Friday, 20 June 2014


20th June
Not too much to report today, with Guillemot and Bonxie monitoring taking up most of the time. The only bridles on show today were those we were counting in the Guillemot colonies (as part of a repeat of a national count done in the 1980s) as the Bridled Tern was nowhere to be seen. That was until news broke of what must presumably be the same bird making its way to the Farne Islands, where it spent a decent part of last summer. A quick calculation would suggest that if it had left Fair Isle immediately after we last saw it yesterday, had flown in a straight line with just 3 hours allowed for resting up and was found as soon as it had turned up on the Farnes, then it must have averaged 17mph for the duration of the trip. With a decent NW wind behind it, that doesn’t seem unreasonable, although it was clearly in a hurry to get there as it would have had to pass several other tern colonies on the way.
Despite searching at Shalstane, there was no sign of the Bridled Tern here this evening either (or the Laughing Gull), although given the wanderings of the bird last year, any Shetland listers who failed to catch up with it may not be entirely without a chance of pulling it back. No doubt there is more to come from this bird yet (and a quick search of the Birdguides database show a number of records from the North Sea over the last decade or so which could, just maybe, hint at its story having begun further back than last year). We've been very lucky to catch up with this stunner, as presumably it was only the better breeding season for seabirds that saw it drawn into the (larger than recent years) tern colony here. With no Little Terns ever recorded on Fair Isle, Sandwich Tern a scarce visitor (with no records this year) and just a couple of Common Terns recorded so far in 2014, it perhaps gives you an idea of how unlikley a vagrant Sterna (or Onychoprion) is here.
The finding of the Laughing Gull yesterday coincided with the football and was nicely timed for the weekly addition of the Fair Isle Times to merge the two into an unlikely topical joke! © Neil Thompson, Fair Isle Times
The surveying today carried on the general theme for the summer of it looking like a reasonable breeding season for seabirds on Fair Isle (with a similar picture for Shetland as a whole), although it is still early days. Certainly the Bonxies seem in good spirits and rude health; with a couple of the decent kicks I took today including one that caught me across the temple and jaw!
The wind is set to go easterly tomorrow, although the charts suggest it’s very localised and is unlikely to bring anything in the way of surprising migrants (although it could bring more fog), but we’ll still be checking, so you never know. Also, by Sunday the days will be getting shorter again - autumn is on its way!

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