Friday, 11 May 2012

Busy times (with more to come...).

Sorry for the recent lack of updates – it’s been busy!

Susannah went off the island on Monday and is currently residing in Lerwick awaiting the arrival of the latest addition to the Parnaby family (due date is the 15th). Thanks to all the visitors to the Obs who have been asking after her – no news yet, other than she's quite bored now! No sooner had she left the island than one of her most wanted birds, male red-spotted Bluethroat, turned up just outside the window that she had been keeping a ‘kitchen window year list’ from, it's just as well she’s got other things on her mind!
Who's a pretty boy? This dazzling Bluethroat has been regularly visible from the lounge.
The Bluethroat was one of the stars of a pleasant fall of spring migrants that took place in very unpleasant weather on Tuesday (8th), with the next two days producing sunny and calm conditions, and a host of good birds around. The fall was rather sudden and occurred when the winds finally switched to the north east and it left all the sheltered geos supporting migrants, with a variety of species flicking, shuffling and feeding in every patch of vegetation – really exciting birding. A computer screen is no way to get the enjoyment of the day across, but if I present the list of some of the days species and numbers it should give a flavour of what it was like here:
Bluethroat, Wryneck 5, Red-breasted Flycatcher, Hawfinch 2, Willow Warbler 41, Chiffchaff 10, Blackcap 23, Lesser Whitethroat 2, Whitethroat 9, Sedge Warbler 3, Ring Ouzel 21, Fieldfare 212, Song Thrush 21, Redwing 16, Spotted Flycatcher, Robin 24 (a small new arrival after numbers had declined after the last fall), Pied Flycatcher 3, Redstart 15, Whinchat 6, Tree Pipit 58, Brambling 118, Siskin 39, Reed Bunting 21, Long-eared Owl, Short-eared Owl 2, Sand Martin, Whimbrel 20, Black -tailed Godwit and Wood Sandpiper.
Hawfinches are impressive beasts and the couple that have been caught certainly left a lasting impression on the ringers!
A 'twitchable' Long-eared Owl spent two days roosting in the same spot, viewable from the Chapel
The 9th saw a few more birds arrive (or be found at least) with Ortolan (Jason’s good run continued with one found at Stoney Brek), 3 Wryneck (with 3 still on 10th), 2 Long-eared Owl, 2 Wood Sandpiper, 11 Common Sandpiper, 9 Pied Flycatcher, 325 Wheatear, 16 White Wagtail, 3 ‘Yellow’ Wagtails, 2 Scandinavian Rock Pipits and the first Arctic Terns amongst the many birds lingering from the fall.

Ortolan has become scarcer on Fair Isle in recent times and wasn't seen at all last year.
A real 'Fair Isle moment' came on Thursday when some newly arrived visitors had their welcome talk interrupted first to see the Hawfinch under the feeder and then by the Bluethroat showing on the grass. Whilst watching the Bluethroat, the visitors also found a Wryneck in the garden!
The seaweed in South Harbour provided an amazing concentration of birds on 9th, with White Wagtails in double figures there.
Two flava wagtails also in the South Harbour included this 'Blue-headed' type bird (although as with an earlier bird this year, it shows some similarities to more southern races) and a female Grey-headed Wagtail.
Other highlights from the early May period included:, two more Bluethroats (one on 2nd and a second bird on 10th), two more Hawfinch (1st – 4th), Buzzard (one north on 7th), Osprey (one north on 10th), Wood Warbler (2 on 3rd), 3 Snow Buntings and 2 Lapland Buntings. The Green-winged Teal remained until 6th and the other wildfowl highlight was two Pintail found by Will in South Harbour on 2nd which I went racing down the island for but missed, continuing my general poor run of adding ducks to my Fair Isle list (Goosander, Gadwall and Velvet Scoter have all also provided near misses!).
Some poorer weather forecast for over the weekend may well see an end to the migration, but that wind had got to the north-east by this evening, so maybe there could be another surprise out there tomorrow…

Hopefully we've seen the last of this now, although this was the view from the kitchen only a week ago!


  1. Hope all goes well with Susannah and that you are able to get off in time!

  2. I hope it all goes smoothly with the new arrival to the family!
    I'm due on the island on the 18th any optimism for new feathered arrivals? I expect the Bluethroat and Wryneck will have cleared out? hopefully not

  3. Thanks for the best wishes, I'm still trying to persuade Susannah that we should name the baby after the best bird found on the day he/she is born!
    Kev, there is talk of lighter winds (possibly from the NE) by next weekend, which could be promising for a few more migrants...

  4. fingers firmly crossed that everything goes smoothly!
    not entirely sure about the bird name!


  5. David, Susannah - congratulations! Hope the new arrival goes smoothly and wishing you both the best.
    Charlotte (Kingston)


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