Tuesday, 30 September 2014

30th September 2014 Out Skerries S4 Overcast

Opened the door to a heavily overcast and murky morning with a fresh southerly wind but was greeted by a Redwing in our garden that is the first we've seen since being here. The East Isle circuit produced a Brambling flying high heading eastwards and the promise of a clearance in the weather arriving from the south that duly arrived by 9am. The iris beds held a handful of both Redwings and Bramblings and two new Yellow-browed Warblers were present. There was no sign of yesterday's Black-headed Bunting but the Bluethroat was still present. A single Lapwing arrived from the north and joined the Golden Plovers near Magnus's Watch. The afternoon proved quiet in a strengthening southerly wind apart from a noticeable increase in the number of Starlings on the island. Then, at 5pm, we chanced upon a small flock of Reed Buntings that included a new Little Bunting although it later transpired the other birders on the island had seen two there.
Heron 4
Ringed Plover 8
Golden Plover 40
Lapwing 1
Snipe 5
Black-headed Gull 3
Goldcrest 1
Skylark 2
Yellow-browed Warbler 2
Willow Warbler 2
Blackcap 5
Starling 300
Blackbird 5
Redwing 7
Bluethroat 1
Whinchat 3
Wheatear 6
Dunnock 3
alba Wagtail sp. 3 fvo
Meadow Pipit 20
Chaffinch 1
Brambling 1E, 6
Little Bunting 1
Reed Bunting 6
Clearance on its way - it presumably cleared earlier on North Ronaldsay
Golden Plover numbers continue to increase

House Sparrows soon found the birdseed put out for the Black-headed Bunting

These two also enjoyed the birdseed!
Our first Redwings of the Autumn

Our first Yellow-browed Warbler of the morning
the second Yellow-browed Warbler

Too windy for one of these so Needletails are safe here!

Two of the three new houses built since our last visit are visible here

JFC's Great Snipe field

Reed Bunting on Out Skerries

Little Bunting on Out Skerries

Monday, 29 September 2014

29th September 2014 Out Skerries SE1

JFC kindly emailed pre-dawn to say that he had seen the weather forecast and the wind should move to southeasterly at some point today. It felt classic conditions at dawn being overcast with a light southerly breeze and very light rain falling. However, the usual 90 minute circuit of the East Isle produced nothing new. A walk to Magnus's Watch was enlivened by a smart summer-plumaged Great Northern Diver overflying the island. As we passed the graveyard we saw the Bluethroat on the graves and it performed much better than during previous encounters. As we were passing the sheep fields the wind just nudged southeasterly and the surprise of the day quickly followed in the form of a Black-headed Bunting sat on a post that almost immediately flew off towards the top iris beds. We quickly left it to find Mike, Chris and Pete and left a note for Edwin. We all quickly assembled at the graveyard and thankfully the Bunting was relocated in Richard's garden and flew to sit on the wall a metre or so from JFC's Chestnut Bunting bush! The bird seemed tired but was soon seen feeding on some seed put down for it and everyone left it to rest. The weather soon deteriorated to heavy drizzle until an hour before dark, but despite persevering, we couldn't find anything else.
Great Northern Diver 1 s/p
Grey Heron 6
Ringed Plover 3
Golden Plover 32
Turnstone 4
Goldcrest 2
Chiffchaff 1
Willow Warbler 2
Blackcap 9
Wren 1
Blackbird 2
Robin 1
Bluethroat 1
Redstart 1
Whinchat 1
Wheatear 6
Dunnock 6
Pied Wagtail 1
alba Wagtail 1 fvo
Tree Pipit 2
Meadow Pipit 30
Black-headed Bunting 1
Great Northern Diver over Out Skerries



Bluethroat on Out Skerries

pale submoustachial stripes


finely streaked crown
rather long primary projection
head pattern 'ghosting' black hood when viewed at certain angles
faintly-streaked upperparts and whitish fringes to coverts

long strong bill
Black-headed Bunting on Out Skerries
Edwin & Marina Tait with Richard's croft in the background
Whilst it is the second Black-headed Bunting we have found on Shetland it was a new bird for long-term birding island resident Edwin

Sunset looking west from Out Skerries

Sunday, 28 September 2014

28th September 2014 Out Skerries W2 Clear

What a difference a day can make as clear skies with a light westerly had replaced the gales. It felt ideal bird-finding conditions but with the arrival of Chris and Pete it felt in danger of there being more birders than birds today! The early morning walk around the East Isle did produce 4 Pied Wagtails and hinted at an arrival of Wheatears. The three Pinkfeet were watched departing high southeast but it was then very hard work with something of a clear out of lingering birds leaving very low numbers of migrants remaining on the island.
Pink-footed Goose 3 left southeast, 1 touring the island calling
Heron 4
Ringed Plover 2
Golden Plover 35
Snipe 1
Black-headed Gull 2
Arctic Tern 1 juvenile
Great Spotted Woodpecker 1
Goldcrest 1
Willow Warbler 1
Blackcap 3
Redstart 1
Whinchat 2
Wheatear 15
Pied Wagtail 4
Tree Pipit 1
Meadow Pipit 20
Twite 50
Little Bunting 1
Out Skerries looking serene again after the gales

Looking north from Out Skerries
Rocklea and its garden on Out Skerries

 Pink-footed Goose on Out Skerries
Presumably left behind by its flock it constantly toured the island calling 

Out Skerries from the bridge

Saturday, 27 September 2014

27th September 2014 Out Skerries W7 moderating early rain

The wind still felt gale force at dawn and was combined with heavy drizzle. Fortunately the drizzle subsided by 8.30am and the wind moderated throughout the day. Walked the East Isle seeing a Whinchat and the Pied Wagtail (bearing a metal ring) at the end of the airstrip and the geo at the northeastern tip held a Kestrel, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Redstart, Wheatear and Goldcrest. Six Greylags were on the hill though soon flew west and the Whimbrel was still present. Rocklea was less windswept today and the Little Bunting, a Yellow-browed Warbler and a Lesser Whitethroat was present. A check of Magnus's Watch produced a flock of 20 Golden Plover. The Barred Warbler was at the iris beds. Then took a long walk out to the marsh and then the North Hill where a Kestrel and a juvenile Arctic Tern were seen and then 3 Pinkfeet flew over. Looking across the bay to the long wall where the Out Skerries Ovenbird was found in 1973 at about the same time Mizen Head was scoring!
Pink-footed Goose 31
Greylag Goose 6
Grey Heron 4
Kestrel 1-2
Ringed Plover 10
Golden Plover 20
Dunlin 1
Snipe 2
Whimbrel 1
Turnstone 8
Black-headed Gull 1
Arctic Tern 1 juvenile
Black Guillemot 5
Great Spotted Woodpecker 1
Goldcrest 1
Skylark 5
Yellow-browed Warbler 1
Chiffchaff 1
Barred Warbler 1
Blackcap 4
Lesser Whitethroat 1
Blackbird 3
Song Thrush 3
Redstart 1
Whinchat 2
Wheatear 12
Dunnock 3
Pied Wagtail 1 (ringed)
White Wagtail 1
alba Wagtail sp. 1 flew west
Meadow Pipit 25
Twite c.10
Little Bunting 1
Northeastern geo
Goldcrest in the northeastern geo
Kestrel again flushed from the northeastern geo
Bonxie over the northeastern geo
Blue boat being towed - it had appeared to have hit rocks and was later being repaired
First-winter Dunlin along northern coast path
After the westerly gale on noticing a small wader sat on a rock along the coastal footpath it was something of a disappointment to see that it was only a Dunlin
Ringed Pied Wagtail at the airstrip
Rock Doves at the pool

Out Skerries Post Office
Fish drying on a clothes line on Out Skerries

Shop and chalets on Out Skerries

Golden Plover at Magnus's Watch
North Hill looking towards Mioness and Whalsay in the far distance

Pinkfeet over Out Skerries

Juvenile Arctic Tern in West Voe
Odd it should show such a red base to its bill in late September?

Looking across to the long wall that was once home to an Ovenbird

The marsh on Out Skerries
Evening looking over the marsh to East Isle Hill