Saturday, 30 March 2019

30th March

Bright and sunny throughout with only a couple of short-sharp showers to keep you on your toes but very windy, making it difficult in the field; there were still new birds to be had despite the wind with the first couple of Puffins off the top end, the first Chiffchaff of the year around the Obs and a fine male Lapland Bunting with Skylarks at Sandar.   Other totals included 7 Mute Swans still, 2 Pink-footed Geese, 2 Goldeneye, a Jack Snipe at Brides, 3 Woodpigeons, a much-increased total of 390+ Skylarks, 5 Redwing, a Greenfinch at Howar, 29 Twite, a Common Redpoll, 4 Snow Buntings and 11 Reed Buntings – a few extra migrants, with many getting back on territory.

Raven being seen off

Friday, 29 March 2019

29th March

A bright and breezy start with a spell of drizzly, damp, murk late morning becoming dry again with the wind slightly dropping in the afternoon; it was a good day in the field with year ticks cropping up all over the place comprising a Jack Snipe at Hooking (unusually scarce this winter), 2 Goldfinch at the Obs – only the third March record, a Bonxie off the north end beating up Great Black-backs and finally a Goldcrest caught at Holland in the evening.   

The days highlight though was an adult White-tailed Eagle seen briefly during the drizzly weather late morning (possibly the same bird that was later seen on Westray).   Other totals included 9 Great-northern Divers, 2 Barnacle Geese, 9 Gadwall, the drake Green-winged Teal still, 15 Long-tailed Ducks, a Merlin, a young female Peregrine which killed a Tystie on the west coast, a Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 2 Woodpigeons, 25+ Pied Wagtails, a Wheatear on The Links, a Song Thrush, 2 Chaffinches, a further increase to 26 Linnets, 6 Twite and 4 Snow Buntings.


Thursday, 28 March 2019

28th March

Still breezy from the SW but slightly lighter than yesterday and remaining dry; the marginal slackening in the wind produced a decent day of visible migration with a steady southbound trickle of birds right through the day including the first 4 Rooks of the year (two more grounded birds were also seen), Skylarks, Meadow Pipits, Pied Wagtails and Starlings along with small flocks of Black-headed Gulls, Common Gulls and Greylags.

                The pick of the days other migrants was the first Wheatear of the year at Stennabreck while totals comprised 2 Herons, 7 Mute Swans (including a newly arrived pair), 698 Greylag Geese, 3 Pink-footed Geese, the Green-winged Teal still, a Hen Harrier, 3 Merlin (with two in off the sea at the north end), 360 Golden Plover, 5 Lesser Black-backed Gulls (highest count so far), the Sandwich Tern still, 2 Woodpigeons, 113 Skylarks, 194+ Meadow Pipits, 10 Rock Pipits, 25 Pied Wagtails, 2 Chaffinches, 30 Twite, a Common Redpoll and 5 Snow Buntings.


Lesser Black-backed Gull

Wednesday, 27 March 2019

27th March

Still very windy from the SW but it was largely dry throughout the day; totals today included the 2 Barnacle Geese, 10 Gadwall, the drake Green-winged Teal, 8 Pintail, 11 Shoveler, 27 Tufted Ducks, a Hen Harrier, a Black-tailed Godwit, a Woodpigeon, 90 Skylarks, a bit of an increase to 108 Meadow Pipits, 12 Rock Pipits, 17 Pied Wagtails, a Song Thrush, 4 Linnets and 9 Snow Buntings.


Tuesday, 26 March 2019

26th March

A wet and windy day with the strong SW winds bringing long periods of drizzly rain and low cloud; the days highlights comprised the first Sandwich Tern of the year fishing in Nouster and a 2cy Glaucous Gull which flew through as folks were twitching the Tern.   With two new volunteers now finding their feet coverage was good despite the difficult weather and totals from across the island included 7 Great-northern Divers, the 5 Mute Swans, the drake Green-winged Teal still on Gretchen, 4 Pintail, 22 Tufted Ducks, 15 Long-tailed Duck, 9 Red-breasted Mergansers, a Lesser Black-backed Gull, 92 Skylark, 4 Linnets, 30 Twite, a Common Redpoll and 4 Reed Buntings.

Sandwich Tern


Monday, 25 March 2019

25th March

The westerly winds had eased overnight leaving just a moderate breeze through the day and very few showers – much better!   Not much had sneaked through onto the island as totals comprised 3 Pink-footed Geese, 2 Barnacle Geese, 7 Shelduck, 4 Goldeneye, 2 Hen Harriers, a Merlin, 230 Golden Plover, a Black-tailed Godwit on Ancum, 24 Bar-tailed Godwit, 95 Redshank, 2 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, a Woodpigeon, 132 Skylark, 65 Meadow Pipits, 20 Rock Pipits, 16 Pied Wagtails, a Robin, a Chaffinch, 9 Snow Buntings and 5 Reed Buntings.


Sunday, 24 March 2019

24th March

A similar day to yesterday with strong westerly winds still dominating but the squalls that came blasting across the island were more frequent and punishing; there were some new wildfowl arrivals despite the weather with 7 adult Whooper Swans together on the airfield and a lone first-year on Sjaiver while 6 Pink-footed Geese near Holland were also new.

                Other totals included 6 Shelduck (with pairs busy prospecting likely looking rabbit burrows), 2 Hen Harriers, 2 Merlin, a Lesser Black-backed Gull and the 2 Woodpigeons.

Whooper Swans                                          George Gay

Saturday, 23 March 2019

23rd March

Still very windy with the blazing force 7-8 westerly bringing several intense, vicious hail showers sweeping through but like yesterday, bright sunshine dominated in between; little new was seen over the course of the day but totals included 4 Great-northern Divers, 5 Herons, 2 Pink-footed Geese, 12 Long-tailed Ducks, 12 Red-breasted Mergansers, 3 Merlin (including a male in off the sea at the north end with prey), quite a few Gulls feeding in the surf comprising 141 Black-headed, 217 Common and 89 Great Black-backs, 108 Kittiwakes north past the top end in half an hour mid-afternoon, the 2 Woodpigeons, 16 Fieldfare and 2 Snow Buntings.

Long-tailed Duck

Pied Wagtail

Friday, 22 March 2019

22nd March

A rough day with a blazing strong and increasing SSW wind and some particularly nasty squalls blasting across the island but there was some good spells of sunshine in between; the day’s highlight came mid-afternoon when a brute of a first-winter WHITE-TAILED EAGLE was seen sat on the edge of Gretchen Loch briefly before it flew across Loch Park and out to sea over Nouster Bay before it was defeated by the extremely strong winds and turned back over Stromness Point to fly inland again.

Other totals in the difficult conditions included 5 Herons, a Pink-footed Goose, 2 Barnacle Geese near Claypows (the first of the year), 18 Red-breasted Mergansers, 3 Goldeneye, an adult male Hen Harrier – new in, 172 Purple Sandpipers, 111 Skylarks, 52 Meadow Pipit, 18 Rock Pipits, 10 Pied Wagtails, 2 Chaffinches, 4 Linnets, 26 Twite and 5 Reed Buntings.  

White-tailed Eagle                             Simon Davies

Thursday, 21 March 2019

21st March

A lovely day with plenty of bright sunshine and a moderate but decreasing SSW wind; there were some good signs of some landbird migration with a Greenfinch at Sangar and a Jackdaw south down The Links both new for the year along with a notable influx of 62 Meadow Pipits (the first double-figure count of the year), 16 Pied Wagtails and 20 Rock Pipits.

                Other totals included 4 Herons, 6 Shelduck, a Hen Harrier, a Merlin, a 2cy male Peregrine, 170+ Black-headed Gulls (including 130 back at Hooking), the 2 Woodpigeons, 128 Skylark, a Song Thrush, an influx of 20+ Linnets, 2 Common Redpolls and 9 Snow Buntings.

Shelduck and Common Gull

Wednesday, 20 March 2019

20th March

Not a bad morning with a moderate westerly breeze and some sunshine but it deteriorated by the afternoon becoming wet and windier; the day’s highlight was a lovely adult Kumlien’s Gull at Bewan in the afternoon.   There were some other hints of early spring movements through the day with a female Stonechat at Howar, a much-improved total of 12 Pied Wagtails and a further influx of 168+ Black-headed Gulls (including 70+ back at the Hooking colony).

                A seawatch first thing produced decent totals of 167 Kittiwakes and 565 Auk sp. while a trickle of Skylarks and a couple of Golden Plover came in off.   

Other totals with some good coverage included 7 Red-throated Divers, 5 Mute Swans, 6 Shelduck, 189 Wigeon, 6 Gadwall, 205 Teal, the drake Green-winged Teal still on Gretchen, 10 Pintail, 35 Tufted Duck, 8 Long-tailed Ducks, 3 Goldeneye, 20 Red-breasted Mergansers (the highest total of the year so far), a Hen Harrier, 334 Golden Plover, 174 Lapwing, a Knot, 147 Purple Sandpipers, 19 Dunlin, 105 Redshank, 150 Turnstone, the 2 Woodpigeons still, 140 Skylarks, 16 Rock Pipits, 2 Chaffinches, 32 Twite, a Common Redpoll and a Snow Bunting.

Kumlien's Gull                                               Simon Davies

Tuesday, 19 March 2019

19th March

A breezy, overcast day with an increasing force 6 south-westerly bringing periods of rain, especially in the afternoon; migrants comprised 4 Pied Wagtails and a female Sparrowhawk (the second one of the year).   Other birds included 4 Herons, 5 Shelduck, a Merlin, 180 Purple Sandpipers, 27 Bar-tailed Godwits, an influx of 104+ Black-headed Gulls (with increased numbers very noisy around the Hooking colony), 5 Meadow Pipits, 13 Rock Pipits, a Song Thrush, 5 Twite and 3 Snow Buntings.


Monday, 18 March 2019

18th March

A glorious day with wall to wall sunshine and very light southerly winds, a real contrast to yesterday’s blazing strong NW wind and hail showers; an hour’s seawatch first thing produced some increased totals including 80 Gannets, 91 Kittiwakes and 1,352 Auk sp. – mainly Razorbills.   There were still limited new arrivals as birds of note comprised 5 Mute Swans still, 5 Shelduck, 3 Goldeneye, 2 Hen Harriers, a adult female Peregrine, a Merlin, the 2 Woodpigeons still, 3 Chaffinches and a bit of an influx of 10 Linnets.   More excitingly though, George is back for a month, expect big things....

Hen Harrier

Saturday, 16 March 2019

16th March

After a rough and windy day yesterday, it was a much better birding day with lighter winds becoming almost still at lunchtime but a few showers – including a prolonged spell of rain late afternoon preventing a trip to the nets.   Totals through the day included 4 Herons, 5 Mute Swans, 5 Shelduck, 8 Gadwall, 127 Teal, the drake Green-winged Teal still, 12 Shoveler, 3 Goldeneye, 9 Rock Pipits, a Pied Wagtail, a Robin, 21 Fieldfare, 2 Chaffinches, 3 Linnets and 2 Snow Buntings.


Thursday, 14 March 2019

14th March

Overcast and calm first thing becoming sunny and calm becoming sunny and breezy by the end of the day; some increased coverage in the pleasant conditions produced some increased counts but it didn’t seem like there was much new around but the first Snipe was drumming and Black-headed Gulls were displaying at Westness, illustrating that the spring is indeed progressing, albeit slowly!   Totals included 29 Great-northern Divers, 5 Mute Swans, the Eurasian White-fronted Goose and 3 Pink-footed Geese still, the drake Green-winged Teal on Gretchen, 19 Long-tailed Ducks, a Hen Harrier, 380 Golden Plover, 51 Sanderling, 70 Black-headed Gulls, the 2 Woodpigeons, 210 Skylark, 10 Rock Pipits, 53 Twite, a Common Redpoll and 12 Snow Buntings.

Fulmar having a bath

Wednesday, 13 March 2019

13th March

Another very similar day with bright and sunny conditions and a brisk, chilly NW wind; the underwhelming bird highlights comprised 3 2cy Mute Swans new in on Garso and now 2 Woodpigeons at Holland.   Other birds included 3 Pink-footed Geese, 4 Shelduck, 106 Teal, 9 Gadwall, 7 Pintail, 16 Shoveler, 67 Ringed Plover, 390 Golden Plover, 285 Lapwings, 48 Sanderling, 35 Dunlin, the Ruff still, 83 Curlew, 139 Redshank, 166 Turnstone, 290 Skylark, 21 Fieldfare, 14 Redwing and a single Snow Bunting.

Shoveler and Pintail


Tuesday, 12 March 2019

12th March

Bright and sunny most of the day again with very few clouds to be seen but the very strong SW wind made it difficult out in the field; the first Woodpigeon of the year in Holland was the day’s only new bird but other totals from around the south of the island included the drake Green-winged Teal still, 16 Shoveler, 290 Golden Plover, 75 Skylark, 2 Meadow Pipits and 4 Rock Pipits.

Eiders feeding in the surf

Monday, 11 March 2019

11th March

Generally bright and sunny but with a strong and increasing SW wind and a few sharp hail showers; birds seen through the day included 2 Pink-footed Geese, 4 Shelduck, 6 Gadwall, 18 Shoveler, a Hen Harrier, 370 Golden Plover, the Ruff, 36 Bar-tailed Godwits, 57 Dunlin, 165 Skylark, 4 Chaffinches, 2 Linnets and 14 Snow Buntings.



Sunday, 10 March 2019

10th March

A gorgeous day with plenty of sunshine and light westerly winds after a couple of horrible, wet and windy unbirdable days; some good coverage in the fine weather revealed that everything was still in place and nothing had changed (the only out-of-place birds were two Coots wandering around on The Links!).   Totals through the day included 3 Pink-footed Geese, 208 Wigeon, 5 Gadwall, 180 Teal, the drake Green-winged Teal still on Gretchen, 8 Shoveler, 20 Tufted Duck, 17 Long-tailed Ducks, a Hen Harrier, 116 Oystercatchers, 46 Ringed Plovers, 260 Golden Plover, 172 Lapwing, a Knot, 53 Dunlin, the Ruff again, 120 Snipe, 220 Snipe, 4 Meadow Pipits, 14 Rock Pipits, 6 Fieldfares, 8 Redwing, the 5 Chaffinches still, 40 Twite, 2 Common Redpolls, 17 Snow Buntings and 5 Reed Buntings.

                It was nice and calm in the evening so I opened the nets at Holland for the first time in ages and while not much was caught, the catch did include a couple of very long-winged, adult male Blackbirds which suggests that the first few migrants are sneaking back through.   Two Linnets also came into roost, the wintering Water Rail was seen again and a new Robin was trapped.

The waves were still crashing in to the west coast - the remnant's of yesterdays strong winds 

Thursday, 7 March 2019

7th March

Once the rain had moved through, it was generally a bright and sunny day but the blazing force 7-8 northerly wind made conditions tricky in the field; a couple of new bits included 2 Stonechats along the road at Claypows and a Ruff near Hooking – presumably one of the wintering birds popping back up but they were last seen on 10th February.   Other totals included the Eurasian White-fronted Goose still, 15 Shoveler, 11 Red-breasted Mergansers, a Hen Harrier and increased numbers of Gulls feeding in the surf at high tide with 41 Black-headed Gulls, 415 Common Gulls, 65 Herring Gulls and 128 Great Black-backed Gulls.

Stonechats and Gulls

Wednesday, 6 March 2019

6th March

A very similar day to yesterday, overcast with the cold, NE breeze still cutting through you; an hour’s seawatch first thing was slow as totals just included 46 Kittiwakes and 172 Auk sp. while elsewhere the highlights unsurprisingly remained the same with the drake Green-winged Teal on Gretchen, the drake Smew on Bewan and the Eurasian White-fronted Goose still.   Other birds included a Pink-footed Goose, 6 Pintail, a Merlin, the 5 Chaffinches still, 55 Twite and the 3 Common Redpolls.

Snow Buntings

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

5th March

Overcast but dry with a chilly, moderate NE breeze; all the highlights remained the same with the drake Green-winged Teal on Gretchen and the drake Smew on Bewan.   Other birds included 3 Pink-footed Geese, 5 Goldeneye, single Hen Harrier and Merlin, 12 Rock Pipits and 33 Snow Buntings. 


Monday, 4 March 2019

4th March

A decent day, overcast with a light westerly breeze; it remained pretty constant out in the field with little in the way of new arrivals as totals included 8 Great-northern Divers, 6 Herons, the Eurasian White-fronted Goose, 2 Pink-footed Geese, 5 Shelduck, the drake Green-winged Teal still on Gretchen, 16 Shoveler, the drake Smew still on Bewan, a Hen Harrier, 360 Golden Plover, 2 Knot, 70 Sanderling, 38 Dunlin, an adult Lesser Black-backed Gull near the Mill, 165 Skylarks, 7 Meadow Pipits, 7 Rock Pipits, 21 Fieldfares, 18 Redwing and 4 Chaffinches.

Sunday, 3 March 2019

3rd March

Generally bright and sunny with a strong SW wind making it uncomfortable out in the field; birds seen during brief looks at likely spots around high tide included 7 Herons at Westness, 2 Pink-footed Geese, 8 Gadwall, 6 Pintail, 17 Shoveler, 5 Goldeneye, the drake Smew still on Bewan, 13 Red-breasted Mergansers (the highest count of the year so far), 270 Golden Plover, 211 Purple Sandpipers, a notable influx of 72+ Black-headed Gulls, 225 Common Gulls, 97+ Great Black-backed Gulls, 200+ Skylarks and 4 Chaffinches.

Saturday, 2 March 2019

2nd March

After a damp start it was a nice and bright middle of the day with a moderate but increasing southerly breeze bringing rain by the end of the afternoon; there was little new in the south end of the island as totals included the Eurasian White-fronted Goose, a Pink-footed Goose, the drake Green-winged Teal still, 246 Golden Plover, 9 Black-headed Gulls, 244+ Skylarks (with several flocks heading south and a big flock of 150+ near the school), 3 Chaffinches, 42 Twite, 2 Common Redpolls and 36 Snow Buntings.   The pond in front of T1 is chock full of mating Common Frogs with a conservative 400 present including an amazing looking albino individual – never seen the like!

The North Ronaldsay Golden Frog

Friday, 1 March 2019

1st March

A decent day, bright with an increasing SE breeze; a walk up the west coast and back down the middle combined with a little drive around didn’t produce too many new birds with the exception of 4 Ravens which flew very high south and a few flocks of Skylarks heading south at sea.   Other totals included the Eurasian White-fronted Goose, 3 Pink-footed Geese, 8 Gadwall, the drake Green-winged Teal still on Gretchen, 8 Pintail, the drake Smew still on Bewan, 139 Skylarks, a Pied Wagtail, 2 Song Thrush and the 5 Chaffinches.

Not all the Tysties have turned black yet