wind switched round into the SSE while remaining brisk and cold; a little
seawatch produced a Great Skuapast the Lighthouse (the
first one since October and somewhat surprisingly the first December record I
could find) along with 130 Auk sp. in twenty minutes.Other birds seen around the lochs included 3
Mute Swans, 8 Gadwall, 5 Pintail, 10 Shoveler, 4 Goldeneye, a Hen Harrier, a Merlin,
4 Ruff still, 135 Common Gulls, a Robin, 3 Fieldfare, 9 Redwing and 19 Snow
Buntings on the beach at Brides.
Not a bad day with lighter
NNW winds and no showers; it was quiet out in the field but a walk along the
coast from The Obs to The Links produced 8 Red-throated Divers, a
Great-northern Diver, 2 Herons, 23 Long-tailed Duck, the Kestrel, 235 Golden Plover,
40 Sanderling, 108 Purple Sandpipers, 2 Black-headed Gulls, 110 Common Gulls,
13 Rock Pipits, a Robin, 4 Fieldfare, a Song Thrush, 9 Redwing, 6 Chaffinches
still, 19 Twite and 102 Snow Buntings.
We kept the brisk, cold
NNW wind but far fewer showers came through; coverage was limited to a few
hours spent walking round the Obs / Holland / Kirbest which produced the drake Green-winged Tealstill on Gretchen, 12 Shoveler, a Goldeneye south at sea, a
Hen Harrier, a big, young female Peregrine (the first of
the month), 10 Skylarks, 5 Rock Pipit, 6 Fieldfare, 8 Redwing, 60 Twite, 4 Common
Redpolls still, 10 Snow Buntings and 4 Reed Buntings.
The wind had switched to a
brisk NW bringing regular, nasty showers sweeping across the island; little
look around Brides and the north end produced 7 Great-northern Divers, a Heron,
3 Mute Swans, a Whooper Swan, a different adult Eurasian White-fronted
Rue, 12 Shoveler, 6 Goldeneye (highest count since the spring), the drake Smew still at Bewan, 6 Red-breasted Mergansers, a Hen
Harrier, 4 Ruffstill, 29 Bar-tailed Godwits and a total of 98 Snow Buntings
with several flocks roaming around.
A brisk southerly wind
through the day but it remained largely dry with some bright sunshine in the
afternoon; a walk round the coast from the Obs to Brides and then to The Links
produced good numbers of birds which included 270 Wigeon, 115 Teal, 22 Tufted
Duck, 20 Long-tailed Ducks, a female Common Scoteroff Stromness Point, 2
Goldeneye, good totals of 121 Ringed Plover and 81 Dunlin on The Links, 4 Ruffand
2 Knot with Golden Plover at Cauldhaim, a Woodcock in Holland, 3 Black-headed
Gulls (the first ones this month), a good build-up of Gulls including 130
Common Gulls, 460 Herring Gulls and 365 Great Black-backed Gulls.
Across the land birds of note comprised 9 Skylarks, a
Meadow Pipit, 9 Rock Pipits, 7 Fieldfares, 24 Redwing, 3 Common Redpolls still
with 71 Twite in Kirbest, at least 93 Snow Buntings spread out along the coast
and 3 Reed Buntings.
Persistent rain through
the morning and early afternoon limited observations to barely an hour between
the rain [kind of] stopping and dusk falling, so a van safari of the lochs
produced the highlight of the returning drake Smew on
Bewan (presumably the drake that was first seen in November 2016 and that has
been returning each winter since).Other birds included 3 Mute Swans (a new adult plus the pair from the 4th),
3 Whooper Swans (two adults and a juvenile), 9 Shoveler, 26 Tufted Duck (the
highest count since the spring), 4 Goldeneye, 2 Hen Harriers, 2 Kestrels, a
Merlin, a Knot and the 5 Ruffwith 150 Redshank, 13
Fieldfare, 26 Redwing and 22 Snow Buntings at Brides.
lovely, stunning day with hardly a breath of wind and plenty of sunshine, there
was even a hint of some late visible migration going on with a flock of 82 Snow Buntingsat the north end later seen flying south out at sea with 5
Skylark and a Meadow Pipit also coming in off the sea from the north.Other birds included 2 Heron, 2 Whooper
Swans, 9 Gadwall, 3 Goldeneye, a Hen Harrier, 2 Kestrels, 2 Merlin, 68
Oystercatchers, 120 Purple Sandpipers, a Woodcock at Holland House, 6
Fieldfare, 32 Redwing, 5 Chaffinches and a Common Redpoll.
A good birding day, no
doubt helped by the almost flat calm conditions, although light rain persisted
through the afternoon; the highlights included an adult European
White-fronted Goosewith Greylags near Hooking (new for the year), a group of 5 Rufffeeding
with Redshank near Waterhouse (the first December record for the island) and a Black-throated Diverin Nouster.
Other birds included 12 Red-throated Divers, 26
Great-northern Divers (highest total since May), 2 Mute Swans(the first ones since the
breeding pair left at the start of July), 2 Whooper Swans, 2 Pink-footed Geese,
248 Wigeon, 7 Gadwall, 139 Teal, the Green-winged Tealstill, 9 Pintail, 25
Long-tailed Duck, 3 Goldeneye, 6 Red-breasted Mergansers, 280 Golden Plover, 19
Bar-tailed Godwits and a Black-tailed Godwit(first one since October).
Landbirds of note comprised single Hen Harrier,
Merlin and Kestrel, 7 Rock Pipits, a Robin, 3 Fieldfare, 6 Redwing, 3
Chaffinches, 36 Twite, 29 Snow Buntings and 3 Reed Buntings.
A glorious day, almost
flat calm and plenty of bright sunshine; unfortunately, sightings were limited
to first thing in the morning before the boat came in, the highlight being a
pod of 5+ ORCA,
seen distantly from the Obs as they went north past Stromness Point towards
Brides (the first December record as far I can see!).Birds round the Obs included a Kestrel, a
single Pink-footed Goose with the Greylags in Loch Park, 3 Great-northern
Divers, a Song Thrush, the 7 Chaffinches still and 20 Snow Buntings.
This smart Blue Fulmar was the highlight of the boat trip to Kirkwall
Slightly lighter winds
through the day but with some longer spells of rain; birds seen during a walk
round the southern part of the island included 3 Red-throated Divers, 2
Great-northern Divers, 2 Herons, 10 Whooper Swans (two family parties), the
drake Green-winged Tealstill on Gretchen where there were also 23 Shoveler (the highest count of the year), 12 Skylark, a
Meadow Pipit, a Song Thrush, 7 Chaffinches still at the Obs, a Snow Bunting and
a few birds still in the Kirbest sacrificial crop comprising 24 Twite, 7 Common
Redpolls and 8 Reed Buntings.
A rough few days with the
wind switching back into the SW and picking up to gale force 8 for most of time,
bringing heavy, stinging, driving rain for much of the time; coverage was
understandably reduced (back down to one observer with little motivation to get
out in the field!); wildfowl totals on the 30th included 4 Whooper
Swans (three adults and a juvenile), 10 Gadwall, 4 Pintail, 16 Shoveler, 16
Tufted Duck, 4 Goldeneye and 5 Red-breasted Mergansers while the rough weather
brought an influx of 550+ Herring Gulls and 270+ Great Black-backed Gull.One of the lingering Kestrels was still
present on the 28th and two Hen Harriers were still floating around
on the 30th – one of which caught a Moorhen opposite the Post