Fair Isle Bird Observatory & Guesthouse

Fair Isle Bird Observatory & Guesthouse

31st May 2023
Weather:
Overcast with a force 3-5 WNW wind
The first Icterine Warbler of the spring was a nice way to start an otherwise quiet day, with a handful of common migrants also being new in. In the afternoon the team pumped up the dinghy that is used to get over to Greenholm to monitor the Puffin productivity plot, and got some paperwork ready in preparation for the upcoming Guillemot and Fulmar population monitoring - seabird season is here!


Icterine Warbler in the hand at Gully (by Georgia Platt)

HIGHLIGHTS:
WESTERN SUBALPINE WARBLER: ringed male still in Gully
Icterine Warbler: one trapped in Gully (first of the year)

Sightings of note: 5 Greylag Goose, 1 Pink-footed Goose, 3 Wigeon, 3 Teal, 1 Woodpigeon, 2 Collared Dove, 1 Moorhen, 58 Oystercatcher, 24 Lapwing, 1 Golden Plover, 41 Ringed Plover, 11 Curlew, 9 Dunlin, 1 Purple Sandpiper, 21 Snipe, 4 Redshank, 1 Black-headed Gull, 10 Common Gull, 4 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 34 Arctic Tern, 1 Great Northern Diver, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Rook, 7 Carrion Crow, 80 Skylark, 3 Sand Martin, 18 Swallow, 2 House Martin, 3 Willow Warbler, 7 Chiffchaff, 1 Sedge Warbler, 1 Whitethroat, 1 Ring Ouzel, 2 Robin, 1 Whinchat, 114 Wheatear, 3 Pied Wagtail, 66 Meadow Pipit, 47 Rock Pipit, 10 Twite, 4 Linnet


Fledged Carrion Crow at Malcolm's Head - a rare breeder in the Northern Isles (by Alex Penn)

Other wildlife: 2 Shetland Bee

Year list: 162
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30th May 2023
Weather:
Drizzle early morning turning into light cloud with a force 4-5 westerly wind
A slight drop in the westerly wind was all that was needed to produce a couple of new birds today, with the first being a fabulous male Rustic Bunting in the Auld Haa garden, singing for most of the morning and granting good views as it went regularly between the Haa and Walli Burn. A Swift over Buness mid-afternoon was also new for the year list, this being the latest first arrival date since 1995, and a Sabine's Gull was seen from the Good Shepherd IV half a mile north of the isle.


Male Rustic Bunting on the road between Utra and Lower Leogh (by Georgia Platt)

HIGHLIGHTS:
WESTERN SUBALPINE WARBLER: ringed male still in Gully
RUSTIC BUNTING: male singing at the Auld Haa/Walli Burn (new for the year list)
Sabine's Gull: one seen from the Good Shepherd IV, half a mile north of North Light (seven previous records and first since 2011, although one was reported in 2015 but no description was submitted)

Sightings of note: 1 Quail, 5 Greylag Goose, 3 Wigeon, 2 Teal, 1 Swift (first of the year), 1 Woodpigeon, 3 Collared Dove, 57 Oystercatcher, 30 Lapwing, 1 Golden Plover, 42 Ringed Plover, 1 Whimbrel, 8 Curlew, 3 Turnstone, 6 Dunlin, 13 Snipe, 6 Redshank, 2 Black-headed Gull, 5 Common Gull, 1 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 20 Arctic Tern, 1 'Blue' Fulmar, 1 Peregrine, 1 Rook, 7 Carrion Crow, 60 Skylark, 3 Sand Martin, 11 Swallow, 1 House Martin, 1 Willow Warbler, 4 Chiffchaff, 1 Whitethroat, 1 Fieldfare, 1 Mistle Thrush, 1 Spotted Flycatcher, 1 Robin, 112 Wheatear, 4 Pied Wagtail, 58 Meadow Pipit, 37 Rock Pipit, 9 Twite, 3 Linnet

Year list: 161
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29th May 2023
Weather:
Generally overcast with some low cloud and drizzle from late morning to mid-afternoon and a force 5-6 WNW wind
Back to strong winds and greyness today, with the weather hardly feeling like it is nearly June - hopefully it gets a bit warmer soon! Still not many new birds around of note aside from a Mistle Thrush at the Obs this morning (the latest spring record since 1981), whilst the Western Subalpine Warbler remains in Gully and the male Grey-headed Wagtail has moved to Wirvie.


Male Grey-headed Wagtail at Wirvie (by Alex Penn)

HIGHLIGHTS:
WESTERN SUBALPINE WARBLER: ringed male still in Gully
Grey-headed Wagtail: male now at Wirvie

Sightings of note: 5 Barnacle Goose, 5 Greylag Goose, 3 Wigeon, 2 Woodpigeon, 1 Collared Dove, 46 Oystercatcher, 26 Lapwing, 33 Ringed Plover, 3 Whimbrel, 10 Curlew, 2 Turnstone, 7 Dunlin, 19 Snipe, 1 Common Sandpiper, 7 Redshank, 2 Black-headed Gull, 15 Common Gull, 17 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 4 Arctic Tern, 1 'Blue' Fulmar, 1 Short-eared Owl, 2 Kestrel, 1 Rook, 2 Carrion Crow, 65 Skylark, 4 Sand Martin, 9 Swallow, 1 House Martin, 1 Willow Warbler, 5 Chiffchaff, 1 Blackcap, 1 Mistle Thrush, 1 Robin, 62 Wheatear, 8 Pied Wagtail, 49 Meadow Pipit, 40 Rock Pipit, 17 Twite, 2 Linnet, 1 Siskin


Mistle Thrush at the Obs (by Alex Penn)

Year list: 158
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28th May 2023
Weather:
Sunny spells with a force 2-4 NW wind increasing to force 5 in the evening
A day of reappearances today, with the Western Subalpine Warbler still in Gully and the adult male Golden Oriole finally granting good views as it spent most of the day in South Restensgeo, allowing a few more folk to catch up with it. Unfortunately the bird does not seem to be in very good condition, so hopefully it can rest and recover before heading back to the Mediterranean. Much to everyone's surprise, the Snowy Owl also made a reappearance after nearly a week of absence, as it flushed from the ground at Naaversgill and headed towards the Mast, where it settled close to the Mast track for a while. After several short flights around the Mast track/Mast/Swey area, the bird flew back to Troila where it was then left in peace once more.


Snowy Owl at Swey (by Steve Arlow)

In the way of new birds, an immature White-tailed Eagle ranged over the south of the isle for nearly an hour, constantly being harrassed by corvids, gulls and Bonxies before heading strongly north along the north-west cliffs and off to Shetland. A Grey-headed Wagtail at Da Water in the evening was also a new arrival.



Immature White-tailed Eagle over Field (by Alex Penn)

HIGHLIGHTS:
SNOWY OWL: male reappeared at Naaversgill, flew to Swey then back to Troila area
WESTERN SUBALPINE WARBLER: ringed male still in Gully
White-tailed Eagle: immature roaming over the south of the isle around midday, last seen heading towards Shetland
Golden Oriole: adult male still present, now at South Restensgeo
Grey-headed Wagtail: one at Da Water


Adult male Golden Oriole at South Restensgeo (by Georgia Platt)

Sightings of note: 6 Greylag Goose, 3 Wigeon, 1 Woodpigeon, 1 Collared Dove, 47 Oystercatcher, 20 Lapwing, 39 Ringed Plover, 1 Whimbrel, 9 Curlew, 3 Dunlin, 2 Purple Sandpiper, 10 Snipe, 6 Redshank, 2 Black-headed Gull, 2 Common Gull, 4 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 41 Arctic Tern, 1 Sparrowhawk, 3 Kestrel, 1 Peregrine, 1 Jackdaw, 1 Rook, 12 Carrion Crow, 77 Skylark, 5 Sand Martin, 17 Swallow, 2 House Martin, 2 Willow Warbler, 7 Chiffchaff, 2 Blackcap, 2 Blackbird, 1 Robin, 1 Spotted Flycatcher, 119 Wheatear, 7 Pied Wagtail, 73 Meadow Pipit, 51 Rock Pipit, 21 Twite, 3 Linnet, 2 Siskin

Other wildlife: 12 Shetland Bee

Year list: 158
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27th May 2023
Weather:
Patchy rain throughout the morning clearing into a sunny afternoon with a force 6-7 WSW wind
Still not much happening today, although a cruiseship with 120 passengers visiting this morning kept a lot of the islanders busy. The male Western Subalpine Warbler was still in Gully, as was a cuckoo, and yesterday's Golden Oriole also made another very brief appearance at Plantation, but was lost as it flew north. A handful more common migrants were also around, but nothing of significant note.


Seabourn Venture off North Haven (by Alex Penn)

HIGHLIGHTS:
WESTERN SUBALPINE WARBLER: ringed male still in Gully
Golden Oriole: one seen again briefly at Plantation


Cuckoo at Gully (by Steve Arlow)

Sightings of note: 5 Greylag Goose, 1 Cuckoo, 3 Collared Dove, 2 Whimbrel, 2 Dunlin, 4 Black-headed Gull, 11 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 3 Arctic Tern, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Short-eared Owl, 2 Kestrel, 1 Jackdaw, 1 Rook, 11 Carrion Crow, 10 Swallow, 1 House Martin, 2 Willow Warbler, 6 Chiffchaff, 1 Sedge Warbler, 2 Blackcap, 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 1 Spotted Flycatcher, 1 Grey Wagtail, 3 Linnet

Other wildlife: 1 Shetland Bee

Year list: 158
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26th May 2023
Weather:
Sunny spells in the morning followed by an overcast afternoon with patchy drizzle, and a force 4-6 westerly wind
A scattering of new birds around today despite the ever-persistent westerly wind, mostly consisting of common migrants but livened up a bit by a surprise Golden Oriole at the Obs garden in the late afternoon. The bird was seen very breifly as it was flushed from a perch and flew along one of the net rides, but unfortunately was not seen again despite the team and other visiting birder's best efforts. This is a fairly typical story of how most Golden Oriole encounters go on Fair Isle, as this elusive species is often very difficult to pin down.


A few very smart summer plumage Dunlin are around at the moment, including these two amongst the Thrift on Meoness (by Georgia Platt)

HIGHLIGHTS:
WESTERN SUBALPINE WARBLER: ringed male still in Gully
Golden Oriole: one seen briefly at Obs garden (new for the year list)

Sightings of note: 5 Greylag Goose, 2 Wigeon, 1 Collared Dove, 66 Oystercatcher, 23 Lapwing, 23 Ringed Plover, 6 Whimbrel, 8 Curlew, 2 Turnstone, 6 Dunlin, 3 Purple Sandpiper, 14 Snipe, 4 Redshank, 6 Black-headed Gull, 38 Common Gull, 9 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 10 Arctic Tern, 67 Bonxie, 17 Arctic Skua, 3 Red-throated Diver, 1 Cormorant, 3 Kestrel, 1 Merlin, 1 Peregrine, 1 Jackdaw, 1 Rook, 7 Carrion Crow, 75 Skylark, 2 Sand Martin, 15 Swallow, 4 House Martin, 3 Willow Warbler, 3 Chiffchaff, 3 Blackcap, 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 1 Whinchat, 118 Wheatear, 2 Tree Sparrow, 1 Grey Wagtail, 2 Pied Wagtail, 90 Meadow Pipit, 48 Rock Pipit, 10 Twite, 5 Linnet, 1 Siskin


Red-throated Divers in flight at Kristal Kame, with a hazy outline of Shetland Mainland in the background (by Alex Penn)


Fulmar on a nesting ledge surrounded by Thrift, Bird's-foot Trefoil and Sea Campion (by Georgia Platt)

Other wildlife: 3 Shetland Bee

Year list: 158
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25th May 2023
Weather:
Generally overcast with a force 5-6 westerly wind
This morning the team carried out the first visit to the Easter Lother Razorbill productivity plot, marking the beginning of the practical seabird monitoring for the season. It is always good fun to go down to the bottom of Easter Lother to be in amongst the breeding auks and see the cliffs from a different perspective - 40 nests were found and recorded with all birds still on eggs, so when we revisit the plot in about 10-14 days time there should hopefully be some small chicks to monitor. All is still quiet in the way of migrants with not much new in of note, and the ringed male Western Subalpine Warbler still remains in Gully.


The view from the Easter Lother monitoring plot (by Georgia Platt)

HIGHLIGHTS:
WESTERN SUBALPINE WARBLER: ringed male still in Gully

Sightings of note: 6 Greylag Goose, 2 Whimbrel, 1 Dunlin, 20 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 2 Kestrel, 1 Jackdaw, 1 Rook, 6 Carrion Crow, 7 Swallow, 2 House Martin, 1 Willow Warbler, 2 Chiffchaff, 1 Blackcap, 1 Whinchat, 2 Linnet, 1 Reed Bunting

Other wildlife: 1 Shetland Bee

Year list: 157
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24th May 2023
Weather:
Sunny spells with a force 5-7 westerly wind
Another fairly quiet day with strong westerlies not turning up many new birds. The ringed Western Subalpine Warbler had relocated to Gully and a very smart male Whinchat still remains around School Brae, and the team ringed another 7 Lapwing chicks in the afternoon, bringing the total to an impressive 24 chicks ringed.


Male Whinchat at School Brae (by Steve Arlow)

HIGHLIGHTS:
WESTERN SUBALPINE WARBLER: ringed male reappeared in Gully


Ringed male Western Subalpine Warbler at Gully (by Steve Arlow)

Sightings of note: 4 Greylag Goose, 55 Oystercatcher, 24 Lapwing, 30 Ringed Plover, 2 Whimbrel, 6 Curlew, 6 Turnstone, 1 Dunlin, 7 Snipe, 1 Common Sandpiper, 2 Redshank, 8 Common Gull, 8 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 15 Arctic Tern, 89 Bonxie, 19 Arctic Skua, 1 Red-throated Diver, 1 'Blue' Fulmar, 1 Short-eared Owl, 2 Kestrel, 2 Peregrine, 1 Jackdaw, 1 Rook, 7 Carrion Crow, 84 Skylark, 12 Swallow, 4 House Martin, 5 Chiffchaff, 1 Blackcap, 1 Blackbird, 1 Robin, 2 Whinchat, 111 Wheatear, 4 Pied Wagtail, 101 Meadow Pipit, 38 Rock Pipit, 1 Chaffinch, 22 Twite, 4 Linnet, 5 Siskin

Other wildlife: 2 Shetland Bee

Year list: 157
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23rd May 2023
Weather:
Sun in the early morning followed by some low cloud and patchy drizzle for the remainder of the day, with a force 4-6 westerly wind
A far more relaxed day than yesterday, with census not providing many new birds, although an Osprey over the Haven mid-afternoon was a nice year tick. The bird continued to roam the isle for the afternoon, upsetting all of the local gulls and breeding waders.


Osprey over Byerwalls (by Alex Penn)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Osprey: one over the Haven then roaming the isle (first of the year)

Sightings of note: 2 Barnacle Goose, 6 Greylag Goose, 4 Collared Dove, 63 Oystercatcher, 33 Lapwing, 38 Ringed Plover, 5 Whimbrel, 8 Curlew, 6 Turnstone, 5 Dunlin, 7 Snipe, 8 Redshank, 4 Black-headed Gull, 13 Common Gull, 7 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 17 Arctic Tern, 102 Bonxie, 29 Arctic Skua, 1 Short-eared Owl, 3 Kestrel, 1 Peregrine, 1 Jackdaw, 1 Rook, 3 Carrion Crow, 81 Skylark, 10 Swallow, 4 House Martin, 7 Chiffchaff, 1 Sedge Warbler, 3 Blackcap, 1 Blackbird, 1 Fieldfare, 2 Robin, 1 Whinchat, 121 Wheatear, 2 Tree Sparrow, 1 Grey Wagtail, 6 Pied Wagtail, 1 White Wagtail, 116 Meadow Pipit, 33 Rock Pipit, 1 Chaffinch, 17 Twite, 3 Linnet, 4 Siskin, 1 Reed Bunting

Other wildlife: 1 Shetland Bee

Year list: 157
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22nd May 2023
Weather:
Overcast in the morning turning into bright sunshine by mid-afternoon, with a force 4 westerly wind
A very long, tiring day filled with excitement was in store for the isle today, as we finally saw the first few 'BB' rarities and also the first Orca visit of the year. The day was off to a strong start with a male Western Subalpine Warbler trapped in Plantation, which was a textbook example of the species with fully saturated rusty-orange underparts - it was nice to finally get in on the Subalpine Warbler action!


Male Western Subalpine Warbler in the hand at Plantation (by Georgia Platt)

The team then started to get on with census after a promising trap round, although all was fairly quiet until two bull Orca were reported close into the cliffs at Sheep Rock. Close-in Orca are definitely a 'drop everything and run' situation in Fair Isle, with the team plus many islanders and visitors joining in with the chase as they slowly made their way south along the south-east coastline. The individuals were quickly identified as the formidable Northern Isles bachelor duo, Hulk and Nott, with the pair sticking close to the cliffs and even making a kill at one point, giving their audience an unforgettable experience. For many folk this was their first time seeing Orca, whilst others had seen them several times before, but everyone was just as excited and amazed as each other - Orca will do that to you! They were with us for an hour and a half in the end, and were last seen heading south towards Orkney.


Hulk (left) and Nott (right) as they hunted around Meoness (by Alex Penn)

After a quick lunch we then headed back out to resume census after being thoroughly distracted (although rightly so), but just as we were leaving South Light another male Subalpine Warbler was reported at Setter, which appeared to be unringed and paler than this morning's individual. The bird was very elusive and not giving any convincing field views, so a net was put up and the bird was promptly trapped. In the hand it was clear that the bird was either a Western or Moltoni's rather than an Eastern based on tail pattern and underparts colouration, but any further identification proved tricky. The washed-out, peachy colour of the underparts was more suggestive of Moltoni's than Western, but unfortunately the bird did not call so Moltoni's couldn't be confirmed. Feathers were collected and will be sent off for DNA analysis - an interesing bird to see, especially compared to the definite Western trapped earlier in the day, so we will see what results the lab provides.


Western Subalpine/Moltoni's Warbler in the hand at Setter (by Georgia Platt)

Unbelievably the excitement for the day didn't stop there, as in the late afternoon Alex reported a Snowy Owl at Homisdale! A bird that was definitely not on the radar on a sunny late-May afternoon, and the first on the isle since 2005. The bird, a beautiful pure-white adult male, sat happily in a hollow beside a boulder taking in its surroundings for around an hour and a half as many delighted observers watched, with it relocating a couple of times before being left in peace at the top of Homisdale. Today was was certainly 'one of those days' - a reminder of what makes this magic island and its wildlife so special, and definitely one for the FIBO history books.



Male Snowy Owl at Homisdale (by Alex Penn)

HIGHLIGHTS:
SNOWY OWL: adult male at Homisdale (25th Fair Isle record, first since 2005)
WESTERN SUBALPINE WARBLER: male trapped in Plantation (first Subalpine Warbler sp. since 2021)
WESTERN SUBALPINE/MOLTONI'S WARBLER: male trapped at Setter (awaiting DNA analysis to confirm identification)

Sightings of note: 5 Greylag Goose, 1 Cuckoo, 11 Woodpigeon, 2 Collared Dove, 49 Oystercatcher, 25 Lapwing, 15 Ringed Plover, 1 Whimbrel, 6 Curlew, 10 Turnstone, 1 Purple Sandpiper, 9 Snipe, 1 Common Sandpiper, 1 Redshank, 7 Black-headed Gull, 36 Common Gull, 5 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 20 Arctic Tern, 68 Bonxie, 19 Arctic Skua, 1 'Blue' Fulmar, 3 Kestrel, 2 Peregrine, 5 Jackdaw, 1 Rook, 1 Carrion Crow, 65 Skylark, 18 Swallow, 3 House Martin, 1 Willow Warbler, 5 Chiffchaff, 1 Sedge Warbler, 4 Blackcap, 1 Garden Warbler, 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 5 Blackbird, 1 Redwing, 2 Song Thrush, 3 Robin, 2 Whinchat, 109 Wheatear, 2 Tree Sparrow, 1 Grey Wagtail, 5 Pied Wagtail, 1 White Wagtail, 85 Meadow Pipit, 1 Tree Pipit, 39 Rock Pipit, 1 'Scandinavian' Rock Pipit, 1 Chaffinch, 10 Twite, 3 Linnet, 2 Mealy Redpoll, 3 Redpoll Sp.


The Snowy Owl caused the biggest twitch that Fair Isle has seen in a few years! (by Georgia Platt)

Other wildlife: 1 Shetland Bee, ORCA - two bulls 'Hulk & Nott' slowly tracking south along the south-east cliffs (first of the year)

Year list: 156
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21st May 2023
Weather:
Blue skies and sun with a calm force 2 NW breeze
The isle was finally treated to some more typical May weather today, with clear blue skies and sunshine - a welcome break from the cold greyness that we have been subject to recently. A few new birds came with this glorious weather as well, including three year ticks in the form of Mute Swan, Sanderling and Bluethroat. The latter two are not surprising at this time of year, but two Mute Swan flying south over the isle and then circling around South Harbour caused some excitement amongst the Obs team - this is just the 14th record of Mute Swan, so quite the Fair Isle rarity. In addition, a few different species of singing warblers were scattered throughout the crofts, with some butterflies and bees also adding to the summery feel.


Mute Swan over Utra Scrape (by Alex Penn)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Quail: one flushed from Homisdale to Ditfield
Mute Swan: two south over the isle and circled briefly around South Harbour (14th Fair Isle record)
Stock Dove: one still present
Bluethroat: Female at North Park (first of the year)


Female Bluethroat at North Park (by Patrick Safford)

Sightings of note: 3 Woodpigeon, 54 Oystercatcher, 34 Lapwing, 30 Ringed Plover, 3 Whimbrel, 8 Curlew, 4 Turnstone, 1 Sanderling (first of the year), 3 Dunlin, 10 Snipe, 1 Common Sandpiper, 6 Redshank, 8 Black-headed Gull, 39 Common Gull, 3 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 11 Arctic Tern, 79 Bonxie, 12 Arctic Skua, 2 Kestrel, 1 Peregrine, 1 Rook, 1 Carrion Crow, 77 Skylark, 30 Swallow, 6 House Martin, 2 Willow Warbler, 5 Chiffchaff, 6 Sedge Warbler, 1 Blackcap, 5 Lesser Whitethroat, 4 Blackbird, 1 Redwing, 2 Robin, 1 Whinchat, 150 Wheatear, 2 Tree Sparrow, 5 Pied Wagtail, 92 Meadow Pipit, 67 Rock Pipit, 3 Chaffinch, 22 Twite, 3 Linnet, 4 Redpoll Sp., 1 Goldfinch, 6 Siskin, 4 Reed Bunting

Other wildlife: 4 Red Admiral, 1 Painted Lady (first of the year), 1 Silver Y (first of the year), 7 Shetland Bee

Year list: 154
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20th May 2023
Weather:
Overcast with some low cloud and a force 4-5 SSW wind
Yet another quiet day with low numbers of common migrants present - a far cry from the same date last year, which saw several national and local rarities and scarcities! Tomorrow looks a bit better for weather with sun and not much of a breeze, so hopefully we might get some new birds in to stir things up a bit.


Turnstone in summer plumage at South Harbour (by Alex Penn)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Stock Dove: one still present

Sightings of note: 2 Barnacle Goose, 17 Greylag Goose, 6 Woodpigeon, 60 Oystercatcher, 31 Lapwing, 38 Ringed Plover, 9 Whimbrel, 6 Curlew, 12 Turnstone, 4 Dunlin, 7 Snipe, 4 Redshank, 2 Black-headed Gull, 52 Common Gull, 34 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 19 Arctic Tern, 95 Bonxie, 19 Arctic Skua, 2 Great Northern Diver, 1 'Blue' Fulmar, 1 Short-eared Owl, 3 Kestrel, 1 Peregrine, 1 Rook, 7 Carrion Crow, 1 Hybrid Crow, 65 Skylark, 21 Swallow, 4 House Martin, 1 Willow Warbler, 5 Chiffchaff, 1 Sedge Warbler, 3 Lesser Whitethroat, 3 Whitethroat, 1 Ring Ouzel, 4 Blackbird, 1 Song Thrush, 1 Robin, 97 Wheatear, 2 Tree Sparrow, 6 Pied Wagtail, 1 White Wagtail, 108 Meadow Pipit, 38 Rock Pipit, 1 'Scandinavian' Rock Pipit, 1 Chaffinch, 19 Twite, 3 Linnet, 1 Mealy Redpoll, 1 Redpoll Sp., 15 Siskin, 4 Reed Bunting


Whimbrel on the rocks off South Light (by Georgia Platt)

Year list: 151
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19th May 2023
Weather:
Mostly sunny with patchy cloud and a force 3-4 SW breeze
A lovely day of sunshine and a light south-westerly breeze, although not many birds of note as this quiet spell continues. The warm and sunny weather gave another good opportunity to ring a few more Lapwing chicks at Da Water in the afternoon, bringing our total now to 17 chicks of six different broods ringed, with still a few more broods to monitor.

HIGHLIGHTS:
Stock Dove: one still present
British Yellow Wagtail: female reappeared at Da Water

Sightings of note: 14 Greylag Goose, 1 Collared Dove, 1 Moorhen, 48 Oystercatcher, 27 Lapwing, 29 Ringed Plover, 5 Whimbrel, 5 Curlew, 11 Turnstone, 10 Dunlin, 3 Purple Sandpiper, 11 Snipe, 6 Redshank, 15 Black-headed Gull, 39 Common Gull, 36 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 28 Arctic Tern, 70 Bonxie, 11 Arctic Skua, 1 Short-eared Owl, 1 Kestrel, 1 Merlin, 2 Peregrine, 1 Rook, 9 Carrion Crow, 1 Hybrid Crow, 86 Skylark, 3 Sand Martin, 27 Swallow, 2 Willow Warbler, 3 Chiffchaff, 1 Sedge Warbler, 1 Grasshopper Warbler, 2 Blackcap, 3 Lesser Whitethroat, 2 Whitethroat, 1 Ring Ouzel, 5 Blackbird, 1 Redwing, 1 Robin, 1 Redstart, 135 Wheatear, 2 Tree Sparrow, 9 Pied Wagtail, 1 White Wagtail, 89 Meadow Pipit, 36 Rock Pipit, 1 'Scandinavian' Rock Pipit, 2 Chaffinch, 6 Twite, 3 Linnet, 3 Mealy Redpoll, 6 Siskin, 2 Reed Bunting

Other wildlife: 1 Shetland Bee

Year list: 151
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18th May 2023
Weather:
Cloudy with a force 4-5 SW wind
All is still fairly quiet around the isle (aside from another cruiseship visit), although a light scattering of new birds were around today, including another smart Shorelark at North Light - the fourth record so far this year, making this the best spring for this species on Fair Isle since 1999. A male Ruff at Da Water in the evening was a late addition to the year list, and the first spring record since 2017.


Shorelark at North Light (by Georgia Platt)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Stock Dove: one still present
Shorelark: one at North Light
Grey-headed Wagtail: male still present, now at Meadow Burn

Sightings of note: 1 Barnacle Goose, 18 Greylag Goose, 3 Tufted Duck, 2 Woodpigeon, 66 Oystercatcher, 29 Lapwing, 45 Ringed Plover, 10 Whimbrel, 7 Curlew, 9 Turnstone, 1 Ruff (first of the year), 4 Dunlin, 10 Purple Sandpiper, 14 Snipe, 5 Redshank, 11 Black-headed Gull, 23 Common Gull, 18 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 28 Arctic Tern, 80 Bonxie, 23 Arctic Skua, 1 Sparrowhawk, 2 Kestrel, 2 Peregrine, 1 Rook, 10 Carrion Crow, 76 Skylark, 1 Sand Martin, 10 Swallow, 1 House Martin, 1 Willow Warbler, 3 Chiffchaff, 2 Sedge Warbler, 1 Blackcap, 2 Lesser Whitethroat, 1 Whitethroat, 2 Blackbird, 1 Fieldfare, 1 Robin, 1 Redstart, 127 Wheatear, 1 Tree Sparrow, 10 Pied Wagtail, 1 White Wagtail, 127 Meadow Pipit, 4 Tree Pipit, 55 Rock Pipit, 1 Chaffinch, 1 Brambling, 7 Twite, 3 Linnet, 1 Mealy Redpoll, 1 Redpoll Sp., 1 Goldfinch, 12 Siskin, 5 Reed Bunting


Ringed Plover at the Airstrip (by Georgia Platt)


Grey Seal making a meal out of a Lumpsucker, at Greenholm (by Alex Penn)

Year list: 151
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17th May 2023
Weather:
Generally overcast with rain from mid-afternoon and a force 4-5 SW wind
Another quiet day for birds, with not much around of note. A moderate south-westerly wind inspired some seawatching from South Light at points through the day, but not much of interest was seen aside from the usual array of common breeding seabirds.

HIGHLIGHTS:
Stock Dove: one still present
Grey-headed Wagtail: male still around South Harbour and Da Water

Sightings of note: 1 Barnacle Goose, 21 Greylag Goose, 2 Wigeon, 3 Woodpigeon, 52 Oystercatcher, 31 Lapwing, 1 Golden Plover, 36 Ringed Plover, 4 Whimbrel, 8 Curlew, 7 Turnstone, 3 Dunlin, 31 Purple Sandpiper, 12 Snipe, 7 Redshank, 10 Black-headed Gull, 9 Common Gull, 12 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 41 Arctic Tern, 76 Bonxie, 22 Arctic Skua, 4 Kestrel, 3 Rook, 3 Carrion Crow, 59 Skylark, 1 Sand Martin, 9 Swallow, 1 Willow Warbler, 1 Sedge Warbler, 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 5 Blackbird, 1 Robin, 2 Whinchat, 97 Wheatear, 1 Tree Sparrow, 4 Pied Wagtail, 107 Meadow Pipit, 3 Tree Pipit, 48 Rock Pipit, 2 Chaffinch, 1 Brambling, 13 Twite, 6 Linnet, 6 Mealy Redpoll, 2 Siskin, 9 Reed Bunting

Other wildlife: 1 Shetland Bee

Year list: 150
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16th May 2023
Weather:
Cloudy with sunny spells and a force 6-7 NW wind
Not much to report from today, other than a quiet census in the morning and a cruiseship visiting in the late afternoon. At least two Risso's Dolphin were briefly seen moving north off Kristal Kame mid-morning, but were lost from sight as quickly as they were found - nevertheless, this marks the first sighting of this iconic species in Fair Isle waters this year. A Kestrel trapped at the Haven in the afternoon was also a bonus, with a tasty mealworm in a spring trap proving too tempting for this small yet feisty raptor.


Kestrel in the hand at the Haven (by Georgia Platt)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Grey-headed Wagtail: male still around South Harbour and Da Water

Sightings of note: 1 Barnacle Goose, 28 Greylag Goose, 2 Wigeon, 3 Woodpigeon, 66 Oystercatcher, 21 Lapwing, 30 Ringed Plover, 7 Whimbrel, 7 Curlew, 15 Turnstone, 1 Dunlin, 12 Snipe, 7 Redshank, 1 Black-headed Gull, 15 Common Gull, 4 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 60 Bonxie, 27 Arctic Skua, 6 Kestrel, 2 Peregrine, 1 Rook, 4 Carrion Crow, 71 Skylark, 2 Swallow, 1 House Martin, 1 Willow Warbler, 1 Chiffchaff, 3 Sedge Warbler, 2 Blackcap, 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 3 Blackbird, 1 Robin, 114 Wheatear, 2 Tree Sparrow, 7 Pied Wagtail, 78 Meadow Pipit, 5 Tree Pipit, 41 Rock Pipit, 1 Chaffinch, 1 Brambling, 16 Twite, 6 Mealy Redpoll, 2 Siskin, 1 Reed Bunting


Gannet collecting nesting material at Dronger - note the jet-black eye, which has now been scientifically proven to strongly correlate with surviving from an HPAI infection (by Alex Penn)


Raven at Gunnawark (by Alex Penn)

Other wildlife: 2+ Risso's Dolphin (moving north off Kristal Kame, first of the year)

Year list: 150
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15th May 2023
Weather:
Sunny with a force 4 westerly wind
A far nicer day for weather today with bright sun and blue skies, although a fresh westerly breeze meant that there wasn't much in the way of new birds around. The team took advantage of the fine weather in the afternoon to go and make a start on ringing some of the Lapwing broods scattered aroud the south of the isle - two broods at Pund, another at Kirki Mire and a single large chick at Da Water gave us a total of 11 chicks ringed, which is a very respectable start with a few more broods to go at in the next week or so as well. It's excellent to see the Lapwing having a very productive season here so far, so keeping fingers crossed that a good number of chicks make it to fledging stage.


Four downy Lapwing chicks in the hand at Pund (by Georgia Platt)

HIGHLIGHTS:
British Yellow Wagtail: female still at Da Water
Grey-headed Wagtail: male still around South Harbour and Da Water

Sightings of note: 1 Barnacle Goose, 27 Greylag Goose, 2 Wigeon, 1 Common Scoter, 2 Woodpigeon, 51 Oystercatcher, 25 Lapwing, 30 Ringed Plover, 5 Whimbrel, 4 Curlew, 26 Turnstone, 2 Dunlin, 8 Snipe, 3 Common Sandpiper, 7 Redshank, 11 Black-headed Gull, 15 Common Gull, 2 Arctic Tern, 80 Bonxie, 10 Arctic Skua, 1 'Blue' Fulmar, 4 Kestrel, 2 Peregrine, 4 Jackdaw, 3 Rook, 10 Carrion Crow, 98 Skylark, 5 Sand Martin, 17 Swallow, 1 House Martin, 3 Willow Warbler, 1 Chiffchaff, 3 Sedge Warbler, 3 Blackcap, 3 Lesser Whitethroat, 3 Whitethroat, 1 Ring Ouzel, 2 Blackbird, 1 Fieldfare, 1 Robin, 2 Redstart, 142 Wheatear, 1 Tree Sparrow, 5 Pied Wagtail, 4 White Wagtail, 127 Meadow Pipit, 14 Tree Pipit, 52 Rock Pipit, 1 Brambling, 15 Twite, 2 Linnet, 7 Redpoll Sp., 2 Siskin, 8 Reed Bunting


Kestrel at the Obs (by Georgia Platt)

Other wildlife: 1 Red Admiral (at Obs garden, first of the year), 1 Shetland Bee

Year list: 150
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14th May 2023
Weather:
Low cloud and rain clearing by late afternoon with a force 4-5 SW wind turning to westerly throughout the day
No census today due to patchy rain for most of the day, however some birding from the car and around the crofts in the afternoon gained a few sightings. A Cuckoo at Golden Water was the first of the year, predictably being mobbed by Meadow Pipits as it flew around Wirvie. Other than that a few common migrants still remain, including a handful of hirundines and a flock of six Collared Dove at Stackhoull.


Cuckoo at Wirvie (by Alex Penn)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Stock Dove: one still present
British Yellow Wagtail: female still at Da Water

Grey-headed Wagtail: male still around South Harbour and Da Water

Sightings of note: 1 Barnacle Goose, 23 Greylag Goose, 1 Shoveler, 2 Wigeon, 1 Teal, 1 Cuckoo (first of the year), 1 Woodpigeon, 9 Collared Dove, 3 Whimbrel, 5 Dunlin, 1 Black-headed Gull, 8 Common Gull, 11 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 20 Arctic Tern, 1 Kestrel, 8 Carrion Crow, 2 Sand Martin, 4 Swallow, 1 House Martin, 1 Willow Warbler, 3 Sedge Warbler, 1 Blackcap, 1 Whitethroat, 3 Blackbird, 3 Robin, 3 Redstart, 2 Whinchat, 2 White Wagtail, 1 Tree Pipit, 1 Brambling, 1 Linnet, 12 Mealy Redpoll, 8 Siskin, 3 Reed Bunting

Year list: 150
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13th May 2023
Weather:
Overcast with some low cloud and a force 3-4 SW wind
Today seemed fairly quiet for birds with a noticeable decrease in numbers of migrants, although a Canada Goose at Da Water was new in, whilst the drake Shoveler and male Grey-headed Wagtail still remain around the south east. In addition, the team carried out the first breeding bird survey of the spring at dawn this morning, with the second survey due in a few weeks time.


Male Grey-headed Wagtail at South Harbour (by Alex Penn)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Canada Goose: one at Da Water
Stock Dove: one still present
Grey-headed Wagtail: reappeared at South Harbour

Sightings of note: 1 Barnacle Goose, 26 Greylag Goose, 1 Shoveler, 2 Wigeon, 23 Woodpigeon, 5 Collared Dove, 1 Moorhen, 67 Oystercatcher, 25 Lapwing, 2 Golden Plover, 38 Ringed Plover, 4 Whimbrel, 6 Curlew, 11 Turnstone, 6 Dunlin, 18 Snipe, 1 Common Sandpiper, 1 Green Sandpiper, 3 Redshank, 23 Black-headed Gull, 18 Common Gull, 4 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 70 Bonxie, 5 Arctic Skua, 1 Sparrowhawk, 2 Long-eared Owl, 5 Kestrel, 3 Rook, 14 Carrion Crow, 81 Skylark, 6 Sand Martin, 31 Swallow, 11 Willow Warbler, 2 Chiffchaff, 5 Sedge Warbler, 4 Blackcap, 3 Lesser Whitethroat, 6 Whitethroat, 3 Goldcrest, 1 Ring Ouzel, 8 Blackbird, 1 Fieldfare, 5 Song Thrush, 9 Robin, 1 Black Redstart, 3 Redstart, 2 Whinchat, 128 Wheatear, 1 Tree Sparrow, 2 Dunnock, 5 Pied Wagtail, 2 White Wagtail, 3 alba Wagtail sp., 137 Meadow Pipit, 12 Tree Pipit, 43 Rock Pipit, 1 'Scandinavian' Rock Pipit, 1 Chaffinch, 7 Brambling, 14 Twite, 2 Linnet, 5 Mealy Redpoll, 3 Redpoll Sp., 13 Siskin, 8 Reed Bunting


Male Mealy Redpoll at the South Light hay feeder (by Georgia Platt)


The first incubating Eider of the spring was spotted today, at North Park (by Alex Penn)

Other wildlife: 1 Shetland Bee

Year list: 149
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12th May 2023
Weather:
Overcast in the morning with sunny spells in the afternoon and a light force 1-3 NNW breeze
Another day of calm conditions and good visibility made for very pleasant birding, with a nice variation of common migrants still steadily moving through. There was finally some overdue raptor movement, with a ringtail Hen Harrier and immature White-tailed Eagle, which were both new species for the year list.


Immature White-tailed Eagle over Vaasetter, dwarfing a Raven (by Georgia Platt)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Stock Dove: one still present
White-tailed Eagle: one over the middle of the isle, last seen heading north over Wirvie (first of the year)
Hen Harrier: ringtail flying north over Meoness (first of the year)
Great Spotted Woodpecker: one on Dronger
Red-backed Shrike: ringed female still around Vaila's Trees
British Yellow Wagtail: female still at Da Water

Sightings of note: 1 Barnacle Goose, 25 Greylag Goose, 1 Shoveler, 2 Wigeon, 2 Teal, 3 Common Scoter, 1 Woodpigeon, 1 Moorhen, 31 Oystercatcher, 25 Lapwing, 1 Golden Plover, 25 Ringed Plover, 9 Whimbrel, 20 Curlew, 18 Turnstone, 13 Snipe, 1 Green Sandpiper, 12 Redshank, 1 Greenshank, 27 Black-headed Gull, 19 Common Gull, 4 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 22 Arctic Tern, 80 Bonxie, 11 Arctic Skua, 1 'Blue' Fulmar, 3 Cormorant, 1 Grey Heron, 1 Sparrowhawk, 2 Long-eared Owl, 2 Short-eared Owl, 6 Kestrel, 2 Peregrine, 10 Carrion Crow, 78 Skylark, 3 Sand Martin, 50 Swallow, 5 House Martin, 20 Willow Warbler, 3 Chiffchaff, 4 Sedge Warbler, 1 Grasshopper Warbler, 3 Blackcap, 2 Garden Warbler, 2 Lesser Whitethroat, 8 Whitethroat, 2 Ring Ouzel, 11 Blackbird, 7 Fieldfare, 3 Redwing, 6 Song Thrush, 13 Robin, 5 Pied Flycatcher, 11 Redstart, 11 Whinchat, 139 Wheatear, 1 Dunnock, 8 Pied Wagtail, 3 White Wagtail, 2 alba Wagtail sp., 127 Meadow Pipit, 12 Tree Pipit, 48 Rock Pipit, 2 Chaffinch, 6 Brambling, 17 Twite, 3 Linnet, 2 Mealy Redpoll, 1 Redpoll Sp., 13 Siskin, 11 Reed Bunting


2cy male Ring Ouzel in the hand at Gully (by Georgia Platt)

Other wildlife: 3 Harbour Porpoise (off South Light), 2 Minke Whale (off North Light, first of the year)

Year list: 149
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11th May 2023
Weather:
Overcast with some low cloud on the hills and a force 3 NE wind
After five days the fog had finally relented and we could see the horizon again, so the team headed out on a full census. The morning got off to a strong start, with a Quail at Springfield and the Shoveler, Garganey and male Grey-headed Wagtail still present, but the main excitement of the day was with a gorgeous adult Long-tailed Skua at the Airstrip at midday, first seen flying around with Arctic Skuas before settling down to rest for a while and giving excellent views.


Long-tailed Skua at the Airstrip (by Alex Penn)

Other nice sightings included a Wood Sandpiper at Utra Scrape, a flock of 17 Barnacle Geese roaming the isle and a Great Spotted Woodpecker at the Haa, the first since the influx last autumn.


HIGHLIGHTS:
Quail: one at Springfield
Garganey: drake still at Da Water
Stock Dove: one still present
Wood Sandpiper: one at Utra Scrape
Long-tailed Skua: adult at the Airstrip (56 previous records of 111 individuals, first record since 2020)
Great Spotted Woodpecker: one at the Haa (new for the year list)
Red-backed Shrike: ringed female still around Vaila's Trees
British Yellow Wagtail: female at Da Water
Grey-headed Wagtail: male still at Da Water


Great Spotted Woodpecker at the Haa (by Rob Hughes)

Sightings of note: 17 Barnacle Goose, 31 Greylag Goose, 1 Shoveler, 2 Wigeon, 3 Teal, 95 Eider (50m, 45f), 3 Common Scoter, 12 Woodpigeon, 1 Collared Dove, 50 Oystercatcher, 28 Lapwing, 8 Golden Plover, 42 Ringed Plover, 7 Whimbrel, 13 Curlew, 21 Turnstone, 4 Dunlin, 1 Purple Sandpiper, 2 Woodcock, 14 Snipe, 3 Common Sandpiper, 1 Green Sandpiper, 5 Redshank, 5 Black-headed Gull, 29 Common Gull, 11 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 27 Arctic Tern, 72 Bonxie, 16 Arctic Skua, 1 'Blue' Fulmar, 2 Sparrowhawk, 1 Long-eared Owl, 1 Short-eared Owl, 4 Kestrel, 2 Peregrine, 26 Carrion Crow, 112 Skylark, 5 Sand Martin, 43 Swallow, 17 House Martin, 27 Willow Warbler, 8 Chiffchaff, 3 Sedge Warbler, 1 Grasshopper Warbler, 1 Blackcap, 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 7 Whitethroat, 4 Ring Ouzel, 18 Blackbird, 37 Fieldfare, 4 Redwing, 7 Song Thrush, 12 Robin, 3 Pied Flycatcher, 1 Black Redstart, 12 Redstart, 9 Whinchat, 183 Wheatear, 1 Dunnock, 9 Pied Wagtail, 5 White Wagtail, 159 Meadow Pipit, 34 Tree Pipit, 59 Rock Pipit, 1 Chaffinch, 4 Brambling, 17 Twite, 1 Linnet, 11 Redpoll Sp., 17 Siskin, 2 Snow Bunting, 9 Reed Bunting

Year list: 147
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10th May 2023
Weather:
Thick fog with light drizzle and a force 3-4 easterly wind
With the isle still swathed in fog the team were again unable to carry out a full census, so just went birding in our census areas. Shoveler and Spotted Flycatcher were new for the year list, and a smart male Grey-headed Wagtail was at Da Water - the first of this subspecies of the year. Otherwise common migrants and scarcities remain similar to in recent days, although not surprising as the thick fog can't be very tempting weather to migrate in!


Male (left, below) and female (right) Redstart in the hand (by Sally Kunzig)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Garganey: drake still at Da Water
Stock Dove: one still present
Stone-curlew: still present, again seen flying SE past Quoy
Red-backed Shrike: ringed female (trapped yesterday) around the Hall and Vaila's Trees
Nightingale: one at Midway (presumably the same individual from yesterday)
Grey-headed Wagtail: male at Da Water


Drake Garganey in flight at Da Water (by Alex Penn)

Sightings of note: 3 Barnacle Goose, 22 Greylag Goose, 1 Shoveler (first of the year), 2 Wigeon, 3 Teal, 3 Common Scoter, 10 Woodpigeon, 26 Lapwing, 2 Golden Plover, 6 Whimbrel, 36 Turnstone, 9 Dunlin, 2 Common Sandpiper, 1 Black-headed Gull, 2 Common Gull, 6 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 6 Arctic Skua, 1 Grey Heron, 2 Sparrowhawk, 1 Long-eared Owl, 1 Short-eared Owl, 4 Kestrel, 8 Carrion Crow, 32 Swallow, 4 House Martin, 22 Willow Warbler, 7 Chiffchaff, 5 Sedge Warbler, 1 Grasshopper Warbler, 1 Blackcap, 4 Whitethroat, 18 Blackbird, 14 Fieldfare, 1 Redwing, 9 Song Thrush, 1 Spotted Flycatcher (first of the year), 16 Robin, 3 Pied Flycatcher, 7 Redstart, 5 Whinchat, 2 Dunnock, 7 White Wagtail, 12 Tree Pipit, 2 Chaffinch, 7 Brambling, 2 Linnet, 2 Mealy Redpoll, 2 Goldfinch, 3 Siskin, 3 Snow Bunting, 13 Reed Bunting

Year list: 145
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9th May 2023
Weather:
Patchy fog and rain in the morning turning into thick fog by the afternoon, with a force 3-5 westerly wind
More fog and rain today, although a drop in the wind made for a welcome change - it's always nice to go out birding and be able to hear anything other than the wind again! Despite the dreich conditions and poor visibility the team still got out for most of the day, with the first cruiseship of the season disembarking onto the isle this afternoon as well. Two Wood Sandpiper at Utra Scrape were new for the year list, as was a typically elusive Nightingale in North Restensgeo and a female Red-backed Shrike at Double Dyke, which was then trapped. The first Arctic Terns of the year were also back at the Haven and Buness, with hopefully many more to still arrive before they settle down for the breeding season.


Nightingale at North Restensgeo (by Alex Penn)

In addition, the female Citrine Wagtail was still present and roaming bewteen Utra Scrape and Walli Burn, and the drake Garganey was also still on Da Water.


HIGHLIGHTS:
Garganey: drake still at Da Water
Stock Dove: one still present
Wood Sandpiper: two at Utra Scrape (first of the year)
Red-backed Shrike: female trapped at Double Dyke (first of the year)
Nightingale: one at North Restensgeo (60th Fair Isle record)
Citrine Wagtail: female still present, roaming between Utra Scrape and Walli Burn
Hawfinch: female still at Plantation


Female Red-backed Shrike in the hand at Double Dyke (by Alex Penn)

Sightings of note: 3 Barnacle Goose, 26 Greylag Goose, 6 Teal, 3 Common Scoter, 5 Woodpigeon, 15 Lapwing, 1 Golden Plover, 8 Whimbrel, 19 Turnstone, 32 Dunlin, 1 Purple Sandpiper, 7 Common Sandpiper, 1 Greenshank, 10 Black-headed Gull, 51 Common Gull, 10 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 22 Arctic Tern (first of the year), 2 Arctic Skua, 1 Grey Heron, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Long-eared Owl, 1 Short-eared Owl, 2 Kestrel, 1 Peregrine, 5 Carrion Crow, 1 Sand Martin, 14 Swallow, 3 House Martin, 22 Willow Warbler, 5 Chiffchaff, 4 Sedge Warbler, 1 Grasshopper Warbler, 2 Blackcap, 6 Whitethroat, 1 Goldcrest, 6 Blackbird, 61 Fieldfare, 6 Redwing, 6 Song Thrush, 14 Robin, 3 Pied Flycatcher, 1 Black Redstart, 7 Redstart, 6 Whinchat, 2 Dunnock, 2 White Wagtail, 5 Tree Pipit, 3 Chaffinch, 9 Brambling, 1 Linnet, 3 Mealy Redpoll, 1 Goldfinch, 6 Siskin, 1 Snow Bunting, 4 Reed Bunting


Swallows resting in the rain at Busta Geo (by Georgia Platt)

Year list: 143
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8th May 2023
Weather:
Patchy low cloud and drizzle in the morning turning into thick fog and heavy rain mid-afternoon, with a force 6-7 SE wind
Another morning greeted by low cloud covering most of the north of the isle, but as the bulk of the heavy rain wasn't due to arrive until later we headed out and birded as best as we could in our census areas. The two Cranes from the other day were still present, last seen heading north over the Airstrip in the early afternoon, with presumably the same birds reported at Grutness (South Shetland Mainland) just half an hour later! As for new birds, a drake Garganey on Da Water was a very welcome sight, with the isle having had no records of this super-stylish duck since 2014. Common migrants were present in good numbers on the south-west cliffs, although all looking fairly damp and exhausted - hopefully they manage to find enough shelter and stick around until the weather improves.


Drake Garganey at Da Water (by Alex Penn)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Garganey: drake at Da Water (14th Fair Isle record of 24 individuals, first since 2014)
Crane: two still roaming the isle, last seen flying north towards Shetland
Stone-curlew: still present, seen flying SE past Quoy
British Yellow Wagtail: female still at Boini Mire
Hawfinch: female still at Plantation

Sightings of note: 2 Barnacle Goose, 39 Greylag Goose, 1 Shelduck, 2 Teal, 3 Common Scoter, 1 Red-breasted Merganser, 5 Woodpigeon, 1 Moorhen, 7 Whimbrel, 38 Turnstone, 20 Dunlin, 4 Common Sandpiper, 2 Black-headed Gull, 18 Common Gull, 7 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 2 Arctic Skua, 1 Grey Heron, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Long-eared Owl, 4 Kestrel, 3 Peregrine, 6 Carrion Crow, 14 Swallow, 5 House Martin, 21 Willow Warbler, 5 Chiffchaff, 1 Sedge Warbler, 1 Grasshopper Warbler, 1 Blackcap, 2 Whitethroat, 7 Ring Ouzel, 12 Blackbird, 38 Fieldfare, 7 Redwing, 7 Song Thrush, 10 Robin, 4 Pied Flycatcher, 1 Black Redstart, 11 Redstart, 7 Whinchat, 1 Dunnock, 4 White Wagtail, 16 Tree Pipit, 1 Brambling, 3 Linnet, 1 Redpoll Sp., 1 Goldfinch, 9 Siskin, 11 Reed Bunting


Male Pied Flycatcher at Steensi Geo (by Alex Penn)


Fieldfare on the cliffs at Guidicum (by Georgia Platt)

Year list: 139
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7th May 2023
Weather:
Low cloud and heavy showers with a force 6-7 SE wind
Not much to report from today as continued heavy fog and rain put a stop to census, although a bit of adhoc birding gained a few sightings of common migrants and a couple of scarcities which still remain.

HIGHLIGHTS:
Citrine Wagtail: female still present, now at Schoolton
Hawfinch: female still at Plantation

Sightings of note: 2 Barnacle Goose, 35 Greylag Goose, 3 Common Scoter, 4 Woodpigeon, 1 Moorhen, 7 Whimbrel, 20 Dunlin, 2 Common Sandpiper, 6 Black-headed Gull, 24 Common Gull, 3 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 1 Kestrel, 8 Carrion Crow, 9 Swallow, 3 House Martin, 4 Willow Warbler, 1 Grasshopper Warbler, 1 Blackcap, 3 Ring Ouzel, 2 Blackbird, 4 Song Thrush, 2 Robin, 6 Redstart, 3 Whinchat, 1 White Wagtail, 4 Tree Pipit, 1 Chaffinch, 2 Siskin, 1 Reed Bunting

Year list: 138
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6th May 2023
Weather:
Low cloud and patchy drizzle with a force 6-7 SE wind
Heavy and persistent drizzle kept the team indoors for most of the morning, but luckily the rain had cleared up and the fog had started to lift by early afternoon, allowing for some more very windy birding about the isle. The only new birds of note were two Cranes touring the south of the isle, seen several times in flight and also briefly on the ground a couple of times - a nice tick for the year list. Other scarcities still linger, including the Citrine Wagtail and Stone-curlew, as well as a good variety of common migrants on the cliffs and in the crofts.


Cranes at Kenaby (by Alex Penn)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Stock Dove: one still present
Crane: two roaming the south of the isle (33rd Fair Isle record)
Stone-curlew: still present, flying east over the Kirk
Wryneck: one at Walli Burn
British Yellow Wagtail: female still at Boini Mire
Citrine Wagtail: female still at Utra Scrape
Hawfinch: female still at Plantation

Sightings of note: 2 Barnacle Goose, 46 Greylag Goose, 4 Teal, 1 Common Scoter, 4 Woodpigeon, 1 Moorhen, 22 Oystercatcher, 19 Lapwing, 1 Golden Plover, 16 Ringed Plover, 4 Whimbrel, 5 Curlew, 14 Turnstone, 20 Dunlin, 13 Purple Sandpiper, 11 Snipe, 2 Common Sandpiper, 8 Redshank, 5 Black-headed Gull, 54 Common Gull, 11 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 1 Arctic Skua, 1 Short-eared Owl, 1 Peregrine, 7 Carrion Crow, 13 Swallow, 2 House Martin, 13 Willow Warbler, 4 Chiffchaff, 2 Sedge Warbler, 2 Blackcap, 2 Whitethroat, 1 Goldcrest, 2 Ring Ouzel, 14 Blackbird, 24 Fieldfare, 2 Redwing, 5 Song Thrush, 7 Robin, 4 Redstart, 1 Whinchat, 2 Dunnock, 6 Pied Wagtail, 3 White Wagtail, 7 Tree Pipit, 7 Brambling, 1 Linnet, 2 Mealy Redpoll, 1 Goldfinch, 9 Siskin, 8 Reed Bunting


The first Mallard brood of the year (of 13 ducklings!), at Da Water (by Alex Penn)

Year list: 138
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5th May 2023
Weather:
Overcast with a force 6-7 SE wind
A few more new birds around today, with a couple of common migrant year ticks and a few nice scarcities as well. A female Citrine Wagtail at Utra Scrape kicked census off to a good start, followed by presumably yesterday's female British Yellow Wagtail at Boini Mire, where surprisingly the Stone-curlew from a few days ago also made a reappearance. A Garden Warbler at Hjukni Geo, Pied Flycatcher at Troila and a Hobby over South Raeva were new for the year list, as was a Quail flushed from Field Ditch - the earliest record for the latter since 2011.


Female Citrine Wagtail at Meadow Burn (by Patrick Safford)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Quail: one flushed from Field Ditch (first of the year)
Stone-curlew: reappeared at Boini Mire
British Yellow Wagtail: female at Boini Mire
Citrine Wagtail: female at Utra Scrape then Meadow Burn (eighth spring Fair Isle record)
Hawfinch: female still at Plantation


Stone-curlew at Boini Mire (by Georgia Platt)

Sightings of note: 49 Greylag Goose, 2 Wigeon, 1 Common Scoter, 1 Woodpigeon, 46 Oystercatcher, 18 Lapwing, 11 Golden Plover, 31 Ringed Plover, 4 Whimbrel, 5 Curlew, 40 Turnstone, 14 Dunlin, 2 Purple Sandpiper, 19 Snipe, 1 Common Sandpiper, 10 Redshank, 3 Black-headed Gull, 18 Common Gull, 5 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 47 Bonxie, 6 Arctic Skua, 1 Grey Heron, 1 Long-eared Owl, 1 Kestrel, 3 Peregrine, 9 Rook, 5 Carrion Crow, 102 Skylark, 1 Sand Martin, 7 Swallow, 1 House Martin, 11 Willow Warbler, 9 Chiffchaff, 5 Sedge Warbler, 2 Grasshopper Warbler, 5 Blackcap, 1 Garden Warbler (first of the year), 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 4 Whitethroat, 2 Goldcrest, 6 Ring Ouzel, 12 Blackbird, 7 Fieldfare, 3 Redwing, 1 Song Thrush, 8 Robin, 1 Pied Flycatcher (first of the year), 3 Redstart, 2 Whinchat, 133 Wheatear, 1 Dunnock, 9 Pied Wagtail, 4 White Wagtail, 135 Meadow Pipit, 9 Tree Pipit, 44 Rock Pipit, 1 Chaffinch, 11 Brambling, 17 Twite, 2 Mealy Redpoll, 1 Redpoll Sp., 1 Goldfinch, 6 Siskin, 2 Reed Bunting


Ring Ouzel showing some interesting leucistic patterning, at Easter Lother (by Alex Penn)

Year list: 137
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4th May 2023
Weather:
Mostly sunny with a force 5-6 easterly wind
A fairly quiet census this morning with not much new in, although a Wryneck showing well at Quoy in the early afternoon was a nice year tick, and a female British Yellow Wagtail later on at South Light was the first of that subspecies of the year. The weather forecast is still looking promising, showing strong south-easterly winds for the next few days - who knows what that could bring!


Wryneck at Quoy (by Patrick Safford)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Stock Dove: one still present
Wryneck: one at Quoy (first of the year)
British Yellow Wagtail: female at South Light
Hawfinch: female still at Plantation

Sightings of note: 49 Greylag Goose, 4 Teal, 1 Woodpigeon, 49 Oystercatcher, 23 Lapwing, 12 Golden Plover, 81 Ringed Plover, 4 Whimbrel, 11 Curlew, 29 Turnstone, 7 Dunlin, 2 Woodcock, 1 Jack Snipe, 28 Snipe, 1 Common Sandpiper, 9 Redshank, 2 Black-headed Gull, 10 Common Gull, 4 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 87 Bonxie, 4 Arctic Skua, 1 Peregrine, 9 Rook, 5 Carrion Crow, 120 Skylark, 8 Swallow, 12 Willow Warbler, 12 Chiffchaff, 3 Sedge Warbler, 1 Grasshopper Warbler, 2 Blackcap, 2 Whitethroat, 1 Ring Ouzel, 12 Blackbird, 50 Fieldfare, 2 Redwing, 4 Song Thrush, 12 Robin, 131 Wheatear, 1 Dunnock, 11 Pied Wagtail, 4 White Wagtail, 139 Meadow Pipit, 60 Rock Pipit, 11 Brambling, 13 Twite, 2 Mealy Redpoll, 1 Goldfinch, 3 Siskin, 1 Snow Bunting, 2 Reed Bunting


Male Brambling at the Haa (by Patrick Safford)

Year list: 133
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3rd May 2023
Weather:
Bright with sunny spells turning into full sunshine, with a calm force 2-3 easterly wind increasing to force 4-5 by late afternoon
Another similar day of common spring migrants and calm weather, although the added bonus of an Olive-backed Pipit at Mopul made things a bit more exciting. The bird showed well in the area all day, and was eventually trapped in the early evening so that the team could remove a couple of ticks around its eye to be sent off for identification - the 13th to be trapped on Fair Isle, and just the fourth spring record.


Olive-backed Pipit at Mopul (by Patrick Safford)

The first visit to the Gannet productivity plots was also made this afternoon, marking the beginning of continuous seabird monitoring for the season.


HIGHLIGHTS:
Stock Dove: one still present
Olive-backed Pipit: one trapped at Mopul (fourth spring record)
Hawfinch: female still at Plantation

Sightings of note: 61 Greylag Goose, 2 Teal, 1 Common Scoter, 3 Woodpigeon, 1 Collared Dove, 1 Moorhen, 35 Oystercatcher, 18 Lapwing, 17 Golden Plover, 46 Ringed Plover, 7 Whimbrel, 6 Curlew, 1 Black-tailed Godwit, 38 Turnstone, 11 Dunlin, 6 Purple Sandpiper, 27 Snipe, 3 Common Sandpiper, 7 Redshank, 23 Common Gull, 2 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 69 Bonxie, 3 Arctic Skua, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Peregrine, 3 Rook, 14 Carrion Crow, 90 Skylark, 1 Sand Martin, 17 Swallow, 2 House Martin, 15 Willow Warbler, 12 Chiffchaff, 3 Sedge Warbler, 1 Grasshopper Warbler, 3 Blackcap, 3 Whitethroat, 2 Goldcrest, 1 Ring Ouzel, 18 Blackbird, 4 Fieldfare, 4 Redwing, 1 Song Thrush, 23 Robin, 1 Redstart, 154 Wheatear, 1 Dunnock, 4 Pied Wagtail, 2 White Wagtail, 138 Meadow Pipit, 48 Rock Pipit, 1 'Scandinavian' Rock Pipit, 2 Chaffinch, 8 Brambling, 10 Twite, 3 Linnet, 2 Goldfinch, 3 Siskin, 3 Snow Bunting, 1 Reed Bunting


Sedge Warbler at Meadow Burn (by Georgia Platt)

Other wildlife: 2 Shetland Bee

Year list: 132
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2nd May 2023
Weather:
Overcast in the morning turning to sunny spells in the afternoon, with a force 4-5 NW wind decreasing to force 2-3 throughout the day
Today's census felt fairly similar to yesterday, although more sun and less wind made the weather far nicer to be out in! A Short-eared Owl trapped in Plantation was a real treat to start the day - it's not often these birds find themselves in a Heligoland trap, so it was a rare opportunity to see one in the hand in daylight.


Short-eared Owl in the hand at Plantation (by Georgia Platt)

A Shelduck was new in South Harbour, and some corvid passage was indicated by a flock of 15 Rook flying high over the north of the isle and a group of six Carrion Crow at Setter. The Little Ringed Plover reappeared at Da Water after two days of absence, which shortly after relocated to Meadow Burn, and the now long-staying Stock Dove still remains around Meoness and Lower Leogh.


HIGHLIGHTS:
Stock Dove: one still present
Little Ringed Plover: reappeared at Da Water then Meadow Burn
Hawfinch: female still at Plantation

Sightings of note: 152 Greylag Goose, 7 Pink-footed Goose, 1 Shelduck, 4 Teal, 3 Common Scoter, 5 Woodpigeon, 1 Moorhen, 60 Oystercatcher, 17 Lapwing, 27 Golden Plover, 47 Ringed Plover, 8 Whimbrel, 15 Curlew, 1 Black-tailed Godwit, 25 Turnstone, 1 Dunlin, 4 Purple Sandpiper, 32 Snipe, 1 Common Sandpiper, 19 Redshank, 9 Black-headed Gull, 13 Common Gull, 5 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 82 Bonxie, 2 Arctic Skua, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Short-eared Owl, 2 Merlin, 1 Peregrine, 3 Rook, 19 Carrion Crow, 157 Skylark, 1 Swallow, 6 Willow Warbler, 3 Chiffchaff, 1 Sedge Warbler, 1 Blackcap, 3 Whitethroat, 1 Goldcrest, 2 Ring Ouzel, 11 Blackbird, 2 Redwing, 3 Song Thrush, 23 Robin, 1 Whinchat, 107 Wheatear, 10 Pied Wagtail, 5 White Wagtail, 151 Meadow Pipit, 42 Rock Pipit, 3 Chaffinch, 9 Brambling, 19 Twite, 1 Linnet, 1 Siskin, 3 Snow Bunting, 1 Reed Bunting


The first Gannet egg of the season was seen today, in the colony at the end of Lerness (by Alex Penn)

Other wildlife: 1 Shetland Bee, 2 Harbour Porpoise

Year list: 131
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1st May 2023
Weather:
Sunny spells and a force 5-7 NW wind
A strong north-westerly wind made the air temperature feel more like January than the first day of May, but with a bit of wader movement and a handful of common migrants around, plus the first two Grasshopper Warbler and Black-tailed Godwit of the year made it feel like spring is still here. The Stone-curlew was still present at Taing and then flew to Pund late afternoon, and the Woodlark favouring the area around the traps reappeared at Plantation after a few days of absence. In addition to the scarcities, a new Shorelark was found on the east side of Meoness in the early evening, continuing a good run of spring records for this stylish lark.


Whimbrel flying over Hesti Geo (by Alex Penn)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Stock Dove: one still present
Stone-curlew: still present at Taing hay park then flew to Pund
Shorelark: one east side of Meoness
Woodlark: one west over Lower Leogh then at Plantation
Hawfinch: female still at Plantation


Shorelark on Meoness (by Patrick Safford)

Sightings of note: 125 Greylag Goose, 7 Pink-footed Goose, 6 Teal, 5 Woodpigeon, 2 Collared Dove, 2 Moorhen, 58 Oystercatcher, 19 Lapwing, 45 Golden Plover, 70 Ringed Plover, 15 Whimbrel, 21 Curlew, 1 Black-tailed Godwit (first of the year), 38 Turnstone, 3 Dunlin, 3 Purple Sandpiper, 1 Woodcock, 32 Snipe, 1 Common Sandpiper, 35 Redshank, 1 Black-headed Gull, 24 Common Gull, 7 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 61 Bonxie, 1 Arctic Skua, 2 Short-eared Owl, 1 Merlin, 1 Carrion Crow, 154 Skylark, 1 Swallow, 4 Willow Warbler, 3 Chiffchaff, 3 Sedge Warbler, 2 Grasshopper Warbler (first of the year), 2 Blackcap, 4 Whitethroat, 4 Ring Ouzel, 6 Blackbird, 82 Fieldfare, 3 Redwing, 3 Song Thrush, 1 Mistle Thrush, 18 Robin, 112 Wheatear, 2 Dunnock, 9 Pied Wagtail, 2 White Wagtail, 138 Meadow Pipit, 1 Tree Pipit, 39 Rock Pipit, 5 Chaffinch, 20 Brambling, 6 Twite, 1 Goldfinch, 5 Siskin, 5 Snow Bunting, 2 Reed Bunting


Grasshopper Warbler at Meadow Burn (by Alex Penn)

Year list: 131
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30th April 2023
Weather:
Overcast with showers in the morning followed by low cloud and drizzle in the afternoon, with a force 4-6 SE wind
Conditions were less than ideal for birding today, with showers in the forecast from mid-morning becoming foggy drizzle in the afternoon, although a moderate south-easterly wind was blowing so the team braved the rain and headed out to find some birds. South-east census was again the place to be, with Whinchat and Little Bunting found in quick succession in Walli Burn - both new birds for the year list. The excitement didn't stop there (nor did the rain), as Alex then came across a very miserable looking Stone-curlew at Da Water, which showed well on the ground briefly before touring the middle of the isle and giving lovely in-flight views, eventually lost as it headed north towards Setter. An unexpected yet excellent encounter, and the earliest ever occurence of this desert-dwelling species on Fair Isle.


Stone-curlew at Da Water (by Alex Penn)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Stock Dove: one still at Lower Leogh
Stone-curlew: one at Da Water then mobile around the middle of the isle (11th Fair Isle record)
Hawfinch: female still at Plantation
Little Bunting: one at Walli Burn

Sightings of note: 5 Pink-footed Goose, 5 Teal, 4 Woodpigeon, 1 Collared Dove, 1 Moorhen, 9 Golden Plover, 3 Whimbrel, 2 Dunlin, 8 Purple Sandpiper, 1 Woodcock, 2 Jack Snipe, 1 Common Sandpiper, 4 Common Gull, 1 Rook, 1 Carrion Crow, 1 Swallow, 5 Willow Warbler, 4 Chiffchaff, 1 Sedge Warbler (first of the year), 1 Blackcap, 2 Goldcrest, 3 Ring Ouzel, 7 Blackbird, 69 Fieldfare, 11 Robin, 1 Redstart, 1 Whinchat (first of the year), 2 Tree Sparrow, 1 Dunnock, 5 Pied Wagtail, 3 Chaffinch, 6 Brambling, 27 Twite, 1 Goldfinch, 5 Snow Bunting, 3 Reed Bunting

Year list: 129
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29th April 2023
Weather:
Sunny spells with a force 4-5 NW wind
A quieter day than yesterday with the odd new bird still appearing, including another Moorhen trapped and colour-ringed in Plantation (three in three days - amazing!) and three Knot over Skadan in the afternoon. The Little Ringed Plover was still at Da Water sporadically throughout the day, and most of yesterday's Fieldfare had already moved on overnight, although over a hundred still remain.


Little Ringed Plover at Da Water (by Alex Penn)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Stock Dove: one still at Lower Leogh
Little Ringed Plover: one still at Da Water
Hawfinch: female still at Plantation


Male Redstart at Setter (by Patrick Safford)

Sightings of note: 211 Greylag Goose, 8 Pink-footed Goose, 2 Teal, 1 Long-tailed Duck, 1 Red-breasted Merganser, 4 Woodpigeon, 1 Moorhen, 35 Oystercatcher, 18 Lapwing, 30 Golden Plover, 91 Ringed Plover, 4 Whimbrel, 12 Curlew, 21 Turnstone, 3 Knot (first of the year), 1 Dunlin, 5 Purple Sandpiper, 1 Woodcock, 1 Jack Snipe, 12 Snipe, 1 Common Sandpiper, 7 Redshank, 3 Black-headed Gull, 11 Common Gull, 2 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 53 Bonxie, 2 Arctic Skua, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Merlin, 2 Peregrine, 1 Rook, 2 Carrion Crow, 141 Skylark, 3 Swallow, 2 Willow Warbler, 7 Chiffchaff, 1 Goldcrest, 6 Ring Ouzel, 7 Blackbird, 108 Fieldfare, 2 Redwing, 2 Song Thrush, 1 Mistle Thrush, 27 Robin, 1 Redstart, 117 Wheatear, 12 Pied Wagtail, 9 White Wagtail, 139 Meadow Pipit, 45 Rock Pipit, 3 Chaffinch, 6 Brambling, 28 Twite, 1 Redpoll Sp., 1 Goldfinch, 1 Siskin, 3 Snow Bunting, 2 Reed Bunting


Bonxies at North Park - a few more starting to appear, but numbers are still greatly reduced from what they should be by this time of year (by Georgia Platt)


Snow Buntings at Muckle Uri Geo (by Patrick Safford)

Year list: 125
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28th April 2023
Weather:
Fog and drizzle in the morning which lifted by mid-afternoon, with a force 2-3 southerly-based wind turning to force 5-7 NW around midday
The magic combination of light rain and south-easterlies overnight finally brought us some new birds, including six year ticks! A smart male Common Redstart near Double Dyke was a welcome sight, as was an unringed Moorhen picking around the walls near Plantation, which was promptly trapped and fitted with a colour ring - we definitely weren't expecting to get another one so quickly!

A Common Sandpiper in Steensi Geo was also new for the year list, and then south-east census was clearly the place to be, with a Lapland Bunting at Da Water followed by both Lesser and Common Whitethroat in Gilsetter. Amongst these new species there was also a significant arrival of Fieldfare, with several large flocks scattered across the isle, and a nice surprise of two Shorelark which went south over Hoini when one of these large flocks flushed.


Lapland Bunting at Da Water (by Patrick Safford)

To top it all off, a Little Ringed Plover was at Da Water in the early evening - a good bird for Fair Isle that is on the increase in regularity, with this being the 10th record and the 7th since 2016. Overall a good day to be out despite the waves of low cloud just as the team were in the middle of census, and excellent to see a few new spring species as well as some scarcities making an appearance.



Little Ringed Plover at Da Water (by Patrick Safford)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Stock Dove: one still at Lower Leogh
Little Ringed Plover: one at Da Water (10th Fair Isle record)
Shorelark: two south over Hoini
Hawfinch: female still at Plantation


Shorelark at Hoini (by Alex Penn)

Sightings of note: 199 Greylag Goose, 5 Pink-footed Goose, 4 Teal, 25 Woodpigeon, 2 Moorhen, 35 Oystercatcher, 20 Lapwing, 11 Golden Plover, 58 Ringed Plover, 4 Whimbrel, 14 Curlew, 1 Bar-tailed Godwit, 42 Turnstone, 1 Dunlin, 20 Purple Sandpiper, 38 Snipe, 1 Common Sandpiper (first of the year), 13 Redshank, 3 Black-headed Gull, 24 Common Gull, 7 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 60 Bonxie, 2 Arctic Skua, 1 Sparrowhawk, 2 Short-eared Owl, 2 Peregrine, 2 Rook, 5 Carrion Crow, 164 Skylark, 6 Swallow, 5 Willow Warbler, 12 Chiffchaff, 4 Blackcap, 3 Lesser Whitethroat (first of the year), 1 Whitethroat (first of the year), 5 Goldcrest, 4 Ring Ouzel, 11 Blackbird, 835 Fieldfare, 9 Redwing, 6 Song Thrush, 2 Mistle Thrush, 21 Robin, 2 Black Redstart, 1 Redstart (first of the year), 149 Wheatear, 9 Pied Wagtail, 9 White Wagtail, 170 Meadow Pipit, 30 Rock Pipit, 4 Chaffinch, 5 Brambling, 16 Twite, 2 Goldfinch, 1 Siskin, 1 Lapland Bunting (first of the year), 3 Snow Bunting, 2 Reed Bunting

Year list: 124
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27th April 2023
Weather:
Sunny spells becoming overcast mid-afternoon, with a force 2-3 SE breeze in the morning increasing to force 4-5 by evening
In a stark contrast to the last few days, summer weather seemed to make an appearance this morning with little to no breeze and sunshine, making for very pleasant census conditions. A few new birds were about, with a small arrival of Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler, a couple of Swallow and a few Whimbrel among others. In the afternoon we sucessfully trapped the Moorhen that has been around Meadow Burn over the last week or so, and fitted a colour ring as part of the National Moorhen Project - hopefully it will continue its migration soon and deliver some good ringing recovery data.


Moorhen in the hand at Meadow Burn (by Georgia Platt)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Hawfinch: female still at Plantation

Sightings of note: 167 Greylag Goose, 6 Pink-footed Goose, 4 Teal, 13 Woodpigeon, 1 Water Rail, 1 Moorhen, 40 Oystercatcher, 20 Lapwing, 47 Ringed Plover, 3 Whimbrel, 14 Curlew, 37 Turnstone, 7 Purple Sandpiper, 13 Snipe, 12 Redshank, 8 Black-headed Gull, 2 Common Gull, 3 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 51 Bonxie, 1 'Blue' Fulmar, 2 Rook, 1 Carrion Crow, 152 Skylark, 2 Swallow, 3 Willow Warbler, 19 Chiffchaff, 4 Ring Ouzel, 16 Blackbird, 3 Song Thrush, 33 Robin, 118 Wheatear, 1 Dunnock, 12 Pied Wagtail, 3 White Wagtail, 126 Meadow Pipit, 48 Rock Pipit, 5 Chaffinch, 6 Brambling, 16 Twite, 3 Linnet, 2 Mealy Redpoll, 2 Goldfinch, 3 Snow Bunting

Other wildlife: 1 Shetland Bee

Year list: 118
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26th April 2023
Weather:
Sunny spells and wintry showers with a force 5-6 NW wind
Not much change to in recent days whilst this wintry weather continues, with census still providing similar birds and numbers. A Dunlin near Meadow Burn was new in and a strikingly-pale Redpoll on Ward Hill caused a bit of head-scratching, but various features lead to the conclusion of just a very frosty Mealy Redpoll.


Mealy Redpoll on Ward Hill (by Alex Penn)

In the afternoon most of the team headed out to assist Will Bates from Lark Ascent with his annual checks of the cliff access systems that are used for seabird monitoring, and so that Sally and Patrick could be trained on how to use them. All went well despite having to endure a few cold but short wintry showers!



Patrick learning the ropes of the Via Ferrata system at Easter Lother (by Alex Penn)

HIGHLIGHTS:
'European' White-fronted Goose: juvenile still present
Stock Dove: one still at Lower Leogh
Hawfinch: female still at Plantation

Sightings of note: 186 Greylag Goose, 9 Pink-footed Goose, 1 Teal, 2 Red-breasted Merganser, 13 Woodpigeon, 1 Moorhen, 45 Oystercatcher, 14 Lapwing, 11 Golden Plover, 85 Ringed Plover, 1 Whimbrel, 13 Curlew, 18 Turnstone, 1 Dunlin, 1 Purple Sandpiper, 16 Snipe, 5 Redshank, 1 Black-headed Gull, 4 Common Gull, 5 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 35 Bonxie, 1 Merlin, 1 Peregrine, 1 Rook, 131 Skylark, 7 Chiffchaff, 2 Ring Ouzel, 11 Blackbird, 1 Fieldfare, 1 Redwing, 7 Song Thrush, 1 Mistle Thrush, 37 Robin, 1 Black Redstart, 82 Wheatear, 9 Pied Wagtail, 4 White Wagtail, 107 Meadow Pipit, 29 Rock Pipit, 3 Chaffinch, 11 Brambling, 15 Twite, 1 Linnet, 1 Mealy Redpoll, 1 Goldfinch, 3 Snow Bunting


Curlew at Da Water (by Georgia Platt)

Year list: 118
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25th April 2023
Weather:
Mostly sunny with some heavy wintry showers around midday and a force 6-7 northerly wind
A very quiet census today, with continued strong northerlies not producing many birds. Fortunately the wind is meant to decrease over the next few days, which will hopefully turn some new birds up and maybe some more common spring migrant species.

HIGHLIGHTS:
'European' White-fronted Goose: juvenile reappeared at Lower Leogh
Stock Dove: one still at Lower Leogh
Woodlark: one still around the Cru
Hawfinch: female still at Plantation


Ring Ouzel at Hill Dyke (by Alex Penn)

Sightings of note: 255 Greylag Goose, 9 Pink-footed Goose, 2 Wigeon, 11 Teal, 2 Red-breasted Merganser, 14 Woodpigeon, 37 Oystercatcher, 27 Lapwing, 9 Golden Plover, 87 Ringed Plover, 2 Whimbrel, 11 Curlew, 26 Turnstone, 34 Snipe, 5 Redshank, 11 Common Gull, 8 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 39 Bonxie, 1 Grey Heron, 1 Merlin, 1 Rook, 1 Carrion Crow, 154 Skylark, 4 Chiffchaff, 4 Ring Ouzel, 13 Blackbird, 1 Fieldfare, 3 Redwing, 3 Song Thrush, 1 Mistle Thrush, 30 Robin, 94 Wheatear, 13 Pied Wagtail, 2 White Wagtail, 133 Meadow Pipit, 26 Rock Pipit, 3 Chaffinch, 13 Brambling, 16 Twite, 1 Goldfinch, 5 Snow Bunting


Female Wheatear at Guidicum (by Georgia Platt)

Year list: 118
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24th April 2023
Weather:
Sunny spells and wintry showers with a force 6-7 northerly wind
Despite a very cold wind and some hail and snow showers the team got a full census in this morning, which revealed similar numbers of birds to in recent days. A couple of Whimbrel passing through in the afternoon were new in, a Kestrel at the Haven was the first of the year and the Stock Dove still remains around Lower Leogh.


Whimbrel on Skadan (by Georgia Platt)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Stock Dove: one still at Lower Leogh
Hawfinch: female still at Plantation

Sightings of note: 222 Greylag Goose, 7 Pink-footed Goose, 2 Wigeon, 10 Teal, 4 Red-breasted Merganser, 10 Woodpigeon, 1 Moorhen, 29 Oystercatcher, 18 Lapwing, 14 Golden Plover, 74 Ringed Plover, 2 Whimbrel, 11 Curlew, 55 Turnstone, 16 Snipe, 7 Redshank, 3 Black-headed Gull, 13 Common Gull, 5 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 39 Bonxie, 1 Sparrowhawk, 2 Short-eared Owl, 1 Kestrel (first of the year), 1 Rook, 1 Carrion Crow, 182 Skylark, 2 Chiffchaff, 4 Ring Ouzel, 16 Blackbird, 9 Fieldfare, 5 Redwing, 6 Song Thrush, 1 Mistle Thrush, 36 Robin, 1 Black Redstart, 73 Wheatear, 7 Pied Wagtail, 1 White Wagtail, 90 Meadow Pipit, 26 Rock Pipit, 6 Chaffinch, 9 Brambling, 18 Twite, 1 Goldfinch, 1 Snow Bunting


One of the pair of breeding Ravens at Gunnawark (by Georgia Platt)

Year list: 118
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23rd April 2023
Weather:
Showers with a strong force 7-9 NE wind
Very strong northerly-based winds had the team sheltering inside for most of the day, apart from a couple of trips out to see what was around. A Mistle Thrush was new in at Hesti Geo, the Woodlark was still around the traps and the male and female Hawfinch were still visiting their own personal feeders.

HIGHLIGHTS:
Woodlark: one still around Vaadal reservoir
Hawfinch: two present; male at the Haa and female at Plantation

Sightings of note: 2 Wigeon, 5 Teal, 1 Long-tailed Duck, 3 Red-breasted Merganser, 12 Woodpigeon, 1 Moorhen, 66 Turnstone, 1 Purple Sandpiper, 3 Black-headed Gull, 32 Common Gull, 6 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Rook, 1 Chiffchaff, 1 Ring Ouzel, 1 Fieldfare, 1 Mistle Thrush, 1 White Wagtail, 10 Brambling, 1 Goldfinch, 1 Snow Bunting

Year list: 117
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22nd April 2023
Weather:
Overcast with prolonged sunny spells and a force 5-6 NE wind, increasing to force 6-8 by the evening
A strong, cold north-easterly wind has brought us back to reality after several days of calm and settled weather, with predictably not many new birds in. Three Jackdaw touring the south of the isle were an uncommon sight for Fair Isle, a new female Hawfinch was present around the traps this afternoon and a huge female migrant Peregrine at Kirn O' Skroo was the highlight of a very quiet north census.


Rook (bottom left) and three Jackdaw over the Haa (by Georgia Platt)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Stock Dove: one still at Lower Leogh
Woodlark: one still at the Cru
Hawfinch: three present; male at the Haa and two females at Plantation

Sightings of note: 241 Greylag Goose, 5 Pink-footed Goose, 2 Wigeon, 12 Teal, 1 Tufted Duck, 1 Long-tailed Duck, 2 Red-breasted Merganser, 13 Woodpigeon, 1 Moorhen, 35 Oystercatcher, 19 Lapwing, 20 Golden Plover, 63 Ringed Plover, 1 Whimbrel, 6 Curlew, 27 Turnstone, 4 Purple Sandpiper, 19 Snipe, 6 Redshank, 2 Black-headed Gull, 23 Common Gull, 2 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 40 Bonxie, 1 Arctic Skua, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Merlin, 2 Peregrine, 3 Jackdaw, 1 Rook, 146 Skylark, 1 House Martin, 5 Chiffchaff, 4 Ring Ouzel, 19 Blackbird, 10 Fieldfare, 6 Redwing, 1 Song Thrush, 17 Robin, 64 Wheatear, 2 Dunnock, 10 Pied Wagtail, 129 Meadow Pipit, 42 Rock Pipit, 11 Chaffinch, 2 Brambling, 4 Twite, 1 Goldfinch, 5 Snow Bunting


Bonxies at Homisdale (by Alex Penn)

Year list: 117
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21st April 2023
Weather:
A foggy start which mostly cleared by midday, with a gentle force 2 NE breeze
A 5am start for the team as we headed out for Tystie surveys, which were very successful despite the patchy fog as the sea was flat calm, making it a lot easier to see and hear them! A much better count than last time and a more realistic representation of the population (194 compared to 147), so a good start to the seabird monitoring for the season. Census was another quiet one, although a Greenshank flying over Gully and later at South Light was a year tick. Both the male and female Hawfinch are still present, but clearly favouring different feeders, as the male is still visiting the Haa and the female was seen several times throughout the day in Plantation.

The afternoon was spent taking the boat out for a test run - the first time it has been out since 2019, due to a number of different reasons! A perfect day to be out on the water, and a good job to get done in preparation for upcoming practical seabird monitoring.



Looking into North Haven (by Georgia Platt)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Stock Dove: one at Lower Leogh
Hawfinch: two present; male at the Haa and female in Plantation


Greenshank at Skadan (by Alex Penn)

Sightings of note: 281 Greylag Goose, 1 Pink-footed Goose, 2 Wigeon, 8 Teal, 1 Tufted Duck, 1 Long-tailed Duck, 5 Red-breasted Merganser, 22 Woodpigeon, 1 Collared Dove, 1 Water Rail, 3 Moorhen, 39 Oystercatcher, 21 Lapwing, 10 Golden Plover, 46 Ringed Plover, 2 Whimbrel, 7 Curlew, 44 Turnstone, 9 Purple Sandpiper, 2 Jack Snipe, 32 Snipe, 14 Redshank, 1 Greenshank (first of the year), 14 Common Gull, 6 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 24 Bonxie, 194 Tystie, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Long-eared Owl, 2 Merlin, 1 Peregrine, 1 Jackdaw, 1 Rook, 2 Carrion Crow, 142 Skylark, 1 Sand Martin, 11 Chiffchaff, 1 Blackcap, 2 Ring Ouzel, 22 Blackbird, 9 Fieldfare, 6 Redwing, 3 Song Thrush, 22 Robin, 95 Wheatear, 1 Dunnock, 11 Pied Wagtail, 7 White Wagtail, 123 Meadow Pipit, 1 Tree Pipit, 46 Rock Pipit, 8 Chaffinch, 6 Brambling, 25 Twite, 1 Goldfinch, 6 Snow Bunting


Snow Bunting at Muckle Uri Geo (by Alex Penn)

Other wildlife: 2 Shetland Bee


Shetland Bee at Vaila's Trees (by Alex Penn)

Year list: 117
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20th April 2023
Weather:
A clear, sunny morning clouding over in the afternoon, with a force 3-4 NE breeze
Today had a very similar feel to yesterday, with a handful of new birds passing through in these fairly calm and drifty conditions. The male Hawfinch was around Plantation in the morning and back at the Haa feeders by midday, and a female was ringed in Plantation when the team went to do some trap repairs in the afternoon. Another calm day in the forecast tomorrow before the weather turns wild again at the weekend, so a second early-morning Tystie survey is on the cards before the birds disappear into their nesting cavities for the season.


Female Hawfinch in the hand - look at that meaty bill! (by Georgia Platt)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Woodlark: north over Shirva
Hawfinch: two present; male at Plantation then the Haa and female trapped in Plantation


'Blue' Fulmar at Furse (by Patrick Safford)

Sightings of note: 195 Greylag Goose, 9 Pink-footed Goose, 2 Wigeon, 6 Teal, 1 Tufted Duck, 1 Long-tailed Duck, 2 Red-breasted Merganser, 12 Woodpigeon, 1 Moorhen, 53 Oystercatcher, 15 Lapwing, 16 Golden Plover, 42 Ringed Plover, 5 Whimbrel, 6 Curlew, 65 Turnstone, 18 Snipe, 7 Redshank, 3 Black-headed Gull, 13 Common Gull, 4 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 41 Bonxie, 1 'Blue' Fulmar, 1 Short-eared Owl, 3 Merlin, 1 Jackdaw, 1 Rook, 1 Carrion Crow, 125 Skylark, 1 Sand Martin, 1 Swallow, 7 Chiffchaff, 3 Goldcrest, 3 Ring Ouzel, 20 Blackbird, 16 Fieldfare, 4 Redwing, 3 Song Thrush, 17 Robin, 91 Wheatear, 4 Tree Sparrow, 2 Dunnock, 16 Pied Wagtail, 2 White Wagtail, 161 Meadow Pipit, 48 Rock Pipit, 7 Chaffinch, 6 Brambling, 25 Twite, 1 Linnet, 1 Mealy Redpoll, 1 Goldfinch, 4 Siskin


Goldcrest at Dog Geo (by Georgia Platt)

Year list: 116
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19th April 2023
Weather:
Bright and sunny with a calm force 3-4 easterly breeze
An enjoyable yet fairly quiet census this morning, although Tree Pipit and House Martin were nice additions to the year list. Not much else to add of note, other than a handsome male Hawfinch which arrived at the Auld Haa garden in the afternoon, dwarfing the few Chaffinch and Brambling alongside it!


Male Hawfinch at the Haa (by Georgia Platt)


Male Hawfinch in flight (by Patrick Safford)

HIGHLIGHTS:
'European' White-fronted Goose: juvenile still present
Iceland Gull: 2cy still present
Shorelark: one still at Naaversgill then Malcolm's Head
Woodlark: one around the Cru/Vaadal
Hawfinch: male at the Haa


Shorelark still showing nicely at Naaversgill (by Alex Penn)

Sightings of note: 200 Greylag Goose, 9 Pink-footed Goose, 1 Shelduck, 3 Wigeon, 8 Teal, 1 Tufted Duck, 4 Red-breasted Merganser, 8 Woodpigeon, 39 Oystercatcher, 16 Lapwing, 26 Golden Plover, 78 Ringed Plover, 1 Whimbrel, 28 Curlew, 76 Turnstone, 1 Purple Sandpiper, 28 Snipe, 13 Redshank, 4 Black-headed Gull, 33 Common Gull, 1 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 28 Bonxie, 1 Grey Heron, 2 Merlin, 1 Peregrine, 3 Rook, 1 Carrion Crow, 126 Skylark, 3 Sand Martin, 2 Swallow, 2 House Martin (first of the year), 1 Willow Warbler, 17 Chiffchaff, 3 Blackcap, 6 Goldcrest, 4 Ring Ouzel, 24 Blackbird, 32 Fieldfare, 4 Redwing, 14 Song Thrush, 1 Mistle Thrush, 36 Robin, 1 Black Redstart, 99 Wheatear, 2 Tree Sparrow, 2 Dunnock, 10 Pied Wagtail, 4 White Wagtail, 157 Meadow Pipit, 1 Tree Pipit (first of the year), 41 Rock Pipit, 9 Chaffinch, 8 Brambling, 29 Twite, 2 Linnet, 1 Mealy Redpoll, 1 Goldfinch, 2 Siskin, 1 Snow Bunting, 1 Reed Bunting, 1 Yellowhammer

Year list: 116
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18th April 2023
Weather:
Clear skies and sunshine with a force 4-5 SE wind
Not a huge amount happening about the isle today in terms of birds, with singles of Shelduck and Stock Dove the only new birds of note accompanied by a handful of lingering scarcities. Another glorious day to be out and about though, with this weather set to only improve over the next few days and with more easterly-based winds to come, hopefully bringing more new birds in.


Looking north over Furse (by Georgia Platt)

HIGHLIGHTS:
'European' White-fronted Goose: juvenile still present
Stock Dove: one at Pund
Iceland Gull: 2cy still present
Shorelark: one still at Naaversgill

Sightings of note: 237 Greylag Goose, 9 Pink-footed Goose, 1 Shelduck, 5 Wigeon, 12 Teal, 1 Tufted Duck, 1 Red-breasted Merganser, 65 Rock Dove, 16 Woodpigeon, 1 Moorhen, 37 Oystercatcher, 17 Lapwing, 3 Golden Plover, 68 Ringed Plover, 12 Curlew, 75 Turnstone, 3 Purple Sandpiper, 26 Snipe, 1 Green Sandpiper, 18 Redshank, 1 Black-headed Gull, 9 Common Gull, 3 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 25 Bonxie, 1 Grey Heron, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Long-eared Owl, 3 Rook, 1 Carrion Crow, 151 Skylark, 1 Sand Martin, 1 Swallow, 1 Willow Warbler, 11 Chiffchaff, 3 Blackcap, 1 Goldcrest, 29 Blackbird, 32 Fieldfare, 10 Redwing, 5 Song Thrush, 35 Robin, 3 Black Redstart, 78 Wheatear, 36 House Sparrow (21m, 15f), 2 Tree Sparrow, 4 Dunnock, 1 Grey Wagtail, 9 Pied Wagtail, 3 White Wagtail, 188 Meadow Pipit, 44 Rock Pipit, 12 Chaffinch, 3 Brambling, 1 Greenfinch, 17 Twite, 1 Linnet, 1 Siskin, 2 Snow Bunting, 1 Reed Bunting


Tystie looking smart in full breeding plumage (by Georgia Platt)

Year list: 114
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17th April 2023
Weather:
An overcast but bright morning followed by sun in the afternoon, with a force 5-6 SSE wind
Another day of sun and strong southerly-based winds, continuing a slow and steady trickle of new birds passing through. A Whimbrel flying south over Klingers Geo was the first of the spring for this species, and two Tree Sparrow at Quoy mid-afternoon were also new for the year list. Several scarcities remain, including both the Shorelark at Naaversgill and the Woodlark on Lerness, with an additional Woodlark making a brief appearance at the Cru before disappearing again - presumably the same bird that was at Burkle yesterday now roaming the isle, as the first bird has been very faithful to Lerness since its arrival.


Whimbrel over Klingers Geo (by Alex Penn)

HIGHLIGHTS:
'European' White-fronted Goose: juvenile still present
Iceland Gull: 2cy & 3cy still present
Woodlark: one still on Lerness and a second at the Cru
Shorelark: one still at Naaversgill

Sightings of note: 268 Greylag Goose, 9 Pink-footed Goose, 4 Wigeon, 13 Teal, 1 Tufted Duck, 4 Red-breasted Merganser, 18 Woodpigeon, 1 Water Rail, 2 Moorhen, 43 Oystercatcher, 16 Lapwing, 1 Golden Plover, 75 Ringed Plover, 1 Whimbrel (first of the year), 12 Curlew, 57 Turnstone, 22 Snipe, 20 Redshank, 3 Black-headed Gull, 9 Common Gull, 3 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 22 Bonxie, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Long-eared Owl, 1 Merlin, 1 Peregrine, 4 Rook, 1 Carrion Crow, 204 Skylark, 1 Sand Martin, 2 Willow Warbler, 7 Chiffchaff, 1 Blackcap, 1 Goldcrest, 33 Blackbird, 38 Fieldfare, 15 Redwing, 8 Song Thrush, 29 Robin, 3 Black Redstart, 1 Stonechat, 51 Wheatear, 2 Tree Sparrow (first of the year), 2 Dunnock, 10 Pied Wagtail, 1 White Wagtail, 138 Meadow Pipit, 35 Rock Pipit, 21 Chaffinch, 4 Brambling, 1 Greenfinch, 13 Twite, 1 Linnet, 2 Siskin, 1 Snow Bunting


Adult male Black Redstart at Bull's Park (by Alex Penn)


Pied Wagtail on South Green (by Georgia Platt)

Year list: 114
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16th April 2023
Weather:
Overcast in the morning followed by a sunny afternoon, with a force 5-6 southerly wind
A handful of new birds in today, consisting of nine Rook and a juvenile 'European' White-fronted Goose around North Shirva, a Bar-tailed Godwit flying over Buness and amazingly a second Woodlark at Burkle first thing, with the now long-staying bird still present on Lerness.

HIGHLIGHTS:
'European' White-fronted Goose: juvenile north of North Shirva
Iceland Gull: 2cy & 3cy still present
Woodlark: one still on Lerness and a new bird at Burkle (59th Fair Isle record)

Sightings of note: 235 Greylag Goose, 9 Pink-footed Goose, 4 Wigeon, 11 Teal, 1 Tufted Duck, 3 Red-breasted Merganser, 21 Woodpigeon, 1 Moorhen, 41 Oystercatcher, 13 Lapwing, 60 Ringed Plover, 11 Curlew, 1 Bar-tailed Godwit (first of the year), 77 Turnstone, 1 Jack Snipe, 39 Snipe, 1 Green Sandpiper, 19 Redshank, 4 Black-headed Gull, 10 Common Gull, 4 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 24 Bonxie, 1 'Blue' Fulmar, 1 Grey Heron, 2 Sparrowhawk, 2 Peregrine, 9 Rook, 2 Carrion Crow, 126 Skylark, 1 Willow Warbler, 13 Chiffchaff, 2 Blackcap, 2 Ring Ouzel, 31 Blackbird, 42 Fieldfare, 19 Redwing, 9 Song Thrush, 33 Robin, 2 Black Redstart, 1 Stonechat, 41 Wheatear, 2 Dunnock, 1 Grey Wagtail, 15 Pied Wagtail, 1 White Wagtail, 186 Meadow Pipit, 21 Rock Pipit, 30 Chaffinch, 8 Brambling, 13 Twite, 1 Goldfinch, 1 Siskin, 1 Reed Bunting


Bar-tailed Godwit over Buness (by Alex Penn)

Year list: 112
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15th April 2023
Weather:
Sunny with a force 4 southerly wind
Today's census was a bit quieter, with many of yesterday's migrants already having moved on overnight. Two Stock Dove south of Shirva were new in, as were a flock of 32 Curlew flying high over the south of the isle, and a Green Sandpiper over Skadan in the evening was new for the year list. The Canada Goose is still present in the south, and the Shorelark was refound at Naaversgill.

HIGHLIGHTS:
Canada Goose: one still present
Stock Dove: two south of Shirva
Iceland Gull: 3cy still present
Shorelark: one still at Naaversgill

Sightings of note: 232 Greylag Goose, 2 Pink-footed Goose, 6 Wigeon, 4 Teal, 1 Tufted Duck, 48 Eider (24m, 24f), 25 Rock Dove, 17 Woodpigeon, 1 Collared Dove, 3 Moorhen, 53 Oystercatcher, 11 Lapwing, 2 Golden Plover, 40 Ringed Plover, 48 Curlew, 55 Turnstone, 3 Purple Sandpiper, 37 Snipe, 1 Green Sandpiper (first of the year), 10 Redshank, 11 Black-headed Gull, 7 Common Gull, 5 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 28 Bonxie, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Long-eared Owl, 1 Short-eared Owl, 2 Merlin, 2 Rook, 2 Carrion Crow, 180 Skylark, 2 Swallow, 2 Willow Warbler, 19 Chiffchaff, 6 Goldcrest, 2 Ring Ouzel, 36 Blackbird, 6 Fieldfare, 21 Redwing, 20 Song Thrush, 49 Robin, 2 Black Redstart, 41 Wheatear, 49 House Sparrow (28m, 21f), 4 Dunnock, 1 Grey Wagtail, 13 Pied Wagtail, 2 White Wagtail, 199 Meadow Pipit, 39 Rock Pipit, 17 Chaffinch, 7 Brambling, 16 Twite, 2 Linnet, 2 Redpoll sp., 1 Goldfinch, 1 Siskin, 1 Snow Bunting


Merlin with an unfortunate Robin as prey over Hoini (by Alex Penn)

Year list: 111
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14th April 2023
Weather:
Mostly sunny with light sporadic showers and a force 4-6 southerly wind
A better day with a good number of new birds in, including plenty of common migrants and a handful of Fair Isle scarcities. The first to be reported was a female 'Northern' Bullfinch at Shirva first thing, which went on to roam the isle throughout the day and was later trapped in Plantation - the size of the bird could really be appreciated in the hand, with 'Northern' birds being considerably larger and with a lot more fluff than their British counterparts!


Female 'Northern' Bullfinch at Plantation, before it was trapped (by Alex Penn)

Two Hawfinch were also at Shirva soon after the Bullfinch was reported, with a flyover at South Light presumably one of these birds, followed by a Canada Goose with Greylags around Leogh - one of those days where the year ticks came in thick and fast! The Sandwich Tern was still in North Haven, and a male Blue-headed Wagtail was discovered on Ward Hill, a very early date for this subspecies to make an appearance. Two Arctic Skua calling over the Parks were a very welcome sight and rounded off the year ticks for the day, and an evening trapping session at the Obs produced a handful each of Chaffinch and Brambling coming to roost, along with the added bonuses of Goldfinch and Willow Warbler.



Canada Goose with Greylag Goose at Leogh (by Georgia Platt)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Canada Goose: one at Leogh
Iceland Gull: 2cy & 3cy still present
Sandwich Tern: one still in North Haven
Blue-headed Wagtail: male on Ward Hill (earliest ever date for this subspecies on Fair Isle and earliest flava Wagtail since 1999)
Hawfinch: two at Shirva
'Northern' Bullfinch: female initially at Shirva then roaming, trapped in Plantation (first since 2020)


Male Blue-headed Wagtail on Ward Hill (by Patrick Safford)

Sightings of note: 283 Greylag Goose, 9 Pink-footed Goose, 4 Wigeon, 10 Teal, 1 Tufted Duck, 21 Woodpigeon, 2 Moorhen, 33 Oystercatcher, 18 Lapwing, 1 Golden Plover, 102 Ringed Plover, 20 Curlew, 87 Turnstone, 2 Woodcock, 1 Jack Snipe, 20 Snipe, 32 Redshank, 1 Black-headed Gull, 7 Common Gull, 1 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 17 Bonxie, 2 Arctic Skua (first of the year), 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Short-eared Owl, 2 Merlin, 2 Jackdaw, 3 Rook, 1 Carrion Crow, 148 Skylark, 4 Swallow, 2 Willow Warbler, 9 Chiffchaff, 1 Blackcap, 10 Goldcrest, 1 Ring Ouzel, 53 Blackbird, 33 Fieldfare, 28 Redwing, 45 Song Thrush, 67 Robin, 3 Black Redstart, 1 Stonechat, 25 Wheatear, 6 Dunnock, 2 Grey Wagtail, 14 Pied Wagtail, 164 Meadow Pipit, 32 Rock Pipit, 31 Chaffinch, 21 Brambling, 12 Twite, 1 Linnet, 1 Redpoll sp., 1 Goldfinch, 3 Siskin, 1 Snow Bunting, 1 Reed Bunting

Year list: 110
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13th April 2023
Weather:
Sunny spells and showers in the morning followed by a mostly rainy afternoon, with a force 5-6 easterly wind
Today was mostly quiet, with few new birds in and a couple of lingering scarcities. The first Willow Warbler of the year was found in South Haven, with the Sandwich Tern remaining in North Haven and the Woodlark reappearing on Lerness.


First Willow Warbler of the year at South Haven (by Alex Penn)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Sandwich Tern: one still in North Haven
Woodlark: one still on Lerness


Woodlark still on Lerness (by Alex Penn)

Sightings of note: 252 Greylag Goose, 9 Pink-footed Goose, 3 Wigeon, 12 Teal, 1 Tufted Duck, 1 Long-tailed Duck, 8 Woodpigeon, 2 Moorhen, 34 Oystercatcher, 17 Lapwing, 3 Golden Plover, 99 Ringed Plover, 16 Curlew, 86 Turnstone, 4 Purple Sandpiper, 1 Woodcock, 36 Snipe, 26 Redshank, 1 Black-headed Gull, 9 Common Gull, 3 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 19 Bonxie, 1 'Blue' Fulmar, 1 Grey Heron, 1 Merlin, 1 Peregrine, 1 Rook, 144 Skylark, 1 Sand Martin, 1 Willow Warbler (first of the year), 13 Chiffchaff, 1 Blackcap, 3 Goldcrest, 1 Ring Ouzel, 35 Blackbird, 68 Fieldfare, 23 Redwing, 9 Song Thrush, 24 Robin, 2 Black Redstart, 1 Stonechat, 32 Wheatear, 3 Dunnock, 1 Grey Wagtail, 17 Pied Wagtail, 165 Meadow Pipit, 28 Rock Pipit, 24 Chaffinch, 1 Brambling, 16 Twite, 2 Snow Bunting, 1 Yellowhammer


Blue Fulmar at Wirvie (by Alex Penn)

Year list: 105
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12th April 2023
Weather:
Rain and a strong force 8-10 SE wind in the morning followed by sunny spells in the afternoon, with the wind reducing to force 5-7
The morning was a write-off with rain showers and winds gusting up to 63mph, but although still quite windy, the weather cleared enough for the team to go out on census in the afternoon. A few new birds were in, including the first few Swallows of the year, along with a couple of nice Fair Isle scarcities in the form of a Sandwich Tern in North Haven and a Shorelark at Naaversgill - both quality additions to the year list, with Shorelark being just about annual and Sandwich Tern being slightly more scarce.


Sandwich Tern fishing in North Haven (by Georgia Platt)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Iceland Gull: 2cy & 3cy still present
Sandwich Tern: one in North Haven (second-earliest ever occurence on Fair Isle)
Shorelark: one at Naaversgill


Shorelark at Naaversgill (by Georgia Platt)

Sightings of note: 245 Greylag Goose, 9 Pink-footed Goose, 5 Wigeon, 15 Teal, 1 Tufted Duck, 26 Woodpigeon, 46 Oystercatcher, 19 Lapwing, 1 Golden Plover, 84 Ringed Plover, 14 Curlew, 150 Turnstone, 2 Purple Sandpiper, 3 Woodcock, 58 Snipe, 38 Redshank, 15 Common Gull, 3 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 12 Bonxie, 1 Grey Heron, 2 Sparrowhawk, 2 Merlin, 3 Rook, 1 Carrion Crow, 145 Skylark, 2 Sand Martin, 3 Swallow (first of the year), 11 Chiffchaff, 42 Blackbird, 78 Fieldfare, 29 Redwing, 7 Song Thrush, 16 Robin, 3 Black Redstart, 24 Wheatear, 1 Dunnock, 14 Pied Wagtail, 147 Meadow Pipit, 25 Rock Pipit, 23 Chaffinch, 1 Brambling, 8 Twite, 1 Redpoll sp., 2 Snow Bunting, 3 Reed Bunting


Swallow at Walli Burn (by Sally Kunzig)

Year list: 104
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11th April 2023
Weather:
Blue sky and sun with a force 4-5 westerly wind
A stunning day to be out and about with the island proving to be fairly quiet for birds, other than Patrick saving the day with a Woodlark on Lerness! The bird was acting fresh-in and difficult to pin down but once the rest of the team had got to the west cliffs it was refound right on the end of Lerness, a classic location for rare larks when they turn up. All of the team got good views as the bird fed on the ground and flew overhead a couple of times, giving a lovely melodic call whilst in flight.


Woodlark on Lerness (by Alex Penn)

The afternoon consisted of collecting one of the Obs vehicles from the boat which had been away for its MOT, followed by putting up the Oysterplant exclosure in Muckle Uri Geo, ready for another season of protecting this rare coastal plant from hungry sheep!



The team working away at securing the Oysterplant fence in Muckle Uri Geo (by Georgia Platt)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Iceland Gull: 2cy & 3cy still present
Woodlark: one on Lerness (58th Fair Isle record, first since 2019)

Sightings of note: 254 Greylag Goose, 9 Pink-footed Goose, 3 Wigeon, 17 Teal, 28 Woodpigeon, 1 Collared Dove, 37 Oystercatcher, 18 Lapwing, 10 Golden Plover, 83 Ringed Plover, 14 Curlew, 74 Turnstone, 4 Woodcock, 1 Jack Snipe, 37 Snipe, 27 Redshank, 4 Black-headed Gull, 3 Common Gull, 2 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 11 Bonxie, 2 Sparrowhawk, 2 Merlin, 2 Rook, 1 Carrion Crow, 135 Skylark, 10 Chiffchaff, 3 Blackcap, 64 Blackbird, 50 Fieldfare, 27 Redwing, 7 Song Thrush, 23 Robin, 1 Black Redstart, 1 Stonechat, 16 Wheatear, 3 Dunnock, 18 Pied Wagtail, 1 White Wagtail, 145 Meadow Pipit, 43 Rock Pipit, 2 'Scandinavian' Rock Pipit, 25 Chaffinch, 4 Brambling, 12 Twite, 2 Siskin, 2 Yellowhammer, 1 Reed Bunting


Snipe drumming at Da Water (by Alex Penn)

Year list: 101
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10th April 2023
Weather:
Low cloud and rain in the morning followed by blue sky and sun for most of the afternoon, with a force 6-8 south-easterly wind decreasing to 3-4 by the evening
Although the day got off to a poor start with bad weather, a Red Kite was reported flying around the Raevas in the early morning, which promptly disappeared to probably wait out the rain on the cliffs. The bird was only seen again once, flying from North Haven to Furse mid-afternoon when the weather had significantly improved, so only a few observers managed to connect (none of which were any of the Obs team sadly!). Red Kite is a real Fair Isle rarity, with this record being only the 8th in Obs history and the first in over a decade. A shame to miss out on, but maybe it will make a reappearance in the next couple of days as large raptors often do.

The team didn't fit in a full census, but we all headed out to spend an afternoon birding in our census areas in the sun, gaining a few new year ticks along the way; Mealy Redpoll, Ring Ouzel and Sand Martin (finally!).



Ring Ouzel at Field Ditch (by Georgia Platt)


Sand Martin at Chalet (by Patrick Safford)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Iceland Gull: 2cy & 3cy still present
Red Kite: one present initially at North Raeva early morning, then seen again briefly at North Haven in the afternoon (8th Fair Isle record, first since 2010)

Sightings of note: 246 Greylag Goose, 8 Pink-footed Goose, 3 Wigeon, 15 Teal, 1 Tufted Duck, 1 Long-tailed Duck, 30 Woodpigeon, 2 Collared Dove, 2 Water Rail, 29 Oystercatcher, 16 Lapwing, 30 Golden Plover, 113 Ringed Plover, 14 Curlew, 82 Turnstone, 3 Purple Sandpiper, 4 Woodcock, 14 Snipe, 28 Redshank, 3 Black-headed Gull, 16 Common Gull, 9 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 14 Bonxie, 1 Grey Heron, 2 Sparrowhawk, 1 Short-eared Owl, 2 Merlin, 1 Peregrine, 1 Carrion Crow, 2 Sand Martin (first of the year), 10 Chiffchaff, 2 Blackcap, 5 Goldcrest, 2 Ring Ouzel (first of the year), 87 Fieldfare, 160 Redwing, 4 Song Thrush, 1 Mistle Thrush, 23 Robin, 2 Black Redstart, 24 Wheatear, 2 Dunnock, 2 Grey Wagtail, 14 Pied Wagtail, 27 Chaffinch, 4 Brambling, 8 Twite, 1 Mealy Redpoll (first of the year), 1 Redpoll sp., 3 Siskin, 1 Yellowhammer, 1 Reed Bunting


Black Redstart at Obs (by Alex Penn)

Year list: 100
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9th April 2023
Weather:
Overcast with a force 5-7 south-easterly wind
Another day of strong winds, making for slightly challenging conditions and a quiet census. A Moorhen in Hjukni Geo and a couple of Black Redstart around the isle sparked some interest, but otherwise migrants remained thin on the ground.


Moorhen trying its best to hide in Hjukni Geo (by Alex Penn)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Iceland Gull: 2cy & 3cy still present

Sightings of note: 264 Greylag Goose, 7 Pink-footed Goose, 3 Wigeon, 20 Teal, 1 Tufted Duck, 2 Long-tailed Duck, 30 Woodpigeon, 1 Collared Dove, 1 Water Rail, 1 Moorhen, 28 Oystercatcher, 17 Lapwing, 1 Golden Plover, 82 Ringed Plover, 8 Curlew, 131 Turnstone, 2 Purple Sandpiper, 6 Woodcock, 14 Snipe, 25 Redshank, 14 Common Gull, 2 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 5 Bonxie, 1 Grey Heron, 1 Merlin, 1 Carrion Crow, 192 Skylark, 4 Chiffchaff, 121 Blackbird, 91 Fieldfare, 142 Redwing, 3 Song Thrush, 20 Robin, 2 Black Redstart, 2 Stonechat, 18 Wheatear, 1 Dunnock, 1 Grey Wagtail, 6 Pied Wagtail, 1 White Wagtail, 207 Meadow Pipit, 44 Rock Pipit, 32 Chaffinch, 2 Brambling, 4 Twite, 2 Siskin, 1 Yellowhammer, 3 Reed Bunting


Male Yellowhammer at Shirva (by Alex Penn)


Plenty of very cute hill lambs have appeared in the north over the past week! (by Georgia Platt)

Year list: 96
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8th April 2023
Weather:
Bright sunshine with a force 5-6 south-easterly wind
Not much new in today despite the strong south-easterly wind, although a few common migrants around and the sun and blue sky made for a very pleasant census. An afternoon spring-trapping session at South Harbour saw a couple of Wheatear and eight Rock Pipit ringed, and a nice way to spend the afternoon.


Adult male Wheatear in the hand at South Harbour (by Alex Penn)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Iceland Gull: 2cy & 3cy still present

Sightings of note: 288 Greylag Goose, 3 Wigeon, 11 Teal, 1 Tufted Duck, 20 Woodpigeon, 1 Collared Dove, 42 Oystercatcher, 20 Lapwing, 6 Golden Plover, 98 Ringed Plover, 20 Curlew, 172 Turnstone, 5 Purple Sandpiper, 7 Woodcock, 17 Snipe, 48 Redshank, 1 Black-headed Gull, 7 Common Gull, 9 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 3 Bonxie, 1 Grey Heron, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Long-eared Owl, 2 Merlin, 1 Carrion Crow, 201 Skylark, 13 Chiffchaff, 5 Goldcrest, 186 Blackbird, 51 Fieldfare, 175 Redwing, 4 Song Thrush, 2 Mistle Thrush, 25 Robin, 1 Stonechat, 25 Wheatear, 1 Dunnock, 1 Grey Wagtail, 12 Pied Wagtail, 130 Meadow Pipit, 41 Rock Pipit, 5 'Scandinavian' Rock Pipit, 40 Chaffinch, 1 Brambling, 9 Twite, 4 Siskin, 2 Snow Bunting, 1 Reed Bunting


Long-eared Owl at Setter (by Georgia Platt)


Merlin at Chapel Plantation (by Alex Penn)

Year list: 96
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7th April 2023
Weather:
Generally calm and overcast with sunny spells, with a force 2-4 southerly-based breeze
A rare calm morning in early April means one thing - Tystie surveys! The team headed out at 6am to survey the east coast of the isle before census, with counts producing a relatively low number of breeding plumage birds to in recent years. It was clear that there would be a few migrants in today, as a brief trap round after Tystie surveys saw a few Chaffinch and Brambling, as well as a couple of Chiffchaff and the first two Blackcap of the year. It was a similar scene on census, the calm and cloudy weather providing excellent conditions for finding new migrants, although a good number of mixed thrushes still remain and no new scarcities were to be found. A fairly productive evening ringing session at the Obs and traps consisted of mainly Blackbird trapped and ringed, with a few Redwing and Chaffinch also.


Grey Wagtail at South Haven (by Alex Penn)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Glaucous Gull: one south through the Haven
Iceland Gull: 3cy still present

Sightings of note: 250 Greylag Goose, 8 Pink-footed Goose, 3 Wigeon, 1 Pintail, 29 Teal, 4 Common Scoter (first of the year), 1 Long-tailed Duck, 22 Woodpigeon, 1 Collared Dove, 3 Water Rail, 53 Oystercatcher, 19 Lapwing, 25 Golden Plover, 49 Ringed Plover, 14 Curlew, 231 Turnstone, 5 Purple Sandpiper, 10 Woodcock, 25 Snipe, 36 Redshank, 8 Black-headed Gull, 16 Common Gull, 4 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 8 Bonxie, 147 Tystie, 3 Grey Heron, 1 Sparrowhawk, 2 Merlin, 2 Peregrine, 270 Skylark, 11 Chiffchaff, 3 Blackcap (first of the year), 11 Goldcrest, 169 Blackbird, 113 Fieldfare, 100 Redwing, 26 Song Thrush, 4 Mistle Thrush, 33 Robin, 3 Stonechat, 32 Wheatear, 5 Dunnock, 2 Grey Wagtail, 19 Pied Wagtail, 2 White Wagtail, 199 Meadow Pipit, 59 Rock Pipit, 2 'Scandinavian' Rock Pipit, 47 Chaffinch, 3 Brambling, 25 Twite, 1 Goldfinch, 10 Siskin, 5 Snow Bunting


One of several male Wheatear around the Parks (by Georgia Platt)


A lovely 'Scandinavian' race Rock Pipit at Lerness (by Alex Penn)

Year list: 96
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5th April 2023
Weather:
Overcast with showers in the morning and a strong force 6-7 southerly wind
Windy conditions made for a challenging census, which revealed much the same as in recent days - a similar number of thrushes present and the same scarcities lingering. However, a Jack Snipe at Taing was new for the year list, and the male Yellowhammer from a few days ago reappeared at Skerryholm. Two Rook were still present in the south, and a count of five Mistle Thrush was the highlight of a quiet and blustery north census, with another seen on Malcolm's Head.

HIGHLIGHTS:
Stock Dove: one still present, now at Field
Iceland Gull: 2cy & 3cy still present

Sightings of note: 360 Greylag Goose, 2 Pink-footed Goose, 3 Wigeon, 15 Teal, 2 Red-breasted Merganser, 22 Woodpigeon, 1 Collared Dove, 1 Water Rail, 46 Oystercatcher, 13 Lapwing, 17 Golden Plover, 79 Ringed Plover, 10 Curlew, 169 Turnstone, 15 Purple Sandpiper, 1 Jack Snipe (first of the year), 32 Snipe, 35 Redshank, 1 Black-headed Gull, 8 Common Gull, 9 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 2 Puffin, 1 Grey Heron, 1 Merlin, 1 Peregrine, 2 Rook, 2 Carrion Crow, 244 Skylark, 1 Chiffchaff, 1 Goldcrest, 150 Blackbird, 91 Fieldfare, 336 Redwing, 9 Song Thrush, 6 Mistle Thrush, 14 Robin, 1 Stonechat, 7 Wheatear, 1 Grey Wagtail, 12 Pied Wagtail, 172 Meadow Pipit, 41 Rock Pipit, 14 Chaffinch, 14 Twite, 1 Goldfinch, 1 Snow Bunting, 1 Yellowhammer

Year list: 93
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4th April 2023
Weather:
Sunny spells with a force 4-5 southerly wind
Another bright spring day with a prevailing southerly wind, which brought a few more common migrants into the isle. An array of corvids were new in, consisting of a single Jackdaw (new for the year), three Rook and a Carrion Crow - all expected annual migrants. A handful of Chiffchaff were scattered in the south west of the isle, and the Stock Dove, two Iceland Gulls and Tufted Duck all made a reappearance after a day of absence. Puffin remain low in numbers on the sea, but it won't be too long before they come ashore to breed again, probably in the next week or so.


Rook at Setter (by Alex Penn)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Stock Dove: one still present, at Hunds Heelor
Iceland Gull: 2cy & 3cy still present around South Green

Sightings of note: 295 Greylag Goose, 8 Pink-footed Goose, 5 Wigeon, 24 Teal, 1 Tufted Duck, 18 Woodpigeon, 1 Collared Dove, 3 Water Rail, 44 Oystercatcher, 21 Lapwing, 16 Golden Plover, 88 Ringed Plover, 19 Curlew, 78 Turnstone, 10 Purple Sandpiper, 8 Woodcock, 41 Snipe, 42 Redshank, 2 Black-headed Gull, 2 Common Gull, 5 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 17 Puffin, 1 Grey Heron, 1 Sparrowhawk, 3 Short-eared Owl, 2 Peregrine, 1 Jackdaw (first of the year), 3 Rook, 3 Carrion Crow, 204 Skylark, 4 Chiffchaff, 2 Goldcrest, 263 Blackbird, 127 Fieldfare, 487 Redwing, 14 Song Thrush, 18 Robin, 1 Stonechat, 12 Wheatear, 1 Dunnock, 2 Grey Wagtail, 13 Pied Wagtail, 204 Meadow Pipit, 41 Rock Pipit, 11 Chaffinch, 3 Brambling, 14 Twite, 1 Linnet, 1 Goldfinch (first of the year), 2 Siskin, 1 Snow Bunting, 2 Reed Bunting


Male Tufted Duck at Utra Scrape (by Georgia Platt)


Chiffchaff in the hand at Plantation (by Alex Penn)

Year list: 92
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3rd April 2023
Weather:
Sunny spells with a force 5-7 southerly wind
Today marked the beginning of spring census, as the team headed out to cover a bright and breezy isle. A few birds were new in, most notably a handful of Wheatear along the coasts and a remarkable nine Mistle Thrush in the north - the highest spring count since 2018.


Pintail past Buness (by Alex Penn)

Sightings of note: 8 Pink-footed Goose, 2 Wigeon, 2 Pintail, 12 Teal, 2 Red-breasted Merganser, 20 Woodpigeon, 17 Lapwing, 12 Golden Plover, 78 Ringed Plover, 14 Curlew, 127 Turnstone, 1 Purple Sandpiper, 9 Woodcock, 37 Snipe, 26 Redshank, 1 Black-headed Gull, 4 Common Gull, 3 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 1 Bonxie, 2 Puffin, 2 Merlin, 2 Peregrine, 2 Carrion Crow, 168 Skylark, 1 Chiffchaff, 2 Goldcrest, 233 Blackbird, 97 Fieldfare, 441 Redwing, 26 Song Thrush, 9 Mistle Thrush, 10 Robin, 3 Stonechat, 11 Wheatear, 1 Dunnock, 2 Grey Wagtail, 8 Pied Wagtail, 120 Meadow Pipit, 11 Chaffinch, 12 Twite, 2 Siskin, 3 Snow Bunting, 2 Reed Bunting


Snow Bunting on Ward Hill (by Alex Penn)

Year list: 90
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2nd April 2023
Weather:
Bright sun in the morning and clouding over in the afternoon, with a force 5-6 southerly wind
Fine weather for a walk around the north census route this morning, with a bracing wind but glorious sunshine. A good number of thrushes are still present, although many probably moved on towards Scandinavia overnight, and a few Woodcock and Robin also remain. A Black Redstart at North Gunnawark and a Long-eared Owl at North Naaversgill were highlights from the north, as well as the first Bonxie of the year flying over Ward Hill - a welcome sight given the species' recent decimation from avian influenza in the last couple of seasons. Hopefully many more will arrive in the coming weeks!

HIGHLIGHTS:
Stock Dove: one still present, moved to Barkland
Iceland Gull: 3cy still present around the south


Stock Dove at Barkland (by Alex Penn)

Sightings of note: 1 Pink-footed Goose, 2 Wigeon, 12 Teal, 1 Tufted Duck, 1 Red-breasted Merganser, 15 Woodpigeon, 3 Water Rail, 7 Golden Plover, 1 Purple Sandpiper, 12 Woodcock, 1 Black-headed Gull, 3 Common Gull, 2 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 1 Bonxie (first of the year), 2 Puffin, 1 Long-eared Owl, 2 Short-eared Owl, 1 Merlin, 2 Peregrine, 1 Rook, 2 Carrion Crow, 1 Chiffchaff, 1 Goldcrest, 86 Blackbird (north only), 23 Song Thrush, 2 Mistle Thrush, 1 Black Redstart, 1 Dunnock, 4 Grey Wagtail, 8 Pied Wagtail, 9 Chaffinch, 3 Twite, 1 Siskin, 2 Snow Bunting

Year list: 90
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1st April 2023
Weather:
A pleasant, sunny day with few clouds and a force 3-4 south-easterly breeze
A long and very enjoyable day outside, as the team walked the south-west census route in the morning followed by the south-east route in the aftenoon. Some nice early spring migration was still apparent with a few more thrushes in, including a Mistle Thrush over Meoness in the afternoon. Slight increases in Woodcock, Goldcrest, Chaffinch and Robin were also noted, along with the first few Brambling of the year, and a Tufted Duck flying east over Meoness was also new for the year list. Other highlights included two Iceland Gulls still present around the south, and the Stock Dove remaining around Lower Leogh. Overall a lovely day to be out and about exploring the isle, hopefully to be repeated when the team walk the north census route tomorrow morning.


Sally, Alex and Patrick (left to right) looking out towards Hesswalls and Sheep Rock (by Georgia Platt)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Stock Dove: one still present around Lower Leogh
Iceland Gull: two (2cy and 3cy) still present around the south

Sightings of note: 296 Greylag Goose, 1 Pink-footed Goose, 2 Wigeon, 18 Teal, 1 Tufted Duck (first of the year), 26 Woodpigeon, 3 Water Rail, 17 Oystercatcher, 17 Lapwing, 6 Golden Plover, 81 Ringed Plover, 15 Curlew, 54 Turnstone, 1 Dunlin, 6 Purple Sandpiper, 11 Woodcock, 24 Snipe, 20 Redshank, 2 Common Gull, 2 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 12 Puffin, 1 Cormorant, 1 Short-eared Owl, 2 Carrion Crow, 132 Skylark, 8 Goldcrest, 277 Blackbird, 84 Fieldfare, 151 Redwing, 7 Song Thrush, 1 Mistle Thrush (first of the year), 24 Robin, 2 Stonechat, 1 Dunnock (first of the year), 1 Grey Wagtail, 5 Pied Wagtail, 11 Chaffinch, 4 Brambling (first of the year), 3 Twite, 1 Siskin, 1 Snow Bunting, 2 Reed Bunting


Woodcock against a clear blue sky over the Rippack (by Alex Penn)

Year list: 89
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29th-31st March 2023
Weather:
Mixed conditions ranging from rain to thick fog to bright sunshine, with a still day on 30th turning to a force 5-6 south-easterly wind on 31st
Pre-season jobs are nearly finished, as over the last few days the team have been working on some high priority trap repairs and setting up mist nets for the season. A thick fog bank over the sea between Fair Isle and Shetland delayed the arrival of our spring volunteer Patrick Safford by a day, despite it being glorious blue skies and sun here on the isle at the time! With Patrick now here and completing the team, over the next couple of days we will be walking the three census routes in preparation to offically start migration monitoring over the spring. It seems like we have timed it well, as today (31st) a spell of south-easterly wind had brought a small arrival of thrushes to the isle, along with a handful of Goldcrest and Woodcock. A Stock Dove at Utra on 30th and 31st was a nice year tick, which gave the team uncharacteristically good views for an often shy species, and up to three different Iceland Gulls have been around the isle over the last three days, also granting excellent views.


Iceland Gull over Malcolm's Head (by Patrick Safford)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Stock Dove: one around Utra and Skadan on 30th and 31st (first of the year)
Iceland Gull: three individuals noted throughout (2cy, 3cy and adult)

Sightings of note: 2 Pink-footed Goose, 2 Wigeon, 2 Pintail (first of the year on 30th), 9 Teal, 25 Woodpigeon, 4 Water Rail, 2 Golden Plover, 40 Purple Sandpiper, 8 Woodcock, 4 Black-headed Gull, 126 Common Gull, 4 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 5 Puffin, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Short-eared Owl, 1 Merlin, 2 Carrion Crow, 2 Chiffchaff, 6 Goldcrest, 4 Robin, 1 Stonechat, 1 Grey Wagtail (first of the year on 30th), 1 White Wagtail, 3 Chaffinch, 4 Twite, 2 Reed Bunting


A slightly soggy Short-eared Owl through the fog at School Brae (by Georgia Platt)

Year list: 85
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27th-28th March 2023
Weather:
Sunny spells with occasional showers, and a mostly northerly-based moderate wind on 27th calming to force 2-3 on 28th
A couple of days of odd jobs and introductions, as we welcomed the new seasonal Ranger Sally Kunzig to the isle. A drop in the wind on 28th saw a few new birds arrive and several year ticks, including probably the most exciting first indicator of spring in the form of a gorgeous male Wheatear at the Haven. In addition, a Greenfinch flying south over Gully was another species new for the year list (which has been a tricky one to get in recent years), and the first few Puffins were seen off South Light, following a steady passage of Razorbill.


Male Wheatear at the Haven, a very welcome sight! (by Alex Penn)

Sightings of note: 1 Pink-footed Goose, 2 Whooper Swan, 7 Teal, 1 Long-tailed Duck, 11 Woodpigeon, 4 Water Rail, 14 Lapwing, 1 Golden Plover, 59 Ringed Plover, 1 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 3 Puffin (first of the year on 28th), 1 Cormorant, 1 Merlin, 1 Peregrine, 2 Carrion Crow, 3 Goldcrest, 3 Robin, 1 Stonechat, 1 Wheatear (first of the year on 28th), 2 Chaffinch, 1 Greenfinch (first of the year on 28th), 1 Linnet (first of the year on 28th), 1 Siskin, 2 Reed Bunting


One of the isle's over-wintering and very bold Water Rails at Chalet (by Georgia Platt)


Male Lapwing at Da Water (by Georgia Platt)

Year list: 82
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24th-26th March 2023
Weather:
Cold but mostly clear and bright with scattered wintry showers, with a moderate south-westerly on 24th turning to a strong northerly on 25th and 26th
A few days of windy but mostly dry weather allowed us to get a good head start on trap repairs, with all of the main Heligoland traps needing some attention after the relentless winter gales. A handful of new birds have been noted, including a Black Redstart at Quoy on 24th, a couple more Chaffinch on 25th and a Yellowhammer also on 25th, a good early entry for the year list. Good numbers of waders remain and are showing early signs of breeding - we've particularly enjoyed watching the group of Ringed Plover around South Light busily chasing and displaying at each other, so much character in such a compact and smart little wader!


Male Blackbird in the hand, trapped in Gully (by Alex Penn)

Rewinding to a few nights ago in the late evening of the 23rd, the isle was treated to an astonishing display of the Aurora Borealis, with this atmospheric phenomenon filling half of the sky with ripples and waves of bright green and deep red. A truly magical thing to witness, and even more special to see it to such a degree from Fair Isle.


Aurora Borealis over the Holms, South Light and Malcolm's Head (top left by Alex Penn, all others by Georgia Platt)

HIGHLIGHTS:
'European' White-fronted Goose: still present on 24th
Glaucous Gull: still present on 24th
Iceland Gull: still present throughout

Sightings of note: 7 Pink-footed Goose, 7 Teal, 15 Woodpigeon, 2 Water Rail, 19 Lapwing, 3 Golden Plover, 73 Ringed Plover, 1 Dunlin, 1 Woodcock, 2 Black-headed Gull, 4 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Long-eared Owl, 2 Carrion Crow, 1 Goldcrest, 4 Robin, 1 Black Redstart (first of the year on 24th), 3 Stonechat, 3 Chaffinch, 1 Snow Bunting, 1 Yellowhammer (first of the year on 25th), 1 Reed Bunting

Year list: 78
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22nd-23rd March 2023
Weather:
Mostly heavy rain showers and very strong south-westerly winds, but calming to force 4-5 on 23rd and brightening significantly late afternoon
With the arrival of Acting Warden Alex Penn and Assistant Warden Georgia Platt on 22nd, both returning for our fourth season on Fair Isle, this marks the start of the 2023 season! Some fairly unpleasant weather greeted us, but with some birding from the car followed by a wander around the crofts when the sun finally appeared late afternoon, it was nice to see a few birds about. Scattered handfuls of Redwing, Fieldfare and Blackbird were noted around the isle, along with a reasonable number of waders enjoying the water-saturated grazed fields. A large number of Greylag Geese have been wintering, with a few Pink-footed Geese and a European White-fronted Goose found lurking amongst them. Continuing with the wintry theme, a smart 3cy Iceland Gull has been sighted on both days around the isle, also accompanied by a 2cy Glaucous Gull having a snooze on Meoness on 22nd. Early spring migrants included a flock of ten Woodpigeon on Meoness, a pair of Stonechat at Aesterhoull, a male Chaffinch at Vaila's Trees and a good number of Meadow Pipit around the crofts - all a sign that spring is on the way.

We are very much looking forward to seeing what the season brings, and to welcome our new Ranger and the first of our residential volunteers in the coming week.



'European' White-fronted Goose in the early evening sun (by Alex Penn)

HIGHLIGHTS:
'European' White-fronted Goose: one at Taft
Glaucous Gull: 2cy on Meoness on 22nd
Iceland Gull: 3cy at South Harbour on 22nd and North Shirva on 23rd


3cy Iceland Gull at South Light (by Alex Penn)

Sightings of note: 6 Pink-footed Goose, 1 Goldeneye, 10 Woodpigeon, 1 Collared Dove, 3 Water Rail, 20 Lapwing, 3 Golden Plover, 50 Purple Sandpiper, 1 Woodcock, 1 'Blue' Fulmar, 1 Long-eared Owl, 2 Carrion Crow, 2 Goldcrest, 3 Robin, 2 Stonechat, 1 Chaffinch, 1 Siskin, 1 Reed Bunting


South Lighthouse looking grand, the current home and office of the FIBO seasonal staff (by Alex Penn)

Year list: 76
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