Monday 15 October 2012

Birds build up, no more rarities yet though...

13th - 14th October
As expected, strong winds on 13th made birding difficult at times, although the 14th was a much calmer day. There were clearly new birds in (or there were more birds visible at least, with some of them having perhaps just having come up off the cliffs), but a perhaps surprising lack of ‘headline’ species. The Great Grey Shrike remained (and was ringed on 13th) but the rarest bird from a Fair Isle point of view was a Great Tit, found on 13th in Hjukni Geo before it relocated to Chalet on 14th.
Less than 50 Great Tits have made it to Fair Isle, this was the first since 2008 and the first autumn record since 2002.
Other scarcer visitors included Black Redstart (13th – 14th), Yellowhammer (13th – 14th), Goldfinch (13th), whilst a late Garden Warbler was at the Obs on 13th.

The Yellowhammer frequented the Taft oat stubble. Photo David Steel
Good numbers of thrushes remained, with Redwings decreasing to 1955 on 13th (and 1017 by 14th), but other species increasing to: 292 Blackbird (14th), 171 Song Thrush (13th), 37 Fieldfare (13th), 18 Ring Ouzel (14th) and 2 Mistle Thrush (14th).
Other high counts of species included on the 13th: 255 Brambling, 10 Jack Snipe, 10 Woodpigeon, 10 Reed Bunting, 5 Sparrowhawk and on 14th: 113 Goldcrest, 17 Siskin, 16 Blackcap, 16 Woodcock, 15 Chaffinch, 8 Greenfinch, 7 Crossbill, 6 Dunnock, 6 Lapland Bunting, 3 Linnet and 2 Grey Wagtail (with one on 13th).
Flocks of Brambling are widespread across the island, many using the Observatory planted crop strips.
The 13th also saw some movement of wildfowl with 8 Barnacle Geese, 3 Shoveler and 6 Common Scoter, whilst there were also 6 Grey Herons on Da Water.
Up to 3 Long-tailed Ducks have been frequenting the South Harbour area for a few days now.
An arrival of common species of gulls also brought a first-winter Little Gull and a Glaucous Gull.
Little Gull has appeared in three consecutive years on Fair Isle, although it is still a rare visitor, with just over 30 individuals seen.
It looks like there will be easterly winds on and off for another week at least, so I'd be surprised if there wasn't another rarity or two to cap off an excellent autumn.

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