Thursday 29 September 2011

Birthday Birds!

Nothing spectacular to report yet, but a Redwing and 4 Blackcaps on morning traps hints that maybe a few things are on the move, as did the skeins of Pink-feet overhead.
There are three birthdays at the Obs today (two guests and me!) and a quick check of the birth dates for Ian, Craig and myself shows that some good birds turned up whilst we were making our first appearances: 1971 Pechora Pipit; 1976 Pallas's Reed Bunting (1st for Britain); 1981 Red-flanked Bluetail (1st for Fair Isle). Any one of those today would make for a very happy birthday indeed!
 Birthday Bird! After having surprised Tommy at Auld Haa by turning up in his garden on his birthday last week (and just for a second convincing him he'd found a major Shetland rarity!), this Magpie put in an appearance at Lower Stoneybrek for Neil's big day and showed up at the Obs this morning!

A spectacular display of Aurora on Tuesday night was visble from the bar and saw the sky dancing until at least 3am in one of the best shows on the island for years. Sadly it was beyond the capabilities of my camera to capture it and this is the best shot I got!

Wednesday 28 September 2011

Latest Sightings.

The latest sightings as summarised by Jason:

This Snow Bunting is one of the small group hanging around North Light.
25th September 2011
Highlight today was the arrival of a juvenile Rose-coloured Starling, dropping in at around 1pm from high above the Obs. The bird visited the feeder briefly and then bombed off with other Starlings, roaming the island widely from then on. The Citrine Wagtail remains at Barkland, as does the Melodious Warbler at Shirva.
Twelve Greylag Geese flew south and the first Long-tailed Duck of the autumn was seen in South Harbour. The Quail at Taft was seen again, while 3 Red-throated Divers flew south. Two Grey Herons were present, while raptors included a female Sparrowhawk, 4 Kestrels, 1 Merlin and a Peregrine. The first Water Rail of the autumn dropped onto Buness, while waders included a 15 Golden Plovers, the lingering Curlew Sandpiper still on Meoness, 8 Purple Sandpipers, 4 Dunlins and 4 Jack Snipe. Twelve Kittiwakes were recorded passing the island.
The lingering Short-eared Owl remains in the Pund area, while 8 Swallows were logged across the island. A small but noticeable arrival occurred in fairly blustery, though short range south-easterlies, with new birds and good counts including 8 Whinchats, 37 Wheatears, 4 Redwings, 1 Grasshopper Warbler, 2 Barred Warblers, at the Reevas and Setter, 2 Lesser Whitethroats, 1 Garden Warbler, 4 lingering Yellow-browed Warblers, 10 Willow Warblers, the lingering Great Grey Shrike, 2 Bramblings, 6 Siskins, 1 Linnet, 2 Common Rosefinches still and 34 Lapland Buntings.
The Rose-coloured Starling has abandoned the Starling flock and is by itself up at North Light.
26th September 2011
The Melodious Warbler, Citrine Wagtail and Rose-coloured Starling all remained.
The lingering Quail remains, while Grey Heron numbers increased to 4. Raptors included 5 Kestrels, 2 Merlins and the lingering Peregrine, while a Water Rail was seen on Da Water. Our first Stock Dove of the year was seen flying south over the Kirk, while the Short-eared Owl is still present at Pund. A Short-toed Lark, discovered in the same location as out previous lingering bird, at the Sheep Cru near the Plantation, may have been new bird, with 5 days since its last sighting. Six Swallows were present on the island.
Passerine counts included a Tree Pipit, 243 Meadow Pipits, the lingering Dunnock, 1 Redstart, 8 Whinchats, 31 Wheatears, 2 Blackbirds, 3 Song Thrushes, 4 Redwings, 1 Grasshopper Warbler, 1 Sedge Warbler, 1 lingering Barred Warbler, 2 Common Whitethroats, 2 Garden Warblers, 15 Blackcaps, 3 Yellow-browed Warblers still, 3 Chiffchaffs, 4 Willow Warblers, 1 Goldcrest, an influx of 5 Spotted Flycatchers, the lingering Great Grey Shrike, 9 Siskins, 9 Lesser Redpolls (a notable influx), 3 Mealy Redpolls, 37 Lapland Buntings, 4 Snow Buntings and what is presumably the Little Bunting back for more after an absence of a couple of days, at Utra and the Haa.
The Great Grey Shrike is still roaming the south of the island, where even the sheep think its worth a look.
27th September 2011
The Rose-coloured Starling, Citrine Wagtail and Melodious Warbler remain.
A few skeins of Pink-footed Geese, adding up to 95 birds, passed south over the island, as did 16 Greylag Geese. Eight Wigeon and 5 Teal were present, as was a Red-breasted Merganser in the Havens. Kestrel numbers increased to 7, joining the resident Merlins and Peregrine.
The Short-eared Owl remains, while small migrant numbers included 305 Meadow Pipits, 2 Dunnocks, 1 Robin, 3 Redstarts, 9 Whinchats, 2 Blackbirds, 3 Song Thrushes, 4 Redwings, a Reed Warbler, 2 Whitethroats, 2 Garden Warblers, 16 Blackcaps, 4 Yellow-browed Warblers, 4 Chiffchaffs, 4 Willow Warblers, 5 Goldcrests, the Great Grey Shrike still, 9 Siskins, 3 Linnets, 6 Lesser Redpolls, 2 Mealy Redpolls, 32 Lapland Buntings and 11 Snow Buntings.
Pink-feet are on the move, this skein decided to have a brief rest on Malcolm's Head.

Sunday 25 September 2011

Saturday Sightings

Although no more American birds were found (it was always a long shot!) there were a few signs of migrants on the move, with Long-eared Owl being the pick of the bunch along with a slight increase in Goldcrests and Blackcaps. Lingering rarities included a Citrine Wagtail at Barkland, Great Grey Shrike at Schoollton (which added Tree Pipit to its 'list of migrants that I have eaten') and the Melodious Warbler at Shirva, whilst at least four Yellow-browed Warblers included our third to be ringed this autumn.
The Baird's Sandpiper took a liking to the wader scrape, but also gave very good views on the road!

Gerylag Geese heading to Orkney when the wind was a bit stronger a couple of days ago.

There's a real buzz about the Obs at the minute, with plenty of birders here and the feeling that any rarities will have to try quite hard to escape detection. Hopefully we will get some winds from the east soon (two hours of forecasted SSE tomorrow probably won't be quite enough!), although in the meantime further American visitors would be most welcome.

Away from the birding side of things, it has been very nice to have my parents here for the last week, although they have headed back home today. Despite not being birders, they’ve added a few more species to their lists (although they weren’t that impressed by the Blyth’s Reed Warbler it has to be said), but more importantly Grace, Susannah and I have got to enjoy their company for a few days. Grace particularly enjoys ‘winding Gramps up’ and has come up with some memorable phrases in the last few days including, ‘I’m Grace Parnaby and I'm not sharing my chocolate’, you can’t argue with that!
In response to Grandpa's request to 'take that thumb out of your mouth', Grace's replaces it with all of her fingers!

Saturday 24 September 2011

Baird and Breakfast!

What a way to start the day – a call of ‘Baird’s Sand at North Haven’ caused a panic around the breakfast table with staff (including some from the kitchen) and visitors abandoning bacon, eggs and black pudding to hurry down to see this smart little visitor from ‘across the pond’. Good views were had by all as the bird fed on the grass amongst a small group of Turnstone and Sanderling.

Preferring to feed on the grass than the beach, the Baird's was seen to eat a couple of large worms - hungry after a long sea crossing perhaps?
Only about the 14th record for Shetland and the fourth for Fair Isle, it is the first to grace our shores since 1996. Despite the blustery south-westerly winds, it has set the wardens off on census with a bit of an extra spring in their steps, will there be anything else from the west out there?
Little cracker! A very good bird found by one of our visitors, can the wardens beat that today?!

Friday 23 September 2011

Recent Sightings

Until we get the website updated again, I'll put latest sightings (as collated by Jason) on the blog. All the photos below (except the Lesser Redpoll) are by Jason as well.
I'll post a further update later today with news of the Common Rosefinch, as the ringer who first caught the bird has been in touch!

20th September 2011

What is probably the same GREAT SNIPE from the 18th was re-found at Shirva, while a further highlight included the sighting of Fair Isle's 5th SABINES GULL. The bird, an adult leaving its summer plumage, flew past South Light in the morning. The Citrine Wagtail remains, as does the Melodious Warbler.
One Red-throated Diver was recorded, while notable waders included 11 Ringed Plovers, 6 Golden Plovers, 1 Knot, 2 Purple Sandpipers, 1 Ruff and 1 Jack Snipe. Seven Kittiwakes flew past Buness, along with 3 Guillemots and a Razorbill.
Three Short-eared Owls were present at Pund, while the Short-toed Lark remains. Other small migrants logged on census included a Tree Pipit, 2 Dunnocks, a Robin, 1 Redstart, 6 Whinchats, 16 Wheatears, 1 Blackbird, 1 Fieldfare, 8 Song Thrushes, 2 Redwings, 1 Sedge Warbler, 1 Reed Warbler, 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 2 Whitethroats, 1 Garden Warbler, 12 Blackcaps, 5 Yellow–browed Warblers, 13 Willow Warblers, 4 Goldcrests, 3 Spotted Flycatchers, the Great Grey Shrike, a Brambling, 5 Linnets, 5 Common Rosefinches, 30 Lapland Buntings, 24 Snow Buntings and the Little Bunting that arrived on the 18th.
Little Bunting taking advantage of an Obs crop strip. These planted areas are scattered around the island and offer cover and food for lots of birds, inlcuding several large flocks of Twite.

Jason and the Great Grey Shrike. Caught in the Obs mistnet on Monday, my fingers still have the scars from its rather ungrateful behaviour as I extracted it!

Yellow-browed Warbler (also using an Obs crop strip). Up to eight of this fantastic beasties have been seen and two have been ringed. There utter dinkyness in the hand makes their long-distance journey seem all the more amazing.
21st September 2011

A rough day, with strong winds and heavy rain making census difficult, and numbers recorded were undoubtedly low due to this. However seawatching was the best it’s been all year, and a SABINES GULL was seen traveling north off Buness in the morning (possibly yesterday's bird?).
Nine Wigeon and 3 Teal were logged, while seawatching was, by Fair Isle standards, fairly productive, with 5 Sooty Shearwaters and 3 Manx Shearwaters passing both Buness and South Light. Nineteen Kittiwakes, 39 Guillemots, 34 Razorbills and a Puffin were also recorded, all passing east. Wader included a smart juvenile Curlew Sandpiper on Meoness, 4 Knot, 7 Purple Sandpipers and 18 Redshanks. Two Short-eared Owls were also still present.
A Sand Martin was recorded along with 6 Swallows, while small migrants included the same Tree Pipit, 2 Dunnocks, 5 Whinchats, 4 Fieldfares, 2 Song Thrushes, 4 Redwings, 1 Garden Warbler, 3 Blackcaps, 3 Yellow-browed Warblers, 1 Chiffchaff, 6 Willow Warblers, the lingering Great Grey Shrike, 2 Lesser Redpolls in the Plantation (the first of the year of this scarce bird in Shetland), 31 Lapland Buntings and 10 Snow Buntings.
Both of the Redpolls were trapped and the measurements confirmed the initial suspicions, based on the warm brown plumage, that they were Lesser (although this one is trying to make itself look bigger by fluffing itself up).

Our only Bluethroat so far of the autumn was trapped on Monday and put on a good show later in the day.
22nd September 2011

Highlights: What was probably the same Great Snipe was flushed from Boini Mire. The Citrine Wagtail was seen again at Barkland and the Melodious Warbler remained at Shirva. The Little Bunting put in a brief appearance at Utra in the evening and the Great Grey Shrike roamed the island and was seen to kill a Blackcap at Haa.
More expected scarce migrants included 3 Yellow-browed Warbler, 2 Common Rosefinch, 22 Lapland and 28 Snow Buntings and the two Lesser Redpolls had moved to the crop strip at Bull’s Park.

Other migrants were present in generally smaller numbers, although there were several flocks of Pink-footed and Greylag Geese on the move. Counts of other species included: 1 Sooty Shearwater , 27 Golden Plover, 4 Kestrel, a Grey Plover (the first of the autumn), 1 Knot, 2 Sanderling, a juvenile Curlew Sandpiper at Meoness, 1 Ruff, 1 Jack Snipe, 52 Skylark, 2 Short-eared Owls, 2 Tree Pipits, 152 Meadow Pipit, 6 Whinchat, 35 Wheatear, 4 Song Thrush, 2 Redwing, Whitethroat, 9 Blackcap, Chiffchaff, 5 Willow Warbler, Goldcrest, 2 Spotted Flycatcher and a Linnet.

Wednesday 21 September 2011

Is this your Rosefinch?

Another good day of birds on the island, although most were lingering from previous days. The main new highlight was a Sabine's Gull seen by Rob from South Light, a scarce bird on Fair Isle where it is fair to say that seawatching is not our strong point.
As I catch up with work from the last couple of weeks, one puzzle that still remains is a colour-ringed juvenile Common Rosefinch that was part of the impressive 15 that were around the island in early September.
Left leg orange over green, right leg metal. But did you ring this Rosefinch? Please get in touch.
The only problem is that we haven't yet been able to trace who ringed this bird. The usual channels have not yet produced any results, but perhaps someone out there could help? Common Rosefinches are a regular autumn migrant on Fair Isle (often in small flocks) and whilst the majority are immatures, some adults also occur. It would be fascinating to find out a bit more about the origins and movements of these birds, so hopefully someone will be able to help with this sighting.

Monday 19 September 2011

The Rares keep coming.

Fair Isle at its best – a shout from Will this morning, ‘Blyth’s Reed Warbler in the garden’ was enough to cause a scramble. With the nets open a bit of gentle coaxing didn’t work, but thankfully, shortly afterwards the bird then made its own way into a mistnet. It was extracted and processed, where the measurements confirmed the identification, and paraded for all at the Obs to enjoy. A great call from Will with this potentially tricky species (they were strictly an ‘in hand identification’ only when I was a lad!), especially as the first bird of the day to see out the bedroom window!
After release the Blyth's Reed showed well in the garden at times, even feeding out on the grass.
Whilst the BRW was being shown off to our visitors, a second check of the nets produced a Great Grey Shrike, which took lumps out my hand but was well worth it. The Shrike was later recaught in the Vaadal, where it dropped its mouse prey in the catching box. After refusing to pick the mouse up, Jason had the bright idea to put the mouse on the ground, then put the GGS next to it – it swiftly grabbed its grub and flew off over the hill!

Jason also caught a Bluethroat in the Gully and a Yellow-browed Warbler (one of at least five on the island) was trapped later in Single Dyke. Other birds seen today included Little Bunting (Walli Burn), Citrine Wagtail (Da Water), Melodious Warbler (Shirva), Barred Warbler, Short-toed Lark and 3 Common Rosefinch, with a variety of common migrants probably slightly reduced in number from yesterday but including the first Ring Ouzel of the autumn.
I’m ‘taking it easy’ and plodding round the roads a little bit, so I haven’t caught up with all the birds, but I can feel my fitness coming back, so I’m sure I’ll be OK to run up Ward Hill tomorrow if needs be! For those of you interested in such things, I got my stitches out today (anyone want to see a picture?!) but I am currently held together with medical sellotape.
The forecast now looks less promising for a few days, with westerly winds set to dominate. But this is Fair Isle and virtually anything is possible, so I’d not be surprised if there were still one or two headline birds to come…

18th September

Just to give you a flavour of a day on Fair Isle, these were some of the highlights from yesterday’s log:

Great Snipe, Citrine Wagtail, Melodious Warbler, 4 Yellow-browed Warbler, Great Grey Shrike, Wryneck, Little Bunting, Short-toed Lark, 4 Common Rosefinch, Curlew Sandpiper, 4 Jack Snipe, 3 Short-eared Owl, 2 Tree Pipit, 12 Whinchat, 4 Fieldfare, 3 Redwing, 4 Grasshopper Warbler, 2 Reed Warbler, 5 Lesser Whitethroat, 20 Garden Warbler, 40 Blackcap, 21 Willow Warbler, 3 Spotted Flycatcher, Brambling and 41 Lapland Bunting.
The best birding in the country? Well, it’s certainly up there, and its some of the best and most enjoyable birding I’ve experienced – and I’ve been around a bit!
Aside from the rarities, scarcities and numbers of passage migrants, there are usually a few other species around the island that are of interest, such as these Snow Buntings on Ward Hill. Others in recent days have included up to 36 Whooper Swans, a few Pink-footed Geese and a few passage waders.

Saturday 17 September 2011

I'm Back!

With no updates for a fortnight, this could be a massive blog post if I’m not careful, so I’ll try and stick to the main points.

You’ll find all the bird news from recent days at: , with the outstanding highlight being the second Pallid Harrier of the autumn, although another Melodious Warbler was also a good find. I suspect there may be more to come as the wind is in the east as I write this, the rain is coming through in showers and already today there has been Great Grey Shrike (found in the Obs garden), Wryneck (trapped in the plantation) and a scattering of common migrants including a Short-eared Owl seen in coming in off the sea this morning (along with lingering Citrine Wagtail, Melodious Warbler and Barred Warbler).
So why am I at my computer instead of in the field, and why have there been no updates for so long? Answer: a perforated appendix saw me whisked off the island on Saturday (thanks Oscar Charlie, especially for the fly past as I left that was so low it shook the Obs I'm told!) into Gilbert Bain Hospital in Lerwick where I’ve been recovering from the operation to have it removed for the last few days. Thankfully I’m back on the island now, although still having to ‘take it easy’ for a few weeks. That could be tested if a decent bird appears on Dronger, but I’m being good for now…
I owe loads of people thanks including: Elena (the Fair Isle nurse); the doctors, nurses and rest of the team at GBH; the staff here at FIBO who have covered my absence with gusto; Deryk and Hollie for the extra work they have put in to keep FIBO heated, clean etc; the folk who came to visit me and left me with enough jelly babies to seriously test my baggage allowance for the return flight and to all the guests and readers of the blog who have been asking Susannah for updates on my progress. Of course, I owe loads of thanks to Susannah and Grace, but I've been able to tell them that in person. So, in summary, I’m fine now and hoping to get back to ‘match fitness’ soon!
One last point, I was ruminating in my hospital bed as I stared out to sea (nice views from the GBH!) about how it would be nice to get home, which made me realise how settled I am on Fair Isle now that I think of the island as 'home' after a relatively short space of time, so thanks to all the islanders as well who have helped my family and I settle in.
More bird news and the excitement of the autumn to follow soon I hope!
Grace made some cakes for my return and very nice they were too (although it's always a surprise there's anything left to go in the oven with various spillages and 'taste tests' taking their toll).
Old news, but this is the Citrine Wagtail trapped earlier in the month. It still seems to be around as a ringed bird was photographed at Furse yesterday, but there is also an unringed bird that has been seen at Barkland today. An unringed  bird photographed at Easter Lother a couple of days ago was presumably the Barkland bird, although three individuals is a possibility... However many are involved, they are making many of our guests as happy as Jason is here.
These two Barred Warblers trapped on the same morning round in the plantation earlier in the month were the 8th and 9th to be ringed at the Obs this year, the 10th was trapped at Barkland later the same day. 

14th September 2011

West/north-easterly 2-3. Cold and showery, but drying up by the afternoon.
The PALLID HARRIER remains and continues to patrol spectacularly across the island. The Melodious Warbler is also still present, sticking to its favoured area around Midway and Shirva.
Three Greylags were present, along with just 5 Wigeon and 1 Teal. Raptors included 1 female Sparrowhawk, 5 Kestrels, one female Merlin and a Peregrine.
Our first Long-eared Owl of the autumn came in off at South Light, while smaller migrants included a lingering Sand Martin, 19 Swallows south, 5 Whinchats, 20 Wheatears, 2 Sedge Warblers, 2 Barred Warblers, 1 Lesser and Common Whitethroat, 6 Garden Warblers, 13 Blackcaps, 3 Chiffchaffs, 7 Willow Warblers, 1 Spotted Flycatcher, 3 Common Rosefinches, 10 Lapland Buntings and 18 Snow Buntings.

15th September 2011

Dry and bright, with light winds
The day’s main highlight was the discovery of a Citrine Wagtail at Easter Lother Water in the morning. The bird soon moved to the beaches at the bottom of Furse, where it became elusive. The Melodious Warbler remains.
Our first Pink-footed Goose of the autumn arrived, along with 8 Greylags and 7 Teal. An immature Slavonian Grebe was found in North Haven, where it remained for the day, and was our first of the year.
A Short-eared Owl was present in the south, while small migrants included 382 Meadow Pipits, 3 Whinchats, 2 Barred Warblers, 2 Lesser Whitethroats, 2 Garden Warblers, 8 Blackcaps, 6 Willow Warblers, 1 Spotted Flycatcher, 2 Common Rosefinches, 27 Lapland Buntings and 18 Snow Buntings.

16th September 2011

South-easterly winds, relatively light. Overcast.
One Citrine Wagtail became two today, with the bird at Furse competing for attention with another bird around the Gilly Burn. The Melodious Warbler remains for its 5th day.
A rather spectacular highlight of the day was the arrival of a herd of 35 Whooper Swans in from the south in the morning, low over a good proportion of the Obs residents’ heads. Six Pink-footed Geese, 9 Greylags, 13 Wigeon and 15 Teal also arrived. Wader Counts included 36 Ringed Plover, 14 Golden Plovers, 1 Knot, 7 Sanderlings, 6 Dunlins, 1 lingering Bar-tailed Godwit and 12 Redshanks. One Kittiwake was seen offshore.
Small migrant numbers included singles of Robin and Whinchat, 2 Barred Warblers, Lesser Whitethroat, Common Whitethroat, Garden Warbler, 8 Blackcaps, 5 Chiffchaffs, 6 Willow Warblers, 2 Goldcrests, 1 Spotted Flycatcher, 4 Common Rosefinches, 45 Lapland Buntings and 6 Snow Buntings.

Sunday 4 September 2011

Spaces available this autumn

OK, so you’ve always wanted to visit Fair Isle? Now’s your chance –give us a ring today to book yourself a few nights here this autumn with the chance to see (and find) some stunning rarities! Check our website for details on transport links to the island and give us a ring to discuss a break at the new Fair Isle Bird Observatory.

Date still available:

Shared Room (sleeps up to four) available for the nights of 17th – 23rd September inclusive.

Twin/double Room available for four nights from 13th – 16th September.

Twin/double Room available for five nights from 12th – 16th September.

Twin/double Room 8th – 10th October (3 nights).

Twin/double Room 14th – 16th October (3 nights).

And there are still spaces from 18th October (the time of some very good birds in the past).

All rooms are en-suite and all prices are full board (per person per night): Single £55, Double/Twin £50, Single Occupancy of Double/Twin £70.

Saturday 3 September 2011

An Island Update.

OK, bird stuff first: the Eastern Olivaceous Warbler and Great Snipe remained this morning and the Common Rosefinches had increased to 15 (including a group of 12), comfortably the largest autumn flock recorded on Fair Isle (and possibly the UK) as far as I know. Jason had flight only views of a calling Pectoral Sandpiper on Meoness. Pec Sand is one of my favourite birds, so hopefully it’ll turn up tomorrow.
No picture of the Pectoral Sandpiper I'm afraid, but this Curlew Sand at the North Light a few days ago showed how confiding juvenile waders can be - hopefully the Pec will turn out to be the same the tomorrow...
Will had four Killer Whales distantly from North Light on Thursday, the best cetaceans I've managed recently was a group of Porpoise off Buness.
A final bit of bird news on what was generally a quiet day (for new birds at least) is that Jason managed to catch ‘Dennis’ the Whooper Swan on Meoness whilst looking for the Pec Sand this evening, so he is now sporting a fine new leg ring after a quick trip to the Obs.

How to weigh a Whooper Swan. Sadly, I didn't manage to hide our somewhat 'stained' bathroom scales before Susannah found out what I'd been using them for!

Have you seen this man? The public are advised not to approach him as he smells a bit of swan poo.
A couple of bits of news from the island. The hand-knitted Fisherman’s kep that was being auctioned to raise funds for the Fair Isle museum extension sold for £300, fantastic stuff. I’ll try to remember to let you know when the next one comes up for auction as I think there are still a couple left. Another traditional Fair Isle activity has seen many of the lambs from the crofts head off to the sales this week. It was a long day for the Good Shepherd crew who ended up doing back-to-back runs to Grutness to get them all away, but thankfully the sea was fairly calm on Thursday.

Bye bye baa baa
The weather has been showery recently. Although you can often see the rain coming, there's not much you can do about it when you're on the cliffs at Hoini.
And finally, some Obs news. With a more than reasonable roll call of rarities so far this autumn (Eastern Olivaceous, Booted, Arctic, Melodious and Greenish Warblers, Pallid Harrier, Great Snipe, Citrine Wagtail, Short-toed Lark and many, many scarcities), you could be forgiven for thinking that we’ve used up our luck. However, I suspect there may be more good birds to come and there are still a few spaces here and there for the autumn if you are wanting to come and stay with us. I’ll post fuller details of the dates tomorrow, but in the meantime why not visit our webpage for details of past autumn sightings to whet your appetite.

A quick Grace update - thanks to all of you who have been asking about her, especially guests who have written since you left the Obs. She is loving life on the island, with the playground being more popular than the beach now. This is her 'being a spider monkey' apparently! The fresh air seems to be helping her grow as well, with lots of people commenting on how tall she's getting. She's taking quite an interest in the wildlife and even managed to see the Booted Warbler at Burkle before I did (although her description that it was 'not like a Whinchat, it was like a Barn Owl' probably won't go to the BBRC). She was very pleased to see Dennis in the Obs this evening!

Friday 2 September 2011

Olly Olly Olly...

I was going to write a bit about general island life this evening, as census seemed quite quiet and the SSW wind didn't seem to be likely to bring us many birds. This was perhaps a bit disrespectful to the Great Snipe, 7+ Common Rosefinch, 2 Barred Warblers and 2 Red-backed Shrikes that were around the island, but I thought folk may want to hear a bit about something else for a change!
A typical Fair Isle scene, three Rosefinches and a Whinchat line up on a fence.
Anyway, all that changed when a Hippolais warbler first glimpsed at Taft was confirmed as an Eastern Olivaceous Warbler. Despite being elusive at times, it eventually showed well to all at Schoolton showing off its key ID features, including the regular dipping of the tail that helps to separate it from several closely related species.
With a bit of imagination you can even see the tail pumping in this picture!
Whilst watching the Warbler, other birds to enjoy in the garden included seven Common Rosefinch, Barred Warbler, Red-backed Shrike and a Robin!
A nice bird and a continuation of what has been a pretty impressive autumn (and indeed year) so far.

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