Wednesday, 31 March 2021

29th - 31st March

 Highlights from the 29th included a Pink-footed Goose still, the Sparrowhawk still, a drake Goosander which flew past the Old Beacon - a rare bird on here, a drake hybrid aythya (which was most likely a Pochard x Tufted Duck), a Great Skua, a Jack Snipe, 2 Grey Plover, the Ruff still, 2 Rook, a Robin, a Song Thrush, 17 Redwing, 2 Fieldfare, a littoralis Rock Pipit, the Goldcrest still and the 7 Woodpigeon still. 

littoralis Rock Pipit

Highlights from the 30th included the Black-throated Diver still, a juvenile Glaucous Gull, the Sparrowhawk still, the first Brambling of the year, a Song Thrush, 2 Chiffchaff, the Goldcrest still and the 7 Woodpigeon still.

juvenile Glaucous Gull. Interestingly careful examination of photographs showed that this same bird was seen on Fair Isle two hours before it was seen at the north end of North Ronaldsay on the afternoon of the 30th.

Highlights from the 31st included a Great Skua, a Jack Snipe, a Chiffchaff still and the 7 Woodpigeon still.

Great Skua

Sunday, 28 March 2021

27th-28th March

 A blustery and damp couple of days haven't put a stop to new arrivals on the island. With daily additions to the year list things are looking good for when we get some more favourable weather towards the middle of next week. Despite a good search there has been no re-appearance of the probable American Herring Gull, however the 27th did see no fewer than three addition to the obs year list. The first Great Skua of the year was seen drifting over Nouster towards Howar mid-morning. A rather smart looking winter plumaged Black-throated Diver was present in the bay in the afternoon and the first Puffins of 2021 were seen from the Lighthouse in the late afternoon. Other migrants included 3 Knot at Bewan and 1 still at Ancum, 5 Snow Buntings were also at Bewan as was a Robin. The small group of Rooks is still touring the island and were seen on both days. The party of 7 Woodpigeon have also been hanging around, 3 were seen at Ancum also, but they may be part of the Holland flock and a lone Black-tailed Godwit was on Gretchen with the ever present Green-winged Teal. The Ruff that has spent the winter on the island is also still frequenting Ancum. The 28th bought about a much clearer start to the day but an ever present gale gave the day a chilly feel. The first Chiffchaff of the year was heard calling around Holland while the Black-throated Diver remained in the bay at Nouster. A Sparrowhawk was seen leaving the gardens at Holland in the morning and a Goldcrest was still present in the gardens. Pied Wagtail numbers have been on the up for over a week now and numbers are well into double figures, but otherwise it was a seemingly quieter day overall, no doubt due to the wind.

                                   Pied Wagtail

Friday, 26 March 2021

25th - 26th March

 Highlights from the 25th included 6 Pink-footed Goose, 3 Rook still, the male Lapland Bunting still, a Goldcrest still and the first Dunnock of the year. 

male Lapland Bunting

Highlights from the 26th included a 3cy American Herring Gull which was on Gretchen Loch briefly in the evening, potentially a first for North Ronaldsay. Other highlights included the Knot still, 2 Chaffinch, a new Goldcrest, 2 Song Thrush, 7 Woodpigeon and the first Grey Wagtail of the year. 

3cy American Herring Gull. Note glaucous-like bill, pale scapulars, smooth dark underwings and lower body, rather plain tertials and greater coverts, wholly dark tail and heavily marked uppertail and undertail coverts. 

Wednesday, 24 March 2021

23rd - 24th March

 Highlights from the 23rd included a Grey Plover, the Ruff still, 3 Rook, 3 Robin and the first Goldcrest of the year. 


Highlights from the 24th included the drake Green-winged Teal still, one of the Rook still, a different Goldcrest, 3 Snow Bunting and a male Lapland Bunting (first for the year). 

drake Green-winged Teal with two Eurasian Teal

Monday, 22 March 2021

21st - 22nd March

 Highlights from the 21st included a Pink-footed Goose, the Green-winged Teal still, a juvenile Glaucous Gull, a Black-tailed Godwit and 4 Snow Bunting. 

Leucistic Ringed Plover

Highlights from the 22nd included a Ruff, 4 Jackdaw (which were new for the year), 128 Skylark, a Chaffinch and a male Stonechat. 

migrant Skylark have been passing through the island the last few days with several seen coming in-off the sea at the north end on the 22nd

Saturday, 20 March 2021

19th - 20th March

 Highlights from the 19th included 2 Pink-footed Goose, 2 Shelduck, 4 Goldeneye, a Merlin, a Hen Harrier, a Peregrine, a Knot, 7 Black-tailed Godwit, 13 Redwing, 6 Fieldfare, 2 Robin and 3 Pied Wagtail. 

juvenile female Merlin

New birds on the 20th included the first Rook of the year, a juvenile Iceland Gull, a Lesser Black-backed Gull, a Snow Bunting and Pied Wagtail numbers rose to 8. 

Lapwings have been displaying and Skylarks are singing which is always great to see. 

Snow Bunting

Rook with the Old Beacon in the background

Friday, 19 March 2021

8th - 18th March

I'll keep this blog post quite brief as I'm away at the moment.
The good early Spring movement of Stonechat has continued with birds being present almost every day. A WeBs count was conducted on 15th March but there wasn't anything particularly noteworthy involved apart from the overwintering Green-winged Teal that has been on Gretchen since the turn of the year. The only other new arrivals recently have been the return of Pied Wagtails, three were present on 14th March with two at Sangar and one at Brides. Otherwise it's business as usual and we await the arrival of more Spring migrants that can surely only be just around the corner! 

                                   Pied Wagtail                                                                        SMR

Sunday, 7 March 2021

27th February - 7th March

 A bit longer than intended between posts but with obs work slowly mounting up and the arrival of staff just around the corner things have been a little bit more hectic than the winter lull we all get ourselves into! Stonechats have been the main order business with plenty seemingly moving through in the last ten days or so. They've been present on pretty much every day with birds at the Airfield, Ancum, Veracott, Peckhole, Rue and the Obs, which is a good sign considering the cold winter we've had. The first Sparrowhawk of the year, a female, was flushed from Holland Gardens on 28th and a male was seen being mobbed over Breck on 6th March. The 1st March bought in some nicer weather and with it the first cetaceans of the year in the shape of 2 Risso's Dolphin off the North end. The overwintering Green-winged Teal made it's first appearance in nearly a month on 3rd and was seen the subsequent day also displaying at a female Teal. The 5th saw us add two birds to the year list, a Woodpigeon was flushed from the field behind Nouster house in the morning and the afternoon bought us our first Lesser Black-backed Gull of the year, an adult on the Links with a mixed group of waders. A Peregrine appeared over Gretchen on the morning of the 6th, the bird looked to be quite pale but with no other interesting features it'll have to go down as a worn juv. The final bird of the post is a 1st Winter Iceland Gull that appeared on Bewan, also on the 6th before vanishing off towards the sea-watch hide. The 7th was a quiet affair and mostly dominated by trap repairs, a quick birding session round the island produced a solitary Stonechat on the obs track. 

                                   Lesser Black-backed Gull