Thursday 2 May 2013

Goodbye April, Hello May...

So, that’s the end of the month and it pretty much petered out as it had gone on for the previous couple of weeks – a variety of westerly winds and only a few determined migrants making it through. The month’s star bird, the Great Spotted Woodpecker, remained until 29th and a selection of new arrivals were topped by Long-eared Owl (trapped on the 28th, with probably the same bird in the Obs garden on 30th), Short-eared Owl (28th-29th), Moorhen (27th-28th) and the year’s first Tufted Ducks on 27th (when three flew north past Buness). There was also a Kestrel (a fine adult male that arrived on 30th and was trapped the following day), Dunlin (30th-1st May), a freshly dead Little Auk found on 26th in the middle of the island, 2 each of Goldfinch and Brambling and a slight increase in Buntings, with 9 Snow and 4 Lapland the peak counts.

Surely May could do better? It opened with westerly gales on 1st but, whilst good birds in April always feel like a bit of a bonus (I’ve done most of my birding in the North, so March is still winter and spring often doesn’t get going until May), you can almost sense the urgency of birds to move north in May and they seem to turn up regardless. Sure enough, despite the conditions, the year’s first Yellow Wagtail appeared amongst a very small arrival of birds, with ten each of Pied and White Wagtails, singles of Willow Warbler and Blackcap, a couple of Chiffchaff and 2 Brambling also new. A Barnacle Goose was another addition to the year list (with a Pink-footed Goose also present on the same day amongst a small group of Greylags, making it the best goose day so far on the island this year!), a new Black-tailed Godwit was also seen and Lesser Black-backed Gull numbers rose to 24.

There seem to have been one or two more birds today, but it looks like the hot chocolate could be the highlight of Log tonight!

Seabirds are having a strange season, it’s been generally slow and Puffins are still not settled on land (by this time last year we’d achieved a count of almost 11,000) whilst Arctic Skuas are, like many other migrants, very slow to arrive with a peak count of just three so far.

Although westerlies are set to dominate the next few days again, the wind made it to the east this afternoon, just before it started with persistent rain (and sleet at one point) and seems set to stay from that direction overnight at least. It’s Fair Isle in May; surely even a hint of easterly wind will see us have something new to report tomorrow?...

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