Monday, 13 April 2015

Gentilis Relish

11th-13th April
A couple of blustery days brought a few bits of note, with the 11th seeing a few Pink-feet on the move and a small fall that included 10 Fieldfare, 2 Brambling and a Sparrowhawk, with Wheatear rising to 28, then Shoveler and 82 Golden Plover on 12th. Full details, as ever, can be found on our latest sightings page, which is updated more regularly than this blog if you want to keep up to date with daily sightings from Fair Isle.
Wheatears are finally arriving in slightly more reasonable numbers (photo: Ciaran Hatsell).

A few other common migrants have been on the move, including a couple of Collared Doves.
The 13th seemed even more promising when a very calm morning saw a few Redwing and Twite caught in the Obs mistnets, before Ciaran phoned with the startling news that he'd flushed a GOSHAWK from the wall next to Ditfield ('It was huge!'). Some frantic searching by the team failed to relocate the bird and so, after returning to the Obs for breakfast, we started to head out to census with the hope that we'd pick it up somewhere around the island. We hadn't even made it to the cattle grid (I hadn't even got my boots on in fact), when Ciaran heard the 'cronk' of a Raven overhead and looked up to see the Goshawk directly overhead.
An absolute whopper. As was pointed out on Twitter, a good ID feature is when you realise the 'crow' mobbing it is, in fact, a massive Raven! It was noticeable that the Raven tended to mostly keep a sensible distance from a predator that could almost certainly cause it some problems should it have wished.
You can follow FIBO on Twitter on @FI_Obs if you would like up to date bird news from Fair Isle.
It circled for a short while, then headed south with its, rather respectful, chaperone. It was later seen from Wirvie as it circled high and drifted north, presumably heading to Shetland as there were no further sightings.
We were even able to add the Goshawk to the kitchen window list as it performed a couple of circuits over the Obs. Only the 6th record for Fair Isle and the first since 1996, this one wasn't really on anyone's radar.
Interestingly, North Ronaldsy BO recorded their 11th Goshawk a couple of weeks ago, which lingered for a few days then appeared to drift off south. Could this have been the same bird making another attempt to return north? There certainly seem to be similarities between the Fair Isle bird (left) and the North Ronaldsay bird (right, photo by Stephen Rutt). Many thanks to NRBO for supplying the picture, as well as interesting comments about the similarities of the birds. Please let us know if you have any thoughts as to whether these are the same birds.
If they are the same, that gives us hope that we've still got a chance of catching up with the White-tailed Eagle that was seen on North Ronaldsay a few days ago!
Returning to the site it was first flushed from later revealed a freshly dead, partially eviscerated rabbit. Nearby was the plucking post, although most of the fur had blown away by the time we returned with a camera (photo: Ciaran Hatsell). The rabbit was pretty impressively dealt with, but the picture is a bit gory for the blog, so you'll have to email and ask for a copy if you're interested!
The rest of the day didn't really matter in some respects, but it still went on to produce the first Ring Ouzel of the year amongst impressive counts of Meadow Pipit (520) and Skylark (332), as well as an increases in Chiffchaffs (9) and Bonxies (at least 40 were back on their breeding grounds).
A flighty Ring Ouzel at Busta Geo was the first of the year (photo: Ciaran Hatsell).
The recent run of interesting wildfowl continued with two each of Pintail and Shoveler, whilst the Mute Swan remained (although it had a little fly around today, so maybe it's looking to move on - although perhaps it's more likley that it was following someone home after they'd fed it!).
Quack. (Ciaran Hatsell).

Still all westerlies in the forecast at the moment, although we're doing reasonably well off them so far, so maybe we shouldn't get too disheartened, and it's still early...
photo: Ciaran Hatsell

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