Monday, 1 August 2011

Farewell Summer...

The end of July sees any lingering doubts amongst the birding world that summer is gone and autumn is here. Breeding bird work is coming to an end, some of our breeding birds have left us (Arctic Terns and Lapwings for example have just about disappeared, although we will expect others to pass through in the autumn) and people's minds are turning to the rares that may appear. We'll expect the first scarcities in a week or so, although with the wind now in the SE and the weather looking rather autumnal, maybe we won't have to wait that long...
After a shaky start, Puffins seemed to have recovered reasonably well and had a better season than the rest of the auks. This youngster on Greenholm is not far off fledging (provided Carrie doesn't take it home with her!).
A couple of good nights of Stormying have seen us get over 100+ Storm Petrels (I know I should call them European Storm-Petrels, but you know what I mean) and two very impressive Leach's on Saturday night. The first was heard calling from the beach for a while before attempts to locate it saw it fly off, circle the tape and head straight into the net. The second (at 2.45am, they tend to arrive later in the night than Stormies) was also heard calling out at sea before circling around us a few times and plopping itself conveniently into the mist net. They really are fantastic birds and I was also impressed with just how loud they are, the call being easily audible at over 200 metres even when we were stood next to the tape blasting out sounds of petrel colonies.
There haven't been too many other bird sightings, although two Ruff yesterday were new in and a sign of birds on the move.
Some non-bird work saw the Obs staff (and a few visitors) out in force for the Sheep Hill, the round up of the hill sheep from the north of the island. It's always a fun day out, although there were a few sore legs the next day from running after rogue sheep up heathery hills. It's great to take part in something that involves the whole island, although whether the sheep that I sheared will be thankful I was there is maybe another matter.

The sheep being rounded up.

Dave Wheeler nervously checks if his yowe's head is still attached.
The Obs is now closed for a week to allow staff to take a well earned break, although Susannah and I will still be here, so hopefully we'll have a few more birds to report. It also means you can start make bookings for accommodation in 2012, just drop us an email or give us a ring.

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