Friday 20 September 2013

Sun, sea mammals and scarcities.

19th-20th September

No big rarities, but a beautiful sunny day on 19th and some pleasant birding over both days as migrants continued to come in, despite the freshening SW wind. After several days of gales and rain, the lack of wind and the sunshine on Thursday were enjoyable enough to be out in, but the fact that birds were arriving (albeit in fairly small numbers) was an added bonus. A small arrival of warblers saw the Yellow-browed count rise to 3, 2 Barred Warblers (in what has been a relatively quiet autumn so far for the species), Wood Warbler, 12 Willow Warbler and 6 Blackcap, with ones and twos of several other species. A Red-breasted Flycatcher in Schwarzi Geo was well received and the Red-backed Shrike was still performing around the Obs. A Hen Harrier appeared briefly at Wirvie in the evening and Kestrel, Merlin and Peregrine were also present. Swallows posted their highest total of the month with 17 passing through and two Peacock butterflies were the first of September.
Birding the geos is not always easy, so well done to the birders who picked out the Red-breasted Flycatcher (our first of the autumn). Can you spot it?!
How about this Yellow-browed Warbler? The number of good birds that must be missed at the base of cliffs and geos that aren't visible from the island top isn't worth thinking about!
The day ended beautifully with the flat calm seas being broken by the fins of a group of 11 Risso’s Dolphins that surfaced in Finnequoy, just outside the Obs and put on a great show briefly, before heading down the island and being seen off South Light. A group of 7 White-beaked Dolphins headed past further out as well to cap a fine day.
Not a bad sight from the kitchen window. The 'spyhopping' Risso's Dolphin in the middle appears to be trying to see what we're having for dinner.
The 20th saw a fresher wind and, with nothing caught on morning traps, there was a suspicion that perhaps we had peaked for a while. However, that proved not to be the case and by the end of the day the total of scarcities stood at: 7 Yellow-browed Warbler (how many would there be if the wind got round to the east?), 4 Barred Warblers, 2 Bluethroat (both in the Wirvie Burn), 3 Common Rosefinch, Corncrake (also in the Wirvie Burn, which was the place to be today, with at least one of virtually every scarcity!) and the lingering Red-breasted Flycatcher and Red-backed Shrike. The Wirvie also attracted a Great Spotted Woodpecker (presumably the bird originally seen at North Light), whilst the bird remained at the Obs (presumably a different bird was over the School on 19th).
Driftwood in the garden provides entertainment for the Great Spotted Woodpecker. A few peanuts stuffed into the various logs will hopefuly help this rather tired migrant to build up the strength to continue its journey to somewhere more suitable.
Counts of common migrants on 20th were generally unexceptional, although Lesser Whitethroats increased to 9, Song Thrush increased to 4, the first Goldcrest of the autumn was seen, 3 Pied Flycatchers arrived and there were 6 Jack Snipe. A few Redpolls of various sizes and shades were seen (mostly in flight, but grounded birds have included Mealy and North-western), the first Chaffinch of the autumn was at the Obs and up to 190 Snow Buntings and 9 Lapland Buntings remain.
On days when birds are arriving, they can appear in odd places - this Yellow-browed Warbler is on top of the Rippack, a relatively high point covered in heather but not much in the way of cover or typical phyllosc habitat.
All in all, the birding has been very enjoyable and there’s definitely the hope that there’s something else lurking out there waiting to be found. Recent years have seen Arctic Warbler and a couple of Citrine Wagtails found on 21st, whilst there are also records of Red-flanked Bluetail and River Warbler and (in 1956) Britain's first Steppe Grey Shrike. Useful for the year list would be Little Grebe, Curlew Sandpiper or Spotted Crake, all of which have also arrived on 21st September in the relatively recent past, but maybe we could still be in for something American, Bobolink has occurred in Shetland on 21st before, so we'll be checking the sparrow flocks even more carefully tomorrow.

No comments:

Post a Comment

My Blog List