Saturday, 31 August 2019

30th August

A wet and windy morning, easing off by lunchtime but the showers not really stopping until mid-afternoon when the southerly wind also died away; some good totals were posted through the day, especially after the rain stopped but there was nothing really different in amongst the high counts.   Numbers included a Red-throated Diver, 12 Sooty Shearwaters, 4 Manx Shearwaters, 2 Herons, single Hen Harrier and Peregrine, 665 Golden Plover, 128 Lapwing, 46 Knot, 115 Sanderling, a Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Whimbrel, 112 Redshank, 2 Green Sandpipers, 247 Turnstone, a good 14 Swifts (a good count for this late in the year), 240 Meadow Pipits, a Whinchat, 260+ Wheatears, 4 Willow Warblers and the Holland House Linnet roost up to 340.



29th August

A decent day with moderate southerly winds and plenty of sunshine until some nasty showers moved in late afternoon; a quiet day really with some dedicated seawatching producing 35 Sooty Shearwaters and 38 Manx Shearwaters whilst elsewhere on the island, totals comprised 9 Pintail, 58 Teal, single Hen Harrier and Peregrine, 2 Ruff, a Whinchat, a Song Thrush, a Garden Warbler, 6 Willow Warblers and a Goldcrest.

Hen Harrier

Thursday, 29 August 2019

28th August

After the thick fog and outbreaks of rain had cleared by mid-morning, it was a pleasant day with a moderate SSW wind and spells of sunshine; there was a light sprinkling of birds across the island with long-staying individuals providing the highlights as totals comprised 9 Herons, single Hen Harrier and Peregrine, 349 Golden Plover, 66 Knot, a Ruff, a Whimbrel, 97 Curlew, a Green Sandpiper, 3 Common Terns past Trinley, the Shorelark which reappeared on Torness, 129 Swallows, 254+ Meadow Pipits, 4 Whinchat, 119+ Wheatears, a Garden Warbler, the Greenish Warbler still at Senness, 3 Willow Warblers and 2 Pied Flycatchers.

Arctic Skua

Wednesday, 28 August 2019

27th August

A stunning day, very calm, bright, warm sunshine, a light easterly breeze and amazingly…no fog!   Perhaps unsurprisingly, there were fewer grounded migrants than yesterday in the fine conditions but still a decent spread across the island as highlights included the Greenish Warbler still at Senness, the Wood Warbler still in Holland, a Corncrake flushed from Senness (presumably a migrant, not one of the breeding birds) and more excitingly, a little covey of 5 Quail flushed together from near Kirbest Farm – surely a family party and the first confirmed successful breeding on the island (a male was singing in this area in the spring).   Other birds comprised 2 Sooty Shearwaters off the Lighthouse, the Hen Harrier, single Merlin and Peregrine, 3 Ruff, a Short-eared Owl, 2 Swifts, 170+ Swallows, 2 Whinchats, 124+ Wheatears, a Lesser Whitethroat (first of the autumn), a Whitethroat, 6 Willow Warblers, a Goldcrest and a Pied Flycatcher.

Short-eared Owl

Monday, 26 August 2019

26th August

A real mixed bag of weather with the light easterly breeze the only constant – it started off damp, drizzly and autumnal before thick fog moved in until mid-afternoon when the sun broke through to produce a couple of hours of very warm, sunny loveliness with the fog returning in the evening.   It was perhaps the first day of the autumn when birds were popping up throughout with a fine spread of migrants across the island; highlights included a GREENISH WARBLER at Senness, the Melodious Warbler still in the crop field near the Obs, yesterday’s Barred Warbler re-trapped at Holland and a Wood Warbler caught at Holland in the evening.   Other birds included a Red-throated Diver, the Hen Harrier, a Kestrel (first of the autumn), a Merlin, the ringed Little Stint still, 2 Whimbrel, 3 Swifts, 90+ alba Wagtails, 3 Whinchats, 175+ Wheatear, a Song Thrush, single Blackcap and Garden Warbler, 5 Willow Warblers, a Pied Flycatcher (first of the autumn) and the juvenile Common Crossbill still.

Greenish Warbler                             Dante Shepherd

Wood Warbler

25th August

A super, stunning flat calm start to the day with the easterly breeze slowly picking up and bringing in a spell of fog for a few hours from lunchtime but it cleared by late afternoon to leave a lovely evening with a light SE wind; the day started well with a Barred Warbler trapped at Holland House first thing – our overdue first of the year before picking up late morning when a MELODIOUS WARBLER was found around the Heligoland traps at the Obs, it gave us the run about for a while before eventually making its way into a trap to confirm its ID (only the seventh record for the island and the first since 2003).   A good supporting cast included an influx of duck with 70 Mallard, 4 Pintail and 9 Wigeon on Hooking, the young female Peregrine still, the first Hen Harrier of the autumn, single Black-tailed Godwit and Whimbrel, 4 Ruff, a Short-eared Owl at Hooking, a Swift, the Grey-headed Wagtail again, an early Fieldfare, a Willow Warbler and a juvenile Common Crossbill at the Obs.  

Melodious Warbler                                Simon Davies

Barred Warbler

24th August

A nice day with a moderate SSE breeze and plenty of sunshine but a few light showers creeping in during the evening; the unremarkable day was saved when a SUBALPINE WARBLER was glimpsed in the thick garden at Upper Linney, the bird was super skulking so a net was put up and the bird was easily caught.   It was still not clear which subspecies was involved, even in the hand as it was in heavy wing and tail moult but the best guess would be a Western – the very fact that it was in such heavy moult strongly suggested that it had been present for a good long time as it would not have even attempted a sea crossing in such a state!   Other birds included 6 Sooty Shearwaters, 17 Manx Shearwaters and 2 Storm Petrels off the Lighthouse, the young female Peregrine still, 60 Knot, a Sandwich Tern and a Willow Warbler.

Subalpine Warbler

Saturday, 24 August 2019

23rd August

Spitting, drizzly rain through much of the day, only clearing up by mid-afternoon with the moderate SSE wind dropping off as well; we hoped at least a few birds would pop up after the rain stopped but in keeping with the autumn so far, this was not to be, it was more a case of old birds reappearing with the Shorelark again at Westness (last seen on the 17th), the Grey-headed Wagtail near Hooking (last seen on the 13th) and a Song Thrush re-trapped in Holland (originally ringed but not seen since, on the 1st).   Other bits included 3 Sooty Shearwaters, 5 Manx Shearwaters and 5 Storm Petrels off the Lighthouse in the afternoon, a Greenshank, still little flocks of juvenile Knot scattered around in funny places, 11 Ruff and last night’s ringed Little Stint at Westness.

Sanderlings, as well as Knot seem to have had a good breeding season with many spangly juveniles in the flocks

22nd August

A decent day, weather-wise with moderate winds and some bright sunshine until mid-afternoon when a nasty little weather front moved in, bringing strong winds and some driving rain; it was quiet birdwise but somewhat enlivened by the impromptu first dazzling session of the autumn, inspired by the rough weather when I managed to catch a cracking juvenile Little Stint on Gretchen along with single Ruff, Knot and Dunlin.   Other birds seen during the pleasant morning included 14 Whimbrel (a 3 and an 11) heading south, 2 Swifts and 2 Willow Warblers.


Thursday, 22 August 2019

19th - 21st August

A steady few days, dominated by brisk SSE winds, long spells of sunshine interspersed by showers sweeping through; waders continued to pass through as high counts through this period included 102 Knot, 242 Sanderling, 16 Black-tailed Godwit, 14 Ruff, a Green Sandpiper and 192 Turnstone.   Other birds comprised a decent seawatch on the 21st with 26 Sooty Shearwaters and 39 Manx Shearwaters past the Lighthouse in the morning while a Swift also came in off, up to 3 Peregrines, a Merlin, 2 Stonechats still, a Collared Dove and a Garden Warbler on the 20th.



Monday, 19 August 2019

18th August

After a few showers in the morning it was a decent day with moderate SSE winds which died off in the evening; it was a good day in the field with a few new arrivals hinting that proper autumn might just be on the way.   Birds seen included a Sooty Shearwater off the Lighthouse, a Heron, a Merlin, 107 Oystercatchers, 495 Golden Plover, a good 179 Knot (still mostly juveniles), 23 Ruff (again, mostly juveniles), an excellent arrival of 62+ Black-tailed Godwits, 2 Green Sandpipers, a Wood Sandpiper north over Hooking, a Greenshank, 3 Sandwich Terns – first ones for ages and finally a few passerines with 30 Wheatears, 2 Reed Warblers (Scotsha and Holland), a Whitethroat at the Obs and a Willow Warbler.

Ruff (and Redshank)

17th August

A breezy, showery morning improving into a bright, sunny afternoon; a few new bits were found through the day including 2 Herons, a Merlin, the first Grey Plover of the autumn, 79 Knot, 9 Ruff, the Shorelark again at Westness and the first Goldcrest of the autumn around the Obs - certainly a dispersing youngster from Orkney rather than a Scandinavian migrant!

Juvenile Kittiwake

Sunday, 18 August 2019

16th August

Very wet and windy through most of the day with limited coverage; 94 Knot were at Bewan, continuing the excellent passage over the last couple of weeks and a single Manx Shearwater passed the Lighthouse. 

One less Eider duckling!

Saturday, 17 August 2019

15th August

A different day with strong NW winds but plenty of sunshine, the wind added a new dimension into the Fulmar ringing, dramatically increasing their spitting range if you approached from the wrong side; birds of note seen through the day included a Sooty Shearwater, a Wigeon, the first Merlin of the autumn at the Obs, 78 Knot, a Ruff, 6 Black-tailed Godwits, 3 Whimbrel, a Greenshank, 2 Green Sandpipers, 223 Turnstone, 2 Willow Warblers and the first Tree Sparrow of the autumn.


Thursday, 15 August 2019

14th August

Fine again with light but increasing winds with the forecast rain not arriving until dusk; a similar array of birds across the island to previous days but a good mix and notable increases in many wader species - counts included 982 Golden Plover, 193 Lapwing, 151 Knot, 23 Ruff, 4 Black-tailed Godwits, 86 Curlew, 136 Redshank, 2 Greenshank, 2 Green Sandpipers and 228 Turnstone.   Other birds of note comprised 3 Sooty Shearwaters, 6 Manx Shearwaters and 3 Storm Petrels off the Lighthouse, 2 Peregrines (the big juvenile female and new adult male), 2 Woodpigeons, the Shorelark again, a Black Redstart at Brides, a juvenile Stonechat at the Obs, 36 Wheatears and a Willow Warbler.


Wednesday, 14 August 2019

13th August

A fine, lovely day with plenty of warm sunshine and light NW winds; birdwise we’re still just ticking along with no passerine migrants coming through yet but a steady turnover of waders with Ruff and Knot most prominent.  Totals today included a Sooty Shearwater and 3 Manx Shearwaters off the top end, a Heron, the juvenile female Peregrine again, 160 Knot, 6 Ruff, 16 Black-tailed Godwits, a Greenshank, the first juvenile Bonxie of the year on The Links (not one of ours), the Shorelark and Grey-headed Wagtail still, 3 juvenile Stonechats – the first of the autumn, presumably from not too far away elsewhere on Orkney and 3 Willow Warblers.

We've ringed 170+ Fulmar chicks so far and with many more to go there is a constant oily smell amongst the staff!

Tuesday, 13 August 2019

12th August

Lovely, bright and sunny with a light NW wind; a decent spread of birds were across the island but little in the way of new things as totals included 2 Manx Shearwaters off the top end, 3 Herons, a juvenile female Peregrine, 670 Golden Plover, 132 Knot, 8 Ruff, 5 Black-tailed Godwits, single Greenshank and Green Sandpiper, the Grey-headed Wagtail which reappeared on the beach at Westness and a single Willow Warbler.   Also of note was the confirmation of breeding Woodpigeons in Holland House – the first breeding record for the island and a Hummingbird Hawkmoth along the coast at Stennabreck.

More Knot

Monday, 12 August 2019

11th August

A rough, windy day with a strong, cold NNW wind raking the island; it was tough going in the field but birds seen did include 87 Knot (the majority being juveniles), 4 Ruff, 12 Black-tailed Godwit, a Greenshank, 2 Green Sandpipers, a juvenile Lesser Black-backed Gull (the first one for a while), a Woodpigeon and the Shorelark which reappeared again at Westness.


Sunday, 11 August 2019

10th August

A bit of a mixed day with generally light N / NE winds and fog which kept drifting in and out throughout but in between foggy spells it was really warm and sunny; coverage was limited the day after the final dance of the sheep festival with a few sore heads but birds did include a female Grey-headed Wagtail at Ancum (another unseasonal bird after the male last month), a new Reed Warbler trapped in Ancum Willows, 5 Ruff, 12 Knot, 3 Green Sandpipers, 2 Greenshank and 3 Willow Warblers.


9th August

Nice conditions for the majority of the day until a heavy band of rain finally reached us in the early evening to produce a wild, wet and windy night; the main interest was offshore where 3 Sooty Shearwaters, 16 Manx Shearwaters, 450+ Puffins, at least 18 Arctic Skuas, 11 Bonxies and a pod of 4+ Risso’s Dolphins were off the Lighthouse in the afternoon.   Other birds included a Greenshank and 4 Ruff while a new Willow Warbler was the token migrant passerine.

A noticeable increase in Arctic Skuas have included a few lovely stripy first year birds 

Friday, 9 August 2019

8th August

Dry again but a brisk NE through most of the day made its presence felt but this eased off in the evening leaving a lovely, sunny, picture postcard end to the day; the bird highlight was a fine, bright adult ROSE-COLOURED STARLING found mid-morning near the School but it soon disappeared, not showing up again until the evening when it was with the main Starling flock in the pre-roost at Holland House.   A few birds through the day almost made it feel like autumn including a little influx of 18 Shoveler and 18 Teal, 25 Knot, 6 Ruff, 6 Black-tailed Godwits, a Green Sandpiper at Cauldhame, 2 Woodpigeons, the first Short-eared Owl of the autumn in front of the Surgery and a Willow Warbler.

Willow Warbler

Thursday, 8 August 2019

7th August

A decent, dry day with an increasing NE wind; the first 2 Sooty Shearwaters of the year passed the Lighthouse and the first Peregrine of the autumn – a juvenile male, was over Phisligar.   Other little bits included a Heron, presumably the same two Garganey back on Gretchen, 18 Knot with an influx of juveniles, 7 Ruff, a Whimbrel, 2 Greenshank and the largest build-up so far of 205+ Kittiwakes on the rocks off The Lurn.


Wednesday, 7 August 2019

5th - 6th August

A mixed couple of days with generally light winds from the east allowing us to get out and about as long as we avoided the occasional shower and the inevitable fog which was always lingering there or thereabouts, causing many flights to be cancelled; its still fairly quiet birdwise though, as bits included 4 Herons, up to 490 Golden Plover, 4 Ruff, the first returning juvenile Knot and Black-tailed Godwit, a Whimbrel, 160 Redshank, 2 Greenshank over the Obs on the 6th,  an adult Common Tern at Bewan on the 6th, the first Willow Warbler of the autumn trapped at Holland (a particularly young bird which had hardly started its post juvenile body moult – obviously hadn’t come far!) and a general build-up of Swallows and Sand Martins with dispersing Sedge Warblers appearing in odd places.

Juvenile Twite

Sunday, 4 August 2019

2nd - 4th August

A busy few days, not really on the bird front but with the annual Sheep Festival in full swing there was hardly a spare moment, with dances, football matches, dyke building and feeding up to 40 people taking centre stage; once the fog cleared it was a lovely couple of days weather wise with light winds and plenty of warm sunshine.   This few days kicked off with 110 Storm Petrels caught overnight on the 2nd, while a Leach’s Petrel was heard calling back to the tape and even better a stunning Bedstraw Hawkmoth was bashing around the moth trap just as we finished at silly o’clock in the morning.   The rest of the news consisted 2 Red-throated Diver, 365 Golden Plover, 5 Ruff, 2 Whimbrel, the first juvenile Arctic Skua and Kittiwake noted off The Lurn on the 4th, the Shorelark which reappeared at Bewan on the 3rd and a very slow trickle of returning warblers with a Reed Warbler at Ancum on the 3rd (only the second of the year), a Blackcap at Holland also on the 3rd and the Garden Warbler still around the Obs.

Bedstraw Hawkmoth

This Blood Vein was also a first for the island

Friday, 2 August 2019

1st August

With the light wind now coming in from the west the fog finally had dissipated by the morning leaving a decent day with extensive cloud cover only once in the morning turning to drizzle; the days highlight came early doors with a lovely, fresh juvenile Icterine Warbler trapped at Holland.   Other birds included 2 Manx Shearwaters offshore, 8 Herons, 4 Wigeon, 9 Shoveler, 7 Ruff, 1,280+ Arctic Terns, a Song Thrush also caught in Holland and the Garden Warbler again.

Icterine Warbler

Thursday, 1 August 2019

31st July

Once again the thick thick fog blanketed the island with no breaks all day, kept in place by the virtually non-existent easterly breeze; it was tough in the field with visibility down to a few metres at times but birds of note did include 2 Herons, 285 Golden Plover, 10 Knot, 4 Ruff, a Green Sandpiper on Ancum, a Common Sandpiper at The Lurn and the Garden Warbler still around the Obs.

The last few Tysties are still being fed (photo taken in sunnier times!)