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…

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