Wednesday, 28 September 2022

26th-28th September

A very enjoyable couple of days here following near un-birdable conditions on 26th were marked by a superb White's Thrush found close to Stennabreck on 27th. 

Highlights for 26th weren't much different from the previous few days. The Little Stint was still around Bewan, four Pink-footed Geese were dotted around the island, the Turtle Dove was still around the Bewan Pund. 

The 27th seemed to be fairly inane throughout the morning with little indication of what was to come. However news from other islands around the North had us cursing by lunchtime and us thinking that there had to be something around! This was very quickly proven correct as a White's Thrush was found around Stennabreck and showed magnificently for staff and guests. We weren't done there either. A Hornemann's Arctic Redpoll was found showing superbly around Lenswick, a Buff-breasted Sandpiper was on Torness and the sea provided good numbers of Sooty Shearwaters (741), 39 Manx Shearwaters and 2 Great Shearwaters plus the first Little Auk of the year. The long staying Long-billed Dowitcher re-appeared around Ancum, this time with others connecting with the bird. Yellow-browed Warblers were at Lochend and Cursitter and a Rosefinch was at Haskie. 

The 28th was billed as a big day but didn't really produce the goods. The White's Thrush and Buff-breasted Sand had seemingly done a bunk overnight while pretty much everything else remained. An impressive 126 Snow Buntings were on the island. A Lapland Bunting was seen briefly at Kirbest and the Turtle Dove found its way into a mist-net at Holland.

White's Thrush - GG
Yellow-browed Warbler - GG
                                                             White's Thrush - GG

Sorry about weird pic order, blogger playing up again.

Year List- 204

Sunday, 25 September 2022

23rd-25th September

 A calmer couple of days on 23rd and 24th were followed by a foul day of wind and rain on 25th. The wind switched round to the West and battered the island for the day, with squalls coming in off the sea all day, it didn't make for ideal birding conditions. 

The 23rd was dominated in part by attempts to pin down the ever frustrating Dowitcher however this once again fruitless, it was seen again briefly on 24th but seems to have an ability to vanish on demand! 

The 23rd otherwise was a quiet affair, perhaps to be expected with a few lingering birds still present. A Tree Pipit was at Westness, the Nightjar was still around Holland, a Little Stint was on Bewan and eleven Curlew Sandpiper were on the Links and our first Pink-footed Geese of the Autumn went South in a skein of 18 birds. 

Much of the previous days birds were present on 24th although what is probably a new Great-spotted Woodpecker arrived at the North end, first seen at Senness it progressed slowly south as the day went on. A total of 24 Snow Buntings were around Bewan and noteably the Bluethroat appeared around Viggay once again. 

The 25th was a write-off for the afternoon. A brief foray in the morning was largely unproductive, the Little Stint remained around Bewan, now somewhat more confiding. The links' Curlew Sandpiper count was not down to four birds and a morning sea-watch produced 111 Sooty Shearwaters and a lone Manxie. 

                             A few Swallows have been late in fledging youngsters this year!

Thursday, 22 September 2022

20th-22nd September

 It's been a few days of changeable weather here and with it has come an arrival of new birds most of which have been waders. 

The undoubtable highlight would arrive on 21st in the shape of a Long-billed Dowitcher, initially seen flying over Antabreck with Snipe it was then re-located on Ancum briefly before vanishing for the best part of six hours, only re-appearing again briefly on Ancum in the evening. It was also present on 22nd but again views were fleeting and brief. 

The 20th provided some good migrant action and the first Yellow-browed Warblers of the year with singles at the Surgery, Holland and Observatory. A Bluethroat was seen briefly at Viggay, the first Redwings of the Autumn were present around Holland, the long-staying Nightjar was seen between T1 and Holland, Eight Barnacle Geese were also the first Autumnal records and a third Great-spotted Woodpecker of the year was found at Rue. 

Aside from the Dowitcher the 21st provided yet more Yellow-browed Warblers, a handful of Jack Snipe in various wet locations around the island, a Lapland Bunting was seen briefly at West Beach and the two Common Rosefinch remained around the obs. 

The 22nd was a quieter affair with time taken up trying to find the Dowitcher for those staff members yet to connect with the bird. The Bluethroat re-appeared at Viggay, a Lapland Bunting and Fieldfare were also present nearby. A Barred Warbler was found near Ancum Willows and the Great-spotted Woodpecker was in the vicinity. Finally a new Yellow-browed Warbler was at Westness. 

Things look pretty settled for the next couple of days before the winds pick up on Sunday, hopefully further arrivals of waders continue as the end of the month draws closer.

Year list: 201

                             Long-billed Dowitcher
                             Yellow-browed Warbler - all GG

Monday, 19 September 2022

17th-19th September

 The last few days have involved a lot of time spent staring at the sea, but this has given us some of the best counts for large shearwaters and other sea-birds in recent years. 

The 17th was dominated by left overs from the previous week of birding. A Curlew Sandpiper was on Bewan, while 7 Ruff remained in various spots. A lone Tree Pipit was on the west coast, Redstarts were around the obs and the North end. There were also Whinchats at the Shooting Gallery and around Brides, while only one Willow Warbler remained. The Nightjar was also still present around the obs. 

The 18th and 19th were both dedicated mostly to sea-watching and with good reason! With a total of 17 Great Shearwaters on 18th and three on 19th there isn't much to argue against! Other sea-watch goodies included 2 Long-tailed Skuas, 326 Sooty Shearwater, 234 Manx Shearwater and a single Pomarine Skua on 18th and the following day would see 249 Sooties, 354 Manxies, 8 Pomarine Skua and 5 Long-tailed Skua, not to mention over 10,000 Fulmars, 160+ of which were Blue Fulmars! On the land things were also good, a Barred Warbler was at Veracott while a Stonechat in Loch Park and a Little Stint on Bewan lead the way. 

                             Little Stint
                             Great Shearwater (Screen grab from video) 

Friday, 16 September 2022

16th September

The strong northerlies continued, and as did the migrant clear out. Some interesting birds still remain, but we keep our fingers crossed for more easterlies as the autumn progresses. 
The only highlights today were the Turtle Dove that remains at the north end of the island in the Bewan Pund, and a Nightjar in Holland gardens. After a couple of days without Pied Flycatchers, it was nice to see one again in the Post Office garden.
Otherwise, the only migrants of note were 1 Hen Harrier, 4 Snow Bunting, 4 Willow Warbler, 2 Whinchat, 1 Lesser Whitethroat and 2 Redstart. 

Turtle Dove - MH

Thursday, 15 September 2022

15th September

The weather switched to northerlies with intermittent rain showers today, something which when dies down we hope will produce some good sea watching conditions. In the meantime, however, we can't complain at what the winds seem to have brought us. 
The highlight of the day was a Hornemann's Arctic Redpoll, found in the early evening after a brief rain shower. It showed really well as it went round the obs feeding, even giving views from the bar and conservatory windows at times! Another highlight wasn't totally avian, but a migrant nonetheless, as a plastic Canada Goose decoy with Goose Barnacles in tow washed up in Linklet Bay. 
A morning sea watch produced some good numbers, with 3 Great Shearwater, 103 Sooty Shearwater and 11 Manx Shearwater being seen flying north past Dennishead. 
The Great Spotted Woodpecker was seen once again, this time at the Post Office, and the Rosefinch that has been in the obs area for the past few days finally made its way into one of the heligolands, meaning it could be ringed.
Totals of the more common migrants once again dropped off, but include: 2 Redstart, 2 Whinchat, 2 Blackcap, 2 Chiffchaff, and 3 Siskin.

Hornemann's Arctic Redpoll - MH

Rosefinch - HC

Wednesday, 14 September 2022

13th - 14th September

The strong westerlies have continued over the past couple of days, causing a big clear out of migrants. We've been left with a few bits to keep things interesting though, and we are edging ever closer to the 200 mark for the year list.
The highlights on the 13th were a Turtle Dove at the Bewan pund, a Little Stint on Bewan, 2 Curlew Sandpiper on Bewan, 1 on Ancum and 3 on the Links. A Little Bunting was found in the Shooting Gallery in the early evening, taking the year list to 199.
Elsewhere, there was 1 Kestrel, 1 Hen Harrier, 1 Tree Pipit, 1 Robin, 4 Redstart, 3 Whinchat, 2 Lesser Whitethroat, 2 Garden Warbler, 10 Blackcap, 11 Willow Warbler, 2 Goldcrest, 1 Pied Flycatcher, 7 Siskin, 2 Rosefinch and 7 Snow Bunting.
On the 14th a Nightjar was seen showing well on the obs septic tank. One of the Rosefinches remained in the obs area, and the other appeared to move over to Kirbest, there was a Curlew Sandpiper on Bewan, Icterine Warbler and Barred Warbler in Holland, a Great Spotted Woodpecker at Antabreck and a Turtle Dove at Scottigar. On a short seawatch, 6 Sooty Shearwater and 3 Manx Shearwater were seen going past Dennishead.
Otherwise, totals of the more common migrants include: 1 Hen Harrier, 1 Grey Plover, 5 Curlew Sandpiper, 2 Redstart, 3 Whinchat, 2 Lesser Whitethroat, 2 Blackcap, 1 Chiffchaff, 3 Willow Warbler, 1 Pied Flycatcher and 2 Siskin.

Whinchat - MH

Nightjar - GG

Monday, 12 September 2022

12th September

Strong westerlies with intermittent heavy showers prevailed today, making for difficult birding conditions, but at least a few more migrants stuck around to keep things interesting.

Our Great Spotted Woodpecker count got upped to two, with one at Garso and one at Ancum. Our first Snow Bunting of the Autumn arrived at Garso Wick, and the two Rosefinch remained in the Lurand and obs area. An evening ringing session caught good numbers of migrants, but the highlight was a juvenile male Sparrowhawk. The only other raptors on the island were the 2 Hen Harrier still, and 3 Merlin. Some more interesting waders also seemed to have moved in, with a Grey Plover being seen in Nouster Bay and a total of 17 Ruff across the island.

Totals of more commons migrants across the whole island include: 2 Robin, 25 Redstart, 9 Whinchat, 4 Song Thrush, 1 Reed Warbler, 6 Lesser Whitethroat, 1 Common Whitethroat, 2 Garden Warbler, 8 Blackcap, 2 Chiffchaff, 39 Willow Warbler, 1 Goldcrest, 9 Spotted Flycatcher, 2 Pied Flycatcher, and 33 Siskin.

Sparrowhawk - MH

Redstart - HC

Sunday, 11 September 2022

11th September

It was a mixed bag of weather today with drifty westerlies turning into gusty easterlies. Lots of the migrants seemed to have cleared out, but a few have clung on, and others have moved in.
The Great Spotted Woodpecker remains but has been mobile about the island, being seen today at Senness. More Curlew Sandpiper arrived on the island, with 8 being seen feeding round Bewan in the afternoon, and 3 being seen on Tor Ness. There also appears to be big movements of Golden Plover, with a total of 1007 across the whole island. 2 Rosefinch were found in the Lurand crop, associating with House Sparrows and remaining mobile around the obs area. 
Totals of the more common migrants across the whole island include: 5 Tree Pipit, 2 Rock Pipit, 1 Robin, 25 Redstart, 7 Whinchat, 7 Lesser Whitethroat, 4 Garden Warbler, 7 Blackcap, 1 Chiffchaff, 29 Willow Warbler, 1 Goldcrest, 3 Spotted Flycatcher, 3 Pied Flycatcher, and 39 Siskin.
There was another big decrease in raptor passage, with just 2 Hen Harrier, 1 Kestrel and 1 Merlin.
A brief seawatch in the early afternoon saw 8 Sooty Shearwater, 1 Manx Shearwater and 1 large Shearwater sp fly north past Dennishead.
The weather seems to remain varied over the next few days, with perhaps some favourable sea watching weather to hopefully get our year list past the 200 mark.

Rosefinch - MH

Lesser Whitethroat - HC

Saturday, 10 September 2022

10th September

A near windless day has meant we've had a big clear out of migrants, but there was still plenty around to keep us entertained. The easterlies also seem to have come to end without producing the biggy we've been hoping for, but as the winds switch and turn drifty, we can't yet relax as our sights are still set on what will turn up next.

There were still lots of Willow Warbler about, with a conservative 85 counted over the whole island. There were also still high numbers Redstart, with 18 in census F, 13 in D, 13 in E, 25 in A and 3 in B. Overall there were 8 Spotted Flycatcher, 17 Pied Flycatcher, 11 Garden Warbler, 2 Common Whitethroat, 9 Lesser Whitethroat, 8 Tree Pipit, 2 Chiffchaff and 3 Goldcrest. There seemed to be a small arrival of Robin, with 1 at Ancum, 2 on the west coast and 1 in Holland. There were far fewer Whinchat on the island, with just one in census F, 2 in D, 2 in A and 6 in E. The biggest flock of Siskin were in census A, with 23 flying round the crop field, there were 41 across the rest of the island. Lots of migrants were caught throughout the day in Holland, with the highlight being a Czech ringed male Blackcap. There were at least 23 Blackcap on the rest of the island. The Icterine Warbler from the previous day was still in Holland, and the Nightjar was seen again as it flushed from the garden. The Great Spotted Woodpecker remained, being seen at North Manse. There was also a Grasshopper Warbler at Scottigar, 2 Dunnock in Holland, Reed Warbler at Holland and Verracott, a Stonechat at Longar and 4 Song Thrush across the island.

There were good numbers of waders about, the highlights being 1 Grey Plover, 1 Whimbrel, 7 Common Sandpiper and 1 Greenshank.

A few raptors remained but in far less number than the previous days, with just 2 Hen Harrier, the Short-eared Owl still, and 2 Merlin.

In the evening a bat was seen flying round Holland, identified as a Nathusius Pipistrelle by a bat detector.

The year list now stands at 198.

Spotted Flycatcher - MH

Willow Warbler - MH

Friday, 9 September 2022

7th-9th September

Finally the long anticipated Easterly winds and rain arrived dumping a massive amount of common/scarce migrants on the island. With the winds being strong most of the birds concentrated on the West coast. There were however some highlight birds that stole the show away from the high migrant totals. 

The previous days Golden Oriole did a tour of the South end of the island on 7th before vanishing and was joined by a one day Turtle Dove that was seen at North Gravity. A Nightjar was present for much of 8th, initially found near T1 it re-located up the West coast. A Great Spotted Woodpecker was also present on 8th, found the airfield dyke the bird, much like the Oriole, did a tour of the South end of the island before making its way to the Surgery on 9th. 

The 7th saw the highest count of Wrynecks with seven birds on the island and Garden Warblers with 26, but most of the peak counts unsurprisingly arrived with the warm and sunny weather on 9th where Willow Warblers totalled 153, Redstart climbed to 90 birds and Lesser Whitethroat reached 32. The 9th would also see two Barred Warbler and an Icterine Warbler to round off an astonishingly migrant packed few days. 

With a few puffs of Easterly left in the tank we're hopefully of something to really top off what has been a superb few day of birding! 

Full day totals below: 

                                                             7th                             8th                               9th

TREE PIPIT                                         11                              11                                12

ROBIN                                                   1                                1                                 4 

REDSTART                                         46                              65                                 90

WHINCHAT                                        23                              23                                 20

FIELDFARE                                         1                                 1                                   1 

SONG THRUSH                                  11                              18                                 10

REED WARBLER                                2                                3                                   5 

ICTERINE WARBLER                        -                                 -                                    1  

BARRED WARBLER                          3                                2                                    2    

LESSER WHITETHROAT                  16                              14                                  32 

WHITETHROAT                                  5                                 3                                    8 

GARDEN WARBLER                         26                               19                                  25

BLACKCAP                                        3                                 10                                  29 

CHIFFCHAFF                                     12                                4                                    4 

WILLOW WARBLER                       126                              114                                153

GOLDCREST                                      6                                  4                                    4 

SPOTTED FLYCATCHER                  4                                  4                                    7     

PIED FLYCATCHER                         18                                 26                                  27 

SISKIN                                                41                                70                                  63

NIGHTJAR                                          -                                   1                                   -

GOLDEN ORIOLE                             1                                   -                                   -    

TURTLE DOVE                                  -                                   1                                   - 

GREAT S WOODPECKER                -                                   1                                   1 

                                   Golden Oriole
                                   Pied Flycatcher - all GG

Tuesday, 6 September 2022

6th September

The strong easterlies continued, and as did the rain, making for another migrant packed day. Good numbers of birds of prey were also about again, though they did make life difficult when they kept flushing large flocks of birds as they cruised over.

The highlight of the day was a year tick in the form of a Golden Oriole that was seen briefly when it was flushed from a corner of Holland gardens. It landed in some sycamore before being flushed once again, this time by two Sparrowhawks, causing it to fly east out the garden toward the Old Mill area. Despite much searching, the bird could not be re-found, but hopefully the wet weather will keep it on the island. It proved to be a good day for Wryneck, with three on the island in total, one at Antabreck, one at Scottsha, and the bird that remained in the obs area. The west coast was once again a hot spot for migrants, with three Curlew Sandpiper, one Greenshank, twenty-two Willow Warblers, three Whinchat, seven Pied Flycatcher, one Song Thrush, one Spotted Flycatcher, one Reed Warbler, one Robin, and five Redstart between the Bothy and the Shooting Gallery. Elsewhere there was a Chiffchaff at Gretchen, Redstart at Gretchen and Cursitter, a Curlew Sandpiper at Ancum, Whinchat at Ancum, the school and two at Sugarhouse, a Pied Flycatcher at the Surgery, a Tree Pipit at the airfield, and an unstreaked acro sp in the Kirbest ditch.

Birds of prey that have been about the island include Short-eared Owl, Merlin, Hen Harrier, Buzzard, Kestrel and Sparrowhawk.

Willow Warbler - GG

Wryneck - MH

Curlew Sandpiper - TG

Monday, 5 September 2022

5th September

Easterlies coupled with rain today has meant more migrants have dropped in. The strong winds pushed a lot of the birds onto the west coast, concentrating most of the action there.

There were more Willow Warblers about, with a conservative count 25 across the whole island. Our first Rock Pipits of the autumn arrived at the south end of Tor Ness, and a nice year tick came in the form of a Quail that was flushed from Nether Linnay before flying north along the dyke. The Wryneck and Rosefinch remained in the obs and Lurand area, but the Wryneck evaded capture in T4 when it flew back out the mouth of the heligoland twice. There was a Wood Sandpiper in the Milldam irises along with an unstreaked acro sp. Another unstreaked acro sp was in the irises around Brides, but difficult conditions and lots of cover for the birds to get lost in meant ID couldn't be confirmed. There were more Whinchats about, with at least eight on the west coast, one at Lurand, and one in the Shooting Gallery. Pied Flycatchers were seen at T5 and T4 round the obs, and there were three on the west coast. There were Redstart at the obs, Kirbest, Holland and the west coast, and there was a Fieldfare at Milldam. Five Siskin were in the Shooting Gallery, and one was in Gue Park, Lesser Whitethroat were at Scottigar and Ancum Willows, a Robin was on the west coast, and so was a Garden Warbler. There were also three Curlew Sandpiper on Gretchen.

There were lots of birds of prey seen over the whole island, with at least two Peregrine, two Merlin, two Kestrel, three Sparrowhawk, and one Short-eared Owl. The pick of the bunch however was an Osprey that was first seen on Bewan before heading down the west coast, stopping at various geos on the way. The only contention to this was a Hobby that was picked up as it speedily flew towards the conservatory windows whilst staff were eating dinner. It stopped just in time, instead landing on the conservatory roof briefly before flying back over the fields north of Lurand.

Redstart - MH

Sparrowhawk - MH

Osprey - GG

Sunday, 4 September 2022

3rd - 4th September

The easterlies have continued over the past few days, occasionally being coupled with rain showers to make things feel extra rare. There's been more migrants about and some good sea watching too, keeping expectations high as the weather follows the same suit over the next week.

The 3rd started with a Great Shearwater passing the sea watch hide, accompanied in a two-hour watch by three Sooty Shearwater and two Red-throated Divers. Migrants stared to fall early afternoon, mainly on the east coast of the island, with two Siskin at Bewan, a Lesser Whitethroat at Howar, a Redstart at Quoybanks and a Pied Flycatcher at Lochend. As the day went on, more birds started to push through, a Wryneck was found in the Lurand Garden, along with a Lesser Whitethroat and two Willow Warbler. There were Pied Flycatcher at the Surgery and Verracott, a Blyth's Reed Warbler in the Shooting Gallery, a Reed Warbler in the camping field, a Garden Warbler at Scottigar and the camping field, and a Redstart at Westness. The biggest surprise of the day came when a Great Snipe was flushed from the thistles between South Gravity and Phisligar. Despite much searching in the area the bird appeared to drop down in, it could not be re-found. This represents the first Great Snipe in Orkney since 2000.

On the 4th there were Redstart at Lurand, Westness, Senness and Iris Taing, Fieldfare at the New Kirk and Old Mill, two Siskin at Trebb and one at the obs, Spotted Flycatcher at Tor Ness and Ancum Willows, Garden Warbler at Trebb and the obs crop, Pied Flycatcher at Howar and the Trolla Pund, the Wryneck remained in the Lurand Garden, a Rosefinch in the obs crop, a Common Whitethoat in the Shooting Gallery, a Lesser Whitethroat at Hooking House, a Tree Pipit at Gue Park, and a Blackcap at Trebb. On a sea watch there were two Great Shearwater, one Cory's Shearwater, four Sooty Shearwater, and eleven Manx Shearwater. There were also two Curlew Sandpiper on Ancum. One of the most exciting finds of the day however was a non-avian one, when a Convovulus Hawkmoth was found in the Viggay Irises.

Spotted Flycatcher - HC

Garden Warbler - MH

Siskin - MH

Friday, 2 September 2022

31st August - 2nd September

Easterlies finally prevail, and it looks like they will do for at least the next week. They have already brought us some interesting surprises over the past few days, so we can only hope they continue to do so over the rest of the autumn.

The 31st saw the Great Shearwater once again pass the north end of the island, being seen first going north, and then an hour later going south. Also on the sea watch were two adult Pomarine Skua, 121 Manx Shearwater, 42 Sooty Shearwater, and a Minke Whale. A Black-throated Diver was seen off the Links, and the Buzzard remained, being seen over Antabreck flying east. There was also a Goldcrest at Scottsha and a Sparrowhawk over the obs in the early evening. An early Dunnock was trapped in Holland in the morning, our first of the autumn.

The Great Shearwater kept to its schedule again on the 1st, passing the north end within the same hour as it has done the previous days. The Buzzard was still about, being seen flying from the Point of Burrian out towards Sanday. Our first Robin of the Autumn was trapped at Holland, as was the Paddyfield Warbler that was ringed a few days ago but has remained unseen skulking in the garden. On a brief sea watch, 2 Minke Whale were seen fully breaching from the north end of the island. The biggest surprise of the day however came in the evening nets session, when a Serin was heard calling as is flew over Holland House, being picked up as it dropped into roost with other Linnets. This represents not only a first for the island, but also a first for Orkney, so it was disappointing not to see the bird again despite keeping the nets open for the Linnet roost.

The Paddyfield Warbler was seen again briefly in Holland gardens on the 2nd. There was a Greenshank seen passing the sea watch hide, along with 6 Sooty Shearwater in a 1.5 hour stint. A Goldcrest was seen at the airfield, there was a Whinchat at Lenswick, and a Curlew Sandpiper was briefly on Gretchen in the early afternoon.

Paddyfield Warbler - GG

Curlew Sandpiper - VB