Friday, 25 April 2014


26th April 
Butterfish, butterfish, ra ra ra.
We thought that today could bring more birds, and when 40 Brambling erupted from the garden in the morning and 8 Mealy Redpolls were at the feeders, it looked like we were right! Census in a moderate easterly breeze and fairly regular drizzle was certainly producing the goods, with several migrants scattered around the island. As the skies finally cleared just before lunch, it seemed that we could be in for a good afternoon and that prediction was swiftly realised when Ciaran found a pair of Garganey on Da Water. Not only were these just the 22nd and 23rd individuals of this delightful duck to make it to Fair Isle, but they were also a Fair Isle tick for me (which you may well remember meant I could have a pint for the first time since 4th March!).
Quack! The first Fair Isle Garganeys since 2010 and the first multiple record since 2000.
Other highlights from the morning included year ticks in the form of Pied Flycatcher and Whitethroat (with three of each seen), whilst Great Grey Shrikes were at Gilsetter and the Mast (presumably the same bird, although I suspect that more than one may have been involved in recent sightings) and Wrynecks were at Linni Geo and Roskillie.
The Great Grey Shrike near the Mast, with an accompaniment of Meadow Pipits and Wheatear.
It was straight back into the field in the afternoon and amongst the migrants present, were the first Blue-headed Wagtail (a fine male in the Havens then later at Utra), Arctic Skua and Sedge Warbler of the year, whilst another Wryneck was found, this time at South Harbour.
Not a bad day all in all, but things got even better when the nets, which had been opened in the hope of ringing some of the many finches around, produced a hitherto unseen male Eastern Subalpine Warbler late in the evening.
With a contrast between the brick red throat and the paler underparts and the chunky 'moustache', the Subalpine Warbler looked good for 'Eastern', although the tail pattern appeared ambiguous. However, most of the tail was regrowing, having been lost earlier in the spring, which made interpretting the details more difficult. (photo: Ciaran Hatsell)
The final totals of a very impressive day were:
Eastern Subalpine Warbler, 2 Garganey, Great Grey Shrike, 3 Wryneck, Blue-headed Wagtail, 285 Brambling,  44 Ring Ouzel, 321 Fieldfare, 57 Song Thrush, 11 Redstart, 4 Black Redstart, 7 Tree Pipit,  25 White Wagtail, 7 Crossbill, 10 Common Redpoll, 3 Pied Flycatcher, 3 Whitethroat, Sedge Warbler, 22 Chiffchaff, 17 Willow Warbler, 15 Blackcap, 19 Swallow, 3 House Martin, Red-throated Diver, 2 Grey Heron, 2 Kestrel, 2 Arctic Skua, Common Sandpiper, Short-eared Owl, 15 Teal, 64 Snipe, 95 Common Gulls, Iceland Gull and 12 Black-headed Gulls.
House Martin. It's almost art, but mostly it's just out of focus. I must try to take some better pictures tomorrow.
Although Saturday is likely to be quite windy, it’s still from the east and calmer conditions on Sunday could make for a very promising weekend (I’m not quite as optimistic about the football, but at least I’ll be able to drown my sorrows now!).

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