Saturday, 10 April 2021

8th - 9th April

 Highlights from the 8th included a Pink-footed Goose, a Sandwich Tern, an increase of 5 Wheatear and 4 Redwing.

Highlights from the 9th included a BrĂ¼nnich's Guillemot which flew north-west past the seawatching hide at Dennishead early afternoon, one of the White-billed Diver still, 2 Little Auk, 1 Sooty Shearwater (North Ronaldsay's earliest ever), 1 Manx Shearwater, 3 Blue Fulmar (all dark type birds), 1107 Puffin, 3321 Razorbill/Guillemot, 1627 Fulmar, the Sandwich Tern still and a Song Thrush. 

BrĂ¼nnich's Guillemot with Common Guillemots (rear bird in all the pics). Note jizz (overall compact bird - neckless, rounded belly, short rear end, peaked forehead), projecting feet, blackness of upperparts (the Common Guillemots it was with were obviously brownish in the field, this bird was 'Razorbill-black') and bill shape (thick base leading to a point, there's even a hint of a pale tomium in several of the images). 

two of the three Blue Fulmar which passed the seawatching hide during a 9 hour seawatch. These birds are 'svalbard dark'. 

Thursday, 8 April 2021

5th-7th April

 A deluge of snow showers, strong winds and cold weather isn't exactly what we had in mind when we were discussing what birds we might get in the first week of April. With the weather nearly un-birdable on the 5th and 6th the highlights were scant but nonetheless there are highlights. 2 Wheatears on the Links were stand out highlights supported by a cast of a lone Grey Plover, the leftover 4 Whooper Swans that hung around Gretchen and of course the long staying Green-winged Teal. The 7th was a much better day in general with a few bits being seen. Morning census provided some migrants to get our teeth into a smart Snow Bunting and Wheatear were near Brides, Litoralis Rock Pipits were at Brides and Westness, a total of 16 Redwing and 4 Fieldfare gave an unseasonal Autumnal feel to proceedings while an increase in Tufted Duck numbers saw the island total climb to 44 for the day. An afternoon of sea-watching was somewhat productive with 3 White-billed Divers seen sat on the sea off the North End, accompanied by 2 Great Northern Divers and a Red-throated Diver. The Diver fest continued in Nouster with 3 Great Northern Diver, 5 Red-throated Diver and a Black-throated Diver that gave us a 4 Diver day! The sea-watch produced good numbers of other birds too, with 148 Puffin, 109 Kittiwake, 52 Gannet, 39 Razorbill and 529 Fulmar. The other bird of interest was an Auk that will have to remain unidentified, a squat rugby-ball shaped bird with a brilliant white underwing certainly caught our attention, however brief views and terrible photos mean we can't take things any further than it being an interesting looking Auk. 

                                   Golden Plover
                                   Black-headed Gull

Monday, 5 April 2021

3rd - 4th April

 Highlights from the 3rd included the 4 Whooper Swan still, a Pink-footed Goose still, a Goldeneye, the Black-throated Diver still, a possible adult female American x Eurasian Wigeon hybrid, the first 2 Sandwich Tern of the year, 4 Woodpigeon, the Wheatear still, 9 Redwing and 5 Snow Bunting.

possible adult female American x Eurasian Wigeon. Aged and sexed by white trailing edge to secondaries and extensive white on upperwing. Dusky underwing and lack of broad black tips to greater coverts rule out pure American but whitish pale-centered greater, median and lesser coverts forming a 'male-like' oval pattern on upperwing indicator of American, though perhaps within extreme variation of Eurasian. Strong black mask and the rather cold grey area at front of head, which contrasts with the darker spotted breast, supportive of American too though some Eurasian can show similar. Any comments welcome. 

Highlights from the 4th included the 4 Whooper Swan still, the 4 Woodpigeon still, 8 Redwing and 3 Wheatear. 

Saturday, 3 April 2021

1st - 2nd April

 A couple of bright but blustery days on the island saw us add yet more species to the island year list, which is always exciting. With the wind set in a Northerly trajectory the days have been a little colder than they could be but spells of sunshine have given a Spring like feel to the days. The upcoming weather however looks a little less promising but winds originating from Arctic Circle could always bring an unseasonal goody! The 1st was a rather quiet affair with little to report migrant aside from 42 Bar-tailed Godwits between Ancum and Westness, 9 Redwings in various locations, two of which were singing near North Gravity and 3 Song Thrushes rounded off a fairly average day on the land. The big news came from the island Black Guillemot census that produced a whopping 955 birds and a new island record count, thankfully one we seem to have broken a lot in recent years! The 2nd was a little more eventful and saw us add two birds to the year list. The first of which came in the shape of Whooper Swan, a total of four birds touched down on Gretchen mid-morning and spent the day feeding around the loch. The next addition was the first Wheatear of 2021, always a hugely welcome addition to the year list whenever the first one makes landfall. Other highlights included the re-appearance or appearance of a Male Lapland Bunting around the obs crop, it was however seen leaving to South in the evening as was a Sparrowhawk.