Friday 6 September 2013

Arctics on a Roll

5th September
Another pleasant day's birding, with the North grabbing the lion's share of the best new birds. Top of the pile was an Arctic Warbler on the cliffs between North Light and Kirn o'Skroo (on a section of cliff that, remarkably, seems not to have an official name - although North Hol o' Kristal Kame would probably be close). Richard discovered this elusive beasty just before lunch and, although it could go missing for long periods, it showed well at times. Crucially, it showed well enough that the abscence of a ring was noted - so it was obviously not the previous day's bird.
Two Barred Warblers in the North (including a showy bird at the Obs) were also new in, whilst the day's roll call also included Corncrake (flushed from Furse, so another one for Richard in the North!), Common Rosefinch (at the Obs), the male Western Subalpine Warbler (I think they're just about split now...), 2 Icterine Warblers (Double Dyke and Stackhoull), 4 Lapland Buntings and a Wood Warbler at Upper Stoneybrek (the first of the autumn).
Counts of some migrants increased slightly with 4 Blackcap, 2 Lesser Whitethroat, 3 Whitethroat, 3 Sedge Warbler, 5 Pied Flycatcher,  5 Cormorant, Kestrel and Woodpigeon all noted, whilst the impressive Meadow Pipit passage of the last week or so saw numbers rise to 976 today! There were also 9 Storm Petrels seen from the Good Shepherd (in Fair Isle waters).
The prediction for the east coast to keep a look out seems to have been a reasonable one as the Farne Islands scored a Yellow-breasted Bunting (see photos here), reminding me of the last bird there in 2003, which I missed as it turned up on the day I was travelling back to the islands from holiday. Formerly a 'Fair Isle special', with virtually annual records (there was only one blank year in the 1980s and 1990s), the decreasing European population has seen records drop off alarmingly and, since 1999, there have only been records on Fair Isle in 2001, 2003 and 2006. Another factor that may have had an impact on Fair Isle records are the much smaller number of oat crops grown on the island now, making an YBBs that do turn up harder to track down. The Obs crop strips have not grown well this year (seemingly a combination of weather and Rock Doves), but we do have some left over seed that we'll be broadcasting amongst them this afternoon to see if we can lure one of these stripy beauties for ourselves.


  1. Hi Dave, I remember seeing the 2001 and 2003 F.Isle Yellow Breasted Bunts well, the 2001 bird was in a bizarre but strangely migrant sheltering hollow feeding on the ground on the west cliffs near Groggy's Cup/Jimmy's Brae with Mipits! And the 2003 bird more typically mobile in the tatty rig at Skerryholm keeping company with a Grotfinch! Nice birds, shame there getting so scarce these days, roll on the isle's next!

  2. There weren't any in the crop strips today, but I'm sure there'll be more birds in tomorrow and I'd certainly be happy with YBB. I don't want to be the first FIBO warden not to see one on here!


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