Saturday 7 September 2013

Here we go...?

7th September
A relatively quiet day on 6th was enlivened by an Arctic Warbler at Pund which proved to be the third individual of this species in three days! The other highlights of the day were a Red-backed Shrike at the Mast that was presumed to be the same bird that was seen later at Field ditch and three Common Rosefinch, with one at the Obs and two together at Midway (one at Shirva was presumed to be one of these two, but could possibly have been a fourth bird). The Subalpine Warbler was also still present, whilst a Merlin was newly arrived.

The Arctic Warbler at Pund showed a lot better than the somewhat elusive bird the previous day on the cliffs near North Light. Plumage details indicate that this was a new bird (and yesterday's individual seemed to have an injured right wing).
Bird movement started early on 7th, when at least 4 Greylag were calling so noisily as they circled the Obs at 1.45am they woke every staff member on the east side of the staff corridor! By the start of census though, the strong North wind had brought light drizzle and poor visibility as fog dropped over the hills, with very few birds noted. In the South-east census area I had managed brief views of a Common Rosefinch at Burkle and a Whitethroat at Haa, but otherwise was completely migrant-free, with similar stories from South-west and North. Combined with a cack-handed attempt at jumping a ditch in Boini Mire that left me with boots full of water and dropping my notebook down the cliffs of Meoness (where it thankfully landed in a rescue-able area of the South Harbour beach), it seemed like one of those days. A Siskin coming in off the sea at Klinger’s Geo raised hopes that things were about to kick off (I was desperate for any positive signs!) and when I ran the Gully trap on the way back to the Obs there was a Blyth’s Reed Warbler, Red-backed Shrike, Blackcap and 2 Siskins in there! As the wind eased and the fog eventually lifted in the late afternoon, it became clear that this wasn’t a remarkably localised fall; there were migrants starting to appear around the island. An hour or so chekcing the crofts before dinner produced: 14 Willow Warbler, 5 Garden Warbler, 4 Blackcap, 3 Whitethroat, 3 Whinchat, 2 Spotted Flycatcher and 9 Siskin, whilst another Common Rosefinch around the traps may have been newly arrived.
This Blyth’s Reed Warbler was a surprise find in the Gully, although it has now occurred for five consecutive autumns on Fair Isle, with this bird being about the 35th for the island (subject to acceptance and the acceptance of a couple other birds still under consideration).
With the wind now in the east and tomorrow looking set to be a pleasant day with the wind still from the right direction, there is a real sense of anticipation buzzing around the Obs tonight, so let’s see what happens…

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