Wednesday, 31 May 2017


Overcast with a light easterly but despite the good looking conditions there was practically nothing around the Obs census route with just the Black-throated Diver in Nouster again and a Siskin at Holland of note; the weather closed in later to produce a wet afternoon and not much was done!

Lots of baby waders around now!


Walked the northern census route in the afternoon but it was pretty quiet with not really any grounded migrants despite the overcast, flat calm conditions; the waders around the coast were again most of the interest with 2 Bar-tailed Godwits, 40 Knot and good numbers of Turnstone, Sanderling and Dunlin.   Other birds included a single Barnacle Goose at Bewan and at least 4 1st summer Arctic Terns with the flock at the top end.

Baby Starling

Monday, 29 May 2017


Overcast with a chilly, brisk westerly wind and nets first thing just produced single Garden Warbler and Collared Dove before the middle census route was predictably quiet with the waders again the highlight on the beach at Westness as there was a big influx of 322 Knot along with single Curlew Sandpiper, 60 Dunlin, 70 Sanderling and 120 Turnstone.   Other birds included 2 Mealy Redpolls, a Sand Martin, 5 Sedge Warblers, a Sparrowhawk, 2 Woodpigeons and a slightly strange flock of 25 Curlew by Sangar which had the feel of a non/failed breeding flock – too early for that sort of thing surely?

Two colour ringed Shags were at the usual roost site on the west coast

Sedge Warbler



Another fine, sunny day with an increasing SE wind and it was all about the quality rather than quantity round the west coast census route with the highlight being a Nightingale I found in the punds at the northern end of Torness; it was a tricky bird in the field and I called it a probable Thrush Nightingale but we put up a net and easily caught it and it was pretty straightforward in the hand!

                Other birds included a female Bluethroat along walls on the opposite side of Torness, a very late Woodcock in the same place, a female Pied Flycatcher which I caught in T5 and a Whimbrel.


Big gangs of adolescent Starlings are roaming the countryside now!

Friday, 26 May 2017


A stunning day, calm, warm and sunny; it started off excellently with a pod of 3 ORCAS feeding in Nouster Bay, by the time I got down there they had moved off in the firth halfway to Sanday but any Orca sighting is a good sighting!   The Hooking census route was then quiet in the fine conditions with still good numbers of waders on The Links including 80 Ringed Plover and 120 Sanderling but the only other migrants were a Blackcap at Scotsha and a Spotted Flycatcher at Holland.

                The quality all came in the afternoon as we raced up to Westness to look for a Honey Buzzard which had been lost to view behind the rocks on the point; it was all quiet when we got to the point but some Common Gulls started mobbing something hidden in the rocks and when we got out there the Honey Buzzard flew out from our feet and showed amazingly well as it flew and landed out on Trinley.   The day’s other highlight were 2 Little Terns in Nouster mid-afternoon – a North Ronaldsay and Scottish tick for me!



A nice day, warm and sunny; we tried unsuccessfully to catch some waders at Westness in the morning where there was 50+ Knot and a Grey Wagtail on the beach.   Walked round the Brides census route in the afternoon which was pretty quiet with a Kestrel and 5 Sedge Warblers on the land and good numbers of waders around the coast including 238 Sanderling; the highlight though were 2 dark phase Arctic Skuas on the beach at Nouster making forays against the foraging Arctic Terns and Black-headed Gulls in the bay.

Some great flybys

Some acrobatics against Arctic Terns

and Black-headed Gulls

and a bit of stick from Common Gulls

and finally some success!


Mist and murk came and went, back and forth throughout the day; nets at Holland first thing produced my first Reed Warbler of the year along with single Sedge Warbler and Chiffchaff while a Short-eared Owl flew over The Kirk.   There was little else of note round the rest of the Obs census route with the Black-throated Diver again in Nouster with 3 Great-northern Divers before a House Martin was unusual in the nets late on.

Sedge Warbler


Bucketloads of baby Starlings are now emerging



Thursday, 25 May 2017


Nice and sunny again with a brisk westerly breeze; the nets were empty before the northern census route was also pretty empty with just 3 House Martins, a Woodpigeon, a Whimbrel and 15 Knot of note.   The day was saved late afternoon when first a cracking female Red-necked Phalarope and then a lovely Temminck’s Stint were found on Gretchen – they both showed very well, albeit staying on the back shore, sometimes together.

Records shots of Red-necked Phalarope and Temminck's Stint

Dunlin getting excited (well one of them anyway)



Despite excellent looking conditions with a SE wind and building cloud, it was ridiculously quiet around the middle census route with pretty much nothing of note; the usual waders at Westness etc.

Black Guillemot


Sunday, 21 May 2017


A stunning day, plenty of sunshine with a warm southerly breeze; the nets at Holland first thing were fairly quiet as we managed single Sedge Warbler, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler and Woodpigeon with 2 Mealy Redpolls, 2 Blackcaps and 2 Jackdaws which flew south also seen.   I then unsuccessfully chased some Orcas around but I did have a Marsh Harrier which came in off the sea at Brides and turned north.

                I walked the west coast census route in the afternoon with the highlight definitely being a beast of a 1st year WHITE-TAILED EAGLE which flew in off the sea at Westbeach and like the Harrier, turned north but no one else saw it so presumably it just kept on going north.   Other birds included a 1st summer Little Gull on Gretchen, 60+ Knot amongst other waders at Lenswick, the Pied Flycatcher still round T1 and 4 House Martins.

                Nets in the evening were quiet as we just caught a female Pied Flycatcher, an angry young female Sparrowhawk and a Linnet; other birds there included 8 House Martins and a Swift.

Record shots of the White-tailed Eagle and Little Gull

Sedge Warbler


Pied Flycatcher