Wednesday 28 September 2016

Not Only A New Bird for the Year but a LIFER.... Paddyfield Warbler

Tuesday 27th September Very strong SW-W Heavy rain

Rain falls and the wind doth blow! A male siskin and a couple of yellow-browed warblers are seen from the Fair Isle Bird Observatory windows.
Just occasionally the rain stops and there are even quick glimpses of clearing skies. During one of these I brave the gale and collect the plastic from the nearest beach. Once again the bottles on the beach include water bottles, one use only, from Pembrokeshire. Now in my imagination I cannot see how over a dozen of the same small water bottles, from the same company can get to Fair Isle by any other means than by having been dumped from a passing ship. The labels are too fresh. A cruise liner that sells this product? Maybe.
A redstart is on the chain mail wall of the harbour.
Rain . . back to the Obs'.
Another clearing moment . . I search the nearby geos and try to get further than the gully. The wind is brutal though and rain starts again.

By late afternoon I have decided to go home early; going back in the dark in this weather would be dangerous. Even so the rain stings my cheeks and hands and my waterproof trousers don't quite live up to their name.

Wednesday 28th September Wind fades to nought then returns with a vengeance! W to Se and back to SW Dry to heavy rain from 3:00PM

The night had been noisy, sleep intermittent but Lee is doing the morning Heligoland trap run and therefore I am out early to catch up with Lee and the others. Sunrise, a day full of promise.

Wheatears are more prominent today as I walk along the road north. Wheatears are already prominent in various ringing bags too.
At the Plantation trap there are a good number of starlings caught. Now many already have a combination of a Natural History metal ring and a variety of colour rings on their legs. Lee and Nina, another trained ringer, log down the details from each starling so adorned and let each go. Starlings with naked legs are bagged up.
I spot a barred warbler that wasn't playing the game when Lee went through the bushes to persuade the birds to go into the collecting box. Lee soon has it though.

Back to the Bird Observatory and down to the harbour. Yesterday's little bunting, a bird I missed, is very tame and I sit on the grass and let it approach me.
The redstart is still on the harbour wall and a couple of yellow-browed warblers are still in the Bird Observatory garden. What a great start to a day.
Things get better. Sitting opposite Andrew at breakfast he asks me for a prediction, a bird that will turn up today. “Paddyfield warbler,” I say.
Panic in the observatory . . .
Paddyfield warbler . . Walli Burn!
All are taken in the minibus. I cycle there to find two are walking the irises there, the rest lined up on the nearby bank waiting for the pale acro to show itself.
It does and dives into another iris bed. Eventually the bird decides to try a wire fence. It sits on the lowest wire, I kiss it, lick it, tick it . . metaphorically. A LIFER and a Green Year tick, the very pale warbler doesn't want to be seen and dives once more into the irises.

Leaving it to it's seclusion I head towards the South Lighthouse and seawatch for an hour or so. Three kittwakes head north, a purple sandpiper and a grey plover are closer.

Sad to see a seal with plastic fishing netting around it's neck. Another bag full of plastic yet hardly a dent on how much is on the beaches here. PLEASE don't buy one-use plastic bottles.
Privilege to meet Horace replete with bird badges. We chatted for awhile about his travels to the Faroes and Iceland. His real name is Wilfred Horace Smith. I didn't tell him he looks like Gromit to me. He thinks he is a bear!

Crofts and dykes, ditches and fields; yellow-broweds, willow warblers, a common rosefinch and some lapland buntings.

The best thing today though has been watching scane after scane of pink-footed geese flying overhead. Some went straight on south whilst others circled the island.
A good bird in Fair Isle context was a pintail. Overall a really enjoyable day.

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