Monday 9 September 2013

8th September

8th September
Several people have asked about Storm Petrel ringing recently. After discussions last month with the BTO, it was agreed that we would continue to catch Storm Petrels no more than once a week (and without the Swinhoe’s tape being played) for the duration of the normal Storm Petrel season. Now that we have got to the second week of September that season has come to an end, so there will be no more Storm Petrel ringing sessions this year. We hope that all visitors to the island this autumn will understand and respect our statement on this, which has been agreed in consultation with the BTO Ringing Unit and Chair of Ringing Committee.

Now for the bird news: there is no news. Well, that’s not strictly true but, although the autumn is well and truly upon us, it is fair to say that yesterday was not quite what we were hoping for. Don’t get me wrong, it was a very pleasant day’s birding, but there were seemingly few new arrivals despite the apparently good conditions.
I was fortunate enough to be in South-west census, which seemed to hold the bulk of the limited number of migrants, but the totals for the whole island were fairly scant with just 2 Redstart (the first of the month), 3 Willow Warbler, 2 Blackcap, 4 Garden Warbler, 2 Whitethroat, Sedge Warbler, 3 Spotted Flycatcher, 3 Whinchat, 3 Pied Flycatcher, 3 Swallow and 6 Siskin. There was also an increase in alba Wagtails, Wheatear, Meadow Pipit (690), Rock Pipit (111) and Twite (238).
Some migrants had increased in numbers slightly, such as Spotted Flycatchers, but generally it was surprisingly thin pickings.
The highlights were mostly lingering birds, with a Red-backed Shrike still at the Obs, Subalpine Warbler still at North Shirva, 4 Common Rosefinch (one up on the previous day) and 9 Lapland Buntings.
Technically, the bird of the day was Little Stint (the first of the year), with birds seen at North Haven, Barkland and South Light (although possibly just one individual was involved in all the sightings).
The long-staying Subalpine Warbler (it first arrived on 5th July and is now the longest-staying Subalp in Fair Isle history) has now started showing a bit better, usually around North Shirva. It has comfortably outstripped the stay of even 'Albi' the eastern Subalp, who remained at the Obs for around 5 weeks in spring 2011.
A small number of Common Rosefinches are now roaming the island. 
The other birds of note were the first Red-breasted Merganser for a while, a blue Fulmar circling in Grey Geo and the 2 Tree Sparrow that have been with us for the whole summer (although sadly there is no sign of any youngsters!).
The clear waters around Fair Isle attract a few people in for a swim
As we’re into westerly winds now, it seems likely that it will remain quiet for a while, but one of the great things about birding Fair Isle is that you just never know…

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