Fair Isle Bird Observatory & Guesthouse

Latest sightings

16th April 2024
Weather:
Sunny spells and a biting north-easterly wind, with scattered showers and hail throughout the day. F5-7 NE
A cold blast of air kept things quiet again on census, but Bonxie numbers continue to rise as pairs settle on the hills and parks for the breeding season. The resident pair of South Light Snow Bunting were joined by a third, and a flock of Golden Plover continue to roam around the south of the Isle.


Single figures of Willow Warbler have made it to the Isle (Alex Penn)

Sightings of note: 105 Greylag Goose, 6 Pink-footed Goose, 1 Whooper Swan, 2 Teal, 1 Common Scoter, 2 Woodpigeon, 45 Oystercatcher, 23 Lapwing, 38 Golden Plover, 101 Ringed Plover, 20 Curlew, 54 Turnstone, 6 Purple Sandpiper, 22 Snipe, 43 Redshank, 1 Black-headed Gull, 12 Common Gull, 8 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 36 Great Skua, 5 Red-throated Diver, 1 'Blue' Fulmar, 1 Cormorant, 1 Sparrowhawk, 2 Merlin, 1 Peregrine, 4 Carrion Crow, 298 Skylark, 1 Swallow, 1 House Martin, 1 Willow Warbler, 7 Chiffchaff, 1 Blackcap, 3 Blackbird, 14 Fieldfare, 25 Redwing, 1 Mistle Thrush, 9 Robin, 59 Wheatear, 3 Dunnock, 5 Pied Wagtail, 2 'White' Wagtail, 291 Meadow Pipit, 23 Rock Pipit, 4 Chaffinch, 3 Brambling, 10 Twite, 9 Linnet, 1 Goldfinch, 1 Siskin, 3 Snow Bunting, 1 Yellowhammer


Bonxie (Luke Marriner)

Year list: 114
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 15th April 2024
Weather:
A morning of intermittent light rain, with sun in the afternoon, and cooler temperatures. F3-4 N/NE (from a pressure system to the south).
With no reappearance of yesterday's White-tailed Eagle, the Fair Isle Fulmars and Bonxies could rest easy once again. The silver lining of a slightly damp census was calm conditions for the first time in a decent while, though any arrivals were in short supply. The first Grasshopper Warbler of the year was in the garden at Chalet, and other points of interest came from the regular 'Blue' Fulmar on the cliffs at Furse, a Ring Ouzel at Mast and a few 'White' Wagtails.


This smart male Stonechat has been a new arrival in the last couple of days (Alex Penn)

Sightings of note: 79 Greylag Goose, 6 Pink-footed Goose, 1 Whooper Swan, 1 Wigeon, 11 Teal, 2 Common Scoter, 11 Woodpigeon, 1 Collared Dove, 55 Oystercatcher, 27 Lapwing, 26 Golden Plover, 73 Ringed Plover, 21 Curlew, 92 Turnstone, 21 Purple Sandpiper, 30 Snipe, 24 Redshank, 4 Black-headed Gull, 16 Common Gull, 4 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 13 Great Skua, 1 'Blue' Fulmar, 1 Cormorant, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Short-eared Owl, 3 Merlin, 3 Carrion Crow, 273 Skylark, 5 Swallow, 3 House Martin, 1 Willow Warbler, 4 Chiffchaff, 1 Grasshopper Warbler (first of the year), 2 Blackcap, 1 Goldcrest, 11 Blackbird, 17 Fieldfare, 50 Redwing, 1 Mistle Thrush, 10 Robin, 1 Black Redstart, 1 Stonechat, 50 Wheatear, 3 Dunnock, 9 Pied Wagtail, 4 'White' Wagtail, 318 Meadow Pipit, 24 Rock Pipit, 7 Chaffinch, 1 Brambling, 8 Twite, 5 Linnet, 2 Goldfinch, 1 Siskin, 1 Snow Bunting, 1 Yellowhammer


Pigeons and doves (apart from the resident and ubiquitous Rock Dove) are furtive migrants to the Isle. Small numbers of Woodpigeons are present in the spring, often looking uncharacteristically 'wild' as they flock around the wild cliffs of the west coast's geos (Alex Penn)

Year list: 114
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 14th April 2024
Weather:
A mixed bag of sunny and overcast conditions, and pleasantly warm when out of the wind. Rain in the evening. F7 SW.
Another quieter census for passerine migrants was enlivened by a White-tailed Eagle, which roused the modest numbers of returning Bonxies into action, as well as the local Ravens and Peregrine. The species has become much more regular in recent years, and this is the 33rd modern record. White-tailed Eagles bred on Fair Isle until the early/mid 19th Century, with a failed attempt to reintroduce them back here in 1968.) Elsewhere a few Pink-footed Geese, Redwing and a couple of Snow Bunting linger, with another 'White' Wagtail logged. With Golden Orioles, Mediterannean herons and more turning up on bird observatories to the south of us, we watch the weather patterns with interest...


Today's White-tailed Eagle makes 2024 the 6th consecutive year to record this species (Alex Penn)

HIGHLIGHTS:
White-tailed Eagle: An adult appeared around the cliffs at Easter Lother, before doing a short tour from the north to Vaasetter, back to Ward Hill, to last be seen around Sheep Rock.
Great Spotted Woodpecker: Still present and making forays between nut buffets at Shirva and Haa.

Sightings of note: 86 Greylag Goose, 12 Pink-footed Goose, 1 Whooper Swan, 1 Wigeon, 8 Teal, 1 Common Scoter, 2 Red-breasted Merganser, 6 Woodpigeon, 44 Oystercatcher, 28 Lapwing, 33 Golden Plover, 123 Ringed Plover, 17 Curlew, 70 Turnstone, 35 Purple Sandpiper, 19 Snipe, 17 Redshank, 9 Black-headed Gull, 21 Common Gull, 3 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 15 Great Skua, 1 'Blue' Fulmar, 1 Sparrowhawk, 3 Merlin, 1 Peregrine, 3 Carrion Crow, 262 Skylark, 8 Swallow, 4 House Martin, 2 Chiffchaff, 11 Blackbird, 5 Fieldfare, 38 Redwing, 4 Song Thrush, 9 Robin, 1 Stonechat, 64 Wheatear, 6 Dunnock, 16 Pied Wagtail, 2 'White' Wagtail, 309 Meadow Pipit, 45 Rock Pipit, 8 Chaffinch, 13 Twite, 8 Linnet, 2 Goldfinch, 4 Siskin, 2 Snow Bunting, 1 Yellowhammer

Year list: 113
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 13th April 2024
Weather:
Another sunny start clouded over, with strong south-westerly winds and rain from mid-afternoon. F7-8 SW.
A quieter day, with rough winds once again keeping the west cliffs quiet. It is nice, however, to start to see 'real' numbers of Wheatears back on the Isle after a long hard winter of sprinting about in the dry Sahel zone of Africa. Wet and windy weather curtailed afternoon aspirations on Vaadal trap repairs, leading to much of the South Light living room lending itself to a roof panel workshop. We await a calm day...


Great Skuas seem to be among species, such as Ring Ouzels, predisposed to showing schizochrosim/partial leucism, as shown here (Luke Marriner)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Great Spotted Woodpecker: Still present at Haa.


Another oddity plumage-wise was this leucistic Skylark at Barkland (Jonnie Fisk)

Sightings of note: 90 Greylag Goose, 3 Pink-footed Goose, 1 Whooper Swan, 11 Teal, 2 Woodpigeon, 1 Moorhen, 35 Oystercatcher, 24 Lapwing, 2 Golden Plover, 101 Ringed Plover, 23 Curlew, 107 Turnstone, 9 Purple Sandpiper, 1 Woodcock, 19 Snipe, 31 Redshank, 12 Black-headed Gull, 14 Common Gull, 7 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 9 Great Skua, 3 Cormorant, 2 Merlin, 1 Rook, 3 Carrion Crow, 318 Skylark, 10 Swallow, 2 House Martin, 1 Willow Warbler, 1 Chiffchaff, 1 Blackbird, 15 Fieldfare, 28 Redwing, 1 Song Thrush, 9 Robin, 63 Wheatear, 2 Dunnock, 1 Grey Wagtail, 8 Pied Wagtail, 297 Meadow Pipit, 41 Rock Pipit, 1 'Scandinavian' Rock Pipit, 7 Chaffinch, 4 Brambling, 5 Twite, 9 Linnet, 10 Siskin, 2 Snow Bunting, 1 Yellowhammer

Year list: 112
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 12th April 2024
Weather:
Blustery again, but sunny and mild all day, with a brief calm spell in the late afternoon. F7-3 SW/S.
A quieter census, with evidence of some departures. Flocks of finches continue to pillage the feeders in Plantation, and at least one male of the Brambling flock has taken to singing in the Observatory garden over recent mornings - joined today by a singing Redwing (this species has bred on the Isle, most recently in 2020)! A Yellowhammer, trapped in Plantation, becomes the first ringed here since 2017 - Fair Isle is experiencing an odd ringing dry spell for this species, once pretty much an annual feature on the ringing list. Another section of the Vaadal Heligoland roof was repaired during some pleasant afternoon weather, and an evening roost ringing effort caught a mixed bag of species, incuding three Chiffchaffs.


Between 2020-2023, 5 Reed Bunting, 10 Lapland Bunting, 7 Little Bunting, 3 Rustic Bunting & a Snow Bunting were ringed on the Isle...but no Yellowhammer! (Alex Penn)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Great Spotted Woodpecker: Still present at Haa.

Sightings of note: 110 Greylag Goose, 18 Pink-footed Goose, 1 Whooper Swan, 1 Shelduck, 1 Wigeon, 13 Teal, 2 Common Scoter, 1 Long-tailed Duck, 1 Stock Dove, 3 Woodpigeon, 47 Oystercatcher, 25 Lapwing, 4 Golden Plover, 96 Ringed Plover, 25 Curlew, 16 Snipe, 1 Green Sandpiper, 35 Redshank, 19 Black-headed Gull, 47 Common Gull, 2 Great Skua, 1 Red-throated Diver, 1 'Blue' Fulmar, 2 Merlin, 1 Jackdaw, 2 Rook, 5 Carrion Crow, 146 Skylark, 15 Swallow, 2 House Martin, 3 Chiffchaff, 1 Goldcrest, 16 Blackbird, 1 Fieldfare, 28 Redwing, 13 Robin, 1 Stonechat, 21 Wheatear, 5 Dunnock, 11 Pied Wagtail, 244 Meadow Pipit, 26 Rock Pipit, 1 'Scandinavian' Rock Pipit, 19 Chaffinch, 8 Brambling, 8 Twite, 4 Linnet, 4 Goldfinch, 6 Siskin, 1 Snow Bunting, 1 Yellowhammer

Year list: 112
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 11th April 2024
Weather:
Wild south-westerly winds for the first half of the day, gradually decreasing to a pleasant, sunny day with mild temperatures. F7/8-4 SW.
After waking up full of enthusiasm for the day's census, the team set of fairly despondently into gale force winds tearing across the island. Once these had blown themselves out, more of the same was revealed birdwise, with a flock of migrant Golden Plover, a few Pink-footed Geese and some hirundines floating about. The first Green Sandpiper of the year was at Vaadal reservoir, as well as a new-in White Wagtail at Meadow Burn. The saga of our poor resident Whooper Swan continues; having stomped itself all the way from Suka Mire to Ringing Hut Marsh in search of food...where next?


In recent days we've seen the return of House Martins from their still as-yet unknown wintering grounds (Alex Penn)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Great Spotted Woodpecker: Still present at Haa.


Another Fair Isle day bows out with a bang...and the call of a Whimbrel, in this case! (Jonnie Fisk)

Sightings of note: 105 Greylag Goose, 12 Pink-footed Goose, 1 Whooper Swan, 4 Wigeon, 7 Teal, 1 Common Scoter, 2 Woodpigeon, 2 Collared Dove, 1 Water Rail, 40 Oystercatcher, 14 Lapwing, 38 Golden Plover, 93 Ringed Plover, 1 Whimbrel, 25 Curlew, 137 Turnstone, 32 Purple Sandpiper, 12 Snipe, 1 Green Sandpiper (first of the year), 35 Redshank, 3 Black-headed Gull, 17 Common Gull, 8 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 3 Great Skua, 1 'Blue' Fulmar, 2 Sparrowhawk, 3 Merlin, 1 Jackdaw, 1 Rook, 2 Carrion Crow, 146 Skylark, 2 Sand Martin, 12 Swallow, 4 House Martin, 1 Willow Warbler, 2 Goldcrest, 1 Ring Ouzel, 28 Blackbird, 6 Fieldfare, 23 Redwing, 7 Song Thrush, 1 Mistle Thrush, 10 Robin, 18 Wheatear, 6 Dunnock, 14 Pied Wagtail, 1 'White' Wagtail (first of the year), 190 Meadow Pipit, 43 Rock Pipit, 3 'Scandinavian' Rock Pipit, 22 Chaffinch, 6 Brambling, 16 Twite, 6 Linnet, 6 Goldfinch, 7 Siskin

Year list: 112
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 10th April 2024
Weather:
A sunny start and southerly winds, with a couple of light rain showers up to late morning. Pleasant into the late afternoon, becoming overcast and wet by evening. F5 S.
Fair Isle life felt right on today's census routes: the Bonxies are back! Still in single digits for now, but it was so good to see their barrel-chested forms cutting shapes against the skies around the hills of the north. Some Pink-footed Goose passage was logged and a Willow Warbler apiece was mined from each census area. A new spring record count for Ringed Plover was achieved, and a 'Blue' Fulmar was back on the cliffs at Furse. The Heligoland trap roof at Vaadal recieved some attention in the afternoon before the wind picked up once more.


Wheatears are now becoming daily fixtures on census (Alex Penn)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Great Spotted Woodpecker: Dismantling timber in the garden of Haa.

Sightings of note: 131 Greylag Goose, 46 Pink-footed Goose, 1 Whooper Swan, 3 Wigeon, 8 Teal, 1 Red-breasted Merganser, 1 Woodpigeon, 2 Collared Dove, 46 Oystercatcher, 29 Lapwing, 42 Golden Plover, 121 Ringed Plover, 16 Curlew, 131 Turnstone, 52 Purple Sandpiper, 20 Snipe, 33 Redshank, 5 Black-headed Gull, 15 Common Gull, 4 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 6 Great Skua, 1 Great Northern Diver, 1 'Blue' Fulmar, 1 Cormorant, 1 Sparrowhawk, 2 Merlin, 1 Jackdaw, 1 Rook, 2 Carrion Crow, 300 Skylark, 6 Swallow, 2 House Martin, 3 Willow Warbler (first of the year), 3 Chiffchaff, 1 Blackcap, 1 Goldcrest, 18 Blackbird, 8 Fieldfare, 18 Redwing, 4 Song Thrush, 16 Robin, 14 Wheatear, 6 Dunnock, 1 Grey Wagtail, 11 Pied Wagtail, 204 Meadow Pipit, 61 Rock Pipit, 4 'Scandinavian' Rock Pipit, 10 Chaffinch, 9 Brambling, 1 Greenfinch, 8 Twite, 8 Linnet, 1 Redpoll sp., 2 Goldfinch, 5 Siskin, 2 Snow Bunting, 1 Yellowhammer

Year list: 111
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 9th April 2024
Weather:
Rain all day. F4-5 N.
A bit of a washout, yet new birds were in thanks to the weekend's southerlies. It was a four-dove-day with the arrival of a Stock Dove and a Collared Dove, plus a handful more finches and the first Bar-tailed Godwit and Sand Martins of the year.


The smart male Snow Bunting continues to potter around Skadan (Jonnie Fisk)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Great Spotted Woodpecker: Once again taking refuge in the sparrow nestbox at Haa.


A sensible place to be on a wet April day (Jonnie Fisk)

Sightings of note: 7 Pink-footed Goose, 1 Whooper Swan, 2 Wigeon, 6 Teal, 3 Common Scoter, 1 Long-tailed Duck, 1 Stock Dove, 2 Woodpigeon, 1 Collared Dove (first of the year), 20 Golden Plover, 1 Bar-tailed Godwit (first of the year), 120 Turnstone, 40 Purple Sandpiper, 8 Black-headed Gull, 4 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 2 Great Skua, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Rook, 2 Carrion Crow, 2 Sand Martin (first of the year), 5 Swallow, 2 House Martin, 3 Chiffchaff, 7 Goldcrest, 12 Robin, 10 Wheatear, 5 Dunnock, 17 Chaffinch, 7 Brambling, 11 Goldfinch, 11 Siskin, 2 Snow Bunting, 1 Yellowhammer

Year list: 110
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 8th April 2024
Weather:
Sunny all day with blustery southerlies, petering out in the late afternoon. F5-7 S.
The unsettled weather continues, but brings with it a few new birds; including Pink-footed Geese, Golden Plovers and some year ticks in the forms of a Greenshank, two Whimbrel and a Great Skua, which cut 'inland' at Furse. It won't be long before our local birds are holding territory. After a bit of equipment admin for the spring's seabird season, ringing at the Observatory garden produced a few new finches and a male Blackcap, with a beautiful sunset to round off the day.


The first few hirundines of the spring have been recorded in recent days (Alex Penn)

Sightings of note: 45 Greylag Goose, 6 Pink-footed Goose, 1 Whooper Swan, 2 Wigeon, 8 Teal, 1 Red-breasted Merganser, 6 Woodpigeon, 49 Oystercatcher, 34 Lapwing, 7 Golden Plover, 45 Ringed Plover, 2 Whimbrel (first of the year), 20 Curlew, 147 Turnstone, 1 Dunlin, 112 Purple Sandpiper, 12 Snipe, 31 Redshank, 1 Greenshank (first of the year), 9 Black-headed Gull, 18 Common Gull, 5 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 1 Great Skua (first of the year), 25 Puffin, 2 Merlin, 1 Jackdaw, 1 Rook, 2 Carrion Crow, 143 Skylark, 7 Swallow, 2 House Martin, 6 Chiffchaff, 1 Blackcap, 4 Goldcrest, 1 Ring Ouzel, 35 Blackbird, 11 Fieldfare, 11 Redwing, 11 Robin, 19 Wheatear, 8 Dunnock, 14 Pied Wagtail, 201 Meadow Pipit, 33 Rock Pipit, 27 Chaffinch, 10 Brambling, 4 Twite, 5 Goldfinch, 7 Siskin, 2 Snow Bunting, 1 Reed Bunting


Early spring is a classic time for corvid passage on the Isle, with Jackdaws, Carrion & Hooded Crows, and birds like this young Rook, above, all on the move (Alex Penn)

Year list: 107
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 7th April 2024
Weather:
Sunny all day with strong southerly winds. F6 S.
A smattering of arrivals today, with more Wheatears in (including a migrant flock of six birds), the first House Martins of 2024 (second-earliest arrival ever, after 4th April 2016) and a few finches flitting around the south of the Isle. A Shelduck at Skadan, then departing north-east along the island's coast, was a scarce visitor. With the wind due to drop briefly tomorrow, we look forward to more migrants riding these airwaves towards us.


Making do on an island with no trees to drill (Luke Marriner)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Great Spotted Woodpecker: Once again taking refuge in the sparrow nestbox at Haa.

Sightings of note: 147 Greylag Goose, 1 Pink-footed Goose, 1 Whooper Swan, 1 Shelduck, 2 Wigeon, 10 Teal, 13 Woodpigeon, 47 Oystercatcher, 18 Lapwing, 2 Golden Plover, 64 Ringed Plover, 16 Curlew, 148 Turnstone, 1 Dunlin, 14 Purple Sandpiper, 1 Woodcock, 25 Snipe, 26 Redshank, 2 Black-headed Gull, 3 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 97 Puffin, 1 Sparrowhawk, 2 Merlin, 1 Jackdaw, 1 Rook, 2 Carrion Crow, 191 Skylark, 2 Swallow, 2 House Martin (first of the year), 2 Blackcap, 2 Goldcrest, 1 Ring Ouzel, 62 Blackbird, 35 Fieldfare, 33 Redwing, 15 Song Thrush, 3 Mistle Thrush, 15 Robin, 11 Wheatear, 7 Dunnock, 1 Grey Wagtail, 10 Pied Wagtail, 177 Meadow Pipit, 32 Rock Pipit, 20 Chaffinch, 5 Brambling, 4 Twite, 8 Linnet, 4 Goldfinch, 2 Siskin

Other wildlife: 1 Buff-tailed Bumblebee

Year list: 104
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 6th April 2024
Weather:
Heavy rain and gales overnight, throughout the morning and into the early afternoon. Rain ceased by late afternoon and the day ended with sunny spells. F7-8 SE.
A washout morning with winds gusting up to 47km/h led to the day's census being put on hold. The team took advantage of the Fair Isle museum being open for a well-timed visit, enjoying tales of lairds, shipwrecks and crofting families past (and very much present!) from Anne Sinclair, before viewing some of the work produced by Borghild Telnes, the artist in residence at Lower Leogh. In the afternoon, birding was sought in the more sheltered corners of the Isle, with a male Ring Ouzel at Kroga Geo and a Swallow sailing past South Light in the sun taking the prize for sightings of the day.


A smart male Ring Ouzel arrived today in the strong south-easterlies (Alex Penn)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Great Spotted Woodpecker: The resident male's head was visible as it sheltered from the weather in the Haa's sparrow nestbox, the entrance hole of which it has specifically widened...!


The Isle's Shags will have to wait for calmer conditions before their nesting ledges are safe from the waves (Jonnie Fisk)

Sightings of note: 123 Greylag Goose, 2 Wigeon, 7 Teal, 2 Woodpigeon, 15 Lapwing, 2 Golden Plover, 41 Ringed Plover, 116 Turnstone, 2 Woodcock, 28 Redshank, 8 Common Gull, 3 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 2 Puffin, 1 Merlin, 2 Carrion Crow, 1 Swallow (first of the year), 3 Chiffchaff, 1 Blackcap, 1 Ring Ouzel, 42 Blackbird, 21 Fieldfare, 35 Redwing, 9 Song Thrush, 4 Mistle Thrush, 9 Robin, 1 Stonechat, 1 Wheatear, 7 Dunnock, 1 Grey Wagtail, 2 Pied Wagtail, 12 Chaffinch, 7 Brambling, 1 Goldfinch, 2 Reed Bunting

Year list: 103
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 5th April 2024
Weather:
Cold and overcast, with sleet around midday, followed by scattered showers. F6 ESE.
The wind swung to give us a more south-easterly breeze, though it still felt cold. A Long-eared Owl was present again around Chapel and Burkle, while offshore over 300 Puffins were congregating after a few days of no records. A Woodcock was ringed at Gully and, at Da Water, the first Mallard clutch of the year was noted.


A Long-eared Owl in the garden of Burkle (Jonnie Fisk)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Great Spotted Woodpecker: The resident male found hospitality at Haa.


A second calendar-year Woodcock caught and ringed in Gully (Luke Marriner)

Sightings of note: 140 Greylag Goose, 1 Pink-footed Goose, 2 Wigeon, 19 Teal, 1 Common Scoter, 5 Woodpigeon, 32 Oystercatcher, 28 Lapwing, 47 Ringed Plover, 16 Curlew, 20 Turnstone, 3 Woodcock, 31 Snipe, 29 Redshank, 11 Common Gull, 7 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 355 Puffin, 1 Red-throated Diver, 1 Great Northern Diver, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Long-eared Owl, 2 Merlin, 2 Carrion Crow, 255 Skylark, 1 Chiffchaff, 7 Goldcrest, 62 Blackbird, 37 Fieldfare, 19 Redwing, 15 Song Thrush, 1 Mistle Thrush, 30 Robin, 1 Stonechat, 1 Wheatear, 17 Dunnock, 1 Grey Wagtail, 2 Pied Wagtail, 102 Meadow Pipit, 18 Rock Pipit, 4 Chaffinch, 3 Brambling, 7 Twite, 3 Snow Bunting, 1 Reed Bunting


Small numbers of Chaffinch remain around the crofts, feeding up before onward migration (Alex Penn)

Year list: 102
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 4th April 2024
Weather:
A cold start with north-easterly winds and light snow, dropping off as the morning progressed. Sunny spells by the afternoon. F5 NE.
Another chilly census, with few birds to show for it. Reed Buntings jumped in number and a Long-eared Owl was flushed from the Chapel plantation while the team erected mist nets across choice sites in the south.


The first Lapwing (known as Tieves' Nacket in Shetland dialect) clutch of the year was found at Da Water today (Alex Penn)

Sightings of note: 140 Greylag Goose, 1 Pink-footed Goose, 1 Whooper Swan, 14 Teal, 5 Woodpigeon, 1 Moorhen, 24 Oystercatcher, 21 Lapwing, 1 Golden Plover, 98 Ringed Plover, 14 Curlew, 101 Turnstone, 1 Dunlin, 26 Purple Sandpiper, 19 Snipe, 11 Redshank, 1 Black-headed Gull, 5 Common Gull, 7 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Long-eared Owl, 2 Merlin, 1 Jackdaw, 2 Carrion Crow, 111 Skylark, 2 Chiffchaff, 2 Goldcrest, 52 Blackbird, 40 Fieldfare, 15 Redwing, 8 Song Thrush, 4 Mistle Thrush, 19 Robin, 1 Wheatear, 8 Dunnock, 2 Grey Wagtail, 4 Pied Wagtail, 94 Meadow Pipit, 18 Rock Pipit, 1 'Scandinavian' Rock Pipit, 7 Chaffinch, 8 Brambling, 5 Twite, 2 Snow Bunting, 9 Reed Bunting

Year list: 102
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 3rd April 2024
Weather:
A Baltic gale blew in from the east coast of Norway during the morning, easing slightly as the day wore on and the sun came out. F7-8 NE.
Punishing conditions for census unsurprisingly yielded low numbers of birds, and no arrivals. The cliffs in the north, which in coming months will be covered in breeding Guillemots, were being wiped by the waves and you can't help but feel sorry for the newborn lambs entering the world on Fair Isle's north hills!


Islanders are preparing, or already busy underway, with lambing. Pictured is one of the newest additions to the Shirva flock (Jonnie Fisk)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Great Spotted Woodpecker: The resident male was sheltering from the wind at Shirva.

Sightings of note: 96 Greylag Goose, 1 Pink-footed Goose, 11 Teal, 1 Common Scoter, 1 Long-tailed Duck, 17 Woodpigeon, 1 Moorhen (found dead at Gilly Burn), 25 Oystercatcher, 17 Lapwing, 1 Golden Plover, 76 Ringed Plover, 22 Curlew, 88 Turnstone, 1 Dunlin, 3 Purple Sandpiper, 29 Snipe, 20 Redshank, 6 Common Gull, 2 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 1 Red-throated Diver, 2 Sparrowhawk, 1 Merlin, 2 Carrion Crow, 166 Skylark, 2 Chiffchaff, 5 Goldcrest, 72 Blackbird, 64 Fieldfare, 24 Redwing, 33 Song Thrush, 2 Mistle Thrush, 29 Robin, 2 Wheatear, 10 Dunnock, 3 Grey Wagtail, 2 Pied Wagtail, 81 Meadow Pipit, 10 Rock Pipit, 2 Chaffinch, 7 Brambling, 9 Twite, 1 Snow Bunting, 1 Reed Bunting

Year list: 102
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 2nd April 2024
Weather:
Overcast, with strong, cold winds and a spot of rain late morning and early evening. F6 NE.
After some cushty conditions, it was about time early spring provided challenging weather for censusing! Most birds seemed to keep a low profile in the bitter conditions, and none of the previously lingering Fair Isle rarities were logged today.


Meeting an early-April Wheatear always makes a trip into the field worthwhile (Alex Penn)

Sightings of note: 82 Greylag Goose, 1 Whooper Swan, 2 Wigeon, 18 Teal, 4 Woodpigeon, 36 Oystercatcher, 24 Lapwing, 1 Golden Plover, 61 Ringed Plover, 22 Curlew, 36 Turnstone, 1 Dunlin, 49 Purple Sandpiper, 16 Snipe, 27 Redshank, 1 Black-headed Gull, 11 Common Gull, 6 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 1 Sparrowhawk, 2 Merlin, 2 Carrion Crow, 229 Skylark, 6 Goldcrest, 104 Blackbird, 97 Fieldfare, 49 Redwing, 24 Song Thrush, 3 Mistle Thrush, 30 Robin, 5 Wheatear, 8 Dunnock, 2 Grey Wagtail, 126 Meadow Pipit, 18 Rock Pipit, 1 'Scandinavian' Rock Pipit, 6 Chaffinch, 9 Brambling, 2 Twite, 2 Snow Bunting


Redwing continue to move through Fair Isle on their epic journeys northwards (Alex Penn)

Year list: 102
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 1st April 2024
Weather:
Sunny spells with a fresher north-easterly, picking up in strength by the evening. F5 NE.
A largely cloudless, calm night and a swing in the wind direction saw a clearout on census, with much lower totals than in the recent warmer days. However, the Red-flanked Bluetail and Great Spotted Woodpecker remain, and a flock of nine Jackdaw were the highest spring count since 2008. Four Water Rail were teased from the crofts and two Sparrowhawks are bothering the resident waders and Merlin. With another sunny afternoon at the team's disposal, a large section of the winter-worn Plantation Heligoland trap was repaired.


Though their numbers have dropped compared to recent days, Goldcrests still entertain by flycatching in sheltered, sunny spots (Jonnie Fisk)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Great Spotted Woodpecker: The resident male makes it to April!
Red-flanked Bluetail: Present at Hesswalls for its fourth day.


Fair Isle Rabbits, showing the commonly-occurring black colour form (Jonnie Fisk)

Sightings of note: 109 Greylag Goose, 1 Pink-footed Goose, 1 Whooper Swan, 25 Teal, 1 Long-tailed Duck, 3 Woodpigeon, 4 Water Rail, 1 Moorhen, 39 Oystercatcher, 29 Lapwing, 1 Golden Plover, 76 Ringed Plover, 23 Curlew, 68 Turnstone, 10 Purple Sandpiper, 20 Snipe, 18 Redshank, 6 Common Gull, 4 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 7 Puffin, 1 Cormorant, 2 Sparrowhawk, 1 Merlin, 9 Jackdaw, 2 Carrion Crow, 139 Skylark, 10 Chiffchaff, 2 Blackcap, 9 Goldcrest, 70 Blackbird, 79 Fieldfare, 45 Redwing, 21 Song Thrush, 6 Mistle Thrush, 29 Robin, 5 Wheatear, 11 Dunnock, 12 Pied Watail, 123 Meadow Pipit, 20 Rock Pipit, 3 'Scandinavian' Rock Pipit, 9 Chaffinch, 8 Brambling, 6 Twite, 2 Siskin, 2 Snow Bunting, 1 Reed Bunting.

Other wildlife: 4 Buff-tailed Bumblebee

Year list: 102
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 31st March 2024
Weather:
An overcast start became another beautiful early spring day, with clear blue skies and warmth. F2-3 W.
A beautiful Easter Sunday on the Isle, with further seasonal flair provided by the first lambs around the crofts in the south and our earliest Ring Ouzel since 2012. The Red-flanked Bluetail remains on its favoured roll of wire, and Shirva hosts the regular Great Spotted Woodpecker and a Hawfinch; competing with breeding-plumaged Bramblings for sustenance. The first Puffin 'touch-downs' of the spring were noted at North Light and Gunnawark - we wish them a bumper breeding season!


The sunny weather prompted Puffins to investigate their breeding sites for the first time this year (Alex Penn)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Great Spotted Woodpecker: Still making short work of the Shirva woodstore.
Red-flanked Bluetail: Present at Hesswalls for its third day.
Hawfinch: A blue-beaked male continues to enjoy the feeders at Shirva.


One of the South Light Purple Sandpiper flock (Jonnie Fisk)

Sightings of note: 132 Greylag Goose, 1 Pink-footed Goose, 3 Wigeon, 27 Teal, 1 Common Scoter, 1 Long-tailed Duck, 10 Woodpigeon, 1 Water Rail, 37 Oystercatcher, 36 Lapwing, 3 Golden Plover, 83 Ringed Plover, 30 Curlew, 94 Turnstone, 1 Dunlin, 79 Purple Sandpiper, 2 Woodcock, 28 Snipe, 13 Redshank, 2 Black-headed Gull, 12 Common Gull, 2 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 45 Puffin, 1 Great Northern Diver, 1 'Blue' Fulmar, 2 Cormorant, 2 Merlin, 1 Peregrine, 8 Jackdaw, 2 Carrion Crow, 114 Skylark, 10 Chiffchaff, 27 Goldcrest, 1 Ring Ouzel (first of the year), 66 Blackbird, 114 Fieldfare, 31 Redwing, 44 Song Thrush, 1 Mistle Thrush, 64 Robin, 3 Wheatear, 12 Dunnock, 3 Grey Wagtail, 8 Pied Wagtail, 214 Meadow Pipit, 3 'Scandinavian' Rock Pipit, 8 Chaffinch, 5 Brambling, 1 Greenfinch, 16 Twite, 3 Linnet, 1 Mealy Redpoll, 1 Goldfinch (first of the year), 2 Siskin, 2 Snow Bunting.


Twite are a daily delight on Fair Isle - small numbers of these ground-nesting finches breed here (Luke Marriner)

Year list: 102
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 30th March 2024
Weather:
Another beautiful day, an overcast spell in the late morning giving way to prolonged sun and blue skies. F3 SE.
Another pleasant day in the field, with expectations high for the first Wheatear of the year...By 13.00hrs the deed had been done, with two at Skinner's Glig and one at Meoness - an appropiate landmark species for the 100th bird on the Fair Isle year list. Yesterday's Red-flanked Bluetail remained to brighten the day of the warden on south-east census, plus two Hawfinches were whizzing around, and the South Light Woodlark made a welcome reappearance. The team are mapping the newly-singing Fair Isle Wrens, the Raven pair at Gunnawark have chicks and a Buff-tailed Bumblebee was roused into action by the sun. An afternoon of Heligoland repairs was rounded off with a finch roost ringing session at the Observatory.


Two confiding Snow Buntings have been flanking the road to the warden's accommodation at South Light (Jonnie Fisk)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Great Spotted Woodpecker: After a few days absence, the 'overwintering' male is back.
Woodlark: Similarly, the bird which favours the South Light area, was rediscovered in the afternoon sun. It has been present since the 21st.
Red-flanked Bluetail: Yesterday's bird was still favouring the beach at Hesswalls.
Hawfinch: Two birds on the Isle, though both mobile.


Yellowhammer at Lower Leogh. Furtive migrants, presumably heading to Scandinavia for the spring (Alex Penn)


Just two pairs of Raven breed on the Isle, with newly-hatched chicks seen today (Alex Penn)

Sightings of note: 117 Greylag Goose, 1 Pink-footed Goose, 4 Wigeon, 26 Teal, 1 Tufted Duck, 1 Common Scoter, 1 Long-tailed Duck, 17 Woodpigeon, 44 Oystercatcher, 23 Lapwing, 2 Golden Plover, 57 Ringed Plover, 44 Curlew, 185 Turnstone, 1 Dunlin, 80 Purple Sandpiper, 3 Woodcock, 29 Snipe, 19 Redshank, 2 Black-headed Gull, 7 Common Gull, 4 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 6 Puffin, 1 Great Northern Diver, 1 'Blue' Fulmar, 1 Grey Heron, 1 Merlin, 2 Carrion Crow, 170 Skylark, 20 Chiffchaff, 1 Blackcap, 38 Goldcrest, 135 Blackbird, 134 Fieldfare, 63 Redwing, 61 Song Thrush, 6 Mistle Thrush, 63 Robin, 1 Stonechat, 3 Wheatear (first of the year), 26 Dunnock, 4 Grey Wagtail, 5 Pied Wagtail, 162 Meadow Pipit, 46 Rock Pipit, 5 Chaffinch, 5 Brambling, 10 Twite, 2 Linnet (first of the year), 1 Mealy Redpoll, 3 Siskin (first of the year), 2 Snow Bunting, 1 Yellowhammer, 3 Reed Bunting.

Other wildlife: 1 Buff-tailed Bumblebee. Year list: 100
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 29th March 2024
Weather:
Calm, with sun breaking through from late morning, turning into a still, warm day. F3 SE.
A glorious Good Friday to be out on census, with light south-easterlies producing another arrival of birds, and the north and west cliffs were buzzing with thrushes and small parties of Goldcrests. This decent arrival of early spring migrants was accompanied by the Isle's second ever spring Red-flanked Bluetail. Two Tufted Duck flew past South Light, the first Hawfinch and Blackcap of the year were logged, along with a handful of Long-eared Owls. Afternoon fun in the sun concerned the repair of the Gully Heligoland trap roof, with a backtrack of Fair Isle Starlings mimicking Snow Bunting, Turnstone and Wood Sandpiper...!


A Red-flanked Bluetail showing its namesake parts (Alex Penn)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Red-flanked Bluetail: A surprise find on the beach at Hesswalls before midday, consorting with Robins and present into the evening. The 28th record for the Isle, and the second in spring (previous 30th March 2014; similarly a decent day of Robin arrivals).
Hawfinch: One at Shirva mid-afternoon.


A spot of ringing included some dapper Bramblings at Plantation (Jonnie Fisk)


Census revealed double figures of migrant Woodcock, bound for northern forests (Alex Penn)

Sightings of note: 43 Greylag Goose, 1 Whooper Swan, 4 Wigeon, 24 Teal, 2 Tufted Duck (first of the year), 2 Common Scoter, 5 Woodpigeon, 34 Oystercatcher, 30 Lapwing, 98 Ringed Plover, 38 Curlew, 137 Turnstone, 1 Dunlin, 5 Purple Sandpiper, 10 Woodcock, 20 Snipe, 23 Redshank, 5 Common Gull, 2 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 1 Cormorant, 1 Grey Heron, 1 Sparrowhawk, 3 Long-eared Owl, 1 Merlin, 174 Skylark, 15 Chiffchaff, 1 Blackcap (first of the year), 48 Goldcrest, 152 Blackbird, 188 Fieldfare, 36 Redwing, 86 Song Thrush, 14 Mistle Thrush, 65 Robin, 1 Black Redstart, 19 Dunnock, 3 Grey Wagtail, 3 Pied Wagtail, 139 Meadow Pipit, 44 Rock Pipit, 3 'Scandinavian' Rock Pipit, 10 Chaffinch, 7 Brambling, 1 Greenfinch, 8 Twite, 1 Mealy Redpoll, 1 Snow Bunting, 2 Reed Bunting.

Year list: 97
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 28th March 2024
Weather:
Overcast and settled all day, with light rain in the evening. F5 SE.
The team has been in situ for over a week now and, having settled into South Light and ping-ponged a mainland cold between themselves, embarked on a full census for the first time this season. The south-easterlies produced notable numbers of migrant Goldcrests, Robins and Dunnocks, with Blackbirds taking over as thrush du jour. A drake Red-breasted Merganser, a Black Redstart and Mealy Redpoll were additions to the Fair Isle year list and no fewer than four 'Blue' Fulmar were amongst the colonies in the north.


The 6th Blue Tit to be ringed on Fair Isle (Luke Marriner)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Blue Tit: Present for its third day. Caught and ringed at Plantation late morning before returning to the comfort of the Haa peanuts.


An exciting moment as our 2024 Wardens popped their Geo Goldcrest cherry! A uniquely evocative Fair Isle scene as these 5g migrants scale the lichen-covered cliffs, watched by numerous pairs of Fulmar (Jonnie Fisk)


A dapper male Mealy Redpoll adding finch interest to a modest day of migration (Alex Penn)

Sightings of note: 81 Greylag Goose, 1 Pink-footed Goose, 4 Wigeon, 30 Teal, 1 Common Scoter, 2 Long-tailed Duck, 1 Red-breasted Merganser (first of the year), 8 Woodpigeon, 1 Water Rail, 36 Oystercatcher, 43 Lapwing, 1 Golden Plover, 93 Ringed Plover, 20 Curlew, 97 Turnstone, 2 Dunlin, 5 Woodcock, 16 Snipe, 49 Redshank, 4 Common Gull, 1 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 4 'Blue' Fulmar, 1 Grey Heron, 2 Merlin, 2 Carrion Crow, 123 Skylark, 5 Chiffchaff, 27 Goldcrest, 93 Blackbird, 25 Redwing, 51 Fieldfare, 16 Song Thrush, 4 Mistle Thursh, 28 Robin, 1 Black Redstart (first of the year), 25 Dunnock, 3 Grey Wagtail, 4 Pied Wagtail, 124 Meadow Pipit, 31 Rock Pipit, 4 Chaffinch, 2 Brambling, 1 Greenfinch, 10 Twite, 1 Mealy Redpoll (first of the year), 1 Snow Bunting, 1 Reed Bunting

Year list: 93
________________________________________________________________________________________________

27th March 2024
Weather:
Overcast all day, with heavy rain setting in by mid-afternoon. F5-6 SE.
Morning mooches around the south of the Isle allowed the team to get seconds, and even thirds, of the Blue Tit which spent most of its time in the garden of the Haa, with the odd flyby by the Great Spotted Woodpecker. Yesterday's quick afternoon patch up of Plantation and Vaadal traps allowed for a few migrants to be ringed, before rain stopped play in the afternoon.


Fair Isle's 17th Blue Tit providing colour combos rarely seen in these parts (Jonnie Fisk)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Great Spotted Woodpecker: One still around the crofts.
Woodlark: Around South Light and Utra for its seventh day.
Blue Tit: Yesterday's bird kept close proximity to the peanut feeders at the Haa, joined at one point by a Brambling.


(Jonnie Fisk)


It's been very pleasant to nonchalantly bump into our resident Woodlark when stepping out of South Light (Alex Penn)

Sightings of note: 72 Greylag Goose, 1 Pink-footed Goose, 2 Wigeon, 16 Teal, 2 Long-tailed Duck, 10 Woodpigeon, 2 Water Rail, 1 Moorhen, 3 Golden Plover, 44 Ringed Plover, 11 Curlew, 78 Purple Sandpiper, 4 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 1 Red-throated Diver, 1 Great Northern Diver, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Kestrel, 2 Carrion Crow, 2 Chiffchaff, 1 Goldcrest, 2 Song Thrush, 6 Robin, 1 Dunnock, 2 Grey Wagtail, 2 Pied Wagtail, 1 'Scandinavian' Rock Pipit, 2 Chaffinch, 1 Brambling, 6 Twite

Year list: 90
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 26th March 2024
Weather:
A fresh easterly met sunny conditions for an overall pleasant day. F5 E.
Some quiet morning's ringing at the Haven (where the resident Moorhen was caught for an ongoing national colour-ringing project) was happily interrupted with the news of a Blue Tit at Shirva. For those devotees of British birding culture and history, the four words "Fair Isle Blue Tit" carry an unironic mythic resonance that perfectly encapsulates the contrary grip some birds can hold on us when placed in a different setting. This Fair Isle mega quickly took in the crofts of Burkle and Haa and became Acting Warden Alex's first Fair Isle tick of the year! Almost certainly a Continental migrant from northern forests, this bird seemed au fait with peanut feeders - a talent it presumably picked up on its wintering grounds. Alongside the Shirva tit, the Great Spotted Woodpecker reappeared, and the Assistant Wardens took in the south-east census for the first time, followed by some afternoon Heligoland trap repairs. Happy Days!


Moorhen in the hand. Hopefully the colour ring will return some useful data to the national project for this species (Jonnie Fisk)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Great Spotted Woodpecker: The 'overwintering' male was also at Shirva.
Blue Tit: One found at Shirva by Freyja Parnaby, before school beckoned, becomes the 17th Isle record (4th in spring) and the first Blue Tit since 2020!

Sightings of note: 72 Greylag, 1 Pink-footed Goose, 15 Teal, 7 Woodpigeon, 1 Water Rail, 1 Moorhen, 88 Ringed Plover, 13 Curlew, 1 Woodcock, 1 Black-headed Gull, 5 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 1 Great Northern Diver, 1 Short-eared Owl, 1 Peregrine, 2 Carrion Crow, 3 Chiffchaff, 1 Goldcrest, 2 Song Thrush, 2 Robin, 1 Grey Wagtail, 1 Pied Wagtail, 1 'Scandinavian' Rock Pipit, 2 Chaffinch, 1 Brambling, 6 Twite, 1 Snow Bunting

Year list: 90
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 25th March 2024
Weather:
A cold north wind blew, and sunny spells soon gave way to looming opaque clouds which delivered snow by the early afternoon. The remainder of the day was calmer with bursts of sun and light showers. F5 NE.
The team traced the north census route; a chance for the Assistant Wardens to add more geos and headlands to their Fair Isle phrasebooks. Shortly into proceedings a 'Blue' Fulmar was found at Furse. Some typically acrobatic views showed it to be the same individual which spent the 2023 spring in the colony, when it was caught and ringed by the FIBO team. A Common Scoter was on the sea below, and a second 'Blue' Fulmar was looping around Wirvie. While a few thrushes flocked around the Haven and Hill Dyke, it was apparent we'd had a big clearout; similarly evidenced by the lack of any Woodcock on the hills or geos. A sorry-looking Whooper Swan was on Suka Mire and back at Buness the first Puffin of the spring was awaiting the arrival of some friends. A Great Northern Diver at South Light and a Short-eared Owl at Da Water bumped the Isle's year list, and 2024's ringing kicked off with three Blackbirds in the Obs' garden.


The 2023-ringed 'Blue' Fulmar was back for another spring among its paler cousins at Furse (Alex Penn)


AWs Jonnie & Luke dream of future finds at Troila Geo...(Alex Penn)

Sightings of note: 1 Whooper Swan, 2 Teal, 1 Common Scoter, 1 Moorhen, 9 Curlew, 3 Black-headed Gull, 1 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 1 Puffin (the earliest returning record from land since 2012), 1 Great Northern Diver (first of the year), 1 Cormorant, 1 Grey Heron, 1 'Blue' Fulmar, 1 Short-eared Owl (first of the year), 2 Jackdaw, 2 Carrion Crow, 1 Chiffchaff, 4 Song Thrush, 5 Robin, 1 Grey Wagtail, 1 Pied Wagtail, 1 Twite, 1 Snow Bunting

Year list: 89
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 24th March 2024
Weather:
A brighter, clearer day as the wind swung round to the north. Sunny spells all day with scattered showers in the afternoon. F6-5 N.
Calmer weather gave a timely window for the season's Assistant Wardens to learn the art of FIBO's south-east census route, taking in many of the crofts, burns, mires and geos under the tutleage of Acting Warden Alex Penn. As our thrush numbers drop off by the day, the Woodlark continues to call South Light home, and there was a reappearance from Fair Isle's resident Great Spotted Woodpecker.

HIGHLIGHTS:
Great Spotted Woodpecker: The 'overwintering' male was once more at Shirva.
Woodlark: Present for its fourth day around South Light.

Sightings of note: 90 Greylag Goose, 1 Pink-footed Goose, 2 Wigeon, 13 Teal, 12 Woodpigeon, 1 Water Rail, 1 Moorhen, 15 Oystercatcher, 13 Lapwing, 57 Ringed Plover, 9 Curlew, 1 Dunlin, 16 Snipe, 3 Black-headed Gull, 4 Common Gull, 4 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Merlin, 3 Jackdaw, 2 Carrion Crow, 1 Chiffchaff, 128 Blackbird, 189 Fieldfare, 83 Redwing, 4 Song Thrush, 3 Robin, 1 Dunnock, 3 Pied Wagtail, 3 Chaffinch, 3 Twite, 1 Snow Bunting, 1 Yellowhammer

Year list: 86
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 23rd March 2024
Weather:
Strong winds again with frequent passing showers, but prolonged sunny spells from the afternoon. F8 SW.
The team spent the morning inspecting the damage inflicted on the Isle's Heligoland traps at the hands of the winter storms. It was another day of tricky birding conditions, though we are rapidly running out of early-season indoor jobs! A brighter window in the afternoon allowed for more birding until the evening. After a quick hello to the South Light Woodlark, a trek along the western cliffs and Ward Hill was productive for Woodcock, which have presumably arrived with the thrushes but keep a much lower profile.

HIGHLIGHTS:
Woodlark: Present for its third day around South Light.

Sightings of note: 1 Pink-footed Goose, 2 Wigeon, 7 Teal, 10 Woodpigeon, 1 Water Rail, 1 Moorhen, 2 Golden Plover, 3 Dunlin, 9 Purple Sandpiper, 12 Woodcock, 2 Black-headed Gull, 1 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 1 Grey Heron, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Merlin, 1 Peregrine, 2 Carrion Crow, 2 Chiffchaff, 114 Blackbird, 205 Fieldfare, 105 Redwwing, 3 Song Thrush, 2 Robin, 2 Pied Wagtail, 2 Chaffinch, 6 Twite, 1 Snow Bunting, 1 Reed Bunting

Year list: 86
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 22nd March 2024
Weather:
Ripping wind and needling rain showers, some hail in the late morning. Rough all day, F9-11 SW.
Another day to challenge the grip on one's binoculars and waterproofing on garments, with conditions tough to bird in from start to finish. A few loops of the South yielded decent, though decreasing, numbers of thrushes, plus a Water Rail was at Burkle, a Mistle Thrush at Skadan, the first Greenfinch record of the year and second helpings of yesterday's Woodlark, which waddled around South Light in various states of sogginess. The corpse of a ringed Starling was collected, our data showing it to be a local bird almost ten years old.


Some massive 'White Horses' from the south of the Isle in today's wild weather (Alex Penn)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Woodlark: The individual found yesterday around the south of the Isle was again with the thrushes at South Light.

Sightings of note: 1 Pink-footed Goose, 2 Wigeon, 7 Teal, 2 Woodpigeon, 1 Water Rail, 22 Lapwing, 7 Golden Plover, 1 Woodcock, 1 Black-headed Gull, 1 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Kestrel, 2 Merlin, 3 Jackdaw, 2 Carrion Crow, 1 Chiffchaff, 1 Goldcrest, 17 Blackbird, 154 Fieldfare, 121 Redwing, 1 Song Thrush, 1 Mistle Thrush, 1 Robin, 2 Pied Wagtail, 2 Chaffinch, Greenfinch (first of the year), 1 Yellowhammer

Year list: 86
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 21st March 2024
Weather:
Frequent driving showers with sunny spells in the afternoon, and a F8 SW.
After yesterday's clement weather, the wind picked up overnight and the two new Assistant Wardens were treated to some proper Shetland conditions, complete with decorative dancing Fulmars. Many thrushes linger in the crofts, joined by a Woodlark at Utra later in the day when the weather brightened, though the wind never let up. Two Stonechat were logged in the south and a Water Rail was at Burkle.


Woodlark in between showers at South Light (Luke Marriner)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Woodlark: One mobile bird was found at Utra in the mid-afternoon. This is the 60th record of the species for Fair Isle.

Sightings of note: 141 Greylag Goose, 1 Pink-footed Goose, 2 Wigeon, 6 Teal, 1 Long-tailed Duck, 1 Woodpigeon, 1 Water Rail, 1 Moorhen, 35 Lapwing, 1 Golden Plover, 4 Dunlin, 9 Purple Sandpiper, 34 Redshank, 1 Black-headed Gull, 4 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 1 Kestrel, 3 Jackdaw, 2 Carrion Crow, 3 Song Thrush, 3 Robin, 2 Stonechat, 1 Pied Wagtail, 12 Twite, 1 Snow Bunting, 1 Yellowhammer

Year list: 85
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 20th March 2024
Weather:
Remarkably sunny and even warm, with a F5 SW.
Today's plane brought the season's Assistant Wardens Jonnie Fisk and Luke Marriner, who seemed stunned to have arrived as planned, after some mainland travel hiccups. Flocks of yesterday's thrush arrival still covered the crofts and a few Goldcrests and Chiffchaffs were inspired by the sun to show themselves in the south. Two Carrion Crows reappeared to presumably breed again on the Isle, a Pink-footed Goose was among the Greylag Geese and other migrants included two Woodcock, a Grey Wagtail and a Snow Bunting. The wintering Great Spotted Woodpecker was again flinging itself around the crofts. After unpacking at South Light, at least three Orca were seen very briefly heading south-west off South Harbour in the mid-afternoon - a complete surprise, but frustratingly fleeting; we certainly hope for better encounters with the pods this year!


Mixed thrush flock at Stackhoull, with Raeva as an imposing backdrop (Jonnie Fisk)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Great Spotted Woodpecker: The overwintering male, first ringed on the Isle in autumn 2023, continues to linger around the crofts.

Sightings of note: 1 Pink-footed Goose, 1 Wigeon, 10 Teal, 1 Common Scoter, 2 Woodpigeon, 1 Moorhen, 10 Lapwing, 6 Dunlin, 2 Purple Sandpiper, 2 Woodcock, 1 Red-throated Diver, 1 Grey Heron, 3 Jackdaw, 2 Carrion Crow, 3 Chiffchaff, 4 Goldcrest, 185 Blackbird, 230 Fieldfare, 95 Redwing, 10 Robin, 1 Grey Wagtail, 1 Pied Wagtail, 3 Twite, 1 Snow Bunting, 1 Reed Bunting

Other wildlife: ≥3 Orca

Year list: 84
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