Thursday 18 October 2012

You Only Olive Twice (and then twice more...)

18th October
Although the day saw few new arrivals, there were an impressive 6 BB rarities present, along with decent numbers of thrushes and finches still lingering. The Hume’s Warbler showed again on Lerness, although it could still frustratingly go missing for long periods.
Although it showed well, the Hume's remained too distant for decent photographs, especially in the gloom of 'Moss' Geo.
A new arrival was a Hornemann’s Arctic Redpoll seen briefly at the Obs (or rather on the Obs) in the afternoon. As ways to find a good bird go, it was a rather odd one – I’d just sat at my desk with a cup of tea when the phone rang to remind me I was on fire duty at the airstrip and the plane had just left Tingwall, the winter timetable having confused me into thinking I had an hour longer than I did. As I ran around the Obs trying to find my fire kit, Susannah pointed out I’d left it in the people carrier. I dashed out and started putting my trousers on in the car park when I became aware of a redpoll call, although the only bird I could see looked like a Snow Bunting on the roof… A quick scan with my bins revealed not a Snow Bunting, but a stunning Hornemann’s Arctic Redpoll – I ran in, yelled ‘Arctic Redpoll on the roof’ and grabbed my camera in time to get a couple of snaps before it headed off south. It’s not been relocated yet, but hopefully one of the finch flocks down the island might draw it in.

Possibly the first rarity I've found whilst pulling up my trousers.
Surprisingly, all the other rarities were of the same species: Olive-backed Pipit. Jason found one, then two, then three in the Meadow Burn. When Will joined him, they went through the burn, saw two together, then another two. A total of four Olive-backed Pipits together is amazing stuff, even if it has been an excellent year for them. Even assuming the two sightings from recent days are part of the current flock, they are still the 5th – 8th OBP’s for Fair Isle this year; the descriptions keep coming, but we’re not complaining!
Amongst the passerines, the only other seemingly new birds were two Redstart and a Black Redstart. A passage of Greylag Geese saw at least 115 pass through, including an apparent white domestic goose – there has to be a chance that this was last year’s bird returning. A half hour seawatch from South Light produced 12 ‘blue’ Fulmars, with another one on the cliffs again at Dutfield, whilst a juvenile Glaucous Gull flew past Lerness.
The Great Grey Shrike, Woodlark and Great Tit (or Great Tits, as it seems there were two at Barkland today) all remain, adding to another more than decent day list.
Snow Bunting on the top of Ward Hill.

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