Friday 27 April 2012

Goings and Comings

A quick update from Fair Isle, where there’s been some pleasant birding (and some unpleasant birding in some of the heavy showers of the last couple of days), but a general decrease in numbers of migrants. With the traps and nets calmer and not so many birds on census it feels like it's been a chance for staff to catch their breath a little before our first visitors arrive tomorrow.
Most species were still present in good but dwindling numbers after 21st. Highlights amongst the many Robins, Dunnocks, Bramblings and thrushes included the Corn Bunting (until 25th at least), Great Grey Shrike (found by Becki at North Light then seen by several islanders as it wandered the south until 26th at least), Hawfinch (at Haa on 25th) and Wryneck (daily from 21st – 25th, with two on the latter date). The Hoopoe was reported again on 22nd by two islanders, but sadly evaded the FIBO staff and remains a glaring gap on my British list (there, now that I've confessed, surely I will see one!). Long-eared Owl were present on most days and Short-eared Owls peaked at two (24th), two Moorhens at Hjukni included a bird that was later trapped and is still lurking in Gilsetter and three Woodcock were around on 25th. Amongst the many common birds trapped during the period was a French ringed Robin, it's always an exciting moment to discover a 'PARIS' ring and we look forward to finding out the details of the bird's history.
Long-eared owls included a bird trapped in the Obs mistnets; this bird was in flight near Stackhoull.
Ring Ouzel counts remained in double figures, several came down off the cliffs during today's strong northerlies, so perhaps might make their way into the traps in the next day or two.
A few other migrants that are of interest locally at least included Jackdaw (from 22nd), a peak of nine Carrion Crows (22nd), three Grey Heron, Greenfinch (24th), Kestrel (26th), up to six Sparrowhawks and Woodpigeons rising to 18 on 26th. New birds for the year included Grey Wagtail (22nd), Lesser Redpoll (22nd), Whimbrel (from 22nd), Bar-tailed Godwit (23rd – 26th) and Black-tailed Godwit over Burkle (24th). The Green-winged Teal was last seen on 22nd then seemed to move off with its small cohort of Teal and an Iceland Gull lingered until 24th.
Flocks of Woodpigeons look somewhat out of place amongst the rocks, but you come to expect such things on Fair Isle.
Signs of long-distant migrants arriving are still pretty slim on the ground, with Wheatear counts yet to hit 100, a peak of just nine Swallows and a Yellow Wagtail (25th). The first Redstart and Grasshopper Warbler (both 24th) bucked the trend, but we still await the arrival of several species of warblers etc. Today’s gale-force northerly winds will have held things up, hopefully the calmer conditions forecast at the weekend will see the floodgates open.
A splash of added colour amongst the Robins, this Redstart is hopefully a sign of things to come.

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