With the last few days threatening to go by with very little happening it would take until the 24th for the first real signs of Spring to show. The first migrant of the Spring came in the shape of a rather smart male Stonechat by the Observatory Polytunnel. The bird eventually made its way into T2 and was a welcome addition to the obs ringing totals for the year. The following day would turn out to be quite a quiet one, although busier than the previous, highlights included 3 Stonechat, two at the Mill and one at Ancum, a Hen Harrier around the obs and a Merlin near Breckan. The 26th saw a day of unbroken sunshine and some good birds too. The wintering White-billed Diver was off the foghorn with 5 Great Northern Divers, the Ruff that's been intermittently frequenting Ancum made another appearance and a very showy 1st Winter Little Gull was flycatching over Trolla in the early afternoon. The good weather continued into the 27th but despite the previous days avian action it all went a little quiet again. A good number of Skylark and Twite remained in the observatory crop but it was otherwise wholly unspectacular. Despite the lower levels of migrants it really feel as though Spring is just around the corner!
Saturday, 20 February 2021
A rather quiet period of birds dominated by high winds, rain, sleet and hail. It's been very much the same over the past few weeks with little movement in or out as far as we can see. The main highlights were a 1st Winter Glaucous Gull on Bewan on the 14th and the re-appearance of the Woodlark in the Funny Park on the 16th. A WeBs count was conducted on the 18th, highlights of which were 1 Pink-footed Goose, 41 Razorbill, 8 Red-throated Diver and an increase in Black-headed Gulls with up to 10 recorded on the island throughout the day. The 19th would offer yet more high winds and spells of driving showers. It was otherwise a fairly quiet day until a 1st Winter Little Gull appeared in the Gull flock at Brides, a first for the year that sadly didn't hang around for long. The next day was in stark contrast, almost flat calm with unbroken sunshine in the morning and early afternoon before the wind picked up again. A good movement of Kittiwake were passing the North end of the island with 82 going through in just shy of 45 minutes in. the morning. The highlight of the day was also on the sea in the shape of a White-billed Diver, probably the same individual that was recorded in January, but a nice bird all the same!
Thursday, 11 February 2021
A rather cold and rather quiet spell continued the theme of recent weeks with very little for us to get too excited about. There have been a few bits however. A noticeable increase in Skylark being the main attraction. Numbers climbed as high as 170 on the 10th. Wildfowl numbers have stayed pretty steady with the max counts nothing outside of the ordinary, apart from Tufted Duck that reached 34 birds on Brides on the 9th and they were re-joined by what we assume is the same drake Pochard from earlier in the year on the 10th. A total of 4 Mute Swans have been on the island probably not enjoying the frozen lochs. The 8th saw the cold weather turn snowy and overnight the island was turned into a bit of photographers paradise and the staff have been making the most of it as you'd perhaps expect! So here's a selection of photo's from them while they've been enjoying the island.
Thursday, 4 February 2021
It's been a cold week on the island and an uncharacteristically calm spell in the weather has meant there has been very little turnover in birds. However with an interesting Easterly air flow and more cold weather we're hopeful things will start to show up!
There has been very little to report so I'll keep it brief so to not repeat the same birds over and over again! The 29th was easily one of the busier days as the colder weather began to set in. Bewan was the main hub of activity where a juvenile Peregrine was keeping the wildfowl alert by sitting on the bank. A high count of 29 Pintail was the highest of the year, 12 Gadwall and 9 Tufted Ducks were all well on their toes. Elsewhere a 1st Winter Glaucous Gull was loafing with Great Black-backs and Herring Gulls on the SEal Skerry.
Things went pretty stagnant then until 1st February where an overnight sprinkling of snow made things a little more exciting, over 80 Skylarks were recorded around the island no doubt crowing around cattle feeders waiting spillages to feed on, the three Chaffinch were still in Funny Park as was the overwintering Redpoll. Other bits around the obs and Holland included a Hen Harrier, a Merlin, 23 Fieldfare, 7 Redwing and a couple of Robins.
The 3rd was the first sign of a thaw happening, it also saw the return of the drake Green-winged Teal on Gretchen. It's not been seen for a little while so good to have it back. Another 1st Winter Glaucous Gull was hanging around the on the Seal Skerry and 4 Little Grebes on Brides were a notable count if nothing else. Otherwise things have been pretty quiet and we await the return migrants and warmer weather with keen anticipation.