Wednesday, 21 September 2016

September Targets and Possible Birds

Targets and Birds

My target for September was for 15 new Year ticks. So far I have managed 13 and with 9 days to go that target could be reached. The following lists birds that could possibly occur over the next 9 days in descending probability order. That is I have made a spreadsheet of birds that would be year ticks seen on Fair Isle during September in the last eleven years.

56% chance -
  • Barnacle goose
  • pectoral sandpiper
  • olive-backed pipit

45% chance
  • Blyth's reed warbler
last year's Blyth's reed warbler
  • buff-breasted sandpiper

36% chance
  • Pallas' grasshopper warbler

27% chance
  • buff-bellied pipit
  • paddyfield warbler
  • pallid harrier
  • honey buzzard (missed the one seen a few days ago!)

18% chance
  • pomarine skua
  • melodious warbler
  • western subalpine warbler
  • American golden plover
  • Arctic redpoll
  • western bonelli's warbler
  • pechora pipit
  • red-flanked bluetail
  • thrush nightingale

OK let's get to a fantasy level of chance. The following have occurred once in eleven years :-

  • magnolia warbler
  • river warbler
  • eastern olivaceous warbler
  • Sabine's gull
  • Baird's sandpiper
  • White's thrush
  • Syke's warbler
  • spotted crake (there is one on the island at the moment)
  • Swainson's thrush
  • Two bar crossbill
  • brown flycatcher
  • Siberian thrush
  • Grey-cheeked thrush
  • Woodchat shrike
  • Iceland gull (!)
  • yellow-breasted bunting and . .
  • aquatic warbler

Please note that there are more species that have occurred in October here on Fair Isle.

Also there are a few birds that I should get back on the Mainland; bean goose for instance.


300 is on the way. 305 for a European record? I won't count my chickens just yet but . . . . 

A Red-Breasted Flycatcher Takes Me To 292 .... and more yellow-broweds

Wednesday 21st September strong S/SE Sunny intervals, some hill fog at times, short light shower.

A red-breasted flycatcher has been trapped at Gully. Brought back to the Bird Observatory it goes onto the Green Year list once it has been processed, rung and released. Bird number 292.

I know I must be on Fair Isle as a Lapland bunting lands on the road in front of me as I cycle.

Lee Gregory has seen a spotted crake at Da Water first thing and I decide to head south and bird the geos of the south west and the crofts and ditches.
Yellow-browed warbler and female blackcap on the cliff at Steeness as I hold onto a fence and the strong wind is at my back.
Five yellow-browed warblers are in the reeds of Meadow Burn with a willow warbler, a couple of the former are very vocal, calling repeatedly.

Single yellow-broweds are at both Upper and Lower Lough crofts and another is beside the road just north of here. The next one I see is at Burkle where two male blackcaps accompany it.
Otherwise the birding is of the expected birds and despite a text arriving stating a very tame lanceolated warbler is near to the Bird Observatory, my aim is to try for the spotted crake.
Cleaning a window in the Kirk, positioning a chair to lean on I watch Da water for three hours until the light is too poor to see anything as night falls. No spotted crake, the highlight is a moorhen!

After the evening log I pay my Lifer dues to the Bird Observatory for the Great Snipe. The idea is that one gives a donation to the obs for a lifer on a scale that increases the amount of cash the higher your life list is. Money into the pot. Money well spent.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Another Day, Another Year Tick..... and plenty of a small Siberian Warbler Species.

Tuesday 20th September light to fresh S/SE sunny intervals, warm when sun out. Great visibility.

Last night's pleasures didn't finish with the views of the Risso's dolphins. There was a superb gibbous Moon to light my way home.



Morning starts with a little bunting found at The Parks. I rush there as fast as possible but only see a shape disappear into the oat crop. With other birders I wait. A yellow-browed warbler is more obliging.
Two birders decide to walk the side of the crop and a small bird comes out and disappears to the north. I feel sure this is the little bunting and pursue the bird.
Down at the plantation I meet five lovely ladies from New Mexico, USA. Thanks Ann for the note and good wishes from the New Mexico Audubon Society. Thanks to the rest of you too but I'm sorry I forgot to record your names. Senior moment!
One of the birders at the Obs comes up to me and says that the bunting never left the oats and so I return and find it without too much trouble.

LITTLE BUNTING – Green Bird number 291, the Green Year list record keeps on growing. 9 to go for the magic 300, surely this year.
Back to the Observatory, there is a yellow-browed warbler in the garden. Down to the three closest beaches to here, plastic is collected, about half a bin liner full and skipped. There is a dead gannet and razorbill on South Haven beach, both in good condition sadly.
With no news of ny birds that would be new to the Yea list I head off for the geos of the west coast, my favourite area. Over the moorland heading west bonxies mob and snipe zig zag; around a hundred of the former and a dozen latter.
Starting at Tyneside there are two yellow-browed warblers here and a goldcrest. A song thrush is at South Naaversgill and the sun is shining. I decide to photograph each geo in such wonderful light.
North Naaversgill is noisy; big bangs coming from deep down this large geo. Moving around it's cliff top rim, the famous bolthole is filling and ejecting a large jet of seawater. 


There's a yellow-browed here too. There is a fall of these wonderful Siberian warblers going on.
Next to Copper Geo and Grey the views are stupendous. Up to Guidicam and gannets mass on ledges and outcrops; three yellow-broweds here and one each of goldcrest and willow warbler. On the way up a house martin was circling around and a single carrion crow went south.
The views from here over towards Orkney was extremely clear. I could easily make out the lighthouse on North Ronaldsay with my naked eye. Through binoculars the Laird's house, Holland could be seen and further round even Westray and Hoy.

Up to Skinner's geo. No less than five yellow-browed warblers in a small area with a pied flycatcher for company. Amazing.

Final section before heading back to the Observatory is around the mast with it's W2 buildings. Another pied flycatcher here.
Over 100 bonxies are in the air as I make my way downhill.
The evening has a superb talk by the Fair Isle Ranger, Chris Dodds detailing his time at Chatham Islands off New Zealand. The quality of the talks at the Fair Isle Bird Observatory is superb and Chris' tlk is just that. Fascinating, it includes how the black robin was saved from extinction when there were only 5 left in the World to it's present population of around 200. Still in danger due to being precariously positioned on only two islands.

Log at 9PM; 54 yellow-browed warblers on the island, the third highest day total ever. Last year's record total of 76 still leads the way.