Saturday, 15 October 2011

  Here we are at the end of another week and a week that was pretty poor for birds at that. I've had a birding friend staying here this week and I would guess he's gone home a little disappointed with the lack of both common and less common migrants. I know the feeling only too well, you've gone somewhere for a holiday or break, have a preconceived idea of either what should - or could - be there and for what ever reason, it doesn't really happen. That certainly happened when we went to Spain in the summer, I knew what should be around, but didn't consider the time of year and hey presto, very few small birds around. This has happened to Tim this week, last year at this time was very good, earlier on at the end of September here wasn't bad, then the wind changes to the west and no birds (or a few anyway). Speaking to Brydon yesterday, he says that it's been one of the worst autumn migration periods for years and it doesn't look like it's going to improve over the next few weeks.

  When I went to pick up Tim last Saturday from Sumburgh, there were a few less common birds around. I knew there were a couple he wanted to get, so, with time to spare I went and sussed them out beforehand. The first was a Citrine Wagtail at Fleck, fortunately it was still around and was still there (after a lot of waiting for it to show) for Tim to add it to his 'Life List'....................

 Citrine Wagtail at Haroldswick (from a couple of years back)

  From there, we then headed over to Quendale to try and re-find the Isabelline Shrike. I'd seen it earlier ( a lifer for me) and hoped it was still viewable for Tim. Speaking to others, the bird was still around but was elusive. Finally after half an hour, the bird gave up its location due to a scolding wren and was already settling down to roost for the night in a small garden hedge. The bird must have been so confident in its chosen roost site that it let us approach to with in 5 or 6 ft. As well as this bird, we had several views of a Hen Harrier around the area.............

Isabelline Shrike (from earlier in the day)

  Most of the week that followed, took a similar pattern. Tim would go out for a walk before breakfast, I'd then take him out in the car around the island, trying to cover most off the likely spots for any migrants that may have dropped in; Skaw, Lamba Ness, Norwick, Valyie, Haroldswick, Burrafirth, Halligarth, Westing etc. I think over the week, we saw the same birds at the same locations, Pied Fly' at Valyie, Blackcaps at Norwick and Willow Warbler in Baltasound etc etc. Probably the only surprise for me was a late pale phase Arctic Skua at Lamba Ness midweek.

  For Tim however, unlike many of our other visitors, he was very fortunate in one area, otters. Over a couple of days he had 6 sightings, including a very close one at Westing..................

  While I've said there hasn't been many scare migrants around, earlier on last week, we did have a large number of Redwings and Fieldfares pass through. Most have now moved on south, but there are still a few about. The first one I saw this year was way back in early September in Haligarth.


No comments: