Saturday, 30 April 2022

25th-29th April

 Another mixed bag in terms of weather with the latter of the six days finally producing some easterlies but it perhaps too early for them to have taken full effect if indeed they do. 

The 25th produced little in the way of new arrivals, a Whimbrel was around the obs while a straggling Robin was a lay over from the previous weeks birding as was a Ring Ouzel around Cruesbreck and 17 Brambling in the obs crop. The House Martin from the 24th also remained around the Twingness pund and the first Canada Goose of 2022 was on Gretchen with the four Barnacle Geese. 

The following day was a similar story with a few hangers-on around the island although a Sparrowhawk in Holland in the evening was a new arrival as was a Woodpigeon seen around the gardens and a lone Chiffchaff was the only migrant passerine of note. A Common Sandpiper feeding around Bewan was the bird of the day however and the first for this year. The day after (27th) was also quiet but with staff away for the day this isn't really a surprise! Day highlights included a Collared Dove and probably the same Sparrowhawk both at Holland.

A small influx of migrants on 28th saw the years first Grasshopper Warbler in 'rare bird corner' at Holland, despite our best efforts it never made into a mist net! A Long-eared Owl was also seen briefly in the gardens along with the previously mentioned Collared Dove, while five Rook and three Carrion Crow spent the day in various locations. Yet another White-tailed Eagle made its way through the island in the late afternoon pursued by a various contingent of Gulls and Corvids. Other passerine migrants included 15 Swallows, 2 Robins, 4 Blackcaps, 2 Chiffchaff and singles of Goldcrest and Willow Warbler.

The 29th was a stunning day of unbroken sunshine and a light Northerly breeze, A fourth White-tailed Eagle of the year made its way from Fair Isle in the early afternoon and eventually made landfall in North Ronaldsay before continuing South, again mobbed by most of the islands Gulls. The first Arctic Tern of the year was seen scooting around Bewan in the morning. Evening ringing produced little but did bolster the passerine totals for the day with 2 Blackcaps, 5 Chiffchaffs and a Goldcrest remained on the island. 

The outlook for the weekend and the week ahead look interesting and should hopefully give us something to shout about after what has been a fairly quiet week in the grand scheme of things. 

Year list: 128

                                            Blackcap                                                              F.Y.B
                                   Wren                                                                                      G.G

Monday, 25 April 2022

21st - 24th April

A much quieter few days with very settled weather has meant there has been little movement on the migration front and most of the previous weeks migrants have ebbed away still en-route to breeding grounds further afield from ourselves. 
 The four Barnacle Geese have been hanging around the island often showing up in small groups of the resident Greylag Geese. Four Robins and a Black Redstart around Ancum were probably the sum of the highlights for 21st but were joined by two Blackcaps, three Chiffchaff and seven Goldcrest. As mentioned before numbers have been dwindling away as we await our next Easterly blow. The only year list addition on 21st was a House Martin near the Lurn. The 22nd saw the re-appearance of the Whitethroat near Ancum and a Willow Warbler was roaming around the North end. The 23rd was ultimately even quieter with no real movement of anything although the Black Redstart still remained as it did the day after. The final day of the post saw a little more in the way of avian and non-avian action; a Ring Ouzel was at Cruesbreck and a Siskin was feeding around Gerbo in the morning while the afternoon saw the first Arctic Skuas of the year on Torness. The undoubted highlight of the day was four Orca seen from the lounge before they headed off towards Sanday.


Wednesday, 20 April 2022

14th-20th April

The good weather and good birds continued for the best part of the week with things finally settling down on 20th. Common migrants such as Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff and Robin built up throughout the week but dwindled towards the tail end when the winds died off and the fog rolled in.

The highlight from the 14th was a Spotted Crake whose ID was finally nailed on from a brief sighting in Holland House gardens the previous day when 1 was flushed from Ancum Willows towards Ancum Loch. A male Sparrowhawk seen thermalling over the obs was another year list addition, with a female also being ringed in the evening at Ancum Willows. The ringing session also proved worthwhile as another year list addition of Little Gull was seen coming to roost on Ancum Loch. The day proved good for raptors when an Osprey flew out south late afternoon. 2 Long-eared Owls ringed in Holland House in the morning and a Redpoll at Viggay during the day also kept the year list ticking over.

The 15th was a quieter day but saw our first arrival of hirundines to the island. 5 Sand Martin at Brides and 2 at Garso, along with a Swallow at the sea watch hide made spring feel like it was properly underway. A male Ring Ouzel at Southness and a Woodpigeon caught and ringed at Holland House kept things interesting.

One of the previously ringed Long-eared Owls continued to hang around and was seen again roosting in Holland House Gardens on the 16th. A Kestrel sat on T1 taunting staff into thinking it might be caught and ringed, but flew off without ending up in the trap.

The 17th was a big day for arriving migrants with 301 Wheatear seen around the island. 7 Barnacle Geese flew south over the obs, another addition to the year list, and presumably the same Little Gull from Ancum Loch was seen in Nouster Bay before being chased of by Black-headed Gulls. The highlight from the day however came in the form of 2 Marsh Harriers, a female seen off the pier in the morning and a male over Ancum Loch in the evening seemed to hang around for a few days before disappearing off south on the 20th. 3 Stonechat at various points around the island, a Ring Ouzel at Howar and a Greenfinch at Sangar also added interest to the day.

The 18th saw very little action due to punding going on around the island, but a Short-eared Owl in the evening over Ancum Loch was a good sighting for the day.

The 19th was a warm, clear day but with a fair amount of sea fog, meant the day proved good for lingering raptors. A Common Buzzard flushed from Ancum Willows in the morning and the lingering Marsh Harrier had its glory removed when two White-tailed Eagles came in off the sea at opposite ends of the island, thermalling round the island upsetting the resident birds before flying out south off of Brideness point. Another Redpoll was also seen in the Cricket Field near the obs. An evening sea watch saw the first Manx Shearwater of the year cruise past Dennishead, along with a Mediterranean Gull, 5 Great Skua, 206 Kittiwake, 59 Guillemot, 26 Razorbill, 31 Puffin, 103 Auk sp and 72 Gannets.

The first breeding wader survey was carried out on the morning of the 20th, when a Tree Pipit was also found in the garden at Lochend. Sea-watching saw 7 drake Common Scoter fly north and a further 4 Manx Shearwater. 

Away from birds, the night of the 19th also proved good for moths with 135 Hebrew Characters and third island record of The Herald.



Wednesday, 13 April 2022

13th April

 A good day of birding and easterlies with intermittent rain showers meant we had our first fall conditions of the year and despite there not being anything spectacular on the day list the birding was still good fun if not a little tiring! 

An overnight dump of Chiffchaffs and Goldcrests saw the day totals at 53 and 47 respectively around the island. A late afternoon arrival of Brambling saw figures go from single figure counts up to a total of 56 birds, mainly in last years crops around the obs. A duo of Ring Ouzels and a Mistle Thrush were new additions to the year list. Two male Stonechats spent the afternoon at Lochend and Westness while three Blackcaps, and the previous days Whitethroat were present. The big day totals fell to Robin posting a remarkable 67 birds and Song Thrush with 59 in various spots, the majority of the former along the West side and up North. Finally a Kestrel spent the afternoon bombing around the NW corner of the island. 

The weather looks set in a similar vein over the next couple of days so hopefully we're done yet and there's more migrants to come! 

                                    Common Whitethroat
                                   Ring Ouzel

8th-12th April

 More cold and windy westerlies finally gave way to some more favourable conditions on 12th when the wind swung its way into the east and with a few scattered showers finally produced our first fall of migrants for 2022.

The 8th to 10th were predictably quiet and we had little to show for big efforts in the field singles of Woodcock and Chiffchaff were the only real migrants on 8th while a similar story on 10th saw two Woodcock flushed out of Ancum Willows in the morning and very little else at all. A small smattering of Wheatear were present throughout and an extra Chiffchaff was added to the first and a Carrion Crow made the list at Brides. 

The 11th was initially billed as what could be a good day in the field but turned out to be anything but with very little going on. Another lone Chiffchaff at Ancum and two Jackdaw, despite being year list additions, didn't get the excitement levels up. The only other bird of note was a flighty Brambling at the obs.

The 12th had to be the main event then, and it was for some part. Not a spectacular fall like we'd see in May in these conditions but enough to keep staff happy as they battled the wind and showers. A good fall of Chiffchaffs lead to double figures around the island and this was mirrored in the Wheatear counts too. Up to three Willow Warblers were present at Vincoin, Lenswick and Gretchen while other goodies included a smart Iceland Gull at Quoybanks, two Brambling and a Dunnock at Cott, several Robins around the island and a Woodpigeon. The stand-out birds of the day were a very skittish Lapland Bunting at Tor Ness followed by a rather more Common Whitethroat at Westness. 

The week ahead looks pretty good too and hopefully there's something to be had while we chase the dangling carrot of Easterlies combined with a bit of the wet stuff! 

                                   Iceland Gull


Saturday, 9 April 2022

April 01st - April 07th

A calm start to the month with sunny skies and calm seas, saw a good few days birding on the Island. The 01st saw our first Great Skua (Bonxie) of the year with one being seen at Torness but also our first Sandwich Terns of the year with 2 feeding in the bay at Nouster. However the highlight was a Slavonian Grebe that headed quickly past the seawatching hide. 

April 02nd saw the team carry out the first of our two annual Black Guillemot counts and with 1145 it looks to be another record year for the species already beating previous years by over 100 birds we look forward to our second count on the 14th. 

After two days of nice weather the inevitable happened and it was back to the usual strong winds and a real mix of snow and hail. A different Black Throated Diver was sheltering in Nouster Bay with a good number of Great Northerns, 3 Rooks headed south over the obs on the 3rd, the lingering Short Eared Owl at Peckhole and 2 Dunnocks remained at both Holland House and Westness.

The continued bad weather saw a influx of thrushes trying to make landfall in this tough conditions with 73 Redwing, 45 Blackbirds, 16 Song Thrushes and 5 Fieldfare, Raptor numbers climbed with 4 Merlin and a Hen Harrier present but also attracted our first Kestrel of the year trying to make use of these conditions on the 06th. April 07th also saw our first 2 Woodcock for a while with 1 flushed in the Obs Garden and another by the airfield. 

With forecasts changing we look forward to the week ahead. 

Wheatear and Rock Pipit