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.

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