Thursday, 30 May 2013

May Migration: Fair Isle 2013

After planning this trip for a while, my grandad Tommy and I set off to Fair Isle for a perfectly timed trip in the second last week of May.

Friday the 24th
After checking in at Quoy with a nice cup of tea, we set out to Haa at about 4;30pm  for our first wander for birds.

When we arrived at Haa we met Tommy (There is two Tommys, My granddad Tommy and Tommy of Haa) and we went for a quick bird watch round his garden and round the South Harbour.
A nice, ringed Goldfinch at Haa along with
my 1st Lesser Whitethroat

Some Dunlin in Summer Plumage at South Harbour

I was able to get quite close before they flew away

Purple Sandpiper

And also a Sand Martin recently decapitated by a Red-Backed Shrike.
The Red-Backed Shrike takes the heads off the 
bodies of it's victims so it can eat out the high in nutrient brains.
The Red-Backed Shrikes have killed 4 Swallows, 2 House Martins
and this Sand Martin.

Tufted Duck at Da Water

 along with some Common Gulls

This male Stock Deuk or (Mallard) has been hanging
about Quoy for the entire weekend sitting in the
 middle of a field.

A female Red-Backed Shrike this is the first of the
species I have seen, I saw this bird at Quoy, 20 minutes before this photo
was taken

My first Whimbrel of the year at Skroo in the
north of the Island

The Gannet Colony at Dronger

Razorbill on the cliffs below North Light

Pale morph Arctic Skua or Skootie Alaan

Dark morph Arctic Skua or Skootie Alaan

And just before we went to Log (the Bird Observatory's daily count of all the bird Species seen on Fair Isle.) we headed down to the North Haven and saw a very nice looking male summer plumage Long-Tailed Duck.

Also when we got back from Log, Tommy happily enjoyed a dram before bed.

Saturday the 25th

This Morning I got up at 6.25am for bird trapping with the Bird Observatory Warden David Parnaby (I did this every morning until I left the Island on Monday)

A first look on the Double Dyke trap turned up with zero birds, after walking a piece to the Finniquoy trap or the Gully we found and a trapped a Lesser Whitethroat but we couldn't flush a male Blackcap which was still playing hide and seek.
After sticking the Lesser Whitethroat in a birdy bag, we quickly moved to the next trap where something was fluttering about.

This female Red-Backed Shrike is the first of its species to be 
ringed on Fair Isle since having none in 2011

A look in the next two traps produced nothing but after heading into the Lower Voidel or Plantation 
it revealed a male Chaffinch which wasn't trapped but instead we trapped a beautiful
 male Red-Backed Shrike.

After arriving back at the Bird Obs work got under way on ringing the Shrikes, 
no less than five minutes after we'd got in the ringing room Will Miles (one of the Assistant Wardens) brought in another male Red-Backed Shrike from the Obs garden mist nets.

Will with his male Red-Backed Shrike

A stunning bird
and I was lucky enough to get one of the males
in the hand, but he packed a strong bite!

Me and the male Red-Backed Shrike!
(Photo by Tommy Tyler)

This is when the Shrike bit me

A very ashamed Shrike after Will told the story of 
The Brain Eating Shrikes!!!

My 1st Tree Sparrow one of six birds that arrived at the Obs this morning.

Davids daughter Grace happily patting the Tree Sparrow, 
one of the advantages of living at the Bird Obs

Tree Sparrow with the Bird Obs symbol

A Dunnock caught in the mist nets.
Also around the Obs: 1 Garden Warbler, 
1 Robin and a male Blackcap

Also this un-ringed female Red-Backed Shrike was
at Barkland taking my total so far up to four birds

My 1st Lapland Bunting flying about below the 
School just after we got back from the trap rounds at about 9.00am 
This was the only time I saw this female before she disappeared,
leaving with this slightly blurry photo

A male Snaa ful or Snow Bunting outside Quoy feeding with two females

At around 9.40am the phone started to ring while I was in the shower,
Triona answered it and told me that there was a Subalpine Warbler at the Bird Obs,
within five minutes I had finished my shower got changed and rushed out and got my
 binoculars and camera, me and Tommy jumped in the car and drove down to Haa 
to pick up Tommy & Henry, after we'd picked up the residents of Haa we rushed up
to the Obs hoping to see the Subalpine Warbler

A female Subalpine Warbler my first bird of the species.
  it is thought to be an Eastern bird but until the DNA
 analysis confirms what specie it is we'll just have to wait

If you look closely at Warblers of these colours
always check the eyes for white rings round the eyes, 
this usually suggests a Subalpine Warbler

Mealy Redpoll

A male Ring Ouzel

After checking Tommy's blog, he noticed that 
the Ring Ouzel had a tick near it's eye,
sadly no-one noticed it and the Ring Ouzel was
released with a blood sucking tick on its face

A stunning male Bluethroat, my first of the species.

One way to tell a Bluethroat from behind is the orange tail bands, 
It's easier to see the tail from behind than trying to look at the throat

A great bird to see in this plumage

Also around the Obs: 14 Swallows,

A Pied Wagtail one of two birds outside the Obs

Lesser Whitethroat, a re-trapped bird

Willow Warbler, a re-trapped bird

A male Blackcap, a re-trapped bird which had 
been caught in the Lower Voidel along with 
the Lesser Whitethroat and the Willow Warbler

A female Greenland Wheatear, trapped in the Upper Voidel.

Greenland Wheatears are slightly bigger than their southern cousins,
this is easily noticeably in the field.

This is my first sighting of this race of Wheatear 
and I  was quite happy to get such a great photo of her.

The old post office at Shirva which is now a workshop

A view of Haa, Utra and the Sea on
a very sunny day

A Maalie or Fulmar on South Harbour

 Chiffchaff also at the South Harbour

Arctic Tern or Tirrick 

An evaporating puddle loch on the Skaadan

After me and Henry had finsihed birding round the South Lighthouse and the Skaadan, we started walking up north towards the Chalet, just as we had reached the Puffin (A self-catering accomodation where people can go stay) I got a text from David at around 3.15pm saying that there was a Marsh Warbler at the Obs, so I phoned Tommy and we went to get another bird for my list.

My 1st Marsh Warbler at the Bird Obs, I only
caught a quick glimpse and a pic of the bird before it disappeared.

 Also at the Obs was this male Chaffinch 

and a Robin

Me at the Bird Obs
(Photo by Tommy Hyndman)

Sea Pinks on Meoness

Veiw of South Harbour and the South Light from Meoness

Shetland Bumblebee

Anyone know the name for these?

At around 6pm when I got back to Quoy, Triona told me that Elizabeth from Schoolton (across the road)
had said they had a Sedge Warbler singing in their garden,
So I popped along to have a look.

My 1st Sedge Warbler, at Schoolton.
Thanks to Elizabeth for telling Triona who told me.

Sunday the 26th

An early morning wake up again for the trap rounds produced a few birds in the traps including a
Lesser Whitethroat, Sedge Warbler, Blackbird and a Robin.
Trap rounds with Will

A up close of the Sedge Warbler

"Tut tut"

At about 8:10am, 10 minutes after we arrived back at the Obs a female Bluethroat had been caught and
I was lucky enough to get a picture of it (the bird wouldn't sit still long enough to get a good photo)

The one shot of it sitting still, but she was a beautiful bird

After the most of the ringing was complete Will let me help ring a Chiffchaff which 
was my 8th ringed bird since I did my first 7 in October, here is the Info:
Wing length 57mm, Fat 2 Pec 2, Age 5.

A Carrion Crow near the Lower Voidel

At about 1.00pm Stewart, Triona, My Grandad Tommy and I all went to the Bird Obs for dinner.
The canteen staff made a very good dinner, and that was followed by a nice apple pie.
After we had finished our food, David invited me to come on a quick trap round at 2;30pm followed by a quick census of Buness and the Havens and some Beached Bird surveying of the South Harbour.

A look in the Voidel traps turned out to get a few birds including: 3 Twite and a Chiffchaff and a female Merlin happened to flyover just as we were going to the ringing hut.

13 Swallows, part of a flock of 33 flying around the Havens and Buness

 A dead Shalder or Oystercatcher, one less to the Fair Isle breeding population

A Shalder's egg eaten by a Common Gull, one less chick to be born this year

So the count on Buness/The Havens today was:
9 Rock Pipits
2 Pied Wagtails 
8 Shalder excluding the dead one
3 Wheatears
1 Meadow Pipit
1 female Long-Tailed Duck
33 Swallows
1 Common Tern
4 Ringed Plovers
and 5 Common Gulls.

The Beached Bird Survey produced 2 Eiders and a Shag.

Monday the 27th 
my last day on the Island

Since it was my last day I had to go on the trap rounds, I have a bad reputation for leaving on the day rare birds come so I couldn't miss a good opportunity for rare birds.
This morning we went on the trap rounds with Richard
The first thing we caught in the Finniquoy trap was this Maalie which had got stuck in the trees at the bottom of the Gully, once the birds fly in they can't get out because of a fence round the trees.
Also in the Finniquoy trap was a female Chaffinch but it was ringed several days ago so we let it go.

After finding nothing in the next three traps we headed over to the Lower Voidel hoping for more luck.
Sadly all that flew out of the Lower Voidel was a female Brambling and two Collard Doves and the Upper Voidel was completely empty so we headed back to the Obs empty handed hoping that something had been caught there.

When we arrived at the Obs there was nothing in the ringing room but after 10 minutes someone came out of the Obs to the garden saying that there was a Blyth's Reed Warbler showing from the Dining Room, hoping to see another first me and several others rushed into the Dining Room with camera's and bino's at the ready.

And here is my record shot of the Blyth's Reed Warbler another first for me on this trip
bringing my total up to 10 birds new to my list.

Also while I was out on the trap round my grandad Tommy went down to the Havens
for a look for birds and he got this picture of a female summer plumage Long-Tailed Duck

The picture was taken just as the bird was breaking the water if it was taken a split-second later it would of had its wings spread out

At around 9.30am I went down to Haa to say goodbye to Tommy and Henry

Two happy birders
(Henry and I)
(Photo Tommy Hyndman)

After I had finished saying goodbye to some people on the Island, Stewart & Triona chauffeured Tommy & I to the airstrip for our flight out.

At 11.45am, 5 minutes before the plane came, Stewart saw my 73rd specie flying over the airstrip, I looked
through my binoculars and it turned out to be a Peregrine Falcon, my second bird of Prey on this trip.

When the plane landed we walked up to it with our bags and I spotted a friend of mine Paul Harvey (an ex-warden of the Bird Obs) coming out the plane, probably coming in for the May migration, we greeted each other and I then said goodbye to Stewart and Triona, and Tommy and I left Fair Isle and headed home after an amazing weekend of Sunshine and Birding.

The Helliar on its travels.

My Lifers=10
 Lesser Whitethroat, Red-Backed Shrike, Tree Sparrow,
Lapland Bunting, Subalpine Warbler, Bluethroat, "Greenland Wheatear, Sedge Warbler,
Marsh Warbler, Blyth's Reed Warbler

My grandad Tommy Tyler and his Lifers=9
 Lesser Whitethroat, Red-Backed Shrike, Tree Sparrow, Lapland Bunting,
Subalpine Warbler, Bluethroat, "Greenland" Wheatear, Spotted Flycatcher (A bird I did not see)
Blyth's Reed Warbler

List of species in Fair Isle this trip=

Wheatear (Steynshakker)
Great Skua (Bonxie)
Rock Dove
Curlew (Whap)
Meadow Pipit (Hill Sporrow)
House Sparrow
Oystercatcher (Shalder)
Lesser Whitethroat
Arctic Tern (Tirrick)
Eider (Dunter)
Dunlin (Plivvers Page)
Turnstone (Steynpikker)
Willow Warbler
Fulmar (Maalie)
Great Black-Backed Gull (Swabbie)
Herring Gull
Lesser Black-Backed Gull (Peerie Swabbie)
Common Gull (Peerie Maa)
Black Guillemot (Tystie)
Puffin (Tammie Norrie)
Lapwing (Tieve's Nacket)
Common Guillemot (Longvi)
Razorbill (Wilkie)
Pied Wagtail
White Wagtail
Purple Sandpiper (Grolik)
Mallard (Stock Deuk)
Redshank (Ebb Cock)
Merlin (Smirl or Maalin)
Greylag Goose (Gros Gros)
Black-Headed Gull (Hoody Maa)
Hooded Crow
Raven (Corbie)
Snipe (Snippick)
Skylark (Leverreck)
Red-Backed Shrike
Tufted Duck
Gannet (Solan)
Kittiwake (Rippack Maa)
Whimbrel (Tang Spui)
Long-Tailed Duck (Calloo)
Tree Sparrow
Garden Warbler
Shag (Scarf)
Lapland Bunting
Snow Bunting (Snaa Ful)
Common Whitethroat
Subalpine Warbler
Ring Ouzel
Mealy Redpoll
House Martin
Rock Pipit (Banks Sporrow)
"Greenland" Wheatear
Wren (Sisti Mus)
Carrion Crow
Ringed Plover (Sandiloo)
Marsh Warbler
Sedge Warbler
Arctic Skua
Blyth's Reed Warbler

Total Species=73