Wednesday 11 July 2012

July birds update.

The River Warbler continues to scuttle around mouse-like through the garden, although occasionally it comes out into the open where it sometimes feeds alongside the Paddyfield Warbler.
We've had a bit of fog and quite a lot of northerly wind so far this month, but in the better spells we've been able to carry on with our monitoring work. Seabirds are still doing OK by and large with the positives including: Gannets doing well, Bonxies up in number and (so far) having plenty of youngsters, Guillemots and Razorbills doing OK (although not great), Puffins bringing in more food than last year (we're waiting on the sea state to improve to get to Greenholm where we'll be able to check productivity) and Arctic Terns with chicks (although the Shalstane colony has totally failed). Common Gulls surprised us, when we found 8 chicks had survived so far in the small colony (which was predated in its entirety last year) and for the first time since 2005 Common Terns are breeding on the island. Some Shag chicks have fledged, but not in great numbers. A fledged Black-headed Gull chick on Meoness (9th) was not from Fair Isle though and showed just how far newly fledged (and apparently weak-flying) birds can travel - this one must have come at least 25 miles. Sadly Arctic Skuas have now almost totally failed, with numbers down this year and, although some pairs hatched young, only one chick is currently still alive. Storm Petrels are virtually impossible to monitor, but away from the breeding colonies we have started getting some good numbers in late night ringing sessions in the Havens, with over 50 caught last night (or early this morning, the ringing team finally making it back at 3am!).
Plenty of the landbirds have youngsters on the wing now, with Meadow Pipits, Wheatears, Twite and Rock Pipits all around in good numbers. At least two broods of Curlew are doing well and there are several young Oystercatchers and Ringed Plovers wandering the island now. Three fledged Hooded Crows were also seen near the Obs this week.
The Paddyfield Warbler in the fog...
Not much new going on migration wise, although a Whitethroat appeared (6th) and is one of four warblers in the garden today, alongside Paddyfield Warbler, River Warbler and a Chiffchaff (with at least one other Chiffchaff lingering in the south of the island). Two Marsh Warblers and a Reed Warbler stayed at the Obs until 2nd but have not been seen since, whilst a Dunnock skulked at Schoolton until 4th. A Whinchat also looks comfortable hanging around in the south, whilst a Goldfinch (1st) was another unseasonal occurrence, being only the second July record for Fair Isle. We also have two lingering (and presumably summering) Robins and a Blackbird present, all in the Obs garden. Elsewhere around the island there have been  a couple of Swifts (10th), House Martin (2nd), wandering wildfowl have been represented by up to four Red-breasted Mergansers, three Common Scoter, Teal (1st - 2nd) and a Red-throated Diver (2nd). A few passage waders are yet to include anything unusual, but have included our first 'autumn' Purple Sandpiper (10th), up to 3 Whimbrel and Redshanks increasing to ten.

..and in the sunshine, posing almost perfectly (except for hiding its bill!).

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