Friday, 7 October 2011

'Mixed' weather has at least seen several lovely rainbows!
The weather has been dominated by westerly winds of varying strengths, resulting in birding becoming a bit challenging at times and transport to the island becoming disrupted.

With the Good Shepherd unable to sail, a freight plane had to bring in vegetables, milk etc.
Bird-wise, the highlight was a Short-toed Lark in the Vaasetter and Sheep Cru area, the last two sightings (dating back to mid-September) have also come from the same area, so it’s not entirely clear how many individuals have been involved, but this seems likely to be the 4th or 5th of the year.
The Short-toed Lark gave great views, although full credit to the visiting birder who had never seen one before but was so worried about missing his plane (and therefore his girlfriend's birthday) that he didn't even ask to stop the minibus as it drove past the crowd of birders watching the bird!

For much of the time, the Short-toed Lark was associating with a Lapland Bunting, a nice double act!
Wednesday saw a movement of wildfowl, with 99 Whooper Swans, 363 Pink-feet and 406 Greylags passing over and two Grey Phalaropes were seen off South Light, the first record of the year of this scarce species. New birds on the island were harder to come by, although a ringtail Hen Harrier was seen on Thursday, a Yellow Wagtail lingered down south, and Grey Wagtail and Spotted Flycatcher were both seen on 6th. Two Yellow-browed Warblers on 5th has decreased to one the following day and a selection of finches and buntings seemed to be on the move (although so far at least three Little Buntings have been seen this autumn, but no Reed Buntings or Yellowhammers!).
Common Redpoll outside the Obs, more redpolls can perhaps be expected in the NW winds - but of what (sub)species...
With gale force NW winds over night, we could expect a quiet day today, but today is the 23rd anniversary of a group of birders heading to the north of the island in ‘wet and unpromising conditions’ and finding a Blackburnian Warbler near Furse. What better motivation could we need?
The weather has certainly been variable, with hailstones lying like snow for a while yesterday morning!
First of all though, it’s a roundup of the hill sheep, so it’s all hands on deck to help with that.
And plenty of squally storms have blown through - you can see them coming, but you can't get away from them when you're on census (unless you dodge into a croft for tea and cake like some of the wardening team!).

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