Tuesday, 31 October 2017

29th and 30th October

The blazing westerlies of the last couple of days had slackened off a tiny bit on the 29th and had shifted more into the north and become much colder; a short seawatch proved to be productive as 5 Sooty Shearwaters, 4 Blue Fulmars, 3 Little Auks, 6 Puffins and 342 large Auk sp. passed the hide while 7 Red-throated and 5 Great-northern Divers were also seen.   The Green-winged Teal reappeared on Gretchen along with 20 Gadwall, 12 Long-tailed Ducks, a Goldeneye and 3 Red-breasted Mergansers while 122 Sanderling and a Ruff were of note.

                A couple of new passerines popped up with a Black Redstart on the west coast and a Mistle Thrush on The Links while an interesting young male Peregrine, also on The Links must have had some northern genes in there somewhere.   Other land migrants included a Sparrowhawk, 8 Robins, a Wheatear still, 22 Blackbirds, 3 Song Thrushes, 13 Redwings, 4 Blackcaps, a Chiffchaff, 3 Chaffinches, a Brambling, a Siskin, a Common Redpoll and 64 Snow Buntings.

Peregrine,   Simon Davies

                The wind had mercifully dropped away to almost nothing on the 30th and gradually moved round into the south; the sea, once again provided most of the interest with our third FEA’S PETREL of the year passing the hide at 11:30 with presumably the same bird coming back round at 13:20 (or maybe even a different bird!), also seen offshore were 6 Great-northern Divers, 41 Sooty Shearwaters, 2 Manx Shearwaters, 3 Pomarine Skuas, 3 Great Skuas, 4 Skua sp., 30 Little Auks, 51 Puffins and a Minke Whale while hour long sample counts included 1,408 Fulmars (with nine Blues), 881 Kittiwakes and 2,063 large Auk sp.

                The Green-winged Teal was again on Gretchen while on the land birds included two juvenile Rooks by the Obs, 11 Robins, 28 Blackbirds, a Fieldfare, a Song Thrush, 39 Redwings, a Blackcap, 2 Chiffchaffs, a Chaffinch, a Brambling and 47 Snow Buntings.

Sanderling,   Simon Davies
Red-throated Divers,   Simon Davies

Sunday, 29 October 2017

27th and 28th October

A really tough couple of days with gale force westerlies blasting the island; it seemed like we went straight from autumn into winter overnight on the 27th with none of yesterday’s rares or scarcities seen and a big reduction in Thrush and other migrant numbers, there was a trickle of birds passing offshore with a late Sooty Shearwater, 3 Blue Fulmars and a Puffin with a few Auks seen off Trinley while 4 Red-throated and 4 Great-northern Divers were on the sea.   Wildfowl counts of note comprised 4 Whooper Swans, 6 Pintail, 287 Wigeon and 14 Gadwall.

                The reduced number of land migrants included 2 Sparrowhawks, 10 Robins, a Wheatear, a Ring Ouzel, 30 Blackbirds, a Fieldfare, 3 Song Thrushes, 65 Redwing, a Blackcap, 2 Chiffchaffs, 7 Goldcrest, a Chaffinch, 13 Brambling, 2 Siskin and 31 Snow Buntings.

                The blazing westerly wind brought with it regular, nasty showers on the 28th making things even more tricky out and about, it seemed there were even fewer birds around the island today but it could just have been a function of the nasty conditions; migrants did include a late Tree Pipit near Southness, a Sparrowhawk, 11 Robins, a Wheatear, 37 Blackbirds, 4 Song Thrushes, 49 Redwing, 2 Blackcap, 3 Chiffchaffs, 2 Chaffinch and 10 Snow Buntings.   A few wader counts included 4 Grey Plover, 114 Sanderling, 46 Purple Sandpipers (plus five freshly raptor predated ones around Bridesness Point!), 2 Woodcock and a Black-tailed Godwit.

Siskin,   Simon Davies

Don't you hate it when you get Redwing feathers stuck in your throat...

Friday, 27 October 2017

25th and 26th October

Strong westerlies and frequent showers mad it hard work in the field but there were still plenty of rewards to be had for those willing to put the time in with our third Pallas’s Warbler of the autumn found at the Old Kirk yard the highlight, with lingering scarcities comprising the Olive-backed Pipit still opposite the Surgery, yesterday’s ringed Great Grey Shrike still round the Obs and the Red-breasted Flycatcher still active in Holland (we have long been wondering whether it’s going to make it off the island!).

                Migrants across the island showed slight decreases with the change of weather but still included a Sparrowhawk, 2 Woodcock, a Woodpigeon, a Short-eared Owl, the Tree Pipit again with the OBP, a Dunnock, 30 Robins, 7 Wheatears, 3 Ring Ouzels, 178 Blackbirds, 9 Fieldfares, 19 Song Thrushes, 758 Redwings, 9 Blackcaps, 2 Chiffchaff, 13 Goldcrests, 4 Chaffinches, 22 Bramblings, a Goldfinch, a Common Redpoll and 8 Snow Buntings.

                Four Red-throated and 3 Great-northern Divers were offshore while other wildfowl included 20 Whooper Swans, 5 Pink-footed Geese, 5 Pintail, 5 Long-tailed Ducks and 5 Red-breasted Mergansers.   A Grey Plover and 2 lingering Ruff were the wader highlights.

Pintail,   Simon Davies

                The wind had swung further round into the NW and remained brisk on the 26th but it brought with it some good new birds with our second Dusky Warbler of the year found at Longar, our second Richard’s Pipit of the year identified from just a leg and a few feathers after it had a run in with a Merlin on Westbeach and a juvenile Iceland Gull at Bewan – the first of the autumn.   To add to the day our remaining scarcities were still in place with the Olive-backed Pipit, Great Grey Shrike and Red-breasted Flycatcher still in situ.

                With the northwesterlies came an influx of certain other migrants with another pulse of 910 Redwings comprising big, dark, long-winged Icelandic birds and a jump to 84 Snow Buntings and 143 Purple Sandpipers; other migrant totals included 2 Sparrowhawks, 4 Jack Snipe, 5 Woodcock, 57 Robins, 2 Black Redstarts (including a fine adult male), 7 Wheatears, 6 Ring Ouzels, 253 Blackbirds, 17 Fieldfares, 50 Song Thrushes, 5 Blackcaps, 12 Chiffchaffs, 17 Goldcrests, 7 Chaffinches, 42 Brambling, a Siskin, 4 Common Redpolls and a Yellowhammer by the lighthouse – the third of the year.

                Dabbling ducks showed some increases with totals comprising 317 Wigeon, 19 Gadwall, 107 Teal, 60 Mallard, 6 Pintail and 23 Shoveler while 293 Turnstone, 253 Snipe and 2 Grey Plover were also of note and 3 migrant Water Rails were seen in funny places.

Dusky Warbler,   George Gay

Iceland Gull,   Simon Davies
Richard's Pipit remains,   George Gay

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

23rd and 24th October

Still easterly winds but heavy rain soon moved in on the 23rd and the wind slowly swung around to the SW; it was a tough day in the field with long periods being just awful to be out in, migrant totals were again high though but not much new was unearthed with totals comprising a Peregrine, 4 Jack Snipe, 15 Woodcock, a Grey Wagtail, 2 Dunnock, 41 Robins, 2 Redstarts, 9 Wheatears, 12 Ring Ouzels, 201 Blackbirds, 35 Fieldfare, 51 Song Thrush, 1,219 Redwings, 2 Mistle Thrush, 4 Blackcap, 5 Chiffchaff, a Willow Warbler, 13 Goldcrest, a Chaffinch, 25 Brambling, 4 Siskins and 3 Snow Buntings.

                Four Red-throated Divers were offshore along with a Great-northern Diver and 8 Long-tailed Ducks while single Ruff and Black-tailed Godwits remained and 7 Herons were dotted around the island.

                A bit of rain first thing on the 24th gave way to a windy day with a force 7 SW whipping across the island, despite this some good highlights were picked out with our second Hornemann’s Arctic Redpoll of the autumn on the west coast near Gretchen, yet another Olive-backed Pipit behind the Surgery and a Great Grey Shrike caught at Ancum.   In amongst the other totals there were a range of lingering ‘summer’ migrants which are getting to be on the late side now with 3 Redstarts, 13 Wheatears and a Tree Pipit to mention.

                Totals today included a Hen Harrier, 2 Merlin, a Peregrine, 2 Jack Snipe, 15 Woodcock, a Woodpigeon, a Grey Wagtail, a Dunnock, 58 Robins, 16 Ring Ouzels, 292 Blackbirds, 82 Fieldfare, 88 Song Thrush, 1,442 Redwings, a Lesser Whitethroat, a Garden Warbler, 5 Blackcap, 13 Chiffchaff, 18 Goldcrest, the Red-breasted Flycatcher still, 12 Chaffinches, 58 Bramblings, 45 Twite, 11 Common Redpoll and 10 Snow Buntings.

                Other little bits included a juvenile Glaucous Gull at Bewan, a Grey Plover and a good total of 84 Purple Sandpipers.

Great Grey Shrike,   Simon Davies

Ring Ouzel,   Simon Davies

Glaucous Gull,   George Gay

Monday, 23 October 2017

22nd October

Another great day with lighter easterly winds and overcast conditions; it had been clear for long periods overnight so plenty of birds had the chance to move on but there were still excellent numbers of migrants spread over the island with a few more highlights including 2 Shorelarks – with one at Nether Breck and a second bird in Nouster (found while rushing to twitch the first one!), an Olive-backed Pipit at Westness and another beast of a female Arctic Peregrine on Torness.

                Migrants totals comprised 2 Sparrowhawks, 4 Woodpigeons, 4 Grey Wagtails, 3 Dunnocks, 136 Robins, a Black Redstart, a Redstart, a male Stonechat, 15 Wheatears, 18 Ring Ouzels, 377 Blackbirds, 35 Fieldfares, 120 Song Thrushes, 1,839 Redwing, a Lesser Whitethroat, 14 Blackcap, 3 Yellow-browed Warblers, 15 Chiffchaffs, 55 Goldcrest, the Red-breasted Flycatcher still, 8 Chaffinches, 102 Brambling, 5 Siskin, 5 Common Redpolls and 44 Snow Buntings.

                Wildfowl totals included 25 Whooper Swans, 12 Pink-footed Geese, 600 Greylag Geese, 210 Teal, the Green-winged Teal still, 65 Mallard, 2 Pintail, 18 Shoveler, 15 Long-tailed Ducks and 4 Goldeneye while 7 Red-throated and 3 Great-northern Divers were offshore, 8 Herons were present and another late Arctic Tern was floating around with waders totalling 790 Golden Plover, 90 Purple Sandpipers, single Ruff and Black-tailed Godwit and 2 Jack Snipe.


Ring Ouzel

Purple Sandpiper

Photos Simon Davies

Sunday, 22 October 2017

21st October

While there were still thousands of birds spread across the island, the magical easterly wind had shot up to a blasting force 7-8 which, when combined with the long periods of driving rain made counting them much harder!   There were inevitably highlights through the day, with a smart COUE’S ARCTIC REDPOLL found at Nether Linney, now 2 Pallas’s Warblers present with the original bird still in Bewan House garden and a new bird seen along the wall at the top of The Links and the first 3 Glaucous Gulls of the autumn at the top end with a big arrival of Gulls which comprised 632 Herring, 750 Great Black-backs and 165 Commons.

                Numbers of other migrants were slightly down on yesterday but still very impressive and included 2 Jack Snipe, 18 Woodcock, 3 Woodpigeons, the late Swallow again, a good 6 Grey Wagtails, 143 Robins, 2 Black Redstarts, 2 Redstarts, a Stonechat, 10 Wheatears, 22 Ring Ouzels, 300 Blackbirds, 16 Fieldfares, 99 Song Thrushes, 2,053 Redwings, 2 Mistle Thrushes, a Lesser Whitethroat, 11 Blackcap, a Yellow-browed Warbler, 9 Chiffchaff, 58 Goldcrest, the Red-breasted Flycatcher hanging on, 10 Chaffinch, 48 Brambling, 3 Siskin, 2 Common Redpolls, a Lapland Bunting and 3 Snow Buntings.

                Nine Whooper Swans lingered and the Green-winged Teal was still present with 75 Teal.

Black Redstart


Photos Simon Davies

Saturday, 21 October 2017

20th October

Another awesome, autumn day of birding with a very light easterly breeze bringing with it mist and murk which drifted in and out all day (not so good for planes though!), there were thousands of birds right across the island producing an amazing spectacle; highlights included a cracking PALLAS’S WARBLER in the garden at Bewan House (really scarce on the island, the first one for many years), a very flighty Great Grey Shrike at Ancum (also new for the year), the Bluethroat again at Sandback and a fantastic total of 51 Ring Ouzels in amongst the hoardes of other Thrushes which totalled 4,136 Redwings, 710 Blackbirds, 268 Song Thrushes and 275 Robins.


                Other migrants totals from the day included 5 Jack Snipe, 16 Woodcock, 4 Woodpigeons, 2 Long-eared Owls, a late Swallow, 4 Grey Wagtails, 2 Black Redstarts, 4 Redstarts, 8 Wheatears, 70 Fieldfares, 3 Mistle Thrushes, 2 Lesser Whitethroats (both probably blythi types), 23 Blackcaps, an arrival of 9 Yellow-browed Warblers, 29 Chiffchaffs, a Willow Warbler, 87 Goldcrest, the Red-breasted Flycatcher still, 14 Chaffinch, 114 Brambling, a Greenfinch, 3 Siskins, 7 Common Redpolls, 7 Lapland Buntings, 42 Snow Buntings and the second Yellowhammer of the year.

                There were still 26 Whooper Swans from last week’s big movement while other wildfowl included 170 Wigeon, the Green-winged Teal, 2 Pintail, single Scaup and Long-tailed Ducks and 3 Red-breasted Mergansers.   Notable wader counts comprised 850 Golden Plover, 20 Purple Sandpipers and 21 Bar-tailed Godwits while an influx of Gulls included 126 Common, 133 Herring and 207 Great Black-backs with a late Arctic Tern at the north end.

Pallas's Warbler


Photos Simon Davies

Thursday, 19 October 2017

19th October

A fantastic autumn day with a brisk easterly wind bringing with it little spells of mist and murk, the kind of day you pray for; a varying number of nets were open at Holland throughout the day (opening and closing depending on the weather) and we managed an excellent total of 322 new birds ringed, highlighted by the islands 7th BLUE TIT, caught mid-morning and a brilliant total of 7 Ring Ouzels in amongst hundreds of Redwings and Blackbirds and smaller numbers of Robins, Bramblings and Goldcrests.

                Other totals through the day from the rest of the island (although with the big ringing effort some of the census routes were not intensively covered) included 9 Woodcock, 6 Woodpigeons, 4 Grey Wagtails, 51 Robins, 9 Wheatears, 19+ Ring Ouzels, 800+ Blackbirds, 130 Fieldfares, 220 Song Thrushes, 3,000+ Redwings, the first two Mistle Thrushes of the autumn, 19 Blackcap, 11 Chiffchaffs, 35 Goldcrests, 6 Chaffinches, 130 Bramblings, a Greenfinch, 2 Siskins, 4 Common Redpoll, 8 Redpoll sp. 2 Lapland Buntings and 4 Snow Buntings while the Green-winged Teal and Red-breasted Flycatcher were still present.

Blue Tit,   George Gay

Ring Ouzel,   Simon Davies

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

17th and 18th October

The combination of the brisk NE wind, new moon and drizzle, rain and murk all added up to a big lighthouse attraction overnight on the 17th; a conservative estimate of 7,000+ Redwings made up the bulk of the migrants swirling around in the arrows of spinning light, often just appearing as little, dancing, shining, points of light as they get caught in the beckoning beams – an awesome spectacle tempered by the many which do not survive such attractions, paying the cost of migration.   Other migrants involved included Song Thrushes, Fieldfares, Robins, Goldcrests, Bramblings, Rock Pipits and a juvenile Gannet!

                The wind had died down a little bit by dawn but rapidly increased again to at least force 8, making a very tricky day in the field; a rough seawatch paid off though later in the day with our third Balearic Shearwater of the year passing the hide along with 3 Sooty Shearwaters, 2 Manx Shearwaters and a Bonxie. 

Whooper Swans were down to ‘only’ 190, mainly on Ancum, while other migrants included 2 Sparrowhawks, 2 Merlins, a Grey Wagtail, 25 Robins, 7 Wheatears, 12 Fieldfares, 118 Song Thrushes, single Garden Warbler and Blackcap, 34 Bramblings, a Siskin and 2 Snow Buntings although counts were reduced in the difficult conditions.


The wind had dropped off to a really light easterly breeze on the 18th and with the overcast conditions we knew we’d be in for a good day; the conditions allowed us to keep the nets open in Holland gardens all day producing an excellent (for here!) total of 121 new birds ringed including 80 Redwings, only the fourth Grey Wagtail to be ringed on the island and the first Greenfinch of the year.

An afternoon seawatch again produced the day’s highlight with our second FEA’S PETREL (type) of the year past the seawatch hide at 16:00 along with a Storm Petrel, 5 Manx Shearwaters, 5 Sooty Shearwaters, 4 Pomarine Skuas, 2 Blue Fulmars, 340 Kittiwakes, the first two Little Auks of the autumn, 1,115 large Auk sp. and 2 Bonxies while calmer seas allowed totals of 2 Slavonian Grebes, 10 Great-northern Divers, 7 Long-tailed Ducks, 4 Red-breasted Mergansers and a late Arctic Tern.   88 Whooper Swans were counted today with many of them heading south in the good conditions leaving just a few family parties on Ancum Loch where the Scaup was seen again along with 8 Barnacle Geese.

In the calm weather, a few of the lingering scarcities of late resurfaced with the Bluethroat again at Quoybanks, the Dusky Warbler again in Holland and the Red-breasted Flycatcher still; other migrants included 2 Sparrowhawks, up to 3 Peregrines, 2 Merlins, a Jack Snipe, 8 Robins, 6 Wheatears, 400+ Redwings, 2 Lesser Whitethroats, 6 Blackcaps, 2 Chiffchaffs, 3 Goldcrests, 6 Chaffinches, 37+ Bramblings, a Lapland Bunting and 21 Snow Buntings.

Photos Simon Davies

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

15th and 16th October

Windy again on the 15th but it was a decent day in the field with an excellent arrival of 168+ Whooper Swans the main feature, birds arrived through the day and by the end of the day there were 160 roosting on Ancum; other wildfowl included 785 Greylag Geese on the move, 198 Wigeon and the Green-winged Teal still.  

                The day’s other highlights included the Buff-breasted Sandpiper still on The Links, the Red-breasted Flycatcher and Siberian Chiffchaff in Holland, the Arctic Peregrine again and a late adult Arctic Tern in Linklet Bay while other migrants comprised 412+ Redwings, 4 Swallows, 6 Robins, 27 Wheatears, 3 Blackcaps, 2 Chiffchaffs, a Goldcrest, 7 Chaffinches, 5 Bramblings, a Lapland Bunting and an increased 22 Snow Buntings.

Buff-breasted Sandpiper,   Simon Davies

                The wind mercifully and wonderfully dropped off to almost nothing overnight and swung round into the east by lunchtime producing a brilliant day out and about but then almost as instantly, the wind picked up to force 8 with rain by late afternoon.   As yesterday, the record breaking total of 267 Whooper Swans was the main feature of the day with big flocks roosting on Ancum and Brides before noisily and brilliantly making their way further south; other wildfowl included 42 Barnacle Geese, a Pintail, 75 Tufted Duck, 6 Long-tailed Ducks, 7 Red-breasted Mergansers and the first 3 Goldeneye of the autumn.

                Scarcities through the day included the Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Red-breasted Flycatcher and Barred Warbler all still in place, the first Black Redstart of the autumn and randomly, an Ocean Sunfish drifting past The Lurn!   Landbirds were mainly lingering birds with a Kestrel, 2 Merlins, 17 Rock Pipits, a Grey Wagtail, 5 Robins, a Dunnock, a late Whinchat, 14 Wheatears, 500+ Redwings, 2 Lesser Whitethroats, 6 Blackcaps, 2 Chiffchaffs, 3 Willow Warblers, 3 Chaffinches, 15 Bramblings, 5 Lapland Buntings, 6 Snow Buntings and a flyover Crossbill.   The pick of the waders comprised 32 Black-tailed Godwits still, a Jack Snipe, 78 Sanderling and 3 Ruff.

Whooper Swans,   Simon Davies

Sunday, 15 October 2017

14th October

Similar conditions again with a strong S/SW wind and occasional spells of rain therefore it was no surprise that most of the day’s highlights consisted of long-staying birds with the Dusky Warbler seen again in Holland along with a Siberian Chiffchaff, the Short-toed Lark still, the Buff-breasted Sandpiper again on The Links, the Barred Warbler still in Haskie Thistles and the Arctic Peregrine still bombing around the north end.

                Other passerines were thin on the ground with 4 Swallows, a Robin, 23 Wheatears, 4 Song Thrushes, 150 Redwings, a Garden Warbler, 3 Blackcaps, a Chaffinch, 2 Bramblings, 2 Siskins, a Common Redpoll and a Lapland Bunting.   There were some good wildfowl highlights with a big influx of at least 76 Whooper Swans and 131 Pink-footed Geese along with the Green-winged Teal and a Pintail on Gretchen, 4 Long-tailed Ducks, 2 Common Scoter and a Red-breasted Merganser.

                Birds offshore included a Black-throated Diver, 3 Great-northern Divers, 2 Great Skuas, 134 Kittiwakes and 573 Auk sp. passing the seawatching hide while notable wader counts comprised 2 Grey Plovers, 40 Dunlin, 14 Ruff and a Jack Snipe.

Great Skua


Photos Simon Davies

Saturday, 14 October 2017

12th and 13th October

Strong winds again but dry on the 12th and a few birds in sheltered spots on the east coast of the island, a Bluethroat was found at Sandback (possibly the same bird from Senness on the 9th), a new, better looking Arctic Peregrine type was at the north end, the Short-toed Lark and Red-breasted Flycatcher were still present and an unstreaked Acrocephalus Warbler seen briefly on the beach near Hooking potentially was the Blyth’s Reed Warbler from the 7th (or a new one!).

                Other landbird migrants have begun to decrease but did include a Merlin, 6 Swallows, a Dunnock, 2 Robins, a Whinchat still, 16 Wheatears, 54 Redwings and single Lesser Whitethroat, Blackcap and Goldcrest.   Also of note were 6 new Whooper Swans joining the family party of 5, a flock of 24 Barnacle Geese south, the Scaup still, 15 Ruff, 3 Jack Snipe and 19 Bar-tailed Godwits.

                Strong SSW winds continued to blast across the island on the 13th but there were long spells of sunshine and most of the day’s highlights came from a short seawatch in the afternoon with one definite adult Pomarine Skua past along with 3 other Skua sp. (which probably were also Pomarines), 2 Great Skuas, a late Manx Shearwater and 70 Kittiwakes.   Passerines were again thin on the ground with the exception of an influx of 120 Redwings along with the Red-breasted Flycatcher still, single Dunnock and Robin, 14 Wheatears, a Blackcap, a Chaffinch and a Lapland Bunting.

                Other birds of note included 11 Whooper Swans again (with a darvic ringed bird apparently ringed at Slimbridge), 35 Pink-footed Geese, 4 Long-tailed Ducks, 2 Merlins (fighting over a Meadow Pipit at the seawatch hide), a Peregrine and 3 Jack Snipe.

Rock Pipit,   Simon Davies

Friday, 13 October 2017

11th October

Not a bad day really with a moderate westerly breeze and it kept largely dry; the Dusky Warbler was re-trapped in Holland during the morning along with the Red-breasted Flycatcher still and a new Yellow-browed Warbler while elsewhere the Short-toed Lark was still present and a Siberian Chiffchaff was in Ancum Willows.

                Other migrants included 9 Robins, 20 Wheatears, 4 Song Thrushes, 9 Redwings, single Lesser Whitethroat and Garden Warbler, 4 Blackcaps, 7 Chiffchaffs, 2 Goldcrests, 2 Goldfinches and a Lapland Bunting.   Some decent wader totals comprised a Little Stint in amongst 42 Purple Sandpipers, 64 Dunlin, 98 Ringed Plover, 3 Ruff, 3 Jack Snipe and 317 Snipe while the Whooper Swan family, the Scaup and 5 Red-breasted Mergansers were still present.

Black-tailed Godwit


Photos Simon Davies

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

10th October

A very brisk SW wind with a handful of nasty showers (but some long periods of bright sunshine) made things tricky in the field but there was again, a great selection of birds across the island; the highlight was a surprise DUSKY WARBLER, found in front of one of our Heligoland traps and easily caught mid-afternoon while other lingering scarcities included the Hornemann’s Arctic Redpoll roaming around the middle of the island, the Buff-breasted Sandpiper now on The Links and the Barred Warbler still in Haskie Thistles.

                A little influx of at least 12 Jack Snipe was the other main feature of the day along with migrants such as a Sparrowhawk, a Kestrel, a Peregrine, a Dunnock, 7 Robins, 2 Redstarts, a Whinchat, 12 Song Thrushes, 23 Redwing, 2 Lesser Whitethroats, 6 Blackcaps, 3 Chiffchaffs, a Willow Warbler, a Goldcrest, 9 Chaffinches, 2 Bramblings, 2 Goldfinches which came into roost at Holland, 2 Siskins, 2 Lapland Buntings and 2 Snow Buntings.

                Along the sheltered side of the island birds on the sea included 13 Red-throated Divers, 2 Great-northern Divers, 2 drake Long-tailed Ducks and 5 Red-breasted Mergansers while the Whooper Swan family showed no more signs of wanting to leave.

Dusky Warbler,   photo Simon Davies

Sparrowhawk,   photo Simon Davies

Jack Snipe,   photo Bryony Baker

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

9th October

After a night of heavy rain, we hoped the amazing Robin would be re-found around the Obs near where it was released but despite all of us searching every conceivable scrap of cover there was unfortunately no sign, scuppering the potential big twitch that was brewing.   The wind had switched round to the SW but remained fairly light with still a good array of scarcities across the island, the Hornemann’s Arctic Redpoll was eventually found again, a Bluethroat was new at Senness, a good looking Arctic Peregrine type flew in off the sea, the Buff-breasted Sandpiper was re-found near the Short-toed Lark, the Barred Warbler still at Haskie and the Red-breasted Flycatcher still at Holland.

                Other land migrants included a small influx of 75 Redwings and 8 Fieldfares, a Ring Ouzel, 60 Skylarks, a Swallow, a Grey Wagtail, a Dunnock, 14 Robins, 4 Redstarts, a Whinchat, 39 Wheatears, 8 Song Thrushes, 2 Lesser Whitethroats, 9 Blackcaps, 6 Chiffchaffs, 3 Goldcrests, 8 Chaffinches, 4 Bramblings, 5 Redpolls, 3 Lapland Buntings and a Snow Bunting.

                Also of note were 10 Red-throated and 3 Great-northern Divers, single Sooty Shearwater and Great Skua offshore, the Whooper Swan family, seen to head off out to sea but eventually returning a short time later, the Green-winged Teal and Scaup still, a ringtail Hen Harrier, another 2 Peregrines, a Kestrel, 2 Grey Plovers and counts of 84 Sanderling and 69 Purple Sandpipers.

Arctic/Tundra Peregrine type

Photos George Gay

Monday, 9 October 2017

8th October

An awesome feeling day with the merest waft of a ENE breeze and varying amounts of cloud and drizzle drifting in and out, it was however fairly quiet until a stunning HORNEMANN’S ARCTIC REDPOLL was found feeding with a small, mixed group of other assorted Redpolls on Thistles at Westness mid-afternoon.   We were very happy with this cracking addition to the year list when, late afternoon two of our volunteers (Tom Gale and Lewis Hooper) saw a black and white looking bird dart into the open front door of a disused croft at Southness and when they went to investigate they found it fluttering against a window trying to get out.   Being bird ringers, they grabbed the bird and were stunned to find that it was a beautiful shade of blue rather than black, the penny soon dropped that they were actually holding a heart-stoppingly fantastic, adult male SIBERIAN BLUE ROBIN – it was soon put in a bird bag and taken back to the Obs where it was ringed, admired and released into one of our bird crops where it showed briefly before disappearing into the vegetation…you couldn’t even write it!!

                Other migrants through the day (as if anyone cares!) included the lingering Short-toed Lark, Barred Warbler and Red-breasted Flycatcher along with a Short-eared Owl, 6 Swallows, a Grey Wagtail, 10 Robins, 6 Redstarts, 3 Whinchat, a Stonechat, 25 Wheatears, 17 Redwings, a Lesser Whitethroat, 8 Blackcaps, 2 Yellow-browed Warblers, 8 Chiffchaffs, 2 Willow Warblers, 2 Goldcrests, a Spotted Flycatcher, 8 Chaffinches, 3 Bramblings, 2 Siskins, 3 Lapland Buntings and 9 Snow Buntings.

                Other little bits of note comprised 14 Red-throated and 8 Great-northern Divers on the calm sea, the family of 5 Whooper Swans, the Green-winged Teal and Scaup still, 8 Red-breasted Mergansers, a Peregrine, 4 Pintail, 2 Grey Plover, a Little Stint, 74 Purple Sandpipers and 52 Black-tailed Godwits.

Siberian Blue Robin

Hornemann's Arctic Redpoll

Photos Simon Davies

7th October

We kept the lightish winds from yesterday which slowly but surely swung from the west to the NE but we gained long periods of heavy, wet drizzle; there was no sign of any of yesterday’s unconfirmed birds but our second Buff-breasted Sandpiper of the year was found in fields at Lochend and our third Blyth’s Reed Warbler of the year was identified retrospectively from photos in the Haskie Thistle fields while the Short-toed Lark was still at Nether Breck, the Barred Warbler was still present and the Red-breasted Flycatcher was still in Holland.

                Migrant totals today included a 2 Kestrels, a Merlin, Short-eared Owl, 16 Swallows, a Tree Pipit, 32 Rock Pipits, 11 Robins, 4 Redstarts, 2 Whinchats, 57 Wheatears, 4 Song Thrushes, 24 Redwings, 3 Lesser Whitethroats, 13 Blackcaps, a Yellow-browed Warbler, 12 Chiffchaffs, 4 Willow Warblers, 2 Goldcrests, 2 Bramblings, 29 Chaffinches, 13 Lapland Buntings and 10 Snow Buntings.

                A two-hour seawatch produced 12 Sooty Shearwaters, a late Manx Shearwater, 547 Fulmars, 6 Red-throated Divers, 2 Great-northern Divers, 2 Great Skuas and a late ‘Commic’ Tern while wildfowl included the Green-winged Teal, the Scaup, 7 Whooper Swans, a Long-tailed Duck and 6 Red-breasted Mergansers.   Waders continued to be prominent with the picks being 939 Golden Plover, a Little Stint, 17 Ruff, a Woodcock, 51 Black-tailed Godwits and 339 Turnstone.

Yellow-browed Warbler


Photos Simon Davies