeon, 164 Eider, 176 Lapwings, 308 Snipe, 150 Curlew, 134 Redshank and 334 Turnstone with 2 young female Peregrines terrorising the flocks.

                The wind stayed in the SSE throughout the 23rd but it had increased up to force 7, making it a real slog in out in the field especially as the rewards were few and far between, with a build-up of 130 Great Black-backed Gulls on The Links sheltering from the rough weather, 2 Jack Snipe, a Merlin and a Water Rail caught in one of the Obs Heligoland traps different from yesterday.


Great Black-backed Gulls

photos Simon Davies

Friday, 22 September 2017

20th and 21st September

The wind was finally in the SE on the 20th but it wasn’t coming from too far away so there was again limited new arrivals; 15 Rock Pipits were an increase though along with 3 Robins, a Sedge Warbler, 2 Lesser Whitethroats, 2 Willow Warblers, a Goldcrest and 6 Lapland Buntings.   There was some nice variety offshore with 21 Sooty Shearwaters, a single blue phase bird in amongst 360 Fulmars, 2 Great-northern Divers, 8 Red-throated Divers and single Great Skua, Arctic Skua and Arctic Tern.

                Some new waders included single Wood Sandpiper and Green Sandpiper, 2 Grey Plovers, 192 Snipe, 46 Black-tailed Godwits, 163 Curlew and 251 Turnstone while a ringtail Hen Harrier floated around Brides and 2 Merlins and 2 Kestrels were also seen.

                The wind yet again swung back round into the west on the 21st but it was pretty light and brought with it long spells of rain which continued right through the day; there was small hints of some new arrivals across the island with 4 Lesser Whitethroats, a Goldcrest, 7 Willow Warblers, a Pied Flycatcher, a Yellow-browed Warbler, a Chiffchaff, 2 Blackcaps and a Mealy Redpoll.   Waders included 32 Ruff, 2 Grey Plover and 3 Jack Snipe while 15 Red-throated Divers and 5 Great-northern Divers were offshore.

Purple Sandpiper

This late brood of Swallows just emerged at Scottigar
Some interesting colour variation between siblings

photos Simon Davies

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

18th and 19th September

A decent day on the 18th with the moderate wind still firmly in the NW; the day’s highlight (for one person anyway!) was the reappearance of the Long-billed Dowitcher (assuming it is the same bird anyway) at Brides Loch, it showed well feeding with the Snipe but had disappeared by the time the rest of the crew was assembled.   Other waders across the island included 105 Ringed Plover, 1,419 Golden Plover, 4 Grey Plover, 2 Little Stints still, 20 Ruff and a Jack Snipe amongst the steadily growing 184 Snipe.

                Grounded migrants were again mainly lingering birds with the Marsh Warbler seen briefly again in Holland, the 2 Barred Warblers still, 3 Yellow-browed Warblers, 3 Lesser Whitethroats, 2 Garden Warblers, 3 Willow Warblers, a Chiffchaff, a Robin, 79 alba Wagtails, 2 Mealy Redpolls and 2 Snow Buntings.

Bar-tailed Godwit,  photo Simon Davies

                The light winds were yet again still in the NW on the 19th but there was plenty of sunshine in the afternoon to make it pleasurable out in the field; there was the merest hint of some new birds across the island with a lovely female Bluethroat trapped at Holland first thing, where there was also a Yellow-browed Warbler and a Common Rosefinch.   Other landbirds included a Robin, one of the lingering Barred Warblers still, 4 Lesser Whitethroats, single Blackcap and Garden Warbler, a Chiffchaff, 3 Willow Warblers, 2 Mealy Redpolls, 3 Lapland Buntings and 4 Snow Buntings.

                Offshore, birds included an increase to 9 Great-northern Divers, 4 Red-throated Divers, 3 blue phase Fulmars, 15 Sooty Shearwaters, a Manx Shearwater and a skein of 26 Pink-footed Geese; other bits of note comprised an increase of 154 Wigeon, single Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Merlin and Peregrine, 2 Little Stints still and 64 Black-tailed Godwits including several flocks coming in from the north.

Bluethroat,  photo Simon Davies

Monday, 18 September 2017

16th and 17th September

We kept the brisk NW wind on the 16th but it was a much nicer day overall with far fewer showers and plenty of sunshine; the seawatch hide provided the bird of the day with a Balearic Shearwater heading north at 19:10 along with decent totals of 5 Red-throated Divers, 101 Sooty Shearwaters, 6 Manx Shearwaters, 54 Storm Petrels and 2,283 Fulmars including 5 blue phase individuals.

                There was a thin scattering of grounded migrants across the island comprising 2 Barred Warblers (birds caught at the Obs and Holland), 2 Yellow-browed Warblers, a Common Rosefinch, 2 Mealy Redpolls, 8 Rock Pipits, a Lesser Whitethroat, 2 Blackcaps, a Chiffchaff, 6 Willow Warblers, a House Martins, 6 Lapland Buntings and a Snow Bunting.   Other little bits included 7 Herons, 2 Kestrels, a Merlin, a Grey Plover, 2 Little Stints at Bewan still and 63 Black-tailed Godwits.

Sanderling,  photo Simon Davies

                A lovely day on the 17th with much lighter northerly winds swinging round to the NE for a spell but despite the promising conditions and a good selection of eastern rares turning up nearby it was a quiet day for new arrivals with a worn adult Marsh Warbler trapped at Holland in the morning the highlight; other landbirds largely consisted of lingering birds with the 2 Barred Warblers still, a Yellow-browed Warbler, a Mealy Redpoll, a Goldcrest, 3 Lesser Whitethroats, a Garden Warbler, 5 Willow Warblers, a Short-eared Owl, 3 Snow Buntings and a Lapland Bunting.

                Remarkably, a second Balearic Shearwater passed the seawatch hide at 08:50 this morning along with 37 Sooty Shearwaters, 7 Manx Shearwaters, 4,117 Fulmars (including 18 blue phase birds), a Great-northern Diver, 3 Red-throated Divers and 11 Common Scoters while 6 Risso’s Dolphins frolicked offshore.   The first Whooper Swan of the autumn arrived on Ancum, with counts of 18 Gadwall, 80 Teal and 17 Shoveler while the 2 Little Stints remained on Bewan, a Grey Plover was on The Links and single Peregrine and Kestrel bombed about.
The Marsh Warbler had a huge fat score of 7 and weighed a monstrous 19.4g - it obviously had been feeding up for a while not too far away

Yellow-browed Warbler,  photos Simon Davies

Saturday, 16 September 2017

14th and 15th September

A tough day in the field on the 14th with a blazing NW wind bringing with it frequent and heavy showers; the first Snow Bunting of the autumn was one of the few new passerine arrivals while the Ortolan Bunting was seen again around Nouster but remained very elusive but 37 Wheatears, a Garden Warbler and a Willow Warbler were the only other migrants of note.

                A year’s high count of 1,406 Golden Plover was made through the day along with a Little Stint, 2 Curlew Sandpipers, 51 Ruff, 33 Black-tailed Godwits, 32 Bar-tailed Godwits and a Wood Sandpiper again.   Four Sooty Shearwaters were offshore along with a Red-throated Diver, 4 Arctic Terns, a Common Tern and good numbers of Kittiwakes while 108 Wigeon, 7 Gadwall and 40 Teal were counted; the Marsh Harrier was still present along with a Merlin and 3 Herons.

Golden Plover,  photo Simon Davies

                A pretty much identical day on the 15th as we kept the blasting NW wind and the many showers sweeping across the island; the first 13 Pink-footed Geese of the autumn passed south at sea in the morning with 6 Sooty Shearwaters, 4 Great Skuas and 2 Red-throated Divers.   A new Lesser Whitethroat was at the top end along with a Snow Bunting while 6 Rock Pipits were on the coast by the Obs and waders included the 2 Little Stints, 2 Curlew Sandpipers and Grey Plover.

Little Stint,  photo Simon Davies

Thursday, 14 September 2017

12th and 13th September

Still a few showers whipping through on the 13th but nowhere near as wet as race day there were however, few new arrivals with a Barred Warbler at Rue the highlight along with 2 Lesser Whitethroats, 2 Garden Warblers, a Blackcap, 8 Willow Warblers, a Goldcrest and 3 Lapland Buntings.   Some good wader counts were centred round the flooded fields at Cauldhame again with 3 Grey Plovers, 3 Little Stints, 2 Curlew Sandpipers, 90 Ruff, 65 Black-tailed Godwits, 24 Bar-tailed Godwits and 279 Redshank.

                Offshore 22 Sooty Shearwaters, a Great-northern Diver, a Red-throated Diver and 34 Arctic Terns passed by while 5 Herons were on the island and the Marsh Harrier, a Sparrowhawk and a Kestrel were seen.

Ruff,  photo Simon Davies

                While the rest of the country was being battered by storms the 13th was a lovely, calm day with a light NW breeze with a selection of new arrivals including our second Ortolan Bunting of the year found at dusk near the Obs, a very flighty Barred Warbler around Ancum/Burray/Brigg, 2 Common Rosefinches at Holland and Phisligar, a Stonechat (continuing the great year for this species) and a Wood Sandpiper which dropped into Ancum.

                Other landbirds included the first Hen Harrier of the autumn, single Merlin and Kestrel, 3 Blackcaps caught at Holland, 2 Garden Warblers, a Lesser Whitethroat, a House Martin, a Reed Warbler, 3 Sedge Warblers, 12 Willow Warblers, 2 Chiffchaffs and 7 Lapland Buntings.   Also of note were 2 Little Stints and 2 Curlew Sandpipers again, even better counts of 101 Ruff and 106 Black-tailed Godwits and a least 6 Water Rails running round Ancum squealing away.
Reed Warbler,  photo Simon Davies

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

11th September - Bird race day!

Today was the island based Bird Observatory bird race, competed between Fair Isle, Bardsey, Skokholm, Cape Clear and us – hopefully the first of a soon to become regular event; we were hampered by continuous, heavy, driving rain from dawn right through until mid-afternoon but it brightened up after 15:30 into a nice and sometimes sunny afternoon.   Even in the heaviest spells of rain we were out in the field and there were new birds to be found with the first 3 Yellow-browed Warblers of the year at Holland, Lochend and Haskie and the first Jack Snipe and 3 Blackcaps of the autumn unearthed.

                Other landbird migrants included the Arctic Warbler making a surprise reappearance, 2 Garden Warblers, single Redstart and Chiffchaff, the flava Wagtail still by the Beacon, a House Martin, 3 Goldcrests, a Short-eared Owl, the Marsh Harrier again quartering Hooking and Brides, a Kestrel and 9 Lapland Buntings.   Some decent waders were highlighted by 2 Curlew Sandpipers and 2 Little Stints again at Bewan, a Grey Plover on The Links and 73 Black-tailed Godwits and 87 Ruff amongst big numbers of other waders on the now very flooded fields around Cauldhame.

                Given the conditions, our total of 85 proved to be very respectable and with the other islands experiencing similar trying weather conditions it was an even contest, much fun was had in hindsight (at the worst of the weather questions were asked!) and some good birds were found.

Purple skies

Sunday, 10 September 2017

9th and 10th September

A pleasant day on the 9th with bright conditions and a light westerly breeze; there weren’t too many new grounded migrants but there was still a turnover of waders with 2 Little Stints and 2 Curlew Sandpipers at the north end, another increase to 48 Ruff, a Whimbrel and counts of 58 Black-tailed Godwits and 128 Redshank.   Another influx of ducks included 69 Wigeon, 105 Teal and 60 Mallard while the first 3 Long-tailed Ducks of the autumn passed the seawatch hide.

                The only new landbird in the nice weather was a Redstart at Phisligar while other birds included single Sparrowhawk and Merlin, 3 Sand Martins, 70 Swallows, a Rock Pipit, 76 Wheatears, 5 Willow Warblers, 5 Lapland Buntings and a high count of 326 Linnets.

flava Wagtail,  photo Bryony Baker

                Promising conditions on the 10th with a hint of east in the brisk and increasing southerly wind and numerous showers, it was however seawatching that stole the show with our third Great Shearwater of the autumn passing north past the seawatch hide late afternoon along with 85 Sooty Shearwaters, 7 Manx Shearwaters, 600+ Gannets, 18 Arctic Terns, a Common Tern and 160 Razorbills counted in just a couple of hours along with small numbers of Risso’s Dolphins lingering off the north and west coast of the island.

                There was a hint of some new arrivals with a Common Rosefinch at the north end, the first Dunnock of the autumn at Holland, 2 Tree Pipits, 5 Rock Pipits, a new Lesser Whitethroat and an increase to 10 Lapland Buntings noted.   Other birds comprised the Marsh Harrier still, single Peregrine and Kestrel, the flava Wagtail still at the Beacon, 3 Willow Warblers and the Redstart still.
Sedge Warbler,  photo George Gay

Tystie and Kitt,  photo Simon Davies

Saturday, 9 September 2017

7th and 8th September

A decent morning on the 7th with a light southerly breeze but a long spell of drizzly rain moved in at lunchtime which probably produced the bird of the day as an ARCTIC WARBLER was trapped at the Obs in the early evening – a real island blocker being only the 6th record and the first since 2003.  Other land migrants comprised a Marsh Harrier (probably a different individual to the one last week), 2 Sparrowhawks, single Merlin and Peregrine, 12 Sand Martins, 78 Swallows, 3 Rock Pipits, the same flava Wagtail again, 2 Whinchats, a Garden Warbler, 3 Willow Warblers and 3 Lapland Buntings.

                29 Sooty Shearwaters passed offshore while another influx of ducks included 81 Wigeon, 7 Gadwall, 112 Teal and a Pintail; a nice selection of waders were highlighted by a notable arrival of 83 Black-tailed Godwits along with 129 Ringed Plover, 205 Lapwings, a single Curlew Sandpiper, 4 Ruff and 2 Wood Sandpipers again.

Arctic Warbler,  photo Simon Davies

                A weather reversal on the 8th as after some morning drizzle moved through it was an incredible warm, sunny, almost flat calm day; the Arctic Warbler remained around the Obs while the rest of the day’s grounded migrants largely consisted of lingering birds in the fine weather but there was a large, obvious arrival of 250+ Wheatears and a new Redstart and 2 Goldcrests along with 7 Lapland Buntings, a Pied Flycatcher, 8 Willow Warblers, a Lesser Whitethroat and the flava Wagtail still.

                A single Sooty Shearwater and a Great-northern Diver were offshore while a Fulmar ‘stranding’ in the traditional field at Brides resulted in 77 being ringed (plus one ringed as a chick in 2014).  Single Kestrels and Peregrine bombed around while 14 Herons and 28 Ruff were much improved counts along with 35 Black-tailed Godwits and a Curlew Sandpiper.
Merlin,  photo George Gay

Curlew Sandpiper,  photo George Gay

Sanderling,  photo Simon Davies

Thursday, 7 September 2017

5th and 6th September

The recent blazing winds died away dramatically overnight leaving a very pleasant day on the 5th with a nice array of birds across the island without anything too amazing; landbirds included a Common Rosefinch trapped as it came in to roost at Holland, 4 Lapland Buntings, a good post-breeding count of 22 Reed Buntings, 8 Willow Warblers, 2 Garden Warblers, the first Lesser Whitethroat of the autumn, a Whitethroat, a Reed Warbler, 2 Whinchats and 3 Swifts.   Commoner migrants included 60+ alba Wagtails, 487+ Meadow Pipits, 145 Swallows, 28 Sand Martins across the island.

                Some good wader totals comprised the first juvenile Curlew Sandpiper of the autumn, 134 Ringed Plover, 1,110 Golden Plover, 137 Lapwing, 17 Knot, 113 Sanderling, 54 Dunlin, 6 Ruff, 19 Black-tailed Godwits, 23 Bar-tailed Godwits, 9 Whimbrel, 109 Redshank and 129 Turnstone.   Other birds of note included the Marsh Harrier again which was seen to properly leave away to the south this time, 2 Sparrowhawks, a Kestrel, decent counts of 28 Mallard and 31 Wigeon and 9 Herons on the move.

Lapland Bunting

                The morning of the 6th saw a brisk southerly wind bring wave after wave of drizzle showers but by the afternoon the sun had come out to produce a lovely second half of the day; the main feature of the day was the arrival of some good waders with the definite highlight being the second LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER for the island seen and heard in flight over Mildam before landing briefly on The Links with some Bar-tailed Godwits, it soon flew off with the Godwits though and despite some intensive searching it was not seen again.   Other decent waders included 3 Curlew Sandpipers, 2 Wood Sandpipers in off the sea at Trolla, 2 Green Sandpipers, a Grey Plover and an increase to 40+ Black-tailed Godwits.

                Landbirds were thinly spread but did include the first flava Wagtail of the autumn (probably a Blue-headed), an increase to 7 Lapland Buntings, a Pied Flycatcher, a Whinchat, 4 Swifts, a Rock Pipit and 60+ Wheatears.   Other bits and pieces included another influx of ducks with 37 Wigeon and 92 Teal and single Sparrowhawk and Merlin while offshore were 6 Sooty Shearwaters and 2 Red-throated Divers.
Curlew Sandpiper


Photos Simon Davies

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

3rd and 4th September

A very tough day in the field on the 3rd with a very strong SE wind blasting across the island making even walking around a tiring business!  Two Common Rosefinches were the day’s highlight with juveniles seen at Holland and Westness while also on the land a Pied Flycatcher was new at the Lighthouse along with a Lapland Bunting, 3 Willow Warblers, 21 Wheatears, 67 alba Wagtails and a Collared Dove.

                Seawatching conditions had deteriorated from yesterday with just 7 Sooty Shearwaters, a Manx Shearwater and 6 Puffins logged; 4 Herons, 24 Teal, 20 Black-tailed Godwits and 16 Bar-tailed Godwits were also seen through the day.

                An awful day on the 4th as we kept the blazing force 7-8 SE wind and gained constant, heavy, driving rain pretty much throughout the whole day, not drying up until the evening only giving us a couple of hours of decent weather.   Despite the day being ‘unbirdable’ for long periods some good totals were unearthed including the first Whitethroat of the autumn at Holland, a Grasshopper Warbler trapped at the Obs in the evening, a Swift over the Obs, 2 Willow Warblers, a Chiffchaff, 3 Collared Doves and a Woodpigeon on the land.

                A decent spread of waders included a Grey Plover, 6 Greenshank, a Whimbrel, 2 Ruff and 9 Black-tailed Godwits while also of note were 2 Common Terns which flew through in the morning (the first since mid-July), 5 Arctic Terns, 33 Teal and a Sparrowhawk.

Sunday, 3 September 2017

1st and 2nd September

Overcast with the continuing SW wind on the 1st again meant there were few new grounded migrants so most of the day’s attention ended up being directed out to sea again which handsomely paid off with another Great Shearwater north past the seawatch hide at 15:10 while other totals included 82 Sooty Shearwaters, 11 Manx Shearwaters and 327 Kittiwakes.   Otherwise it was still quiet with the elusive Barred Warbler still in Holland along with a female Sparrowhawk, 13 Black-tailed Godwits, 23 Bar-tailed Godwits and 2 Willow Warblers.

The Holland Barred Warbler

                The moderate SW wind gradually moved round into the SE by the afternoon of the 2nd and the overcast morning gradually turned into a sunny, bright afternoon; it was another day with most of the attention focused on the sea and yet again, it definitely paid off with a [presumed] FEA’S PETREL which flew past the seawatch hide at 15:50, it was however quite distant and the three observers feel that it will likely end up as ‘just’ a Pterodroma sp. even after a full description is submitted however awesome the sighting was!

                Long hours staring out to sea produced some other decent day totals which included 337 Sooty Shearwaters, 45 Manx Shearwaters, 2 Storm Petrels, 6 Red-throated Divers, 2 Great-northern Divers, 7 Arctic Skuas, 16 Great Skuas, 856 Kittiwakes, 7 Arctic Terns and 394 Auk sp. with the vast majority being Razorbills with a handful of Guillemots and Puffins.

                It was quiet across the rest of the island but with seawatching and other events coverage was perhaps reduced but the switch to the SE wind did produce the first Common Rosefinch of the autumn at Holland House in the evening along with 5 Willow Warblers and a new Garden Warbler.
Willow Warbler

Purple Sandpiper

Photos Simon Davies