Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Snow Fall of Snaa Ful

16th-17th September
The Atlantic swell beating against the west cliffs in the last couple of days has been impressive.
Two days of blasting westerly wind saw very little happen on 16th, followed by an unexpected (albeit small) arrival of eastern migrants on 17th. It was headlined by our first Yellow-browed Warbler of the year (found by Richard lurking around the Generator Shed [I should probably clarify that it was the warbler doing most of the lurking]) and Common Rosefinch at Lower Stoneybrek.

Always a treat - the first Yellow-browed Warbler of the autumn arrived five days earlier than last year (although in 2012 they arrived en-masse with 14 seen). With winds strong enough to making standing still difficult on the North cliffs, it's amazing that birds like this (weighing less than 10g) are able to make it here from Siberia! Presumably the latest leg of its journey has been from somewhere closer - but where? Surely it hasn't reorientated from Iceland? A journey round the top of the low pressure system that is currently hitting us is probably the most likely explanation. Many thanks to Dave Curtis for the photo.
A Red-backed Shrike at the Haa may have been a new bird, with the Obs individual still present in the early morning at least, there were Great Spotted Woodpecker sightings from several locations around the island, 2 Jack Snipe were present, a Spotted Flycatcher at the North Light was new and there were higher counts of Swallows (7) and Skylark (119) amongst a few other common bits and bobs.
A classic 'forlorn Great Spotted Woodpecker on treeless island' shot! This is possibly the same bird that has been roaming the island recently; hopefully photos from various locations will help to prove the number of birds involved. It made it onto the kitchen window list today!
More typical birds from the west though were 2 Pink-footed Geese, 5 Greylag, and 8 Lapland Bunting (whilst a Common Redpoll could have come from either direction), but the star of the show was certainly the Snow Bunting (or Snaa ful in Shetland), which increased from 7 on 16th to 127 on 17th. There were several small flocks, but it seemed like there were ones and twos scattered across a lot of the island, creating an enjoyable census in the North (where all bar 12 of them were recorded).
Snow Buntings have been an important food source in the past on Shetland (when large flocks would have been present in autumn and early winter) and the trap above was used on Fair Isle in the 1940s. It now resides in the Shetland museum in Lerwick, so this influx of Snaa fuls can rest easy - we'll only be trying to capture them on camera!
It looks like the morning of the 18th is going to be a bit grim, but after that we may start to see the wind decrease and, with birds now arriving from all directions, there’s a chance that there may be a few interesting things to be found.
This is what you want to see on Fair Isle in mid-September - birders staring intently into a ditch a few feet in front of them!
Today it was a Jack Snipe, tomorrow who knows...

No comments:

Post a Comment

My Blog List