Sunday, 20 April 2014


17th-19th April
Is that the sound of spring springing (the weather has certainly felt pleasantly warm, with a southerly wind for the last couple of days), the gambolling of lambs, the upwards trajectory of Sunderland’s season following the ‘mini-revival’ of the last couple of games (although admittedly still being bottom of the league suggests ‘upwards trajectory’ might be a bit strong), or perhaps most likely, it's the sound of Wardens excitedly bouncing up and down as the forecast looks rather promising for next week, with potentially 7 days of easterlies to come. I’m confident enough of something good that I’m going to extend my Lenten alcohol abstinence to the next Fair Isle tick or BB rare we get!
Fulmars on the cliffs at Easter Lother (there are also a few Puffins tucked away in there). Seabirds are starting to get serious now - not long until the breeding season is upon us.
There’s been nothing extraordinarily unusual during the last three days, but the birding has been quite enjoyable none the less. Wader passage provided a couple of year ticks with Black-tailed Godwit (18th-19th) and Greenshank (19th), along with Whimbrel (singles on 18th and 19th) and an increase in Golden Plover to 36 on 19th.
The other new species for the year were Sparrowhawk (18th, with the only other raptor a male Merlin on 17th) and Stock Dove on 17th-19th (it took me three years to get Stock Dove on my Fair Isle list, so it’s always a good bird to see here). Other columbidae included a peak of 13 Woodpigeon and a new Collared Dove (19th).
A few more warblers included Blackcap (17th), 2 Willow Warbler (19th) and an increase in Chiffchaffs to 9 on 18th and 13 on 19th (with two of these singing); the lack of other warblers will presumably soon be rectified given the forecast. Other signs of spring included an increase in Sand Martins to 7 on 19th, when there were also 5 Swallows and 129 Wheatear (the largest count of the year so far). Thrush numbers also showed small signs of arriving in the increasingly promising conditions, with 3 each of Ring Ouzel and Blackbird, a Song Thrush and 19 Redwing on 19th. Finches were also on the move in small numbers, with the second Goldfinch of the year (18th-19th), the first Common Redpoll for a while (19th), Crossbill (17th-18th), and up to five Chaffinch, 3 Brambling, 3 Siskin, and 2 Linnet.
Male Linnet at the Obs (19th). Will the reasonable spring showing of this species result in the first confirmed breeding on Fair Isle this year?
Other migrants included 2 Black Redstart and Grey Wagtail (18th), Goldcrest (18th-19th), 3 White Wagtails (on both 18th and 19th), single Water Rails on 18th and 19th, up to 20 Snow Bunting, 2 Reed Bunting (17th and 19th) and a small passage of corvids, including a peak of 13 Carrion Crow and 4 Rook (18th) and 2 Jackdaw.
More wintry were 2 Pink-footed Geese (17th-19th) brought in by strong westerlies on the first date and the lingering juvenile Kumlien’s and Iceland Gulls (both to 18th), with other hangers-on including the Tree Sparrow at Haa (to 19th) and Lapland Bunting (a bird at several locations in the North on 19th was probably the bird seen earlier in the month at Suka Mire).
We have a sunny day with southerlies forecast on Sunday (no doubt another ‘it feels good for a raptor’ day, which so far haven’t proved too successful) then the easterlies start to kick in. Will it live up to the hype? Well we’ve certainly got hope, which is half the fun (kind of like being a Sunderland fan).


  1. Excellent result yesterday Dave but I'm hoping the Mackem's revival comes off the rails next Sunday! See you in May (by which time we'll both be contemplating next season in the Championship). Judd


My Blog List