Wednesday, 22 November 2017

NORTH RONALDSAY - 31st October

A largely wet day but the wind was light so during the short dry spells it was nice to be out in the field; I did little bits of the middle census route where birds included an adult Iceland Gull which flew south past Trinley where a flock of 46 Snow Buntings came in off the sea, a Grey Plover at Westness, a Great-northern Diver, a Goldeneye and a Water Rail in Ancum Willows with just a handful of Thrushes and Robins left over.

Iceland Gull

Snow Bunting



NORTH RONALDSAY - 29th October

The blazing westerlies of the last couple of days had slackened off a tiny bit, shifted more into the north and became much colder; birds in the Hooking census route included a smart first winter male Peregrine which showed a few characteristics of calidus/tundrius, a random Mistle Thrush hopping along The Links, a Wheatear still, 11 Long-tailed Ducks, a Great-northern Diver, 120 Sanderling and 55 Dunlin.


Short-eared Owl

Hooded Crow eating a Redwing

Red-throated Divers

Purple Sandpiper

NORTH RONALDSAY - 26th October

Strong north-westerlies and frequent showers but the afternoon walk round the northern census route was productive with a juvenile Iceland Gull on Bewan (the first of the autumn), a Yellowhammer by the lighthouse, a single remaining Ring Ouzel, 3 Chiffchaffs, 6 Robins, 2 Wheatears still, 10 Snow Buntings, a Jack Snipe, 4 Bramblings, a Chaffinch, a Siskin, 3 Common Redpolls and a few hundred Thrushes still.  

                There were 4 Pintail on Bewan with 125 Wigeon while other birds included a Long-tailed Duck, 45 Purple Sandpipers, 25 Bar-tailed Godwits and 4 Pink-footed Geese.

Great Grey Shrike caught at Ancum on the 24th

Iceland Gull



NORTH RONALDSAY - 22nd October

Light easterlies and overcast conditions today but largely clear skies overnight had allowed many birds to leave so the nets at Holland were quieter first thing but I did catch 2 Woodcock at dawn.   I then walked the Brides census route where the highlight was a cracking Shorelark which flew in to land next to me as I was walking back along Nouster (actually on my way to twitch another one that had just been found!); there were still plenty of Thrushes – 410 Redwings, 89 Blackbirds, 40 Song Thrushes and 30 Robins through the area but other little bits included a male Stonechat at Kirbest, 2 Jack Snipe, 6 Woodcock, 5 Wheatears, 6 Ring Ouzels, 2 Blackcaps, 29 Goldcrest, 12 Bramblings and 41 Snow Buntings on the beach at Brides.

                Offshore, birds included 8 Long-tailed Ducks, 6 Red-throated Divers and 2 Great-northern Divers while 43 Purple Sandpipers and 15 Rock Pipits were along the shore.


The Bluethroat from a few days ago at Sandback

Ring Ouzel

Purple Sandpiper

NORTH RONALDSAY - 21st October

Another great day with thousands of birds still across the island but the easterly wind had risen to at least force 8 making things a bit tricky in the field, especially with the long spells of rain through the day; I walked around the Obs and up the west coast with the highlight being a smart COUE’S ARCTIC REDPOLL at Nether Linney from where it flew down into the stubble field.

                Migrant totals in amongst the thousands of Redwings, Blackbirds, Song Thrushes and Robins included 16 Ring Ouzels, a Black Redstart, 2 Redstarts, a Lesser Whitethroat, 9 Blackcaps, 9 Chiffchaffs, 40 Bramblings, 10 Chaffinches, 3 Siskins, 9 Woodcock, a Jack Snipe, 4 Grey Wagtails, 6 Wheatears and 2 Snow Buntings.


Long-tailed Duck



NORTH RONALDSAY - 20th October

An awesome autumn day with a light easterly bringing with it mist and murk which drifted in and out through the day; opened the nets for a while in the morning and caught a Long-eared Owl (two were roosting in the bottom Sycamores) and a Woodcock in amongst plenty of Blackbirds, Song Thrushes, Redwings, Robins etc.

                I then went up and did the northern census route where there were thousands of birds all over the place – fantastic birding!   The highlight was finding a cracking PALLAS’S WARBLER in the garden at Bewan House which showed brilliantly while other highlights included great views of the long staying Bluethroat at Sandback, at least 12 Ring Ouzels, a Black Redstart and an Eastern Lesser Whitethroat; migrant totals comprised 1,785 Redwings, 102 Song Thrushes, 186 Blackbirds, 94 Robins, 18 Goldcrests, 21 Bramblings, 9 Chiffchaffs, 2 Mistle Thrushes, 24 Fieldfares, 4 Blackcaps, 2 Woodpigeons, 3 Mealy Redpolls, 6 Chaffinches, a Yellowhammer, a Wheatear, 7 Snow Buntings, 2 Woodcock, 3 Jack Snipe, 2 Pintail, 45 Teal, 70 Wigeon and a late Arctic Tern.

                There were thousands of birds elsewhere but the highlight was a flighty Great Grey Shrike at Ancum but it didn’t really allow close approach.

Long-eared Owl

Pallas's Warbler

More Whooper Swan action from Ancum


NORTH RONALDSAY - 19th October

Another great day with a brisk easterly wind bringing mist and murk with it; it was clear right from the start there were loads of birds fresh in as several Woodcock and flocks of Thrushes were flushed from the road as I cycled up to Holland before dawn.   I then stayed at the nets all day as we managed a very decent 322 new birds ringed in the reduced number of nets we could open because of the wind highlighted by a BLUE TIT caught late morning – a big island rare (only the third record for the island!) and a brilliant total of 6 Ring Ouzels (three more were also seen and a total of 23 were put into log for the day).

                The other totals caught included 2 Woodcock, 3 Woodpigeons, 107 Redwings, 21 Song Thrushes, 114 Blackbirds, 26 Brambling, 18 Robins, 14 Goldcrests, 8 Blackcaps and single Chiffchaff and Siskin.   I didn’t really have any time to look around but other birds included the Red-breasted Flycatcher again, a Lapland Bunting, a Greenfinch, 4 Redpoll sp. and thousands of Thrushes coming and going, swirling in and out of the mist all day – the kind of autumn day you pray for!

Blue Tit

Ring Ouzels

NORTH RONALDSAY - 16th October

The wind had mercifully and wonderfully died down to almost nothing overnight leaving a great day (until mid-afternoon when the easterly wind shot up to force 8 with rain, thunder and lightning!); the main features of the Brides census route was a great total of 83 Whooper Swans on the loch until they flew off south (an island record count of 267 was put down in the log for the day!) and at least 140 Redwing scattered around the fields.   Most of the other birds comprised lingering migrants from the last few weeks including the Barred Warbler still in Haskie Thistles, a Whinchat, 3 Willow Warblers, a Blackcap, a Lesser Whitethroat, 4 Wheatears and a Kestrel.

                Other birds included the first 3 Goldeneye of the autumn on Brides with 75 Tufted Ducks, a Pintail, a Merlin, 8 Rock Pipits, 8 Red-throated Divers, 5 Red-breasted Mergansers and a steady trickle of Greylags heading south at sea.

Whooper Swans

Barnacle Geese