Monday, 22 April 2013

21st April
A period of generally windy weather has seen migration continue at a rather slow pace, although a more southerly element to proceedings has seen a few more birds arriving recently. The highlight of the last few days has probably been the male Hawfinch that arrived at the Obs garden on 21st, with other additions to the year list including Tree Pipit, Black-tailed Godwit and Arctic Skua the same day, a male Shoveler at Da Water (20th-21st) and Jackdaw, Willow Warbler and Blackcap on 18th (with two of the latter on 21st). Other summer migrants included two Chiffchaff (20th), Black Redstart (19th with two on 21st, one of which was found by Henry at the Chapel), White Wagtail (20th), three Sand Martin (20th-21st) and up to 10 Swallow (21st).
This Blackcap was on the feeders at the Obs on 21st.
The Great Tit remains at the Obs and a second individual (and third of the year for the island) was found at the Plantation on 18th before moving down the island to Barkland (with both still present on 21st). Another species enjoying a good spring for Fair Isle is Hen Harrier and another ringtail was seen on 19th-20th, whilst a Kestrel was present on 20th-21st.
Shetland's earliest ever Swift remained until 19th. Also lingering was the Stonechat near the Chapel until 21st at least, the Stock Dove (seen again on 20th) and the Lapland Bunting until 20th (with a second on the latter date).
Whilst thrush numbers are dwindling there has been an increase in our breeding species, with peaks of 302 Meadow Pipit (19th), 230 Skylark (19th) and 95 Wheatear (21st), which will all have also involved birds whose destinations lie even further north than 59 degrees.
Light corvid passage has included up to five Rook (21st) and three Carrion Crow whilst a few more waders included Green Sandpiper (19th-21st), Greenshank (19th), Whimbrel (18th-21st, with 2 on 20th) and increases of Curlew (26 on 21st) and Golden Plover (23 on 21st). A Water Rail (18th) and Moorhens (18th and 21st) were skulking in the ditches, whilst at sea there were Red-throated Diver (17th), Long-tailed Duck (19th) and a ‘blue’ Fulmar at Ditfield on 20th (perhaps the bird that lingered there for several weeks last autumn?).
We’ve also seen the first guests arriving at the Obs and had an opening night get together in the bar with the staff and islanders (and cocktails!). It’s all go and the next few weeks will see the Obs going at full pelt as more guests arrive, migrants pour in (hopefully) and the seabird work gets fully going.

Twite will be around the feeders for next six months at least, but Goldfinches are always scarce visitors, with up to three on the island in the last week.

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