Tuesday, 7 June 2011


Yesterday was the first day since 23rd April that there were no Subalpine Warblers on the island, with Alby finally disappearing after a few days of becoming more elusive. Maybe he is just hiding after giving up on ever attracting a mate, perhaps he finally died (of a broken heart?), or maybe he finally realised that this wasn’t Turkey and headed back to where he should have been going in the first place.
However, before we had time to start missing him too much, another turned up at Schoolton today! Found by Nick and Elizabeth, this was also an ‘Eastern’ male, although it proved much more elusive and I only managed a brief view this evening. Nick was able to confirm this bird wasn’t ringed, so it was definitely a new bird and our fourth Subalpine Warbler of the year.
A blurry photo taken through the Schoolton kitchen window.
Our main job today was counting Kittiwakes, a six hour, round-island Zodiac trip and tremendous fun! We managed not to crash into anything and not even get too wet, although our claims that we’d had a hard day were scorned by Susannah and Carrie who had been left to help Ian with harrowing the crop strips and broadcast sowing seeds! We’re still adding up the figures, but it doesn’t look good for the Kittiwakes, with the dramatic decline of recent years apparently still continuing. News from Shetland generally doesn’t sound promising for seabirds this year and, although there’s still time for some things to improve, it looks like we’ll have to brace ourselves for a poor set of breeding figures.
On a lighter note, it looks like the easterly based winds are set to continue for a few days so a few more birds could well be on their way. As well as the Subalp, a scattering of common warblers were joined by a Marsh Warbler that was trapped in the Plantation this evening. I had predicted White-throated Robin as the big bird for Fair Isle this year, but Hartlepool have beaten us to it, so we’ll have to think of something else – Cinerous Bunting anyone?

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