Sunday 2nd October very light E Sunny and amazingly clear with views of all surrounding islands.
Sunshine, calm conditions and a flat sea, I was here yesterday yet today feels different. Maybe the blackcap, willow warbler and lesser whitethroat in the nettles at Pund show birds have arrived.
A bluethroat at Chalet, good bird, and two redstarts on the fence by the fire station as I cycle down the island. There are birds!
I walk down to the Raevas and bird the geos. The view between the rocky headlands over to Foula, forty miles or so to the north, is as clear as I have ever seen it.
Text from Susannah Parnaby at the Observatory:
Raddes warbler between Burkly and Meadow Burn
Pedalling downhill a group of birders are standing around the cabbage patch at Quoy. They are looking for the raddes. It hasn't been seen for half an hour or so. Very mobile is the news; that means the bird is flying around the island and could by now be anywhere.
Going over into the field at Meadow Burn, a redwing is behind Nick Riddiford's garden at Schoolton. On his back fence is a blackcap and alesser whitethroat. I am about to search the reedy dtch that runs through the field when I spot two small warblers coming down the fence towards me. One is a yellow-browed; the other isn't.
“Arctic warbler,” I shout. A brief view of a chiff-shaped warbler with a good supercilium and just the hint of a wingbar. It and the yellow-browed almost immediately fly off over towards Burkle to the south.
Birders search but to no avail. The arctic warbler is behaving just like the radde's, flighty and mobile.
People are running and beckoning, the radde's has been found again at Lower Stoneybrek. Once there I see it in flight disappearing towards Upper Stoneybrek. More views of it there but it moves on towards the school. I finally get really good views when it lands on a wooden playground bridge and then on the surrounding fence. Not there for long though, it flies off towards the shop.
Bird number 294 and a good one to get, Radde's is another Siberian bird added to the list.
Another text from Susannah:
Chris has had a Blyth's reed warbler at the Obs.
I cycle there as fast as possible to find that the bird is down by the sheds at North Haven. The bird is following a short dry stone wall and it jumps on top of this giving a good view. It plays a game with myself and another birder as it keeps on disappearing behind the sheds only to come out the other side. Then it decides that it has had enough peekaboo and goes up the hill.
Half an hour later it is back around the sheds and more birders have gathered. The acro' goes onto the beach and hides amongst the large stones. Then it comes back around the sheds and off up the hill again.
Bird number 295, things are getting better. How much better!
Text from Lee Gregory in capital letters:
BLUETAIL, Dog Geo.
Once having found that dog Geo is on the southside of Malcolm's Head, I cycle to Lower Leogh and walk across. Only Steve Arlow is there with his large camera and the very rare Siberian bird, a red-flanked bluetail is seen well fly catching in the shadows of the deep geo. The setting couldn't be better as both Steve and I lay down on the cliff edge and watch as it flits from rock to rock, fly to fly.
Bird number 296. Phew.
Walking back to Lower Leogh there are yellow-browed warblers everywhere; on the fences in the fields and in the roses at the croft. More are by the roadside at Meadow Burn.
Just before Shirva I think that Cairan has just waved to me. He has found something . . and how. Pechora!
Soon a long line of hopeful birders are assembled along a dry stone wall looking over an area of long grass at Shirva. Cairan walks through it but no pechora comes out. People disperse to search and the bird is soon found, on the short grass of the lawn at Shirva. I get it as it walks beneath some gas cyclinders. It flies and lands to walk along the bottom of a dry stone wall. It flies again but only into a courtyard at North Shirva. It flies but into a window and goes off calling sharply around the building.
Bird number 297. Incredible.
Cath Mendez wants to see the red-flanked bluetail and knowing that the geo is a hard one to locate, I walk with her back to the bird. It is still flying around and after watching it some more I leave Cath to the bird in order to search the geos to the north. Steensi Geo has two yellow-broweds and a lesser whitethroat. Linni geo has another yellow-browed and a blackcap. South Raeva has another two yellow-broweds!
Back to the bike, left at Shirva, I head back for the observatory, wanting to get better views of the blyth's reed. I get to Lower Soneybrek and see a very pale, silver whitethroat, another yellow-browed, a lesser whitethroat and a red-breasted flycatcher.
Someone is running down the road. “Lanceolated at Shirva.”
Once there, Steve Arlow who is obviously having an incredible day bird-finding wise, has found the lancy and has it staked out in a tall grass clump. He, I and a few other birders who have got there quickly wait for Susannah to bring two minibus fulls of birders. The crowd assembled, Steve gently and slowly walks towards the bird. Out it comes and circles in front of everyone before disappearing into the long grass again. The bird comes out again on the next walk towards it by Steve and I decide to wait just up the road from the crowd.
How jammy can I be today? The lancy comes out and lands almost at my feet, the other side of a small gate.
Happy with my third lanceolated warbler of the year I head back to the Bird Observatory and carry on down to South Haven beahc to sit with Steve Arlow and reflect on the day. There are three yellow-broweds fly catching on the washed up seaweed. Another one is even on the exposed laminaria bed. That makes 26 for me today.
Just to finish the day the blyth's reed warbler lands nearby giving great views.
The slavonian grebe is still in North Haven.
The slavonian grebe is still in North Haven.
Finally a 5 gram miracle, is in North Haven on the wire-netting around the harbour. Exhausted.
Now for the bird log!
Bird log highlights : -
slavonian grebe 5
water rail 1
jack snipe 22
short-toed lark 1
arctic warbler 1
yellow-browed warbler 72 (five away from a new Fair Isle record)
[16 yellow-broweds were rung]
chiff chaff 19 (of which 7 were 'tristis'.)
willow warbler 9
garden warbler 5
barred warbler 3
lesser whitethroat 13
lanceolated warbler 1
blyth's reed warbler 1
radde's warbler (Fair Isle's 8th)
red-breasted flycatcher 4
pied flycatcher 3
red-throated pipit 1
pechora pipit 1
lesser redpoll 2
little bunting 1
red-flanked bluetail 1 (Fair Isle's 13th)
Bird log is a run through of all birds seen during the day. It is called at 9:00PM every night, announced with the tolling of a ship's bell. Tonight was a particularly happy log with loud applause at the end. A very special day.