Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Fair Isle Day 9


This morning on Fair Isle started with the morning trap round which amongst other things succeeded in catching a splendid female Sparrowhawk.

In excellent weather conditions today, the island was absolutely dripping in birds. Species of the day was again the Song Thrush, the daily census coming up with a figure of about 1,900 individuals - not bad for a three mile by one and half mile island! Over 800 Redwings, over a hundred Blackbirds and increases in many other species meant it was difficult to sort the wheat from the chaff. Patches of feathers indicated that the island raptors were preying on the Song Thrushes amongst others and a few casualties included yesterday's Barn Owl picked up dead. The rigours of migration are simply too much for some individuals.

On our walk up towards the North Lighthouse from the observatory we counted between 17 and 20 Ring Ouzels including nine together. Skylarks, Meadow Pipits, Rock Pipits and Snipe were seemingly everywhere as we worked the cliffs and geos. Small numbers of wagtails, Robins, Wheatears and common warblers added variety. Four Snow Buntings and a Lapland Bunting were by North Light and a splendid drake Long-tailed Duck was a nice find. With small flocks of thrushes flying up in front of us wherever we walked, we ascended Ward Hill and found a Dotterel waiting for us.  More thrushes, a Hen Harrier, the usual Peregrine and a couple of  Merlins hurtled around us, and we flushed several Jack Snipe and a couple of Woodcock.

A quick look round for an earlier reported Olive-backed Pipit failed to locate the bird, but we were rewarded with a confiding Little Bunting.

We then began to work the south of the island, every field alive with common thrushes and many with flocks of geese which apparently included some Bean Geese, but we failed to connect with these. A Great Grey Shrike was seen by a few observers as it roamed the island and two Dotterel flew over us heading north. The pleasant conditions meant that birds like Stonechat, Whinchat, Whitethroat, Garden Warbler, lots of Blackcaps, a Yellow-browed Warbler and a North-West-type Redpoll gave themselves up readily. Finches included still plenty of Bramblings and Twite and with more Siskin today. A Common Buzzard and a Jackdaw were seen - these are barely annual visitors to Fair Isle - and a rarity in the shape of a Blue Tit was seen briefly by a couple of observers! Although skilfully avoided by us, quite a number of Short-eared Owls were located today.

The South Harbour area provided views of Purple Sandpiper and other waders plus plenty of Wheatears and a couple of White Wagtails. A Tree/Olive-backed Pipit flew over us calling as we began the slow dawdle back to the observatory and supper!


Neil M

Ring Ouzels

Song Thrush - the most
conspicuous migrant on
Fair Isle currently.

Drake Long-tailed Duck

Little Bunting

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