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.

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