Saturday, 4 October 2014

Fair Isle Day 5


Still suffering from a very poor Internet connection up here on Fair Isle but here goes!

Today was mostly a day of rain but thankfully the strong winds of the last few days had stilled and there was barely a breath of breeze. These are quite rare conditions for up here so it was worth becoming somewhat waterlogged in order to find passerines.

However it was the geese that provided most of the avian spectacle (and sound) in the morning with over a thousand Pink-footed Geese arriving from the north and landing on various parts of the island, and other skeins passing down the sides of the island or circling over-head. Small numbers of Greylags and Barnacles added some variety and there was an increase in ducks too with mobile Wigeon, Teal and Red-breasted Merganser in good numbers.

We located a very wet Richard's-type Pipit that was so fed up at becoming wet in the grass it took to walking along the edge of roads and tracks! Other repeats included the male Bluethroat again, two smart and performing Yellow-browed Warblers, Snow Bunting, Lapland Bunting and plenty of Twite and Brambling. Two Merlins hunted the isle as did the male 'ringtail' Hen Harrier and the Bonxies continued to harry just about anything that passed over including the geese-flocks which looked impressive! Other birds included Arctic Tern, Red-throated Diver, Jack Snipe, Grey Wagtail, Whinchat, Wheatear, Blackcap and Chiffchaff.

However bird of the day was a White's Thrush which was found in the afternoon at the north-end of the island during the daily bird census. This is a bird we have not managed to see anywhere in the world and it looked pretty much how I always expected to see one, sheltering under a peat and heather overhang on the north aspect of Ward Hill at a location known as West Lother. This big bird, the same size as a Mistle Thrush, flinched each time a flying Bonxie came too close for comfort. A fitting end to a fairly challenging but stimulating day in the great British outdoors!


Neil M

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