Monday 31 March 2014

Mother Lode

29th-30th March
A beautiful sunny day with a light easterly wind was a good way to start Mothering Sunday and, after Saturday’s build up of birds (no new species for the year, but increased counts included 80 Robin, 34 Dunnock and 19 Chiffchaff), hopes were high for more.
The arrival of Robins has been widespread across the island. This one on Ward Hill surveys Fair Isle, with Sheep Rock looming in the background.
Early traps suggested there were possibly a few more Robins about and things got better when a Grey Wagtail (the first of the year) was seen in the Gully. As the AWs made their way south, it became clear there were indeed more Robins, quite a few more in fact. It was whilst picking through some of these that Ciaran got his Fair Isle career (which is a mere five days old) off to the sort of start that people dream of when coming to work here, by picking out a Red-flanked Bluetail on a fence at the top of Klingers Geo. It went on to show well to a small crowd (a few of whom were diverted from their journey to Chapel by the news breaking just before 11am!) who were able to sit in the sunshine and enjoy the spectacle.
Nice one Ciaran. This is the view that greeted our new AW on his first solo SE census (photo Ciaran Hatsell).
The 10th Fair Isle Red-flanked Bluetail, but the first spring record. A quick scan of records suggests that this may be the earliest British record, apart from the wintering bird this year of course (photo Deryk Shaw).
After records in 1981, 1984, 1993, 2003, 2004, 2008 and 2010 (3), it appears that the Tarsiger is now becoming a more regular visitor, but one that hasn't lost any of its appeal (photo Deryk Shaw).
Although the Bluetail was the undoubted highlight, the supporting cast made for a fantastic day’s birding. A Hawfinch at Schoolton late in the day was also good, whilst other additions to the year list were Greenfinch (a female trapped in the Plantation), Short-eared Owl (over Burkle), Carrion Crow (on Lerness) and Ring Ouzel (a male at North Naaversgill).
The Robin count increased to an impressive 145, with the geos and crofts also being littered with Dunnocks (39), Chiffchaff (34), Song Thrush (30), Blackbird (15) and also decent counts of Mistle Thrush (14), Wheatear (20), Woodpigeon (17) and Snipe (61).
Chiffchaff on the Hill Dyke. It appeared that there may have been more migrants arriving later in the day, so tomorrow could be another interesting day.
Amongst the other sightings of note, the Black Redstart count increased to 3, there were 2 Siskin, 14 Snow Bunting, Jack Snipe, Moorhen, 2 Cormorant, Grey Heron and 2 Iceland Gull.
A distant male Black Redstart near Gunnawark.
A few people have commented on my prediction last Sunday that there would be ‘a Bluetail amongst a few Robins, thrushes etc sometime next week’; I’m going to try to predict a win for Sunderland at home to West Ham tonight in the hope that I can take advantage of my run of form (although it has also been pointed out that after predicting about 900 birds so far during my time on Fair Isle, I was bound to get one right by chance eventually). Who knows what tomorrow will bring, but it looks like at least a week of easterly winds still, so there’s every chance of another big spring rarity, or at least a few more good birds for the year. Today will take some beating though!
Having numbers of common migrants around has, combined with the weather, really set the spirits at a high level for the start of the season and at times it was hard to remember that we're still in March!

Saturday 29 March 2014

That Friday feeling.

28th March
A greyer morning, with even a hint of drizzle early on and a continued light easterly wind certainly felt good and there were clearly more birds about. Although the species mix was generally similar to recent days, there were increases in several species including counts of 44 Robin, 21 Dunnock, 18 Chiffchaff, 12 Goldcrest, 8 Chaffinch, 5 Wheatear, 4 Reed Bunting , 5 Woodpigeon, 12 Blackbird and 3 Redwing, whilst some commoner species showed large increases, with counts of 290 Skylark, 117 Meadow Pipit and 70 Rock Pipit. New birds in included 3 Mistle Thrush, a new Stonechat and a Cormorant, whilst a smart male Merlin, a Black Redstart and 9 Snow Bunting were still around.
Sorry for the lack of pictures recently, I promise I'll take my camera out tomorrow. In the meantime here's a holiday picture from earlier this year. Rather than the Goldcrests that have been passing through Fair Isle in increasing numbers, this is a Canary Island Goldcrest (also known as Tenerife Kinglet). The black meeting strongly above the bill is one of the key ID features (the fact that it's in laurel is another!).
An impressive haul of white-wingers included Kumlien’s, Glaucous and three Iceland Gulls (maybe there’s hope for an Ivory Gull yet).
The most bizarre bird of the day was one that Deryk first glimpsed at Burkle on Tuesday but which was at Haa this morning; a female House Sparrow with a bright orange bill, brighter legs than usual and white markings on the crown and cheeks. What is perhaps most interesting about this aberrant bird is that it is very possibly a migrant, as surely an individual as distinctive as that would have been noticed over the winter if it was a local bird (the whole island House Sparrow population is maybe only about 200-300 birds and they are mostly found at garden feeders).
Further advances towards spring were noted, with Fulmars and Rock Doves both seen copulating (i.e. pairs of Fulmars and Rock Doves copulating, not some bizarre potential hybrid combination that could produce chicks capable of gliding for hundreds of miles across the ocean to eat crusts in a garden), whilst the Peregrines were noted on the west cliffs apparently on a nest, which is great news.
Every day of census so far has seen a gradual build up of birds and, with the easterly based winds set to continue we’re hopeful for more. It was certainly good to experience the first real feeling of a small fall this year and as the days tick on, there's an increasing chance of something even better.

Thursday 27 March 2014

Accentortuate the positive

26th-27th March
The easterlies and sunshine continued, Richard arrived on Wednesday to bring the Wardening team up to full strength and so it was straight into census (we often break into things gently at the start of the season, but given the weather, Ciaran was run through the three census areas in a day and a half and Richard was sent straight into the North on his first afternoon back!). The birds haven’t flooded in, but there have been new arrivals and it’s been a pleasant start to the season. This time last year Richard’s first experience of North census involved us trying to negotiate our way down Ward Hill in the snow, so it’s a quite a contrast. The difference in the weather is also highlighted by the arrival dates of Wheatear and Chiffchaff this year both falling on 25th March, rather than the 10th and 11th April respectively last year.
Although there isn’t a major fall (…yet? The overnight north-easterlies and rain could prove interesting), the birding really is rather pleasant, with the island scattered with migrants. On 26th there were 12 Robin, 10 Chiffchaff, 9 Dunnock (the first of the year and always a species that somehow makes it feel like there's really something good going on), 8 Goldcrest, 4 Chaffinch, 4 Woodpigeon, 3 Reed Bunting, Stonechat (a male found by Hollie from horseback at Barkland, which may have been the bird seen the previous day near the Plantation and did get us wondering whether census by horse is the way forward), Wheatear, Siskin (a male replacing the female in the Obs garden) and Collared Dove, with the highlight being the ringtail Hen Harrier, which avoided the Wardening team but was seen by a couple of islanders. It may not be a startling species list and the numbers are probably bettered by a few of your gardens, but after a long, windy winter, it’s good to be amongst the birds again at a time of year that can often still be rather wintry.
The 27th saw a similar range of species present, although numbers were generally similar or slightly lower than 26th despite some new arrivals (e.g. the 2 Woodpigeons on the North cliffs were probably new, but don’t look that impressive in the Log, being only half the number of the previous day). The only species showing increases were Goldcrest (to 10), Wheatear (to 3) and the first Black Redstarts of the year, with 3 scattered across the island.
Lingering fare included the Kumlien’s Gull and an Iceland Gull (26th) and 2 Glaucous Gulls (27th), whilst a pair of Peregrine tussling over the airstrip on 27th were possibly getting friendly as spring advanced. With Fair Isle Wrens in full song, auks and Kittiwakes back on the cliffs and a few flowers blooming, it’s starting to feel like spring is really here (although there’s still the chance of snow anytime in the next six weeks or so!), hopefully there’ll be a few more birds soon as well. White-spotted Bluethroat tomorrow maybe, or perhaps (playing safe) a Hawfinch? Whatever happens, it’s exciting, it’s great to have the Obs buzzing with anticipation, it’s great to be back.
The gusty gales last week took the windsock off the airstrip, which Ciaran and I found on Byerwalls today. I don't think capes are going to become standard issue for the Wardening team though.   

Wednesday 26 March 2014

Sorting the Wheat and the Chiff

23rd-25th March
Spring is well and truly here, these Starlings look particularly fine shining in the sun in the Obs garden.
The strong NW winds of 23rd brought the first two spring passage Whooper Swans and the first Siskin of the year (which lingered in the Obs garden until 25th) and then it was the turn of the easterlies…
The selection of bird species in the garden usually starts to rise at this time of year as various migrants move through, including this Siskin.
Not much seemed to happen on 24th, although a Chaffinch arrived at the Haa, but by 25th things were looking a lot more promising. The strong SE winds delayed the plane (which eventually made it in via Foula) but started to bring birds.  Amongst them were two firsts for the year, with six Chiffchaff and three Wheatear found, along with a Stonechat (the sixth of the spring), Reed Bunting, two Chaffinch, 13 Blackbird, 6 Song Thrush, 4 Redwing, 3 Robin and 13 Pied Wagtail.
Chiffchaff lurking in Gilsetter (and staying slightly out of focus, but it's the first of the year, so we'll let it off).
Amongst the winter lingerers, the Kumlien’s Gull, a Glaucous Gull and Merlin were all still present.
Snow Buntings are being seen in small numbers daily, this one dropped into the Obs garden briefly.
The other notable arrival of the day was Ciaran Hatsell, the new Assistant Warden. Arriving with just about an hour of daylight left, there was no time for him to pick out a rare on his first day, but he did time his visit with a reasonable display of aurora, with a couple of bright spotlights shining up through a heavily starlit sky tonight. Not many people are lucky enough to get a display of Northern Lights on their first night on Fair Isle (just ask my parents, who manage to miss them and Killer Whales with remarkable regularity!) and arrive during a period of easterly winds, so we’re all hoping that his lucky start continues. We’ll find out tomorrow…

Sunday 23 March 2014

Slowly, slowly...

19th-22nd March
With SW gales forecast for Friday, my parents took advantage of the better weather on Thursday to head home (a good decision as it happens, as there were no flights on Friday and, even if the Northlink crossing wasn’t great on Thursday, I suspect it will have been much worse on Friday night). A slightly better day on Saturday didn’t bring much more in the way of birds, but I know I’m not alone in looking forward to the weather next week, which the forecasts suggest could be perfect for encouraging spring migration to kick up a notch. Without wishing to get too excited by the first sniff of potentially decent weather, I’m predicting a Bluetail amongst a few Robins, thrushes etc sometime next week! 
Grace and Freyja (pictured by Gramps) enjoying the start of spring (well, a quite spring like day at least)
The only addition to the year list was Lesser Black-backed Gull (from 21st) and, whilst the regular breeding species are coming back (or passing through) in larger numbers (with 11 Pied Wagtails, 16 Lapwing and 20 Ringed Plover on 22nd for example), not many migrants of note have arrived with them. Two Rooks passed through (21st), a Goldcrest was at Barkland (22nd), a Woodock was at the Obs (21st) and up to 20 Snow Bunting probably all involved new migrants, whilst the trapping area held five Blackbirds and 2 Robins on 22nd, similar numbers to recent times, but the fact that the three Blackbirds caught today were all unringed males (and the one trapped Robin was also an unringed bird) would suggest that perhaps the wintering birds have moved on and fresh migrants are starting to come through.
You aint seen me, right?
The Green-winged Teal was still present (with the Teal flock building up to seven), with other lingering wildfowl including 2 Long-tailed Duck and a Red-breasted Merganser and other birds still around including Peregrine and Moorhen (to 21st at least).
It was good to see plenty of Razorbills back on 22nd (200+ were off Furse and the North cliffs), but Guillemots have still to make a real comeback, with just the occasional day of a heavy presence and none at all noted on 22nd.
A day of rain and strong, cold north-westerlies is forecast for Sunday, then bring on the SE winds...

Wednesday 19 March 2014

Tealing a March

19th March
Green-winged Teal (Deryk Shaw)
A rather windy day (mostly from the SW), with heavy rain early on leaving the waterfalls in the Gully looking rather spectacular. The weather put paid to flights again (the last was on Monday morning) and the forecast for the next couple of days isn't looking great. My parents are due off on Friday, and are starting to get a bit concerned (I’m sure it is because they have other things booked, rather than being worried about adding to the badly sprained ankle and laryngitis they have accumulated so far!), but it’s been great to see them again and, as ever, they’ve proved a wonderful help in getting ready for the new season.
Bird news was fairly quiet today, although the Green-winged Teal became the first one on Fair Isle to be seen away from Da Water, when it relocated to the Parks.
Teal (left), Green-winged Teal (right) and, technically, Teal sp? (middle).
Speaking of the GWT, I’ve made a minor amendment to the Prediction Competition rules to take into account long-staying birds that arrive before the start of the competition (see the relevant page for details).
Iceland Gull yesterday (Deryk Shaw). Always nice to have around, but I'd settle for the white-wingers moving on and being replaced by some more summery stuff now.
Also, once you’ve completed your Prediction List, check out the Fair Isle MarineEnvironment and Tourism Initiative (FIMETI) website, which has now been completely updated.
The FIMETI News page contains details of the forthcoming stakeholders meeting between the Fair Isle community and fishermen's representatives on 24th March, plus some upcoming cultural and environmental events, including 'Da Fishing Hands' premiere of music and song on 23rd May and a Fair Isle Maritime Festival of supporting events from 22nd to 25th May. Also, the Clipperton Project is planning a scientific and educational expedition to Fair Isle in June.
FIMETI's latest annual newsletter 'Making Waves' - with full news and updates regarding Fair Isle's continuing quest for a Marine Protected Area - will be published on the Newsletters page of the website shortly.
If you would like to register your support the Fair Isle community and a marine protected area for the waters around Fair Isle, please do so via the website's Guestbook. FIBOT is proud to be a partner in FIMETI and Fair Isle's marine environment is of such importance to the island, we'd encourage anyone with an interest in the island to find out more about the project.

Tuesday 18 March 2014

Teal of Approval

18th March
A much better day today, with just occasional showers and very little wind. The Good Shepherd sailed and brought back a variety of exciting things, including a new freezer and two fridges for the Obs (well, we were quite excited at least). In the evening we had an interesting meeting attended by a lot of the islanders discussing the proposed MPA for Fair Isle then it was off home to watch the second episode of this series of Shetland (based on the books written by former FIBO cook Ann Cleeves). I really enjoyed it, although anyone who hasn’t visited Shetland before should note that we do get sunshine as well as fog sometimes!

SPOILER ALERT! It also ended on a great exchange between Magnus Bain (Brian Cox) and Jimmy Perez (Douglas Henshall): ‘Whar’s du fae?’ ‘I’m fae Fair Isle’, which seems like a great catchphrase (I might get it made up as a t-shirt). Douglas Henshall was also very complimentary of his stay on Fair Isle in an interview, although he was perhaps a little harsh on our airstrip! The cast and crew were all great to be around and it’s good to see the results on screen now – we’re looking forward to episodes five and six, which are based on Fair Isle.
Shortly afterwards, we got the news that Fair Isle Primary had made the final of the competition mentioned in the last blog post (see here for news). Hopefully their efforts will be rewarded by winning the prize of a trip to London, we’ll report further when we get any more news.
Anyway, on to the birds. The calm weather did indeed aid migration, with Deryk finding the day’s star bird (and the rarest find of the year so far for the island): a drake Green-winged Teal on Da Water. It accompanied the three Teal that had been present for a few days at least (so appears to have arrived alone) and is only the third record for the island following drakes on Da Water on 25th-27th April 2009 and 31st March-6th May 2012. There has to be a hint of a returning bird given its previous absence from the island’s avifauna, although the lack of records in intervening years suggest that this is maybe just an upturn in records (and the coincidence in location is easily explained by the lack of many other suitable water bodies on the island).
A distant record shot of the Green-winged Teal.
There were two other additions to the year list; Grey Heron and Moorhen (the latter a relatively scarce spring migrant, with one running along Pig Street this afternoon), taking the total to 82 for the year (the same as the end of March last year). Generally migrants were not abundant, although Meadow Pipits increased to over 20, two Pied Wagtails appeared at the Obs and as well as the wintering flock of around 80 Greylag, over 30 others passed through. A Merlin may well have been a wintering bird, and the Kumlien’s Gull was still present.
The weather is set to return to strong westerly-based wind with rain for the next few days (or weeks, if we really have used up all our south-easterlies over the winter…), so it’s likely to be quieter again for a while, but it’s starting to feel like spring has finally made it, so there will hopefully be a few more birds struggling through regardless.
16th-17th March
Another couple of soggy days, although with the wind decreasing things felt a bit better at times. We went to a very professional and rather moving film about the FairIslanders who died in World War I yesterday evening. It was mnade by the pupils and staff of Fair Isle Primary and it’s part of a Scottish-wide competition they have entered, which they really deserve to do well in (they find out later this week if they’ve been shortlisted for the prize, so best of luck to them).
There are still birds to be seen, with the Kumlien’s Gull present over both days and there were two Glaucous Gulls on both dates (involving at least three individuals) and an Iceland Gull. Lingering migrants included up to three Woodpigeon and a Goldcrest, with a female Stonechat in the south (on 16th, but present since 13th), 4 Snow Buntings at the Skadan (17th) and recent sightings of Yellowhammer and Lapland Bunting. The Twite flock at the Obs has grown to 13 (although 17 have been trapped here in the last week and several other unringed birds are around) and there was frogspawn in the pond outside the Visitor Centre for the first time (although some ‘rescued’ spawn was transplanted there last year) since it was dug in 2011.
It's been a reasonable winter for white-winged Gull sightings, with almost a guarantee that any gathering of 50+ large gulls will contain at least one Glaucous. The slopes above Johnny's Peats have proved particularly productive.
Another calmish day is forecast for Tuesday, so hopefully the Good Shepherd will sail –it’s last run before it brings in the AWs next week.  Exciting times, let’s see if they bring some birds with them…

Sunday 16 March 2014

Mixed Bag

15th March
With the weather managing beautiful, horrible and ‘a bit meh’ on consecutive days, this is a typical early spring spell. It looks like there’s more westerlies and rain on the way, although the possibility of a day or two of strong south-easterlies and maybe some colder north-westerlies in the next week might shake things up a bit. I’ve had the laryngitis-style bug that’s being doing the rounds of Fair Isle during the last few days, so my forays out have been a bit restricted by that as well as the weather. At least it’s been good for getting on with some of the indoor preparations for the rapidly approaching new season (helped no end by having my parents here), including the pre-season haircut. Whilst I was busy with the clippers, I also ended my experiment with attempting a beard (I still can’t manage a decent one, so no chance of Jarl Parnaby for a while yet). The Prediction Competition page has been updated, so get your thinking caps on for a bit of fun with what birds may turn up in 2014 - be quick though, there's just a fortnight left to get your lists in.
Anyway, the lack of fresh air seems to have caused me to waffle somewhat, so on to the bird news. The stormy weather on 14th saw singles of Iceland and Glaucous Gull sheltering on the island, whilst the Kumlien’s Gull was still present on 15th. New migrants were thin on the ground, although there was a slight increase in Meadow Pipits on 15th, when there was also a Woodpigeon at the Plantation and two Goldcrest in the Gully. Two Jack Snipe in Boini Mire could have been migrants, but equally may have been wintering birds; either way, they were a useful by-product of Grace testing her new wellies! Lapwings have been displaying recently, another sign of the rapidly approaching spring.

Wednesday 12 March 2014

The Chat's out of the bag.

12th March
The strong winds gradually subsided, culminating in a glorious clear, sunny day today with a real feeling that the winter is behind us (let’s see whether that is the case…).
The air was full of Skylark song and Oystercatcher calls today, Guillemots had returned to the cliffs (and 10 Razorbill were in Ditfield on 10th) and the wintering birds such as Blackbirds and Common Gulls are fading away. In their place, more migrants are coming through with additions to the year list comprising Mistle Thrush (9th, with another 12th), Yellowhammer (10th), Lapland Bunting (found dead on 12th) and Goldcrest (12th).  A redpoll sp? was in the Havens 12th (hopefully that might make it into the Obs garden Twite flock tomorrow). Other migrants included another Stonechat (a male on 12th), up to six Snow Buntings, two Woodpigeon (11th, with at least one still 12th), a vocal Golden Plover heading over (12th) and a few Song Thrushes (peaking at 3 on 12th).
The third Stonechat of the spring was only the 9th to be ringed on Fair Isle in the last 20 years.
As Twite numbers build up, several have been trapped at the Obs, including a few old timers. So far, these have included two birds ringed in spring 2010 and one ringed on 2nd April 2009 (which puts it fairly close to the UK Twite longevity record). Interestingly (perhaps), of the seven retrapped birds in the last couple of days, only two were last year's youngsters. Is this the older birds coming through first, or has the winter been less kind on young birds?
The traps also produced the first Fieldfare of the year to be ringed, which Grace was less than impressed with when it pooed down her leg!
The Kumlien’s Gull was still lingering (to 12th), with a few other wintering birds including Merlin, up to three each of Wigeon and Teal and a Red-breasted Merganser.
Rock Pipits are present year round on Fair Isle, but we're still learning about their movements. Colour-ringing in Grampian has shown that at least some of our birds (both adults and youngsters) move to North-east Scotland in the winter. This bird trapped at the Obs on 9th looks to be developing the greyer head and pinker underparts of the Scandinavian race littoralis. Scandinavian birds are regular in the spring and occasionally stay to breed, whilst they possibly also make up an unknown percentage of our wintering population.
As the season is rapidly approaching (less than two weeks until the first keen staff arrive!), I’ll try to get the Prediction Competition pages updated shortly for the 2014 competition, but the rules will be the same and only a few species will have changed their status, so you can start drafting your lists for that now.  Is Fair Isle ‘due’ another first for Britain, will the mild winter have helped certain species (my bet is on something quite impressive in early April as there seems to have been a lot of interesting stuff overwintering in western Europe this year; a Bluetail, or a surprising American perhaps), which species are due an irruption and will we finally get an Egret on Fair Isle (although perhaps Glossy Ibis is more likely…)? We’ll find out soon enough.

Saturday 8 March 2014

Signs of spring.

The Kumlien's Gull is one of a number of decent birds for Fair Isle recorded this winter, although the lack of cold spells seems to have acted against any real winter movements. Still, the year list had reached 72 by the end of February, eight ahead of the same stage last year!
After a few days away getting a top-up of woodland species (I suspect that may be the last Nuthatch and Long-tailed Tit I ring for a while, although you never know…), it’s good to be back home.
Ringing a male Eider at Seahouses. Sadly, my lucky red and white Fair Isle scarf was unable to prevent Man City beating Sunderland 3-1 in the League Cup final later in the day (a match that was written up with great glee in the Fair Isle Times by one of the isle's younger Newcastle fans!).
After a couple of pleasant days, southerly gales (with gusts of up to 75mph yesterday) have kicked in, bringing wintry showers with them, so March hasn’t really brought much of a spring feel to it yet.
It's been good wave watching weather. Although these Herring Gulls are probably hoping for some calmer weather soon.
A small arrival of birds in early March saw a female Stonechat 1st-5th, which was joined by a male on 4th-6th, Pied Wagtail at South Light on 4th (over three weeks earlier than the first last year, although that was a very late first arrival), Woodpigeon 3rd-4th and Chaffinch 3rd.
There were no Stonechats at all in 2012 despite the offer of a Mars Bar for anyone who could find one Although there was a slight return to form last year, it's still nice to get a couple of early records.
Other signs of spring included building numbers of Oystercatcher (with at least 50 now present), Skylark (40+ now around), Ringed Plovers arriving (having built up in numbers from 22nd they reached 18 by 6th), Lapwing increasing to 15 (6th), Fair Isle Wrens in song and the Twite flock in the Obs garden building up.
Other additions to the year list have been Shelduck on 22nd February and an early Red-throated Diver sheltering in Furse on 6th.
The Kumlien’s Gull has lingered throughout, with up to two juvenile Glaucous Gulls also present regularly.
The Kumlien's Gull has usually been in the fields around Leogh, but has recently been spending more time around the Meoness area and joined the gulls in South Harbour yesterday.
Other typical wintering birds included occasional records of Peregrine and Merlin, Red-breasted Merganser and Long-tailed Duck, whilst small numbers of thrushes (including a Song Thrush at the Obs, which was presumably new) and Robins are still being regularly noted (trapping at the Obs showed at least three are lingering in the garden here).
A small throng of gulls contained the Kumlien's and a Glaucous Gull yesterday as strong winds and large waves crashed what was presumably a reasonable food supply onto the beach.
One species that doesn’t often feature on the blog is House Sparrow, but a flock of 61 at the feeders at Brecks was interesting and perhaps suggests a decent overwinter survival. One species that isn’t surviving as well is Guillemot, with small numbers washing up dead in the Havens most days (it’s certainly been the worst winter for auk wrecks whilst I’ve been here), we’ll have to wait and see what impact that may have on the breeding season, following the disastrous year for that species in 2013.
Tysties are around in good numbers now, with most in breeding plumage (although with a sleety storm just starting and the surface of the sea being blown in the air, this one looks like breeding is the last thing on its mind). On of the first species to be surveyed, we should conduct our first count in about two weeks; a reminder that the new season is almost upon us.

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