Fair Isle Bird Observatory Rebuild Appeal

FIBO 2021

The work of Fair Isle Bird Observatory continues in 2021 with Alex Penn and Dan Gornall as Assistant Wardens and Georgia Platt as Ranger based at South Light. News from their migration and seabird work will appear in the Latest Sightings blog (below). The Directors continue in their commitment to build a new Obs, working towards a rebuild in 2022 and re-opening in 2023 (subject to ongoing constraints). Until then, limited accommodation is available on the Isle (subject to COVID travel and accommodation restrictions).

Latest sightings

22nd April 2021
Weather:
sun in the morning followed by a fairly cloudy afternoon, with a force 4-5 NW wind
Not a bad day for birds as census felt a bit busy with species, with today's year ticks including Grey Heron and Yellowhammer. The team worked on some trap repairs this afternoon, which will probably be an ongoing theme for the next few days whilst we have some calmer weather forecast. Although the wind is good for carrying birds over to us, it'll be a welcome break to be able to actually hear properly whilst birding!

HIGHLIGHTS:
'European White-fronted' Goose: one bird present
White-tailed Eagle: flying west over Houll early this morning then seen heading north

Other sightings: 31 Greylag Goose, 2 Pink-footed Goose, 3 Shelduck, 11 Teal, 1 Tufted Duck (female still on Da Water), 7 Woodpigeon, 2 Collared Dove, 51 Oystercatcher, 5 Lapwing, 24 Golden Plover, 18 Ringed Plover, 1 Whimbrel, 5 Curlew, 20 Turnstone, 2 Purple Sandpiper, 1 Woodcock (Da Water), 20 Snipe, 11 Redshank, 1 Black-headed Gull, 15 Common Gull, 4 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 1 Arctic Skua, 1 Great-Northern Diver (off South Light), 1 Grey Heron (first of the year), 5 Carrion Crow, 143 Skylark, 3 Swallow, 6 Chiffchaff, 1 Goldcrest, 1 Ring Ouzel, 11 Blackbird, 10 Redwing, 2 Song Thrush, 9 Robin, 1 Black Redstart (trapped in Vaadal), 1 Stonechat, 132 Wheatear, 43 House Sparrow (27 males and 16 females), 2 Dunnock, 8 Pied Wagtail, 4 White Wagtail, 184 Meadow Pipit, 25 Rock Pipit, 7 Chaffinch, 21 Twite, 2 Linnet, 1 Mealy Redpoll, 2 Snow Bunting, 1 Yellowhammer (singing at Quoy - first of the year), 1 Reed Bunting


This Bonxie got lucky when it found a large freshly-dead Lumpsucker fish washed up on North Haven beach! (photo by AW Alex Penn)

Year List: 108
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21st April 2021
Weather:
a cloudy start turned into a day of bright sunshine, with a force 5-6 NW wind
Despite uninspiring winds, today saw a couple of quality additions to the year list, starting with a cracking White-billed Diver sitting on the water off South Light. It was more or less the first bird that Alex spotted when starting SW census, so he and Dan got the scope onto it whilst the news was put out to the rest of the Isle. Fortunately, I (Georgia) had only just started North census, so it wasn’t a very long walk back to the car to head down again! We ended up spending around an hour with the bird, watching it snorkel and dive and occasionally drift closer to us, where the unmistakable ivory-coloured bill could be seen gleaming in the sun. Brilliant!


Dan managed to get this fantastic scope-shot of the Diver with his phone, showing the huge dagger-like bill and bulky head (photo by AW Dan Gornall)

There was a good turnout of islanders keen to see this beast of a diver, on which everyone managed to connect in the end. It was surprisingly easy to lose sight of for such a large bird, yet with the considerable swell and with the bird starting to dive regularly, it was tricky to keep track of. For many this species was a lifer, and since the last record of White-billed Diver on Fair Isle was over 40 years ago back in 1979, it was a Fair Isle tick for most as well. We even got to witness islander Nick Riddiford’s legendary mega-binoculars being used, which was a highlight for certain!


A good number of islanders came down to South Light to see this fantastic Fair Isle rarity (photo by Ranger Georgia Platt)


Nick Riddiford and his giant binoculars! Left photo was taken in 1981 by Eric Mills, and right photo was taken 40 years later by Georgia Platt

Census then resumed as normal, which was generally quiet for migrants, but whilst walking around the south-east census route Dan spotted a White-tailed Eagle circling high over Sheep Rock. Sadly though it wasn’t one to stick around, as only around 5 minutes later it had gained even more height and disappeared completely to the south-west. This species is still a decent record for Fair Isle, with it being an annual sighting for only the last 3 years.

The forecast is looking much calmer in terms of wind over the next few days, which will hopefully allow for a final Tystie survey and some trap repairs.

HIGHLIGHTS:
'European White-fronted' Goose: one bird present
WHITE-BILLED DIVER: one sat on the sea off South Light
White-tailed Eagle: one briefly over Sheep Rock

Other sightings: 36 Greylag Goose, 1 Wigeon, 9 Teal, 1 Tufted Duck (female still on Da Water), 6 Woodpigeon, 41 Oystercatcher, 13 Lapwing, 30 Golden Plover, 26 Ringed Plover, 3 Whimbrel, 8 Curlew, 19 Turnstone, 11 Purple Sandpiper, 19 Snipe, 16 Redshank, 2 Black-headed Gull, 9 Common Gull, 4 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 2 Arctic Skua (over the Parks), 1 Great-Northern Diver (off South Light), 1 Cormorant, 1 Merlin, 6 Carrion Crow, 207 Skylark, 2 Swallow, 5 Chiffchaff, 6 Blackbird, 1 Fieldfare, 11 Redwing, 3 Song Thrush, 5 Robin, 1 Black Redstart, 1 Stonechat, 79 Wheatear, 4 Dunnock, 6 Pied Wagtail, 5 White Wagtail, 193 Meadow Pipit, 16 Rock Pipit, 7 Chaffinch, 3 Brambling, 9 Twite, 1 Mealy Redpoll, 6 Siskin, 1 Reed Bunting


Distant photo of the White-tailed Eagle, thought to be a probable adult going on the impression of a white tail (photo by AW Dan Gornall)

Year List: 106
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20th April 2021
Weather:
mostly sunny with some brief rain showers, with a force 4 WNW wind
Mostly the same birds around today, other than a few migrant Carrion Crows in the south and the first Sand Martin of the year. The feeder that we have up in the Plantation trap is definitely proving it's worth, as it has attracted a good number of finches over the last week - one today being a stunning adult male Brambling that was trapped and ringed by Alex halfway around SE census. It's always a treat to see a near summer-plumage Brambling in the hand!


Adult male Brambling in the hand (photo by AW Alex Penn)

This week will hopefully see the wind finally drop low enough so that the team can start patching up the rooves on a few traps, ready for spring migration to really kick off! Some long-awaited wire panelling arrived on the boat today, so we can at last get cracking with these annual maintenance jobs.

HIGHLIGHTS:
'European White-fronted' Goose: both birds present
Lapland Bunting: a male at Quoy

Other sightings: 35 Greylag Goose, 2 Pink-footed Goose, 8 Wigeon, 9 Teal, 1 Tufted Duck (female still on Da Water), 14 Woodpigeon, 39 Oystercatcher, 10 Lapwing, 10 Golden Plover, 29 Ringed Plover, 7 Curlew, 33 Turnstone, 3 Purple Sandpiper, 27 Snipe, 54 Redshank, 3 Black-headed Gull, 7 Common Gull, 6 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 1 Merlin 1 Peregrine, 9 Carrion Crow, 195 Skylark, 1 Sand Martin (first of the year), 3 Swallow, 7 Chiffchaff, 1 Blackcap, 4 Goldcrest, 1 Ring Ouzel, 2 Blackbird, 1 Fieldfare, 10 Redwing, 3 Song Thrush, 9 Robin, 2 Stonechat (pair at Boini Mire), 95 Wheatear, 3 Dunnock, 6 Pied Wagtail, 9 White Wagtail, 195 Meadow Pipit, 27 Rock Pipit, 1 Scandinavian Rock Pipit, 8 Chaffinch, 3 Brambling, 11 Twite, 1 Linnet, 3 Mealy Redpoll, 1 Goldfinch, 5 Siskin, 1 Snow Bunting, 1 Reed Bunting


A fence full of migrants - upper left to right shows a female Reed Bunting, male Wheatear and a Meadow Pipit, with a female Stonechat below (photo by AW Alex Penn)

Year List: 104
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19th April 2021
Weather:
a clear sunny day with a force 5-6 southerly wind
Quite an interesting day in terms of wildlife, with a couple of unexpected year ticks consisting of Tufted Duck and Collared Dove (the latter appeared on the South Light stick!). Perhaps even more interesting though was a Harbour Seal hauled out on the Good Shepherd slipway in North Haven, found by Alex - a good record for this nationally declining species and the first Fair Isle record since 2019. Although we live in hope for an imminent Orca visit, I hope that this guy manages to stay out of their way if they do come!

Some nice almost-summer plumage Lapland Buntings, a male Kestrel and a Siberian Chiffchaff were also new in, providing a census that kept the team happy.


A smart pair of Tufted Duck on Da Water (photo by Ranger Georgia Platt)

HIGHLIGHTS:
'European White-fronted' Goose: one bird present
Siberian Chiffchaff: one on Dronger
Lapland Bunting: two birds sighted - a female on Dronger and a male on Meoness

Other sightings: 33 Greylag Goose, 2 Pink-footed Goose, 4 Wigeon, 5 Teal, 2 Tufted Duck (first of the year), 10 Woodpigeon, 1 Collared Dove (first of the year), 46 Oystercatcher, 7 Lapwing, 17 Golden Plover, 19 Ringed Plover, 1 Whimbrel, 13 Curlew, 81 Turnstone, 4 Purple Sandpiper, 14 Snipe, 12 Redshank, 2 Black-headed Gull, 4 Common Gull, 6 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 1 Cormorant, 1 Kestrel (Skadan), 1 Peregrine, 3 Carrion Crow, 191 Skylark, 1 Swallow, 5 Chiffchaff, 1 Blackcap, 2 Goldcrest, 5 Blackbird, 1 Fieldfare, 7 Redwing, 1 Song Thrush, 2 Robin, 85 Wheatear, 49 House Sparrow (28 males and 21 females), 3 Dunnock, 7 Pied Wagtail, 4 White Wagtail, 225 Meadow Pipit, 31 Rock Pipit, 9 Chaffinch, 2 Brambling, 14 Twite, 3 Linnet, 1 Redpoll sp., 1 Goldfinch, 3 Siskin


A frosty-looking Siberian Chiffchaff near the waterfall on Dronger (photo by AW Alex Penn)

Year List: 103

Other wildlife: a single Harbour Seal in North Haven


Harbour Seal on the Good Shepherd slipway, providing a good view of the classic dog-like facial shape of this species (photo by AW Alex Penn)
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18th April 2021
Weather:
sunny spells with a strong force 6-7 southerly wind
Strong wind made census quite hard work today, resulting in a quiet day other than the first Arctic Skua of the year and the first Woodcock since 10th March. Tomorrow is the last day of forecast southerly wind, as it then turns northerly again until pretty much the end of the month - not a great outlook at the minute for migrants! The team are keeping everything crossed and staying optimistic (and patient!) for a decent late spring.

Sightings: 29 Greylag Goose, 2 Pink-footed Goose, 4 Wigeon, 10 Teal, 12 Woodpigeon, 46 Oystercatcher, 13 Lapwing, 12 Golden Plover, 27 Ringed Plover, 11 Curlew, 76 Turnstone, 9 Purple Sandpiper, 1 Woodcock (Lerness), 9 Snipe, 20 Redshank, 3 Black-headed Gull, 13 Common Gull, 4 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 1 Arctic Skua (first of the year over Schoolton), 3 Carrion Crow, 170 Skylark, 1 Swallow, 2 Chiffchaff, 1 Blackcap, 1 Goldcrest, 3 Blackbird, 15 Redwing, 5 Robin, 1 Black Redstart (Wirvie), 1 Stonechat, 44 Wheatear, 5 Dunnock, 5 Pied Wagtail, 1 White Wagtail, 209 Meadow Pipit, 25 Rock Pipit, 7 Chaffinch, 1 Brambling, 9 Twite, 1 Linnet, 3 Siskin


Looking back at the North Stacks and the Foghorn from the tip of Dronger (photo by Ranger Georgia Platt)

Year List: 101
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17th April 2021
Weather:
sunny throughout with a force 4 south-easterly wind
Census as usual this morning as the SE wind continues. Not much new in again, although Grey Plover was a nice addition to the year list, with today's sighting being the 17th spring record for Fair Isle and bringing the year list total up to 100.


Brambling at the Haa (photo by AW Alex Penn)


HIGHLIGHTS:
'European White-fronted' Goose: both birds still present
Grey Plover: two birds over Boini Mire (first of the year)

Other sightings: 32 Greylag Goose, 2 Pink-footed Goose, 4 Teal, 15 Woodpigeon, 54 Oystercatcher, 19 Lapwing, 5 Golden Plover, 28 Ringed Plover, 2 Whimbrel, 21 Curlew, 74 Turnstone, 2 Purple Sandpiper, 22 Snipe, 14 Redshank, 2 Black-headed Gull, 7 Common Gull, 1 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 3 Carrion Crow, 166 Skylark, 4 Swallow, 3 Chiffchaff, 2 Blackcap, 3 Goldcrest, 7 Blackbird, 11 Redwing, 4 Robin, 61 Wheatear, 6 Dunnock, 5 Pied Wagtail, 2 White Wagtail, 231 Meadow Pipit, 40 Rock Pipit, 6 Chaffinch, 1 Brambling, 20 Twite, 1 Linnet, 1 Redpoll sp., 2 Siskin


Grey Plovers over Boini Mire (photo by AW Alex Penn)

Year List: 100
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16th April 2021
Weather:
a fresh force 4 south-easterly breeze with sunshine throughout the day
Another day of sunshine as the team headed out for a bright and breezy census, spurred on by the SE wind. AW Dan always knows it's a south-easterly blowing before anyone else, as it rattles his bedroom windows! Not too many more migrants around, although today did see the first Whimbrel and Siskin of the year.


Whimbrel at Boini Mire (photo by AW Alex Penn)

HIGHLIGHTS:
'European White-fronted' Goose: both birds still present
Whimbrel: one at Boini Mire (first of the year)
Black Redstart: still present

Other sightings: 32 Greylag Goose, 2 Pink-footed Goose, 6 Teal, 5 Woodpigeon, 49 Oystercatcher, 11 Lapwing, 3 Golden Plover, 23 Ringed Plover, 12 Curlew, 84 Turnstone, 5 Purple Sandpiper, 9 Snipe, 9 Redshank, 2 Black-headed Gull, 8 Common Gull, 5 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 1 Merlin, 2 Peregrine, 3 Carrion Crow, Raven (family of 4 touring the island), 139 Skylark, 6 Swallow, 4 Chiffchaff, 2 Blackcap, 3 Goldcrest, 7 Blackbird, 9 Redwing, 2 Robin, 1 Stonechat, 89 Wheatear, 46 House Sparrow (25 males and 21 females), 5 Dunnock, 2 Pied Wagtail, 3 White Wagtail, 182 Meadow Pipit, 27 Rock Pipit, 1 Scandinavian Rock Pipit, 6 Chaffinch, 16 Twite, 1 Linnet, 1 Siskin (first of the year), 1 Snow Bunting, 1 Reed Bunting


Black Redstart at Stackhoull (photo by AW Dan Gornall)

Year List: 99

Other wildlife: around 10 Risso's Dolphins seen close in off Wester Lother, moving slowly towards North Light


Risso's Dolphins providing fantastic views for Alex at Wester Lother (photo by AW Alex Penn)
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15th April 2021
Weather:
low cloud in the early morning giving way to another sunny day, with a very light SE breeze
This morning saw another 6am Tystie survey given the calm conditions, followed by census. A few more migrants in today, mostly sighted around the crofts and traps. This afternoon the team put up the Oysterplant sheep exclosure in Muckle Uri Geo - a good job done before too many plants start to come through. Another fantastic sunny day!


An iconic view of Puffins on Buness in front of Sheep Rock early this morning (photo by Ranger Georgia Platt)

HIGHLIGHTS:
'European White-fronted' Goose: both birds still present
Ring Ouzel: male at Troila
Black Redstart: one at Schoolhouse

Other sightings: 58 Greylag Goose, 6 Pink-footed Goose, 2 Wigeon, 7 Teal, 14 Woodpigeon, 58 Oystercatcher, 7 Lapwing, 3 Golden Plover, 30 Ringed Plover, 7 Curlew, 49 Turnstone, 37 Snipe, 17 Redshank, 3 Black-headed Gull, 8 Common Gull, 3 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 43 Bonxie, 223 Tystie, 3 Merlin, 3 Carrion Crow, 171 Skylark, 3 Swallow (South Haven), 5 Chiffchaff, 3 Blackcap (first of the year), 5 Goldcrest, 24 Blackbird, 23 Redwing, 2 Song Thrush, 2 Robin, 1 Stonechat (male trapped in Plantation), 35 Wheatear, 2 Dunnock, 5 Pied Wagtail, 157 Meadow Pipit, 35 Rock Pipit, 2 Scandinavian Rock Pipit, 6 Chaffinch, 15 Twite, 1 Linnet, 1 Snow Bunting, 1 Reed Bunting


The smart male Stonechat in the hand (photo by AW Alex Penn)

Year List: 97
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14th April 2021
Weather:
another clear, sunny day with a light WNW breeze
Spring is finally here! Hopefully that’s not being said too early, but today was the first proper day of migrants arriving on the Isle. So, with that in mind, what better time to start our new and improved latest sightings format! We’ll still be keeping the list of highlights and numbers of species seen on daily census and throughout the day, but keep an eye out for a regular, more detailed account of recent news, and lots of lovely photos of course.

This morning the team started off with a 6am Tystie (Black Guillemot) survey. This involves walking along a stretch of coastline and making a lot of noise by shouting and clapping (if you don’t have a sore throat by the end then you’re doing it wrong!), which will hopefully persuade any Tysties hiding in their nesting cavities to fly out onto the water and become visible from the clifftops. This survey is a part of our annual seabird monitoring, a core aspect of work at the Observatory.


Tysties in breeding plumage (photo by AW Alex Penn)

The team then headed out on census, with Georgia (that’s me!) in the south-west, Alex in the south-east and Dan in the north. We knew it would be a good day for migrants when Dan messaged to say that he had trapped 2 Chiffchaffs, a Goldcrest and a Blackbird in the Plantation trap on his way up to north – that’s always a promising sign! On the coast there were a good number of Wheatear, with a total of 52, which is always lovely to see and especially so with lots of smart adult males around. Halfway through census, Alex had reported and ringed the first Goldfinch of the year at Plantation, along with a handful more Goldcrests and Chiffchaffs. Dan then went on to find the first Ring Ouzel of the year up at the mast, and I finished off the year ticks for the day with a Barn Swallow over Leogh/Taft.


Goldfinch near the ringing hut (photo by Ranger Georgia Platt)

The afternoon was then spent collecting trap repair supplies from the Good Shepherd who had sailed to Grutness this morning, then targeting Wheatears with the spring traps at South Haven, which proved successful with 5 birds ringed in total in an hour.


Wheatears in the hand, with male on the left and female on the right (photo by AW Alex Penn)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Swallow:
2 birds sighted, with one over Leogh/Taft and one at the Haven (first of the year)
Ring Ouzel: a male at the Mast (first of the year)

Other sightings: 16 Greylag Goose, 21 Pink-footed Goose, 9 Teal, 90 Eider, 1 Long-tailed Duck, 12 Woodpigeon, 48 Oystercatcher, 13 Lapwing, 1 Golden Plover, 34 Ringed Plover, 12 Curlew, 98 Turnstone, 3 Purple Sandpiper, 18 Snipe, 18 Redshank, 4 Black-headed Gull, 4 Common Gull, 2 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 50 Bonxie, 79 Tystie, 1 Great-Northern Diver, 1 Short-eared Owl, 2 Merlin, 2 Carrion Crow, 190 Skylark, 10 Chiffchaff, 14 Goldcrest, 9 Blackbird, 34 Redwing, 52 Wheatear, 2 Dunnock, 11 Pied Wagtail, 162 Meadow Pipit, 48 Rock Pipit, 4 Scandinavian Rock Pipit, 3 Chaffinch, 1 Brambling, 13 Twite, 1 Linnet, 1 Goldfinch (first of the year), 2 Snow Bunting

Year List: 96
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13th April 2021
Weather:
a pleasant, clear day with a light NW breeze
There was no census yesterday due to half of the team going off-island to Lerwick for Covid vaccines, but today we were able to resume census as normal. Although still quiet, it decidely feels more spring-like now, with a handful of migrants moving through - surely double figures of Wheatear is a good sign!

HIGHLIGHTS:
Tundra Bean Goose:
still present
'European White-fronted' Goose: both birds still present
Great Tit: still present

Other sightings: 1 Barnacle Goose, 36 Greylag Goose, 20 Pink-footed Goose, 13 Teal, 1 Red-breasted Merganser (South Haven), 9 Woodpigeon, 48 Oystercatcher, 9 Lapwing, 27 Ringed Plover, 18 Curlew, 109 Turnstone, 6 Purple Sandpiper, 20 Snipe, 16 Redshank, 5 Common Gull, 24 Bonxie, 1 Blue Fulmar, 1 Sparrowhawk (female trapped in Plantation), 1 Merlin, 3 Carrion Crow, 12 Hooded Crow (flock on Hoini), 173 Skylark, 1 Chiffchaff, 11 Blackbird, 19 Redwing, 12 Wheatear, 2 Dunnock, 2 Pied Wagtail, 1 alba Wagtail sp., 141 Meadow Pipit, 41 Rock Pipit, 7 Scandinavian Rock Pipit, 4 Chaffinch, 1 Brambling (first of the year), 7 Twite, 1 Linnet, 7 Snow Bunting, 1 Reed Bunting


Puffin back on the cliffs at North Light (photo by AW Alex Penn)

Year List: 93
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11th April 2021
Weather:
a NW breeze with still some heavy snow showers

HIGHLIGHTS:
Tundra Bean Goose:
still present
'European White-fronted' Goose: both birds still present
Great Tit: still present at Schoolhouse

Other sightings: 1 Barnacle Goose, 51 Greylag Goose, 19 Pink-footed Goose, 16 Teal, 7 Woodpigeon, 65 Oystercatcher, 11 Lapwing, 2 Golden Plover, 43 Ringed Plover, 11 Curlew, 99 Turnstone, 30 Purple Sandpiper, 21 Snipe, 16 Redshank, 1 Black-headed Gull, 7 Common Gull, 2 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 11 Bonxie, Puffin (reasonable numbers offshore), 1 Cormorant, 1 Merlin, 2 Carrion Crow, 185 Skylark, 13 Blackbird, 28 Redwing, 1 Wheatear, 1 Dunnock, 1 Grey Wagtail, 3 Pied Wagtail, 113 Meadow Pipit, 18 Rock Pipit, 1 Scandinavian Rock Pipit, 4 Chaffinch, 5 Twite, 3 Snow Bunting

Year List: 92
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10th April 2021
Weather:
a NW breeze with still some heavy snow showers
Although the morning started off with a whiteout, the sun came out at around 9:30am and the team were able to go out for a wintery census in the snow - having said that, it had all melted by the time we had finished! Still not much movement, but after this weekend looks like it could finally be the beginning of spring.

HIGHLIGHTS:
Tundra Bean Goose:
still present
'European White-fronted' Goose: both birds still present
Great Tit: still present at Schoolhouse

Other sightings: 1 Barnacle Goose, 36 Greylag Goose, 18 Pink-footed Goose, 16 Teal, 6 Woodpigeon, 47 Oystercatcher, 12 Lapwing, 1 Golden Plover, 71 Ringed Plover, 16 Curlew, 185 Turnstone, 4 Purple Sandpiper, 16 Snipe, 27 Redshank, 4 Common Gull, 2 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 5 Bonxie, 8 Puffin (first of the year ashore in the evening), 1 Blue Fulmar, 2 Merlin, 5 Carrion Crow, 19 Hooded Crow (flock on Hoini that were clearly migrants), 1 Hybrid Crow, 176 Skylark, 14 Blackbird, 41 Redwing, 1 Dunnock, 150 Meadow Pipit, 40 Rock Pipit, 1 Scandinavian Rock Pipit, 4 Chaffinch, 3 Twite, 4 Snow Bunting


Snow Bunting nearly in full summer plumage at North Light (photo by AW Dan Gornall)

Year List: 92
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9th April 2021
Weather:
NW wind and sunshine with some heavy snow showers
Census could resume again this morning, as hopefully the worst of the current wintery spell of weather is over. There still isn't much in the way of migrants, but a single Wheatear and a good number of Skylark is surely a sign of better things to come soon!

HIGHLIGHTS:
Tundra Bean Goose:
still present
Iceland Gull: 2cy bird west past South Light

Other sightings: 28 Greylag Goose, 4 Pink-footed Goose, 11 Teal, 8 Woodpigeon, 43 Oystercatcher, 9 Lapwing, 64 Ringed Plover, 14 Curlew, 206 Turnstone, 3 Purple Sandpiper, 20 Snipe, 19 Redshank, 1 Black-headed Gull, 4 Common Gull, 6 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 9 Bonxie, 2 Merlin, 2 Carrion Crow, 243 Skylark, 1 Chiffchaff, 11 Blackbird, 28 Redwing, 1 Wheatear, 3 Pied Wagtail, 99 Meadow Pipit, 24 Rock Pipit, 4 Chaffinch, 2 Twite, 1 Reed Bunting


Bonxie (Great Skua) over Dronger (photo by AW Alex Penn)

Year List: 92
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8th April 2021
Weather: strong south-westerly wind throughout the day, with heavy rain showers
The weather put a stop to census again today, but it was noticeably less cold to be out and about in. The first lambs of the season have been appearing at the crofts over the last few days, but most are safely tucked up inside for now until the worst of the weather is over!

HIGHLIGHTS:
Great Tit:
still present at Schoolhouse
Glaucous Gull: 2cy bird at South Harbour

Other sightings:
1 Barnacle Goose, 17 Pink-footed Goose, 6 Woodpigeon, 22 Ringed Plover, 101 Turnstone, 7 Purple Sandpiper, 2 Black-headed Gull, 3 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 1 Bonxie, 6 Puffin, 1 Kestrel (first of the year), 1 Carrion Crow, 4 Blackbird, 8 Redwing, 1 Pied Wagtail, 4 Chaffinch, 4 Twite

Year List: 92
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7th April 2021
Weather:
north-westerly wind decreasing slightly throughout the day with intermittent snow showers
The break in the weather in the afternoon allowed for a full census of the island - the first since Saturday! Not much new in other than an increase in Redwing numbers and a Chiffchaff that has somehow battled through the wind to get here.

HIGHLIGHTS:
Tundra Bean Goose:
still present
‘European White-fronted Goose’: still present
Great Tit: still present at Schoolhouse


The long-staying Great Tit at Schoolhouse garden (photo by AW Dan Gornall)

Other sightings
:
1 Barnacle Goose, 68 Greylag Goose, 20 Pink-footed Goose, 10 Teal, 1 Long-tailed Duck, 6 Woodpigeon, 47 Oystercatcher, 6 Lapwing, 61 Ringed Plover, 7 Curlew, 62 Turnstone, 18 Purple Sandpiper, 17 Snipe, 12 Redshank, 3 Common Gull, 2 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 2 Bonxie, 8 Puffin, 2 Blue Fulmar, 1 Merlin, 3 Carrion Crow, 193 Skylark, 1 Chiffchaff (Obs), 17 Blackbird, 37 Redwing, 1 Robin, 3 Pied Wagtail, 155 Meadow Pipit, 18 Rock Pipit, 5 Chaffinch, 3 Twite, 1 Snow Bunting, 1 Reed Bunting

Year List: 91
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5-6th April 2021
Weather:
Prevailing northerly wind gusting up to around 75mph and regular heavy snow showers on both days, with the wind speeds decreasing very slightly on 6th
The continuing wintery weather has put a stop to census for 3 days now, and most other birding as well, as the team are getting on with indoor jobs and getting outside for a look around when it’s not snowing. There looks like there is a short break in the weather tomorrow afternoon, so hopefully we will be able to get some form of census in - maybe one of us will stumble across something that’s been blown down from the Arctic, such as Snowy Owl, Gyrfalcon or King Eider!

HIGHLIGHTS:
Tundra Bean Goose:
still present on 5th
‘European White-fronted Goose’: 2 still present on both days
Great Tit: still present at Schoolhouse both days

Other sightings
:
1 Barnacle Goose, 1 Pink-footed Goose, 1 Woodpigeon, 6 Purple Sandpiper, 1 Black-headed Gull, 2 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 1 Bonxie, 2 Merlin, 1 Peregrine, 3 Carrion Crow, 2 Blackbird, 8 Redwing, 1 Wheatear (first of the year, in South Harbour), 2 Pied Wagtail, 3 Chaffinch, 1 Twite


Redwing feeding amongst the snow (photo by AW Alex Penn)

Year List: 91
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4th April 2021
Weather: w
esterly breeze turning northerly and increasing throughout the day, bringing snow showers in the afternoon and evening
The strong winds and weather coming down from the Arctic stopped any census work today, and the outlook for tomorrow is looking even worse - sightings are from a drive around the island and a couple of wanders around Skadan.


Snowy scenes at Skadan late this afternoon (photo by Georgia Platt)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Tundra Bean Goose:
still present
Great Tit: still present at Schoolhouse

Other sightings:
1 Barnacle Goose, 17 Pink-footed Goose, 5 Teal, 1 Golden Plover, 29 Ringed Plover, 184 Turnstone, 15 Purple Sandpiper, 2 Black-headed Gull, 4 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 1 Peregrine, 4 Blackbird, 2 Fieldfare, 13 Redwing, 1 Pied Wagtail, 3 Scandinavian Rock Pipit, 3 Chaffinch, 1 Reed Bunting

Year List: 90
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3rd April 2021
Weather:
Overcast with low cloud coming in late afternoon, with a strong W/NW wind.

HIGHLIGHTS:
‘European White-fronted Goose’:
2 still present
Tundra Bean Goose: still present

Other sightings:
1 Barnacle Goose, 46 Greylag Goose, 18 Pink-footed Goose, 17 Teal, 4 Long-tailed Duck (west past South Light), 4 Woodpigeon, 40 Oystercatcher, 12 Lapwing, 2 Golden Plover, 51 Ringed Plover, 14 Curlew, 34 Turnstone, 4 Purple Sandpiper, 18 Snipe, 26 Redshank, 1 Black-headed Gull, 8 Common Gull, 1 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 2 Bonxie, 65 Puffin (all at sea), 2 Great Northern Diver, 1 Merlin, 4 Carrion Crow, 209 Skylark, 19 Blackbird, 3 Fieldfare, 24 Redwing, 2 Pied Wagtail, 1 White Wagtail, 73 Meadow Pipit, 23 Rock Pipit, 3 Chaffinch, 11 Twite, 4 Snow Bunting


Snow Bunting by Dan Gornall

Year List: 90
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2nd April 2021
Weather:
Another clear sunny day with a slightly stronger NW breeze

HIGHLIGHTS:
‘European White-fronted Goose’:
2 still present

Other sightings
:
1 Barnacle Goose, 40 Greylag Goose, 2 Pink-footed Goose, 4 Teal, 1 Woodpigeon, 31 Oystercatcher, 9 Lapwing, 5 Golden Plover, 12 Ringed Plover, 16 Curlew, 50 Turnstone, 2 Purple Sandpiper, 22 Snipe, 16 Redshank, 5 Common Gull, 4 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 2 Puffin, 1 Cormorant (same juvenile), 3 Carrion Crow, 159 Skylark, 1 Goldcrest, 8 Blackbird, 3 Fieldfare, 13 Redwing, 1 Robin, 1 Stonechat, 1 Dunnock, 2 Pied Wagtail, 69 Meadow Pipit, 29 Rock Pipit, 2 Scandinavian Rock Pipit, 2 Chaffinch, 2 Twite, 1 Linnet

Year List: 90
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1st April 2021
Weather:
A calm morning turned into a stunning day of blue skies and sunshine with a slight northerly breeze
Today marked the first day of spring census, as well as the start of the seabird monitoring season. The wardening team were out at 0630 this morning to survey for Tysties down the East coast of the Isle, then Alex, Dan and Georgia headed out into their census areas for the rest of the morning. A gorgeous day with a spring-like feel - still quiet for birds, but nevertheless nice to be out and about before the weather takes a turn for the worse next week.

HIGHLIGHTS:
Tundra Bean Goose:
Still present
European White-fronted Goose: 2 still present
Shelduck: 1 in South Harbour (first of the year)
Great Tit: still around Schoolhouse/Chalet

Other sightings
:
1 Barnacle Goose, 61 Greylag Goose, 2 Pink-footed Goose, 11 Teal, 5 Woodpigeon, 35 Oystercatcher, 6 Lapwing, 3 Golden Plover, 38 Ringed Plover, 12 Curlew, 56 Turnstone, 6 Purple Sandpiper, 3 Snipe, 15 Redshank, 4 Black-headed Gull, 6 Common Gull, 210 Tystie (east-coast survey), 14 Puffin, 1 Blue Fulmar, 1 Cormorant (same juvenile), 1 Merlin, 1 Peregrine, 3 Carrion Crow, 157 Skylark, 2 Goldcrest, 12 Blackbird, 3 Fieldfare, 13 Redwing, Song Thrush, 4 Pied Wagtail, 2 White Wagtail, 72 Meadow Pipit, 40 Rock Pipit, 4 Scandinavian Rock Pipit, 1 Chaffinch, 18 Twite, 4 Linnet, 2 Snow Bunting, 1 Reed Bunting
(5 Domestic Geese still present on Meoness)


Blue Fulmar at Easter Lother showing off for Alex as he took some amazing photos!

Year List: 90
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31st March 2021
Weather:
A fresh northerly breeze with sunny spells
A slightly calmer day, where the team practiced their Tystie surveying method in preparation for early tomorrow morning, which will mark the beginning of the seabird monitoring for the season.


HIGHLIGHTS:
Common Scoter:
female at Ditfield (first of the year)
Stock Dove:
same bird at Obs
Iceland Gull:
2cy bird in North Haven
Great Tit:
same bird at Schoolhouse


Stock Dove by Alex Penn

Other sightings
: 1 Pink-footed Goose, 7 Teal, 1 Woodpigeon, 25 Golden Plover, 33 Ringed Plover, 52 Purple Sandpiper, 1 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 3 Bonxie (first of the year), 7 Puffin (first of the year), 1 Cormorant (same juvenile hanging around South Harbour/Muckle Uri Geo), 1 Merlin, 2 Carrion Crow, 4 Blackbird, 3 Fieldfare, 2 Redwing, 1 Song Thrush, 3 Pied Wagtail, 1 White Wagtail (first of the year), 4 Scandinavian Rock Pipit, 2 Chaffinch, 1 Lesser Redpoll
(5 Domestic Geese turned up on Meoness also)


Purple Sandpiper by Alex Penn

Year List: 89
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11th - 30th March 2021
Weather: Generally strong winds over the last couple of weeks, with varying amounts of sunshine, rain and mist.
The seasonal staff (same team as last year - Assistant Wardens Alex & Dan and Ranger Georgia) all managed to arrive on the Isle on 15th March to start the season. Since then, they have been repairing traps and birding in general, waiting patiently for the first migrants to show up! Since the 15th there have been some hints of movement, including Chiffchaff, Stonechat and a handful of thrushes moving through.

HIGHLIGHTS:
Glaucous Gull:
on 18th a 2cy bird was at Ditfield, on 28th a 2cy bird was seen over Malcolm’s Head, on 29th and 30th a 2cy bird was sighted but was a different individual to the MH bird
Great Tit:
still present throughout at Schoolhouse, although was sighted at Obs on 27th
Great Northern Diver: one off South Light on 30th March
Lapland Bunting: a male bird with a Skylark flock was seen on 25th (first of the year) at Skadan and the same bird was at Quoy the next day.
‘Dark-bellied’ Brent Goose: sighted flying past South Light on 24th and could be identified as a Brent Goose, then on 25th it had joined the long-staying goose flock and could be identified as the ‘Dark-bellied’ variant, the least common of the two colour morphs that occur on Fair Isle.
Tundra Bean Goose: still present throughout
‘European White-fronted Goose’: the 2 are still present throughout
Stock Dove: one at the Obs scrape on 27th was then resighted on 30th in the same place


Tundra Bean Goose by Alex Penn

Other sightings:

Greylag Goose (present, highest count was 58 on 21st), Barnacle Goose, 2 Pink-footed Goose, Whooper Swan (at Da Water on 26th), 2 Wigeon (a pair seen on five occasions throughout), Teal (present on Da Water, highest count was 12 on 22nd and 23rd), 2 Red-breasted Merganser (a smart drake in South Harbour on 15th and stayed for 3 days, then a female-type in North Haven on 30th), Woodpigeon (highest count of 5 on 29th), Water Rail (one at Quoy on 12th and one at Burkle on 18th), Lapwing (present, highest count was 30 on 23rd), Golden Plover (present on 21st until 25th with a max count of 4, then a single on 30th), Ringed Plover (present, peak count of 60 on 11th), Curlew (present, peak count of 14 on 26th), Turnstone (present, highest count of 144 on 17th), Purple Sandpiper (present most days, highest count of 17 on 15th), Kittiwake (present from 15th, count of 32 at the Holms colonies on 27th), Black-headed Gull (present most days from 16th, peak count of 3), Great Black-backed Gull (present, max count of 192 on 26th), Lesser Black-backed Gull (first of the year was on 15th, then present from 23rd with a max count of 4 on 30th), 3 Blue Fulmar (individuals sighted on 15th, 16th and 18th past South Light), 2 Cormorant (present most days from 19th, 1 juvenile in the South and 1 adult flying over), Sparrowhawk (24th over Buness), Short-eared Owl (17th at Gilsetter), Merlin (present most days, max count of 2 on 15th and 27th), Peregrine (adult male seen on 11th, 16th and 24th), 2 Rook (juvenile seen on 17th and 18th, adult on 24th), Carrion Crow (present, max count of 3 on several dates), Hooded Crow (present, flock of 19 appeared on 19th), 1 hybrid Hooded Crow (22nd), Skylark (present, peak count of 136 on 23rd), Chiffchaff (first of the year at the Haa on 15th and one ringed at Plantation on 27th), Goldcrest (one at Gully on 27th, first of the year), Blackbird (present with max count of 11 on 17th, female seen with nesting material at Shirva on 27th), Fieldfare (present most days, max counts of 3 on a few dates), Redwing (present most days, max count of 7 on 27th, mostly seem to be Icelandic-type birds), Song Thrush (1 on 17th, 2 on 23rd and 24th), Robin (present most days, max count of 4 on 17th), Stonechat (present on 8 days in this period, peak count of 5 on 15th), Dunnock (first of the year on 25th at Schoolhouse, 2 on 26th with one at the Obs as well), Grey Wagtail (first for the year on 15th, one at South Harbour on 29th), Pied Wagtail (first for the year on 22nd, then present with a max count of 4 on 25th and 30th), Meadow Pipit (present from 21st, peak count of 35 on 25th), Scandinavian Rock Pipit (1 on 24th was followed by several sightings for the rest of this time period, with 5 on 29th and 30th), Chaffinch (present from 21st, with max count of 5 on 30th), Twite (present on 8 dates, peak count of 10 on 17th), Linnet (1 on 25th at Burkle, 1 on 30th), Lesser Redpoll (same individual present most days), Snow Bunting (sightings on 7 dates in this period, with a max count of 8 on 23rd), Reed Bunting (first for the year on 23rd at Quoy, seen again on 24th and 27th)

Present but not counted:
Mallard, Eider, Rock Dove, Oystercatcher, Snipe, Redshank, Common Gull, Herring Gull, Guillemot (present from 15th), Razorbill (present from 15th), Tystie, Fulmar, Gannet, Shag, Raven, Fair Isle Wren, Starling, House Sparrow, Rock Pipit

Year List: 86

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6th-10th March 2021
Weather:
variable winds, but sometimes stronger from the SW, some heavy rain, although mostly dry.

HIGHLIGHTS:
Great Tit:
still present daily at Schoolhouse
Tundra Bean Goose: present with Greylags (and two 'European White-fronted Geese') until 9th at least

Other records of note:
Woodpigeon: Quoy, 6th.
Woodcock: one at Upper Stoneybrek (first of the month)
Blackbird: maximum of 8, although a few in 'new' places suggested some light movement
Stonechat: still at least three present

Other wildlife:
Common Frog:
spawn at Golden Water and the Obs scrape on 8th, although probably present for a few days before that

Year List:
73
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1st-5th March 2021
Weather:
largely dry with sunny spells, although cold at times with a NW wind (that brought an attempt at wintry showers) becoming WSW later

HIGHLIGHTS:
Great Tit:
still present
Tundra Bean Goose: still present in the Greylag flock

Other sightings (highest counts in period unless otherwise stated):
Barnacle Goose, 48 Greylag Goose, 2 Pink-footed Goose, 2 'European White-fronted Goose', 2 Wigeon, 21 Teal, Long-tailed Duck, 2 Water Ril (Schoolhouse and Chalet), 16 Oystercatcher, Golden Plover, 38 Ringed Plover, 16 Curlew (with display noted from 3rd), 32 Purple Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, 7 Common Gull, Great Northern Diver (South Harbour, 4th), 'blue' Fulmar (off South Light, 3rd), Cormorant (1st), Sparrowhawk (2cy male, Schoolhouse, 1st), 2 Merlin, 2 Carrion Crow, 510 Starling (large flocks gathering in the crofts), 8 Blackbird, 3 Fieldfare, 2 Redwing, Song Thrush, 3 Robin, Black Redstart (South Light 5th; first of the year), 5 Stonechat (peak on 4th), 7 Twite, Lesser Redpoll.

Other species present but not counted:
Mallard, Eider, Rock Dove, Lapwing, Turnstone, Snipe (with displaying from 3rd), Redshank, Great Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Guillemot (ashore on 1st, but not 2nd), Tystie, Gannet, Shag, Hooded Crow, Raven, Skylark, 'Fair Isle Wren' (with singing noted from 1st), House Sparrow, Rock Pipit.

Other wildlife:
Risso's Dolphin:
at least five put on a good show off South Harbour on 3rd, an unusualy early record

Year List:
73
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26th-28th February 2021
Weather: SW winds, moderate, milder with sunshine

HIGHLIGHTS:
Great Tit:
still present

Other records of note:
Teal: 17 on 26th; highest count of month
Shoveler: female on Da Water on 28th; first of the year
Ringed Plover: increasing to 12 by end of month
Razorbill: five dead in the Haven and South Harbour on 27th/28th was an unusual, and worrying, record
Sparrowhawk: Barkland and Schoolhouse area 27th-28th
Skylark: at least 200 by the end of the month
Mistle Thrush: one on 26th
Stonechat: female at Meadow Burn on 27th
Snow Bunting: 3 at Quoy on 26th, one still on 28th

Year List:
72
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21st-25th February 2021
Weather:
warming up a bit (or milding up a bit at least), winds from SE to SW, usually moderate, although stronger at times.

HIGHLIGHTS:
Great Tit:
still at Schoolhouse

Other records of note:
Teal: 13 on 22nd; highest count of month
Woodpigeon: one at Lower Stoneybrek from 25th; first of the year
Lapwing: increasing to 34
Cormorant: 2 on 22nd; first record of the month
Skylark: rapid increase in numbers from 22nd (when the first singing bird was also heard), peaking at 90 on 24th
Mistle Thrush: one at Gilsetter on 22nd; first of the year
Stonechat: 5 on 22nd (pairs at Upper Stoneybrek and Chalet and a male at North Light); first of the year
Snow Bunting: 2 at Quoy on 25th; second record of the year

Year List:
71
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16th-20th February 2021
Weather:
still mostly cold, with some rainy spells but also some sunshine, with wind largley from the SE or SSE still.

HIGHLIGHTS:
Tundra Bean Goose:
still present
Great Tit:
still at Schoolhouse

Other records of note:
Red-breasted Merganser: female in the North Haven on 18th; first of the month
Lapwing: arrival from 18th, peaking at 25 on 20th
Ringed Plover: 2 from 17th increasing to 9 on 20th; first of the year (two days later than first arrival in 2019)
Woodcock: one in Gully on 17th
Gannet: ashore from 20th
Merlin: at least two present
Skylark: five from 19th; first of the year (five days later than first arrival in 2019)
Twite: five on 19th; first of the month

Year List:
67
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11th-15th February 2021
Weather:
Very cold, with snow and ice until the end of the period, when stronger winds from the SE brought a thaw.

HIGHLIGHTS:
Glaucous Gull:
2cy at South Light on 13th
Tundra Bean Goose:
the long-stayer still present
Great Tit:
still present throughout, usually at Schoolhouse

Other records of note:
'European White-fronted Goose': still 2 (along with a Barnacle Goose)
Goldeneye: male in the Haven 13th-14th; first of the month
Oystercatcher: numbers building, with 19 by 14th
Red-throated Diver: North Haven, 15th; first of the year and an unusual winter record
Sparrowhawk: 13th; first of the year
Long-eared Owl: Obs
Merlin: 14th-15th; first of the month

Year List:
65
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6th-10th February 2021
Weather:
still cold, icy throughout with wintry showers that brought lying snow on 9th. Wind predominantly from the east.

HIGHLIGHTS:
Glaucous Gull:
2cy at South Light on 9th
Tundra Bean Goose:
one still present
Great Tit:
the female at Schoolhouse still present

Other records of note:
Barnacle Goose: one from 7th; first of the year
'European White-fronted Goose': still 2 x 2cy (along with two Pink-feet to complete the full goose compliment)
Curlew: a hard-weather movement on 9th brought an impressive 113 to the Isle (numbers so far this winter had generally been under 20), although most had gone by 10th
Woodcock: one on 8th and 2 on 9th were presumably hard-weather migrants
Jack Snipe: still up to 6 most days, although they seemed to move on from 9th
Snipe: lots arriving early in the period, with at least 83 on 9th, althouh fewer on 10th

Year List: 63
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1st-5th February 2021
Weather:
cold, with icy spells and snow at times, mostly light or moderate NE or N winds, although stronger from ENE on 5th

HIGHLIGHTS:
Iceland Gull:
2cy on 5th
Glaucous Gull:
2 x 2cy on 5th with one on 2nd, and a 3cy on 4th
Tundra Bean Goose:
one still throughout
Great Tit:
female still at Schoolhouse

Other records of note:
'European White-fronted Goose': 2 x 2cy still
Jack Snipe: 4 on 4th and 5 on 5th, with an increase in Snipe (e.g. 61+ on 5th) also noted

Year List: 62
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LATE NEWS: a buzzard species seen on the Isle on 1st September 2019 (having been seen in Shetland earlier in the day) has been retrospectively identified as a 2cy LONG-LEGGED BUZZARD, a first British record if accepted by BBRC and BOU. See https://www.birdguides.com/articles/rarity-finders-long-legged-buzzard-in-shetland/ for details.

26th-31st January 2021
Weather:
largely dry, bright and cold, with a light or moderate N or NW wind

HIGHLIGHTS:
Glaucous Gull:
2 x 2cy on 26th
Tundra Bean Goose:
one still present
Great Tit:
female still at Schoolhouse

Other records of note:
Greylag Goose: some movement noted, with 174 on 29th
Pink-footed Goose: 2 still present
'European White-fronted Goose': 2 on 26th were presumably lingering birds
Red-breasted Merganser: a drake in South Harbour on 26th; first of the year
Oystercatcher: increased to three by the end of the period
Lapwing: 7 on 28th was the highest count of the year so far
Jack Snipe: 6 on 29th was a high count for the season and presumably weather related given the icy conditions (with more Snipe noted on 29th as well), with one still the next day
Snow Bunting: female at Skadan on 31st; first of the year

Year List: 62
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21st-25th January 2021
Weather:
bits of all sorts, with some very strong NW wind and rain at first, some calmer days with SW winds later then ending with a calm, icy day

HIGHLIGHTS:
Glaucous Gull:
single 2cy on 21st and 25th
Tundra Bean Goose:
one still with the Greylags
Great Tit:
still at Schoolhouse

Other records of note:
Teal: 18 on 25th was the highest count of the year
Oystercatcher: one on 23rd, just the second of the year

Year List: 60 (Black-headed Gull and Kittiwake both added to the year list during this period)
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16th-20th January 2021
Weather:
windier (with variable NW, SE and SW winds), some more rain, especially on 20th and rather cold

HIGHLIGHTS:
Iceland Gull:
3cy on Vaasetter on 20th
Glaucous Gull:
adult at Ditfield on 17th then 3 x 2cy at Vaasetter on 20th
Tundra Bean Goose:
one still lingering
Great Tit:
one still at Schoolhouse

Other records of note:
Goldeneye: two males on 17th
Dunlin: one feeing with Turnstone on 20th (first of the year)
Woodcock: one on Rippack on 17th and two at School Brae on 20th (first of the year)
Merlin: male and female
Mealy Redpoll: 3 still at Schoolhouse
Lesser Redpoll: still at Schoolhouse

Other wildlife:
Killer Whale: at least two were seen from the Good Shepherd IV 12 miles north of the Isle on 19th; first sighting of the year for Fair Isle

Year List: 58 (the highest total for this date since 2016; the range since 2014 has been 52-58 species by 20th January)
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11th-15th January 2021
Weather:
cold, with variable winds, showery with frequent bright spells.

HIGHLIGHTS:
Iceland Gull:
a 1cy at Da Water on 14th (first of the year)
Glaucous Gull:
3 (adult and 2 x 2cy) at Ditfield on 12th, 2cy at South Green on 15th
Tundra Bean Goose:
one still lingering
Great Tit:
one still on the Schoolhouse peanuts

Other records of note:
Pink-footed Goose: 2 from 11th (first of the year)
'European White-fronted Goose': 2 juveniles still
Goldeneye: male from 12th, with a second of 15th (first of the year)
Water Rail: wintering birds still at Schoolhouse, Chalet and Plantation
Moorhen: the bird found at Haa on 23rd December reappeared there on 13th-14th (first of the year)
Purple Sandpiper: one in South Harbour on 13th (first of the year)
Jack Snipe: one flushed from Rippack on 14th (first of the year)
Cormorant: one on 13th (first of the year)
Merlin: male and female
Mealy Redpoll: 3 lingering birds at Schoolhouse (the species is not a regular winterer)
Lesser Redpoll: lingering bird with the Mealy Redpolls at Schoolhouse (a very rare species in winter)

Year List: 56
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6th-10th January 2021
Weather:
calmer weather at first, then some strong NW then SW winds. Some bright spells, with wintry showers at times.
Very little in the way of movement, which is not surprising for this time of year. Some pleasant weather (and some that wasn't that that pleasant but looked nice from inside), but little else to report
.

HIGHLIGHTS:
Glaucous Gull:
two 2cy at Ditfield on 7th
Tundra Bean Goose:
one still present
Great Tit:
one still present, mostly around Schoolhouse

Other records of note:
'European White-fronted Goose': 2 lingering juveniles
Long-tailed Duck: 2 still in North
Water Rail: wintering birds still at Schoolhouse and Chalet
Lapwing: 5 from 6th were the first of the year
Golden Plover: 2 on 10th were the first of the year
Merlin: male on 6th-7th
Peregrine: adult female over Buness on 6th was the first of the year
Meadow Pipit: two at Shirva on 7th were the first of the year (sightings in winter are scarce, with the majority of the population leaving the Isle at this season)
Twite: one at Chalet on 7th was the first of the year
Mealy Redpoll: 2 lingering birds at Schoolhouse (the species is not a regular winterer)

Other wildlife:
20 Harbour Porpoise seen from the Good Shepherd about four miles north of the Isle on 6th

Year List: 49
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1st-5th January 2021
Weather:
the year opened with fresh northerly winds before high pressure saw a calm spell. Showers gave way to sunny spells. Cool, but bright.
A distinctly less than average
total of 37 species on the first day of the year did include a couple of less-than-annual birds, as well as a few other scarce winter records. A few more birds were racked up over the next few days, although mostly stuff that was likely to be lingering around the Isle; there certainly doesn't seem to be much happening in the way of movement. Weather-wise, it was a very pleasant start to 2021 and there's plenty to look forward to this year. We'd like to thank you all for your support during the difficult last couple of years, wish you all the best for the year ahead, and look forward to hopefully seeing you soon.

HIGHLIGHTS:
Glaucous Gull:
3 in Ditfield on 5th (all 2cy)
Tundra Bean Goose:
one still with Greylags
Great Tit:
one still at the Schoolhouse feeders

Other sightings (counts refer to high count during period unless otherwise stated):
129 Greylag Goose, 2 'European White-fronted Goose' (juveniles), 11 Wigeon, 11 Teal, 4 Long-tailed Duck, 4 Water Rail (Chalet, Schoolhouse, Lower Leogh and Plantation), Oystercatcher (first returning bird in Haven on 5th), 15 Curlew, 48 Redshank, Guillemot (back on cliffs on 5th), Razorbill (Furse, 5th), Great Northern Diver (fishing off Buness, 5th), Long-eared Owl (Gully, 1st), Short-eared Owl (Gilsetter, 3rd), Merlin, 2 Carrion Crow (resident birds), 15 Blackbird, 6 Fieldfare, 20 Redwing, Song Thrush (Schoolton), 6 Robin, 3 'Mealy Redpoll' (School Brae), Lesser Redpoll (School Brae).

Other species recorded:
Mallard, Eider, Rock Dove, Turnstone, Snipe, Common Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Tystie, Fulmar, Gannet, Shag, Hooded Crow, Raven, Wren, Starling, House Sparrow, Rock Pipit.

Other wildlife:
6+ Harbour Porpoise off Buness on 5th; a rare winter sighting, no doubt helped by the unseasonably calm seas

Year List:
44

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