A day with cold NW winds seemed set to produce rather little, especially with both of the Assistant Wardens stuck on Mainland, when a successful twitch (Chestnut-eared Bunting and Pied Wheatear, nice) was only marginally undone by the weather taking a bad turn sooner than expected, causing the cancellation of today’s flights. The Blue Tit was seen again at Schoolton, where there was also a Great Tit, but the only new birds seen this morning were 38 Jackdaws circling the south of the island.
Having passed Burkle and seen Deryk birding near the Haa, I thought I’d try the Leogh and Utra area rather than cover the same ground. No sooner did I get there then I get a call from Del, ‘I’ve probably got the Rubythroat at the Haa’! I went dashing over, a brown bird flicked off a fence into the allotment behind Haa, and that was that. Deryk’s views were of a plain, brown chat and his side on view of the head confirmed that it was the Rubythroat, although it never showed more than fleetingly and was clearly being elusive.
As other Obs staff arrived at the south of the island, Becki picked out a Hornemann’s Arctic Redpoll as it flew up in front of the people carrier. It was later found in the Burkle garden, another consolation for would-be Rubythroat watchers (following yesterday’s Blue Tit); but all it would be was a consolation, as there was no sign again of the big prize. Despite walking the dykes and ditches of the Haa area and trying the Schoolton garden again in the hope it may go to roost there, the closest I got was a Siberian Chiffchaff calling noisily as dusk approached (to paraphrase Obi-wan ‘this is not the Sibe you are looking for’).
With a few snow flurries this evening suggesting that tomorrow could be even worse than the minus seven degrees ‘wind chill factor’ experienced today, it won’t be easy to refind the Rubythroat, but I’ve cancelled cooking, cleaning and everything else for tomorrow to get all our staff searching the island (well, not really, but we’ll be getting Kat and Becki out the kitchen wherever possible to help), so wish us luck!