Saturday, 4 October 2014

Fair Isle Day 4


Apologies for the delay in posting this blog. With Fair Isle being a little far-flung, Internet and mobile 'phone connections are sometimes problematic!

Powerful southerly winds yesterday (Friday 3rd) with rain ensured it wasn't ideal bird-watching conditions first thing, but being on the coast there is never an excuse that you can't go sea-watching! So after finding a reasonably dry piece of cliff I scanned a wild and spectacular sea for 90 minutes. Hundreds of Gannets and Fulmars careered around in all directions and there was a light passage south of auks (mostly Razorbills) and Kittiwakes. Bonxies continued to harry anything in reasonable proximity, particularly the Gannets. Other south-bound items of interest included a Great Northern Diver, five Red-breasted Mergansers and two Harbour Porpoise.

A wander around Buness and the Havens added observations of Arctic Tern and Snow Bunting amongst more regular fare, and Eleanor added Hen Harrier and Jack Snipe to the day-list.

After a splendid lunch (the food here is amazing) and an improvement in the weather, it was a wander to the north and Eleanor and I inspected the geos and creases around the cliffs in an effort to find avian items of interest. Plenty of migrant Redwings, Song Thrushes, two more Snow Buntings, a couple of Goldcrests and a fine male Ring Ouzel were about the best. Plenty of Snipe flushed up from the moors and the local Hoodies were joined by a wandering Carrion Crow. Two Peregrines in conflict with each other were both males, an adult and a juvenile.

After checking Ward Hill and the mast area, we headed down-hill to a group of birders huddled in a field about a mile away. Their quarry was a large pipit, the second to be found on the island during the day. The powers that be decided it was a Richard's Pipit but the bird seemed remarkably small to me. This and the first bird were fresh-in and probably tired and perhaps the reason that neither were heard to call (one of the best identification features of these large pipits). They were both classed as small Richard's Pipits. Perhaps we will obtain better views today.

A flying redpoll sp was seen better by other observers who identified it a a North West (Common) Redpoll.

Some late ringing provided me with an opportunity of ringing and examining a Yellow-browed Warbler in front of a throng of visitors and then we processed a small flock of drop-dead gorgeous Bramblings. A great day on Fair Isle and then it was a superb island curry and a very good presentation on the wildlife of New Zealand.


Neil M

Bonxie or Great Skua

Snow Bunting

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