Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Sunshine and a few summer migrants.

A couple of glorious days of weather have been very pleasant and a few migrants have started to creep in. Sedge Warbler was new for the year, following the first Garden Warbler and two Common Sandpipers on Sunday. Sunday’s big bird though was a White-tailed Eagle found by our first visitors of the year on Ward Hill (when it flew in from the north-west below eye level!). Thanks to a prompt phone call, it was enjoyed by everyone at the Obs before drifting north and making good time to cross to Shetland, where it was tracked up to Wester Quarff at least. The other rarity of the period was Green-winged Teal on Da Water (30th). It’s hard to know where it could have been hiding for seven days, so it’s tempting to suggest it could be a new bird, but that seems unlikely given that there was only one previous record before this year.

What a beast!
A Hawfinch trapped in the Obs garden on Monday may have been a different bird to the one at Haa on Friday, a Wryneck was near the Obs on 30th (with one in the south on 27th) and the Great Grey Shrike lingered from 27th – 28th. The Corn Bunting was seen again on 27th and single Lapland Buntings were seen daily from 27th – 30th.
The Great Grey Shrike seems to have left now, so the remaining Robins can rest a bit easier (at least three have been killed by shrikes this spring).
Some increases in migrants included 24 Ring Ouzels, 160 Wheatears and 476 Meadow Pipits on 30th (all the highest counts of the year) whilst the same day also saw a rise in warblers with 20 Chiffchaff and 11 Blackcap. Up to 3 Black Redstarts, 4 Siskins, 2 Woodcock, 3 Jackdaws, 9 Carrion Crows (and 2 hybrids, along with a small movement of Hoodies), 16 Woodpigeon , 2 Collared Dove, Goldfinch (28th), a Long-eared Owl (28th) and Short-eared Owl (29th-30th) were all noted and Robins continued to decline. Arctic Skuas finally started to build up, although only to six by 30th.
As hoped for in the last post, a Ring Ouzel made it into the Vaadal trap.
A Goldeneye arrived in North Haven (from 28th), five Black-tailed Godwits wandered the island (30th), a Dunlin (28th) and a first-winter Iceland Gull were the first records for a while.
Sunday’s good weather saw a catch up in surveys and (following a 6am start to census Fair Isle Wrens on 28th, when 33 were counted singing) a 19 hour day saw the Tysties and Puffins of the island counted! Tystie numbers are about average compared to recent years and, although the counts have not yet been fully added up, there were around 10,000 Puffins present, a slight increase on the last count in 2009.
Also of interest today were three sightings from planes, a Minke Whale was between Sumburgh Head and Fair Isle and a large Basking Shark and a Sunfish were seen just south of the island by an incoming passenger. Hopefully the calm weather, which seems set to continue for a couple of days at least, will see us get the chance to see something similar from the island.

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