Thursday, 28 August 2014

Autumn Arrivals.

26th - 27th August
Many of the seabirds have drifted away from the island now, although there are still decent numbers of Bonxies around, as well as a few Arctic Skuas, including these two juveniles at the Mast (incidentally, this 'flock' of juvenile Skooties contains double the number of youngsters of this species to have fledged from 2011-2013).
Another very calm and sunny day on 26th brought our first Icterine Warbler of the autumn (trapped at the Plantation) and an increase in Common Rosefinch to 3, with Barred Warbler and Wood Warbler remaining and a few increases in common migrants to suggest we were maybe at the start of something even better. The 27th opened calm and bright again after another busy night Storm Petrel ringing (the morning mist-netters passed the Storm Petrel team in the lounge at about 5.30am!). A Leach’s Petrel was also heard overnight, with the final total of birds caught being 227 (including 197 ‘new’ birds).
After a poor autumn for Wood Warbler in 2013 (with just one record), this year is already much better, with probably 5 individuals recorded so far.
Although things started relatively slowly, the wind started to pick up from the east through the day to a fairly fresh breeze by the evening and it brought more birds with it. Willow Warblers were the most obvious species present, with 60 logged around the island and there were also increases in Pied Flycatcher (6), alba wagtails (99 – mostly White), Tree Pipit (2) and Garden Warbler (5), whilst counts of 341 Meadow Pipit, 290 Rock Pipit, 280 Twite and 107 Wheatear all added to a satisfyingly busy census. The Common Rosefinch flock had increased to at least 4 (that was the most seen together, there could easily have been double that number on the island with various ones and twos seen in widely scattered locations), there were still 2 Barred Warblers around the Stackhoull area, a Wryneck dropped into the Obs briefly, the autumn’s first Red-backed Shrike was mobile on the west coast around Grey Geo and Wood Warblers had increased to 3 (the lingering bird was still at Chalet, whilst new individuals were at Furse and South Naaversgill). So, a very satisfying days birding and it felt like the forerunner to the chance of more birds. We’re due some stronger SE winds, which will make the birding more difficult, but could bring a selection of new species before the winds drop towards the weekend before switching to the west by the start of September.
Daily census, increasing migrants, several scarcities, a good forecast – the autumn is all coming together nicely now and hopefully we’ll eke out a few more decent birds in this promising spell of weather.

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