Thursday, 30 August 2018

28th and 29th August

Dry and bright through the 28th with a brisk and increasing southerly breeze; two more stand out birds were seen through the day with a moulting adult Black Tern seen briefly roosting on Bewan Loch before being flushed by an Arctic Skua and then being seen zooming over Brides Loch half an hour later which was followed in the afternoon by a cracking adult Buff-breasted Sandpiper found feeding on the beach at Brides.
                The great raptor spectacular continued with 2-3 Hen Harriers, 2 Merlins, 3-4 Kestrels, a Peregrine and 3 Short-eared Owls all floating around, making counting them a bit tricky, also on the land the first 2 Tree Pipits and Rock Pipit of the autumn were seen along with the Lesser Whitethroat still at the Obs.   Other birds included 46 Sooty Shearwaters, 58 Manx Shearwaters and a Red-throated Diver were offshore, 3 Black-tailed Godwits and 2 Whimbrel.
                Bright and sunny again on the 29th but the now force 6-7 southerly wind made things difficult in the field; there were limited new arrivals with an influx of ducks noteworthy which included 108+ Teal, 77+ Mallard, 4 Shoveler and 3 Wigeon along with a few increased wader counts comprised 71 Ringed Plover, 67 Dunlin, 3 Ruff and 28 Black-tailed Godwits.   Two Hen Harriers, 2-3 Kestrels and a Merlin were still present while at least 300 Meadow Pipits and 30 alba Wagtails came in off the sea at the north end.
                Other birds included a Great-northern Diver, a Black Redstart still at Holland and the Barred Warbler again at Senness.

Buff-breasted Sandpiper                              George Gay

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

26th and 27th August

A decent day on the 26th with the brisk wind eventually swinging round into the SE during the afternoon; the main feature of the day was some good seawatching totals from the north end – the first day of the autumn with some obvious passage as birds of note included 153 Sooty Shearwaters, 108 Manx Shearwaters, a Pomarine Skua, a Storm Petrel, 7 Common Scoter, 2 Red-throated Divers and a pod of 5+ Risso’s Dolphins lingering off the beacon.   Other birds across the island included 2 Hen Harriers, 2 Kestrels, a Merlin, the first 2 Grey Plovers of the autumn (an adult and a juvenile), 46 Purple Sandpipers, 2 Ruff, 5 Black-tailed Godwits and the 2 over-summering Fieldfares still in Gue Park.

                Rain overnight led to a damp start to the day on the 27th but the SE wind had shifted back into the NW producing a fine, bright, sunny day; there were two obvious stand-out birds through the day, both seen by single, fortunate observers.   The best came early morning with a juvenile RED-FOOTED FALCON seen briefly on wires near Ancum from where it flew over to North Manse, dropped behind a wall, never to be seen again!   The other highlight was a Balearic Shearwater which flew close inshore past the seawatch hide in the evening along with 64 Manx Shearwaters and another Pomarine Skua.

                The burst of south-easterly wind yesterday produced a sprinkling of migrants including a Barred Warbler at Senness, the first Lesser Whitethroat of the autumn, a Garden Warbler, 3 Willow Warblers, a Black Redstart, 3 Short-eared Owls, 3 Kestrels, 2 Hen Harriers and 2 Merlins.   Other birds of note 3 Red-throated Divers, 5 Herons, 9 Wigeon, 56 Teal, 35 Mallard, 16 Knot, 169 Sanderling and 10 Black-tailed Godwit.

Barred Warbler                                        Simon Davies

Sunday, 26 August 2018

23rd - 25th August

Bright and sunny again on the 23rd with the brisk westerly wind persisting; the first Reed Warbler of the autumn at Ancum was the pick on the land along with now 2 Hen Harriers, a Merlin and 5 Willow Warblers while waders included 27 Knot, 3 Ruff, 9 Black-tailed Godwits and 92 Redshank with a single Great-northern Diver offshore.

                A fresh NW wind through the day on the 24th brought frequent but short-lived squalls blasting across the island, the day’s highlights comprised the Spotted Redshank again on Brides and an adult Common Tern at Bewan with the late Arctic Tern families – only the third of the year.   Other birds included 3 Herons, a Kestrel, 2 Merlins (including one heading south out to sea off The Lurn) and a decent count of 928 Golden Plover.

                A really rough morning on the 25th with a blazing NW wind bringing regular, nasty showers whipping through; birds today included a juvenile Garganey on Hooking (maybe one of ours but equally likely to be an immigrant), a Great-northern Diver, 4 Herons, a Hen Harrier, 2 Kestrels, a Merlin and 28 Knot.

Bar-tailed Godwit and Knot

Wednesday, 22 August 2018

20th - 22nd August

Still calm on the 20th but with some increased cloud cover with the day’s highlight going to a brief but vocal Spotted Redshank on Brides.   Other birds included 8 Sooty Shearwaters and 9 Manx Shearwaters on a seawatch in the morning, the first autumnal migrant flock of 10 Wigeon, the Hen Harrier, Kestrel and 2 Merlins, a Black Redstart still and the 2 Fieldfares still hanging on in Gue Park.

                A nice, flat calm start to the 21st but the now SE wind rapidly built up to a blazing force 7 by the afternoon but there was again, little new to mention with the Nightingale appearing in a mist net at Holland once more.   Other bits of note comprised a Red-throated Diver, 3 Herons, now 15 Wigeon and the Hen Harrier, Kestrel, 2 Merlin and 7 Ruff still.

                A moderate westerly replaced the blasting south-easterly on the 22nd with the Spotted Redshank reappearing on Kirbest Myre and then Brides and (presumably) one of the same Roseate Terns popped up again just off Gue Park.   The Hen Harrier, Kestrel and Peregrine were seen again along with 4 Black-tailed Godwits.

Spotted Redshank                                   Simon Davies

Hen Harrier                                      Simon Davies

Monday, 20 August 2018

17th - 19th August

Bright and sunny again on the 17th with a brisk SW wind so there was little change in the islands birdlife with the highlights comprising long staying birds which included the Hen Harrier, the Kestrel, 7 Ruff in a field near Holland, 2 Black-tailed Godwits, the Short-eared Owl showing well on The Links, 8 Swifts overhead, a Black Redstart and a Willow Warbler.

                All change on the 18th with blazing force 7-8 westerly winds blasting across the island bringing heavy showers throughout, coverage was understandably reduced with the only notable birds being at the top end as 7 Sooty Shearwaters and 8 Manx Shearwaters went through and a trickle of waders and Lesser Black-backed Gulls came in off the sea from the north.

                All change yet again on the 19th with a glorious contrast to the blazing winds as we were bathed in sunshine and enjoying almost flat calm conditions; on the land, the Common Nightingale reappeared in a mist net at Holland while a Common Crossbill flew south (only the second of the year) with the young Song Thrush, 2 Black Redstarts, 8 Sedge Warblers and 5 Willow Warblers also seen.   One of the day’s highlights was fantastic views of at least four well grown juvenile Water Rails at Ancum – great to see proof of breeding which is suspected every year.

                Nine Black-tailed Godwits, 22 Knot and 6 Ruff were the pick of the waders while little influxes of 34 Teal and 20 Mallard were noted along with the now regular Hen Harrier, Kestrel and Merlin.   Offshore 2 Red-throated Divers, 2 Sooty Shearwaters, 3 Manx Shearwaters and some Porpoise were noted.

Juvenile Water Rail                                           Simon Davies

Short-eared Owl                           Simon Davies

Friday, 17 August 2018

14th - 16th August

Drizzle and rain drifted in and out through the day on the 14th with the light SE wind swinging round into the SW; despite these promising conditions there was no sign of any more drifty landbirds after yesterday’s arrivals with the highlights again being the two Roseate Terns showing well at the foghorn and one of the juvenile Mediterranean Gulls offshore at Bewan.   Other birds included a trickle of hirundines down the west coast comprising 140 Swallows, the first House Martin of the autumn and 6 Swifts, the Hen Harrier and Kestrel again, a Ruff, good high tide counts at the north end of 42 Purple Sandpipers and 247 Turnstone and 4 Willow Warblers the only leftovers from yesterday.

                The 15th and 16th then passed with barely a ripple as sunny conditions and a brisk SW wind were not conducive to producing many new arrivals; 5 Ruff were with 1,200+ Golden Plover in the Kirbest area, the Kestrel remained, the first juvenile Bar-tailed Godwits of the autumn sneaked in and the 2 Roseate Terns were again by the foghorn on the 16th.

Roseate Tern                                                Simon Davies

Hen Harrier                                            Simon Davies

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

12th and 13th August

Bright sunshine through the 12th with a promising easterly breeze but it was a fairly quiet day in the field with no real landbird arrivals although the first Merlin of the autumn was dashing around and a female Crossbill at Ancum finally made it onto the yearlist; other birds on the land included a Black Redstart, the two over-summering Fieldfares and the juvenile Hen Harrier.

                Wader counts through the day comprised 777 Golden Plover, 114 Lapwing, 119 Sanderling, 169 Dunlin, 3 Ruff, 2 Whimbrel, 89 Curlew and 160 Redshank while there were still 915+ Arctic Terns present around the island and 4 Risso’s Dolphins were off the east side.

                With light easterlies and some cloud cover coming and going on the 13th it was classic conditions for the first decent birding day of the autumn which started early with a beautiful, fresh juvenile Common Nightingale plucked out of a mist-net at Holland House – an odd record as it was only the eighth record for the island and just the second in autumn.   The day carried on at its relaxed but exciting pace with the first Icterine Warbler of the year at Hooking and the first Barred Warbler of the year at North Gravity.

                A good sprinkling of other migrants across the island comprised 26 Black-tailed Godwits on Ancum, 4 Ruff, the Hen Harrier, the Kestrel, the Merlin, a big female Peregrine, the Short-eared Owl, a new island record count of 64 Sand Martins in the Ancum area, 2 Black Redstarts, 48 Wheatears, a very juvenile looking Song Thrush trapped in Holland, 8 Sedge Warblers, a Garden Warbler, 8 Willow Warblers and a Pied Flycatcher.

Nightingale                     Simon Davies

A packed Linnet nest

Sunday, 12 August 2018

9th - 11th August

Bright and sunny conditions on the 9th with a brisk southerly breeze produced a good morning’s visible migration with 302 Swallows the main feature of the day (171 went south from 0830-0930 – it was brilliant to see small flocks of Swallows heading out to sea, threading their way through a big feeding flock of Arctic Terns just off The Lurn!), also on the move were 6 Swifts and several small flocks of Dunlin, Redshank and Sanderling.   Other birds through the day included 2 Manx Shearwaters off the north end, a Heron, the Kestrel still, 4 Ruff and 13 Black-tailed Godwits at the airstrip, one of the lingering Roseate Terns still, at least 23 Arctic Skuas blogging offshore chasing the Terns and Tysties and an improved count of 54 alba Wagtails with numbers swelled by many juveniles.

                Still warm and settled on the 10th with a couple of notable new arrivals with now 4 Mediterranean Gulls present (three in the Brides area and another up at the north end) and the first Hen Harrier of the autumn cruising around – a fine, fresh juvenile female.   Other little bits comprised the Kestrel, an increase to 25 Knot including the first few spangly juveniles, 2 Whimbrel, 23 Black-tailed Godwits, a Greenshank and 2 Sandwich Terns with 550+ Arctic Terns.

                Yet another stunning day on the 11th with a couple of heavy morning showers giving way to wall to wall sunshine and light winds (getting a bit repetitive now!); 2 Great-northern Divers were offshore, the Hen Harrier was still floating around, 4 Ruff were still present, a Short-eared Owl was quartering Ancum and 3 Black Redstarts popped up.

Black-tailed Godwit                                  Simon Davies

Swift                                               Simon Davies

Arctic Skua                                     Simon Davies

Thursday, 9 August 2018

6th - 8th August

A drizzly morning on the 6th gave way to a fine afternoon with the highlights again limited to two juvenile Mediterranean Gulls and an adult Roseate Tern.   Many wader totals continue to rise as counts today included 77 Ringed Plover, 145 Oystercatchers, 1,023 Golden Plover, 313 Sanderling (a big influx), 220 Dunlin, 23 Black-tailed Godwits (an influx largely consisting of juveniles), a Green Sandpiper and 165 Turnstone.   Also of note were 2 Great-northern Divers, a Kestrel, the first juvenile Kittiwake of the year offshore, the juvenile Cuckoo still, 6 Swifts and 2 Willow Warblers.

                Nice and calm conditions on the 7th produced the first 3 Garden Warblers of the autumn along with 3 Willow Warblers and a steady southbound passage of 26+ Swifts.   A Mediterranean Gull was seen again while other bits of note included 2 Herons, 3 Ruff, 3 Whimbrel and a Greenshank.

                Flat calm again in the morning of the 8th with a moderate SW breeze developing through the day; 2 Mediterranean Gulls were again in fields near Senness and at least 2 Roseate Terns were flying around (timings of sightings suggested there may have been another individual but we just can’t prove it!).   Other sightings included the Kestrel again, juvenile Little Grebes on Garso and Brides (finally proof of successful breeding this year!), a Swift, 2 Black Redstarts, a Garden Warbler, a Willow Warbler, a flock of 9 juvenile Twite at the Lighthouse (the first juveniles we’ve seen this year), 2 juvenile Ravens at the top end (unfortunately not from here!) and yet another Hummingbird Hawkmoth.

Its been a record breaking year for breeding Ringed Plover with lots still scurrying around

Monday, 6 August 2018

3rd - 5th August

Beautiful and calm on the 3rd with some extensive cloud cover producing a good day to be out in the field; somewhat predictably most of the action was again around the cut fields where the highlight was again two juvenile Mediterranean Gulls near Holland House.   Other counts included 1,419 Golden Plover, 146 Lapwings, 165 Sanderling, 152 Dunlin, 5 Black-tailed Godwits (including the first juveniles), 2 Whimbrel, 121 Redshank and some increasing Gull counts with 468 Common Gulls and 31 Lesser Black-backed Gulls.

                Other highlights comprised a single Roseate Tern again at the top of The Links and excellent news of three juvenile Garganey at last breaking cover on Hooking Loch, finally giving evidence of successful breeding – they haven’t been seen since small ducklings were noted in June.   Also, of note was the juvenile Cuckoo again, a Pied Flycatcher caught in Holland, a single Willow Warbler, 2 Herons and a Great-northern Diver offshore.

                Another pleasant day on the 4th with now 3 Mediterranean Gulls in fields near Ancum, 2 Roseate Terns again on the rocks of Bridesness Point and 9 Swifts of note.   The 5th was pretty much a write-off in terms of birding with some persistent rain combined with an Obs / visitor’s v islanders football match on The Links (which we won on penalties!) leading to hardly any birding getting done, although two Swifts flew over just before kick-off.

Mediterranean Gull

Roseate Tern

Black-tailed Godwit

Friday, 3 August 2018

31st July - 2nd August

A calm start on the 31st but the SE wind picked up through the day; it was quiet for new arrivals but some decent counts included 29 Knot, 104 Dunlin, 2 Whimbrel, 1,465 Arctic Terns and an excellent 47 Sand Martins which comprised good numbers of local fledglings.   The Black Redstart was still around Holland where there was also a Willow Warbler, a flyover Heron and the Hummingbird Hawkmoth again.

                The first day of autumn was a good one, with light winds and variable cloud cover and a nice selection of birds across the island; a Roseate Tern flew past Brides (probably one of the birds from a few days ago), the first Peregrine of the autumn – a monster juvenile female, flew south over the Obs, the first Short-eared Owl of the autumn was at Westness and the first Woodpigeon of the autumn came in off the sea at the north end.

                More good wader counts through the day included 303 Lapwings, 545 Golden Plover, 178 Dunlin, 17 Bar-tailed Godwits, 3 Whimbrel and a Green Sandpiper while other little bits comprised 3 Herons, a Kestrel, probably the same juvenile Cuckoo, 4 Swifts, the 2 over-summering Fieldfares which popped up again and 2 Willow Warblers.

                The theme continued on the 2nd with another great day in the field with the obvious highlight being 2 juvenile MEDITERRANEAN GULLS feeding in recently cut fields near Holland House, the two birds were not seen together but identified as different birds through photographs – the first records since 2009 and the first juveniles for the island.   The bare fields also attracted big numbers of other birds including 354 Common Gulls, 8 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 21 Bar-tailed Godwits, 2 Black-tailed Godwits, 2 Ruff, 2 Whimbrel and 1,120 Golden Plover.

                The days other main feature was some very mobile (or multiple!) Roseate Terns, as shortly after two were seen together on the rocks at Bridesness, one was seen feeding off The Links with Arctic Terns and a single Common Tern and then shortly after that, one was seen flying south over The Lurn to join a big feeding flock offshore there….they’ll just go down as two birds though!   Other birds included a Great-northern Diver in Nouster, a Blue Fulmar and a Sooty Shearwater off the north end, the juvenile Cuckoo again, the Short-eared Owl again, a good total of 18 Swifts (by far the highest count of the year), 5 Willow Warblers and a Pied Flycatcher.

                75 Storm Petrels were trapped overnight with a Leach’s Petrel flying and calling round the nets but not getting caught.

Mediterranean Gull                                 Simon Davies

Sand Martin                                        Simon Davies