Fair Isle Bird Observatory Rebuild Appeal

Wild Edges by Inge Thomson

Singer and multi-instrumentalist Inge Thomson comes from Fair Isle and now makes powerful and evocative music, much of it inspired by the environment and her place within it. Following this theme, Inge has composed and co-performs Wild Edges, proceeds from the sale of which will go entirely towards the FIBO rebuild appeal.

In addition to Inge’s musical input, the track Wild Edges features Phil Cunningham, Chris Stout and Jenny Sturgeon and a cameo sound bite from ex-Good Shepherd skipper Jimmy Stout plus a variety of birds!

We thank Inge enormously for her generosity and her support of our rebuild appeal. Please support Inge, and the appeal, by donating as you download the track from the FIBO Bandcamp webpage.

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

11th June 2021
Weather:
low cloud and rain from mid-morning to early afternoon, followed by patchy sun with a force 5-6 WSW wind
Sudden drizzle and rain mid-morning put a halt to census, which was resumed again in the afternoon when the weather had brightened up a bit. A few bits around today, including a couple of new adult Rosy Starlings, as well as the long-staying Calandra Lark being sighted again and a Quail at Quoy.

Adult female Rosy Starling at Stackhoull (photo by AW Dan Gornall)

HIGHLIGHTS:
CALANDRA LARK: still present
Quail: one at Quoy
Rose-coloured Starling: two adult birds present

Other sightings: 24 Greylag Goose, 2 Tufted Duck (Da Water), 2 Swift, 2 Cuckoo, 6 Woodpigeon, 2 Collared Dove, 68 Oystercatcher, 10 Lapwing, 30 Ringed Plover, 1 Whimbrel, 8 Curlew, 1 Turnstone, 7 Snipe, 5 Black-headed Gull, 10 Common Gull, 12 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 1 Red-throated Diver, 1 Short-eared Owl, 3 Kestrel, 6 Carrion Crow, 40 Skylark, 17 Swallow, 2 Chiffchaff, 2 Blackcap, 1 Garden Warbler, 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 1 Whitethroat, 3 Robin, 59 Wheatear, 3 Pied Wagtail, 54 Meadow Pipit, 43 Rock Pipit, 17 Twite, 1 Linnet, 3 Mealy Redpoll

Year List: 172

Other wildlife: 6 Shetland Bee
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10th June 2021
Weather:
mostly overcast with patchy sun and a force 5-6 southerly wind
Another productive day of census and seabird monitoring and counting, where we got a good chunk more of the counting sections done between us all. Razorbill and Shag plots were visited in the afternoon, but sadly it was too windy for any Guillemot plot monitoring, and the wind looks like it will persist or even strengthen for another few days yet. Late morning we all had great views of the partial solar eclipse through the gaps in the cloud - very cool to see!

Partial solar eclipse - amazing shot! (photo by AW Alex Penn)

Still a couple of Marsh Warblers around, and Dan spruced things up a bit by finding a Calandra Lark at the base of Malcolm's Head - after some photo comparisons, it appears to be the same bird that was last sighted on the 4th around Meadow Burn, so it has done quite a good job of not being picked up by anyone over the last week!

HIGHLIGHTS:
CALANDRA LARK: a reappearance from the Meadow Burn bird, last seen on the 4th
Red-backed Shrike: female at Meadow Burn
Marsh Warbler: two birds present; one at Schoolton and one at Hjunki

Other sightings: 4 Greylag Goose, 2 Teal, 1 Swift, 1 Cuckoo, 4 Woodpigeon, 1 Collared Dove, 77 Oystercatcher, 9 Lapwing, 34 Ringed Plover, 3 Whimbrel, 10 Curlew, 4 Turnstone, 2 Dunlin, 1 Redshank, 12 Common Gull, 13 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 1 Great Northern Diver, 1 Peregrine, 7 Carrion Crow, 47 Skylark, 11 Swallow, 1 House Martin, 1 Willow Warbler, 4 Chiffchaff, 6 Blackcap, 2 Garden Warbler, 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 1 Whitethroat, 2 Blackbird, 2 Robin, 65 Wheatear, 8 Pied Wagtail, 1 alba Wagtail sp., 40 Meadow Pipit, 53 Rock Pipit, 47 Twite, 1 Linnet, 2 Mealy Redpoll, 1 Siskin

Arctic Tern nest at the colony on Buness (photo by Ranger Georgia Platt)

Year List: 172

Other wildlife: 9 Shetland Bee, 1 Painted Lady
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9th June 2021
Weather:
a pleasant morning with mostly drizzle and some heavier rain in the afternoon and a force 4-5 southerly wind
A productive day of seabird monitoring today, as the team visited their Guillemot and Fulmar plots in the morning and started on whole island counts of some breeding seabird species in the afternoon. Karen, Paul and Glen from FIBOT's Science Committee are over on the Isle until Monday to crack on with these counts, so we should get a fair amount done in the next few days! A female Red-backed Shrike, female Crossbill and a few Marsh Warblers were the best of the migrants sighted today.

Cuckoo at Bull's Park (photo by AW Dan Gornall)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Red-backed Shrike: female at the base of Malcolm's Head
Marsh Warbler: three birds present; two singing at Vaila's Trees and one in Plantation (trapped and ringed)

Other sightings: 1 Swift, 1 Cuckoo, 3 Woodpigeon, 14 Lapwing, 3 Whimbrel, 8 Curlew, 1 Redshank, 2 Black-headed Gull, 6 Common Gull, 2 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 2 Great Northern Diver, 1 Kestrel, 7 Carrion Crow, 8 Swallow, 1 House Martin, 4 Chiffchaff, 1 Blackcap, 3 Garden Warbler, 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 2 Whitethroat, 3 Blackbird, 1 Song Thrush, 3 Robin, 4 Pied Wagtail, 1 Mealy Redpoll, 1 Common Crossbill (female)

Year List: 172

Other wildlife: 4 Shetland Bee, 1 Red Admiral, 1 Harbour Seal (at Hesti Geo)
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8th June 2021
Weather:
heavy fog until mid-afternoon with a force 3-4 southerly wind
Thick fog for most of the day gave us a good chance to catch up on some indoor jobs and seabird-related admin, before heading out for some birding when the fog lifted mid-afternoon. A few Marsh Warblers around today, along with a Rosy Starling at Plantation and a Quail singing south of Houll.

A simultaneously foggy and sunny North Haven mid-afternoon (photo by Ranger Georgia Platt)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Quail: one singing south of Houll
Marsh Warbler: three birds present; two singing at Vaila's Trees (one trapped and ringed) and one at the Haa
Rose-coloured Starling: two birds present; adult and 2cy roosting at Obs Garden in the evening

Marsh Warbler in the hand at Vaila's Trees (photo by AW Alex Penn)

Other sightings: 1 Cuckoo, 2 Woodpigeon, 3 Whimbrel, 8 Curlew, 6 Turnstone, 1 Sanderling, 1 Common Sandpiper, 2 Redshank, 3 Common Gull, 1 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 2 Great Northern Diver, 1 Short-eared Owl, 8 Carrion Crow, 5 Swallow, 5 Chiffchaff, 1 Blackcap, 3 Garden Warbler, 2 Lesser Whitethroat, 2 Whitethroat, 1 Blackbird, 1 Song Thrush, 4 Robin, 2 Pied Wagtail

A nest of two-day old Skylark chicks near the airstrip - check out those spotted tongues! (photo by AW Alex Penn)

Year List: 172

Other wildlife: 8 Shetland Bee, 3 Red Admiral
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7th June 2021
Weather:
mostly overcast with sunny spells and a force 3-4 SSE wind
Census in the morning was overall quiet, with a couple of new birds in, including a Wood Warbler ringed at Plantation and yet another Rustic Bunting at Field Ditch. The Turtle Dove was still present this morning, as well as two Rosy Starlings still in the Hill Dyke area. The afternoon was spent at our Guillemot and Fulmar monitoring plots, then we met at the Kirk to ring a brood of four very cute Curlew chicks and a Meadow Pipit brood.

Curlew chicks in the hand near the Kirk (photo by Ranger Georgia Platt)

HIGHLIGHTS:
RUSTIC BUNTING: a female at Field Ditch - the 6th (at the least) record this spring
Turtle Dove: still present
Marsh Warbler: two singing at Vaila's Trees
Rosefinch: brown bird at Chalet
Rose-coloured Starling: two birds present; 2cy and an adult

Female Rustic Bunting at Field Ditch (photo by AW Dan Gornall)

Other sightings: 1 Greylag Goose, 2 Cuckoo, 3 Woodpigeon, 6 Collared Dove, 1 Moorhen (still Da Water), 92 Oystercatcher, 12 Lapwing, 1 Golden Plover, 32 Ringed Plover, 7 Whimbrel, 11 Curlew, 8 Turnstone, 1 Sanderling, 2 Dunlin, 6 Snipe, 2 Redshank, 5 Common Gull, 1 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 1 Great Northern Diver, 1 Short-eared Owl, 1 Kestrel, 5 Carrion Crow, 51 Skylark, 3 Swallow, 1 Wood Warbler (trapped in Plantation), 1 Willow Warbler, 3 Chiffchaff, 1 Sedge Warbler, 1 Blackcap, 6 Garden Warbler, 2 Lesser Whitethroat, 1 Whitethroat, 3 Blackbird, 1 Song Thrush, 2 Robin, 1 Black Redstart, 59 Wheatear, 5 Pied Wagtail, 65 Meadow Pipit, 55 Rock Pipit, 26 Twite, 1 Siskin, 1 Snow Bunting

Year List: 172

Other wildlife: 7 Shetland Bee, 1 Red Admiral, 2 Painted Lady, 1 Diamond-backed Moth, 1 Basking Shark (sighted very distantly off South Light)
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6th June 2021
Weather:
patchy fog in the north but otherwise bright and sunny with a force 3-4 WNW wind
A nice day to be out, with a few nice birds on the Isle as well. A Red-breasted Flycatcher was found at Utra by Steve, followed by three Rosy Starlings at Pund/Hill Dyke, consisting of two adults and a 2cy bird - one of the adults and the 2cy are the same birds that have been around for the last couple of days. A Wood Sandpiper at Da Water was a nice find from Alex, who continued on to flush a Turtle Dove from the fire station towards Barkland, where it stayed in the Barkland/Chalet/Upper Stoneybrek area for a few hours which allowed a few people to come and have a look. A gorgeous bird, but sadly declining rapidly, so it was very nice to see one here.

Turtle Dove at Barkland (photo by AW Alex Penn)


HIGHLIGHTS:
Turtle Dove: one at Barkland - new for the year
Red-breasted Flycatcher: one at Utra - first of the year
Rose-coloured Starling: three birds present - two adults and one 2cy

Two of the three Rose-coloured Starlings present on the Isle today at Pund/Hill Dyke (photo by Fair Isle regular Steve Arlow)

Other sightings: 2 Teal, 1 Common Scoter (female South Harbour), 2 Cuckoo, 5 Woodpigeon, 1 Collared Dove, 1 Moorhen (still Da Water), 78 Oystercatcher, 19 Lapwing, 22 Ringed Plover, 2 Whimbrel, 9 Curlew, 4 Sanderling, 2 Dunlin, 8 Snipe, 1 Redshank, 1 Wood Sandpiper , 1 Black-headed Gull, 13 Common Gull, 6 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 123 Arctic Tern, 2 Great Northern Diver, 1 Sparrowhawk, 5 Carrion Crow, 41 Skylark, 13 Swallow, 1 Willow Warbler, 5 Chiffchaff, 1 Reed Warbler, 3 Garden Warbler, 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 3 Whitethroat, 3 Blackbird, 1 Fieldfare, 1 Song Thrush, 1 Robin, 47 Wheatear, 1 Tree Sparrow, 3 Pied Wagtail, 1 alba Wagtail sp., 54 Meadow Pipit, 1 Tree Pipit, 23 Rock Pipit, 26 Twite, 2 Mealy Redpoll

Cuckoo posing nicely at Barkland (photo by AW Alex Penn)

Year List: 172

Other wildlife: 24 Shetland Bee, 1 Red Admiral, 1 Painted Lady (first of the year), 1 Silver Y, 5 Diamond-backed Moth

Painted Lady enjoying the Thrift on Meoness (photo by AW Alex Penn)
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5th June 2021
Weather:
overcast in the morning with bright sun in the afternoon and evening, with a force 3 SE wind
Another stunning summer's day, which saw a fairly quiet census, some Guillemot monitoring in the afternoon and would you know it - another Rosy Starling as predicted! This bird was a smart adult, different to yesterday's 2cy bird.

Adult Rosy Starling at Pund (photo by AW Dan Gornall)


HIGHLIGHTS:
Quail: one at Skinner's Glig
Marsh Warbler: four birds present
Icterine Warbler: two birds present at Lower Leogh, both now ringed
Rosefinch: two brown birds at Burkle
Rose-coloured Starling: adult at Setter/Pund - different from yesterdays

Marsh Warbler at Utra (photo by AW Dan Gornall)

Other sightings: 3 Greylag Goose, 2 Teal, 1 Tufted Duck (male on Da Water), 1 Common Scoter (female South Harbour), 2 Swift, 2 Cuckoo, 13 Woodpigeon, 1 Collared Dove, 1 Moorhen (Da Water - first of the year), 78 Oystercatcher, 11 Lapwing, 1 Golden Plover, 31 Ringed Plover, 5 Whimbrel, 13 Curlew, 5 Turnstone, 3 Dunlin, 10 Snipe, 2 Redshank, 4 Black-headed Gull, 16 Common Gull, 10 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 30 Arctic Tern, 6 Carrion Crow, 68 Skylark, 1 Sand Martin, 11 Swallow, 8 House Martin, 2 Willow Warbler, 5 Chiffchaff, 2 Sedge Warbler, 1 Reed Warbler, 2 Blackcap, 5 Garden Warbler, 3 Lesser Whitethroat, 2 Whitethroat, 1 Blackbird, 5 Spotted Flycatcher, 2 Robin, 61 Wheatear, 5 Pied Wagtail, 56 Meadow Pipit, 2 Tree Pipit, 35 Rock Pipit, 12 Twite, 3 Mealy Redpoll, 1 Lesser Redpoll, 1 Redpoll Sp.

Year List: 170

Other wildlife: 5 Shetland Bee, 4 Red Admiral, 2 Diamond-backed Moth, 1 Basking Shark (seen four miles off the coast of Fair Isle from the Good Shepherd - the first sighting in Fair Isle waters since 2015)

Basking Shark from the Good Shepherd (photo by islander Thomas Fisher)
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4th June 2021
Weather:
a bit of low cloud in the morning quickly burned through and turned into a glorious warm and sunny day, with the wind dropping throughout, from a force 4-5 SE to a force 1-2
It's days like this that make it feel like summer is properly here! The general feel on census this morning was that there wasn't much new in, still a few Marsh Warblers around and an Icterine Warbler, and this afternoon saw our first Rose-coloured Starling appearance - maybe the first of a few given how the UK seems to be set for another influx this year!

2cy Rose-coloured Starling at Setter/Bull's Park (photo by Fair Isle regular Steve Arlow)

After census we headed out to our Fulmar productivity plots, which all seem to be well populated at a first visit. On our way back down the Isle, we rather efficiently trapped and ringed two Marsh Warblers at Obs and Chalet respectively, and an Icterine Warbler at Lower Leogh. A long yet productive day, spent in fantastic summer weather - by far the warmest day of the year so far!

Marsh Warbler in the hand at Obs (photo by AW Alex Penn)


HIGHLIGHTS:
CALANDRA LARK: one still around the Meadow Burn area
Red-backed Shrike: female at Field Ditch
Marsh Warbler: six birds present, two ringed
Icterine Warbler: two birds present, one ringed
Rosefinch: brown bird in the south
Rose-coloured Starling: 2cy bird at Setter - first of the year

Other sightings: 1 Greylag Goose, 1 Tufted Duck (female on Golden Water), 1 Common Scoter (female South Harbour), 2 Cuckoo, 4 Woodpigeon, 78 Oystercatcher, 13 Lapwing, 2 Golden Plover, 32 Ringed Plover, 3 Whimbrel, 8 Curlew, 1 Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Turnstone, 1 Sanderling, 5 Dunlin, 9 Snipe, 1 Redshank, 1 Black-headed Gull, 14 Common Gull, 22 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 17 Arctic Tern, 1 Great-Northern Diver, 1 Grey Heron, 1 Peregrine, 3 Carrion Crow, 65 Skylark, 10 Swallow, 2 House Martin, 5 Chiffchaff, 1 Sedge Warbler, 1 Reed Warbler, 4 Blackcap, 4 Garden Warbler, 9 Lesser Whitethroat, 3 Whitethroat, 4 Spotted Flycatcher, 3 Robin, 1 Black Redstart, 79 Wheatear, 1 Dunnock, 5 Pied Wagtail, 3 alba Wagtail sp., 79 Meadow Pipit, 28 Rock Pipit, 1 Chaffinch, 30 Twite, 1 Snow Bunting

Year List: 169

Other wildlife: 10 Shetland Bee, 3 Red Admiral, 7 Diamond-backed Moth
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3rd June 2021
Weather:
clear sunny day with a bit of low cloud in the early evening with a force 4-5 ESE wind
The day started with a lovely sunny morning (phew, no fog), and with the tide in our favour we set off to do our first visit to the Razorbill colony at Easter Lother beach. This involves harnessing up and descending down the via ferrata system, which follows a steep sheep track to the bottom - sure enough there was a sheep and her two lambs down there!

Alex and Dan looking for Razorbill nests at Easter Lother (photo by Ranger Georgia Platt)

The goal of this visit was to find all of the Razorbill nests in the boulder beach and take photos and number them, in preparation for monitoring the nests and subsequent chicks throughout the season. It was a very successful visit - we found 35 nests, not bad given it was the first time that myself, Alex and Dan had done this particular monitoring. We'll be going back down in about 10 days to check the nests, and there should be some chicks by then as well. It was fantastic to make a start on the practical seabird work, making for a very enjoyable morning!

From left to right - Alex, Georgia and Dan ringing adult Razorbills (photos by Ranger Georgia Platt and AW Alex Penn)

Adult Razorbill in the hand - they're called that for a reason! (photo by AW Alex Penn)

We finished the Razorbills with enough time for a quick lunch and a census lite in the afternoon - a few bits new in, namely a good number of Red-backed Shrikes and Marsh Warblers. It felt really rare, but the biggy never showed itself...there's always tomorrow!

Red-backed Shrike at Wirvie Burn (photo by AW Dan Gornall)


HIGHLIGHTS:
CALANDRA LARK: one still around the Meadow Burn area
Nightjar: one briefly at Easter Lother
Red-backed Shrike: five birds dotted around the Isle (two males, three females)
Marsh Warbler: four birds present
Icterine Warbler: one at Schoolton and one at Easter Lother
Grey-headed Wagtail: female at Obs Scrape
Rosefinch: brown bird at Shirva

Marsh Warblers together at Wirvie Burn (photo by AW Dan Gornall)

Other sightings: 2 Greylag Goose, 1 Tufted Duck (female on Golden Water), 2 Cuckoo, 1 Woodpigeon, 13 Lapwing, 1 Golden Plover, 7 Whimbrel, 8 Curlew, 1 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Turnstone, 4 Dunlin, 11 Snipe, 2 Redshank, 8 Common Gull, 4 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 5 Arctic Tern, 1 Grey Heron, 1 Short-eared Owl, 3 Carrion Crow, 15 Swallow, 2 House Martin, 2 Willow Warbler, 2 Chiffchaff, 1 Sedge Warbler, 1 Reed Warbler, 2 Blackcap, 8 Garden Warbler, 8 Lesser Whitethroat, 3 Whitethroat, 2 Blackbird, 5 Spotted Flycatcher, 3 Robin, 2 Black Redstart, 1 Dunnock, 5 Pied Wagtail, 1 Chaffinch

A young and very cute Snipe chick at North Park (photo by AW Alex Penn)

Year List: 168

Other wildlife: 6 Shetland Bee, 1 Red Admiral (freshly emerged at Pund nettles), 1 Harbour Seal (Hesti/Shalstane)
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2nd June 2021
Weather:
thick fog in the morning which cleared mid-afternoon, giving way to bright sunshine and a force 5-6 SE wind
Fog in the morning put a stop to our planned trip to Easter Lother to start the Razorbill productivity monitoring - hopefully we can do that tomorrow morning instead! Census was also on hold for most of the day, and when the fog finally cleared mid-afternoon, the team got out for some general birding in their areas, recording migrants rather than a full census. Not much new in, and the Calandra continues to stay put.

Close up with a Female Cuckoo at the Obs (photo by AW Alex Penn)


HIGHLIGHTS:
CALANDRA LARK: one still around the Meadow Burn area
Icterine Warbler: one still Lower Leogh and one at Wirvie Burn
Grey-headed Wagtail: female on Buness
Rosefinch: brown bird (2cy male) singing at Chalet

Other sightings: 1 Tufted Duck (female on Golden Water), 1 Common Scoter (still South Harbour), 2 Cuckoo, 5 Woodpigeon, 13 Lapwing, 1 Golden Plover, 3 Whimbrel, 9 Curlew, 1 Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Sanderling, 9 Dunlin, 1 Redshank, 6 Common Gull, 9 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 6 Arctic Tern, 1 Grey Heron, 1 Short-eared Owl, 3 Carrion Crow, 1 Hybrid Crow, 6 Swallow, 4 House Martin, 1 Willow Warbler, 3 Chiffchaff, 2 Blackcap, 4 Garden Warbler, 3 Lesser Whitethroat, 1 Whitethroat, 2 Blackbird, 1 Redwing, 1 Song Thrush, 2 Spotted Flycatcher, 1 Robin, 1 Black Redstart, 1 Stonechat, 1 Dunnock, 3 Pied Wagtail, 1 White Wagtail, 1 Chaffinch, 1 Goldfinch, 1 Siskin

Year List: 167
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1st June 2021
Weather:
clear sunny day with a force 5-6 SE wind, dropping throughout the day to 3-4
Finally some sun again! A lovely bright and breezy start to June, which brought a few birds with it as well, including the first Marsh and Blyth's Reed Warblers of the year. The Acro-related headaches begin...

Blyth's Reed Warbler at Schoolton - a dull bird, with short primary projection (photo by AW Alex Penn)

Today also saw some other nice species, including four Sandwich Terns bombing down the Isle in the late afternoon, a Hen Harrier over Midway and a Wryneck in the field below Midway. The Calandra Lark continues to stick around, and was successfully twitched by a Shetland birder today, but it is becoming a little more mobile and moving quite far from its usual spot at Meadow Burn, so it could be that the nice weather today is prompting it to think about leaving.

Calandra Lark at the base of Malcolm's Head (photo by AW Alex Penn)


HIGHLIGHTS:
CALANDRA LARK: one still around the Meadow Burn area
Sandwich Tern: four travelling south down the Isle
Hen Harrier: one over Midway
Wryneck: one in the park below Midway
Blyth's Reed Warbler: one at Schoolton - first of the year
Marsh Warbler: one at Field Ditch - first of the year
Icterine Warbler: one still Lower Leogh
Grey-headed Wagtail: female at Wester Lother
Rosefinch: brown bird still at the Haa

Wryneck in the daisies in the park below Midway (photo by AW Alex Penn)

Other sightings: 1 Common Scoter (still South Harbour), 2 Cuckoo, 6 Woodpigeon, 2 Collared Dove, 73 Oystercatcher, 10 Lapwing, 3 Golden Plover, 28 Ringed Plover, 10 Whimbrel, 6 Curlew, 1 Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Turnstone, 5 Sanderling, 4 Dunlin, 12 Snipe, 1 Redshank, 4 Common Gull, 22 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 6 Arctic Tern, 22 Arctic Skua, 1 Red-throated Diver, 1 Grey Heron, 4 Carrion Crow, 55 Skylark, 1 Sand Martin, 39 Swallow, 24 House Martin, 3 Willow Warbler, 1 Chiffchaff, 2 Sedge Warbler, 7 Garden Warbler, 2 Lesser Whitethroat, 1 Whitethroat, 4 Blackbird, 3 Spotted Flycatcher, 4 Robin, 1 Stonechat, 109 Wheatear, 2 Dunnock, 7 Pied Wagtail, 2 White Wagtail, 73 Meadow Pipit, 40 Rock Pipit, 1 Chaffinch, 25 Twite, 1 Linnet, 1 Mealy Redpoll, 1 Goldfinch, 3 Reed Bunting

Hen Harrier over Midway - what a view! (photo by AW Alex Penn)

Year List: 167

Other wildlife: 7 Shetland Bee
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31st May 2021
Weather:
thick fog with a force 5 south-easterly wind
Another quiet day due to persistent heavy fog, despite the favourable winds. The Calandra Lark and a female Rustic Bunting are still present, but not much is new in. A plane full of twitchers from Shetland were supposed to be in this morning for the Calandra, but couldn't make it due to the fog - fingers crossed it will clear at some point very soon, and that the Lark continues to stick around for a bit.

Lovely summer plumage Black-tailed Godwit at Burkle (photo by AW Alex Penn)


HIGHLIGHTS:
CALANDRA LARK: one still around the Meadow Burn area
RUSTIC BUNTING: female at Meadow Burn
Icterine Warbler: one present at the Haa
Rosefinch: brown bird still in the south

Sanderling on North Haven beach (photo by AW Dan Gornall)

Other sightings: 1 Common Scoter (South Harbour), 1 Cuckoo, 2 Woodpigeon, 1 Collared Dove, 76 Oystercatcher, 8 Lapwing, 3 Golden Plover, 34 Ringed Plover, 4 Whimbrel, 7 Curlew, 1 Black-tailed Godwit, 4 Turnstone, 7 Sanderling, 9 Dunlin, 7 Snipe, 1 Redshank, 5 Common Gull, 7 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 2 Arctic Tern, 12 Arctic Skua, 1 Grey Heron, 1 Short-eared Owl, 6 Carrion Crow, 31 Skylark, 3 Swallow, 4 House Martin, 1 Willow Warbler, 1 Chiffchaff, 1 Sedge Warbler, 4 Garden Warbler, 1 Ring Ouzel, 2 Blackbird, 3 Spotted Flycatcher, 2 Robin, 1 Stonechat, 51 Wheatear, 1 Dunnock, 7 Pied Wagtail, 2 White Wagtail, 2 alba Wagtail sp., 59 Meadow Pipit, 1 Tree Pipit, 34 Rock Pipit, 1 Chaffinch, 19 Twite, 1 Lesser Redpoll, 1 Redpoll sp., 1 Reed Bunting

Year List: 165
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30th May 2021
Weather:
fog getting gradually thicker throughout the day, with a force 3-4 SE wind
Not much happening here today with the heavy fog - Calandra Lark still present at Meadow Burn, along with Icterine Warbler and the brown Rosefinch. Chicks are starting to appear of various species, with broods of Mallard ducklings at the Vaadal reservoir and Da Water, Ringed Plover chicks in Muckle Uri Geo and Oystercatcher chicks at the Obs and Buness - all very cute of course!

Oystercatcher chick on Buness (photo by AW Alex Penn)

The south-easterlies are set to continue for the forseeable and are supposed to be getting stronger, so who knows what will turn up next week! The team are staying hopefull for that late spring mega, and that fog doesn't make too much of an appearance.


HIGHLIGHTS:
CALANDRA LARK: one still at Meadow Burn
Icterine Warbler: one present at Leogh
Rosefinch: brown bird still in the south

Female Cuckoo in the fog at Upper Stoneybrek (photo by AW Alex Penn)

Other sightings: 1 Cuckoo, 3 Woodpigeon, 76 Oystercatcher, 12 Lapwing, 5 Golden Plover, 41 Ringed Plover, 3 Whimbrel, 3 Curlew, 1 Black-tailed Godwit, 4 Turnstone, 2 Sanderling, 10 Dunlin, 12 Snipe, 1 Redshank, 3 Common Gull, 5 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 15 Arctic Tern, 21 Arctic Skua, 1 Red-throated Diver, 1 Grey Heron, 2 Short-eared Owl, 7 Carrion Crow, 54 Skylark, 21 Swallow, 7 House Martin, 3 Willow Warbler, 1 Chiffchaff, 2 Blackcap, 7 Garden Warbler, 1 Whitethroat, 1 Ring Ouzel, 2 Blackbird, 1 Redwing, 2 Song Thrush, 1 Spotted Flycatcher, 6 Robin, 1 Stonechat, 84 Wheatear, 7 Pied Wagtail, 3 White Wagtail, 2 alba Wagtail sp., 66 Meadow Pipit, 1 Tree Pipit, 51 Rock Pipit, 10 Twite, 1 Linnet, 2 Mealy Redpoll, 1 Siskin, 1 Reed Bunting

Year List: 165

Other wildlife: 1 Minke Whale 2 miles off the north west of the Isle in the early morning, sighted by a Northlink ferry passenger!
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29th May 2021
Weather:
overcast with a force 2-3 southerly wind
Another good day for birds, with another three year ticks - there was a general decrease in numbers of common migrants, but it was clearly a quality over quantity kind of day. A pair of Pintail at Da Water and a Rosefinch at Quoy were both new for the year, along with three Black-tailed Godwit later in the day at Stackhoull, all found by Steve.

Brown Rosefinch posing nicely at Chalet (photo by AW Alex Penn)

Alex being on south-west census seems to be the magic formula for the appearance of a Calandra Lark, as he had the second of the year at Meadow Burn today. Absolute madness! The bird was fresh in and flighty, making it difficult to get photos of it on the deck - it was a bit more settled when Dan and Max went to see it in the early evening, where it had moved to the base of Malcolm's Head. The 24th record for Britain and the 9th for Fair Isle, and the first year with more than one record for this species on the Isle. Good stuff, as they say!

Calandra Lark showing well at base of Malcolm's Head (photo by LTV Max Hellicar)


HIGHLIGHTS:
CALANDRA LARK: one at Meadow Burn - 2nd record of the year
RUSTIC BUNTING: one male at Shalstane
Quail: one trapped at Chalet
Wryneck: one around the south
Icterine Warbler: ringed bird still present at Skerryholm
Rosefinch: brown bird in the south - first of the year

Quail in the hand at Chalet - the first ringed on Fair Isle since 2000 (photos by LTV Max Hellicar)

Other sightings: 2 Pintail (pair on Da Water - first of the year), 1 Cuckoo, 4 Woodpigeon, 88 Oystercatcher, 7 Lapwing, 1 Golden Plover, 37 Ringed Plover, 2 Whimbrel, 6 Curlew, 3 Black-tailed Godwit (first of the year at Stackhoull), 8 Dunlin, 14 Snipe, 3 Black-headed Gull, 13 Common Gull, 5 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 8 Arctic Tern, 15 Arctic Skua, 2 Red-throated Diver, 1 Great Northern Diver, 1 Grey Heron, 1 Short-eared Owl, 1 Kestrel, 7 Carrion Crow, 52 Skylark, 22 Swallow, 4 House Martin, 3 Willow Warbler, 2 Chiffchaff, 2 Sedge Warbler, 9 Garden Warbler, 4 Whitethroat, 2 Blackbird, 1 Fieldfare, 1 Redwing, 2 Song Thrush, 1 Spotted Flycatcher, 4 Robin, 1 Redstart, 1 Stonechat, 116 Wheatear, 2 Tree Sparrow, 3 Pied Wagtail, 3 White Wagtail, 82 Meadow Pipit, 3 Tree Pipit, 35 Rock Pipit, 1 Chaffinch, 29 Twite, 1 Linnet, 7 Mealy Redpoll, 1 Lesser Redpoll, 2 Reed Bunting

Year List: 165

Other wildlife: 3 Shetland Bee, 1 Buff-tailed Bumblebee
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28th May 2021
Weather:
a clear, sunny day with a force 2-3 easterly wind
A bit of a contrast in weather today, as the low cloud cleared and gave way to a lovely, sunny day - it almost felt like summer! A fantastic day for birds as well, with four new species for the year. Alex kicked things off with a male Red-backed Shrike at Schoolton, then Max continued with a Quail at Chalet, promptly followed by an Eastern Subalpine Warbler, the latter of which continued to show extremely well at Chalet and Barkland throughout the day. The Quail also gave some ridiculous views in the early evening, as it was flushed from Chalet and landed in a grazed field, where it proceeded to hunker down for 10 minutes for some photos before flying off to the Iris bed at Chalet again.

Cracking male Eastern Subalpine Warbler at Chalet (photo by AW Alex Penn)

Smart male Red-backed Shrike at Quoy (photo by AW Alex Penn)

Alex then scored with a Tawny Pipit at Sma' Trinket Geo, which surprisingly stayed fairly loyal to that area, so everyone who was interested managed to catch up with it - the 20th record of this species for Fair Isle, but only the 5th since 1993, which sadly reflects a decline in the species as a whole.

Tawny Pipit showing well at Sma' Trinket Geo (photo by AW Alex Penn)

Oh, and I suppose we also had at least three Rustic Buntings present again! We are all perplexed by the influx of this rare species, but very much enjoying it!


HIGHLIGHTS:
EASTERN SUBALPINE WARBLER: male at Chalet - new for the year
RUSTIC BUNTING: three birds present
TAWNY PIPIT: one at Sma' Trinket Geo - 20th Fair Isle record
Quail: one at Chalet - first of the year
Wryneck: one at Taing
Red-backed Shrike: one mobile male present, first sighted at Schoolton - first of the year
Icterine Warbler: two birds present, including the ringed bird
Blue-headed Wagtail: female at Obs scrape

Quail pretending that we can't see it at Barkland! (photo by LVT Max Hellicar)

Other sightings:1 Cuckoo, 3 Woodpigeon, 3 Collared Dove, 66 Oystercatcher, 12 Lapwing, 1 Golden Plover, 24 Ringed Plover, 2 Whimbrel, 5 Curlew, 8 Turnstone, 4 Dunlin, 1 Woodcock, 7 Snipe, 6 Redshank, 2 Black-headed Gull, 50 Common Gull, 5 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 1 Arctic Tern, 31 Arctic Skua, 2 Great Northern Diver, 1 Grey Heron, 6 Carrion Crow, 60 Skylark, 8 Swallow, 1 House Martin, 16 Willow Warbler, 5 Chiffchaff, 3 Sedge Warbler, 5 Blackcap, 13 Garden Warbler, 5 Lesser Whitethroat, 3 Whitethroat, 4 Blackbird, 1 Fieldfare, 1 Redwing, 1 Song Thrush, 4 Spotted Flycatcher, 6 Robin, 3 Pied Flycatcher, 2 Redstart, 1 Whinchat, 149 Wheatear, 2 Dunnock, 3 Pied Wagtail, 2 White Wagtail, 3 alba Wagtail sp., 85 Meadow Pipit, 2 Tree Pipit, 49 Rock Pipit, 1 Chaffinch, 26 Twite, 1 Linnet, 3 Mealy Redpoll, 1 Lesser Redpoll, 1 Snow Bunting, 5 Reed Bunting

Year List: 162

Other wildlife: 3 Silver Y (first of the year), 4 Shetland Bee

Silver Y on the Quoy primroses (photo by Ranger Georgia Platt)
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27th May 2021
Weather:
Overcast with low cloud and drizzle in the north all day, and a force 2 NE wind
Rustic Buntings continue to arrive on Fair Isle, with a new female and a new male in today. A Wryneck at Vaila's Trees was new in, along with two unringed Icterine Warblers, whilst the ringed female Bluethroat was still present at Lower Leogh. The next few days look extremely calm in terms of wind, which will be great for some seabird work and also might bring some new migrants in. Still waiting for the first Shrike of the year!

Male Rustic Bunting at Boini Mire (photo by LTV Max Hellicar)

Female Rustic Bunting in the hand, trapped in the Vaadal (photo by AW Dan Gornall)


HIGHLIGHTS:
Wryneck: one at Vaila's Trees
Icterine Warbler: three birds present, including the ringed bird
Bluethroat: ringed female present at Lower Leogh
RUSTIC BUNTING: three birds present - male and two females, bringing the spring total to a minimum of 5 (possibly 7)

Icterine Warbler on South Haven beach (photo by Ranger Georgia Platt)

Other sightings: 1 Pink-footed Goose, 1 Wigeon, 3 Common Scoter (2 male and a female off South Light), 1 Swift, 2 Woodpigeon, 1 Collared Dove, 94 Oystercatcher, 9 Lapwing, 3 Golden Plover, 27 Ringed Plover, 4 Whimbrel, 8 Curlew, 5 Turnstone, 3 Dunlin, 4 Purple Sandpiper, 12 Snipe, 1 Common Sandpiper, 3 Redshank, 1 Black-headed Gull, 10 Common Gull, 5 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 43 Arctic Tern, 21 Arctic Skua, 1 Red-throated Diver, 1 Great Northern Diver, 2 Grey Heron, 6 Carrion Crow, 43 Skylark, 1 Sand Martin, 7 Swallow, 2 House Martin, 7 Willow Warbler, 2 Chiffchaff, 1 Reed Warbler, 2 Blackcap, 3 Garden Warbler, 2 Lesser Whitethroat, 4 Whitethroat, 3 Blackbird, 1 Redwing, 1 Song Thrush, 5 Robin, 2 Pied Flycatcher, 1 Redstart, 116 Wheatear, 1 Dunnock, 6 Pied Wagtail, 3 White Wagtail, 87 Meadow Pipit, 1 Tree Pipit, 28 Rock Pipit, 1 Chaffinch, 3 Brambling, 17 Twite, 4 Mealy Redpoll, 1 Lesser Redpoll, 1 Snow Bunting, 3 Reed Bunting

Year List: 158
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26th May 2021
Weather:
An overcast day with a strong, cold force 5-6 NE wind
Not a very inspiring day in terms of weather, with low cloud and light drizzle at times throughout the morning, along with a very cold NE wind. It turned out that there wasn't much new in today either, with birds lingering from the past few days still present. The female Bluethroat at Lower Leogh was trapped and ringed in the afternoon, and an unringed Icterine Warbler was found by Steve this evening near South Light, in addition to the one ringed yesterday still at Lower Leogh today as well.

Female Bluethroat in the hand at Lower Leogh (photo by Long-term Volunteer Max Hellicar)


HIGHLIGHTS:
Icterine Warbler: two birds present
Bluethroat: male and female present
RUSTIC BUNTING: two birds present, including the male at Shalstane

Other sightings: 1 Pink-footed Goose, 2 Swift, 78 Oystercatcher, 14 Lapwing, 2 Golden Plover, 27 Ringed Plover, 4 Whimbrel, 4 Curlew, 6 Turnstone, 4 Dunlin, 15 Snipe, 4 Redshank, 3 Common Gull, 8 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 4 Arctic Tern, 13 Arctic Skua, 1 Great Northern Diver, 2 Grey Heron, 1 Kestrel, 1 Peregrine, 7 Carrion Crow, 48 Skylark, 5 Swallow, 2 House Martin, 4 Willow Warbler, 2 Chiffchaff, 1 Reed Warbler, 1 Blackcap, 1 Garden Warbler, 2 Lesser Whitethroat, 2 Whitethroat, 3 Blackbird, 1 Fieldfare, 1 Song Thrush, 4 Spotted Flycatcher, 5 Robin, 96 Wheatear, 8 Pied Wagtail, 1 White Wagtail, 78 Meadow Pipit, 2 Tree Pipit, 33 Rock Pipit, 1 Brambling, 30 Twite, 1 Mealy Redpoll, 1 Reed Bunting

Gorgeous summer plumage male Brambling at Meadow Burn today (photo by AW Alex Penn)

Year List: 158
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25th May 2021
Weather:
cloudy with sunny spells and some fog breifly in the afternoon, with a force 2-4 NE wind
A better day for weather, with some lovely sunshine and not too much wind. Both Rustic Buntings from yesterday were still present, plus potentially a new bird at Gilly Burn found by Steve. Sadly the Golden Oriole was nowhere to be seen! Max found the first Bluethroat of the year in Gilly Burn mid-morning, which was a striking male that continued to show well throughout the day as it moved to Upper Stoneybrek and developed a favourite feeding route, which made for a decent photo opportunity. A very smart bird, with amazing powder-blue plumage - myself, Alex and Dan watched it feeding happily at the side of the road for a good 20 minutes. It was fantastic to see it behaving so casually and carefree of us being there!

A collage of male Bluethroat photos because I couldn't choose one! All taken at Upper Stoneybrek (photos by AW Alex Penn, AW Dan Gornall, Ranger Georgia Platt and Long-term Volunteer Max Hellicar)

A couple of female Bluethroats were also present on the Isle today, which was welcome given how they've been arriving in good numbers in other places nearby. Other sightings today include three Cuckoos, Icterine Warbler and a Nightingale species was picked up briefly by Steve at Lower Leogh, sadly not to be relocated.

Dan and Alex in very uncomfortable looking positions, but getting some cracking shots of the Bluethroat! (photo by Ranger Georgia Platt)


HIGHLIGHTS:
Icterine Warbler: one ringed at Lower Leogh
Bluethroat: one male and two females (first of the year)
RUSTIC BUNTING: still the same two birds present, and potentially a third

Other sightings: 1 Pink-footed Goose, 1 Swift, 3 Cuckoo, 2 Woodpigeon, 1 Collared Dove (trapped in Plantation), 64 Oystercatcher, 12 Lapwing, 6 Golden Plover, 20 Ringed Plover, 1 Whimbrel, 7 Curlew, 9 Turnstone, 2 Dunlin, 1 Purple Sandpiper, 8 Snipe, 3 Redshank, 2 Black-headed Gull, 4 Common Gull, 1 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 101 Arctic Tern (92 Buness, 9 Shalstane), 16 Arctic Skua, 1 Great Northern Diver, 1 Grey Heron, 2 Peregrine, 9 Carrion Crow, 50 Skylark, 1 Sand Martin, 6 Swallow, 3 House Martin, 12 Willow Warbler, 4 Chiffchaff, 2 Sedge Warbler, 4 Blackcap, 8 Garden Warbler, 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 3 Whitethroat, 2 Blackbird, 1 Fieldfare, 1 Song Thrush, 3 Spotted Flycatcher, 3 Robin, 3 Pied Flycatcher, 1 Whinchat, 153 Wheatear, 2 Dunnock, 2 Pied Wagtail, 3 White Wagtail, 3 alba Wagtail sp., 84 Meadow Pipit, 6 Tree Pipit, 39 Rock Pipit, 1 Chaffinch, 1 Brambling, 34 Twite, 2 Linnet, 5 Mealy Redpoll

Year List: 158
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24th May 2021
Weather:
force 6-7 SE wind this morning dropping to 2-4 in the evening, with heavy rain from mid-morning to late afternoon leading to a calm, sunny evening
Heavy rain was forecast across all of the weather apps today (usually a sign that it is definitely going to rain), so we decided to do a 'census lite', and get in as much of our areas as we could before the rain came in, just recording migrants. Dan had a female Rustic Bunting in South Raeva, which was surely a good sign of things to come, but as predicted, the rain started about 10:30am and gradually got worse and worse, so Alex rescued Dan and I (in the SW and SE) on his way back from the north with the car, which was very much appreciated!

Fortunately the day wasn't a complete wash out, as the weather started to clear at about 4pm and gave way to a pleasant evening, and some very nice birds. Max kicked things off with an Icterine Warbler in South Raeva, which continued to show very well throughout the evening. An hour and a half later, Dan had a female-type Golden Oriole perched on the Rosa in the garden at Shirva, where it flew south and couldn't be picked up again despite lots of people searching. We'll have to hope that it sticks around until tomorrow, which there's a good chance it will given the poor weather it travelled here in. Fingers crossed!

Female-type Golden Oriole at Shirva (photo by AW Dan Gornall)

Dan then went on to find a cracking male Rustic Bunting at 8pm at Shalstane, where it was happily feeding and flying about in the same area, so everyone who came for a look had the chance to connect well. It was even singing briefly at one point! An absolute stunner of a bird, with a clean white belly, striking black head and contrasting face pattern and of course, a lovely rusty red on the nape, mantle and flanks. It was such a treat to see this bird, and even better as the sun came out and it was bathed in that golden hour glow, highlighting the name-sake features even more - an excellent way to end a long day.

Smart male Rustic Bunting at Shalstane (photo by AW Dan Gornall)


HIGHLIGHTS:
Icterine Warbler: one at South Raeva (first of the year)
RUSTIC BUNTING: two different birds present - a female at South Raeva and a smart male at Shalstane
Golden Oriole: female-type at Shirva (new species for the year)

Lovely and bright Icterine Warbler at South Raeva (photo by AW Alex Penn)

Other sightings: 1 Barnacle Goose, 1 Pink-footed Goose, 1 Swift, 1 Cuckoo, 1 Woodpigeon, 1 Collared Dove, 1 Golden Plover, 2 Whimbrel, 15 Turnstone, 7 Purple Sandpiper, 1 Common Sandpiper, 3 Redshank, 2 Black-headed Gull, 5 Common Gull, 13 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 1 Arctic Tern, 26 Arctic Skua, 1 Grey Heron, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Short-eared Owl, 1 Kestrel, 1 Peregrine, 7 Carrion Crow, 1 Sand Martin, 4 Swallow, 4 House Martin, 11 Willow Warbler, 3 Chiffchaff, 1 Sedge Warbler, 3 Blackcap, 6 Garden Warbler, 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 5 Whitethroat, 3 Blackbird, 1 Spotted Flycatcher, 3 Robin, 1 Pied Flycatcher, 1 Whinchat, 2 Dunnock, 3 Pied Wagtail, 2 White Wagtail, 5 Tree Pipit, 1 Chaffinch, 1 Brambling, 1 Linnet, 1 Mealy Redpoll, 2 Snow Bunting, 1 Reed Bunting

Summery male Snow Bunting at Field Ditch (photo by Ranger Georgia Platt)

Year List: 157
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23rd May 2021
Weather:
clear and sunny with a force 2-3 westerly wind this morning swinging round to a force 5-6 SE wind in the afternoon
Not quite the day of Shrikes and Bluethroats that we were expecting, but still a beautiful sunny day which made it nice to be out. A scattering of migrants were in, including a some warblers, a few Spotted and Pied Flycatchers dotted around and a Wryneck at Schoolton. The first Swift of the year was seen by Max on Dronger, and a flock of 16 Barnacle Geese toured the south of the Isle at midday.

Part of a flock of 16 Barnacle Geese over South Harbour (photo by AW Alex Penn)


HIGHLIGHTS:
Wryneck: one at Schoolton

Other sightings: 16 Barnacle Goose, 1 Pink-footed Goose, 1 Teal, 1 Common Swift (Dronger - first of the year), 2 Woodpigeon, 1 Collared Dove, 58 Oystercatcher, 11 Lapwing, 2 Golden Plover, 31 Ringed Plover, 5 Whimbrel, 6 Curlew, 10 Turnstone, 3 Dunlin, 3 Purple Sandpiper, 9 Snipe, 2 Common Sandpiper, 6 Redshank, 2 Black-headed Gull, 7 Common Gull, 7 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 9 Arctic Tern, 19 Arctic Skua, 2 Grey Heron, 1 Peregrine, 7 Carrion Crow, 62 Skylark, 1 Sand Martin, 13 Swallow, 4 House Martin, 7 Willow Warbler, 8 Chiffchaff, 3 Sedge Warbler, 5 Blackcap, 5 Garden Warbler, 3 Lesser Whitethroat, 1 Whitethroat, 1 Ring Ouzel, 4 Blackbird, 1 Redwing, 1 Song Thrush, 3 Spotted Flycatcher, 5 Robin, 3 Pied Flycatcher, 205 Wheatear, 4 Tree Sparrow, 2 Dunnock, 7 Pied Wagtail, 2 White Wagtail, 116 Meadow Pipit, 2 Tree Pipit, 30 Rock Pipit, 1 Chaffinch, 22 Twite, 1 Linnet, 5 Mealy Redpoll, 1 Redpoll Sp., 3 Siskin, 1 Snow Bunting, 1 Reed Bunting

Year List: 155

Other wildlife: one Shetland Bee at Vaila's Trees
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22nd May 2021
Weather:
mostly cloudy with sunny spells and a force 5-6 NW wind
Another quiet day in terms of numbers, as a strong north-westerly was blowing. A Cuckoo at Wirvie was a nice find by Dan, followed by two Sandwich Terns flying over Skadan in the early afternoon from Max. Luckily the strong winds didn't stop today's plane, as that brought in a few birders that are staying for a couple of weeks (including Fair Isle regular Steve Arlow). Not long after their arrival, Steve went on to find a female Rustic Bunting at Da Water, which showed briefly before flying off to School Brae, not to be found again. A strong start from Steve though, and hopefully the Rustic will stick around until tomorrow and we can try for some better views. It's great to have another few pairs of eyes in on the Isle, as we might need it over the next few days with these forecast easterlies - fingers crossed!

Cuckoo at Upper Wirvie (photo by AW Dan Gornall)


HIGHLIGHTS:
RUSTIC BUNTING: female-type at Da Water then flew to school Brae
Sandwich Tern: two over Skadan

Other sightings: 1 Pink-footed Goose, 1 Wigeon, 1 Tufted Duck, 1 Red-breasted Merganser (drake at Kirki Geo), 1 Cuckoo, 1 Collared Dove, 63 Oystercatcher, 11 Lapwing, 7 Golden Plover, 18 Ringed Plover, 7 Whimbrel, 7 Curlew, 9 Turnstone, 1 Dunlin, 7 Snipe, 3 Redshank, 10 Common Gull, 3 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 29 Arctic Tern, 13 Arctic Skua, 2 Great Northern Diver, 1 Red-throated Diver, 1 Grey Heron, 8 Carrion Crow, 42 Skylark, 1 Sand Martin, 11 Swallow, 3 House Martin, 3 Willow Warbler, 4 Chiffchaff, 2 Sedge Warbler, 2 Lesser Whitethroat, 1 Whitethroat, 2 Blackbird, 3 Song Thrush, 6 Robin, 1 Pied Flycatcher, 151 Wheatear, 4 Tree Sparrow, 4 Pied Wagtail, 3 White Wagtail, 2 alba Wagtail sp., 92 Meadow Pipit, 4 Tree Pipit, 29 Rock Pipit, 1 Chaffinch, 18 Twite, 1 Linnet, 5 Mealy Redpoll, 3 Siskin

Gorgeous pale morph Arctic Skua at the mast (photo by AW Alex Penn)

Year List: 154
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21st May 2021
Weather:
partly sunny with a cool force 5-7 NE wind
Strong winds made for another quiet census this morning, although Dan refound the Great Reed Warbler at Meadow Burn reed box again, where it was flushed from a ditch and started hopping around on the ground in a field - classic Fair Isle, putting migrant birds into very different contexts to their usual habitat. This also applied to a gorgeous Wood Warbler, also found by Dan, in the late afternoon at Shalstane where it was fly-catching along the cliff and then sat for ages digesting on the lichen covered rocks. A bit of a different setting to its usual mature woodland habitat!

Great Reed Warbler in a field near Meadow Burn - an odd sight to say the least! (photo by AW Dan Gornall)

Wood Warbler being very confiding at Shalstane (photo by AW Dan Gornall)

Other good birds today include a Wryneck up near the electricity shed found by Susannah, and a Cuckoo at Utra in the early evening. At least the hint of an easterly wind has brought some things over!

Wryneck at the electricity shed near the school (photo by AW Alex Penn)


HIGHLIGHTS:
Wryneck: one at the electricity shed
GREAT REED WARBLER: one still at Meadow Burn reed box

Other sightings: 1 Pink-footed Goose, 1 Wigeon, 1 Cuckoo, 1 Woodpigeon, 1 Water Rail, 55 Oystercatcher, 9 Lapwing, 19 Ringed Plover, 7 Whimbrel, 5 Curlew, 5 Turnstone, 6 Dunlin, 6 Snipe, 1 Common Sandpiper, 2 Redshank, 5 Common Gull, 1 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 1 Arctic Tern, 21 Arctic Skua, 1 Grey Heron, 7 Carrion Crow, 57 Skylark, 1 Sand Martin, 11 Swallow, 4 House Martin, 1 Wood Warbler (Shalstane), 2 Willow Warbler, 1 Chiffchaff, 1 Sedge Warbler, 3 Blackcap, 1 Garden Warbler, 2 Lesser Whitethroat, 2 Whitethroat, 2 Ring Ouzel, 2 Blackbird, 1 Song Thrush, 5 Robin, 117 Wheatear, 4 Tree Sparrow, 3 Pied Wagtail, 3 White Wagtail, 86 Meadow Pipit, 1 Tree Pipit, 28 Rock Pipit, 1 Chaffinch, 12 Twite, 5 Mealy Redpoll, 1 Redpoll Sp., 1 Snow Bunting, 1 Reed Bunting

Year List: 153
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20th May 2021
Weather:
mostly sunny with a force 3 easterly wind increasing to force 4-5 throughout the day
A calm morning made way for our second Breeding Bird Survey, which is always an enjoyable start to the day. A couple more raptor records were had today, as Dan had a ringtail Hen Harrier flying over Meoness and then heading out to sea early this morning, followed by Max spotting a White-tailed Eagle over the airstrip in the afternoon - the 3rd record for the Isle this year already! The flock of Barnacle Geese are still hanging around, giving an odd wintery feel along with the chilly wind.

Barnacle Geese at Easter Lother (photo by AW Dan Gornall)

A Great Reed Warbler spruced up the afternoon a bit, as Alex found one at the Meadow Burn reed box (where else). It was clearly new in, and proved tricky to keep track of as it was so flighty - the team all caught a glimpse of it in the end, as it flew from the reed box over to Leogh, not to be seen again today. Hopefully it will stick around until tomorrow and one of us can get some photos!

A few more nests are starting to appear from some of our breeding birds, including Oystercatcher and Ringed Plover, and an Eider was seen incubating today in the same place she nested last year. Over the last couple of weeks we've seen the first Fulmar, Razorbill and Guillemot eggs, and the Bonxies are starting to get more and more angsty if you walk through the main nesting territories - it's all starting to happen here on Fair Isle!

Oystercatcher nest (left) and Ringed Plover nest (right) (photos by AW Alex Penn)


HIGHLIGHTS:
Hen Harrier: female-type seen over Meoness and out to sea
White-tailed Eagle: one circling high over the airstrip then headed south
GREAT REED WARBLER: one at Meadow Burn reed box - 15th record for Fair Isle, the first since 2009
Hawfinch: female at Schoolton

Other sightings: 8 Barnacle Goose, 1 Pink-footed Goose, 1 Wigeon, 2 Tufted Duck (Da Water), 6 Woodpigeon, 3 Collared Dove, 59 Oystercatcher, 13 Lapwing, 1 Golden Plover, 27 Ringed Plover, 6 Whimbrel, 5 Curlew, 7 Turnstone, 6 Dunlin, 15 Snipe, 3 Redshank, 1 Wood Sandpiper, 8 Common Gull, 7 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 37 Arctic Tern, 17 Arctic Skua, 1 Great Northern Diver, 1 Blue Fulmar, 1 Grey Heron, 1 Short-eared Owl, 3 Carrion Crow, 70 Skylark, 1 Sand Martin, 18 Swallow, 3 House Martin, 12 Willow Warbler, 2 Chiffchaff, 2 Sedge Warbler, 1 Grasshopper Warbler, 9 Blackcap, 4 Lesser Whitethroat, 1 Whitethroat, 1 Ring Ouzel, 4 Blackbird, 1 Fieldfare, 4 Song Thrush, 7 Robin, 221 Wheatear, 4 Tree Sparrow, 2 Dunnock, 6 Pied Wagtail, 3 White Wagtail, 3 alba Wagtail sp., 111 Meadow Pipit, 3 Tree Pipit, 44 Rock Pipit, 1 Chaffinch, 25 Twite, 7 Mealy Redpoll, 1 Redpoll Sp., 1 Reed Bunting

Ring Ouzel (photo by Volunteer Max Hellicar)

Year List: 153
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19th May 2021
Weather:
mostly sunny with cloudy patches in the morning, and a force 4-5 NNW wind
Census was overall quiet after yesterday's evident clearout, with very few migrants. The Little Ringed Plover on Da Water was still present (and still being elusive), and a female Marsh Harrier spotted over Setter by David early afternoon was a nice addition to the day, as it was later seen over Gilsetter and then Pietron in the early evening. There are some easterlies coming up in the forecast over the next few days, so the team are staying hopeful for the next bout of migrants and maybe some rares too!

Female Marsh Harrier at Pietron (photo by AW Alex Penn)


HIGHLIGHTS:
Marsh Harrier: female at Setter and later toured the north
Little Ringed Plover: still present at Da Water
Blue-headed Wagtail: female still present

Other sightings: 7 Barnacle Goose, 1 Pink-footed Goose, 1 Wigeon, 1 Teal, 2 Tufted Duck (Da Water), 3 Woodpigeon, 1 Collared Dove, 49 Oystercatcher, 11 Lapwing, 20 Ringed Plover, 5 Whimbrel, 2 Curlew, 7 Turnstone, 8 Dunlin, 1 Purple Sandpiper, 3 Snipe, 2 Common Sandpiper, 3 Redshank, 7 Common Gull, 4 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 3 Arctic Tern, 18 Arctic Skua, 1 Grey Heron, 1 Short-eared Owl, 1 Peregrine, 8 Carrion Crow, 53 Skylark, 12 Swallow, 8 House Martin, 1 Willow Warbler, 2 Chiffchaff, 3 Sedge Warbler, 7 Blackcap, 1 Garden Warbler, 2 Lesser Whitethroat, 1 Ring Ouzel, 1 Blackbird, 1 Redwing, 3 Song Thrush, 6 Robin, 1 Whinchat, 1 Stonechat, 208 Wheatear, 2 Tree Sparrow, 6 Pied Wagtail, 4 White Wagtail, 3 alba Wagtail sp., 127 Meadow Pipit, 3 Tree Pipit, 42 Rock Pipit, 1 Chaffinch, 16 Twite, 5 Mealy Redpoll, 1 Reed Bunting

Year List: 152
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18th May 2021
Weather:
overcast and drizzly morning then brighter in the afternoon, with a force 3-4 westerly wind turning into force 4-5 northerly throughout the day
The Yellow Wagtail influx continues, as Max found a nice male Grey-headed Wagtail at Walli Burn, as well as the female Blue-headed from yesterday. The suspected female Grey-headed Wagtail was also still around, and after much patience Dan managed to get a sound recording of the call, which confirmed it to be a Grey-headed after all. Phew!

Male Grey-headed Wagtail at Walli Burn (photo by Volunteer Max Hellicar)

A Little Ringed Plover found by Del on Da Water this evening was also nice to see, had to be a bit of a tick-and-run for the team though as dinner was nearly ready! Hopefully it will stick around for a couple of days and we can get some better views - it's a good bird for Fair Isle, with this being the 9th record for the species.


HIGHLIGHTS:
Little Ringed Plover: one at Da Water - 9th record for Fair Isle
Blue-headed Wagtail: female still present
Grey-headed Wagtail: female still present and a male present

Other sightings: 7 Barnacle Goose, 1 Greylag Goose, 1 Teal, 3 Tufted Duck (Da Water), 5 Woodpigeon, 69 Oystercatcher, 8 Lapwing, 20 Ringed Plover, 7 Whimbrel, 2 Curlew, 9 Turnstone, 8 Dunlin, 1 Woodcock, 1 Jack Snipe, 12 Snipe, 2 Common Sandpiper, 1 Redshank, 1 Wood Sandpiper, 20 Common Gull, 10 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 10 Arctic Tern, 21 Arctic Skua, 1 Blue Fulmar, 2 Cormorant, 1 Short-eared Owl, 12 Carrion Crow, 65 Skylark, 1 Sand Martin, 27 Swallow, 5 House Martin, 4 Willow Warbler, 4 Chiffchaff, 3 Sedge Warbler, 3 Blackcap, 1 Garden Warbler, 2 Whitethroat, 5 Blackbird, 1 Fieldfare, 2 Redwing, 1 Song Thrush, 1 Spotted Flycatcher, 13 Robin, 1 Black Redstart, 1 Whinchat, 1 Stonechat, 196 Wheatear, 3 Tree Sparrow, 1 Dunnock, 5 Pied Wagtail, 4 White Wagtail, 1 alba Wagtail sp., 116 Meadow Pipit, 2 Tree Pipit, 23 Rock Pipit, 1 Chaffinch, 32 Twite, 2 Linnet, 5 Mealy Redpoll, 4 Siskin, 1 Snow Bunting, 7 Reed Bunting

Puffins bonding on Buness (photo by AW Alex Penn)

Year List: 151
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17th May 2021
Weather:
calm and overcast in the morning with some sunny spells in the afternoon and a force 2 SSE wind
Another nice calm day, with the Black Kite still present this morning and an Osprey (different from yesterday's bird, and both different from the one on the 11th) sighted over Troila, where it headed down the SW coast and out to sea from South Light.

Osprey over Utra Scrape (photo by AW Alex Penn)

A couple of interesting Wagtails were had today as well, with Dan finding a Blue-headed Wagtail at Walli Burn at 11am followed by a Grey-headed Wagtail on Skadan at 2pm, with both birds last seen together on Meoness this evening. The Grey-headed Wagtail is proving to be a bit of a head-scratcher, as Yellow Wagtail subspecies can be notoriously tricky to nail an ID at times - if we can get a sound recording of the call then that should be able to tell us if it is a Grey-headed or the rarer Ashy-headed Wagtail.

Grey-headed Wagtail (for the time being!) on Meoness (photo by AW Alex Penn)

The team (plus much appreciated help from Deryk and Martha) are out on another Puffin count this evening, where it should be a bit easier given the significant drop in wind. Yesterday evening saw lots of birds sat on the water and not too many on land, so it will be interesting to see if numbers change much tonight with less of a breeze.


HIGHLIGHTS:
Osprey: one over Troila then went down SW coast and out to sea
Black Kite: one still present until early afternoon- later sighted on North Ronaldsay in the afternoon
Blue-headed Wagtail: one female at Walli Burn
Grey-headed Wagtail: one female on Skadan

Other sightings: 2 Teal, 2 Tufted Duck (pair on Da Water), 4 Woodpigeon, 7 Collared Dove, 86 Oystercatcher, 9 Lapwing, 5 Golden Plover, 32 Ringed Plover, 5 Whimbrel, 5 Curlew, 15 Turnstone, 1 Knot, 4 Dunlin, 3 Purple Sandpiper, 1 Jack Snipe, 12 Snipe, 3 Common Sandpiper, 3 Redshank, 2 Wood Sandpiper, 2 Black-headed Gull, 21 Common Gull, 5 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 6 Arctic Tern, 13 Arctic Skua, 1 Red-throated Diver, 2 Sparrowhawk, 1 Short-eared Owl, 1 Wryneck, 1 Peregrine, 24 Carrion Crow, 2 Hybrid Crow, 52 Skylark, 9 Sand Martin, 58 Swallow, 19 House Martin, 12 Willow Warbler, 5 Chiffchaff, 4 Sedge Warbler, 4 Blackcap, 3 Garden Warbler (first of the year), 2 Lesser Whitethroat, 2 Ring Ouzel, 6 Blackbird, 3 Fieldfare, 1 Redwing, 6 Song Thrush, 17 Robin, 10 Pied Flycatcher, 1 Black Redstart, 4 Redstart, 5 Whinchat, 201 Wheatear, 4 Tree Sparrow, 13 Pied Wagtail, 4 White Wagtail, 1 alba Wagtail sp., 150 Meadow Pipit, 13 Tree Pipit, 41 Rock Pipit, 1 Chaffinch, 1 Brambling, 23 Twite, 3 Linnet, 5 Mealy Redpoll, 2 Redpoll Sp., 6 Siskin, 8 Reed Bunting

Collared Doves at Upper Stoneybreck (photo by AW Alex Penn)

Year List: 150

Other wildlife: one Shetland Bee at Shirva

Shetland Bee at Shirva - this one finally stayed still long enough for a photo! (photo by AW Alex Penn)
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16th May 2021
Weather:
clear and bright with a force 4 SE wind
The first clear and dry day in a while today, making for pleasant birding. A Black Kite sighted by Max was the highlight of the day, as it was first seen over Hill Dyke, then continued to tour the island throughout the afternoon, allowing lots of people to connect. An Osprey and an immature male Hen Harrier were also seen today, as well as a couple of Short-eared Owls present on the island - obviously a day for raptors! The team are taking advantage of the favourable weather conditions and are heading out on a Puffin count of the east coast this evening (with a much-needed helping hand from Deryk). Black Kite over Busta (photo by AW Alex Penn)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Osprey: one briefly toured the Isle
Hen Harrier: one immature male seen over Utra Scrape then heading out to sea
Black Kite: one touring the Isle all afternoon - the 4th record for Fair Isle

Other sightings: 1 Teal, 2 Tufted Duck (pair on Da Water), 2 Woodpigeon, 3 Collared Dove, 57 Oystercatcher, 11 Lapwing, 5 Golden Plover, 18 Ringed Plover, 4 Whimbrel, 5 Curlew, 13 Turnstone, 10 Dunlin, 4 Purple Sandpiper, 6 Snipe, 4 Redshank, 2 Wood Sandpiper, 1 Black-headed Gull, 17 Common Gull, 12 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 2 Arctic Tern, 8 Arctic Skua, 2 Short-eared Owl, 1 Peregrine, 27 Carrion Crow, 2 Hybrid Crow, 51 Skylark, 8 Sand Martin, 40 Swallow, 10 House Martin, 12 Willow Warbler, 4 Chiffchaff, 5 Sedge Warbler, 2 Blackcap, 1 Whitethroat, 1 Goldcrest, 3 Ring Ouzel, 3 Blackbird, 9 Fieldfare, 1 Song Thrush, 13 Robin, 4 Pied Flycatcher, 2 Redstart, 4 Whinchat, 188 Wheatear, 8 Pied Wagtail, 9 White Wagtail, 1 alba Wagtail sp. 144 Meadow Pipit, 8 Tree Pipit, 21 Rock Pipit, 2 Chaffinch, 5 Brambling, 18 Twite, 1 Linnet, 5 Mealy Redpoll, 3 Redpoll Sp., 3 Siskin, 1 Snow Bunting, 7 Reed Bunting

Year List: 149
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15th May 2021
Weather:
overcast with low cloud in the north and a force 3-4 north-westerly wind
Not much new in today as the wind turned north-westerly and low cloud rolled in over the north mid-morning to stay all day, cutting the NW cliffs out of census. The Calandra Lark was refound in its usual favourite spot at Lower Leogh, and the Citrine Wagtail remained at Utra Scrape for the day. Alex and I attempted to target a ringed Sedge Warbler in Meadow Burn sighted by Dan on census, but we ended up catching two unringed Sedgies and no ringed ones! A bit of a pain, but at least it wasn't a completely fruitless effort.

Sedge Warbler in the hand at Meadow Burn (photo by Ranger Georgia Platt)

Wood Sandpiper at Field Pond earlier this afternoon (photo by AW Alex Penn)


HIGHLIGHTS:
Citrine Wagtail: same 2cy female at Hesti/Utra
CALANDRA LARK: one still at Lower Leogh

Other sightings: 4 Wigeon, 1 Teal, 5 Tufted Duck (Da Water), 1 Woodpigeon, 71 Oystercatcher, 13 Lapwing, 8 Golden Plover, 27 Ringed Plover, 4 Whimbrel, 6 Curlew, 14 Turnstone, 5 Dunlin, 18 Snipe, 1 Common Sandpiper, 11 Redshank, 1 Wood Sandpiper, 2 Black-headed Gull, 9 Common Gull, 2 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 19 Arctic Tern, 5 Arctic Skua, 1 Blue Fulmar, 12 Carrion Crow, 65 Skylark, 6 Sand Martin, 28 Swallow, 15 House Martin, 34 Willow Warbler, 4 Chiffchaff, 5 Sedge Warbler, 1 Reed Warbler, 2 Grasshopper Warbler, 4 Blackcap, 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 3 Whitethroat, 6 Ring Ouzel, 5 Blackbird, 8 Fieldfare, 2 Redwing, 7 Song Thrush, 36 Robin, 10 Pied Flycatcher, 1 Black Redstart, 4 Redstart, 9 Whinchat, 200 Wheatear, 5 Pied Wagtail, 9 White Wagtail, 2 alba Wagtail sp., 140 Meadow Pipit, 8 Tree Pipit, 24 Rock Pipit, 2 Chaffinch, 5 Brambling, 31 Twite, 1 Linnet, 4 Mealy Redpoll, 5 Siskin, 5 Reed Bunting

Blue Fulmar at Easter Lother this morning (photo by AW Alex Penn)

Year List: 148
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14th May 2021
Weather:
overcast with some drizzle and a force 3-4 northerly wind
A few bits in today, including an Olive-backed Pipit at Wirvie found by Max on north census, which is only the third spring record for this species on Fair Isle. The Citrine Wagtail and Wood Sandpiper from the 12th were both resighted, a Red-throated Diver was seen flying over Utra, and the first Reed Warbler of the year was at Auld Haa - no sign of the long-staying Calandra Lark though.

Olive-backed Pipit at Wirvie (photo by Volunteer Max Hellicar)


HIGHLIGHTS:
PALLID HARRIER: one 2cy still bird present
Citrine Wagtail: same 2cy female back at Hesti/Utra
Olive-backed Pipit: one at Wirvie - only the 3rd spring record for Fair Isle

Other sightings: 1 Teal, 1 Tufted Duck (female on Da Water), 2 Woodpigeon, 67 Oystercatcher, 10 Lapwing, 6 Golden Plover, 48 Ringed Plover, 6 Whimbrel, 6 Curlew, 24 Turnstone, 9 Dunlin, 2 Purple Sandpiper, 16 Snipe, 1 Common Sandpiper, 1 Redshank, 1 Wood Sandpiper, 5 Common Gull, 8 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 3 Arctic Skua, 1 Red-throated Diver, 1 Short-eared Owl, 12 Carrion Crow, 1 Hybrid Crow, 72 Skylark, 4 Sand Martin, 22 Swallow, 14 House Martin, 30 Willow Warbler, 1 Chiffchaff, 4 Sedge Warbler, 1 Reed Warbler (first of the year), 1 Grasshopper Warbler, 1 Blackcap, 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 1 Whitethroat, 1 Goldcrest, 2 Ring Ouzel, 2 Blackbird, 7 Fieldfare, 6 Song Thrush, 21 Robin, 8 Pied Flycatcher, 1 Black Redstart, 4 Redstart, 4 Whinchat, 228 Wheatear, 1 Dunnock, 1 Grey Wagtail (Walli Burn), 4 Pied Wagtail, 2 White Wagtail, 145 Meadow Pipit, 14 Tree Pipit, 38 Rock Pipit, 2 Chaffinch, 4 Brambling, 22 Twite, 4 Linnet, 4 Mealy Redpoll, 2 Goldfinch, 4 Siskin, 14 Reed Bunting

Year List: 148
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13th May 2021
Weather:
mostly cloudy with some drizzle and sunny spells and a force 3-5 NW wind
A few common migrants (and a couple of rares) still in, with numbers still decreasing slightly. Yesterday's Pallid Harrier was still present and touring the Isle, with it first sighted today on Dronger by Dan - when I looked up after reading the message, it flew past my face a few metres away on Hoini, so this bird really gets around quickly! It was later seen over Gilsetter then headed south down the east coast, then again was seen in the north. Luckily the Bonxies don't seem to be giving it much grief like they do with other larger raptors! A Wood Warbler found by Dan on the cliffs at Lerness was a new species for the year, which showed extremely well as it sat digesting flies. These little brightly coloured tree-dwellers are always a treat to see, especially on a cliff on Fair Isle!

Wood Warbler at Moss Geo on Lerness (photo by AW Dan Gornall)


HIGHLIGHTS:
PALLID HARRIER: one 2cy still bird present throughout the day
CALANDRA LARK: one still at Lower Leogh
Hawfinch: one bird present
Little Bunting: ringed bird still present at Lower Leogh

Other sightings: 1 Teal, 4 Tufted Duck (two pairs on Da Water), 4 Woodpigeon, 73 Oystercatcher, 9 Lapwing, 5 Golden Plover, 29 Ringed Plover, 6 Whimbrel, 6 Curlew, 18 Turnstone, 12 Dunlin, 4 Purple Sandpiper, 14 Snipe, 5 Common Sandpiper, 6 Redshank, 4 Black-headed Gull, 10 Common Gull, 3 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 2 Arctic Tern, 4 Arctic Skua, 9 Carrion Crow, 65 Skylark, 8 Sand Martin, 39 Swallow, 15 House Martin, 1 Wood Warbler (first of the year on Lerness), 29 Willow Warbler, 5 Chiffchaff, 3 Sedge Warbler, 1 Grasshopper Warbler, 5 Blackcap, 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 2 Whitethroat, 3 Ring Ouzel, 4 Blackbird, 3 Fieldfare, 1 Redwing, 7 Song Thrush, 1 Mistle Thrush, 33 Robin, 6 Pied Flycatcher, 1 Black Redstart, 1 Redstart, 9 Whinchat, 214 Wheatear, 1 Dunnock, 6 Pied Wagtail, 5 White Wagtail, 1 alba Wagtail sp., 150 Meadow Pipit, 7 Tree Pipit, 37 Rock Pipit, 2 Chaffinch, 4 Brambling, 21 Twite, 5 Linnet, 3 Mealy Redpoll, 1 Siskin, 1 Lapland Bunting, 1 Snow Bunting, 8 Reed Bunting

Year List: 146
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12th May 2021
Weather:
sunny initially then clouded over mid-morning for the rest of the day, with a cold force 3-4 easterly wind, increasing to force 5-6 throughout the day
It seems like there was a bit of a clear out of common migrants today, which made way for a couple of rares! An Osprey was seen not long after census started over South Harbour flying out to sea, only to be outdone by Alex reporting a 2cy Pallid Harrier going north past South Restengeo - the 6th Fair Isle record for this species. This bird seemed to have done a tour of most of the northern half of Isle, with Dan seeing it at the base of Hoini, about 1.5 hours after it was intially sighted, before it crossed Hill Dyke and headed north again. It was later sighted at Wirvie, then again at Dumlin's Sink and across to Homisdale, meaning that the whole team managed to connect in the end. A very cool raptor to see on Fair Isle, which definitely sticks out over the moors amongst the Bonxies!

Smart gingery 2cy Pallid Harrier at South Restengeo (photo by AW Alex Penn)

A Citrine Wagtail at Utra Scrape was also found in the late morning by Max, which also proved to be fairly mobile, and Alex found a singing Wood Sandpiper in South Harbour in the evening, which were both new species for the year.

Citrine Wagtail at Chapel, in front of a cow's nose! (photo by Volunteer Max Hellicar)


HIGHLIGHTS:
Osprey: one over South Harbour
PALLID HARRIER: one 2cy bird present throughout the day, mostly in the north
CALANDRA LARK: one still at Lower Leogh
Citrine Wagtail: one at Utra Scrape
Hawfinch: two birds present
Little Bunting: ringed bird still present at Lower Leogh/Hesti
Hoopoe: one on the top of Hoini

Other sightings: 1 Greylag Goose, 1 Teal, 1 Tufted Duck (female on Da Water), 6 Woodpigeon, 60 Oystercatcher, 11 Lapwing, 4 Golden Plover, 16 Ringed Plover, 7 Whimbrel, 3 Curlew, 20 Turnstone, 15 Dunlin, 1 Purple Sandpiper, 10 Snipe, 7 Common Sandpiper, 1 Wood Sandpiper (one singing in South Harbour - first of the year), 2 Redshank, 6 Common Gull, 5 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 11 Arctic Skua, 1 Cormorant, 1 Kestrel, 1 Merlin, 29 Carrion Crow, 62 Skylark, 6 Sand Martin, 49 Swallow, 18 House Martin, 57 Willow Warbler, 3 Chiffchaff, 1 Siberian Chiffchaff, 5 Sedge Warbler, 1 Grasshopper Warbler, 9 Blackcap, 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 4 Whitethroat, 1 Goldcrest, 1 Ring Ouzel, 6 Blackbird, 13 Fieldfare, 2 Redwing, 5 Song Thrush, 32 Robin, 8 Pied Flycatcher, 6 Redstart, 8 Whinchat, 1 Stonechat, 149 Wheatear, 1 Yellow Wagtail sp. (flew south over Gilsetter), 9 Pied Wagtail, 8 White Wagtail, 150 Meadow Pipit, 14 Tree Pipit, 41 Rock Pipit, 3 Chaffinch, 4 Brambling, 29 Twite, 4 Linnet, 4 Mealy Redpoll, 1 Goldfinch, 3 Siskin, 1 Lapland Bunting, 11 Reed Bunting

Year List: 145
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11th May 2021
Weather:
low cloud and fog until about 11am, which cleared slowly for a mostly sunny afternoon with some showers and a force 4-5 SSW wind
Another great day for birds (and year ticks) as we keep getting spoilt by these ideal easterly/southerly winds. A Hoopoe was reported early morning (from the Good Shepherd crew!) at Aesterhoull, which was seen to fly to Meadow Burn and then south, only to be turned up a few hours later at Chatham's Land, and then at Pund later. A very mobile and flighty bird, but the last Hoopoe on Fair Isle (in 2019) stayed for about a week, so hopefully this one settles for better views.

Hoopoe distantly at Chatham's Land - being flighty! (photo by AW Alex Penn)

A Cuckoo was also spotted first at Linni Geo by Max, which was then later found at Shirva, and David had a different bird on the very top of Ward Hill - always the goal! Today was also David's last day, so he was out on North census, which turned out to be a good one despite the early fog - the seasonal team wish David and Susannah all the very best for the future.

Other year ticks today included a Lesser Whitethroat trapped at Platation, a male Crossbill on Dronger and a last-minute Osprey that flew over our heads whilst netting at the Obs this evening at 8pm. What will we get next? Osprey flying over the Obs/Landberg (photo by AW Dan Gornall)


HIGHLIGHTS:
Osprey: one over the Obs which flew towards Buness and continued south
Wryneck: two birds present
Common Nightingale: one bird ringed at Shalstane, and one seen at Chalet that will remain a Nightingale sp. unless caught or seen with better views
CALANDRA LARK: one still at Lower Leogh
Hawfinch: two birds present
Little Bunting: ringed bird still present at Lower Leogh
Hoopoe: one seen at Aesterhoull early this morning then at other points in the south throughout the morning

Other sightings: 3 Greylag Goose, 2 Wigeon, 2 Teal, 2 Tufted Duck (pair), 2 Cuckoo (first of the year), 19 Woodpigeon, 2 Collared Dove, 82 Oystercatcher, 10 Lapwing, 5 Golden Plover, 20 Ringed Plover, 5 Whimbrel, 5 Curlew, 43 Turnstone, 1 Sanderling, 29 Dunlin, 106 Purple Sandpiper, 14 Snipe, 1 Red-necked Phalarope (female at Da Water), 10 Common Sandpiper, 1 Green Sandpiper, 3 Redshank, 12 Black-headed Gull, 28 Common Gull, 14 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 47 Arctic Tern, 20 Arctic Skua, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Short-eared Owl, 1 Kestrel, 1 Merlin, 1 Peregrine, 67 Carrion Crow (including flock of 57), 1 Hybrid Crow, 63 Skylark, 12 Sand Martin, 39 Swallow, 17 House Martin, 141 Willow Warbler, 9 Chiffchaff, 3 Sedge Warbler, 2 Grasshopper Warbler, 25 Blackcap, 1 Lesser Whitethroat (first of the year), 4 Whitethroat, 11 Goldcrest, 12 Ring Ouzel, 11 Blackbird, 33 Fieldfare, 21 Song Thrush, 1 Mistle Thrush, 102 Robin, 19 Pied Flycatcher, 2 Black Redstart, 10 Redstart, 7 Whinchat, 230 Wheatear, 2 Dunnock, 10 Pied Wagtail, 6 White Wagtail, 9 alba Wagtail sp., 159 Meadow Pipit, 21 Tree Pipit, 63 Rock Pipit, 2 Chaffinch, 8 Brambling, 14 Twite, 4 Linnet, 7 Mealy Redpoll, 1 Crossbill (male on Dronger - first of the year), 4 Siskin, 1 Lapland Bunting (male still Gilsetter), 2 Snow Bunting, 19 Reed Bunting

Wryneck at Chalet - you couldn't ask to be closer! The bird stayed approachable like this for 5 minutes, then flew off! (photo by AW Alex Penn)

Year List: 142
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10th May 2021
Weather:
low cloud in the morning, turning into thick fog and drizzle and then constant rain in the afternoon/evening, with a force 4-5 easterly wind
There wasn't too much of a breeze or any rain this morning, so the team headed up to the Obs to run the nets and do some trap rounds for a couple of hours before census - a good number of Robins were caught, indicating that there were still birds in with these persistent easterlies. Our only problem today was the weather, as the low cloud started to properly roll in at about 11am and the NW cliffs were unaccessible for the rest of the day, and then around midday the rain started and still hasn't stopped! Still some nice birds around, including the Calandra Lark, a notable number of Hirundines, and a cracking male Lapland Bunting found by Alex on SE census at Gilsetter.

A striking male Lapland Bunting in summer plumage at Gilsetter (photo by AW Alex Penn)


HIGHLIGHTS:
CALANDRA LARK: one still at Lower Leogh
Hawfinch: male present at Schoolton
Little Bunting: ringed bird still present at Lower Leogh

Other sightings: 2 Greylag Goose, 2 Teal, 2 Tufted Duck (pair on Da Water), 9 Woodpigeon, 69 Oystercatcher, 7 Lapwing, 29 Ringed Plover, 5 Whimbrel, 7 Curlew, 67 Turnstone, 1 Sanderling, 46 Dunlin, 23 Purple Sandpiper, 15 Snipe, 1 Red-necked Phalarope (first of the year at Da Water), 9 Common Sandpiper, 4 Redshank, 5 Common Gull, 4 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 25 Arctic Tern (at Shalstane and Buness), 4 Arctic Skua, 1 Sparrowhawk, 30 Carrion Crow, 54 Skylark, 4 Sand Martin, 38 Swallow, 10 House Martin, 37 Willow Warbler, 9 Chiffchaff, 3 Sedge Warbler, 12 Blackcap, 4 Whitethroat, 5 Goldcrest, 7 Ring Ouzel, 8 Blackbird, 4 Fieldfare, 2 Redwing, 9 Song Thrush, 1 Mistle Thrush, 74 Robin, 2 Pied Flycatcher, 2 Redstart, 2 Whinchat, 157 Wheatear, 11 Pied Wagtail, 6 White Wagtail, 1 alba Wagtail sp., 125 Meadow Pipit, 5 Tree Pipit, 42 Rock Pipit, 1 Chaffinch, 4 Brambling, 10 Twite, 2 Linnet, 1 Mealy Redpoll, 2 Redpoll sp., 1 Siskin, 1 Lapland Bunting (smart spring male at Gilsetter), 7 Reed Bunting

Year List: 137
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9th May 2021
Weather:
a strong force 6-8 easterly wind decreasing throughout the day to force 3-4, with drizzle and low cloud for most of the day
Another bird-packed day, with the south-west cliffs providing the bulk of the common migrants, especially in the afternoon. Census this morning was paused briefly at the start, as Alex trapped a Wryneck in Plantation - a first for the year and an amamzing bird to see in the hand!

Wryneck in the hand at Plantation - just look at that cryptic plumage! (photo by AW Alex Penn)

Strong wind, drizzle and low cloud was hanging around for all of census, making for fairly tricky birding and rendering the north-west cliffs unaccessible. Fortunately the cloud lifted for a couple of hours mid-afternoon and the wind had dropped considerably, which allowed for some better birding in the south and for Alex to catch up on the rest of north census. At about 4pm Dan found a rather obliging Common Nightingale at Shalstane, which is the rarer of the two Nightingale species for Fair Isle (the other being Thrush Nightingale), showing diagnostic features such as an overall rufous colour with not much constrast between mantle and tail feathers, no markings on throat and 7 primary tips visible.

Common Nightingale showing well on the cliffs at Shalstane this afternoon - the 59th record for Fair Isle (AW Dan Gornall)

A bit more rain in the forecast tomorrow, but still an easterly wind so who knows what will turn up!


HIGHLIGHTS:
Wryneck: one bird trapped in Plantation - first of the year
CALANDRA LARK: one still at Utra Scrape
Common Nightingale: one bird at Shalstane
Hawfinch: two birds present at Obs
Little Bunting: ringed bird still present at Hesti/Lower Leogh

Other sightings: 1 Teal, 2 Tufted Duck (pair on Da Water), 2 Goosander (pair east over Shalstane - first of the year), 5 Woodpigeon, 68 Oystercatcher, 13 Lapwing, 3 Golden Plover, 15 Ringed Plover, 5 Whimbrel, 6 Curlew, 36 Turnstone, 1 Sanderling, 11 Dunlin, 6 Purple Sandpiper, 13 Snipe, 3 Common Sandpiper, 1 Green Sandpiper, 5 Redshank, 2 Black-headed Gull, 6 Common Gull, 2 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 3 Arctic Tern (first of the year at Shalstane and Buness), 10 Arctic Skua, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Short-eared Owl (found freshly dead), 1 Kestrel, 1 Merlin, 1 Jackdaw, 38 Carrion Crow (large flock of 38 Corvids high up, that looked to be mostly Carrion), 65 Skylark, 5 Sand Martin, 16 Swallow, 4 House Martin, 70 Willow Warbler, 17 Chiffchaff, 1 Sedge Warbler, 10 Blackcap, 2 Whitethroat, 3 Goldcrest, 12 Ring Ouzel, 7 Blackbird, 17 Fieldfare, 2 Redwing, 14 Song Thrush, 1 Mistle Thrush, 1 Spotted Flycatcher (South Harbour - first of the year), 84 Robin, 4 Pied Flycatcher, 1 Black Redstart, 7 Redstart, 3 Whinchat, 221 Wheatear, 8 Pied Wagtail, 7 White Wagtail, 1 alba Wagtail sp., 176 Meadow Pipit, 4 Tree Pipit, 34 Rock Pipit, 2 Scandinavian Rock Pipit, 3 Chaffinch, 5 Brambling, 8 Twite, 2 Linnet, 14 Reed Bunting

Year List: 136

Other Wildlife: Harbour Seal in North Haven
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8th May 2021
Weather:
partly sunny with scattered showers with a freshening force 2-3 easterly wind, increasing to force 5-7 in the evening
Now that's more like it. An absoloute cracker of a day for birds, with an impressive 7 ticks for the Fair Isle year list. Today has been our biggest day in terms of species yet this year, with 83 species clocked, and incidentally today was also the 'Global Big Day' run by eBird, which is the largest international birding event in the world, where individuals or teams submit a list of species sighted on the day. Luckily the weather was on our side for the Big Day, and a sudden constant breath of easterly wind seems to have pushed birds in our direction, and that was apparent as soon as the team stepped out on census. We started the day at 6:30am with a Breeding Bird Survey, which was nice in the calm weather, with the highlight being a male Golden Plover display flighting up near the Mast, then landing next to a female - one to keep an eye on!

Smart male Redstart in the hand at Plantation (photo by Ranger Georgia Platt)

With Dan on south-east, Alex on south-west, myself (Georgia) in the north and Max floating between areas, who knew what we were going to find. Pretty much as soon as census started, the WhatsApp messages began to come in; "5 Knot South Light" from Alex, "2 Sanderling South Harbour" from Dan and I trapped a stunning male Redstart in Plantation on my way north, which were all new species for the year. Then, Alex chimes in again with "CALANDRA LARK Utra Scrape" - the excitement was real, and all in about half an hour! We all met just north of Utra croft, where the lark was showing extremely well. An absolute beast of a bird, with bold black neck patches and the classic blocky head and stout bill, it was the 8th record for Fair Isle and the 23rd for Britain. A brilliant way to start the Big Day!

Calandra Lark at Utra Scrape - what a bird! (photo by AW Alex Penn)

All went fairly quiet after that, until Dan messaged in with a Red-throated Pipit at Brecks, which was heard and seen at a distance where Dan managed to get some record shots, until it flew north towards the turbines and wasn't relocated. A very tricky place to see the Pipit in the first place, so hopefully it might turn up elsewhere tomorrow. The afternoon consisted of more birding and a few more year ticks, as birds appeared to be arriving in throughout the day. These easterlies are set to continue to the middle of next week, so we should be in for a good few days to come.

Red-throated Pipit at Brecks (photo by AW Dan Gornall)


HIGHLIGHTS:
CALANDRA LARK: one at Utra Scrape, showing well
RED-THROATED PIPIT: one at Brecks
Hawfinch: one bird present
Little Bunting: ringed bird still present at Hesti/Lower Leogh

Other sightings: 4 Greylag Goose, 1 Pink-footed Goose, 2 Wigeon, 2 Teal, 2 Tufted Duck (pair on Da Water), 8 Woodpigeon, 72 Oystercatcher, 11 Lapwing, 3 Golden Plover (displaying), 26 Ringed Plover, 5 Whimbrel, 7 Curlew, 31 Turnstone, 5 Knot (South Light - first of the year), 3 Sanderling (South Harbour - first of the year), 4 Dunlin, 8 Purple Sandpiper, 34 Snipe, 2 Common Sandpiper, 6 Redshank, 3 Black-headed Gull, 17 Common Gull, 3 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 13 Arctic Skua, 1 Sparrowhawk, 2 Short-eared Owl, 1 Peregrine, 1 Jackdaw (first of the year), 16 Carrion Crow, 84 Skylark, 1 Sand Martin, 6 Swallow, 3 House Martin, 11 Willow Warbler, 15 Chiffchaff, 6 Blackcap, 1 Whitethroat (first of the year), 12 Goldcrest, 6 Ring Ouzel, 9 Blackbird, 2 Fieldfare, 3 Redwing, 15 Song Thrush, 1 Mistle Thrush, 17 Robin, 1 Black Redstart, 2 Redstart, 1 Whinchat (first of the year), 208 Wheatear, 11 Pied Wagtail, 12 White Wagtail, 2 alba Wagtail sp., 204 Meadow Pipit, 2 Tree Pipit, 39 Rock Pipit, 1 Scandinavian Rock Pipit, 1 Chaffinch, 6 Brambling, 23 Twite, 2 Linnet, 1 Goldfinch, 3 Snow Bunting, 6 Reed Bunting

Year List: 131
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7th May 2021
Weather:
a mostly sunny day with a force 2-3 northerly wind
A nice sunny day today with the breeze dropping throughout the day - census was still quiet, but we've got some very exciting looking easterlies and rain coming up this weekend, so the team are ever hopeful of some spring rares! Even a fall of warblers would be nice, as it's been very thin on the ground for them so far this year. We have a Breeding Bird Survey planned for tomorrow morning, and tomorrow is also the eBird 'Global Big Day' which we are registered as a team for, so hopefully we will get some nice species logged for that.

A distinctive Scandinavian Rock Pipit coming into summer plumage (photo by Volunteer Max Hellicar)

The evening had a brief moment of excitement at around 6:30pm, as AW Dan spotted a White-tailed Eagle in off the sea just as he stepped out of the door at South Light! It gave fantastic views as it circled briefly over Skadan, showing to be an immature bird, then gained a bit of height and headed north. Brilliant!

Immature White-tailed Eagle (with Great Black-blacked Gull) over Skadan providing the evening's entertainment! (photo by AW Alex Penn)


HIGHLIGHTS:
White-tailed Eagle: immature bird sighted in off the sea over Skadan briefly then flew north
Hawfinch: one male ringed bird present
Little Bunting: ringed bird still present at Hesti/Lower Leogh

Other sightings: 4 Greylag Goose, 1 Pink-footed Goose, 1 Teal, 2 Tufted Duck (pair on Da Water), 57 Oystercatcher, 12 Lapwing, 3 Golden Plover, 26 Ringed Plover, 1 Whimbrel, 9 Curlew, 14 Turnstone, 1 Dunlin, 1 Purple Sandpiper, 10 Snipe, 6 Redshank, 1 Black-headed Gull, 11 Common Gull, 8 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 3 Arctic Skua, 14 Carrion Crow, 70 Skylark, 2 Swallow, 2 House Martin, 3 Willow Warbler, 2 Chiffchaff, 4 Ring Ouzel, 3 Blackbird, 2 Redwing, 5 Robin, 1 Stonechat, 198 Wheatear, 8 Tree Sparrow, 6 Pied Wagtail, 7 White Wagtail, 3 alba Wagtail sp., 211 Meadow Pipit, 47 Rock Pipit, 1 Scandinavian Rock Pipit, 1 Chaffinch, 6 Brambling, 21 Twite, 2 Linnet, 1 Goldfinch, 2 Snow Bunting

Shag on a good-sized clutch of three eggs at Maver's Geo (photo by AW Alex Penn)


Year List: 124
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6th May 2021
Weather:
sunny spells and some showers with a force 4-5 northerly wind
A bit of a nicer day to be out, as the wind had dropped a bit, but still breezy. A rather quiet census this morning, followed by bits and pieces of trap repairs in the afternoon as we had some new tools and supplies delivered to us yesterday. On our way back to South Light this evening we ringed our first Lapwing chicks of the season - the first wader chicks of the year are always a momentous occasion!

These Lapwing chicks were probably only a few days old - still at the cute and downy stage! (photo by AW Alex Penn)

Today turned into more of an exciting day for wildflowers, where we saw firsts of the year flowering of some common species, including Spring Squill, Sea Campion, Tormentil and Bird's-foot Trefoil. Alongside the breeding seabirds, it's lovely to see the cliffs blooming into life again!

Spring Squill flowering at South Restengeo - this species will be carpeting much of the Isle soon! (photo by AW Alex Penn)


HIGHLIGHTS:
Hawfinch: one male ringed bird present
Little Bunting: ringed bird still present at Hesti/Lower Leogh

Other sightings: 3 Greylag Goose, 1 Pink-footed Goose, 1 Teal, 2 Tufted Duck (pair on Da Water), 61 Oystercatcher, 10 Lapwing, 3 Golden Plover, 23 Ringed Plover, 5 Whimbrel, 7 Curlew, 19 Turnstone, 2 Dunlin, 1 Purple Sandpiper, 9 Snipe, 5 Redshank, 1 Black-headed Gull, 11 Common Gull, 2 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 7 Arctic Skua, 1 Kestrel, 1 Peregrine, 7 Carrion Crow, 74 Skylark, 1 Swallow, 2 House Martin, 2 Willow Warbler, 2 Chiffchaff, 1 Ring Ouzel, 3 Blackbird, 1 Fieldfare, 2 Redwing, 1 Robin, 156 Wheatear, 4 Tree Sparrow, 1 Dunnock, 5 Pied Wagtail, 6 White Wagtail, 5 alba Wagtail sp., 169 Meadow Pipit, 28 Rock Pipit, 1 Chaffinch, 5 Brambling, 18 Twite, 7 Snow Bunting, 6 Reed Bunting

Peregrine dive-bombing at Utra, always an impressive sight! (photo by AW Dan Gornall)


Year List: 124
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5th May 2021
Weather:
partly cloudy with a force 6-8 NNW wind

Arctic Skuas are arriving back on the Isle, where they should be settling into their breeding territories in the coming weeks (photo by AW Alex Penn)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Hawfinch: one male ringed bird present
Little Bunting: ringed bird still present around Lower Leogh

Other sightings: 3 Greylag Goose, 1 Pink-footed Goose, 1 Tufted Duck (male on Golden Water), 63 Oystercatcher, 9 Lapwing, 1 Golden Plover, 22 Ringed Plover, 5 Whimbrel, 5 Curlew, 12 Turnstone, 1 Dunlin, 2 Purple Sandpiper, 9 Snipe, 1 Redshank, 1 Black-headed Gull, 7 Common Gull, 11 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 1 Arctic Skua, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Kestrel, 10 Carrion Crow, 69 Skylark, 2 House Martin, 1 Willow Warbler, 3 Chiffchaff, 1 Ring Ouzel, 5 Blackbird, 3 Redwing, 1 Song Thrush, 1 Robin, 166 Wheatear, 3 Pied Wagtail, 4 White Wagtail, 1 alba Wagtail sp., 146 Meadow Pipit, 1 Tree Pipit, 31 Rock Pipit, 2 Brambling, 11 Twite, 1 Linnet, 4 Reed Bunting

Year List: 124
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4th May 2021
Weather:
sun, cloud and a few showers with a cold force 6-8 northerly wind
Strong winds from the north made census pretty difficult today - between not being able to hear anything and not being able to see much through streaming eyes and shaky bins, birding was definitely a challenge! A Hawfinch retrapped in Plantation (previously caught and ringed by Deryk at Burkle) was probably the highlight, as well as a couple of Lapland Buntings making their way in. The team were all perked up by a check of the weekend's weather though, as we have some easterlies forecast - at last!

Lovely male Hawfinch in the hand - luckily he wasn't too bitey! (photo by AW Alex Penn)

PS - Happy Star Wars Day!

HIGHLIGHTS:
Hawfinch: one male ringed bird present

Other sightings: 3 Greylag Goose, 3 Teal, 2 Tufted Duck (male and female), 3 Woodpigeon, 63 Oystercatcher, 9 Lapwing (first chicks at Kirki Mire), 27 Ringed Plover, 2 Whimbrel, 4 Curlew, 24 Turnstone, 1 Dunlin, 33 Purple Sandpiper, 7 Snipe, 2 Redshank, 11 Common Gull, 7 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 10 Arctic Skua, 1 Merlin, 6 Carrion Crow, 71 Skylark, 2 Swallow, 1 Willow Warbler, 1 Chiffchaff, 2 Ring Ouzel, 3 Blackbird, 2 Redwing, 1 Song Thrush, 3 Robin, 1 Stonechat, 137 Wheatear, 8 Tree Sparrow, 6 Pied Wagtail, 3 White Wagtail, 137 Meadow Pipit, 24 Rock Pipit, 1 Chaffinch, 5 Brambling, 6 Twite, 1 Linnet, 1 Mealy Redpoll, 2 Lapland Bunting (Chatham's Land and Vatnagaard), 1 Snow Bunting, 2 Reed Bunting

Year List: 124
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3rd May 2021
Weather:
partly cloudy with a brisk force 2-3 NE wind
A fairly quiet census today, with not many new birds around. Dan managed to get to some of the Gannet monitoring plots in the afternoon before we get some strong northerlies again tomorrow, whilst myself and Alex patched up a hole in the Vaadal trap and Max did some extra birding. Although sunny most of the time, the wind was still bitterly cold! The dregs of a south-easterly coming from the continent combined with a bit of rain in the forecast may give us hope for the morning.

HIGHLIGHTS:
Hawfinch: one bird present
Little Bunting: ringed bird still present around Leogh/Hesti
RUSTIC BUNTING: same female bird at Quoy

Long-eared Owl in flight after being flushed from one of the conifers in the Obs garden (photo by AW Alex Penn)

Other sightings: 2 Greylag Goose, 1 Pink-footed Goose, 5 Teal, 2 Tufted Duck (male and female), 1 Woodpigeon, 3 Collared Dove, 65 Oystercatcher, 11 Lapwing, 3 Golden Plover, 10 Ringed Plover, 3 Whimbrel, 7 Curlew, 22 Turnstone, 1 Dunlin (Skadan), 10 Purple Sandpiper, 1 Woodcock, 14 Snipe, 4 Redshank, 7 Common Gull, 4 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 4 Arctic Skua, 1 Cormorant, 1 Long-eared Owl, 1 Short-eared Owl, 1 Merlin, 2 Peregrine, 6 Carrion Crow, 76 Skylark, 6 Swallow, 3 House Martin, 4 Willow Warbler, 4 Chiffchaff, 1 Siberian Chiffchaff, 1 Sedge Warbler, 1 Grasshopper Warbler, 1 Blackcap, 7 Ring Ouzel, 6 Blackbird, 1 Fieldfare, 3 Redwing, 5 Song Thrush, 1 Black Redstart (Upper Stoneybrek), 2 Stonechat, 206 Wheatear, 6 Tree Sparrow, 5 Pied Wagtail, 11 White Wagtail, 3 alba Wagtail sp., 185 Meadow Pipit, 2 Tree Pipit, 39 Rock Pipit, 1 Scandinavian Rock Pipit, 2 Chaffinch, 8 Brambling, 25 Twite, 1 Linnet, 1 Goldfinch, 1 Snow Bunting, 2 Reed Bunting

A pair of smart Razorbills in Maver's Geo (photo by AW Alex Penn)

Year List: 124
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2nd May 2021
Weather:
mostly sunny with a variable force 2-3 NE/NW breeze
A few bits in today, with today's highlight be a rather unexpected female Rustic Bunting on Skadan, found by Alex just at the end of SW census. The bird was mobile and acting 'new-in' (flighty and unsettled), and was last seen in Kirki Mire by David, who also had the first Sedge Warbler of the year at the same time.

Female Rustic Bunting on Skadan - the top find from today! (photo by AW Alex Penn)

Other birds today include a Long-eared Owl at the mast buildings, which was very camera-shy and eventually ended up in Skinner's Glig, where it circled briefly with the Fulmars before disappearing around the cliff - quite a surreal sight! Also a smart male Pied Flycatcher was found in Muckle Uri Geo, using the Oysterplant exclosure to fly-catch from. A day for unexpected birds it seems! Although the sea was flat calm all day, none of the team spotted any fins - hopefully we'll have some more luck tomorrow.

Long-eared Owl on the side of Ward Hill - you wouldn't think that heat haze would ever be an issue on Fair Isle, but between that and the bird being very shy, it proved for a tricky photo! (photo by Ranger Georgia Platt)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Pied Flycatcher: male bird present in Muckle Uri Geo
Hawfinch: two at Vaila's Trees
RUSTIC BUNTING: female bird at Skadan

Pied Flycatcher in Muckle Uri Geo (photo by AW Dan Gornall)

Other sightings: 12 Greylag Goose, 1 Pink-footed Goose, 2 Teal, 2 Tufted Duck (male and female), 5 Woodpigeon, 1 Collared Dove, 73 Oystercatcher, 11 Lapwing, 1 Golden Plover, 23 Ringed Plover, 3 Whimbrel, 3 Curlew, 19 Turnstone, 12 Purple Sandpiper, 16 Snipe, 2 Redshank, 4 Black-headed Gull, 12 Common Gull, 3 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 4 Arctic Skua, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Long-eared Owl, 2 Peregrine, 16 Carrion Crow, 83 Skylark, 8 Swallow, 5 Willow Warbler, 12 Chiffchaff, 1 Sedge Warbler (first of the year at Kirki Mire), 7 Ring Ouzel, 11 Blackbird, 4 Redwing, 8 Song Thrush, 7 Robin, 1 Black Redstart (Da Water), 188 Wheatear, 6 Tree Sparrow, 4 Dunnock, 7 Pied Wagtail, 6 White Wagtail, 180 Meadow Pipit, 1 Tree Pipit, 34 Rock Pipit, 12 Brambling, 25 Twite, 1 Mealy Redpoll (trapped in Plantation), 1 Redpoll sp., 1 Goldfinch, 1 Lapland Bunting (Burrashield), 2 Reed Bunting

Year List: 124
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1st May 2021
Weather:
mostly sunny with a chilly force 3-4 NE wind
Another quiet day for birds, with not much new in of note other than a considerable number of migrant Carrion Crows. Alex and Max also has the first Minke Whale sighting of the year whilst on SE census, so hopefully more cetaceans will be showing up in the coming months - the #27s Orca pod have recently been sighted from the Aberdeenshire coast, so they should be coming back north at some point, hopefully stopping by us on the way! With some upcoming calm weather, we should be back onto trap repairs for the next couple of afternoons.

The view back towards Malcolm's Head and the south-west coast from Hoini (photo by Ranger Georgia Platt)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Hawfinch: three birds present
Little Bunting: ringed bird at Lower Leogh

Willow Warbler in South Haven with quite a large snack! (photo by AW Dan Gornall)

Other sightings: 6 Greylag Goose, 1 Pink-footed Goose, 1 Shelduck (female off Skadan), 5 Teal, 2 Tufted Duck (pair on Da Water), 1 Woodpigeon, 45 Oystercatcher, 9 Lapwing, 2 Golden Plover, 14 Ringed Plover, 4 Whimbrel, 5 Curlew, 30 Turnstone, 1 Dunlin, c. 100 Purple Sandpiper, 13 Snipe, 1 Common Sandpiper, 7 Redshank, 14 Common Gull, 1 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 1 Arctic Skua, 25 Carrion Crow, 72 Skylark, 1 Swallow, 2 House Martin, 3 Willow Warbler, 5 Chiffchaff, 2 Grasshopper Warbler, 2 Ring Ouzel, 8 Blackbird, 3 Fieldfare, 2 Redwing, 4 Song Thrush, 5 Robin, 2 Stonechat, 142 Wheatear, 6 Tree Sparrow, 1 Dunnock, 12 Pied Wagtail, 8 White Wagtail, 160 Meadow Pipit, 1 Tree Pipit, 43 Rock Pipit, 1 Scandinavian Rock Pipit, 1 Chaffinch, 6 Brambling, 7 Twite, 2 Linnet, 2 Mealy Redpoll, 1 Siskin, 2 Reed Bunting

White Wagtail in the hand, caught at Kirki Geo this afternoon (photo by AW Alex Penn)

Year List: 121

Other wildlife: 1 Minke Whale seen distantly heading west off Meoness (first of the year)
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30th April 2021
Weather:
sunny spells with the odd heavy shower and a force 3-4 NNE breeze
Census as usual this morning, and the general feel of today is that there was very little new in. A couple of Hawfinch are still around, being very vocal and very mobile, but nonetheless excellent to get a glimpse of - such fantastic looking finches, even in flight!

HIGHLIGHTS:
Hawfinch: two birds still present (male and female)
Little Bunting: ringed bird at Leogh

Other sightings: 9 Greylag Goose, 2 Pink-footed Goose, 2 Wigeon, 12 Teal, 2 Tufted Duck (pair on Da Water), 2 Woodpigeon, 57 Oystercatcher, 10 Lapwing, 6 Golden Plover, 23 Ringed Plover, 7 Whimbrel, 7 Curlew, 50 Turnstone, 21 Snipe, 4 Redshank, 4 Black-headed Gull, 18 Common Gull, 5 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 2 Arctic Skua, 1 Great Northern Diver (on sea off South Light), 1 Merlin, 2 Peregrine, 6 Carrion Crow, 108 Skylark, 1 House Martin, 8 Chiffchaff, 2 Grasshopper Warbler (ringed bird at Plantation and one at Shirva), 3 Ring Ouzel, 5 Blackbird, 3 Fieldfare, 1 Redwing, 5 Song Thrush, 4 Robin, 2 Stonechat, 125 Wheatear, 6 Tree Sparrow, 2 Dunnock, 10 Pied Wagtail, 8 White Wagtail, 201 Meadow Pipit, 1 Tree Pipit, 60 Rock Pipit, 2 Scandinavian Rock Pipit, 1 Chaffinch, 12 Brambling, 19 Twite, 2 Linnet, 4 Mealy Redpoll, 1 Reed Bunting

White Wagtail in Kirki Geo (photo by AW Dan Gornall)

Year List: 121
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29th April 2021
Weather:
sun, cloud and brief showers, with a force 6-7 NE wind
This morning kicked off with a Fair Isle mega, with David finding a Mute Swan at Mid Geo - only the 13th record of this species on Fair Isle. Dan even abandoned his breakfast for it! A report of Great-spotted Woodpecker at Brecks came in soon after, giving us two year ticks by 9:15am.


Mute Swan in South Harbour "showing well"! (photo by AW Dan Gornall)

We also had an addition to the South Light team today, as Alex collected returning long-term volunteer Max Hellicar from the morning plane. Max is here to help us out for the remainder of the spring and the seabird season, and the extra help will be greatly appreciated. Welcome back Max!

Census itself today was fairly quiet, but with some additional birding this afternoon it turned into a pretty good day for birds.

HIGHLIGHTS:
Blue-headed Wagtail: still present at Kirki Geo, but still unsettled
Hawfinch: three birds still present
HORNEMANN'S ARCTIC REDPOLL: the same bird back at School Brae
Little Bunting: ringed bird at Midway/Leogh
MUTE SWAN: one bird present in South Harbour (13th for Fair Isle)
Great-spotted Woodpecker: male at Brecks (first of the year)

Other sightings: 24 Greylag Goose, 2 Pink-footed Goose, 2 Wigeon, 16 Teal, 2 Tufted Duck (pair on Da Water), 2 Red-breasted Merganser (pair in South Harbour), 5 Woodpigeon, 43 Oystercatcher, 6 Lapwing, 1 Golden Plover, 29 Ringed Plover, 3 Whimbrel, 8 Curlew, 54 Turnstone, 4 Purple Sandpiper, 8 Snipe, 2 Redshank, 2 Black-headed Gull, 10 Common Gull, 3 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 3 Arctic Skua, 1 Great Northern Diver (on sea off South Light), 1 Peregrine, 3 Carrion Crow, 85 Skylark, 2 House Martin, 3 Willow Warbler, 6 Chiffchaff, 1 Grasshopper Warbler (trapped at Plantation), 1 Goldcrest, 2 Ring Ouzel, 5 Blackbird (plus 2 healthy chicks ringed in North Shirva sheep shed), 4 Fieldfare, 1 Redwing, 3 Song Thrush, 1 Robin, 84 Wheatear, 5 Tree Sparrow, 5 Dunnock, 4 Pied Wagtail, 10 White Wagtail, 184 Meadow Pipit, 2 Tree Pipit, 35 Rock Pipit, 2 Scandinavian Rock Pipit, 1 Chaffinch x Brambling hybrid, 11 Brambling, 15 Twite, 2 Linnet, 1 Mealy Redpoll, 3 Reed Bunting


Grasshopper Warbler in the hand at Plantation (photo by AW Alex Penn)

Year List: 121
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28th April 2021
Weather:
mostly sunny with some cloudy patches and a force 4-5 NNE wind
Today saw the first census in a couple of days, although it was in the afternoon due to Alex and Dan helping Will with the via ferrata inspection at Easter Lother in the morning - we're now all trained up to use it later in the season, which should allow us to access some breeding Auk colonies as part of our seabird monitoring.


Looking out to sea from the beach at Easter Lother, only accessible by the via ferrata system (photo by AW Alex Penn)

Census itself was fairly uneventful until Alex found a stunning male Blue-headed Wagtail in Kirki Geo - it was acting as though it was new in (very flighty and unsettled), though briefly gave excellent views for us to get some photos. Hopefully it will stick around until tomorrow and will be a bit easier to keep track of! We then had a report of two Hawfinch at Burkle from Deryk, and one at Brecks from Kenny - it seems about time, as Shetland seems to have been getting loads recently! We're all keeping fingers crossed that they find the feeder in Plantation...


Striking male Blue-headed Wagtail strutting his stuff (photo by AW Alex Penn)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Blue-headed Wagtail: male at Kirki Geo (first of the year)
Hawfinch: three birds around Burkle/Brecks (first of the year)

Other sightings: 24 Greylag Goose, 2 Pink-footed Goose, 7 Teal, 2 Tufted Duck (pair on Da Water), 8 Woodpigeon, 2 Collared Dove, 37 Oystercatcher, 10 Lapwing, 14 Golden Plover, 9 Ringed PLover, 3 Whimbrel, 4 Curlew, 43 Turnstone, 30 Purple Sandpiper, 14 Snipe, 1 Common Sandpiper, 7 Redshank, 3 Black-headed Gull, 11 Common Gull, 2 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 1 Merlin, 2 Peregrine, 5 Carrion Crow, 74 Skylark, 2 Swallow, 2 House Martin, 4 Willow Warbler, 6 Chiffchaff, 1 Grasshopper Warbler (at Quoy - first of the year), 3 Ring Ouzel, 6 Blackbird, 19 Fieldfare, 3 Redwing, 7 Song Thrush, 4 Robin, 1 Black Redstart, 144 Wheatear, 6 Tree Sparrow, 4 Dunnock, 5 Pied Wagtail, 5 White Wagtail, 161 Meadow Pipit, 26 Rock Pipit, 1 Chaffinch x Brambling hybrid, 15 Brambling, 5 Twite, 1 Linnet, 2 Mealy Redpoll, 1 Reed Bunting


Summer plumage Golden Plovers (photo by AW Alex Penn)

Year List: 119
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27th April 2021
Weather:
sunny spells and a force 4-5 north-easterly wind
This morning kicked off with meeting up with visiting filmmaker Stewart MacPherson and cameraman Rohan Holt at 7:30am, to go up to Greenholm to film some seabirds and good views. These guys were just here on a brief visit as a precursor to returning to the Isle in the summer for their TV programme and self-funded project, 'Britain's Secret Islands' - it was fantastic to meet them and get to show them some of the widlife that we have here on the Isle, and although their visit was very brief it seemed like they got to meet a few islanders for a chat!


Stewart (right) and Rohan (left) getting some shots of the Holms and Helli Stack from above (photo by Ranger Georgia Platt)

Meanwhile, Alex and Dan headed north for some seabird monitoring, and later on myself and Alex greeted Will Bates off the plane, who is in for a couple of days to inspect our 'via ferrata' rope access system for cliffwork in the upcoming seabird season. Whilst waiting for Will's plane, Alex spotted a Short-eared Owl sitting in the grass next to the Vaadal Reservoir, somehow looking both instense and bewildered!


Short-eared Owl at Vaadal Reservoir (photo by AW Alex Penn)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Little Bunting: ringed bird at Hesti Geo
WHITE-BILLED DIVER: one on the sea off South Light, in non-breeding plumage - the same as the first bird sighted on 21st


Brilliant photo of today's reappearing White-Billed Diver off South Light (photo by AW Alex Penn)

Other sightings: 2 Pink-footed Goose, 3 Wigeon, 18 Teal, 2 Tufted Duck (pair on Da Water), 8 Woodpigeon, 2 Collared Dove, 6 Lapwing, 24 Golden Plover, 4 Whimbrel, 42 Turnstone, 109 Purple Sandpiper, 1 Green Sandpiper, 1 Black-headed Gull, 14 Common Gull, 4 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 1 Great Northern Diver (on sea off South Light), 2 Short-eared Owl, 1 Peregrine, 3 Carrion Crow, 1 Swallow, 1 House Martin, 2 Willow Warbler, 8 Chiffchaff, 1 Blackcap, 2 Goldcrest, 3 Ring Ouzel, 7 Blackbird, 86 Fieldfare, 2 Redwing, 3 Song Thrush, 4 Robin, 4 Tree Sparrow, 6 Dunnock, 5 Pied Wagtail, 6 White Wagtail, 1 Tree Pipit, 1 Scandinavian Rock Pipit, 3 Chaffinch, 7 Brambling, 2 Linnet, 2 Redpoll sp., 1 Reed Bunting


Ring Ouzel in the hand, caught in the Plantation trap (photo by AW Alex Penn)

Year List: 116
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26th April 2021
Weather:
a day of low cloud and rain showers with a force 4-5 south-easterly wind
Persistent rain put a stop to census today, and although the SE wind was still a bit promising, birding around the crofts this afternoon didn't produce anything spectacular. The feeder in Plantation is still producing some nice birds, with a good number of Brambling having been caught there in the last few days, the Little Bunting trapped yesterday and 3 Tree Sparrow trapped today. The weather is brightening up again tomorrow, so hopefully that means some better birding is in store!


Portrait of a smart Tree Sparrow trapped in Plantation this morning (photo by AW Alex Penn)

HIGHLIGHTS:
HORNEMANN'S ARCTIC REDPOLL: still present at Schoolhouse garden this morning
Little Bunting: one bird trapped still at Plantation

Other sightings: 1 Wigeon, 9 Teal, 2 Tufted Duck (pair on Da Water), 9 Woodpigeon, 2 Collared Dove, 6 Golden Plover, 6 Whimbrel, 80 Purple Sandpiper, 5 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 1 Short-eared Owl (School Brae), 1 Carrion Crow, 1 Swallow, 1 House Martin (first of the year at North Haven pier), 4 Willow Warbler, 1 Chiffchaff, 5 Blackbird, 1 Redwing, 3 Robin, 7 Tree Sparrow (3 trapped at Plantation), 2 Dunnock, 6 Pied Wagtail, 1 White Wagtail, 1 Tree Pipit (North Shirva), 1 Scandinavian Rock Pipit, 2 Chaffinch, 10 Brambling, 1 Linnet, 1 Mealy Redpoll, 3 Siskin


The Upper Stoneybreck lambs sheltering from the rain! (photo by Ranger Georgia Platt)

Year List: 116
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25th April 2021
Weather:
another cloudy day with patchy sunshine and a force 2-3 southerly breeze
One for the year ticks today, with five species added throughout census and being out and about in the afternoon. Little Bunting was completely unexpected, as no one had seen or heard any sign of one until it turned up in the Plantation catching box this afternoon! The 32nd spring record for Fair Isle, although we do feel slightly spoiled by the very productive autumn for this species last year.


Little Bunting in the hand at Plantation (photo by AW Alex Penn)

Dan headed out on another round of the crofts late this afernoon, where he found a snowball in the form of a Hornemann's Arctic Redpoll perched on the roadside fenceline near Field Ditch, when it was then pushed down to Chalet by Alex in the car heading south. The bird was then reported by Susannah at the solar panels on School Brae, where it continued to show ridiculously well (in true Arctic Redpoll form), happily feeding on grass seeds whilst it had it's photo taken just metres away.


Hornemann's Arctic Redpoll showing well at School Brae (photo by AW Dan Gornall)

Looks like a fair bit of rain in the forecast tomorrow - let's see what a change in the weather might bring!

HIGHLIGHTS:
HORNEMANN'S ARCTIC REDPOLL: one bird showing very well at School Brae this evening
Little Bunting: one bird trapped in Plantation

Other sightings: 17 Greylag Goose, 2 Pink-footed Goose, 3 Wigeon, 13 Teal, 1 Tufted Duck (female still on Da Water), 8 Woodpigeon, 1 Collared Dove, 47 Oystercatcher, 8 Lapwing, 15 Golden Plover, 17 Ringed Plover, 21 Whimbrel, 11 Curlew, 52 Turnstone, 1 Dunlin (first since January), 1 Purple Sandpiper, 21 Snipe, 1 Common Sandpiper (South Haven), 1 Green Sandpiper (first of the year), 5 Redshank, 1 Black-headed Gull, 8 Common Gull, 8 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 2 Arctic Skua, 2 Blue Fulmar, 5 Cormorant, 2 Sparrowhawk (Furse and Naaversgill), 14 Carrion Crow, 133 Skylark, 6 Sand Martin, 3 Swallow, 6 Willow Warbler, 5 Chiffchaff, 1 Blackcap, 1 Goldcrest, 2 Ring Ouzel, 10 Blackbird, 1 Fieldfare, 4 Redwing, 3 Song Thrush, 5 Robin, 162 Wheatear, 7 Tree Sparrow (first of the year), 3 Dunnock, 12 Pied Wagtail, 4 White Wagtail, 153 Meadow Pipit, 2 Tree Pipit (first of the year), 29 Rock Pipit, 2 Scandinavian Rock Pipit, 2 Chaffinch, 8 Brambling, 17 Twite, 2 Linnet, 1 Mealy Redpoll, 1 Redpoll Sp., 3 Siskin, 2 Reed Bunting


Female Ring Ouzel on Lerness (photo by AW Alex Penn)

Year List: 115
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24th April 2021
Weather:
a mostly cloudy day with some sunny spells and a force 2 westerly breeze
Today the team were out at 5:30am for the final breeding Tystie survey, collectively covering all of the western coastline from South Light to North Light. Surveying the west coast tends to be a bit trickier than the east coast, as the cliffs are all much higher and there are generally less Tysties as well, however we got a similar count to last time, so that's encouraging! Census felt very quiet, with not much new in other than a Common Sandpiper in Klinger's Geo found by Dan, which is a tick for the year list. The Fair Isle Starlings absoloutely love making a noise that sounds exactly like Common Sandpiper, so it's always a surpise to actually see the bird that should be making that sound! We kept oursleves busy this afternoon with more trap repairs - the west Double Dyke trap now has a brand new roof.

HIGHLIGHTS:
'European White-fronted' Goose: one bird present

Other sightings: 28 Greylag Goose, 2 Pink-footed Goose, 4 Wigeon, 7 Teal, 1 Tufted Duck (female still on Da Water), 10 Woodpigeon, 51 Oystercatcher, 10 Lapwing, 1 Golden Plover, 24 Ringed Plover, 1 Whimbrel, 8 Curlew, 51 Turnstone, 4 Purple Sandpiper, 25 Snipe, 1 Common Sandpiper (first of the year in Klinger's Geo), 12 Redshank, 2 Black-headed Gull, 12 Common Gull, 13 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 2 Arctic Skua, 83 Tystie, 1 Peregrine, 1 Kestrel, 9 Carrion Crow, 120 Skylark, 1 Willow Warbler (unringed bird in Gully), 5 Chiffchaff, 3 Blackcap, 3 Goldcrest, 7 Blackbird, 7 Redwing, 4 Song Thrush, 4 Robin, 1 Black Redstart, 1 Stonechat, 108 Wheatear, 3 Dunnock, 3 Pied Wagtail, 2 White Wagtail, 196 Meadow Pipit, 33 Rock Pipit, 4 Chaffinch, 10 Twite, 1 Siskin


Lots of muddy Puffins can be seen on the cliffs at the moment - clearly the result of some burrow tidying! (photo by Ranger Georgia Platt)

Year List: 110
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23rd April 2021
Weather:
a cloudy start gave way to a glorious sunny day with a very light force 1-2 north-westerly breeze
Can you believe it - another White-billed Diver! This bird was a different individual to the other day as well, as it was in full summer plumage. Although very distant, the large bulky shape and light-coloured bill was visible when it was first found by Alex (our resident rare Diver-finder it seems), before it floated further out into rougher water. The wind dropped considerably throughout the day, so after an afternoon of trap repairs the team then had another good scan of the now much calmer sea, hoping the bird would be closer in. Unfortunately no such luck, although we did have the scope focused on a pair of large Diver 'sp.' that were sitting on the water together for a while, but were too distant to get a solid ID on. Hopefully with these upcoming next few days of calm weather, it might *just* end up drifting into South Harbour - we can dream!


Post-work refreshments for the team at South Light whilst keeping a lookout for the White-billed Diver (photo by Ranger Georgia Platt)

Otherwise, another nice day for birds - a good number of hirundines were passing through, as well as the first Willow Warbler of the year and a couple of unexpected Short-eared Owls. Up early tomorrow morning for the final Tystie survey!


Close fly-pass of a Short-eared Owl at Vaasetter (photo by AW Alex Penn)

HIGHLIGHTS:
'European White-fronted' Goose: one bird present
WHITE-BILLED DIVER: one distantly on the sea off South Light

Other sightings: 26 Greylag Goose, 2 Pink-footed Goose, 1 Wigeon, 10 Teal, 1 Tufted Duck (female still on Da Water), 6 Woodpigeon, 3 Collared Dove, 44 Oystercatcher, 10 Lapwing, 28 Golden Plover, 19 Ringed Plover, 4 Whimbrel, 12 Curlew, 14 Turnstone, 2 Purple Sandpiper, 1 Jack Snipe, 19 Snipe, 6 Redshank, 2 Black-headed Gull, 17 Common Gull, 7 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 2 Short-eared Owl, 4 Carrion Crow, 160 Skylark, 5 Sand Martin, 10 Swallow, 1 Willow Warbler (first of the year, trapped in Double Dyke), 8 Chiffchaff, 1 Blackcap (male at Setter), 3 Goldcrest, 1 Ring Ouzel, 11 Blackbird, 7 Redwing, 1 Song Thrush, 4 Robin, 1 Stonechat, 129 Wheatear, 3 Dunnock, 9 Pied Wagtail, 3 White Wagtail, 165 Meadow Pipit, 38 Rock Pipit, 1 Scandinavian Rock Pipit, 5 Chaffinch, 3 Brambling, 20 Twite, 2 Linnet, 1 Mealy Redpoll, 1 Snow Bunting


The first sighing of Jack Snipe in a while as it was flushed from Gilsetter (photo by AW Alex Penn)

Year List: 109

Other wildlife: 4 Harbour Porpoise off South Light, heading east
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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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