Fair Isle in easterly winds in the third week of May sounds like an ideal combination, but sadly the weather conspired to leave us in thick fog for most of the day, therefore rendering the island virtually invisible to migrants (and leaving any that had come in somewhat tricky to see). Sure enough, new birds were very limited, with a Wood Sandpiper on Da Water the highlight. A Common Scoter in South Harbour, 2 Red-breasted Mergansers, a few signs of common waders on the move and 3 Siskin were about the only other incontrovertibly new birds, although a Brambling on the West cliffs could well have been different to the single that has been lingering alone around the traps for the last ten days or so.
Inevitably, the day list still had a healthy ring to it, with Caspian Stonechat and Western Subalpine Warbler (the male at Burkle) still present, and Cuckoo and Black Redstart were also lingering, but it was very much a feeling of what could have been. That feeling was further enhanced when those lucky enough to make it in on the Good Shepherd were treated to views of three Killer Whales on the way. The whales were seen fairly close to Sumburgh, so they occurred outside of Fair Isle waters and don’t make it into our ‘official records’, although I’m sure that nobody who saw them will care about that!
The morning of the 21st saw our just-turned-two year old waking us up at 4.30am (the dawn chorus of the Warden’s flat) and the fog still present. It was calm and dry enough to open the nets though and, whist doing so, I was met with a loud, whistled, but very brief phrase of song from the garden. Whatever it was never really got going and, unless the Blackcap that has been in there for the last couple of days is trying out some atypical singing, there seems to be something else lurking in there (although it’s gone quiet and avoided the nets in the subsequent two hours). On a date that has seen the arrival of no less than six Thrush Nightingales in the past, there’s certainly grounds for optimism that there could be something good today…
|Blast from the past: this Thrush Nightingale was caught on a foggy 25th May in 2012 and was the second of the spring.|