Tuesday, 27 November 2018
Not a bad day, bright and dry but the SE wind kept rising steadily and ominously throughout; not too much to mention but birds of note did include the Green-winged Teal still on Gretchen, 5 Red-breasted Mergansers, single Hen Harrier, Merlin and Kestrel, 6 Meadow Pipits, 4 Rock Pipits, 12 Robins, 10 Fieldfare, 2 Song Thrush and 2 Chaffinches.
Monday, 26 November 2018
Still super light winds over the past couple of days so we concentrated on catching some of the remaining birds that are frequenting our sacrificial crops which include flocks of 27 Skylark, 80 Twite, 7 Common Redpolls, a Linnet, 10 Chaffinches, 10 Reed Buntings and 51 Snow Buntings. New arrivals are unsurprisingly thin on the ground at this time of year as totals included 13 Red-throated Divers, 11 Great-northern Divers, 13 Gadwall, 14 Pintail, 7 Red-breasted Mergansers, a Hen Harrier, 2 Kestrels, a Merlin, 2 Woodcock, 4 Meadow Pipits, 11 Rock Pipits, 3 Robins and 3 Song Thrush.
Sunday, 25 November 2018
Another fine day with light easterly winds and only a couple of showers; there was little new across the island but it was still pleasant to get out in the field and of note were a Hen Harrier, a Long-eared Owl seen at first light at Holland, 12 Meadow Pipits, 17 Rock Pipits, 9 Robins, 23 Fieldfare, 4 Song Thrush, 35 Redwing, 9 Chaffinches, 2 Greenfinches at The Obs, 76 Twite, 49 Snow Buntings and 7 Reed Buntings.
Also of note were 5 Red-throated Divers, 8 Herons, the Green-winged Teal, 7 Long-tailed Ducks, 3 Red-breasted Mergansers, 56 Oystercatchers, 111 Purple Sandpipers, 28 Bar-tailed Godwits and a Little Auk off Westness.
Friday, 23 November 2018
Even lighter easterly winds through the day but there were frequent showers which persisted right through the day; the day’s highlight were 4 Long-eared Owls in Holland House gardens at first light with two of them finding their way into mist-nets (an excellent twelve have been ringed this year so far, plus a Norwegian control). Other birds across the land included a Hen Harrier, a Kestrel, 2 Merlin, 194 Golden Plover, a Woodcock, 8 Skylark, 2 Meadow Pipits, 3 Rock Pipits, 6 Robins, 25 Fieldfare, 4 Song Thrush, 42 Redwing, 2 Blackcaps, 10 Chaffinches, an excellent 128 Twite (the highest day count since October 2014), 4 Common Redpoll, 20 Snow Buntings and 6 Reed Buntings.
Other totals included 3 Red-throated Diver, a Great-northern Diver, 7 Herons, the 6 Whooper Swans, the Green-winged Teal still on Gretchen, 9 Pintail, 8 Shoveler and a Goldeneye.
Part of the Twite flock
Thursday, 22 November 2018
Lighter winds through the day but they were still very cold and from the ESE bringing the occasional shower in with them; the highlight was a juvenile RED-NECKED GREBE in Nouster (despite two records last year, only the seventh record for the island!). Other totals generated by some good coverage included 12 Red-throated Divers, 2 Great-northern Divers, 6 Whooper Swans, 255 Wigeon, 61 Mallard, 14 Pintail, 19 Long-tailed Duck, 9 Red-breasted Mergansers, a Grey Plover, 188 Purple Sandpipers, 47 Dunlin, 131 Redshank and a decent influx of Gulls comprising 211 Common Gulls, 454 Herring Gulls and 197 Great Black-backed Gulls.
Across the land there was also a nice selection of birds, mainly lingering stuff but a few new bits as totals included 2 Hen Harriers, a Kestrel, a Merlin, 2 Woodcock, 2 Long-eared Owls caught in Holland (a new bird and a re-trap from 2nd October), 15 Skylarks, 5 Meadow Pipits, 6 Rock Pipits, 3 Robins, 76 Blackbird, 28 Fieldfare, 10 Song Thrush, 70 Redwings, a Blackcap, a Chiffchaff, 9 Chaffinch, a Brambling, 93 Twite, 5 Common Redpolls, 19 Snow Buntings and 11 Reed Buntings.
Red-necked Grebe Simon Davies
Wednesday, 21 November 2018
A tough day in the field with a blazing force 8, cold ENE wind and the occasional shower whipping through; our efforts were concentrated on the sheltered west side of the island but it was fairly quiet as migrants just included a Kestrel, a Merlin, a Woodcock, a Woodpigeon, a Long-eared Owl flying round the Obs at dusk, 4 Meadow Pipits, 11 Rock Pipits, 6 Robins, 8 Song Thrushes and 28 Snow Buntings. Other birds of note comprised 3 Red-throated Divers, 4 Herons, 2 Pink-footed Geese, a female Common Scoter past Trolla, a Goldeneye, 7 Pintail and 9 Gadwall.
Tuesday, 20 November 2018
More promising conditions, calm first thing with an increasing, very cold straight easterly wind and extensive cloud cover; despite the lateness of the season the weather produced a little flurry of new migrants across the island which included an adult female Peregrine, 2 Woodcock, a Woodpigeon, a Long-eared Owl trapped at Holland at dawn, 23 Skylarks, 12 Meadow Pipits, 10 Rock Pipits, 16 Robins, a Black Redstart at Moo Geo, 93 Blackbirds, 7 Song Thrushes, a Mistle Thrush, 2 Chiffchaffs, 4 Chaffinches, 3 Greenfinches, a Common Redpoll, an increase to 94+ Snow Buntings and 5 Reed Buntings.
Other birds included 5 Red-throated Divers, a Great-northern Diver, 16 Long-tailed Ducks, 2 Hen Harriers, the long staying Kestrel, a Merlin, 4 Knot and a juvenile Glaucous Gull on rocks off Torness.
Glaucous Gull Simon Davies
Monday, 19 November 2018
A good feeling day with a brisk SE wind and extensive cloud cover; some increased coverage with the return of some more eyes, the highlight being the Hume’s Warbler which reappeared at Holland, calling loudly and seen briefly again at dusk and a female Velvet Scoter with a group of 7 Common Scoter off Brides (the first of the year). There was a good selection of land birds seen including a Long-eared Owl flushed from in front of T4, 2 Merlin, 6 Woodcock, 12 Skylark, 2 Meadow Pipits, 5 Rock Pipits, 3 Robins, a Song Thrush, 7 Chaffinch, a Brambling, 85 Twite in the Kirbest crop, 7 Common Redpolls (three at Kirbest and four near Brides), 49 Snow Buntings and 10 Reed Buntings.
Other birds included an exceptionally late Manx Shearwater passing the seawatch hide, 7 Red-throated Divers, a Great-northern Diver, 5 Herons, the four Pink-footed Geese, 5 Red-breasted Mergansers, 62 Sanderling, 49 Dunlin, 14 Bar-tailed Godwits, 3 Grey Plover (one on The Links and two in Nouster) and a Little Auk falling prey to a Great Black-backed Gull just off the north end.
Velvet Scoter Simon Davies
Common Redpoll Simon Davies
A much brighter day with almost totally clear skies but we kept the strong SSE winds; a few hours spent out in the field up at the north end of the island was quiet with 2 Little Auks on the sea close into the foghorn the highlight. Other birds included 13 Red-throated Divers, 7 Herons, the 5 Pink-footed Geese still, 8 Gadwall, 10 Pintail, 2 Goldeneye, a Jack Snipe, 3 Robins, 120 Fieldfare, 45 Twite and 35 Snow Buntings.
Sunday, 18 November 2018
A very different day with a strong SE wind, low cloud and general murk (really, where was this earlier in the autumn?); there seemed to be a trickle of birds moving south down the west coast including 232 Fieldfare, 125 Redwing, a Mistle Thrush (only the second of the autumn), 2 Common Redpoll and a few Herring and Great Black-backed Gulls at sea.
Other totals through the day up the west coast and a little look at the other lochs included 2 Red-throated Divers, a Great-northern Diver, the 5 Pink-footed Geese, the Barnacle Goose, 16 Gadwall, the Green-winged Teal still on Gretchen, 15 Pintail, 9 Shoveler, 13 Tufted Duck, 4 Goldeneye, a Hen Harrier, 3 Merlin, 3 Woodcock, 2 Robins, 75 Blackbird, 4 Song Thrush, a Blackcap, 7 Chaffinches, a Brambling, a Linnet, 35 Twite, and 25 Snow Buntings.
Big, pale Common Redpoll from yesterday Simon Davies
A gorgeous day with very light SSW winds and almost wall to wall sunshine; we were unfortunately back down to a single observer but efforts with the nets at Holland really produced the goods as the island’s second HUME’S WARBLER was heard calling shortly after dawn and caught soon after, it was still present in the evening, calling frequently again just at dusk.
Other birds through the day around the southern end of the island with a little look around Torness, Lenswick and Westness included 2 Red-throated Divers, 5 Herons, 5 Pink-footed Geese, the Barnacle Goose, the Green-winged Teal still on Gretchen, 2 Goldeneye south past Trinley (very scarce so far this autumn), 2 Hen Harriers, single Merlin and Kestrel, a Woodcock, a Black-headed Gull, 7 Meadow Pipits, 6 Rock Pipits, 4 Robins, a Song Thrush, a Chiffchaff, 5 Chaffinches, a Brambling, 4 Linnets, 26 Twite, a Common Redpoll and 3 Snow Buntings.
Hume's Warbler Simon Davies
Thursday, 15 November 2018
Back to the bright and sunny conditions we’ve enjoyed of late, it was almost flat calm at first light but the SSW wind gradually but steadily increased through the day becoming a strong force 6-7 by the afternoon; some good coverage produced some improved counts from across the island including 7 Red-throated Divers, 2 Great-northern Divers, 5 Herons, single Whooper Swan and Pink-footed Goose with 1,055 Greylag Geese, 420 Wigeon, 5 Gadwall, 129 Teal, 45 Mallard, 11 Pintail, 20 Long-tailed Ducks, 11 Red-breasted Mergansers, 124 Ringed Plover, 261 Golden Plover, 101 Lapwing, 8 Knot, 84 Sanderling, 40 Purple Sandpipers, 68 Dunlin, 92 Snipe, 28 Bar-tailed Godwits, 66 Curlew, 101 Redshank, 172 Turnstone, a Black-headed Gull, 177 Common Gulls and 155 Great Black-backed Gulls.
It was quieter on the land but birds did include 16 Skylark, 6 Meadow Pipits, 21 Rock Pipits, a White Wagtail on the beach at Howar (the first alba Wagtail of any denomination since 29th October), a Robin, 92 Fieldfare, a Song Thrush, 102 Redwing, a Goldcrest, 11 Chaffinches, 82 Twite, 32 Snow Buntings and 8 Reed Buntings.
Wednesday, 14 November 2018
Limited coverage through the day which was a bit damp and dreary with a moderate SW wind and little spells of drizzle every so often; the days highlights consisted of an adult Iceland Gull on Bewan, a Black Redstart at the Kirk and a notable increase to 87 Twite.
Other totals through the day included 5 Red-throated Divers, a Great-northern Diver, 2 Heron, the Barnacle Goose, the Green-winged Teal still on Gretchen, 12 Pintail, a Hen Harrier, a Kestrel, 2 Merlin, 6 Skylarks, 7 Rock Pipits, 2 Robins, 2 Song Thrush, a Chiffchaff (one of the summering birds from Holland still here!), 6 Chaffinches, a Linnet and a Snow Bunting.
Tuesday, 13 November 2018
Fine weather again being almost flat calm at first light with the southerly wind slowly increasing through the day and with observer numbers back up to two it was no surprise that there were a few new birds seen which included the only Mistle Thrush of the autumn so far at Howar, 6 Blackcaps, a Rook (only the second record of the autumn) and 2 Greenfinches. Other birds across the land included the male Hen Harrier, a Merlin, a Kestrel, 2 Jack Snipe, a Woodcock, 5 Meadow Pipits, 11 Rock Pipits, 7 Robins, 57 Blackbirds, 40 Fieldfare, 3 Song Thrush, 127 Redwing, a Linnet, 22 Twite, a Common Redpoll, 14 Snow Buntings and 10 Reed Buntings.
Also of note were 7 Red-throated Diver, 3 Great-northern Divers, 2 Herons, the Whooper Swan, the Barnacle Goose, 338 Wigeon, 165 Teal and 4 Black-headed Gulls.
Monday, 12 November 2018
Another lovely day with light to moderate southerly winds and lots of bright, unbroken sunshine; it was very pleasant out in the field but there were few new birds with raptors the highlight in the fine weather comprising 3 Hen Harriers (a near-adult male and two first years), a young male Peregrine, a Kestrel and a Merlin all being seen on multiple occasions as they dashed around while the main oddity was a late Sooty Shearwater close in off The Links.
Other totals through the day with time spent around The Obs, Hooking and Brides census routes included 9 Red-throated Diver, 4 Herons, 6 Whooper Swans (a family party of five south and the lone bird still on Gretchen – which may be unable to fly), the 5 Pink-footed Geese, 275 Wigeon, 12 Gadwall, 6 Pintail, 18 Tufted Ducks, 18 Long-tailed Duck, 5 Red-breasted Mergansers, a single Ruff in fields near Holland, a Woodcock, 18 Bar-tailed Godwits, 14 Skylark, 10 Meadow Pipits, 8 Rock Pipit, a Robin, 4 Chaffinch, a Brambling, a Greenfinch, 4 Linnets, a notably increased 60 Twite (with several flocks seen heading south), 4 Common Redpolls, 2 Snow Bunting and 4 Reed Buntings.
Sunday, 11 November 2018
A lovely day with light SSE winds and plenty of bright sunshine; a walk round the south end of the island first thing produced the usual array of birds including 16 Red-throated Divers, 3 Great-northern Divers, single Whooper Swan, Pink-footed Goose and Barnacle Goose with the Greylags, the Green-winged Teal on Gretchen, 3 Pintail, a Kestrel, 9 Meadow Pipits (including seven out to the south), a Chiffchaff, 9 Chaffinches, a Brambling, 36 Twite and 15 Snow Buntings. After the Remembrance ceremony at the Memorial birds seen during a walk round Lenswick and Westness comprised 5 Herons, a Hen Harrier, a Jack Snipe, 14 Skylark, 16 Rock Pipits, another Brambling and 4 Reed Buntings.
It was very calm by the evening so I opened the nets at Holland where a surprising selection of new birds included a Long-eared Owl, a Woodpigeon (a very young one with no neck patch), a Woodcock, 3 Robins, 3 Blackcap and a Greenfinch.
Saturday, 10 November 2018
A much better day with far lighter SSE winds and the sun coming out in the afternoon; walked round the north and south ends of the island and managed to open some nets at Holland in the evening, there was a good selection of birds but nothing really new; totals included 7 Red-throated Divers, a Great-northern Diver, 4 Herons, a Whooper Swan, the 5 Pink-footed Geese and the Barnacle Goose with 822 Greylags, 14 Gadwall, the Green-winged Teal on Gretchen, 8 Pintail, a drake Goldeneye at Brides, 2 Hen Harriers, single Sparrowhawk and Kestrel, a Jack Snipe, 5 Woodcock, 2 Black-headed Gulls, 285 Herring Gulls (big flock at the top end again), 6 Skylark, 2 Robins, 86 Blackbird, 187 Fieldfare, 4 Song Thrush, 223 Redwing, a lingering Chiffchaff in Holland where there was also a Goldcrest, 8 Chaffinch, a Brambling, 30 Twite, 2 Common Redpoll and 21 Snow Buntings.
Friday, 9 November 2018
A difficult day with a blazing force 8 SSE wind but I walked around Hooking and Brides, concentrating on the coast at high tide (with a little look up at Bewan later as well) and the main feature was a good build-up of Gulls in the stormy weather including a smart 3cy Kumlien’s Gull feeding in the surf at Brides (not an age I’m very familiar with) in amongst totals of 190 Common Gulls, 516 Herring Gulls and 270 Great Black-backed Gulls.
Other birds included a Red-throated Diver, 2 Great-northern Divers, the Barnacle Goose (which has a white darvic ring – YUB was ringed on Islay in 2013), 14 Long-tailed Ducks, 5 Red-breasted Mergansers, a Hen Harrier, 2 Merlin, increased totals of 138 Ringed Plover and 45 Dunlin with big flocks on The Links, a Jack Snipe, 2 Black-headed Gulls, 11 Rock Pipits, a Robin, 62 Fieldfare, 95 Redwing, a Jackdaw by the lighthouse, a single Common Redpoll at Holland and 7 Snow Buntings.
(Excuse the first person narrative but I'm the only observer at the moment!)
Kumlien's Gull Simon Davies
Thursday, 8 November 2018
A much nicer day with lighter SE winds and plenty of bright, unbroken sunshine; unfortunately, due to other commitments (drinking in Kirkwall!) coverage was limited to the afternoon and just around the Obs and Holland but included a Whooper Swan, 5 Pink-footed Geese with the Greylags, the Green-winged Teal still on Gretchen where there was also a drake Goldeneye (only the second of the autumn), single Hen Harrier, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel and Merlin, 2 Ruff in fields near Holland – first ones since mid-October and only the fourth November record, 4 Woodcock, a Black-headed Gull, 3 Meadow Pipits, 35 Blackbirds (including a Danish control bird trapped at Holland at dusk), 42 Fieldfare, 2 Song Thrush, 55 Redwing, 2 Blackcaps, a Chiffchaff, 6 Chaffinches, a Brambling, 35 Twite and a Common Redpoll.
Another Woodcock picture!
More promising conditions through the day as we kept the strong SE winds and combined it with low cloud, murk and a few drops of rain (where were these conditions a month ago?!); there was a small selection of new birds across the island including a decent arrival of Thrushes as totals included 2 Hen Harriers, a Kestrel, 2 Merlin (including a new adult male), 5 Woodcock, 5 Meadow Pipits,4 Rock Pipits, 5 Robins, 80 Blackbird, 257 Fieldfare, 4 Song Thrush, 177 Redwing, a Blackcap, 2 Jackdaws, 6 Chaffinches, 3 Linnets, 42 Twite, 19 Common Redpolls and 28 Snow Buntings.
Other counts of note comprised 2 Red-throated Divers, 2 Great-northern Divers, 5 Herons, 2 Whooper Swans, the Barnacle Goose, 253 Wigeon, 8 Gadwall, 160 Teal, 80 Mallard, 15 Pintail, 9 Shoveler, 16 Tufted Duck and 5 Red-breasted Mergansers.
Woodcock in off
A rough day with strong SE winds but it remained largely dry; it was quiet out in the field despite the good feeling conditions with the day’s highlights comprising a Whooper Swan, a new Barnacle Goose with the Greylags, the Green-winged Teal still on Gretchen, 2 Hen Harriers, 2 Knot up the west coast, 7 Woodcock, a Meadow Pipit, 8 Rock Pipits, 2 Robins, 64 Blackbirds, 83 Fieldfares, 4 Song Thrush, 129 Redwing, 2 Chaffinches, 2 Linnets, 30 Twite and 19 Snow Buntings.
Woodcock Simon Davies
Tuesday, 6 November 2018
The southerly winds dropped right off through the day, almost becoming still for a spell, unfortunately through light but very persistent rain moved in a few hours after dawn which never stopped at all until dark; the days highlight was an almost certain Coue’s Arctic Redpoll at Ancum with 21 Common Redpolls – all the features seemed to fit apart from perhaps too much streaking on the rump. There were a few new birds through the day including a Kestrel, 5 Woodcock, 8 Meadow Pipits, 3 Robins, 65 Blackbirds, 76 Fieldfares, 2 Song Thrush, 160 Redwing, 2 Blackcaps, a Chiffchaff, 5 Chaffinches, a Brambling, 16 Twite, 5 Snow Bunting and a Yellowhammer at Holland.
Also of note were 3 Herons, 2 Whooper Swans, 185 Wigeon, 10 Gadwall, 9 Pintail and a Grey Plover.
Coue's Arctic Redpoll Simon Davies
Monday, 5 November 2018
We kept the strong southerly winds but there was more sunshine with long spells of clear skies; Gulls were again obvious with a smart juvenile Kumilen’s Gull the highlight, first at Westness, then on rocks at Lenswick, then in Nouster in the afternoon while other totals included 75 Common Gulls, 177 Herring Gulls and 142 Great Black-backed Gulls. Other birds of note comprised 6 Herons, a Whooper Swan, the Green-winged Teal still, 12 Pintail and single Grey Plover and Knot with 111 Purple Sandpipers.
The land was quieter with just 2 Merlin, 60 Blackbirds, 44 Fieldfare, 76 Redwing, 2 Chiffchaffs, 9 Chaffinches, a Brambling and 25 Twite to mention.
Kumlien's Gull George Gay
Sunday, 4 November 2018
A very strong southerly wind and heavy cloud replaced the fine conditions but it remained largely dry throughout the day; the main feature of the day was a big arrival and southerly passage of Gulls comprising 732+ Great Black-backed Gulls, 385+ Herring Gulls and 156 Common Gulls in amongst which were 2 Glaucous Gulls – both first year birds. Other totals included 8 Red-throated Divers, 4 Great-northern Divers, 2 Whooper Swans, 185 Wigeon, 163 Teal, the Green-winged Teal still, 62 Mallard, 8 Pintail, 13 Shoveler, 15 Tufted Duck, 12 Long-tailed Duck, the long overdue first Goldeneye of the autumn, 5 Red-breasted Mergansers and 591 Golden Plover.
On the land, migrants comprised 3 Hen Harriers (including the adult male still), a Merlin, a Jack Snipe, 5 Woodcock, a Woodpigeon, 64 Fieldfare, a Song Thrush, 73 Redwing, 2 Jackdaw, 19 Chaffinches, 4 Brambling, 41 Twite, 22 Common Redpoll, a Lesser Redpoll and 8 Snow Buntings.
Glaucous Gull Simon Davies
Another nice, sunny day with the light SW wind still; a couple of new arrivals included an adult male Hen Harrier at Brides, a new Long-eared Owl trapped in Holland and another Lesser Redpoll, also trapped in Holland. Other birds across the land comprised a big female Peregrine, 3 Robins, a Wheatear hanging on, 10 Meadow Pipits, 58 Fieldfare, 79 Redwing, a Goldcrest, 2 Jackdaws, 5 Chaffinches, a Brambling, a Greenfinch, 42 Twite, 4 Common Redpoll, 18 Snow Buntings, a Lapland Bunting and 8 Reed Bunting.
Also of note were 8 Red-throated Divers, a notable influx of 28 Long-tailed Ducks, 4 Red-breasted Mergansers and a Grey Plover.
Friday, 2 November 2018
Once the early morning rain had moved through it was another fine day with light SW winds still and some long spells of sunshine; there was the odd new bird found through the day with a trickle of Finches noted on the move which included 11 Chaffinches, 2 Brambling, 2 Greenfinches, a Goldfinch, an increase to 57 Twite, 14 Common Redpoll and a single Lesser Redpoll trapped at Ancum as it came into roost. Other birds across the island included 2 Hen Harriers, a Kestrel, 2 Woodcock, a Woodpigeon, a Short-eared Owl, a Wheatear, 30 Fieldfare, 57 Redwing, 2 Goldcrest, a Jackdaw, a Lapland Bunting and 6 Snow Buntings.
Other totals of note on the first day of the month comprised 8 Red-throated Divers, a Black-throated Diver in Nouster, a Great-northern Diver, 5 Herons, 4 Whooper Swans, 216 Wigeon, 10 Gadwall, 116 Teal, the Green-winged Teal still on Gretchen, 46 Mallard, 13 Pintail, 12 Long-tailed Duck, 9 Red-breasted Mergansers, 364 Golden Plover and a Grey Plover.
Migrant Wren (on the right), desperate times!
A fine day with light SW winds and largely clear skies; as a result there were few new grounded migrants (the phrase ‘its too nice’ was heard on multiple occasions) with totals comprising 2 Hen Harriers, 3 Merlin, a Peregrine, 3 Woodcock, 18 Skylark, 16 Meadow Pipit, 20 Rock Pipits, 5 Robins, a Wheatear, 56 Fieldfare, 15 Song Thrush, 109 Redwing, 3 Goldcrest, 7 Chaffinches, 6 Brambling, 21 Twite, 49 Common Redpolls still and 4 Snow Buntings.
Other birds of note included 9 Red-throated Divers, 2 Great-northern Divers, 4 Herons, 12 Pintail, a Grey Plover and 2 Jack Snipe.