The south easterlies from the 30th October, continued into the morning of the 31st producing further arrivals of late autumn migrants. The winds then dropped off, producing a calm day on the 1st November, which coincided with the discovery of one of the highlights of the autumn. Reasonable numbers of common migrants remained on the 2nd, although a strengthening north westerly wind and rather grim conditions led to a bit of a clear out on the 3rd.
Over 300 Redwings remained on the 31st, with a slight increase in Fieldfare amongst them. Despite this, totals for this species still remain low this autumn, a feature which appears to be happening across the UK. In addition to this, there were small numbers of Woodcock and Siberian Chiffchaffs. A northern acredula-type Willow Warbler was also present at Milldam and the Richard's Pipit at Senness was joined by another individual.
The morning of the 1st produced a late autumn rarity in the form of a large pipit sp., which we can now confirm as Orkney's first Blyth's Pipit (pending acceptance of course). First discovered in the field south of Holland, the bird proved highly mobile, flying north to the area around Milldam before it was lost around South Gravity. Initial impressions of the bird were of a compact, short-tailed bird - it wasn't immediately obvious that it was a large pipit, giving off a feel similar to smaller pipit species. The bird then flew off calling, giving short high pitched "chup" notes. Being unlike any Richard's Pipit call, this certainly sent the alarm bells ringing! Rediscovering the bird around Milldam, we were able to obtain some record shots and crucially a sound recording of the bird's call. Due to the identification challenge large pipits can provide, we decided to take our time with the ID and ask for advice from others who are more experienced with this species. We're very thankful to everyone who provided help on this bird! The features allowing the bird's identification are summarized below - please note this is only intended as a quick summary and not a full description style piece.