Sunday 17 July 2011

Hello Again!

Finally, I'm back. Sorry for the lack of updates, it's been a busy week and there's so much to catch up with I'm not sure I'll fit it all in here. There's nothing better to encourage a blog post though than driving back from Stackhoull with the shop order and being confronted with a stonking White-winged Black Tern quartering the fields at Setter.

What a stunner! White-winged Black Tern with the Hill Dyke in the background.
Only the third record for Fair Isle (and the first anywhere in Shetland since 2004 I think) it provided stunning views and was a real surprise. Mid-July is not normally renowned for rarities, but with this and the Black-headed Bunting that is still lingering (although only being seen coming into roost at Schoolton) we can't complain! The tern was assumed to be the bird seen on North Ronaldsay last Saturday and Sunday, although a quick look at the pictures on their blog ( , which is well worth keeping an eye on) seems to show a bird with slightly more advanced moult around the head, so perhaps the two sightings do relate to different individuals. Unfortunately, by the time I got my camera the bird had moved a field further away, although by that point there were already great pictures taken by Jason and Deryk amongst others, so watch out for them on the sightings page.

Hawking over the fields in a stiff northerly must have made finding food difficult, although despite appearances I don't think this bird had actually taken to swooping on sheep.
We'll get the sightings page updated soon, so I'll not list all the birds and cetaceans that have been seen since my last post, although it is worth noting that today also saw the arrival of at least one (and possibly up to three) Cuckoos, a Mealy Redpoll and a Bar-tailed Godwit in strong easterly winds and rain.

Sadly the weather also saw the delay of the return of Susannah and Grace, so I am still without my family. Hopefully the weather will be better on Monday and they'll be able to come home (possibly with tales of traffic lights, trains, chips and other delights of the mainland). With some of the Tall Ships that are heading to Lerwick due to stop in at Fair Isle on their way past on Monday and Tuesday, we also need the weather to improve for them to be able to stop by (otherwise there's a lot of burgers, scones, pancakes need eating by those of us on the island!).

There has been a lot of seabird work going on this week as well, particularly looking at Puffins. It's still a bit early to say how they'll do, so I'll do an update on seabirds soon, although I fear it won't be pretty reading.
Puffin week! Feeding watches, visiting colonies, colour-rings, trapping, food samples; these little chaps have had no privacy this week!

Well, there's so much more I could say, but I need to find my phone now as without its alarm clock (and with Susannah not here to kick me out of bed at the right time), I'm not sure how I'm going to wake up for early morning traps!

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