Sunday, 30 April 2017


Great conditions with a brisk easterly wind and a few spots of rain here and there; carried out a breeding wader survey on Ancum first thing, not ideal conditions but OK but besides the displaying Redshank, Lapwing and Snipe there wasn’t a lot to mention apart from a single Barnacle Goose with the Greylags.

                I then had a decent northern census route as birds included my first 2 Arctic Terns of the year already flying round with fish and displaying, a smart 1st year male Black Redstart by the lighthouse, 10 Snow Buntings (with many stunning males), a pair of Common Scoter offshore (always scarce on here) along with 3 Great-northern Divers and 10 Bonxies, 10 Barnacle Geese over, 3 Knot, 105+ Turnstone, a Merlin which caught a Starling and 14 Wheatears.

                The world then went slightly mad as I heard, then saw a bird land on some gas canisters at Garso, got it in my bins and…..for the first time in many years in the UK I didn’t have a clue what I was looking at!  After a bit of head scratching I made a tentative ID in my head and took loads of pictures before the bird flew off up to some wires then dropped down into the Irises, I then phoned it out; looking at the photos and talking to other people firmed up my initial conclusions that it was a female RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD – a first for the UK!!!

                After a seemingly long period of time when we had lost it before we realised it was still in the thickest area of Irises, it then settled into a predictable routine of feeding unseen in the nearby Irises then, after being flushed flying back to Garso, straight back to land on the gas canisters, wait a few minutes, then fly back to exactly the same spot in the Iris bed to feed again.

Red-winged Blackbird - a first for Britain!

Friday, 28 April 2017


An awesome day with hardly any wind and plenty of sunshine; the light northerly wind gradually swung round to straight east so there was plenty of hope!   The nets at Holland first thing produced a Willow Warbler, a pair of Reed Buntings, some Starlings and Linnets and re-trap Blackcap and Goldcrest while a Swallow and a Song Thrush were also around.

                There wasn’t too much new around the middle census route with the first Ruff of the year on Ancum the highlight but there were some signs of passage with a male Merlin seen heading high north and a few Herring Gulls doing the same; other birds included the pair of Garganey on Ancum, a Chiffchaff, 5 Wheatears and 2 Bar-tailed Godwits in with the good numbers of Purple Sandpipers and Turnstone at Westness.





Pink-footed Geese

Thursday, 27 April 2017


Still cold and very windy but it gradually eased down through the afternoon so I left it until later to walk the west coast census route where birds included a stunning male Snow Bunting, 5 Bonxies, 2 Arctic Skuas, 22 Wheatears, a Redwing, a Great-northern Diver, 2 Red-throated Divers and a Merlin back down by the Obs.
                It had calmed down enough to open some nets at Holland in the evening where we managed to catch a Blackcap, a Chiffchaff, 2 Redwings and some Linnets; the pair of Garganey were on the scrap just north of the garden and a Swallow was flying around the buildings while a flock of 26 Redshank flew high north calling loudly.




Bonxie and Arctic Skua

and another Bonxie!

Wednesday, 26 April 2017


Still cold and wintery but slightly lighter winds, more sunshine and fewer snow showers; there were some increases in numbers around the Hooking census route with 53 Wheatears on The Links along with higher wader totals including 58 Ringed Plover, 17 Dunlin, 65 Turnstone and 2 Knot (first ones since 9th March!).

                Other birds included the pair of Garganey on Hooking, 5 Black-tailed Godwits, a Whimbrel, a Snow Bunting, a 2nd year male Sparrowhawk, 2 Great-northern Divers, 2 Arctic Skuas, 2 Pink-footed Geese, 6 Redwing and a Robin in Holland.


Snow Bunting


Snow Bunting

Tuesday, 25 April 2017


Another tough day to be out in the field with a blazing force 7 northerly wind and numerous snow/hail showers whipping through; I walked the Bridesness census route in the afternoon where birds included a nice flock of 24 Black-tailed Godwits, my overdue first Blackcap of the spring, 21 Pink-footed Geese, 7 Red-breasted Mergansers, 8 Gadwall, a Whimbrel, 230 Golden Plover and 10 Wheatears.

Black-tailed Godwits

and then it snowed...

Monday, 24 April 2017


A shocking morning with a freezing cold northerly wind bringing heavy, persistent snow showers sweeping down across the island however, it brightened up in the afternoon albeit still very cold; birds around the Obs census route included the Black-throated Diver which reappeared in Nouster along with 3 Great-northern Divers, a Grey Plover seen coming in across the sea into the bay, several Bonxies and an Arctic Skua floating around, a Chiffchaff at Holland, 4 Wheatears, 2 Sandwich Terns and 510+ Golden Plover.

Eider drakes displaying and fighting

over females

Record shot of the Black-throated Diver


There's a really aggressive Lapwing just up the road!