Friday, 11 November 2011

The Never-ending Autumn!

Normally by 10th November it would be last chance saloon for migration, but the continued south-easterly winds are still bringing in more birds. The island suddenly seems rather large with just me left in the Obs (well, Susannah and Grace are here as well obviously but Susannah is busy with the somewhat less glamorous aspects of running the Obs, namely accounts, advertising etc and Grace is busy with watching Peppa Pig so neither of them get to do much birding) and there aren’t enough hours in the day to cover the whole island. Picking and choosing which bits to get to inevitably causes anxiety about what might be getting missed, summed up today by my decision to abandon the west cliffs, which seemed rather quiet, and head inland. Shortly before I did, an Olive-backed Pipit flew up from the cliff top at Hjukni and landed in the grass not far ahead of me (if I’d turned inland ten yards sooner I’d have missed it, so much for the cliffs being quiet!). After getting some lovely views I decided to follow the Gillie Burn back towards the crofts when, about 200 yards later, I flushed an OBP from the grass ahead of me. Sure enough, after getting some great views of this one as well (it was so distracting in fact that I was almost eaten by a pony) I headed back to where I’d left the first bird and it was still there – two OBPs! Multiple records of this smart pipit are not unprecedented on Fair Isle, but it was still a pretty special experience.
The first bird, feeding along the burn near the waterfall into Hjukni Geo.

Bird Two. Whether either of these birds are the individual seen by Double Dyke three days ago is a matter of speculation, but both could be new, given the number of migrants that have come in during the intervening period.
Other migrants again consisted largely of Blackbirds (with several hundred still around), Fieldfares, and Redwings with smaller numbers of Woodcock. Two Long-eared Owls were in Hesti Geo, a Ring Ouzel was in the Gully, a Stonechat was briefly in the Gillie Burn and a few more Chaffinch seemed to have arrived as well. A few wildfowl included a couple of Goldeneye and 11 Pink-feet whilst the Scaup that spent time on the tiny pond in the Haa has now moved to Utra Scrape.
More birds tomorrow? I wouldn’t bet against it…

A couple of Goldfinch arrived in the North nearly a fortnight ago and may be the birds seen at Leogh today. They are a scarce visitor to Fair Isle, so you really appreciate the splash of colour they bring when they drop in.

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