Speckled Wood, Rutland
Thanks to all those who have contributed already!
During the coming weeks I shall be completing maps, text and images for the Rutland Butterfly Atlas, so any additional significant records will be very welcome.
I am hoping to publish the finished Atlas in spring 2017.
Continental Robins, Fair Isle (adult, left, and first-winter)
Presumed ‘continental’ Robins have been recorded in L&R, so are worth looking out for in late autumn.
As these two from Fair Isle show, they have distinctly greyish tones on the crown and nape, are less contrastingly brown on the mantle, and have paler orange breasts than resident ‘British’ birds.
If Robins were rare, they would doubtless attract more attention.
Prunella montanella, one (Lee Gregory)
We nearly didn’t see this bird. Four of us had arranged to leave Fair Isle on the the first flight on Monday. When we got to the airstrip there was no plane, no ground staff. We were told to wait 30 minutes. Then we were told that there would not be any flights that day or the next. Later, we were told that there might be a flight late afternoon. Tension mounted. Grown men began to exhibit non-adult behaviour. Waiting meant that we could not wander far: I managed to see a Mealy Redpoll over the airstrip and Jack Snipe beside a Snipe from the observatory.
Finally a plane did arrive, and delivered us to Tingwall at 17.45. My wife drove us swiftly south. We arrived at the quarries: no birders. We looked. After what seemed an age this little gem appeared and we watched it at close range for a good ten minutes or so. The rays of the setting sun illuminated St Ninian’s Isle and distant Foula behind us. Truly, the moment could not have been better. How Lee managed to get these photos I will never know. The next morning it had gone.
The rest of the week has been spent visiting family, with occasional excursions. On the afternoon of 13 October we visited Bressay. As we drove towards Gunnista we saw a possible exilipes Arctic Redpoll by the road: it had a strikingly clean-looking white rump, but the views were too brief to check all the critical features and my single image isn’t quite sharp enough. The Black-faced Bunting gave reasonably good views on the fence by its favoured turnip field. On 15 October we spent some time around Burra (where we saw six Lapland Buntings) and Scalloway where we bumped into two Waxwings before enjoying close views of the juvenile Rose-coloured Starling (which began to sing at one point!).
What an autumn this is becoming!
Black-faced Bunting, Bressay
One for the road: Pechora Pipit
My last few days on Fair Isle were less eventful than those of the previous week. The Pechora Pipit remained, and I saw a second Red-flanked Bluetail. Scarce migrants included more Little Buntings, Marsh Harrier and Bluethroat.
Migrant butterflies were represented by Red Admiral and Painted Lady.
By some measures the rarest bird of them all was Fair Isle Wren. We were tempted away by the Siberian Accentor on nearby south mainland, which we arrived just in time to see, but that is another story.
Thanks go to all the observatory staff, especially warden David Parnaby and assistants Lee Gregory and Ciaran Hatsell, who put in countless hours recording the birds of this wonderful place.
Fair Isle Wren
Mystery photo – can you identify this bird?
In many ways this has been the most interesting week of my stay. The month began quietly, with just a new Little Bunting. October 2nd, however, was exceptional. The second wave of Yellow-browed Warblers (72, most of which had departed by the following day) was accompanied by a variety of other migrants including rarities. In the order in which I saw them: Rosefinch (3), Red-breasted Flycatcher, Radde’s Warbler, Siberian Chiffchaff (several), Blyth’s Reed Warbler, Red-flanked Bluetail, Pechora Pipit and Lanceolated Warbler (the third of my stay).
The second ‘event’ of the week was the arrival of Barnacle Geese (1,000+) on 4th October. Other notable birds during this period have included Richard’s Pipit, Great Grey Shrike, and increasing numbers of late-autumn migrants such as Woodcock and Short-eared Owl. As I write, the wind is still in the east…
The bird in the mystery photo is of course a Reed Warbler (trapped on 3rd October).
Barnacle Geese, Fair Isle
Short-toed Lark, Fair Isle
The weather during my second week on Fair Isle has been more mixed, and in general there have been fewer migrants. Some notable birds have remained throughout (Short-toed Lark, Bluethroat), there have been some new arrivals, and the transition from mid to late autumn has begun. Numbers of Pink-feet and Greylags have increased, and the first Whooper Swans were recorded on 28 September.
In more or less chronological order, the highlights have included: another Lanceolated Warbler (trapped), another Little Bunting, Barred Warbler, and Paddyfield Warbler.
The only butterfly I have seen during this period was a single Painted Lady.
Barred Warbler, Fair Isle
Lancy, Fair Isle
As our first week on Fair Isle draws a close, this seems a suitable point to review what we have seen. In more or less chronological order the scarce or rare species have included: Barred Warbler, Common Rosefinch (at least 2), Short-toed Lark, Red-throated Pipit, Yellow-browed Warbler (peak of 54 on 20 September, of which I saw at least 17), Little Bunting (2), Bluethroat (2), Lanceolated Warbler (a very satisfying bird to find, and very obliging for all the visiting birders), and Olive-backed Pipit.
The spectacle of migration, and the chance to see birds in the hand as well as in the field, deliver a birding experience which would be hard to beat.
Rosefinch, Fair Isle