Fair Isle Bird Observatory & Guesthouse

Latest sightings



PLEASE NOTE: the Obs will be closed between 4pm on Friday 25th January 2019 and 10am on Tuesday 26th February.

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21st-25th January 2019
A nice bonus for the year list, with the first 'Any Other Species' for Log of the year (not quite one that was requested in the last sightings round up, but close!). That's it for the latest sightings page now until the end of February, as the Obs will be shut whilst we're away. There'll still be plenty of people watching the Isle though, with ex-Obs' residents Deryk, Nick and Elizabeth keeping an eye out, and when the island includes other observers like Stewart, Kenny (who has found Great Bustard and Brown-headed Cowbird), Tommy (Citril Finch), plus a number of others who may not claim to be birders but have found Gyr Falcons, Snowy Owls and plenty else between them, then there should be interesting sightings (but spare a thought for the Parnabys if you see anything too rare reported on Fair Isle in the next four weeks!).
Weather: after a couple of days of NW winds, a very calm day on 23rd saw a lot of ice, which gave way to strong NW winds again on 25th. Wintry showers, with some heavy rain.

Highlights:
Red-necked Grebe: one in South Harbour on 23rd-24th was the 26th for Fair Isle, but just the third in the last ten years and the first since 2011.
Iceland Gull: 3CY feeding along the tideline in Furse on 22nd
Tundra Bean Goose: one still present until at least 21st
Coot: still present on Da Water, having survived the total freezing up of the Isle on 24th

Red-necked Grebe, South Harbour, 23rd January (David Parnaby)

Other sightings (counts refer to the highest recorded during the period):
Pink-footed Goose, 'European White-fronted Goose' (one on 21st was the forst record since 2nd, so was presumably a new bird), 9 Wigeon, 12 Teal, Long-tailed Duck (Ditfield 23rd), 2 Water Rail (Shirva and Skerryholm), 2 Oystercatcher, 28 Purple Sandpiper, 2 Woodcock (Obs 23rd), 2 Carrion Crow (South Light area), Robin (Obs), 30 Twite (Meoness).

Year list: 55
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16th-20th January 2019
A variety of weathers, but very little in the way of change on the birding front. Not even so much as a Little Auk in some whacking great northerlies. It's not been bad for the time of year, but for a decent challenge to the year list record you want a few surprises in the winter. In the record year (2014, with a final total of 220 species) January produced Velvet Scoter, Pochard, Coot, Little Gull and Tundra Bean Goose - all less than annual species. We've actually got two of these already this year, but we could do with a sneaky Smew, Great Crested Grebe or Snow Goose to liven things up a bit!
Weather: some milder weather with westerly winds, but a significant northerly blast and some wintry showers and icy conditions.

Highlights:
Glaucous Gull: adult in a loafing flock on Johnny's Peats on 20th
Tundra Bean Goose: one still present throughout
Coot: still present throughout on Da Water, despite one day where it was almost entirely frozen

Other sightings (counts refer to the highest recorded during the period):
Pink-footed Goose, Whooper Swan (commuting between Golden Water and Suka Mire), 13 Wigeon, 7 Teal, Great Northern Diver (South Harbour until 16th at least), 2 Water Rail (minimum), Oystercatcher, 2 Lapwing (Da Water, 20th), 240 Turnstone, Woodcock (Suka Mire, 17th; first of the year), Merlin (at least one, probably two), 3 Carrion Crow (all 'resident' birds), 12 Fieldfare, 30 Redwing (an apparent increase), 3 Song Thrush, 3 Robin (Obs and 2 at Utra), Meadow Pipit (17th; first of the year), 23 Twite (Barkland still).

Year list: 54
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11th-15th January 2019
Weather: westerly winds, often with a northerly element; cold at times and snow showers on 14th.

Highlights:
Iceland Gull: 2CY at Ditfield on 12th
Glaucous Gull: 3CY on 12th and an adult on 14th and 15th
Tundra Bean Goose: one present throughout
Coot: still present daily on Da Water

Other sightings (counts refer to the highest recorded during the period):
Pink-footed Goose, Whooper Swan (Golden Water), Wigeon, 7 Teal, Common Scoter (Furse), Long-tailed Duck (Ditfield 15th; first of the year), Great Northern Diver (still in the South Harbour and South Light area), Cormorant (still in South Harbour), Water Rail (Burkle), Oystercatcher (4 on 12th then at least two after; first of the year), Lapwing (Da Water), 241 Turnstone (12th), Merlin (present through, seen to kill a Fieldfare on 12th), Carrion Crow, Robin (Obs), 23 Twite (Barkland from 13th).

Year list: 52
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4th-10th January 2019
The decorations came down, the kids went back to School (on 8th), the Good Shepherd IV sailed a couple times, flights restarted and the year generally got going again. The birding was pretty slow though, with no significant arrivals and just a trickle of new birds for the year list.
Weather: some strong north-westerly winds and some calmer days, cloudier towards the end of the period. The decorations came down, the kids went back to School (on 8th), the Good Shepherd IV sailed a couple times, flights restarted and the year generally got going again. The birding was pretty slow though, with no significant arrivals and just a trickle of new birds for the year list.

Highlights:
Iceland Gull: 3CY (6th) and adult (7th)
Glaucous Gull: 5 on 8th (3 adult, 3CY, 2CY) and singles on 5th (3CY) and 7th (2CY )
Tundra Bean Goose: one still present throughout, usually associating with a Pink-footed Goose
Coot: still present throughout on Da Water

Other sightings (counts refer to the highest recorded during the period):
Pink-footed Goose, Whooper Swan (Golden Water), 14 Wigeon, 2 Teal, Common Scoter (Furse), Great Northern Diver (Mid Geo and South Harbour), Cormorant (2CY South Harbour, 10th), 3 Water Rail (Schoolton, Kenaby, Chalet), Lapwing (Da Water), 26 Curlew, Common Guillemot (reasonable numbers offshore on 10th), Long-eared Owl (Chapel Plantation, 10th), Merlin, Blackbird (9 at Obs on 9th suggested some small movement), 13 Fieldfare, 15 Redwing (at Chalet only on 9th), 4 Song Thrush, 2 Robin, 4 Twite, Common Redpoll (Barkland, 9th).


Great Northern Diver, Mid Geo, 8th January (David Parnaby)

Year list: 50
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2nd-3rd January 2019
Weather: light W or SW winds, cloudy and showery

Highlights:
Iceland Gull: 3CY at South Light on 3rd
Tundra Bean Goose: still present on 2nd at least
Coot: still on Da Water

Other sightings (counts refer to the highest recorded during the period):
Pink-footed Goose, 'European White-fronted Goose', Great Northern Diver (South Harbour, 2nd), Water Rail (Schoolton), Lapwing, Kittiwake (adult North Haven, 2nd), 6 Common Gull, Common Guillemot (2 on 2nd and small numbers offshore on 3rd), Merlin (Utra, 3rd).

Year list: 46
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1st January 2019
And so it begins! Welcome to a New Year and all the excitement that brings. The conditions didn't seem to have brought much new, but from a year-listing perspective, some of the lingering birds were very welcome.
Weather: Cold, with a strong WNW wind that had eased slightly from the very windy overnight conditions. Showery, with some of these being wintry.

Highlights:
Glaucous Gull: 4; 2CY at South Green and 2x2CY and a 3CY at Ditfield
Tundra Bean Goose: one still present around Nether Taft
Coot: still present on Da Water

Other birds (species listed without a number or comment were present but not counted):
307 Greylag Goose, 1 Pink-footed Goose, 'European White-fronted Goose' (one again feeding with the Tundra Bean Goose amongst Greylags at Nether Taft), Whooper Swan (Golden Water), 8 Wigeon (Golden Water), Mallard, 10 Teal, Eider, Common Scoter (female, North Haven), Fulmar, Gannet, Shag, Lapwing (Da Water), 10 Curlew, Turnstone, 2 Purple Sandpiper (Leestit), Snipe, Redshank, 4 Kittiwake, Common Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Tystie, Rock Dove, Kestrel (the wintering bird seen over Gilsetter), Merlin (South Light), Peregrine (adult over Gilsetter), 3 Carrion Crow (2 wintering birds at Utra and one near Pund), 15 Hooded Crow, Raven, 'Fair Isle Wren', Starling, 17 Blackbird, 13 Fieldfare, 22 Redwing, 4 Song Thrush, 2 Robin (Obs and Utra), House Sparrow, Rock Pipit, .

2 Robin (Obs and Utra), .

Year list: 42