Thursday, 25 August 2011

Epic birding!

Ok, time for a blog post, apologies for not keeping you up to date but it’s been busy!
Yesterday saw a day of easterly wind and lashing rain, perfect conditions to bring migrants in – and boy did it! We held off census until the rain stopped in the afternoon, so the first real indication of what had happened was Jason running the traps on his way back from ‘town’ and producing a Corncrake, Wryneck and Pied Flycatcher and a couple of common migrants. After processing them (and the Barred Warbler that was caught as the Corncrake was being released) we headed out. Lunch was abandoned (sorry Roy and the kitchen team!) as the lure of birds proved too strong for the wardening team and the excitement overtook us.
The Corncrake on its release. It flew a short way then ran off into the heather.
The bare statistics won’t do justice to just what an amazing day’s birding it was, but the haul included: Arctic Warbler (the bird from the previous day still present), Corncrake, 19 Wryneck, 8 Barred Warbler, 7 Common Rosefinch, 71 Tree Pipit, 60 Willow Warbler, 14 Garden Warbler, 3 Wood Warbler, 8 Pied Flycatcher, 4 Redstart, 3 Grasshopper Warbler, 9 Whinchat, 2 Spotted Flycatcher, 2 Flava Wagtails, 3 Blackcap, 5 Chiffchaff, Reed Warbler, Robin and 25 Ruff. The feeling that having birds fly up from just about every patch of cover gives is what makes most of us enjoy birding so much, and this is a day that will stick in the memory of everyone lucky enough to be here for it.
Wrynecks seemed to be everywhere yesterday, with at least 19 found, which is probably the second highest autumn count for Fair Isle. This one was caught in the Gully this morning.
Today dawned with easterly winds and sunshine and the promise of more birds. After a slightly stalled start to census (due to a minor hiccup with our power supply), it became clear that there were still plenty of birds around and indeed counts for many species had increased. Although Wrynecks had decreased from their peak yesterday to five today (including two that were caught and ringed), many other species had increased, with totals of (and I apologise for the list again): a juvenile Red-backed Shrike, 7 Common Rosefinch, 6 Barred Warbler, 104 Tree Pipit, 93 Willow Warbler, 20 Whinchat, 15 Redstart, 10 Pied Flycatcher, 15 Garden Warbler, 4 Spotted Flycatcher, 7 Blackcap, 3 Whitethroat and 3 Flava Wagtails. On top of that, some wader movement saw three new species appear for the year in the form of Dotterel (a juvenile on Ward Hill), Curlew Sandpiper and Little Stint.
Tree Pipits increased to an very impressive 104, a good count even by Fair Isle's high standards.
Never mind that there were no BB rares, this is birding at its best. Some fantastic species, good numbers of common migrants and the real feeling that you never know what the next bird could be. Bring on tomorrow!

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