Monday, 30 April 2018

28th and 29th April

A glorious couple of days with long spells of pure, warm, unbroken sunshine and the faintest waft of a breeze; the only down side of the stunning conditions is that it’s not really conducive to large numbers of grounded migrants.   The male Grey-headed Wagtail was re-found on the beach at Brides on the 28th while other migrants included a White Wagtail, a Dunnock, 62 Wheatears, 2 Redwings, 2 Lesser Whitethroats, 4 Chiffchaffs and 2 Common Redpoll.

                Lingering or departing wildfowl comprised the Whooper Swan, 2 new immature Mute Swans, a Pink-footed Goose, 5 new Barnacle Geese and 9 Pintail while waders included 4 Knot, 170 Purple Sandpipers, a Whimbrel and a much improved 442 Turnstone with many rapidly acquiring their stunning breeding plumage.   One of last years successful breeding Arctic Skuas was back on Torness (the affectionately named ‘notchy’ – a dark phase bird with a distinctive notch out of one of her wings), the two usual pairs of Bonxies were also back patrolling their traditional breeding spots and the first Black-headed Gull eggs were noted.

                An even more stunning day on the 29th but it was also an even quieter day in the field as a result; migrants included a Sparrowhawk, a Woodpigeon, 6 Sand Martins, 10 Swallows, a Rock Pipit, 2 White Wagtails, a Dunnock, 44 Wheatears, 2 Blackcaps and a Brambling.   Seven Arctic Terns were offshore and the Kumlien’s Gull was seen once again – although the longer the spring goes on, the more bleached and pale this bird is becoming, if you saw it new now, you’d be hard pushed to call it a Kumlien’s!

Bonxie                                                     Simon Davies

Friday, 27 April 2018

26th and 27th April

Sunshine and showers again on the 26th but they became fewer and further apart in the afternoon in favour of bright and sunny conditions; there were two main highlights through the day with a smart male Grey-headed Wagtail on the beach at Brides (not a classic bird with some greeny patches in the dark grey head and some little white flecks on the lores) but this was pushed into second place when a LITTLE RINGED PLOVER was found, also on Brides beach by someone trying to twitch the Wagtail!   A regular bird throughout the southern UK but a real island mega, as it was only the second record after one in May 1994!

                It was quiet otherwise across the island as totals included lingering Pink-footed Goose and Whooper Swan, 2 Merlin, the Kumlien’s Gull again, 2 Woodpigeons, 2 Sand Martins, 8 Swallows, 44 Wheatears, a Fieldfare, 3 Redwings, a Lesser Whitethroat, 2 Blackcaps, a Chiffchaff, 4 Rook, 4 Carrion Crows, a Siskin and 2 Common Redpolls.

                A glorious day on the 27th with hardly a breath of wind throughout and plenty of sunshine; it was (unsurprisingly) again quiet for grounded migrants but the first Arctic Tern of the year was off The Links and a pair of Garganey on Hooking also made it on to the year list.

                Calm seas allowed the Nouster Black-throated Diver to be seen again along with 19 Great-northern Divers and 11 Red-breasted Mergansers while the first little arrival of 12 Knot were on The Links together with 108 Sanderling, 121 Purple Sandpipers and 8 Black-tailed Godwits.   Also of note was another big wave of 862 Black-headed Gulls counted across the island but predictably concentrated around Hooking.

                Landbirds were again thin on the ground but included a Short-eared Owl, 10 Sand Martins (seen prospecting on the sand cliffs of The Links where they bred last year), 7 Swallows, 3 Dunnocks, 49 Wheatears, a Fieldfare, 2 Redwings, 3 Lesser Whitethroats, a Blackcap, 6 Chiffchaffs, a Rook and a Brambling.

Little Ringed Plover                                      Simon Davies

Grey-headed Wagtail                                Simon Davies

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

24th and 25th April

A decent day on the 24th, dry and bright with plenty of sunshine and a light SW wind; it was quiet though for grounded migrants across the island as birds of note just included 2 Whimbrel, 11 Swallows,2 Dunnocks, 4 Robins, 28 Wheatears, a Fieldfare, 4 Redwing, a Lesser Whitethroat, a Blackcap, 7 Chiffchaff, a Goldcrest, a Chaffinch and a Siskin.   The Kumlien’s Gull was present again.

                A real mixture of weathers on the 25th with bright sunshine interspersed with regular showers, some very heavy throughout the day coming through on the light southerly breeze; the day’s highlight was certainly an excellent looking IBERIAN CHIFFCHAFF candidate at Sanger.   It was initially heard singing in the morning and showed very well just as the Obs crew arrived, a net was put up and it was caught straightforwardly; it ticked all the boxes in the hand and the field and the sound recordings obtained also appeared spot on – if accepted it will be the first for North Ronaldsay!

                A few other new bits appeared through the day including the first Kestrel of the year, 2 Whimbrel, 3 Woodpigeon, a Collared Dove, 2 Short-eared Owls, 9 Sand Martins, 9 Swallows, 3 Dunnocks, a Fieldfare, a Redwing, a Blackcap, 5 Chiffchaffs, a Goldcrest, a good flock of 7 Rooks which flew south, a Brambling, 2 Siskins and 2 Common Redpolls while 13 Great-northern Divers were counted on the sea.

Iberian Chiffchaff                                      Simon Davies

Monday, 23 April 2018

22nd and 23rd April

A light SE wind through the morning of the 22nd naturally led to thick fog by lunchtime but the wind had switched into the west by the afternoon with the fog clearing almost instantly; it was a bit disappointing out in the field with the interesting and changing conditions as highlights were confined to yesterday’s Dotterel relocating to Torness and the first Goldfinch of the year which flew south down the west coast.

                Migrants were reduced in numbers and included 2 Merlins, a Woodcock, a Woodpigeon, 2 Collared Doves, 2 Sand Martins, 7 Dunnocks, 12 Robins, 49 Wheatears, a Ring Ouzel, 2 Fieldfares, 2 Redwings, 2 Blackcap, 12 Chiffchaffs, a Goldcrest, 2 Chaffinches and a Common Redpoll.   12 Great-northern Divers were offshore, waders included 6 Ruff, 8 Black-tailed Godwits and a Whimbrel and the Kumlien’s Gull was still present.

                A brisk and increasing SW wind turned the 23rd into a different kind of day with hardly anything new to mention across the island as birds of note comprised a Merlin, a Grey Plover, 10 Black-tailed Godwits, a bit of an increase to 387 Black-headed Gulls with Hooking Loch becoming noisier and noisier, 3 Sand Martins, 2 Dunnocks, a Ring Ouzel, 5 Chiffchaff, a Lesser Whitethroat, a Goldcrest, a Brambling, a Common Redpoll and 3 Carrion Crows.

Dotterel                                                        Simon Davies

Whooper Swan                                         Simon Davies

Saturday, 21 April 2018

20th and 21st April

Bright and sunny throughout the day on the 20th but the southerly wind gradually increased to become brisk by the evening; the day’s highlight was a very early Little Tern seen briefly in Nouster – continuing the theme of this slightly odd spring as the previous earliest record was 5th May!   More typical were the first 2 Whimbrel of the year which flew over Stennabreck.

                Other migrant totals included 2 Merlin, 2 Woodpigeon, a Collared Dove, 7 Swallows, 7 Rock Pipits, 2 White Wagtails, 43 Pied Wagtails, 13 Dunnocks, 24 Robins, 30 Wheatears, a Ring Ouzel, 60 Blackbirds, 41 Fieldfare, 4 Song Thrush, 4 Lesser Whitethroats, 4 Blackcap, 6 Chiffchaff, 4 Willow Warblers, 7 Goldcrest, 2 Chaffinches, 5 Bramblings, 3 Siskins, a Common Redpoll and the lingering Snow Bunting.

                Also of note were a single Manx Shearwater past the seawatch hide, one remaining Barnacle Goose, 10 Long-tailed Ducks, 11 Red-breasted Mergansers, 2 Arctic Skuas, 9 Great Skuas and the Kumlien’s Gull still.

                A gorgeous day on the 21st with a light southerly breeze swinging round into the SE by the evening and plenty of warm(ish) sunshine; there were some obvious new arrivals even though it was generally ‘too nice’ for many grounded migrants.   The highlights were two drake Mandarin which pitched down briefly on Hooking Loch (only the sixth record for the island!) and a still largely winter plumaged Dotterel which was found with the Golden Plover in Loch Park.

                The day’s migrant totals comprised single 3 Woodpigeon, a Collared Dove, 5 Sand Martins, 4 Swallows, 186 Meadow Pipits, 7 Dunnock, 2 Lesser Whitethroats, 9 Chiffchaff, 2 Goldcrest, 3 Chaffinches, 2 Bramblings, a Siskin and a couple of roving Corvid flocks totalling 15 Carrion Crows and 5 Ravens.

Also seen were 10 Great-northern Divers offshore, the single Barnacle Goose and Whooper Swan, 267 Golden Plover, 174 Sanderling, 48 Dunlin, 2 Ruff, a Whimbrel and the Kumlien’s Gull yet again.

Mandarin                                              Simon Davies

Dotterel (honestly!)                                   Simon Davies

Thursday, 19 April 2018

18th and 19th April

We kept the brisk S / SE winds on the 18th but it stayed dry and bright and it was generally very pleasant to be out and about; there was a nice array of migrants across the island as totals included 2 Sparrowhawks, 2 Merlin, a Woodcock, a Woodpigeon, 2 Collared Doves, 2 Tree Pipits, 18 Dunnocks, 36 Robins, a Black Redstart, 24 Wheatears, 2 Ring Ouzels, a Lesser Whitethroat, 6 Chiffchaffs, a Willow Warbler, 2 Chaffinches, 3 Bramblings, 3 Siskins, 108 Linnets and a corking adult male Common Redpoll trapped at Holland as it came into roost – it was a huge bird with wing of 79mm, weighing 17g, wonder what population that’s from!?

                Other little bits included some decent wader counts including 221 Purple Sandpipers, 158 Turnstone and 161 Redshank (which included several big flocks heading high to the north), 9 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, the Kumlien’s Gull still and an increased 12 Sandwich Terns.

                A gorgeous day on the 19th as the moderate southerly breeze first thing quickly dropped off to virtually still conditions by lunchtime; there was a general increase in migrants across the island with counts of 2 Woodpigeons, a Collared Dove, a Woodcock, the first Sand Martin of the year over The Links, 3 Swallows, 168 Meadow Pipits, 14 Dunnocks, 33 Robins, a Black Redstart, 31 Wheatears, a Ring Ouzel, a Lesser Whitethroat, a Blackcap, 11 Chiffchaffs, 7 Willow Warblers, a Goldcrest, a Chaffinch, 5 Brambling, a Siskin, a flyover Lapland Bunting and a lingering Snow Bunting.

                A good array of other birds included a Black-throated Diver in Nouster with 5 Great-northern Divers, the single Whooper Swan showing no signs of leaving, 4 Long-tailed Ducks still, 6 Red-breasted Mergansers, a good count of 294 Golden Plover, 53 Sanderling, a single Knot, and a 3cy Iceland Gull lingering off the south end of the island.

Iceland Gull                                        Simon Davies

Swallow                                          Simon Davies

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

16th and 17th April

Very similar conditions on the 16th with a brisk easterly wind bringing in fog again which drifted in and out throughout the day (although mainly in!); the selection of birds on offer was therefore predictably similar as well although the first Lesser Whitethroat of the year was near Holland – again the earliest island record by a few days, what a funny year so far!

                Other migrant totals included 7 Woodcock, 3 Woodpigeons, a Swallow, 23 Dunnocks, 48 Robins, 19 Wheatears, 6 Ring Ouzels, 100 Blackbirds, 75 Fieldfare, 24 Song Thrushes, 3 Blackcap, 4 Chiffchaff, a Goldcrest, 2 Chaffinches, 4 Bramblings, a flyover Redpoll sp. and a Snow Bunting.

                A real change on the 17th with the S / SE wind picking up and blowing the fog away but bringing in rain through the morning, as if by magic though the clouds parted at lunchtime leaving a gorgeous, sunny afternoon – still windy though!   Migrant totals were again down on the last few days but did include a Merlin, 4 Woodpigeon, a Black Redstart, 22 Wheatears, 5 Ring Ouzels, a Mistle Thrush, a Lesser Whitethroat, 3 Blackcap, 6 Chiffchaffs, a Willow Warbler, a Goldcrest, 7 Chaffinch, 7 Brambling and a Snow Bunting.

                Also lingering were the 3 Barnacle Geese, 6 Pintail, 7 Long-tailed Ducks and a Ruff while 41 Curlews included a few flocks heading noisily high north as soon as the weather cleared.

Lesser Whitethroat                                      Simon Davies

Ring Ouzel                                                  Simon Davies

Monday, 16 April 2018

14th and 15th April

The easterly wind had dropped off to more manageable levels on the 14th but that inevitably led to thick fog which was pretty thick in the morning, thinned out through the afternoon and came back in very thickly in the early evening; it was a good day’s birding though with a decent arrival of migrants highlighted by the first 2 Tree Pipits of the year near the Obs (four days earlier than the previous earliest arrival!), a good arrival of 17 Ring Ouzels and a record equalling 10 Mistle Thrushes – continuing the excellent spring for this species.

                The rest of the days totals comprised 2 Hen Harriers (first ones since 24th March), 2 Sparrowhawks, a Woodcock, a Short-eared Owl, 200 Meadow Pipits, a littoralis Rock Pipit on Torness, 45 Pied Wagtails, a great arrival of 42 Dunnocks (the record being 66 in March 1980!), 107 Robins, a Black Redstart, 16 Wheatears, 210 Blackbirds, 165 Fieldfares, 35 Song Thrush, 49 Redwing, 2 Blackcap, 14 Chiffchaff, a Willow Warbler, 5 Goldcrest, 8 Chaffinches and 12 Bramblings.

                Other little bits included the Kumlien’s Gull again, a Grey Plover in Nouster, 3 Great Skuas and 3 Sandwich Terns.

                Yesterday’s fog very slowly dissipated on the 15th through the day with the light easterly breeze and as visibility improved some good new birds and some increased totals made for a great day in the field; the highlights included the first Blue-headed Wagtail of the year (a nice male at Ancum) – again the earliest record by over a week, the overdue first Swallow of the year in off the sea at the north end and arguably the best being a Swiss ringed Robin trapped at the Obs late morning – the first Swiss ringed bird recovered on the island and potentially the first Swiss ringed Robin recovered in the UK!

                Many species showed some real influxes from yesterday with 17 Woodcock, 22 Ring Ouzels, 77 Song Thrushes and 24 Chiffchaff all excellent mid-April figures.   Other totals included a Hen Harrier, 2 Sparrowhawks, a Merlin, 7 Woodpigeons, the 2 Tree Pipits still, 3 Grey Wagtails, 39 Dunnock, 119 Robins, 3 Black Redstarts, 28 Wheatears, 6 Mistle Thrush, 3 Blackcap, 4 Willow Warblers, 4 Goldcrest, 2 Rook, 6 Chaffinches, 14 Brambling, a Siskin (a British control trapped at Holland), 2 Snow Buntings and the male Yellowhammer from the 10th which reappeared at the Obs.

Ring Ouzel and Siskin                   Simon Davies

Friday, 13 April 2018

12th and 13th April

A gorgeous, sunny day on the 12th but we kept the strong, chilly SE wind; the clear conditions led to some good vis mig action, especially during the morning when we were tied up with punding the sheep along the south coast of the island just prior to lambing.   There was a steady stream of Meadow Pipits heading out to the SW along with a few alba Wagtails and a single Brambling which left with some Pipits but soon came back!   A few flocks of Common and Black-headed Gull also came in from the south as well as 15 Curlews and a Bar-tailed Godwit.

                Grounded migrants were thin on the ground but they did include some nice year ticks with a Common Buzzard flushed out of Holland Gardens, 2 Ring Ouzels on Torness, 2 Blackcaps along the coast and a Willow Warbler at Brides.   Other birds of note comprised single Sparrowhawk and Merlin, a Grey Wagtail, a White Wagtail, a Dunnock, a Black Redstart, 4 Wheatears, a Mistle Thrush, a Chiffchaff, a Goldcrest, single Rook and Jackdaw and a lingering Snow Bunting.

                Overcast on the 13th with the brisk SE wind still blowing across the island; no new additions for the year today but migrants did include a Merlin, a Woodcock, 4 Woodpigeons, 3 Dunnocks, 60+ Robins (still a good turnover of birds passing through), 4 Ring Ouzels, 94 Fieldfares, 9 Song Thrushes, 3 Mistle Thrushes, 2 Blackcaps, 4 Chiffchaffs, 2 Goldcrest, a Rook, 2 Chaffinches, a Brambling and a Snow Bunting.

                222 Golden Plover were in Loch Park while 4 Black-tailed Godwits and a Knot were on Gretchen.

Blackcap                                                  Simon Davies

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

10th and 11th April

Overcast and very calm first thing on the 10th so we took advantage of the conditions, made a dawn start and carried out a whole-island Black Guillemot count; we ended up with a total of 792 breeding plumaged birds around the coast – 50 down from last year which was a record count so its still a very good total.

                The good conditions also led to a great days birding with lots of obvious vis mig going on including the first decent arrival of 71+ Wheatears – with birds seen launching themselves over the sea to the north from the rocks by the lighthouse, another leap to 553+ Meadow Pipits – with many seen over the sea, flocks of Greylags and Curlews heading noisily north and the first Yellowhammer of the year at Lurand – the first spring record since 2012.

                Other totals on the land comprised a Sparrowhawk, 2 Merlins, 3 Woodcock, 4 Woodpigeons, 160 Skylark, 17 Rock Pipits, 2 Grey Wagtails, 2 White Wagtails, 47 Pied Wagtails, 4 Dunnock, 60 Robins, 2 Black Redstarts, 145 Blackbirds, 122 Fieldfares, 18 Song Thrushes, 76 Redwing, 7 Mistle Thrush, 5 Chiffchaff, 4 Goldcrest, 4 Chaffinch, 8 Brambling, 92 Linnets and 2 Snow Buntings.

                Elsewhere, 30 Great-northern Divers were offshore, the Whooper Swan and 3 Barnacle Geese remained, 277 Golden Plover were in Loch Park while other waders included a Grey Plover and 3 Black-tailed Godwits and 5 Sandwich Terns were off The Links.

                A different day on the 11th with a strong force 6-7 SE wind making things difficult in the field but it remained dry and bright and with many of yesterday’s birds having departed it was a much quieter day’s birding; the first Manx Shearwater of the year passed the seawatch hide late morning while also offshore were 6 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, a Merlin heading out to the north and handfuls of Pipits coming in.   Other notable birds included a Woodpigeon, a Grey Wagtail, 51 Wheatears, 3 Mistle Thrushes, 2 Black Redstarts, 5 Chiffchaff and 2 Snow Buntings while the 3 Barnacle Geese and 2 Goldeneye lingered on.

Sparrowhawk and Goldcrest             Simon Davies

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

8th and 9th April

A very different day on the 8th with complete cloud cover but hardly a breath of wind and mist coming in late afternoon; the favourable conditions naturally led to an increase in common migrants and despite nothing too amazing being found its starting to feel exciting when you get out into the field.   Totals included a Sparrowhawk, a Merlin, 2 Woodcock, 3 Woodpigeons, a Short-eared Owl, 103 Skylarks, 118 Meadow Pipits, 16 Rock Pipits, a Grey Wagtail, 2 White Wagtails, 33 Pied Wagtails, 54 Robins, a Black Redstart, 4 Wheatears, an increase in Thrushes to 174 Blackbirds, 125 Fieldfares, 17 Song Thrush and 88 Redwings, 3 Chiffchaff, a Goldcrest, 20 Hooded Crows (the first migrant flocks of the spring were noted), 4 Chaffinches, a big jump to 94 Linnets and 3 Snow Buntings.

                Elsewhere, the main feature on the calm seas were excellent numbers of Divers offshore with a summer plumaged Black-throated Diver off the north end, 7 Red-throated Divers and a year’s high count of 58 Great-northern Divers.   Also, of note were the 3 Barnacle Geese, the Whooper Swan, the Kumlien’s Gull again and a new 3cy Iceland Gull which flew past the seawatch hide.

                A similar day on the 9th with more cloud and light easterly winds but the morning was marred by some persistent spitting rain; there were inevitable increases in common migrants through the day including 2 Merlins, a Peregrine, 2 Woodcock, 3 Woodpigeon, a big increase to 275+ Meadow Pipits, a Grey Wagtail, 20 Rock Pipits, 4 Dunnocks, 60 Robins, 2 Mistle Thrushes, 7 Wheatears, 3 Chiffchaffs, 9 Chaffinches, 3 Bramblings and presumably the same male Lapland Bunting from a few days ago, relocated to Hooking.

                A different, non-breeding Black-throated Diver was in Nouster with still good numbers of other Divers, the unprecedented winter Ruff flock increased again to 7 birds in a field below Holland and a Bonxie was off the south end as were 2 Sandwich Terns.

Great-northern Diver                                  Simon Davies

Barnacle Geese                                        Simon Davies

Just look away........

Sunday, 8 April 2018

6th and 7th April

Fairly calm and bright first thing on the 6th but the wind soon began increasing, bringing more cloud and eventually heavy rain by mid-afternoon; with the wind largely in the SE we were hopeful of a few new arrivals but it remained quiet on the land as totals included single Merlin and Sparrowhawk, a Woodpigeon, a Collared Dove, 98 Skylarks, a Dunnock, 51 Robins, a Black Redstart, a Wheatear, 2 Mistle Thrushes, a Goldcrest, 6 Chaffinches, a Brambling and 2 Snow Buntings.

                There were some slight wildfowl increases with 17 Gadwall, 14 Pintail, 10 Shoveler, 41 Tufted Duck and a single lingering Goldeneye.   43 Sanderling were new in, although they probably just hopped across from Sanday while 57 Curlew included several small flocks heading high off to the N.   Other little bits included 151 Purple Sandpipers, a Ruff, the Kumlien’s Gull and 4 Sandwich Terns off the seawatch hide where there were also a handful of Puffins passing by with other Auks.

                A lovely day on the 7th with plenty of warmish sunshine and very light winds; a few new arrivals were noted including our overdue first Short-eared Owl of the year, single Merlin and Sparrowhawk again, a Woodcock, a Woodpigeon, an influx of 162 Meadow Pipits, 2 Grey Wagtails, 45 Pied Wagtails, 49 Robins, 2 Dunnocks, a Black Redstart, a Stonechat, 3 new Wheatears, 2 Mistle Thrushes, 2 Chiffchaffs, a Jackdaw, 4 Chaffinches, 3 Siskins, 36 Linnets and a Carrion Crow.

                Elsewhere 10 Great-northern and 5 Red-throated Divers were offshore, the 3 Barnacle Geese remained, 300 Golden Plover represented a notable influx along with 58 Sanderling, 47 Dunlin and 4 Ruff and 3 Sandwich Terns and the Kumlien’s Gull were noted again.

Late news came in the evening, with a dark phase Arctic Skua which flew along the south end of the island – the first of the year.

Coot fight!

Friday, 6 April 2018

4th and 5th April

A lovely sunny day on the 4th with the moderate wind swinging around in the westerly quadrant becoming very calm by the evening; there was a decent little arrival of new birds across the island with the 3 Sandwich Terns off Southness and later on Gretchen, the Jackdaw over Westness, the male Lapland Bunting at Southness and the male Siskin trapped in Holland all new for the year.

                There was also a noticeable arrival of Thrushes with 215 Blackbirds, 102 Fieldfares, 43 Song Thrushes, 120 Redwings and 5 Mistle Thrushes spread across the island while other landbirds included 6 Woodcock, 2 Woodpigeons, 107 Skylarks, a White Wagtail, 34 Pied Wagtails, a Grey Wagtail (later trapped at Holland becoming only the seventh to be ringed on the island), a Dunnock, 74 Robins, a Stonechat, a Black Redstart, a Chiffchaff, a Rook, 6 Chaffinches, 35 Linnets, 17 Snow Buntings and 6 Reed Buntings.

                Wildfowl counts comprised 709 Greylag Geese, the 3 Barnacle Geese, the Whooper Swan, 8 Shelduck, 174 Wigeon, 14 Pintail and 9 Shoveler while a 2cy Glaucous Gull flew south past Torness and 6 Black-tailed Godwits were on Gretchen.

                The westerly winds became much stronger on the 5th bringing several heavy (but very localised) hail showers making it a bit uncomfortable out in the field; there was a corresponding dip in the number of birds seen through the day both because of the weather and a bit of a clear-out of yesterdays Thrushes as totals included a Merlin, 2 Woodcock, a Woodpigeon, 30 Meadow Pipits, a Grey Wagtail, 43 Robins, 118 Blackbirds, 59 Fieldfare, 17 Song Thrushes, 69 Redwing, 5 Mistle Thrushes, a Chiffchaff, 2 Jackdaws and 3 Chaffinches.

Lapland Bunting                                              George Gay

Merlin                                                          Simon Davies

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

2nd and 3rd April

Nice again on the 2nd with bright sunshine but a cold NE breeze giving the day an edge; there was little new found through the day with the highlight on the land being a very smart looking littoralis Rock Pipit which appeared in front of the window as we were sitting down to eat at Lurand and at sea, the first Great Skua of the year off Seal Skerry.    Migrant totals included 4 Woodcock, a Woodpigeon, 109 Skylark, 36 Meadow Pipits, 19 Rock Pipits, 37 Pied Wagtails, 2 Grey Wagtails, 2 Dunnock, 87 Robins, a female Stonechat at Brides, the wintering Black Redstart, 170 Blackbirds, 106 Fieldfare, 4 Mistle Thrush, a Chiffchaff, 3 Chaffinches and 3 Snow Buntings.

                Wildfowl totals comprised 9 Great-northern Divers, 5 Red-throated Divers, 132 Wigeon, 7 Gadwall, 66 Teal, 10 Pintail, 6 Shoveler, 27 Tufted Duck, 19 Long-tailed Ducks and 7 Red-breasted Mergansers while 168 Golden Plover, a Grey Plover, 2 Ruff, 30 Bar-tailed Godwits, 4 Black-tailed Godwits and the Kumlien’s Gull were counted.

                A step backwards towards winter on the 3rd with a biting NE wind bringing frequent and heavy snow and hail showers across the island; a Woodlark seen briefly at Sandar was a bit of a surprise but it couldn’t be re-found after the initial couple of sightings (following one last month, the ninth for the island!).

                Perhaps unsurprisingly there weren’t really any new birds unearthed in the unpleasant conditions – a big female Peregrine flew over Ancum and a Jack Snipe was flushed from the centre of the island while 5 Woodcock, a Grey Wagtail, yesterday’s Stonechat, 2 Mistle Thrushes, a Brambling and a Carrion Crow were also of note.

Black Redstart

Drumming snipe are beginning to echo across the island

Sunday, 1 April 2018

31st March and 1st April

A glorious day on the 31st with a very light easterly breeze and plenty of bright sunshine throughout; there was a great selection of migrants scattered across the island, although nothing too rare the totals were highlighted by the first Chiffchaff of the year caught in a Heligoland trap and 3 Long-eared Owls, caught at Holland in the early morning.

                Other totals comprised 12 Woodcock, 5 Woodpigeons, 65 Skylarks, 30 Meadow Pipits, 37 Rock Pipits (including another littoralis bird at the Lighthouse), 3 Grey Wagtails, 27 Pied Wagtails, 2 White Wagtails, a Dunnock, an excellent 153+ Robins, 2 Black Redstarts, 142 Blackbirds, 99 Fieldfares, 30 Song Thrushes, 110 Redwings, 9 Mistle Thrushes, a Goldcrest, 4 Rook (including one trapped at Holland – only the fourth to be ringed on the island!), 10 Chaffinches, 2 Bramblings, 14 Linnets, 15 Twite, 5 Snow Buntings and 7 Reed Buntings.

                Nine Red-throated Divers were counted offshore along with little bits including a Merlin, 2 Grey Plover, a Ruff, 2 Knot and the Kumlien’s Gull again.

                Another lovely day on the first of the month with light winds (absolutely flat calm for a spell in the afternoon) and plenty of sunshine but the weather did close in slightly early evening; migrants across the island through the day included a Woodpigeon, 77 Skylarks, 40 Meadow Pipits, 22 Pied Wagtails, 3 Grey Wagtails, 3 Dunnocks, 117 Robins, 185 Blackbirds, 90 Fieldfares, 22 Song Thrushes, 2 Mistle Thrushes, 2 Chiffchaffs, a Rook, 3 Chaffinches and 2 Bramblings.

                Three Barnacle Geese were new with the Greylags while the Pink-footed Goose and Whooper Swan remained; 14 Great-northern Divers were off the south end on calm seas and in the fields, there was a slight increase to 160 Golden Plover and three Black-tailed Godwits were on Gretchen.

Long-eared Owl               Simon Davies

Rook                                 Simon Davies

Chiffchaff                                               George Gay