Tuesday, 29 June 2021

25th-29th June

 A rather mixed bag in terms of weather has seen the island get some long awaited rainfall. With nearly 6 weeks passing since our last substantial downpour the addition of some of the wet stuff to the weather has been more than welcome; especially as the last few weeks have seen most of the lochs drying out significantly, to the point that Ancum resembles a muddy basin as opposed to a loch!  

Bird wise things have been unsurprisingly quiet over the last few days. A Red-necked Phalarope was on Gretchen on the morning of the 25th and was joined on the loch by a 1st Summer Little Gull which re-located the following day to Bewan. Small flocks of waders have been the main focus of our attentions and pockets of Knot, Black-tailed Godwit and returning Golden Plover have already begun to catch the eye with the hopes of them concealing something more exciting. The Rosy Starling remained on the Links until the 27th but has seemingly departed now. The first Hen Harrier of the Autumn (can we call it that yet?) was seen over Ancum before flying over the obs in the evening causing panic for the observers on both occasions! Finally another pair of dodgy Snow Geese have appeared on the island with on Garso on the 29th! 

                                   Red-necked Phalarope
                                   Red-necked Phalarope
                                   Red-necked Phalarope
                                   Rosy Starling (Sand Martin behind)


Friday, 25 June 2021

22nd - 24th June

 Highlights from the 22nd - 24th June included 11 Black-tailed Godwit, 60+ Knot, a Greenshank, a Curlew Sandpiper, the Rosy Starling still, 3 Collared Dove and 6+ Orca

Rosy Starling

colour ringed Curlew chicks

Tuesday, 22 June 2021

19th-21st June

 Recent weather has been a little bit more unsettled with the wind coming from both the East and West over the past couple of days, the threat of some much sought after rain has also been looming on the horizon but it hasn't quite made it here. 

With the birding slowing down things have been at a trickle over the past few days with not too much to get excited about, however a Grey or Red Phalarope, whichever you prefer, was seen heading over the Links on the 19th but seemingly didn't stop before carrying on North. The Rosy Starling has remained on the Links and was still present on 21st. The highlight was an immature White-tailed Eagle that appeared over Nouster and looked to be heading South before a sudden change of heart caused it to turn around and tour the island eventually settling on Torness before heading off South again. Elsewhere our attentions have turned to the breeding birds with the Arctic Terns having set up a couple of strong colonies on the island and Black-headed Gulls are doing especially well with 102 chicks ringed so far! 

                                   Grey Phalarope
                                   White-tailed Eagle
                                   Rosy Starling


Saturday, 19 June 2021

16th - 18th June

 Highlights from the 16th included a Long-eared Owl and 2 Crossbill.


Highlights from the 17th included 5 Collared Dove, a Woodpigeon, an adult male Rose-coloured Starling, a Carrion Crow, a Goldfinch and 2 Crossbill.


Highlights from the 18th included a Storm Petrel, 13 Manx Shearwater, 3 Collared Dove, the Rose-coloured Starling still, a Siskin, a Common Redpoll, 2 Crossbill and a Minke Whale.

adult male Rose-coloured Starling

Wednesday, 16 June 2021

13th-15th June

 With a mixed bag of a weather and the Spring pushing on into a bit of low ebb it's not been all that surprising that the number of migrant birds is also dying down. Despite this a few interesting bits and bobs have been making landfall on the island.

The 13th was a relatively quiet day, all three Crossbills were still in the same places, with two birds around the School and another around Holland. The long staying Marsh Warbler has also been seen in Ancum Willows but it seems a little bit shy and has only recently been seen disappearing into cover. A late Willow Warbler was around Cursitter and a Curlew Sandpiper has also been hanging around the Links and Brides areas. The 14th was very much a carbon copy although a large arrival of 400+ Kittiwake at the North end was notable. 

The 15th was a little more exciting without setting the world alight! At least one of the Crossbills was still present around Holland while a Greenshank was seen briefly on Gretchen in the morning. Our second latest Spring record of Long-eared Owl seemed like it was going to be the bird of the day in Holland until a female Nightjar was flushed from the New Zealand Flax at the Eastern end of the garden a few minutes later, the slightly odd morning was topped off with the discovery of an adult Gannet in a field just South of Holland House. 

                                   Nightjar
                                   Kittiwakes


Sunday, 13 June 2021

11th - 12th June

 Highlights from the11th included 2 Black-tailed Godwit, a Greenshank, 2 Curlew Sandpiper, 780 Black-headed Gull, 12 Sandwich Tern, a Turtle Dove, 5 Collared Dove, 3 Redwing, 3 Common Crossbill and 3 Common Redpoll.


Highlights from the12th included 9 Canada Goose, 5 Black-tailed Godwit, a Greenshank, the Turtle Dove still, a Collared Dove, a Robin, a Marsh Warbler and 3 Common Crossbill.


Common Crossbills

Thursday, 10 June 2021

8th-10th June

 With the Spring winding down slowly and more unsettled weather around the birding has definitely been much quieter on the migrant front. Warm days and slack winds have produced fine birding weather but filling them good migrant birds hasn't been so easy! 

Small groups of Redpoll have been dotted around the island over the past three days with birds seen at Holland, the Old Kirk, Bewan and Senness, wether any of these will decide to breed is yet to be seen but I'm sure all will be revealed in the next month or so. The 2 Grey-headed Wagtails are also still in situ near Westness often seen feeding around the iris beds. A trio of Collared Doves are also hanging around the Southern end of the island and have often been seen around the Observatory in the mornings. Other migrants have included a Greenshank on Ancum, a Little Stint at Gretchen on the 9th, a Curlew Sandpiper on the 10th, Garden Warbler, Blackcap, Lesser Whitethroat and 2 Chiffchaff. The standout bird has been a rather illusive Marsh Warbler last seen on the 8th in Ancum Willows, while heard to be singing in short snippets seeing it has been another matter altogether! 

                                   Arctic Tern with a Sandeel
                                   Redpoll


Tuesday, 8 June 2021

6th - 7th June

 Highlights from the 6th included a Wigeon, a Red-breasted Merganser, 16 Black-tailed Godwit, 4 Woodpigeon, 2 Collared Dove, a Marsh Warbler, an Icterine Warbler, 3 Garden Warbler and 3 Willlow Warbler.


Highlights from the 7th included a Little Stint, 14 Black-tailed Godwit, a Hobby, 4 Woodpigeon, 2 House Martin, a Grey-headed Wagtail, a Marsh Warbler, a Garden Warbler, a Willow Warbler and 8 Common Redpoll.

Grey-headed Wagtail and Hobby

Sunday, 6 June 2021

4th-5th June

 Any hint of rain seems to be a long way away at the moment, recent weather has involved sunny and mostly cloudless days with very little in the way of wind. Despite this a steady trickle of late Spring migrants have kept things interesting without pulling up any trees.

The 4th started with an Icterine Warbler around the obs traps and didn't really get flowing beyond that, a second Icterine Warbler was discovered at Brides as was a Little Stint. The Corncrake was singing again near the Mill and other migrants included a Short-eared Owl, a Common Redpoll, 2 Whinchat, a Garden Warbler, 4 Willow Warblers and a rather unseasonal Black Redstart at Longar.

The 5th was much the same as the day previous, another 2 Icterine Warblers, this time both in Holland were again the stand out migrants of the day.  A pair of Grey-headed Wagtails were at Westness. An unstreaked Acro was seen briefly in the garden at Upper Linnay but did a characteristic disappearing act and wasn't seen again. A male Marsh Harrier was seen over Ancum before heading South and was promptly followed out by a Short-eared Owl. Other birds of note included the Black Redstart, 2 Spotted Flycatchers, 3 Chiffchaff, 2 Garden Warbler and a Garganey that appeared briefly in a ditch near the school. 


                                   Icterine Warbler

Friday, 4 June 2021

2nd - 3rd June

 Highlights from the 2nd included 3 Black-tailed Godwit, a Sparrowhawk, 3 Collared Dove, a Cuckoo, 2 House Martin, a Garden Warbler and 2 Spotted Flycatcher. 


Highlights from the 3rd included a Wigeon, 2 Woodpigeon, a Swift, 3 House Martin, 2 Marsh Warbler, a singing male Blyth’s Reed Warbler, a unidentified unstreaked acrocephalus warbler, a Whitethroat, a Garden Warbler, a Blackcap, 2 Chiffchaff, 2 Willow Warbler, 3 Spotted Flycatcher and a Red-backed Shrike.


Blyth's Reed Warbler

Wednesday, 2 June 2021

31st May - 1st June

 The 31st saw the island shrouded in veil of thick haar that felt as though it was anything but good for birding, this however was proven wrong throughout the day on more than one occasion. The low cloud eventually cleared around tea time and gave way to what was a stunning evening.

The day started with the arrival of two Spoonbill on Bewan, although only seen briefly, much like the previous two encounters, these represented the 4th island record, sadly as mentioned before they didn't hang around and vanished high to the South. Next of the list was the re-appearance of the Great Grey Shrike, a bit of a surprise considering its absence over the previous few days but its clearly managing to stay well out of sight for long periods of time. At about lunchtime a message on the whatsapp group had the staff frantically trying to get back to the obs, it read. "Red-rumped Swallow, obs crop field" if anyone knows hirundines speed is usually essential, but in this case it wasn't and the bird spent the day and the following one around the obs and Gretchen. It's only the 3rd island record and the first in nearly 31 years with the previous bird being in Oct 1990. Other than these big highlights the Icterine Warbler remained in Holland, there was a late Carrion Crow and small numbers of commoner migrants.

The 1st was somewhat quieter but all the same a lovely day of warm weather, which is something we've missed over the Spring so far. The Red-rumped Swallow remained around the obs, showing superbly in the morning. The afternoon bought about far less than the previous day, despite the appearance of a White-fronted Goose on Ancum, a hugely unseasonal find! Elsewhere a Peregrine upset everything around the obs, there was a Sparrowhawk caught in Holland and singles of Blackcap, Willow Warbler and Spotted Flycatcher.

                                   Red-rumped Swallow
                                   White-fronted Goose