Friday, 18 August 2017


A pleasant day with plenty of sunshine and a moderate southerly breeze, walked the Brides census route in the morning where birds included a Short-eared Owl (over by Hooking), a Greenshank on the beach at Brides, a moulting adult Grey Plover in Nouster, 100+ Turnstone with Sanderling, Dunlin and Redshank, 7 Black-tailed Godwits near Holland, the pair of Little Grebes still feeding their two chicks, 7 Tufted Ducks including some juveniles and 3 Ravens which flew south out towards Sanday.

                Not much else through the afternoon although a flock of 55 Redshank came in off the sea while I was repairing T5 near Gretchen.

Little Grebe feeding chicks


Sedge Warbler

Wednesday, 16 August 2017


A nice day with an increasing southerly wind becoming strong by the evening; birds around the Obs census route included 13 Black-tailed Godwits, 3 Ruff (an adult and two juveniles), 23 Dunlin on Gretchen, 850+ Golden Plover and 110 Lapwings in the fields and 2 Purple Sandpipers.

Kittiwakes are lingering around the coast after a tough breeding season

Black Guillemots are starting to moult into winter plumage

Golden Plover


Heavy and persistent rain lingered right through until late morning but despite the rain and poor visibility an hour’s seawatch first thing produced 13 Manx Shearwaters and 2 Storm Petrels.   Walked the northern census route in the afternoon where birds just included the usual selection of waders including 108 Curlew, 35 Knot and a Norwegian colour flagged Ringed Plover – which had been ringed as a juvenile in September last year, halfway up the Norwegian coast before being seen here shortly afterwards, a nice illustration of a returning passage bird.

Still a handful of Arctic Terns around, some of which have juveniles in tow so are still aggressive!


A nice start to the day with the wind in the east, so I walked the middle census route first thing where birds included at least 73 Black-tailed Godwits (38 around Ancum, 8 near the airstrip and 27 on Gretchen later), 22 Bar-tailed Godwits, 2 Ruff, 1,175 Golden Plover, 5 Gadwall, 10 Teal, 4 Shoveler, 3 Herons and at least 3 Water Rails very aggressively calling near the Ancum hide in defence of their chicks while the Buff-breasted Sandpiper was still strutting around on The Links, as seen from a little peek over the wall at Gravity.
                Rain moved in at lunchtime which combined with a rapidly increasing wind to pretty much end the day’s activities but the wind remined in the east so it might produce something?

Water Rail

Black-tailed Godwit


Tuesday, 15 August 2017


A decent day with lightish winds and a bit of sunshine poking through, spent the morning doing more Fulmar chick ringing during which there were 7 Black-tailed Godwits and a Ruff on the excellent Cauldhame pool.   A random look around the centre of the island in the afternoon produced 2 Wigeon, 3 Black-tailed Godwits and 6 Bar-tailed Godwits around Ancum before a look across The Links had me find a cracking adult BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPER wandering around with a flock of Ringed Plovers and later a flock of 16 Bar-tailed Godwits.

Buff-breasted Sandpiper


Lighter winds but overcast and a few spells of spitting rain but we spent the morning ringing Fulmar chicks around the Obs census route and up the west coast with the only bird of note being a female Peregrine which flew south past the airstrip.   Walked the Hooking census route in the afternoon where there were good numbers of birds but little different in amongst them; totals included 28 Bar-tailed Godwits, 4 Black-tailed Godwits, a single Ruff, 1,050+ Golden Plover, 95 Lapwings, 83 Ringed Plover (on The Links), 125 Turnstone and 50 Sanderling while a few extra ducks included 13 Teal, 12 Shoveler and 3 Gadwall.

Sunday, 13 August 2017


Overcast with a strong westerly wind but largely dry; a bit of a seawatch from Gretchen for an hour in the morning produced a Red-throated Diver, 80 Gannets and 200 Fulmars with a few waders heading south offshore including 4 Golden Plover, 7 Dunlin and 3 Ringed Plover.   Other birds in the Obs census area included a smart flock of 13 Black-tailed Godwits which flew straight through Gretchen without stopping and 5 Arctic Skuas still harassing the dwindling numbers of Tysties still bringing fish into the colonies.

                Walked up the island in the afternoon where the highlight was an excellent total of 1,360 Golden Plover, mainly in fields around Holland with a Ruff and a Black-tailed Godwit picked out in amongst them while there was a bit of an influx of ducks on Ancum with 30 Mallard, 7 Gadwall and 6 Shoveler.

Black-tailed Godwits passing through

Kittiwake and Arctic Skua having a brief truce!

Wednesday, 9 August 2017


A bit more cloudy in the morning with a brisk westerly breeze and a few little spells of drizzle; a seawatch first thing produced a Sooty Shearwater, a Manx Shearwater, 2 Storm Petrels, 2 Tufted Ducks, a Heron in off, a big bull Orca which surfaced once distantly and a pod of 5-6 Risso’s Dolphins which came close in, went past the Beacon and continued out to sea.   A look around the north end then produced single Ruff (my first juvenile of the autumn) and Black-tailed Godwit along with 30 Knot, 25 Dunlin, 82 Curlew, 40 Redshank, 70 Golden Plover and 7 Arctic Skuas lingering around Seal Skerry.


Dunlin and the Ruff

Bar-tailed Godwit

Pied Wagtail fledgling


Another lovely, sunny, summer’s day but the nets at Holland were quiet with just an array of local juveniles caught; we then went up to the north end to get more brief views of 2 ORCAS as they moved off round Seal Skerry and out to sea.   There were then c10 Risso’s Dolphins off The Lurn which showed well, splashing around as they slowly moved out towards Westray before a brief look at Westness produced a handful of waders including Sanderling, Bar-tailed Godwit, Knot and Dunlin.   Four more Risso’s Dolphins moved slowly across the entrance to Nouster Bay in the evening.

Bar-tailed Godwit


A wet first half of the morning gave way to a bright and sunny rest of the day, a walk up the west coast census route from mid-morning produced the highlight of an adult Pectoral Sandpiper on Torness with a Golden Plover flock but it quickly flew off north not to be seen again; other birds included a Grey Plover, also with the 160 Golden Plover on Torness, 8 Purple Sandpipers, 2 Whimbrel, 9 Arctic Skuas, 6 Twite, a Sand Martin south along the coast and despite the decent conditions (easterly and rain) there was no sign of any Passerine migrants.


Very warm and sunny with the light westerly breeze swinging round to the east by the afternoon, the Hooking census route was quiet, just producing 47 Ringed Plover, 66 Sanderling and 250 Golden Plover on The Links, a Gadwall on the loch (my first for a few weeks) and the usual big flocks of Lapwing, Curlew and Redshank in the fields around Hooking.

                Opened the nets in the evening at Holland which produced 2 Willow Warblers and 2 Pied Wagtails with the usual Linnets, Wrens and Blackbirds; 150 Linnets came into roost and the 4 Collared Doves were still present.


Overcast with a brisk westerly breeze and the occasional shower, the nets at Holland were quiet first thing with just another juvenile Swallow to mention before a little walk round the Brides census route produced a smart Short-eared Owl (the first of the autumn) flushed off a freshly killed Redshank.   Other birds included 35+ Redshank, 70+ Turnstone and a handful of Dunlin.

Short-eared Owl