Tuesday 4 October 2016

The Cliffs and Geos of The West Coast of Fair Isle

Tuesday 4th October strong ESE Sunny, cool.

Barnacle geese are coming over the island, flocks of them. I miss them whilst having breakfast!
A text, olive-backed pipit, Field Ditch.
I am there quick enough but it is clear the bird is nowhere on view. Birders are standing around or searching the fields. It has flown and in the strong wind the rare Sibe pipit could be anywhere. I search the fields, starting in those west of Chalet.
Nothing found by the time I get to Hjukni Geo via Gilly Burn, just a few redwings and a whinchat.

Chaffinch in the geo and a chiff chaff that trembles it's tail every time it stays put on the cliff. A redshank stays by a pool long enough for me to photograph it before it does what redshank normally do, noisy buzz off.

Lee Gregory comes past on his census walk and points out three barnacle geese coming our way. “Year tick!” I say. “You must have had them before these,” he laughs. No matter, bird number 298 onto the year list.

I decide that today I will explore the cliffs and geos from Hjukni Geo north. Each geo has migrants sheltering from the wind; thrushes which most are redwings but also fieldfare, blackbirds and song thrushes. A single male ring ouzel is at Guidicum.
A flock of barnacles, 25 of them, fly over with 3 wigeon on their way seemingly to North Ronaldsay.
Goldcrests number around twenty and there are a couple of yellow-browed warblers and chiff chaffs. A male blackcap is amazing in it's tenacity of clinging to the rock near the base of an immense cliff of Gunnawark. Here I have gone down the cliff to perch on a ledge far below the cliff tops. From here I can see the beach and watch the seals in the surf. The first of the new born seal cubs is on the beach asleep.
Two butterflies are flying, both red admirals and the water cannon is banging away in North Naaversgill.
The magnificence of the cliffs is wonderful and with the sunshine making a deep contrast of the depths of each geo to the sunlit cliffs, the views are stupendous.

The day goes quickly but by the time I reach ward Hill I am beat and grateful that the way is downhill to the Bird Observatory.

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