Fair Isle Bird Observatory & Guesthouse

Fair Isle Bird Observatory & Guesthouse

Sightings archive: January-March 2015

Tuesday 31st March 2015:
Summary: another wintry day, with occasional blizzards! Birding was rather limited as we awaited the spring...
Weather: SW4 increasing to 7/8 later, showery and cold
Migrants (new arrivals, notable counts etc): Chiffchaff (2), Reed Bunting
Year list: 81 species

Monday 30th March 2015:
Summary: a cold and blustery day with snow showers making it feel distinctly unspring-like
Weather: SW4-6. sleet and wintry showers, cold
Migrants (new arrivals, notable counts etc): Chiffchaff, Snow Bunting
Year list: 81 species

29th March 2015:
Summary: a pleasant day, with an early start for a Tystie survey and a check of parts of the island in the afternoon along with the Beached Bird Survey.
Weather: SW 3-4 decreasing 2 later, sunny spells with some cloud.
Highlights: Iceland Gull (juvenile)
Migrants (new arrivals, notable counts etc): Purple Sandpiper (32), Rook (2), Chaffinch (5)
Breeding Birds: The count of 153 breeding-plumaged adult Black Guillemots on the east coast (from NOrth Light to South Light) was a significant decrease on last year's total, but was probably effected by the sea state and wind, hopefully further counts will result in a higher total being located. Puffins were noted for the first time this year, with four seen, but Guillemots and Razorbills were almost totally absent, with just one of the former today.
Year list: 81 species

28th March 2015:
Summary: a horrible day, with the weather seeing the team confined to the Obs for most of the day, although a quick scour produced a few birds, including a small influx of gulls
Weather: SE gale becoming SW later and easing slightly. Heavy rain at first, later easing to frequent heavy showers.
Highlights: 4 Iceland Gull (all juveniles)
Migrants (new arrivals, notable counts etc): Chiffchaff (2), Snow Bunting (5), Reed Bunting (male).
Year list: 80 species

27th March 2015:
Summary: With the wind switching to the SW there were fewer birds around, but a full census still turned up a few bits and bobs, with some of the previous day's migrants also lingering.
Weather: SW3 increasing 4/5, cloudy with a few showers, increasing in frequency later on
Migrants (new arrivals, notable counts etc): Woodcock (3), Woodpigeon (3), Carrion Crow (one at Hill Dyke with a Hooded Crow, possibly the bird that has summered on the west coast for the last two summers), Goldcrest (41), Chiffchaff, Blackbird (74), Stonechat (2), Grey Wagtail, Goldfinch (one over Suka Mire was later at the Obs feeders, the first for the year and earliest ever Fair Isle record).
Year list: 80 species

26th March 2015:
Summary: The first full '3 man' census of the season turned out to be a very pleasant day's birding, with a scatter of migrants around the island, particularly on the sheltered N and W coasts. Goldcrests and Blackbirds predominated, with other species arriving in much smaller numbers and Skylarks and Meadow Pipits still in relatively short supply.
Weather: SE4-5, cloudy with a few showers, mostly later in afternoon
Highlights: Iceland Gull (juvenile)
Migrants (new arrivals, notable counts etc): Dunlin (first of the year), Woodcock (4), Rook (first of the year), Goldcrest (56), Chiffchaff (3), Blackbird (76), Song Thrush (6), Robin (13), Stonechat (2), Snow Bunting (9).
Breeding Birds: Fair Isle Wrens singing in Havens and Guidicum, Ringed Plover and Curlew displaying, Gannets on well built nests, Shags nest building, Guillemots, Razorbills and Kittiwakes on cliffs, Starlings investigating nest holes.
Year list: 78 species

21st-25th March 2015:
Weather: winds starting moderate W, easing by 24th then increasing from ESE on 25th, heavy rain giving way to pleasant, sunny weather later in the period
Highlights: Iceland Gull (21st-23rd, peaking at 3 on 22nd, all juveniles),
Migrants: Greylag Goose (peak of 92), Wigeon, Teal (6), Long-tailed Duck (male on 25th), Grey Heron, Sparrowhawk (25th), Merlin (adult male on 25th), Peregrine (pair on 25th), Moorhen (23rd-24th), Oystercatcher (minimum of 60), Ringed Plover (at least 20), Golden Plover (23rd), Lapwing (14), Purple Sandpiper (up to 5), Curlew (at least 8), Redshank (15), Black-headed Gull (up to 6), Common Gull (at least 24, as breeding birds start to return), Lesser Black-backed Gull (adult 22nd), Skylark (at least 216), Chiffchaff (2 on 21st, 1 on 23rd and 25th), Blackbird (up to 12), Fieldfare (4 on 21st), Song Thrush (up to 3), Redwing (up to 10), Mistle Thrush (21st), Robin (up to 11), Stonechat (25th), Pied Wagtail (4 on 21st, building to 10 and one unidentified alba wagtail on 25th), Grey Wagtail (21st then 24th-25th), Meadow Pipit (peak of 18 on 24th), Chaffinch (3 from 21st), Greenfinch (25th, first of the year), Snow Bunting (8 on 24th, 2 on 25th), Reed Bunting (male on 24th).
Year list: 76 species

16th-20th March 2015:
Weather: moderate westerly winds, becoming more NW, with regular heavy showers
Highlights: Buzzard (until 19th at least), Iceland Gull (juvenile on 19th, with two the next day),
Migrants: Greylag Goose (peak of 85), Wigeon (from 19th), Teal (7), Long-tailed Duck (male), Grey Heron (20th), Merlin, Peregrine (female on 19th), Water Rail (Vaadal), Ringed Plover (at least 16), Golden Plover (20th), Lapwing 11), Purple Sandpiper (up to 18), Curlew (at least 8), Redshank (24), Black-headed Gull (up to 5), Woodpigeon, Goldcrest (16th and 20th), Skylark (numbers building to at least 221), Chiffchaff (2 on 19th, 1 on 20th - first of the year), Blackbird (13 on 19th may have involved a small arrival), Fieldfare (18th-20th), Song Thrush (peak of 3 on 19th), Redwing (peak of 8 on 19th-20th), Mistle Thrush (18th-19th), Robin (a peak of 17 on 19th), Black Redstart (18th, first of the year), Stonechat (male on 16th, then 5 arrived on 18th, with 7 the following day and 5 remaining to 20th), Pied Wagtail (2 from 18th), Grey Wagtail (17th-19th, first of the year), Meadow Pipit (present in small numbers), Chaffinch (2 males still present), Reed Bunting (male on 19th).
Year list: 74 species

11th-15th March 2015:
Weather: Some brighter spells, but generally still windy and frequent rain
Highlights: Buzzard,
Migrants: Greylag Goose (peak of 63), Teal (2), Long-tailed Duck (male on 15th), Merlin, Ringed Plover (at least 11), Golden Plover (12th), Lapwing (8), Woodcock (a few noted during Sheep Hill on 14th), Black-headed Gull (15th), Woodpigeon (2 on 19th, one lingering), Goldcrest (13th, first of the year), Skylark (numbers building to at least 75), Robin (at least 3 still), Stonechat (a pair on 13th and two females on 15th, first of the year), Pied Wagtail (11th-12th), Meadow Pipit (at least 5 on 13th), Chaffinch (2 males still present), Snow Bunting (5 on 13th, 1 on 15th).
Year list: 70 species

6th-10th March 2015:
Weather: Still rather windy, with SW winds dominating and frequent showers
Highlights: Iceland Gull (one on 6th, 2 on 8th), Glaucous Gull (juvenile on 10th)
Migrants: Greylag Goose (peak of 58), Teal (2), Grey Heron (9th), Sparrowhawk, Merlin (female), Peregrine (male on 8th), Oystercatcher (minimum of 64), Golden Plover (10th), Lapwing (5), Curlew (2), Turnstone (peak of 121), Black-headed Gull (10th), Skylark (numbers building to at least 21), Fieldfare (up to 6), Mistle Thrush (2 on 8th), Pied Wagtail (male on 9th), Chaffinch (3 still present),
Year list: 68 species

1st-5th March 2015:
Weather: Often very windy (predominantly from SW) and wet
Highlights: Buzzard, Iceland Gull (juvenile on 3 dates), Glaucous Gull (juvenile on 1st and 5th)
Migrants: Pink-footed Goose (3rd), Teal, Lapwing (8), Razorbill (returned in numbers on 3rd, first of the year), Skylark (present throughout in small numbers), Blackbird (8 at Obs on 1st suggested a small movement), Fieldfare (1 on 1st), Song Thrush, Meadow Pipit (4 on 2nd), Chaffinch (3 still present), Snow Bunting (3rd).
Breeding Birds: Fair Isle Wren ( singing in Havens from 2nd)
Other Wildlife: Frogspawn in Golden Water from 2nd
Year list: 67 species

26th-28th February 2015:
Weather: moderate to strong SW or S winds, showert and cool and times
Highlights: Buzzard (still present), Iceland Gull (juvenile on 26th), Glaucous Gull (2 juveniles on 26th, 3 on 27th)
Migrants: Pink-footed Goose (27th still), Greylag Goose (78), Teal (male), Common Scoter (male until 26th at least), Sparrowhawk (male on 27th), Merlin, Lapwing (at least 3), Curlew (at least 10), Mistle Thrush (still present on 27th), Chaffinch (3 still at Obs)
Year list: 66 species

21st-25th February 2015:
Weather: strong NW winds to start with, then moderate or strong SW or W winds later on, showery at times, occasionally wintry
Highlights: Iceland Gull (juvenile on 21st and adult on 25th), Glaucous Gull (one on 23rd)
Migrants: Pink-footed Goose (1 from 22nd), Greylag Goose (76), Teal (pair), Long-tailed Duck (24th), Common Scoter (male throughout), Sparrowhawk (still present), Peregrine (pair displaying on 25th), Ringed Plover (at least 10 still), Lapwing (at least 2 still), Purple Sandpiper (1 on 23rd), Black-headed Gull, Skylark (3 on 23rd signalled an increase in records), Fieldfare (still small numbers), Song Thrush (one at Obs on 25th was probably a new migrant), Redwing (present in small numbers), Mistle Thrush (one at Barkland on 25th, first of the year), Robin (one at the Obs at least),Meadow Pipit (3 south over the Obs on 25th were the first of the year), Chaffinch (3 still present at Obs)
Other Wildlife: Common Seal (one in South Harbour on 23rd)
Year list: 66 species

16th-20th February 2015:
Weather: fairly breezy SW winds throughout with regular showers
Highlights: Buzzard (still on 17th at least), Iceland Gull (juvenile on 16th, 17th and 19th, probably all the same bird), Glaucous Gull (adult on 19th)
Migrants: Wigeon (16th-19th), Teal (pair on 20th), Common Scoter (male in North Haven on 20th, first of the year), Merlin (female still, plus adult male on 19th-20th), Peregrine (adult female 19th), Water Rail (still at School on 19th), Oystercatcher (at least 35), Ringed Plover (12 from 19th), Lapwing (up to 8), Kittiwake (juvenile on 17th), Black-headed Gull (adult throughout), Lesser Black-backed Gull (adult from 17th-20th, the first of the year and the second earliest ever record), Woodpigeon (16th-17th, an early record and the first of the year), Skylark (singles on 18th and 20th, probably newly arrived migrants), Fieldfare (up to 11), Song Thrush (one at Obs on 16th was probably a new migrant), Redwing (at least 10), Robin (one at the Obs at least), Chaffinch (4 early migrants from 17th included males that had been ringed at the Obs on 5th and 8th October 2014), Common Redpoll ('Mealy' still present on 19th)
Year list: 64 species

6th-15th February 2015:
Weather: strong (gale force at times) SE and SSE winds towards the end of the period. Heavy rain at times, although some sunnier spells and the odd calm day.
Highlights: Hen Harrier (ringtail on 14th, the first of the year and first winter record since 1997), Buzzard (still present), Iceland Gull (juvenile throughout), Glaucous Gull (adult on 9th)
Migrants: Greylag Goose (up to 90), Grey Heron (1 throughout, with a second on 13th), Sparrowhawk (female still until 9th at least), Merlin, Water Rail (at least 3 still, although another was also found dead), Oystercatcher (numbers increased from single figures at the start of the period to at least 36 on 15th), Ringed Plover (first of the year seen on 13th), Lapwing (at least 4), Fieldfare (up to 17), Redwing (at least 10), Robin (1 still at Obs), Twite (peak of 32, with numbers at Obs building up to 13), Common Redpoll (1 'Mealy' still at Barkland on 15th), Snow Bunting (1 at Houll on 13th).
Breeding birds: Gannets had returned to the colonies by mid-month and Guillemots were regularly on the cliffs. Black Guillemots in breeding plumage.
Year list: 59 species

1st-5th February 2015:
Weather: WNW or NW winds, bring cold weather and frequent snow showers, with a few cm of snow lying overnight from 2nd through 3rd, which lingered on hills until 5th.
Highlights: Iceland Gull (juvenile on 1st and 3rd, second-winter on 2nd), Glaucous Gull (juvenile on 1st)
Migrants: Pink-footed Goose (4 on 1st - first of year), Greylag Goose (up to 152), Barnacle Goose (2 still on 1st), Mallard (at least 21), Long-tailed Duck (male off South Light 1st), Grey Heron, Merlin (male on 2nd), Oystercatcher (5 on 3rd), Purple Sandpiper (5), Kittiwake (1 on 1st), Common Gull (up to 2), Fieldfare (at least 25), Song Thrush (2), Redwing (16 minimum), Twite (24 on 1st, birds back at Obs feeders from 2nd)
Year list: 57 species

26th-31st January 2015:
Weather: S winds becoming NW later in period, generally strong with frequent heavy showers, snowy at times.
Highlights: Buzzard (reappeared on 31st)
Migrants: Greylag Goose (c80), Barnacle Goose (2), Wigeon (10), Shoveler (male until 31st) , Grey Heron, Sparrowhawk (female on 31st still), Water Rail (one still at Barkland), Curlew (peak of 28 on 30th), Common Gull (up to 15), Fieldfare (an increase saw up to 58 recorded from 27th), Song Thrush (1), Redwing (at least 20), Brambling (male still at Haa on 26th), Twite (up to 20)
Breeding birds: Guillemot (lots on cliffs early in period)
Year list: 56 species


21st – 25th January 2015:
Weather: a period of strong (usually F5-6) SSE, S or SE winds, showery, with good visibility and generally cool.
Highlights: Iceland Gull (juveniles on 23rd and 25th), Glaucous Gull (2, ad and juv., on 23rd, 1 juv. on 24th then 2 juv. on 25th).
Migrants: Greylag Goose (84), Barnacle Goose (2), Wigeon (8 on 21st), Shoveler (male throughout), Eider (minimum of 40), Long-tailed Duck (max. 2), Great Northern Diver (1 off South Light 23rd), Grey Heron (1 still), Merlin (1), Water Rail (at least 1 still), Oystercatcher (1 in Havens on 25th, first of the year), Golden Plover (1 until 23rd), Lapwing (1 on 21st, first of the year), Purple Sandpiper (1), Black-headed Gull (2 on 21st), Common Gull (up to 10), Fieldfare (slight increase, with up to 25 present), Song Thrush (max count of 2, but probably a slight increase as birds more scattered across island), Robin (at least 3 still), Brambling (male at Haa 22nd, first January record since 2003).
Ringing news: Herring Gull found dead in Havens on 24th had been ringed on Goorn, Fair Isle as a chick on 7th July 2014.
Breeding birds: Guillemots present on cliffs early on, then departed midweek.
Year list: 56 species

16th-20th January 2015:
Weather: W or NW winds, moderate or strong becoming moderate or strong SE later in the period. Showery at times but sunnier spells particularly later in the period.
Highlights: Tundra Bean Goose (3 still on 16th), Iceland Gull (juv. on 16th and 19th), Little Auk (one off South Light on 20th - first of year)
Migrants: Greylag Goose (86), Barnacle Goose (2), Wigeon (male on 19th), Shoveler (male throughout), Long-tailed Duck (Ditfield on 16th - first of the year), blue Fulmar (one in Furse on 20th), Grey Heron, Merlin, Peregrine (adult male), Golden Plover (one at Barkland 20th), Purple Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull (up to 3), Fiedlfare (at least 14), Song Thrush (1), Redwing (10), Twite (25 on 20th), Mealy Redpoll (still present until 19th).
Breeding birds: Guillemots present in large numbers from 18th and on cliffs from 20th.
Year list: 52 species

11th-15th January 2015:
Weather: another stormy period, with continuous strong westerly winds, often reaching gale force (and occasionally above). At least some rain most days, with some sleety showers, turning cooler towards the end of the period.
Highlights: Shoveler (a male on Field Pond then Da Water on 15th was the first of the year and just the second January record for the island) , Kumlien's Gull (second-winter again on 11th), Iceland Gull (juvenile on 12th-13th), Glaucous Gull (juvenile 12th-15th, second-winter on 14th).
Migrants: Barnacle Goose (2), Teal (2), Sparrowhawk (female still, caught a Turnstone on 12th), Merlin, Peregrine (1), Water Rail (at least three wintering birds still), Woodcock (1 at Obs), Curlew (up to 17), Kittiwake (up to 5), Black-headed Gull (adult 13th-14th), Common Gull (small arrival mid-week peaked at 9), Guillemot (14th), Blackbird (20+ still), Fieldfare (6+), Redwing (14+), Robin (1+), Twite (just one seen 13th-14th), Mealy Redpoll (13th-14th, thought to be the same bird as seen on 4th).
Year list: 51 species

6th-10th January 2015:
Weather: westerly or south-westerly winds and showery, calmer at first (generally Force 3-5) then gale force or higher in the early hours of 9th and during 10th. Hail and sleet on 10th.
Highlights: Kumlien's Gull (second-winter in South Harbour on 10th), Iceland Gull (single juveniles on 7th and 9th, with 2 on 10th), Glaucous Gull (juvenile on 6th then 9 [2W, 8 juv] on 9th and 7 [ad, 2W, 5 juv.] on 10th. The highest island count since 1996). Buzzard (until 6th at least), Tundra Bean Goose (3 relocated on 9th-10th). Snow Bunting (singles on 7th and 10th).
Migrants: Greylag Goose (max. count 77), Barnacle Goose (2 on 10th), Mallard (18+), Grey Heron, Sparrowhawk (female to 10th at least), Merlin, Peregrine (adult male on 9th, first of year), Curlew (16), Turnstone (max. count 139), Kittiwake (up to 6), Black-headed Gull (1w in South Harbour on 9th, first of year), Common Gull (up to 5).
Year List: 50 species

1st-5th January 2015: HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Weather: predominantly westerly winds and showery, very wind (gale force at times) on 3rd with heavier spells of rain.
Highlights: Buzzard (lingering bird still present), Tundra Bean Goose (3 on 1st), Iceland Gull (juvenile on 1st and 4th), Glaucous Gull (adult on 4th)
Migrants: Barnacle Goose (2 on 1st still), Wigeon (7 on 3rd), Teal (up to 2), Goldeneye (1 on 1st), Great Northern Diver (1 past Meoness on 3rd), Grey Heron (juvenile), Sparrowhawk (lingering male, plus an immature female on 3 dates), Merlin (at least 1), Water Rail (singles at Quoy and Midway), Golden Plover (4 on 3rd), Purple Sandpiper (up to 2), Woodcock (up to 2), Curlew (max. of 16), Redshank (max. of 30), Turnstone (100+), Kittiwake (juv. on 1st), Common Gull (up to 5), Guillemot (small numbers), Skylark (at least 2), Fieldfare (at least 12), Song Thrush (3), Robin (7), Twite (2 on 1st), Common Redpoll (1 on 4th), Snow Bunting (up to 40). Other species recorded: Greylag Goose, Mallard, Eider, Fulmar, Gannet, Shag, Snipe, Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Black Guillemot, Rock Dove, Hooded Crow, Raven, Fair Isle Wren, Starling, Blackbird, Redwing, House Sparrow, Rock Pipit.
Year List: 48 species