Tuesday 2 October 2012

Autumn Excitement Continues.

26th September – 2nd October

Ok, apologies for no update for a week, but there’s not been much to report. Nah, not really, it’s been an absolute belter of a run of rarities that has kept everyone happy. I signed off my last blog by saying that conditions may not be suitable for new arrivals, which was not exactly the case, although there were no large falls. The only species to arrive in anything approaching numbers were Song Thrush (a peak of 234 on 27th), Brambling (90 on 26th), Dunnock (18 on 26th), Blackcap (14 on 27th) and Redstart (13 on 27th).
The rarities though are what really stick in the mind from the last week. Competition for ‘pick of the bunch’ was pretty intense but was probably won by Buff-bellied Pipit, found in Furse on 29th, not least of which because it provided me with a birthday lifer!
After flying off from Furse, the Buff-bellied Pipit appeared briefly on the Obs wader scrape later in the afternoon. Although too distant for a decent photograph, views were still good from the lounge.
Another major highlight from the same family was the Pechora Pipit found late on the evening of 1st October (and causing a delay in dinner as the Obs was hastily evacuated) that was still present today.
The often very confiding Pechora Pipit arrived in strong SW winds and sunshine.
Sticking with pipits, the Olive-backed remained at Haa until 29th, with a second bird present at Setter on 27th – 28th, and Richard’s Pipit put in a good showing after a couple of poor years, with sightings from 26th – 2nd involving at least three birds.
One Richard's Pipit was caught on Meoness, this was a second bird present that day (at Lower Leogh) whilst sightings from Wester Lother, Troila and Vaasetter involved at least one more.
That quintessential Fair Isle bird, the Lanceolated Warbler, put in its second and third appearances of the autumn, with one trapped in Da Water on 26th and another showing ridiculously well near the Double Dyke trap on 2nd.
After two elusive Lancies, the 3rd of the autumn lived up to the their usual stereotype by feeding in ditches less than two feet from several extremely happy observers. The fact that it was sunny and fairly calm added to the 'only on Fair Isle' element of the experience.
The Blyth’s Reed Warbler at Schoolton remained until 1st, whilst one at the Observatory on 29th somewhat belied the species often skulking nature when it flew in through the patio door and was trapped in the library! The Paddyfield Warbler remained until 1st at least, often showing well but also going missing for long periods. The fifth Arctic Warbler of the season showed very well around Shirva on 27th – 30th whilst the sixth appeared in Wester Lother on 2nd, an outstanding showing.
Scarcities were represented by Little Buntings (which increased to 4 on 26th – 27th and one remaining until 1st), Yellow-browed Warblers (daily sightings during the period of up to 7), Barred Warblers (26th – 30th, involving at least two birds), Red-breasted Flycatcher (in Hesswalls on 30th), Bluethroats (a lingering bird at Shirva until 1st, with one in Furse in 26th) and a Red-backed Shrike that remained at the Obs until 30th.
Many of the Yellow-browed Warblers have been feeding on the grass in the geos, like this bird in South Feltsigeo.
Other sightings of note included up to 100 Snow Buntings, up to 23 Lapland Buntings, Short-eared Owl (until 29th), up to 6 Ring Ouzel, Goldfinch (2nd), Collared Dove (30th), at least two Water Rails, the first Woodcock of the autumn (27th), Sparrowhawk (2nd) and up to 5 Kestrel and 3 Merlin. Wildfowl passage included a peak of 311 Barnacle Geese (26th), 4 Tufted Ducks (1st – 2nd) and a Scaup (1st – 2nd), whilst sightings at sea included a Great Northern Diver (30th) and a few Sooty Shearwaters.
Snow Bunting flocks have been showing well on Buness, at North Light and near South Light.
All of this amazing run of birds has been on winds without a hint of east in them (it's been predominantly SW), so even if the weather doesn’t look great for the next week or so, I’d not bank against a few more birds. Tomorrow looks set to be wet, which won’t help, although a brief spell of SE wind forecast for tonight and calm conditions in the morning could be interesting…

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