Friday, 31 March 2017


Very thick, very wet fog covered the island throughout the morning but I still blundered round the Obs census route and there were a few migrants around with my first Sandwich Tern of the year heard calling in the fog out in Nouster before it came close enough to see and a few birds around the coast and at Holland including 8 Goldcrests, 11 Redwings, 25+ Blackbirds, a Mistle Thrush, a Robin and a smart male Snow Bunting by Gretchen.

                The weather cleared up by early afternoon and before a band of rain moved in there were a pair of Sandwich Terns mating on Gretchen (bit early for that sort of thing!) but after the rain it was a pleasant early evening with a few more birds having dropped in with a Wheatear and a Black Redstart by the pier while with the improved visibility I could see that the drake Green-winged Teal had reappeared on Gretchen (last seen on the 18th – I guess I’m only assuming it’s the same bird!) and Golden Plover were up to 355, a big increase!

Wheatear on the pier in the evening

Snow Bunting

Red-throated Diver

Thursday, 30 March 2017


After a night of heavy rain it was still misty and damp at dawn but with not a breath of wind and it soon brightened up to become beautifully sunny and warm; there were a few birds around Holland first thing including a Chiffchaff, 16 Redwings (the two we caught were big, dark, long winged – 129 and 131 Icelandic coburni birds), a Mistle Thrush and c20 Blackbirds.

                I walked the north census route in the afternoon but unfortunately thick fog kept coming and going until it decided to come in and stay there were however some new birds around including 2 Black Redstarts (female types) at Vincoin, a Wheatear on the beach by Trolla, a Woodpigeon at Senness, 50+ Meadow Pipits and 16 Rock Pipits.  

Other counts of note comprised 192+ Purple Sandpipers, 110+ Turnstone, 7 Gadwall, 4 Pintail and a single lingering Goldeneye.   I also climbed the beacon to check the Ravens nest to find that they are sitting on six eggs.

Icelandic coburni (top) and Scandinavian iliacus Redwing (bottom)

Purple Sandpipers

Wednesday, 29 March 2017


Generally overcast with a brisk, cold easterly wind; the nets at Holland were quiet first thing just producing single Dunnock and Blackbird.   The middle census route then was also a tad quiet but there was my first Wheatear of the year on the beach at Westness along with a Chiffchaff, 2 Goldcrests, a Song Thrush, 2 Redwings, an increase of 25+ Blackbirds and 75+ Meadow Pipits, 110+ Purple Sandpipers and 15 Bar-tailed Godwits.


Record shot of my first Wheatear of the year



Tuesday, 28 March 2017


Good conditions with a light but increasing easterly wind and bits of murk and drizzle coming and going; managed to open the nets at Holland for a short time but I didn’t catch very much however there were new birds around the gardens including the first Chiffchaff and Brambling of the year, 12 Redwings, 2 Goldcrests and a Robin.

                Mooched around the Obs through the morning and birds seen included the first White Wagtail of the year near Gretchen, 3 more Goldcrests and a couple of Redwings.   I then walked the west coast census route in the afternoon where it was disappointingly quiet with just a few Blackbirds and a Robin along the walls but the day’s highlight came as I walked back through Holland and flushed a Hawfinch out of the garden from where it flew off towards the Kirk and disappeared.

Redwing and Dunnock from yesterday

Reed Bunting


Monday, 27 March 2017


A pretty nice day with light northerly winds; the nets at Holland first thing produced 3 Goldcrests, a Dunnock and a Redwing before the Hooking census route produced a Jack Snipe, some flyover Snow Buntings, 40+ Meadow Pipits, 12+ Pied Wagtails and 36 Sanderling.

                There were 3 more Goldcrests round the Obs and a big flock of 60+ Meadow Pipits were along the coast.




Sunday, 26 March 2017


Misty and murky first thing but with very light winds, I opened the nets at Holland first thing and almost immediately caught 2 Long-eared Owls – a male and female, very distinctive from each other but didn’t catch anything else at all!   A Woodcock flushed out of the garden but didn’t get caught.
                I then walked round the Bridesness census route as the weather slowly cleared; there was nothing really new but good numbers of birds were around including 34 Snow Buntings (a flock of 32 which flew towards The Links and two on the beach at Brides), 25+ Meadow Pipits, a good 18 Great-northern Divers counted on flat seas along with 15 Long-tailed Ducks, 4 Pintail and 4 Gadwall along with big numbers of birds feeding on a hatch of flies and mounds of seaweed on Brides Beach including 14+ Pied Wagtails, 12+ Rock Pipits, 800+ Starlings, 60 Purple Sandpipers and 120 Turnstone.
                Also of note was an interesting duck on the sea feeding with Wigeon which was probably a drake hybrid Wigeon x American Wigeon.
                There were new birds in the afternoon with the first Sparrowhawk of the spring which flew past the Obs and the first Goldcrest of the spring which I caught at Holland along with a female Chaffinch and a Woodpigeon while 2 Rooks flew over.

Female (top) and male (bottom) Long-eared Owl

Snow Buntings

Hybrid Wigeon x American Wigeon

Saturday, 25 March 2017


A similar day to yesterday, breezy and overcast and like yesterday there wasn’t too much around the Obs census route with a Merlin chasing a Skylark – which was singing his heart out as he was being chased just to show how tough he was the highlight!   Other birds included 3 Red-throated Divers, 2 Robins, a Redwing, 2 Woodpigeons still at Holland, 4 Pied Wagtails, 35+ Skylarks and 40+ mixed Linnets and Twite.

Tysties were back in action ashore today despite the rough weather

Friday, 24 March 2017


Breezy, cold and overcast throughout the day with the highlight being the first Rook of the year which flew past the Obs at lunchtime as I was on my way to do the north end in the afternoon where birds included a corking, summer plumaged male Snow Bunting by the lighthouse, 2 Great-northern Divers, a Redwing and 7 Pied Wagtails.

Stonking male Snow Bunting

Linnet from Holland House yesterday

Thursday, 23 March 2017


A glorious, sunny day albeit with the very cold breeze remaining; the nets at Holland first thing just produced single Linnet and Reed Bunting before a walk round E census was unfortunately still quiet with just a Great-northern Diver, 4 Snow Buntings, 2 Robins, 3 Redwings, 5 Pied Wagtails and 5 Herons of note.

Drumming Snipe

Common Gulls are getting aggressive even though they haven't really started breeding yet

Nearly a Rock Dove

Pied Wagtail