Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Fair Isle - Day 2

The day started very early, in fact before dawn, as I and another group member made our way down to some of the favoured areas for migrants before the sun had fully risen. The wind was strong and from the east, and it was clear a lot of birds had left during the night, although a deluge of Redwings gave us hope for something new. We managed 2 hours birding before breakfast, and recorded a good selection of species given the short time scale, these included: Yellow-browed Warbler (5), Pied Flycatcher (2), Whinchat (2), Golden Plover (9), Jack Snipe (1), and many Lapland Buntings.

Buff-breasted Sandpiper

We returned to the obs to meet up with the other two members of the group, who had spent the morning following the wardens as they did their daily rounds of the bird traps situated at various points near the observatory. Unfortunately there had been very little, with only one Song Thrush trapped, but this early morning option can often provide a rare opportunity to examine birds in detail at close range. Following breakfast the team again split up in to two pairs, one heading north and one heading south. Shortly after leaving the building, we found the Buff-breasted Sandpiper while scanning the fields in the centre of the island, feeding with a small flock of Golden Plovers. Fortunately the flock were fairly close to the roadside, and we enjoyed superb views of this charismatic trans-atlantic vagrant.

Buff-breasted Sandpiper

Buff-breasted Sandpiper

The rest of the day was spent covering the whole of the island, and despite the near gale force winds meaning most birds chose to lie low, the group still recorded good numbers of common migrants with some more interesting bits thrown in. These included:
Hen Harrier (2)
Red-breasted Flycatcher (2)
Barred Warbler (1)
Yellow-browed Warbler (2)
Long-eared Owl (1)
Brambling (80)
Whinchat (5)
Ring Ouzel (6)
Lesser Whitethroat (1)
Pied Flycatcher (10)
Redstart (4)
Spotted Flycatcher (1)
Jack Snipe (1)
All in all a good days birding, and the whole group returned to the observatory weary but satisfied, if not a little hungry for the fantastic observatory food.

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