A wild and windy few days have made for challenging birding conditions but nonetheless produced the goods as has so often been the case in the early parts of the Autumn.
A rather wet day on the 3rd saw the re-appearance of the Subalpine Warbler around the traps, despite this after it was re-trapped it remained elusive. There were 3 Rosefinches at Holland however an un-ringed bird meant that one had been replaced by a new arrival. Up to 5 Lapland Buntings were made their way onto the island and represented the first records this Autumn after just one Spring record. The 11 Pale-bellied Brent Geese remained in their favoured spot behind Lochend and were also present on the 4th, at least 2 Swifts made appearances but the likelihood is that there were up to 4 birds on the island including 2 that attempted to roost on the observatory buildings. A Kestrel over the airfield, a new Barred Warbler at Upper Linnay and 2 Curlew Sandpipers on Gretchen would have made for a good day, but we weren't done there! A very smart Juvenile Baird's Sandpiper was discovered at Westness in the early afternoon before it disappeared giving the rest of us the run around! It left Westness and was re-located sometime later at Lenswick where it flew back towards Westness, but with no sign at Westness things looked rather bleak, until a search party re-discovered the bird feeding on Trolla Vatn where it remained for the rest of the day, giving superb views. This is only the 4th island record and 6th in total for Orkney. Finally a late influx of Wheatears saw 55 birds counted on the grass between the lighthouse and Bewan in the last hours of light.
A rather wild day followed the 3rd however the Baird's remained and a few other lingerers made for pleasing viewing in windy conditions, the Curlew Sandpiper total rose to 5 birds with 3 on Bewan and 2 on Gretchen still. Other than these the likelihood of stumbling across any passerine migrants was slim to the say the least!
The 5th saw the wind calm ever so slightly, the Baird's Sand had moved slightly and was now on Bewan with 3 Curlew Sandpipers and up to 15 Dunlin. Lapland Buntings at the obs and Stromness continued their little pulse onto the island while 2 of the 3 Rosefinches were seen sat Holland. A Grey plover was on the beach at the far end of Nouster and 33 Sooty Shearwaters passed the sea-watch hide.
The wind looks set to drop off which should hopefully provide some good sea-watch conditions otherwise we seem to be stuck in a system of Westerlies for the next week or so, but it's September in the Northern isles and you simply never know!!
|Baird's Sandpiper and a Dunlin GG|
|Baird's Sandpiper GG|