Monday, 31 May 2021

29th - 30th May

 Highlights from the 29th included a Pink-footed Goose, 2 Goldeneye, Sparrowhawk, a Little Gull, a Woodpigeon, a Collared Dove, a Short-eared Owl, the Nightjar still, the Golden Oriole still, 2 Robin, a Redwing, an Icterine Warbler, a Lesser Whitethroat, a Whitethroat, 2 Blackcap, 3 Garden Warbler, 4 Willow Warbler, a Chiffchaff, a Goldcrest, 2 Spotted Flycatcher and 2+ Orca.

Highlights from the 30th included the 2 Goldeneye still, a Grey Plover, the Nightjar still, a Redstart, 4 Garden Warbler, a Whitethroat and 2 Willow Warbler.


Friday, 28 May 2021

27th-28th May

 A couple of days of calmer weather meant the island birding had a drifty but rare feel to it. The morning of the 27th featured a Wood Sandpiper, 2 Common Sandpiper, 4 Willow Warblers and a Garden Warbler. The afternoon saw another Wood Sandpiper on Gretchen, the Curlew Sandpiper from the previous day turned up on Ancum and other migrants included singles of Common and Lesser Whitethroat, 4 Garden Warbler, a Pied Flycatcher, a Spotted Flycatcher and 2 Tree Pipits. The biggest of surprise of the day was the re-appearance of the Icterine Warbler at Holland, thankfully the bird had put on 0.9g since it was first caught.

The 28th was a similar day weather wise but the birds were seemingly much better in contrast. A drake Goosander was seen flying West over Nouster first thing in the morning, a trio of Risso's Dolphin moved close past the sea-watch hide before a Blyth's Reed Warbler was discovered feeding along a dyke near the telephone masts at the North end, having missed out on the influx in 2020 it's much welcomed addition to the year list. The next bird to get the whatsapp group going was the first Golden Oriole since 2014, the bird was flushed out of the Sycamores before heading South. The final highlight was another re-appearance, this time the Nighjar from a few days ago was flushed from the side of Lurand before re-locating over to the obs. Otherwise it was much a repeat of the previous days birding. 

                                   Blyth's Reed Warbler
                                   Golden Oriole

Thursday, 27 May 2021

25th - 26th May

 Highlights from the 25th included a Pink-footed Goose, a Curlew Sandpiper, 3 Swift, a House Martin, 2 Tree Pipit, a Whinchat, 4 Pied Flycatcher, 4 Spotted Flycatcher, 8 Willow Warbler, a Whitethroat, 4 Blackcap, 3 Garden Warbler, 2 Lesser Whitethroat, the Icterine Warbler still, 2 Red-backed Shrike, a Great Grey Shrike (latest spring record by 13 days), 2 Jackdaw and 2 Carrion Crow.

Highlights from the 26th included a Curlew Sandpiper, a Nightjar, the Great Grey Shrike still, 2 Willow Warbler, a Garden Warbler, a Lesser Whitethroat and a Goldcrest.

Great Grey and Red-backed Shrikes

Tuesday, 25 May 2021

23rd - 24th May

 With a set of prolonged Easterlies and very little about something had to give somewhere and thankfully a spell of prolonged rain on the 24th finally bought about some much sought after migrants.

With highlights fairly thin on the ground the 23rd seemed as it was going to be a disappointment until a Wryneck showed up late in the day at the Surgery. A small dusting of common migrants also provided a bit of hope for the following day. A Common Whitethroat, Goldcrest and Willow Warbler were all in the garden at Bewan while a Spotted Flycatcher remained around Cursitter, so optimism was in the air with forecast indicating we'd get some much needed rain.

The morning of the 24th and most of the afternoon was a bit of a wash out with staff returning from census rather soggy and a bit down beat. However once the rain stopped at 5pm everyone emerged and the rewards were almost immediate, an Icterine Warbler was discovered just outside the front door of the obs and having missed out on one last year there was a bit more excitement than you usually get from an 'Icky'. This lead to three hours of good birding before the light closed in. A male Red-backed Shrike was found at Dennishill on the washing line, drying itself off no doubt! The next bird of note was a Wood Warbler at Trinley and the rest of the evening was made up of commoner migrants. A Cuckoo was singing by T1 while Garden Warbler, Common and Lesser Whitethroat, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Whinchat, Pied and Spotted Flycatchers all posted low totals and gave a sense that the next day could be even better. 

                                   Icterine Warbler

Saturday, 22 May 2021

20th - 22nd May

 Highlights from the 20th included a Pink-footed Goose, 3 Common Scoter, a Black-throated Diver, a Corncrake, 2 Ruff, a Curlew Sandpiper, 1531 Puffin, 1278 Razorbill/Guillemot, a Little Auk, a Collared Dove, 3 Tree Pipit, a Robin, 3 Song Thrush, 3 Blackcap, a Chiffchaff, a Willow Warbler, a Goldcrest, 3 Common Redpoll, a Carrion Crow and 3 Orca

Highlights from the 21st included 2 Garganey, a Woodpigeon, a Turtle Dove, a Blue-headed Wagtail, a Lesser Whitethroat, 2 Blackcap, a Willow Warbler, a Brambling and 2 Common Redpoll.

Highlights from the 22nd included a Curlew Sandpiper, a Common Sandpiper, a Woodpigeon, 2 Tree Pipit, 2 Blackcap, a Chiffchaff, a Willow Warbler, a Goldcrest, a Spotted Flycatcher, 2 Pied Flycatcher, a Brambling and a Common Redpoll.

Turnstone and Curlew Sandpiper

Thursday, 20 May 2021

17th-19th May

 A warm and calm day on the 17th coupled with a light Southerly wind meant conditions didn't initially feel ideal for migrants, the warm and clear days often mean that migrants pass us over and in a way I suppose they did. The first indication of movement came in the shape of a Sparrowhawk that slowly made its way South. In the meantime a third Hawfinch of the year was discovered feeding amongst the chickens at Southness before making a short trip over to Newbiggin. Next on the bird of prey front was a bit of a repeat and somewhat of a mystery. A small Harrier was seen over Phisligar as it headed South before being mobbed as it broke into the airspace over Hooking; it almost wasn't apparent how small this Harrier was until it was met by several angry Black-headed Gulls, only a touch bigger than them it had alarm bells ringing pretty quickly. A pale overall ground colour, lack of any grey hood and its general jizz pushed this into serious contention of being North Ronaldsay's 2nd record of Pallid Harrier, however views at this point were limited and sadly that's how the viewing would stay. Frantic phone calls, staff being in the wrong place to intercept the bird and the direction in which the bird left the island left us a bit frustrated that for the second time in under a week, probably the same bird had given us the slip, third time lucky maybe? The next bird of note was a female Marsh Harrier that drifted its way South down the west side only to be followed shortly after by the islands 5th record of Black Kite, the bird showed superbly over Cott and West Beach before making its way high towards Sanday. All in all despite the frustrations of the Harrier it had been a good day and with dinner fast approaching a call from Helen at the Wool Mill to say she'd seen some Orca it was about to get better! We were treated to a fabulous showing from two Bull Orcas as they leisurely swam around the top end of the island. Not a bad day at all! 

The following two days would be somewhat less exciting and with final dregs of the previous weeks fall all but dried up it was very much a case of scraping the barrel for any extra highlights, but given the 17th feast of birds and cetaceans we not complaining....much! The highlights from the 18th and 19th were as follows. 3 Tree Pipits, one at the North end, one at Cauldhaim and one still around Lurand, 2 Wood Sandpipers and 2 Ruff on Ancum, 2 Common Redpoll at Veracott, 2 Siskin and a summer plumaged Black-throated Diver in Nouster.

Black Kite

Monday, 17 May 2021

15th-16th May

 Highlights from the 15th included a Black-throated Diver, 2 Canada Goose, 2 Snow Goose (escapes), 2 Garganey, a Sparrowhawk, a small harrier sp. (which was probably a 2cy male Pallid Harrier), a Ruff, 10 Whimbrel, a Common Sandpiper, a Woodpigeon, a Cuckoo, 3 House Martin, 5 Tree Pipit, 4 Robin, 4 Redstart, 3 Whinchat, 2 Ring Ouzel, 13 Fieldfare, 5 Song Thrush, 4 Redwing, 5 Sedge Warbler, 3 Lesser Whitethroat, 3 Whitethroat, a Garden Warbler, 18 Blackcap, 10 Chiffchaff, 26 Willow Warbler, 2 Goldcrest, 2 Spotted Flycatcher, 4 Pied Flycatcher, a Brambling 4 Siskin, a Common Redpoll, a Lesser Redpoll and 67 Carrion Crow. 

Highlights from the 16th included a Sparrowhawk, an Osprey, 20 Knot, a Ruff, 13 Whimbrel, 2 Common Sandpiper, 62 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 2 Woodpigeon, a Cuckoo, 3 House Martin, 7 Tree Pipit, 9 Robin, a Ring Ouzel, 15 Fieldfare, a Redwing, a Mistle Thrush, 11 Sedge Warbler, a Whitethroat, 13 Blackcap, 4 Chiffchaff, 11 Willow Warbler, 2 Goldcrest, a Spotted Flycatcher, 4 Siskin, a Common Redpoll, a Lesser Redpoll and 30 Carrion Crow.

Spotted Flycatcher and Canada Geese

Saturday, 15 May 2021

13th-14th May

 With the system of Easterlies clearing through and being followed on by North-westerly winds it was only natural that a clear out of the migrant birds would follow and this has been the case. Despite the clearing of the decks a few of the migrants have remained and we've even added some new species to the year list.

The 13th saw the peak counts for most of the migrants, a lone Common Sandpiper was by the pier at Bewan while the Ruff remained around Ancum on both days. A Short-eared Owl was quartering fields near Sangar and the impressive House Martin total remained at 17 birds around the island. A total of 6 Tree Pipits, 18 Robin, 2 Whinchat, 1 Ring Ouzel, 15 Fieldfare, 6 Song Thrush and 2 Redwing were also the highest totals on the 13th. Remaining migrant Warblers included 2 Lesser Whitethroat, 6 Common Whitethroat, 24 Blackcap, 12 Chiffchaff, 51 Willow Warbler and 3 Goldcrest. A total of 5 Spotted Flycatcher and 6 Pied Flycatcher were accompanied a lone Lesser Redpoll and 4 Siskin in the total columns over the two dates. The 14th presented fewer birds numbers wise but did offer two new species in the shape of 2 Cuckoo's at Parkhouse and the Lurn and a Temminck's Stint that was seen briefly near Bewan before doing a bit of a bunk despite being heard later in the afternoon. 

                                   Tree Pipit
                            A generous Great Black-backed Gull keeping the Rabbit numbers in check

Thursday, 13 May 2021

11th - 12th May

Highlights from the 11th included a Pink-footed Goose, 2 Garganey, a Sparrowhawk, a Kestrel, 108 Knot, 686 Sanderling, a Ruff, 15 Whimbrel, 4 Common Sandpiper, a Wood Sandpiper 775 Turnstone, a Common Tern, 3 Little Tern, 448 Arctic Tern, a Collared Dove, a Stock Dove, 3 Woodpigeon, 2 Swift, a Wryneck, 40 House Martin, 11 Tree Pipit, 55 Robin, 2 Black Redstart, 14 Redstart, 8 Whinchat, 188 Wheatear, 5 Ring Ouzel, 31 Fieldfare, 11 Song Thrush, 2 Redwing, 2 Mistle Thrush, a Grasshopper Warbler, 6 Sedge Warbler, 7 Lesser Whitethroat, 5 Whitethroat, 37 Blackcap, 56 Chiffchaff, 170 Willow Warbler, 7 Goldcrest, 4 Spotted Flycatcher, 15 Pied Flycatcher, 11 Jackdaw, 14 Rook, 121 Carrion Crow, a Chaffinch, 3 Siskin, 3 Common Redpoll, 3 Lesser Redpoll and a Hawfinch.

Highlights from the 12th included two Snow Goose (escapes with metal rings), a Pink-footed Goose, 2 Garganey, a Black-throated Diver, a Sparrowhawk, a Kestrel, a Peregrine, 2 Grey Plover, 2 Knot, a Ruff, 4 Whimbrel, 2 Common Sandpiper, 2 Little Tern, 2 Swift, 24 House Martin, 8 Tree Pipit, 13 Robin, a Bluethroat, a Redstart, 2 Whinchat, 7 Fieldfare, 8 Song Thrush, 6 Redwing, 2 Sedge Warbler, 2 Lesser Whitethroat, 5 Common Whitethroat, 18 Blackcap, 13 Chiffchaff, 56 Willow Warbler, 2 Goldcrest, 4 Spotted Flycatcher, 5 Pied Flycatcher, 16 Carrion Crow, a Chaffinch, a Brambling, 3 Siskin, a Common Redpoll and 2 Lesser Redpoll.

Tree Pipit, Common Sandpiper and Spotted Flycatcher

Tuesday, 11 May 2021

9th-10th May

 With that perfect storm of weather finally hitting the island we got some much sought after migrants and year ticks after a rather baron patch. Easterly winds and early morning showers on the 9th meant there would surely be migrants around and this proved to be the case.

The bulk of the new arrivals were Willow Warblers posting 73 individuals on the 9th before increasing to 111 the next day. New arrivals onto the year list included 2 Pied Flycatchers in Sand Geo, a Spotted Flycatcher in Gairsna Geo, 5 Lesser Whitethroats and 3 Sedge Warblers in various locations, 7 Common Redstarts the of which was a rather soggy female on Torness followed by 6 much dryer males and a Green Sandpiper at Kirbest. Commoner migrants were also abundant with good totals of Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Wheatear and Robin. The bird of the day went to a Wryneck found at Seaside in the morning downpour before it relocated along the coast to Lenswick. 

The next day became about uncovering anything we'd perhaps missed, but it seems we'd done a pretty thorough job all round, this didn't prevent us adding new species to the year list however, 4 Whinchats were present the first of which occupied the fences on the road towards Holland. The second year tick of the day was a fantastic Hobby seen hanging around Holland House in the afternoon. Other migrant numbers were similar to the previous however one of the standout counts was of 41 Carrion Crow, 34 of which formed a flock in the obs crop fields. 

With things looking promising for the week ahead and me being eager to get back into the field I've possibly missed some bits off, but I'm sure you'll forgive us with it being so busy! 

                                   Pied Flycatcher
                                   Willow Warbler

Sunday, 9 May 2021

7th - 8th May

 Highlights from the 7th included 4 Barnacle Goose, a Ruff, a Knot, 2 Whimbrel, 2 Common Sandpiper, 4 Sandwich Tern, 162 Arctic Tern, 2 Little Tern, a Dunnock, a Song Thrush, a Blackcap, 2 Chiffchaff, 4 Carrion Crow and a Brambling. 

Highlights from the 8th included 2 Pink-footed Goose, a Sparrowhawk, a Grey Plover, 2 Knot, a Ruff, 4 Whimbrel, 3 Common Sandpiper, a Little Gull, a Short-eared Owl, 3 Woodpigeon, a Collared Dove, a Stock Dove, 4 Tree Pipit, a Ring Ouzel, 3 Song Thrush, 2 Redwing, a Common Whitethroat, 3 Blackcap, 10 Chiffchaff, 6 Willow Warbler, 2 Goldcrest, a Jackdaw, a Rook, 14 Carrion Crow, a Brambling, a Lesser Redpoll, a Hawfinch, 5 Orca and a Common Dolphin



Friday, 7 May 2021

5th-6th May

 With the weather stuck in the same vein for the last few days things haven't really been moving much on the island. A set of strong Northerly winds on the 5th bought colder weather but with bright sunshine on both days its barely a recipe for birding success in this part of the world, despite the unfavourable conditions some migrants have still made landfall. Arctic Terns have begun their slow filter into the island with 38 present on the 6th. Swallow numbers are also on the up with just shy of 20 birds on the island, however news from further South leads us to believe it won't be the best year for this species. A lone House Martin was present over Cruesbreck on the 6th as was a Tree Pipit at the back of Holland House both being the stand-out migrants of this two day window. A male Ruff was present on Sandsheen before heading over to Ancum on the 6th, although we believe it to be the bird that spent the winter on the island. Dunnocks were present on both days and two Blackcaps on the 6th were joined by a solitary Willow Warbler and 3 Chiffchaffs. Tree Sparrows were at Gerbo on the 5th and Howar on the 6th. Elsewhere singles of Little Tern and Pink-footed Goose rounded off a quiet couple and leave us looking ahead to a promising few days in the early parts of next week. 

                                   Tree Pipit


Tuesday, 4 May 2021

3rd - 4th May

 Highlights from the 3rd included 25 Barnacle Goose, 2 Pink-footed Goose, a Garganey, 19 Black-tailed Godwit, 7 Whimbrel, a Common Sandpiper, 2 Little Gull, 10 Arctic Tern, a Woodpigeon, a House Martin, 3 Ring Ouzel, a Song Thrush, a Blackcap, 6 Chiffchaff, 3 Willow Warbler, 2 Goldcrest, a Brambling and 5 Carrion Crow.

one of two 2cy Little Gulls from the 3rd

Highlights from the 4th included 4 Barnacle Goose, a Pink-footed Goose, a Ruff, a Little Gull, a Artic Tern, a Little Tern, a Woodpigeon, 2 Ring Ouzel, a Fieldfare, 3 Chiffchaff, a Goldcrest, a Chaffinch and a Brambling. 

Arctic Tern

Monday, 3 May 2021

1st - 2nd May

With the weather stuck in much of the same pattern, sunny with barely any wind, migrants have been a bit thin on the ground, despite this we've still managed to add a couple of new species to the island year list.
The 1st produced a couple of good birds mixed in with a couple of lingering species that gave the day a good look. The first Arctic Terns of the year were seen off the North end eventually settling on Bewan and off of Westness. An Iceland Gull was seen drifting over Vincoin before eventually gaining height and heading North before it was lost sight. The Blue-headed Wagtail was still around Ancum while a Willow Warbler was present at Dennishill and Chiffchaffs were at Ancum and Bewan, 4 Tree Sparrows were still around Southness and the final bird of the day was a Tree Pipit that flew over Breck in the evening.
The 2nd was much the same with very little to add but a constant dribble of migrants enough to keep everyone on their toes. A Siberian Chiffchaff was trapped at the nets in the early morning while a Collared Dove and Woodpigeon were flushed from the gardens. The Woodpigeon total would gather to 3 birds as the day panned out. A Willow Warbler was present in the Willowherb at Burray and a Chiffchaff and Goldcrest were around the obs. The two Barnacle Geese have been present around Ancum on both days as has a very showy Snow Bunting on the Links. The final addition to the year list was a Wood Sandpiper heard over Ancum in the late evening. 

                                   Snow Bunting

Saturday, 1 May 2021

29th - 30th April

 Highlights from the 29th included 4 Pink-footed Goose, 2 Barnacle Goose, 6 Black-tailed Godwit, 13 Sandwich Tern, a Robin, 95 Wheatear, 4 Fieldfare, a Song Thrush, 4 Redwing, a Mistle Thrush, 2 Chiffchaff, 3 Brambling, 2 Carrion Crow, a Tree Sparrow and 2 Snow Bunting.

Highlights from the 30th included a Pink-footed Goose, a Common Sandpiper, 5 Sandwich Tern, a Woodpigeon, the Wryneck still, a Yellow Wagtail (ssp flava/Blue-headed) a Robin, 91 Wheatear, 3 Fieldfare, a Song Thrush, a Redwing, 2 Chiffchaff, a Siberian Chiffchaff, 2 Chiffchaff, a Grasshopper Warbler, a Chaffinch, 4 Brambling, 3 Carrion Crow, a Snow Bunting, 3 Tree Sparrow and an Otter

male Blue-headed Wagtail