Fair Isle Bird Observatory & Guesthouse

Latest sightings

14-16th June 2024
Weather:
.
A welcome switchto south-westerly winds unfortuntely coincided with some damp weather at the end of the week. The weekend was much more birdable, though visibility was poor in the north due to low cloud on the 15th. The 16th ended the week on a warm, sunny note. Little in the way of arrivals was noted despite the wind direction, but the team were entertained with seabird work, more wader chick shenanigans and the first fledgeling Skylarks. Puffins observed carrying fish to their burrows was evidence that we have our first chicks of 2024, and Kittiwakes are now on eggs after a very shaky start.


The Burkle Red-backed Shrike keeping our spirits high despite some wet weather (Alex Penn)

HIGHLIGHTS
Red-backed Shrike: Male present at Burkle 14th & 15th.
Icterine Warbler: Still present, though skulking, at Vaila's Trees.

Sightings of note: 19 Greylag Goose, 1 Tufted Duck, 3 Swift, 1 Woodpigeon, 83 Oystercatcher, 30 Lapwing, 1 Golden Plover, 36 Ringed Plover, 2 Whimbrel, 22 Curlew, 1 Bar-tailed Godwit, 5 Turnstone, 3 Dunlin, 14 Snipe, 11 Redshank, 15 Common Gull, 11 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 1 'Blue' Fulmar, 1 Grey Heron, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Kestrel, 1 Rook, 3 Carrion Crow, 1 Carrion x Hooded Crow hybrid, 1 Sand Martin, 10 Swallow, 2 House Martin, 4 Willow Warbler, 6 Chiffchaff, 1 Sedge Warbler, 3 Blackcap, 4 Garden Warbler, 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 4 Pied Wagtail, 6 Twite, 2 Mealy Redpoll

Other wildlife: 9 Red Admiral, 30 Silver Y, 3 Plutella yxlostella, 6 Shetland Bee, 2 Harbour Porpoise

Year list: 169
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 13th June 2024
Weather:
Overcast all day, and flat calm and warm first thing, with the wind picking up slightly throughout the day. Rain in the evening. F2-4 SE.
Light south-easterlies saw a few birds arrive, including two Barnacle Geese, a Tufted Duck, a Fieldfare (so far, so wintery...), some hirundines, a Greenshank and a male Red-backed Shrike, which sang to itself and happily dismembered bees at Burkle. More cooperative conditions made for some timely population and productivity plot monitoring of various seabirds, with the first Gannet chicks of the year logged across a few of the colonies. The first Rock Pipit fledgelings of the year bounded boldly into the world and a Harbour Porpoise was our first record for some time


Rock Pipit fledgeling (Alex Penn)

HIGHLIGHTS
Red-backed Shrike: Male singing at Burkle.


Today's Red-backed Shrike refuelling (Luke Marriner)

Sightings of note: 2 Barnacle Goose, 10 Greylag Goose, 1 Tufted Duck, 1 Woodpigeon, 1 Grey Plover, 2 Whimbrel, 1 Turnstone, 4 Dunlin, 1 Common Sandpiper, 6 Redshank, 1 Greenshank, 2 Black-headed Gull, 10 Common Gull, 6 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 1 Great Northern Diver, 1 Grey Heron, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Short-eared Owl, 1 Rook, 3 Carrion Crow, 8 Swallow, 2 House Martin, 1 Willow Warbler, 4 Chiffchaff, 1 Sedge Warbler, 1 Blackcap, 3 Garden Warbler, 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 1 Fieldfare, 1 Lesser Redpoll, 1 Redpoll sp.


More and more fledged Fair Isle Starlings are popping out the woodwork (and masonry), to the delight of opportunistic Bonxies and Great Black-backed Gulls...(Alex Penn)

Other wildlife: 10 Shetland Bee, 1 Harbour Porpoise

Year list: 169
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 12th June 2024
Weather:
Cloud all day and scattered showers. F4-5 NW.
Another quiet day with a chilly north-westerly for starters. A few new fledgeling House Sparrows are finding the Heligoland traps irresistable, but migrants are once again thin on the ground. Around South Light the progress of the various pairs of breeding Ringed Plovers has been entertaining to follow, with the first chicks seen today. A Grey Plover nearby was the first record of the year - a species which is not guaranteed on the Fair Isle year-list! We look to tomorrow's forecasted change in the wind direction with interest and trepidation...


Blink and you'll miss it - a Grey Plover record shot past South Light (Alex Penn)

Sightings of note: 2 Greylag Goose, 1 Golden Plover, 1 Grey Plover (first of the year), 2 Whimbrel, 3 Turnstone, 5 Redshank, 1 Black-headed Gull, 11 Common Gull, 4 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 1 Short-eared Owl, 1 Rook, 2 Carrion Crow, 1 Chiffchaff, 1 Blackcap, 2 Garden Warbler, 2 Lesser Whitethroat, 2 Mealy Redpoll


Quiet days with uncooperative weather give the perfect excuse for some Bonxie ring-reading (Luke Marriner)

Other wildlife: 3 Shetland Bee

Year list: 169
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 11th June 2024
Weather:
Overcast with the odd sunny window. Very brief light rain. F5-6 NNW.
We're very much looking forward to a change of winds later this week, and a return to more favorable conditions to continue seabird monitoring in. It was an altogether quiet day on the Isle, with the first fledged House Sparrows joining increasing numbers of juvenile Fair Isle Starlings. A clutch of Common Gull chicks hatched at Buness, where the Arctic Tern colony appears to be at a low ebb this year, with just two adults present there today! A pair of Mealy Redpoll continue to forage around Barkland and Chalet, with two Golden Plover pootling around on Chatham's Land. Icterine Warbler song emanated from Vaila's Trees once again, with this long-stayer making up a quarter of today's warbler biomass!


Common Gull chicks at Buness (Alex Penn)

HIGHLIGHTS
Icterine Warbler: One singing at Vaila's trees.

Sightings of note: 97 Oystercatcher, 38 Lapwing, 2 Golden Plover, 25 Ringed Plover, 17 Curlew, 16 Snipe, 10 Redshank, 8 Common Gull, 5 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 1 Great Northern Diver, 1 'Blue' Fulmar, 1 Short-eared Owl, 2 Rook, 6 Carrion Crow, 1 Carrion x Hooded Crow hybrid, 48 Skylark, 1 Swallow, 1 Chiffchaff, 1 Blackcap, 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 1 Blackbird, 74 Wheatear, 4 Pied Wagtail, 66 Meadow Pipit, 23 Rock Pipit, 10 Twite, 2 Mealy Redpoll


A Great Northern Diver providing wintery feel off Swarzie / Busta Geos (Jonnie Fisk)

Other wildlife: 2 Shetland Bee

Year list: 168
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 10th June 2024
Weather:
Largely overcast, with scattered showers throughout the morning and a cold wind. Some brief windows of sun in the evening. F6 NNW.
A landmark day of the year, with the first fledgeling Fair Isle Starlings stomping around the crofts and begging for food with harsh young voices! Another quietish census threw up a surprise second Icterine Warbler at Schoolton, to keep the long-staying bird around Stackhoull company during log. Continued productivity plot monitoring of Guillemots shows that at least two birds are on eggs, a poor result for the spring so far, but small wins were taken elsewhere, with some scouting of wader broods resulting in two broods of Oystercatchers, two Curlew chicks and a few more Lapwings ringed.


The first Curlew chicks of the spring to be ringed (Alex Penn)

HIGHLIGHTS
Icterine Warbler: The ringed bird at Vaila's Trees and a new bird at Schoolton.

Sightings of note: 81 Oystercatcher, 18 Lapwing, 1 Golden Plover, 40 Ringed Plover, 6 Whimbrel, 27 Curlew, 1 Sanderling, 5 Dunlin, 12 Snipe, 5 Redshank, 1 Black-headed Gull, 10 Common Gull, 11 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 1 Great Northern Diver, 2 Rook, 5 Carrion Crow, 1 Carrion x Hooded Crow hybrid, 54 Skylark, 2 Blackcap, 2 Garden Warbler, 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 55 Wheatear, 2 Pied Wagtail, 77 Meadow Pipit, 31 Rock Pipit, 8 Twite, 2 Mealy Redpoll


Oystercatcher chicks found in the Obs' scrape (Jonnie Fisk)

Other wildlife: 6 Shetland Bee

Year list: 168
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 9th June 2024
Weather:
Overcast, with rain showers throughout the morning. F6 N.
A slight drop in the winds allowed the southern census routes to be covered, producing a small number of warblers and a Spotted Flycatcher. Another cruise vessel was entertained with the antics of the Isle's Puffins and Bonxies during their brief spell ashore, and the DR MPA weekend was rounded off wonderfully with a community rockpooling session at Muckle Uri Geo and a species ID and seaweed pressing workshop at the community hall. A drake Pintail was new in at Da Water, and the first of the class of 2024 Lapwings fledgelings took flight.


One of a pair of Mealy Redpoll touring the Crofts (Alex Penn)

Sightings of note: 1 Pintail, 91 Oystercatcher, 15 Lapwing, 17 Ringed Plover, 5 Whimbrel, 11 Curlew, 5 Turnstone, 4 Dunlin, 4 Redshank, 1 Black-headed Gull, 7 Common Gull, 10 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 1 Great Northern Diver, 1 Short-eared Owl, 1 Rook, 1 Carrion Crow, 1 Chiffchaff, 1 Blackcap, 4 Garden Warbler, 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 1 Spotted Flycatcher, 4 Twite, 2 Mealy Redpoll

Other wildlife: 1 Shetland Bee


The Buness Puffins are becoming old hands at the cruise circuit once again this spring. Today the polar expedition vessel Greg Mortimer stopped off before heading onwards to Norway and Svalbard (Jonnie Fisk)

Year list: 168
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 8th June 2024
Weather:
Intermittent showers and ripping winds. F7-8 NW.
The sea around Fair Isle is the UK's only Demonstration & Research Marine Protected Area, differing from Scotland’s nature conservation MPAs in that, rather than specifically protecting species of European importance, it promotes research into, and demonstration of, sustainable marine management approaches. The island community are at the heart of the MPA, and this weekend sees a various programme of marine surveys, training, talks and events on offer for all, as part of a designated DR MPA weekend organised by Fair Isle Marine Research Organisation. Gale force winds, rain and high seas once again made for tough birding. A probable Richard's Pipit over the south of the island could not be relocated despite tramping over much of the more Dick's-Pipit-ish habitat in the south of the Isle. A notable find, not least because of the weather(!), in the evening was a Little Bunting on the roadside verge at Lower Stoneybreck. It becomes Fair Isle's first June record of this species.


There's a start-of-season feel to the air off South Light, with a choppy sea full of Fulmars, and temperatures that make you reach for your coat! (Alex Penn)

HIGHLIGHTS
Little Bunting: One at Lower Stoneybreck then flew north. The second record of the year.


The team joining FIMRO members Katie and Susannah to be shown photo station plots for intertidal monitoring (Alex Penn)

Sightings of note: 4 Greylag Goose, 2 Whimbrel, 5 Turnstone, 9 Dunlin, 1 Common Sandpiper, 3 Redshank, 1 Black-headed Gull, 19 Common Gull, 10 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 1 Short-eared Owl, 1 Rook, 2 Carrion Crow, 2 Redpoll sp.


While intertidal surveys were underway at Muckle Uri Geo, some light rockpooling produced this Doto nuidbranch species (Alex Penn)

Year list: 168
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 6th & 7th June 2024
Weather:
Showery and wet, with sunny spells and strong winds. F7-8 W-NW.
Conditions continue to conspire against us, with high winds, rain and rough seas curtailing the extent of seabird monitoring we would like to be doing at this point of the spring. However, a late season for many of our breeding species means we're not falling too behind schedule, and some Guillemot, Kittiwake and Fulmar plot watches were undertaken on the 7th during a brief weather window without wild winds and rain. On the migrant front, things remain largely changeless as we see little turnover, but a reminder of past spring glory can be found during short encounters with the remaining Icterine Warbler at Stackhoull. Despite the adverse weather, new broods of birds arrive on the Isle, with Snipe and Hooded Crow chicks logged on census, and it is only a matter of time before the first juvenile Fair Isle Starlings, distinctively darker than their Mainland brethren, pop out of drystone dykes all across the place.

HIGHLIGHTS
Icterine Warbler: The ringed bird continues to frequent cover around Stackhoull.

Sightings of note: 1 Greylag Goose, 1 Collared Dove, 80 Oystercatcher, 27 Lapwing, 45 Ringed Plover, 3 Whimbrel, 15 Curlew, 9 Turnstone, 1 Sanderling, 5 Dunlin, 19 Snipe, 4 Redshank, 2 Black-headed Gull, 5 Common Gull, 4 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 1 Short-eared Owl, 1 Rook, 3 Carrion Crow, 42 Skylark, 2 Chiffchaff, 1 Blackcap, 2 Garden Warbler, 3 Lesser Whitethroat, 1 Blackbird, 1 Spotted Flycatcher, 64 Wheatear, 5 Pied Wagtail, 1 Grey Wagtail, 67 Meadow Pipit, 24 Rock Pipit, 1 Chaffinch, 5 Twite, 1 Siskin

Other wildlife: 1 Shetland Bee

Year list: 168
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 5th June 2024
Weather:
Sunny spells and occasional heavy showers. F7-8 W.
Bracing westerly winds once again kept the number of birds low on census, with the remaining Icterine Warbler and a flock of Golden Plover being the highlights. Most impressive, however, was no sign of our 'resident' Whooper Swan for two days. After fearing for its wellbeing back in March, to witnessing it become capable of flight again and touring the Isle, we now hope it's well on its way to more fruitful feeding grounds. With more wader clutches hatching as the days pass by, the team spent the afternoon locating a few more Lapwings to ring and monitoring the movements of one of the Isle's Curlew broods, as well as confirming Redshank breeding here for another year. Some in-the-field ring-reading of a nesting Oystercatcher around North Light showed it to have been ringed on Fair Isle as a chick back in 2000 - making it older than the observer in question! This Islander born and bred bird is now brooding a clutch of its own some 24 years later.


A high Arctic pair, imagine what they'll see on their breeding grounds this summer! (Alex Penn)

HIGHLIGHTS
Icterine Warbler: A ringed bird at Stackhoull again today.

Sightings of note: 1 Collared Dove, 66 Oystercatcher, 21 Lapwing, 13 Golden Plover, 26 Ringed Plover, 3 Whimbrel, 12 Curlew, 9 Turnstone, 1 Sanderling, 7 Dunlin, 4 Redshank, 7 Common Gull, 11 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 1 Manx Shearwater, 2 Carrion Crow, 1 Blackcap, 1 Garden Warbler, 3 Lesser Whitethroat, 1 Blackbird, 2 Pied Wagtail, 1 Chaffinch, 7 Twite, 1 Siskin, 1 Yellowhammer


A good example of the different hatching times one can see on the same breeding site (Alex Penn)

Other wildlife: 1 Plutella xylostella, 1 Shetland Bee

Year list: 168
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 4th June 2024
Weather:
Sunny spells with a bracing wind and wild seas. F7-8 SW.
An intrepid cruise braved the waves to land off the Haven and bring c.130 passengers to the Isle mid-morning, during the worst of the day's winds. Migrant numbers remained low, but a period of relative calm in the late afternoon gave a renewed chance to mine warblers from the crofts in sunny conditions. An Icterine Warbler continues to be seen around Vaila's Trees, and a few more Manx Shearwaters were logged from a South Light sea-watch. The first Puffin ringing of the year took place on Buness, including the recapture of a bird first ringed in 1997. The team also collected some swab samples from these birds for a University of Edinburgh project.


Some impressive seas off South Light (Alex Penn)

HIGHLIGHTS
Icterine Warbler: A ringed bird at Stackhoull again today.

Sightings of note: 7 Whimbrel, 7 Turnstone, 5 Dunlin, 1 Redshank, 2 Black-headed Gull, 3 Common Gull, 5 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 3 Manx Shearwater, 1 Rook, 4 Carrion Crow, 1 Willow Warbler, 1 Chiffchaff, 1 Blackcap, 4 Garden Warbler, 2 Lesser Whitethroat, 1 Whitethroat, 1 Spotted Flycatcher, 1 Chaffinch

Other wildlife: 1 Silver Y, 3 Shetland Bee

Year list: 168
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 3rd June 2024
Weather:
Sunny spells and prolonged showers until mid-afternoon. Breezy and cool. F6 W.
A bright, sunny start to the day soon gave way to rain throughout much of the morning census, which was unsurprisingly quiet, though a ringed Icterine Warbler remains around Stackhoull Stores. A morning sea-watch produced some impressive breakers off South Light, but also the first Manx Shearwaters of the year, as well as some Arctic Tern movement. A mere handful of common warblers and two finches were the migrant passerine offering. A bedraggled Short-eared Owl was found in the burn by Vaadal - rendered incapable of flight and, curiously, eating a Storm-petrel! It was offered shelter at South Light, and flew off later this afternoon after drying off, despite being lightly oiled (presumbly a fruitless effort at a deterrant by its prey!?). This "nice weather for ducks" saw another brood of Mallard hatch, and the first Eider youngsters of the year were taking their first steps at Steensi Geo; the Isle's breeding hub for this species.


The Island's second brood of Mallard for the year entered the world at Utra Scrape (Alex Penn)

HIGHLIGHTS
Icterine Warbler: A ringed bird at Stackhoull again today.


The first of the Steensi Geo Eiders clutches to hatch this spring (Alex Penn)

Sightings of note: 1 Whooper Swan, 1 Collared Dove, 70 Oystercatcher, 22 Lapwing, 26 Ringed Plover, 2 Whimbrel, 18 Curlew, 1 Turnstone, 12 Snipe, 1 Redshank, 11 Common Gull, 7 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 2 Manx Shearwater (first of the year), 2 Short-eared Owl, 1 Rook, 4 Carrion Crow, 49 Skylark, 2 Swallow, 2 Chiffchaff, 1 Blackcap, 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 75 Wheatear, 3 Pied Wagtail, 42 Meadow Pipit, 24 Rock Pipit, 1 Chaffinch, 8 Twite, 1 Siskin

Other wildlife: 1 Shetland Bee

Year list: 168
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 2nd June 2024
Weather:
Cloudy, intermittent fog over high ground. Spells of drizzle across the morning. F4-5 W.
Dreich conditions in the morning did little to inspire, though the fact that a Marmora's Warbler or yesterday's Bee-eater may still be in residence buoyed us into the field. Sadly neither were discovered, and migrants were in short supply, with a single Icterine Warbler all that remains of our hot run of drift migrants from last month. 100 cruise passengers were, however, enthralled by the antics of Buness's Puffins, which stomped about, collecting nesting material and affirming pair bonds with much bill-tapping. Our first Risso's Dolphin of the season was logged on the east coast - another cetacean species which we expect to enjoy numerous times from Fair Isle's coast through the summer and autumn.


Our 'Bird of the Day' - a Risso's Dolphin moving north past Busta Geo (Alex Penn)

HIGHLIGHTS
Icterine Warbler: A ringed bird at Stackhoull again today.

Sightings of note: 1 Whooper Swan, 1 Red-breasted Merganser, 2 Collared Dove, 70 Oystercatcher, 24 Lapwing, 14 Ringed Plover, 8 Whimbrel, 9 Curlew, 2 Dunlin, 17 Snipe, 2 Redshank, 9 Common Gull, 7 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 1 Short-eared Owl, 1 Kestrel, 3 Carrion Crow, 1 Carrion x Hooded Crow, 1 Swallow, 1 Garden Warbler, 2 Lesser Whitethroat, 1 Redwing, 1 Song Thrush, 5 Pied Wagtail, 1 Chaffinch, 9 Twite

Other wildlife: 1 Risso's Dolphin

Year list: 167
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 1st June 2024
Weather:
Sunny spells and mild. F4 W.
A milestone event for this exceptional spring occured, as we recorded our first day with no Red-backed Shrikes since 14th May! The Marmora's Warbler still cut a bizarre scene as it hopped about in stands of cover either side of Gilsetter, providing entertainment for the Isle's late spring visiting birders during lulls in inspiration. Notes from the field were scant as the multiple seabird monitoring ventures took priority for the team, with Fulmar and Guillemot population counts and productivity plots for Shags, Gannets and Guillemots all undertaken. Later in the afternoon, visiting birders found a vocal Bee-eater around the crofts, which did a bunk for the best part of an hour before briefly returning to the scene of the crime for AW Luke. A hard bird to catch up with here (Acting Warden Alex still 'needs' it!), hopes are high for a more cooperative performance tomorrow.


'Marmed and Dangerous' in the Plantation conifer (Alex Penn)

HIGHLIGHTS
MARMORA'S WARBLER: Present for its fourth day, frequenting Gully, Gilsetter and Plantation again.
Bee-eater: One flew north over Da Water late afternoon, disappearing for about an hour, reappearing in roughly the same location before moving north again. The 10th record for Fair Isle.
Marsh Warbler: One ringed in Plantation.
Icterine Warbler: A ringed bird at Stackhoull.


At the moment our census routes are frequently interrupted with the discovery of nests of our more common breeding species. Here, a Skylark clutch (Jonnie Fisk)


A predated Razorbill egg lying on a bed of Thrift (Jonnie Fisk)

Sightings of note: 1 Whooper Swan, 1 Teal, 1 Collared Dove, 3 Whimbrel, 1 Turnstone, 2 Redshank, 11 Common Gull, 4 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Short-eared Owl, 1 Kestrel, 1 Peregrine, 4 Carrion Crow, 2 Swallow, 1 Chiffchaff, 1 Sedge Warbler, 3 Blackcap, 4 Garden Warbler, 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 1 Spotted Flycatcher, 1 Pied Flycatcher, 1 Chaffinch, 2 Siskin

Other wildlife: 6 Silver Y, 7 Shetland Bee

Year list: 167
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 31st May 2024
Weather:
A warm, sunny starts, with cloud cover increasing into the afternoon. F3 NW.
Yesterday's northerly gained a westerly bent, and the Isle was a much quieter place to bird. Just two remain apiece of Red-backed Shrike, Marsh Warbler and Icterine Warbler, common migrant warblers were concentrated in groups in scant select areas, like Shirva, Burkle and Stackhoull, and even our abundant breeding species are slightly less noticeable as they busy themselves on clutches of eggs. Our Arctic Skuas have laid their first egg, however, we still await the first incubating Guillemots on our Peitron productivity plot, and Kittiwakes are still nest building around South Green and Greenholm. The latter location was the focus of the team's afternoon activities, with 90 Puffin burrows selected for continued productivity monitoring; leading to a faceful of Thrift flowers as one lies, shoulder deep in a burrow - with a quick nip from its inhabitant as reward. Offshore, a stately Great Norther Diver in summer plumage was fishing, in waters which only yesterday were stalked by black-and-white predators 1000 times its weight


Getting hands on at the Greenholm Puffin productivity plots (Alex Penn)


Tread carefully among the Greenholm colony, for fear of incurring the Fulmar's wrath! Some birds, such as this one, enjoy nesting among delicate stonework (Jonnie Fisk)

HIGHLIGHTS
MARMORA'S WARBLER: Present for its third day, spending more time around Gully and last reported around Byerwalls.
Red-backed Shrike: Females at Lower Leogh and Quoy.
Wood Warbler: One around the Crofts.
Marsh Warbler: Two at the Haa.
Icterine Warbler: Singles at Lower Stoneybreck and Schoolton/Burkle.


Acting Warden Alex Penn displaying that this isn't his first rodeo (Jonnie Fisk)


While many Fair Isle Eider nest at beach level, such as at Steensi Geo, some make the journey 'inland' to nest under the cover of bracken (Alex Penn)

Sightings of note: 1 Whooper Swan, 1 Teal, 59 Oystercatcher, 23 Lapwing, 1 Golden Plover, 49 Ringed Plover, 7 Whimbrel, 14 Curlew, 1 Dunlin, 9 Snipe, 3 Redshank, 4 Black-headed Gull, 19 Common Gull, 4 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 1 Great Northern Diver, 2 'Blue' Fulmar, 1 Short-eared Owl, 1 Kestrel, 1 Peregrine, 1 Rook, 3 Carrion Crow, 71 Skylark, 3 Swallow, 4 House Martin, 1 Willow Warbler, 7 Chiffchaff, 3 Reed Warbler, 6 Blackcap, 9 Garden Warbler, 2 Lesser Whitethroat, 3 Common Whitethroat, 1 Blackbird, 1 Redwing, 1 Song Thrush, 4 Spotted Flycatcher, 1 Robin, 1 Whinchat, 107 Wheatear, 5 Pied Wagtail, 50 Meadow Pipit, 29 Rock Pipit, 1 'Scandinavian' Rock Pipit, 1 Chaffinch, 11 Twite

Other wildlife: 2 Red Admiral, 1 Painted Lady, 3 Silver Y, 7 Shetland Bee

Year list: 166
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 30th May 2024
Weather:
A sunny dawn, becoming overcast and chilly by late morning. Sunny spells returned by midday, with a warm and sunny afternoon and evening. F4 NNW
A swing in the winds was inevitable, eventually - all good things must come to an end! Warm, settled conditions seemingly inspired more birds to move on, with a further reduction in common migrants, as well as this spring’s barometer species of Marsh & Icterine Warblers. Two Wood Warblers were the first for a few days, and our Red-backed Shrike crop was topped up with a handful of new birds. In the middle of a quiet-ish census, AW Jonnie rounded Gully to the sight of yesterday’s Marmora’s Warbler hopping along the trap’s girders. A handful of the 200+ passengers of an ‘ultra-luxury expedition cruise’ ship were then treated to some roadside entertainment, boy following bird, and – with the aid of Alex – catching it shortly after. In the hand study showed it to be a second calendar-year male, and a couple of the Isle’s birders who hadn’t caught up with it yesterday were offered a second bite of the cherry. All plans for an afternoon on Greenholm’s Puffin productivity plots were scuppered with the advent of a pod of Orca off South Light. The c.five animals included two bulls, both of which passed phenomenally close off the end of Skadan before nosing around the shores of South Harbour and filing out around Meoness after c.15 minutes. A binocular sweep showed that c.five more animals were off Skadan too; all 10+ regrouping around the Skerries where they stayed for some time, garnering a modest twitch for Fair Isle standards. Many present were sat on the lichen-covered rocks watching Orcas for the first time in their lives, and communal noises of awe could be heard as the bulls’ dorsal fins would rise and fall, wobbling majestically. Evening study of photographs taken from Skadan allowed many to be identified - via their scars and shape of their saddles - as part of the 27s pod, which typically hunt seals and porpoises around Orkney and Shetland (but have ventured down the British east coast and even up to Iceland). Hopefully this is not our last encounter with these behemoths this summer.


Present for its second day, Fair Isle's first Marmora's Warbler was caught and ringed (Alex Penn)


Part of the 27s pod, including bull 072 and cow 073 (directly behind) (Alex Penn)

HIGHLIGHTS
MARMORA'S WARBLER: Yesterday's second calendar-year male was resident for its second day, and trapped and ringed late morning.
Red-backed Shrike: 11; including a duo at Stackhoull.
Wood Warbler: Birds at Burkle and Stackhoull.
Marsh Warbler: Two at the Haa.
Icterine Warbler: One at Lower Stoneybreck and Shirva.
Bluethroat: A female around Midway-Meadow Burn.


Another bull patrolling the shores of South Harbour for unfortunate Grey Seals (Alex Penn)


Another angle of bull 072 as he came close along the rocks at Skadan (Alex Penn)

Sightings of note: 1 Whooper Swan, 1 Woodpigeon, 2 Collared Dove, 86 Oystercatcher, 20 Lapwing, 3 Golden Plover, 60 Ringed Plover, 4 Whimbrel, 10 Curlew, 3 Turnstone, 8 Dunlin, 20 Snipe, 2 Redshank, 1 Black-headed Gull, 14 Common Gull, 3 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 2 'Blue' Fulmar, 1 Cormorant, 2 Kestrel, 1 Peregrine, 6 Carrion Crow, 70 Skylark, 6 Swallow, 4 House Martin, 1 Willow Warbler, 3 Chiffchaff, 1 Sedge Warbler, 1 Reed Warbler, 1 Blackcap, 11 Garden Warbler, 4 Lesser Whitethroat, 2 Common Whitethroat, 1 Ring Ouzel, 1 Song Thrush, 8 Spotted Flycatcher, 4 Pied Fly, 2 Redstart, 145 Wheatear, 4 Pied Wagtail, 58 Meadow Pipit, 1 Tree Pipit, 29 Rock Pipit, 1 'Scandinavian' Rock Pipit, 1 Chaffinch, 17 Twite, 1 Mealy Redpoll


Our 'Blue' Furse Fulmar remains, along with two other birds across the north, though the former is by far the easiest to meet (Luke Marriner)

Other wildlife: 10+ Orca, seemingly mostly from the 27s pod, including Bull 072, passed South Light and skirted the inside of South Harbour, around Meoness and then back off Skadan and the Skerries.
1 Red Admiral, 1 Painted Lady, 12 Silver Y, 2 Shetland Bee

Year list: 166
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 29th May 2024
Weather:
Intense sun all day. F2-4 E-NE
These settled days finally appeared to prompt many of our familiar scarcities to move on, hopefully reorienting eastwards to make landfall back in Scandinavia with plenty of the spring left to raise their progeny, whom we may meet in three or more short months as drifty juveniles on an autumn easterly. Our Red-backed Shrike, Marsh Warbler and Icterine Warbler totals dropped to single figures, and the showing from the common migrant footsoldiers was similarly scant from a warm, sunny census. The female Rustic Bunting of the last few days was still present, and a Cuckoo was new. With such an outstanding May for scarcities barely behind us, it's inevitable that those old birding adages have been playing on the lips of regular birders here: "Eleven o'clock rare, three o'clock rare", "The big one travels alone", "The rare comes three days after the fall" etc. etc. Not to sound ungrateful, but with such clement conditions, it felt about time for a classic Fair Isle moment, and these mantras became more believable. Cue a rather cool and collected message, as afternoon tipped into evening, from David Parnaby regarding a Marmora's Warbler by Steensi Geo... Over at Buness, Alex and Jonnie had just cracked open a Magnum ice-cream each while lounging about on cruiseship Puffin-pointing duty; by Plantation, Luke was processing an Icterine Warbler with some visiting birders assisting and observing; while filling up his car, Deryk Shaw had reportedly noted this spring's lack of a 'biggie' to Tommy of the Haa. Just minutes later, all (and more!) were arranged radially around a tumbledown sheep croo watching a slate-blue Sylvia (Curruca? Show some respect.) hopping cock-tailed from the silverweed to the lichen-covered stone. It would pause for minutes at a time in a crevice on the dyke, a telling red eye shinging back at us. The perfect excuse to sit chatting for a sunny midweek hour, any pressing tasks forgotten; a north-easterly wind on our necks, occasionally lifting a pair of bins or camera for another study of this tiny bird of a species which makes the nuttiest long-range movements. Not even the news of a Red-footed Falcon riding the Northlink as it sailed by us, unknown, could dampen another sunny day in birding paradise.


FAIR ISLE'S FIRST MARMORA'S WARBLER (Alex Penn)


What a little ripper (Alex Penn)

HIGHLIGHTS
MARMORA'S WARBLER: A bouncing blue bird was found c.17.00hrs on remains of dykes near Steensi Geo. The first for Fair Isle and 8th for Britain, following one in Shetland in 2018.
RUSTIC BUNTING: The female was seen at Plantation again.
Red-backed Shrike: Six; two males and four females.
Marsh Warbler: Seven, including duos at Setter and the Obs'.
Icterine Warbler: 10; including a couple of singing birds.

Sightings of note: 1 Whooper Swan, 1 Cuckoo, 2 Collared Dove, 51 Oystercatcher, 28 Lapwing, 51 Ringed Plover, 2 Whimbrel, 10 Curlew, 4 Turnstone, 4 Dunlin, 1 Snipe, 4 Redshank, 8 Black-headed Gull, 11 Common Gull, 9 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 1 Cormorant, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Short-eared Owl, 2 Kestrel, 1 Peregrine, 2 Carrion Crow, 69 Skylark, 9 Swallow, 2 House Martin, 3 Chiffchaff, 1 Sedge Warbler, 3 Blackcap, 6 Garden Warbler, 8 Lesser Whitethroat, 2 Blackbird, 1 Redwing, 2 Song Thrush, 7 Spotted Flycatcher, 3 Robin, 1 Pied Fly, 1 Redstart, 108 Wheatear, 5 Pied Wagtail, 84 Meadow Pipit, 23 Rock Pipit, 15 Twite, 2 Mealy Redpoll, 4 Siskin


The Haven or the Hellespont?! Visiting yachties enjoying the turquoise waters and a sunny Isle, with the Good Shepherd IV on the right (Jonnie Fisk)

Other wildlife: 1 Red Admiral, 1 Painted Lady, 8 Silver Y, 2 Plutella xylostella, 2 Shetland Bee

Year list: 166
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 28th May 2024
Weather:
A morning of low cloud cover and fog on the high ground slowly burnt off into a sunny and warm late afternoon and evening. F4 SE.
The reappearance of the female Rustic Bunting this morning gave little indication that it would be any less difficult to catch up with than it has been over the weekend, and our visiting birders were able to satisfy their needs, for now, with any number of Icterine Warblers, Marsh Warblers and Red-backed Shrikes still present across the island. Our spring of Bluethroats continued with one by the Single Dyke Heligoland trap, and the warm, muggy air prompted a few visitors into song - every second of Lesser Whitethroat or Redstart song must be savoured on Fair Isle! A rather more ubiquitous noise in recent days has been the gentle chiming of Fair Isle Starling chicks from the drystone dykes, slowly gaining mass before they burst like something from a Ridley Scott film across the island, expelling much less pleasant noises thereafter... After some afternoon fiddling with the Obs' boats a quick push of the traps resulted in the capture of the Rustic Bunting - a fine chance for those visiting the Isle to admire a spring record of this eastern species (and spring records are on the up) in close quarters.


The 21st Rustic Bunting to be ringed on the Isle (Alex Penn)

HIGHLIGHTS
RUSTIC BUNTING: The weekend's female bird was again around Byerwalls and Plantation after a day's absence before being trapped and ringed early evening.
Nightjar: A female was once again around the Obs' and the Haven.
Red-backed Shrike: 16.
Marsh Warbler: 10, largely where we have left them these past few days!
Icterine Warbler: 10; including a few singing birds.
Bluethroat: Female at Single Dyke.
Common Rosefinch: A brown bird around Field.


A partially leucistic Puffin on Greenholm (Jonnie Fisk)

Sightings of note: 1 Barnacle Goose, 1 Whooper Swan, 1 Teal, 2 Swift, 1 Woodpigeon, 3 Collared Dove, 53 Oystercatcher, 41 Lapwing, 1 Golden Plover, 51 Ringed Plover, 4 Whimbrel, 13 Curlew, 8 Turnstone, 3 Sanderling, 10 Dunlin, 14 Snipe, 1 Common Sandpiper, 3 Redshank, 3 Black-headed Gull, 9 Common Gull, 2 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 1 'Blue' Fulmar, 1 Cormorant, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Short-eared Owl, 1 Kestrel, 1 Peregrine, 4 Carrion Crow, 1 Carrion x Hooded Crow hybrid, 61 Skylark, 31 Swallow, 5 House Martin, 2 Chiffchaff, 2 Sedge Warbler, 1 Blackcap, 14 Garden Warbler, 17 Lesser Whitethroat, 2 Whitethroat, 4 Blackbird, 1 Redwing, 11 Spotted Flycatcher, 1 Robin, 2 Redstart, 97 Wheatear, 7 Pied Wagtail, 69 Meadow Pipit, 1 Tree Pipit, 29 Rock Pipit, 1 'Scandinavian' Rock Pipit, 10 Twite, 1 Redpoll sp., 1 Siskin


A very pleasant afternoon to be messing about on the water (Jonnie Fisk)

Other wildlife: 1 Red Admiral, 1 Painted Lady, 8 Silver Y, 18 Plutella xylostella

Year list: 165
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 27th May 2024
Weather:
Low cloud cover, and fog in the morning, turning to brief showers. Milder as the day went on, muggy at times. F3-4 ESE.
A morning text from David Parnaby with the news of a male Nightjar trapped at Shirva set us up for the day well, with a chance to observe one of Europe's weirdest birds in the hand, pectens and all. With visibility much improved on yesterday, it was hard to ascertain whether a rise in the total of Red-backed Shrikes and Marsh Warblers corresponded to birds new in or longer and clearer sightlines! An undeniable arrival was a Tawny Pipit which surprised AW Luke on his morning trap rounds while stalking a wily male Red-backed Shrike. Pushed on by the local Meadow Pipits and Wheatears, it did not give a chance to be fully admired and failed to be relocated when those on south-east and south-west censuses struck out on the search. Our second Osprey of the spring flew north off the Isle, a new Bluethroat was at Lower Stoneybreck, a Rosefinch was hanging out with Twite at the Fire station, but argably freshest of them all was a brood of Curlew which hatched at Da Water this morning. Part of the afternoon was spent attempting to relocate and trap the Subalpine Warbler sp. of the last two days, but the usual stands of cover among the crofts of the south-west sadly drew a blank. With our wreath of fog due to disappear and visiting birders scheduled to land tomorrow, we look forward to what another week on Fair Isle may bring...


A real treat in the hand, and a fantastic start to the day (Alex Penn)

HIGHLIGHTS
TAWNY PIPIT: One at Double Dyke mid-morning but not relocated. The 22nd record for Fair Isle.
Osprey: One at North Light late morning then flew north to Shetland.
Nightjar: A male ringed at Shirva in the morning. The 37th record for Fair Isle.
Red-backed Shrike: 23; including 10 males and a distinctive tailless female.
Marsh Warbler: 13; a new day record count.
Icterine Warbler: 13.
Bluethroat: Male at Lower Stoneybreck.
Common Rosefinch: A brown bird was grazing on dandelions at the Fire station.


As well as being a moderate spring ID challenge, Marsh Warblers can also be quite entertaining to watch in the field (Jonnie Fisk)


Fair Isle's Curlew class of 2024 (Jonnie Fisk)

Sightings of note: 1 Barnacle Goose, 2 Greylag Goose, 1 Whooper Swan, 1 Teal, 1 Tufted Duck, 1 Swift, 1 Cuckoo, 3 Woodpigeon, 1 Collared Dove, 56 Oystercatcher, 24 Lapwing, 1 Golden Plover, 49 Ringed Plover, 7 Whimbrel, 9 Curlew, 1 Black-tailed Godwit, 6 Turnstone, 2 Sanderling, 11 Dunlin, 25 Snipe, 2 Common Sandpiper, 2 Redshank, 3 Black-headed Gull, 12 Common Gull, 4 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 118 Arctic Tern, 1 'Blue' Fulmar, 1 Sparrowhawk, 3 Short-eared Owl, 2 Peregrine, Carrion Crow, 78 Skylark, 16 Swallow, 7 House Martin, 7 Willow Warbler, 6 Chiffchaff, 5 Sedge Warbler, 2 Blackcap, 9 Garden Warbler, 19 Lesser Whitethroat, 3 Whitethroat, 2 Ring Ouzel, 1 Blackbird, 2 Redwing, 18 Spotted Flycatcher, 2 Pied Flycatcher, 1 Black Redstart, 1 Redstart, 1 Whinchat, 165 Wheatear, 1 Dunnock, 5 Pied Wagtail, 66 Meadow Pipit, 26 Rock Pipit, 2 'Scandinavian' Rock Pipit, 9 Twite, 3 Siskin


Some recent softening of our substrates due to rain has prompted a frenzy of nest building among our Kittiwakes (Alex Penn)

Other wildlife: 20 Silver Y, 63 Plutella xylostella, 1 Shetland Bee

Year list: 165
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 26th May 2024
Weather:
Foggy once again, with visibility varying, but consistently poor in the north and on high ground. F3-4 ESE.
A grey start once more, though another male Red-backed Shrike ringed in Plantation was all in a morning's work, and a visiting cruise vessel occupied some of the team as we showed the ship's passengers our breeding seabirds as well as a few avian migrants, including an Icterine Warbler and one of several Red-backed Shrikes around the Parks. Yesterday's Rustic Bunting and Subalpine Warbler sp. were present again, but skittish, and the two Wood Warblers were recorded, suggesting little movement to or from the Isle given our mizzly weather. Presumably new, however, was a Nightjar around the Obs' in the late afternoon; our first for three years.


A smart female Rustic Bunting revealed itself briefly along Gully (Alex Penn)

HIGHLIGHTS
SUBALPINE WARBLER sp.: Yesterday's female was still present in Vaila's Trees.
RUSTIC BUNTING: A female first seen fleetingly yesterday was similarly evasive around Gully and Byerwalls.
Nightjar: A female flushed from the Obs' garden late afternoon. The 36th record for Fair Isle.
Red-backed Shrike: 15; including six males.
Wood Warbler: One at South Raeva and one ringed at Burkle.
Marsh Warbler: Nine; duos at the Haa, Schoolton, Setter, Chalet and one at Wirvie.
Icterine Warbler: 11 (a figure which until four days ago was the highest day count for Fair Isle!)


Our first Nightjar since 2021 (Jonnie Fisk)

Sightings of note: 1 Greylag Goose, 1 Whooper Swan, 1 Teal, 1 Goosander, 1 Red-breasted Merganser, 1 Tufted Duck, 2 Swift, 2 Woodpigeon, 1 Collared Dove, 80 Oystercatcher, 16 Lapwing, 5 Golden Plover, 38 Ringed Plover, 10 Whimbrel, 6 Curlew, 1 Black-tailed Godwit, 13 Turnstone, 21 Dunlin, 1 Purple Sandpiper, 10 Snipe, 1 Green Sandpiper, 5 Redshank, 4 Black-headed Gull, 19 Common Gull, 6 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 102 Arctic Tern, 2 Short-eared Owl, 4 Carrion Crow, 1 Carrion x Hooded Crown hybrid, 49 Skylark, 2 Sand Martin, 21 Swallow, 5 House Martin, 5 Willow Warbler, 10 Chiffchaff, 6 Sedge Warbler, 4 Blackcap, 8 Garden Warbler, 22 Lesser Whitethroat, 3 Whitethroat, 1 Ring Ouzel, 4 Blackbird, 1 Fieldfare, 19 Spotted Flycatcher, 3 Pied Flycatcher, 1 Black Redstart, 2 Redstart, 105 Wheatear, 1 Dunnock, 5 Pied Wagtail, 64 Meadow Pipit, 1 Tree Pipit, 22 Rock Pipit, 1 'Scandinavian' Rock Pipit, 12 Twite, 1 Linnet, 5 Mealy Redpoll, 2 Lesser Redpoll, 1 Redpoll sp., 1 Siskin


Crouching Ickie, Hidden Shrike (Jonnie Fisk)

Other wildlife: 1 Red Admiral, 1 Silver Y, 129 Plutella xylostella

Year list: 164
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 25th May 2024
Weather:
Overcast all day, with some fog across the top of Ward Hill in the morning. F3-4 SE.
We were grateful for a birdable morning after two days of thick fog, and set off on census to overcast conditions but still with that sacred south-easterly frisking the Isle. 48 Barnacle Geese were loafing on the rocks off South Light, Red-backed Shrikes, Marsh Warblers and Icterine Warblers were still there for the taking in fantastic numbers, with two Wood Warblers new in and Bluethroats in each of the census areas. Yesterday's male Dotterel was relocated by the same lucky observer, this time upgrading to Ward Hill - Fair Isle's highest peak - with another improvement in his circumstances being the presence of a beautiful female bird. Later on in the north, three 'Grey-headed Wagtail' were unearthed on Lerness, and the first Subalpine Warbler of the spring bounced around in the Rosa and Red Campions of Upper Stoneybreck. While the team split their afternoon between Gannet productivity plots and attempting to catch the 'Subalp' to garner a species ID, a vocal Rustic Bunting dropped in at Stoneybreck before disappearing into thin air.


From Scandinavia with love - a stunning thunbergi Yellow Wagtail in the north (Alex Penn)


Like buses! Another Dotterel making up for a three-year absence (Alex Penn)

HIGHLIGHTS
SUBALPINE WARBLER sp.: A bright(ish) female at Upper Stoneybreck evaded capture.
RUSTIC BUNTING: A brief encounter with one at Lower Stoneybreck.
Dotterel: Yesterday's male pulled in a female, both performing well on Ward Hill.
Wryneck: One at the Haa.
Red-backed Shrike: 30; of which 13 were males.
Wood Warbler: Singles at South Harbour and Raeva.
Marsh Warbler: Eight; including a singing bird at Vaila's Trees and one ringed at Burkle.
Icterine Warbler: 14!
Bluethroat: Four; males at Ward Hill and Gully, females at Upper Stoneybreck and Homisdale.
'Grey-headed Wagtail': Three; two females and a male on Lerness.


A female Subalpine Warbler species gave the ringers a run around in the late afternoon (Jonnie Fisk)

Sightings of note: 48 Barnacle Goose, 1 Whooper Swan, 2 Wigeon, 1 Common Scoter, 4 Goosander, 4 Swift, 1 Cuckoo, 107 Oystercatcher, 20 Lapwing, 1 Golden Plover, 50 Ringed Plover, 9 Whimbrel, 9 Curlew, 5 Black-tailed Godwit, 11 Turnstone, 1 Knot, 1 Sanderling, 6 Dunlin, 1 Woodcock, 15 Snipe, 1 Green Sandpiper, 3 Redshank, 1 Greenshank, 8 Black-headed Gull, 24 Common Gull, 24 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 5 Arctic Tern, 26 Arctic Skua, 3 Short-eared Owl, 1 Kestrel, 1 Merlin, 2 Peregrine, 5 Carrion Crow, 57 Skylark, 1 Sand Martin, 23 Swallow, 13 House Martin, 17 Willow Warbler, 7 Chiffchaff, 6 Sedge Warbler, 1 Reed Warbler, 3 Blackcap, 15 Garden Warbler, 22 Lesser Whitethroat, 3 Whitethroat, 2 Ring Ouzel, 2 Blackbird, 1 Fieldfare, 3 Redwing, 1 Song Thrush, 30 Spotted Flycatcher, 1 Robin, 7 Pied Flycatcher, 3 Redstart, 2 Whinchat, 212 Wheatear, 1 Dunnock, 1 Grey Wagtail, 6 Pied Wagtail, 1 'White Wagtail', 75 Meadow Pipit, 5 Tree Pipit, 33 Rock Pipit, 1 'Scandinavian' Rock Pipit, 20 Twite, 1 Linnet, 5 Mealy Redpoll, 2 Lesser Redpoll, 5 Siskin, 2 Reed Bunting


A young male Bluethroat, one of four birds today, continues our amazing May streak for this species (Jonnie Fisk)

Other wildlife: 3 Red Admiral, 24 Silver Y, 16 Plutella xylostella, 1 Hummingbird Hawk-moth

Year list: 163
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 24th May 2024
Weather:
Rain at dawn and another morning with a thick soup of fog and drizzle, burning off around midday, with warm sunny spells followed by an overcast evening. F4 SE.
The day dawned wet and dreich again, and a morning cruise around the trapping areas proved too sodden a venture to pursue. By midday, the fog was dissipating and as soon as the sun came out, an exciting pulse of birds appeared, with a Wryneck fresh in and new Pied and Spotted Flycatchers and Garden Warblers perching on the wires and cliffs. Yesterday's damp and dreary conditions presumably stuck many of Wednesday's Icterine Warblers and Red-backed Shrikes in place, but with the continued south-easterlies, we could be forgiven for assuming some of today's birds of those two species were also arrivals. Either way, fantastic counts of both were logged again, and Marsh Warbler now joins them in having a newly-minted record day count total - the 12 today is more than we record in some springs! Ask Acting Warden Alex Penn his bird of the day, however, and the answer will come firmly on the side of the male Dotterel he came across on census - a species not recorded on the Isle since spring 2020 (an unusual Dotterel dry spell for FIBO) and one of the 'easiest' omissions on his Fair Isle list. Another whirlwind of a day in this dreamy spring!


A trip up the slopes of Malcolm's Head was worth it for this diminutive plover (Alex Penn)


A Busta Icterine Warbler with a backdrop of Spring Squill (Jonnie Fisk)

HIGHLIGHTS
Dotterel: A male pottering about on Malcolm's Head.
Glaucous Gull: Still present opposite Barkland.
Wryneck: One along the road between Koolin and Chapel.
Red-backed Shrike: 34; with an even spread of sexes.
Marsh Warbler: 12; including singing birds at Schoolton and Busta, duos together at the Haven, Burkle and Chalet, and five ringed today.
Icterine Warbler: 22; including two ringed.
Bluethroat: Three; females at Schoolton, North Reava and Lower Stoneybreck.
'Blue-headed Wagtail': Female at Utra Scrape / Meadow Burn.
Common Rosefinch: A reddish male at the Haa.
Common Nightingale: Still present in the Obs' garden.


One of the Red-backed Shrikes hanging around Plantation (Jonnie Fisk)

Sightings of note: 1 Barnacle Goose, 1 Whooper Swan, 2 Teal, 4 Goosander, 3 Swift, 2 Woodpigeon, 2 Collared Dove, 92 Oystercatcher, 28 Lapwing, 56 Ringed Plover, 7 Whimbrel, 13 Curlew, 5 Black-tailed Godwit, 7 Turnstone, 6 Dunlin, 1 Woodcock, 17 Snipe, 4 Common Sandpiper, 2 Redshank, 1 Greenshank, 2 Black-headed Gull, 6 Common Gull, 13 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 9 Arctic Tern, 24 Arctic Skua, 1 Merlin, 1 Peregrine, 4 Carrion Crow, 1 Hooded x Carrion Crow, 18 Swallow, 5 House Martin, 16 Willow Warbler, 11 Chiffchaff, 6 Sedge Warbler, 3 Blackcap, 26 Garden Warbler, 14 Lesser Whitethroat, 7 Whitethroat, 1 Ring Ouzel, 1 Blackbird, 1 Fieldfare, 2 Redwing, 42 Spotted Flycatcher, 1 Robin, 19 Pied Flycatcher, 1 Black Redstart, 3 Redstart, 2 Whinchat, 1 Tree Sparrow, 1 Dunnock, 1 Grey Wagtail, 6 Pied Wagtail, 2 Tree Pipit, 16 Twite, 1 Linnet, 4 Redpoll sp., 1 Crossbill, 1 Siskin


Plutella xylostella aka Diamondback Moths are some of the smallest migrants on the Isle at present, though they far outnumber any of our avian visitors (Alex Penn)

Other wildlife: 59 Silver Y, at least 1000 Plutella xylostella!, 1 Shetland Bee,

Year list: 162
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 23rd May 2024
Weather:
Thick fog all day, with rain from late morning. F3-4 E.
After yesterday's high, fog and poor visibility stopped play today, with rain adding to the mix. Morning trap rounds caught two Marsh Warblers, while a slightly more sobering find was the body of one of yesterday's Icterine Warblers which had been 'shriked'! Red-backed Shrikes themselves still put on a good showing, with multiples on view at once with the right fenceline-heavy vista, gradually disappearing into the fog. Our first Swift of the year passed over the south of the Isle, while the Obs' garden held a few common migrants and yesterday's Nightingale. It's days like this we are grateful for the sightings from the Island's resident and visiting birders, to get a fuller picture of what is out there. A rainy afternoon gave the team a chance to catch up with ringing data entry and planning and preparing for this week's seabird monitoring.


Common Nightingale at the Obs' (Alex Penn)

HIGHLIGHTS
Glaucous Gull: The adult cut a ghostly shape in the fog opposite Barkland.
Red-backed Shrike: 18 were filtered from the fog, including seven males.
Marsh Warbler: Four; including two birds ringed.
Icterine Warbler: Nine.
Bluethroat: Females at Lower Stoneybreck and Steensi Geo.
Common Nightingale: Still present in the Obs' garden.


The garden at Chalet held this Marsh Warbler (Luke Marriner)

Sightings of note: 1 Barnacle Goose, 1 Whooper Swan, 1 Goosander, 1 Swift (first of the year), 1 Black-tailed Godwit, 10 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 1 Sparrowhawk, 11 Swallow, 1 Willow Warbler, 3 Chiffchaff, 1 Garden Warbler, 3 Lesser Whitethroat, 1 Whitethroat, 1 Fieldfare, 6 Spotted Flycatcher


A brief bit of foggy ringing before the weather defeated us (Jonnie Fisk)

Other wildlife: 10 Plutella xylostella

Year list: 161
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 22nd May 2024
Weather:
A humid, overcast start, with warmth building into the afternoon. Sunny spells, before increasingly heavy evening rain set in. F3-4 SE.
We don't want to jinx any future Fair Isle birding fortunes...but this is becoming something of a vintage spring, thanks to some pleasantly persistent south-easterlies. Twenty days after our outstanding (and protracted!) spring fall, we witnessed another afternoon arrival today, with two species as stand-out stars. Red-backed Shrikes have been having something of 'a moment' in the Northern Isles, but today overshadowed even our purple patch last week, and a new record count for Fair Isle has been set, with two birds tipping us across that threshold. Yet, it was another species which took centre stage as the day wore on...Two Icterine Warblers at Setter foreshadowed a momentous day for this hippo in FIBO history. More 'Ickies' began to be unearthed in the crofts, and then along the west cliffs of north census; curiously almost always in pairs! In between news from the island's birders of Marsh Warblers, Bluethroats and our first Blyth's Reed Warbler of the year, the Icterine Warblers kept arriving; tacking onto sallying groups of Spotted Flycatchers along Dronger, climbing the Mast with Lesser Whitethroats, even seen flying across the airstrip by departing birders! The number of Icterine Warblers ringed today alone surpasses the previous overall Fair Isle record day count (11 in spring 1992) and just adds to the many moments of migration magic on the Isle so far this spring. As the rainclouds gathered and the evening light waned, a Nightingale was found in the Obs' garden and our sixth ever spring Barred Warbler lumbered about on the heather at Furse before the clouds opened and the day ended on a wet note.


A birder's-eye-view of a male Red-backed Shrike down a west cliff Geo (Jonnie Fisk)


A classic species pairing in a scene from North Light (Jonnie Fisk)

HIGHLIGHTS
Glaucous Gull: An impressive adult at Midway.
Osprey: Passed South Light east mid-morning.
Red-backed Shrike: 37; a new Fair Isle day record. Another incredible May afternoon arrival, with six birds ringed.
Blyth's Reed Warbler: One trapped in Plantation, then relocating to Gully. The 70th record for the Island.
Marsh Warbler: Six; including one trapped and ringed.
Icterine Warbler: 34; a new Fair Isle day record by some margin, with birds arriving from midday onwards. 12 birds were ringed.
Barred Warbler: A surprise bird at Furse/Dumlin's Sink. Our sixth spring record.
Bluethroat: Seven; males at Gilly Burn and Vaila's Trees, females at School brae, Hill Dyke, Gully, Vaila's Trees and Setter.
Common Nightingale: One caught and ringed in the Obs' garden.
Common Rosefinch: A reddish male at Quoy.


Today female Bluethroats outnumbered the males, including this bird at Vaila's Trees (Luke Marriner)


Blyth's Reed Warbler, caught and ringed in Plantation (Alex Penn)

Sightings of note: 1 Barnacle Goose, 1 Greylag Goose, 1 Whooper Swan, 1 Teal, 1 Goosander, 3 Woodpigeon, 1 Collared Dove, 79 Oystercatcher, 23 Lapwing, 3 Golden Plover, 48 Ringed Plover, 4 Whimbrel, 13 Curlew, 4 Dunlin, 3 Purple Sandpiper, 29 Snipe, 1 Redshank, 7 Common Gull, 5 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 18 Arctic Skua, 2 Sparrowhawk, 1 Short-eared Owl, 1 Peregrine, 6 Carrion Crow, 1 Hooded x Carrion Crow, 66 Skylark, 15 Swallow, 2 House Martin, 4 Willow Warbler, 8 Chiffchaff, 2 Sedge Warbler, 8 Blackcap, 25 Garden Warbler, 32 Lesser Whitethroat, 5 Whitethroat, 2 Ring Ouzel, 4 Blackbird, 1 Fieldfare, 1 Redwing, 27 Spotted Flycatcher, 1 Pied Flycatcher, 3 Redstart, 164 Wheatear, 2 Tree Sparrow, 2 Dunnock, 4 Pied Wagtail, 88 Meadow Pipit, 3 Tree Pipit, 24 Rock Pipit, 1 'Scandinavian' Rock Pipit, 16 Twite, 1 Linnet, 2 Mealy Redpoll, 2 Lesser Redpoll, 4 Crossbill, 1 Siskin


One of four Crossbill across the Isle, though sadly a few were a bit worse for wear (Jonnie Fisk)

Other wildlife: 2 Red Admiral, 1 Painted Lady, 15 Silver Y, 65 Plutella xylostella, 1 Shetland Bee

Year list: 160
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 21st May 2024
Weather:
An overcast morning was further murkied by fog which intensified until mid-afternoon before burning off into sunny, warm conditions. F3-4 SE.
A cruel fog settled once more across the Isle during census hours, clearing shortly after we were finished. However, all evidence suggests we've had no real arrivals of migrants, just gradual departures - most tellingly displayed in the gradual decrease in our Red-backed Shrike 'population'! Another new (but no less stunning) male Bluethroat was ringed in Vaadal, along with a few Garden Warblers, and two Barnacle Geese stopped off mid-morning on their travels north. As we slide into late May, the saga of our resident Whooper Swan continues, with it now settled on the waterbodies of the south. We've witnessed it fly, and it appears no worse for wear than when first we met in mid-March. Will it stay the summer? A similar question can be posed to the three 'Blue' Fulmar on the cliffs at Furse, Lericum and Bergaroo - with one brooding an egg!


One of three 'Blue' Fulmar back on the cliffs of the north (Alex Penn)

HIGHLIGHTS
Red-backed Shrike: 10, including two males.
Bluethroat: A male trapped and ringed at Vaadal.
Hawfinch: The lingering female was found freshly dead.


We continue our Bluethroat roll, with just four of the last 20 days without a record (Jonnie Fisk)

Sightings of note: 2 Barnacle Goose, 1 Whooper Swan, 1 Teal, 12 Woodpigeon, 1 Collared Dove, 50 Oystercatcher, 38 Lapwing, 1 Golden Plover, 26 Ringed Plover, 2 Whimbrel, 16 Curlew, 9 Turnstone, 15 Dunlin, 7 Snipe, 4 Redshank, 2 Black-headed Gull, 6 Common Gull, 2 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 60 Arctic Tern, 13 Arctic Skua, 3 'Blue' Fulmar, 2 Short-eared Owl, 1 Kestrel, 2 Peregrine, 10 Carrion Crow, 1 Hooded x Carrion Crow, 67 Skylark, 14 Swallow, 1 Willow Warbler, 4 Chiffchaff, 2 Sedge Warbler, 4 Blackcap, 12 Garden Warbler, 6 Lesser Whitethroat, 1 Whitethroat, 1 Ring Ouzel, 1 Blackbird, 2 Song Thrush, 1 Spotted Flycatcher, 2 Robin, 1 Redstart, 152 Wheatear, 2 Tree Sparrow, 5 Pied Wagtail, 1 'White Wagtail', 79 Meadow Pipit, 36 Rock Pipit, 4 'Scandinavian' Rock Pipit, 17 Twite, 2 Linnet, 7 Mealy Redpoll, 2 Lesser Redpoll

Other wildlife: 5 Silver Y, 1 Plutella xylostella, 2 Shetland Bee

Year list: 157
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 20th May 2024
Weather:
Gloriously sunny and warm all day, with 0/8 cloud cover. F4 E
A gorgeous day to be out and about on the Isle, with a scattering of Red-backed Shrikes, three Bluethroats and the chuntering of singing Marsh Warblers and Sedge Warblers emanating from a few choice stands of bushes. A warm afternoon was given over to tracking down some of the various Lapwing broods across the crofts, with 16 birds now sporting rings, which is a good total for this point in the spring already.


A handful of Tieves' Nacket (Jonnie Fisk)

HIGHLIGHTS
White-tailed Eagle: An immature bird was picked up high over Meoness, heading south off the island before looping back over Rippack and disappearing to the north.
Red-backed Shrike: 14; two more birds ringed in Plantation/Vaadal.
Marsh Warbler: Seven; birds singing in Chapel Plantation, Brecks, Setter and Lower Leogh, with further birds at Chalet, Shirva and Gully.
Icterine Warbler: One in upper Wirvie burn.
Bluethroat: Three; males at Barkland/Fire Station and Wirvie Burn and a female at Springfield.
Hawfinch: Our regular bird living at Plantation.


A close flyby by a White-tailed Eagle while ringing Lapwing chicks at Da Water (Luke Marriner)

Sightings of note: 1 Whooper Swan, 4 Teal, 5 Woodpigeon, 5 Collared Dove, 42 Oystercatcher, 33 Lapwing, 3 Golden Plover, 39 Ringed Plover, 6 Whimbrel, 13 Curlew, 11 Turnstone, 8 Dunlin, 1 Purple Sandpiper, 14 Snipe, 1 Common Sandpiper, 4 Redshank, 2 Black-headed Gull, 9 Common Gull, 8 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 11 Arctic Tern, 17 Arctic Skua, 1 Red-throated Diver, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Short-eared Owl, 1 Kestrel, 2 Peregrine, 7 Carrion Crow, 1 Hooded x Carrion Crow, 89 Skylark, 17 Swallow, 3 House Martin, 2 Willow Warbler, 8 Chiffchaff, 5 Sedge Warbler, 11 Blackcap, 13 Garden Warbler, 8 Lesser Whitethroat, 2 Whitethroat, 1 Ring Ouzel, 3 Blackbird, 1 Song Thrush, 6 Spotted Flycatcher, 1 Robin, 1 Redstart, 192 Wheatear, 5 Pied Wagtail, 1 'White Wagtail', 85 Meadow Pipit, 1 Tree Pipit, 25 Rock Pipit, 1 'Scandinavian' Rock Pipit, 11 Twite, 1 Mealy Redpoll

Other wildlife: 2 Red Admiral, 2 Painted Lady, 39 Silver Y, 3 Shetland Bee

Year list: 157
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 19th May 2024
Weather:
An overcast start, with a sun trying to burn through the cloud cover then stifled by a fog bank rolling in, clearing by early evening. F2 NE-SE.
With two days of fog, it was clear we weren't going to experience any significant arrivals, and the numbers from census reflected this. Still, it feels novel enough to have the most numerous migrant passerine tallied in your notebook to be Red-backed Shrikes! 18 remained in place across the south (and the Haven), congregating in little duos and trios. The intrepid Shag-tagging team set forth on the Obs' RIB and returned to a South Light curry night successful - with eight more tags deployed on Fair Isle-nesting birds to map their movements and foraging areas. Basestations installed across the island will download data from these tags, without the need to recapture the birds, a feat which in itself requires requisite skill, equipment and a lucky break in any sea swell or wind! A good Sunday to round off another excellent week at FIBO.


A Marsh Warbler frolicking around Utra (Luke Marriner)

HIGHLIGHTS
Red-backed Shrike: 18; one ringed in Double Dyke.
Marsh Warbler: Four; two ringed at Lower Leogh with another present, one ringed at Shirva.
Hawfinch: The two females continue.


Shag taggers in action! Ten birds will now provide foraging data which will feed back to the Marine Protected Area (Alex Penn)

Sightings of note: 3 Greylag Goose, 1 Whooper Swan, 1 Teal, 9 Woodpigeon, 3 Collared Dove, 66 Oystercatcher, 35 Lapwing, 41 Ringed Plover, 6 Whimbrel, 10 Curlew, 14 Turnstone, 13 Dunlin, 15 Purple Sandpiper, 28 Snipe, 3 Redshank, 4 Black-headed Gull, 9 Common Gull, 14 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 28 Arctic Tern, 2 Sparrowhawk, 1 Short-eared Owl, 3 Carrion Crow, 1 Hooded x Carrion Crow, 8 Swallow, 2 Willow Warbler, 7 Chiffchaff, 6 Sedge Warbler, 8 Blackcap, 8 Garden Warbler, 7 Lesser Whitethroat, 2 Whitethroat, 3 Blackbird, 1 Redwing, 1 Song Thrush, 7 Spotted Flycatcher, 1 Redstart, 5 Pied Wagtail, 1 Grey Wagtail, 1 'Scandinavian' Rock Pipit, 8 Twite, 2 Linnet, 4 Mealy Redpoll, 2 Lesser Redpoll, 1 Siskin, 1 Reed Bunting

Other wildlife: 9 Silver Y, 10 Plutella xylostella


Sheep Rock and Vaasetter sliced in two by the thick bank of fog (Jonnie Fisk)

Year list: 157
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 18th May 2024
Weather:
An overcast start turned murkier by late morning, with thick fog creeping up on the north of the island, not clearing until the late afternoon. Some spots of rain in the evening. F3 NW.
An overnight clearout was evident, though Red-backed Shrikes were still dotted about the Isle in decent number. Migrant numbers fell, not aided by very poor viewing conditions for the majority of the north census route. A trip to the Shag productivity plots was made all the more topical by the current exploits of a fieldwork group, tagging Shags as part of a Marine Protected Area project. Five more Red-backed Shrikes were ringed, including one in the Double Dyke Heligoland, which has now caught three birds in total since its rebuild - all of them Red-backed Shrikes!


Red-backed Shrikes were once again flavour of the day (Alex Penn)

HIGHLIGHTS
Quail: One by Burkle.
Red-backed Shrike: 20; five birds trapped and ringed.
Marsh Warbler: Singles at Lower Stoneybreck and Brecks.
Bluethroat: Singles at Setter and Upper Stoneybreck.
'Blue-headed Wagtail': A female at the Haven.
Hawfinch: A roaming female.


A welcome chance to see a Marsh Warbler out in the open (Luke Marriner)


An 'atmospheric' shot of two Arctic Skua in today's north census viewing conditions (Jonnie Fisk)

Sightings of note: 1 Whooper Swan, 1 Teal, 4 Goosander, 11 Woodpigeon, 71 Oystercatcher, 32 Lapwing, 76 Ringed Plover, 10 Whimbrel, 11 Curlew, 7 Turnstone, 2 Knot, 10 Dunlin, 30 Purple Sandpiper, 28 Snipe, 4 Redshank, 2 Black-headed Gull, 13 Common Gull, 19 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 8 Arctic Tern, 16 Arctic Skua, 1 Red-throated Diver, 1 Hen Harrier, 2 Short-eared Owl, 1 Kestrel, 16 Carrion Crow, 1 Hooded x Carrion Crow, 68 Skylark, 7 Swallow, 5 Willow Warbler, 13 Chiffchaff, 9 Sedge Warbler, 1 Reed Warbler, 10 Blackcap, 8 Garden Warbler, 5 Lesser Whitethroat, 1 Whitethroat, 1 Ring Ouzel, 1 Redwing, 1 Song Thrush, 1 Redstart, 209 Wheatear, 5 Pied Wagtail, 1 'White Wagtail', 120 Meadow Pipit, 1 Tree Pipit, 27 Rock Pipit, 14 Twite, 2 Lesser Redpoll (first of the year)

Other wildlife: 47 Silver Y, 21 Plutella xylostella

Year list: 157
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 17th May 2024
Weather:
A hot day on the Isle! Pleasant and sunny all day, with minimal cloud cover. F3-4 ESE.
Well, today was not one to be a bee or a Silver Y here on Fair Isle, as the second-largest arrival of Red-backed Shrikes in Obs' history (a difference of just three birds allows 6th June 1984 to hold the title), touched down on fenceposts and Rosa bushes from north to south. In classic Fair Isle fashion, the numbers only swelled as the afternoon wore on - several of the males singing in the blazing sun and 'flocks' of three in various areas was not unusual. The Obs' team spent the evening (and thus forewent a rare spring community darts night!) around chalet, with open nets, slowly being encircled by 10 shrikes, allowing us to attempt to get a better handle on the numbers involved in this event. Along for the ride were a handful of Marsh Warblers, including two birds ringed, and a few Lesser Whitethroat, Spotted and Pied Flycatchers. Our blessed Bluethroat run continues, there were two ring-tail Hen Harriers, and tiny Diamondback Moths sprialled from every other step through the heather. A warm evening, and the sheltered slopes of the north coast, was the perfect setting for some Gannet productivity plot monitoring while the ringing team caught a few common migrants passing through the Isle on our south-easterlies, as well as seven Red-backed Shrikes. We are due a brief pause in proceedings, weather wise, as some weekend northerlies set in...
One of the most memorable shrike days for decades (Alex Penn)

HIGHLIGHTS Wryneck: One at Busta.
Red-backed Shrike: Wow!...32 across the area, very much a conservative count of these highly mobile birds!
Marsh Warbler: Four: singles at Lower Stoneybreck, Lower Leogh, Brecks & Plantation.
Bluethroat: Four: two birds around Setter/Ringing Lab brae, one at the Heinkel bomber and a female at the Haven
Hawfinch: Two females.
Common Rosefinch: Brown bird at the Haa.


A modest arrival of Marsh Warblers included two birds ringed and a couple of singers (Alex Penn)


One of seven Red-backed Shrikes ringed today (Alex Penn)

Sightings of note: 3 Greylag Goose, 1 Whooper Swan, 13 Teal, 3 Cuckoo, 1 Woodpigeon, 4 Collared Dove, 57 Oystercatcher, 26 Lapwing, 9 Golden Plover, 54 Ringed Plover, 4 Whimbrel, 15 Curlew, 1 Black-tailed Godwit, 11 Turnstone, 7 Dunlin, 14 Snipe, 1 Common Sandpiper, 2 Redshank, 35 Common Gull, 28 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 92 Arctic Tern, 11 Arctic Skua, 1 Red-throated Diver, 1 Sparrowhawk, 2 Hen Harrier, 3 Kestrel, 1 Peregrine, 4 Carrion Crow, 71 Skylark, 1 Sand Martin, 6 Swallow, 1 House Martin, 17 Willow Warbler, 7 Chiffchaff, 17 Sedge Warbler, 5 Reed Warbler, 14 Blackcap, 7 Garden Warbler, 16 Lesser Whitethroat, 3 Whitethroat, 1 Ring Ouzel, 5 Blackbird, 1 Song Thrush, 8 Spotted Flycatcher, 1 Robin, 4 Pied Flycatcher, 1 Black Redstart, 1 Whinchat, 207 Wheatear, 5 Tree Sparrow, 1 Dunnock, 7 Pied Wagtail, 2 'White Wagtail', 91 Meadow Pipit, 9 Tree Pipit, 41 Rock Pipit, 1 Chaffinch, 21 Twite, 2 Linnet, 1 Mealy Redpoll, 1 Crossbill, 2 Goldfinch, 5 Siskin, 1 Reed Bunting


A pleasant evening's shrike ringing (Jonnie Fisk)

Other wildlife: 4 Red Admiral, 236 Silver Y, 174 Plutella xylostella, 4 Shetland Bee, 1 Buff-tailed Bumblebee

Year list: 156
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 16th May 2024
Weather:
Sun and bright blue skies, warm. F5 SE.
A day which got increasingly 'birdy' as the south easterlies continued to whisk Red-backed Shrikes and Bluethroats our way, with 16 and 12 now recorded on the Isle so far this spring, respectively. Eight of the former included an equal spread of sexes, with a new male and female Hawfinch also joining the female present since last week. Interestingly, the new female was found to have a brood patch when caught and ringed. Sedge Warblers bumped in number, and elsewhere a smart male 'Blue-headed Wagtail' swaggered around Gilly Burn and the second calendar-year male Hen Harrier took in about every square inch of the Isle, to the chagrin of the local Starlings. Silver Ys continued to arrive, and a couple of Rush Veneer (yet another earliest arrival record) provided additional migrant interest. Nets were opened in the afternoon and caught a handful of common migrants, while a happy AW pottered around rewiring one of the Heligoland traps in the afternoon warmth.


Always exciting to see one of these dash up Vaadal! So far it's been a good spring for Bluethroats (Jonnie Fisk)

HIGHLIGHTS
Little Ringed Plover: One at Da Water.
Wryneck: One at Busta.
Red-backed Shrike: Eight: males at Setter, Vaila's Trees, Burkle/Schoolton and School Brae, females at Ward Hill, Shriva, Double Dyke and Lower Leogh.
Bluethroat: Three: singles at Gilly Burn, Troila Geo and one ringed in Vaadal.
'Blue-headed Wagtail': A new male at Gilly Burn.
Hawfinch: Three: a new female was ringed, the continuing ringed female was present, as was a male at Troila Geo.
Common Rosefinch: A brown bird at the Haa.


A scenic shrike pellet perch (Jonnie Fisk)

Sightings of note: 1 Whooper Swan, 2 Teal, 3 Tufted Duck, 13 Woodpigeon, 1 Collared Dove, 60 Oystercatcher, 24 Lapwing, 3 Golden Plover, 36 Ringed Plover, 3 Whimbrel, 6 Curlew, 1 Black-tailed Godwit, 5 Turnstone, 3 Dunlin, 3 Purple Sandpiper, 34 Snipe, 2 Redshank, 7 Common Gull, 4 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 73 Arctic Tern, 18 Arctic Skua, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Hen Harrier, 2 Kestrel, 1 Peregrine, 3 Carrion Crow, 85 Skylark, 5 Swallow, 3 House Martin, 13 Willow Warbler, 7 Chiffchaff, 23 Sedge Warbler, 5 Reed Warbler, 6 Blackcap, 13 Garden Warbler, 5 Lesser Whitethroat, 3 Whitethroat, 1 Ring Ouzel, 2 Blackbird, 1 Mistle Thrush, 2 Spotted Flycatcher, 1 Robin, 1 Redstart, 1 Whinchat, 211 Wheatear, 6 Tree Sparrow, 1 Dunnock, 5 Pied Wagtail, 2 'White Wagtail', 57 Meadow Pipit, 4 Tree Pipit, 33 Rock Pipit, 13 Twite, 2 Mealy Redpoll, 1 Reed Bunting

Other wildlife: 107 Silver Y

Year list: 156
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 15th May 2024
Weather:
Sunny and warm, but a strong wind across the north-west of the isle. F5-6 SE.
Early morning BBS excursions, resulting in a Wryneck and a scattering of common migrants, had installed some hope for a bit of an arrival. It was another gorgeous day to be on Fair Isle, and the inescapable evidence of winged travellers riding today's winds were large numbers of Silver Y moths, as well as a few Red Admirals and our earliest ever Painted Lady by four days. Another earliest ever record was a Marsh Warbler, sadly found taking its last breath near Plantation, while other more sprightly arrivals included a smart male Bluethroat chasing phylloscs' at Furse and a couple of Wrynecks and Red-backed Shrikes. A Little Ringed Plover at Da Water showed itself, upon inspection, to be a different bird to the plover on the 12th May, and becomes the 12th record for Fair Isle. Lapwing chicks have been appearing all over the place, and a sunny afteroon was spent ringing some of these near the school, providing a timely chance to grab a Cornetto as reward.


A Fulmar's eye view of a Bluethroat, as it fed on Furse beach (Jonnie Fisk)

HIGHLIGHTS
Little Ringed Plover: One at Da Water, our second of the spring.
Wryneck: Two: at Lower Stoneybreck and Kenaby.
Red-backed Shrike: Male at the Haa and a female at the Mast.
Bluethroat: Red-spotted male at Furse.
Icterine Warbler: One at Schoolton.
Marsh Warbler: A recently perished bird at Plantation.
Hawfinch: A female present from the 11th was once again around Setter.
Common Rosefinch: A brown bird at the Haa.


Black-tailed Godwits are always a pleasure to see here, but Iceland beckons! (Alex Penn)


Despite the regular comings and going of the Airtask planes, the airfield remains one of the Arctic Skua strongholds on the Isle (Alex Penn)

Sightings of note: 2 Greylag Goose, 1 Whooper Swan, 1 Common Scoter, 3 Woodpigeon, 1 Collared Dove, 58 Oystercatcher, 34 Lapwing, 1 Golden Plover, 51 Ringed Plover, 7 Whimbrel, 20 Curlew, 1 Black-tailed Godwit, 7 Turnstone, 8 Dunlin, 10 Snipe, 3 Redshank, 7 Common Gull, 6 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 1 Arctic Tern, 8 Arctic Skua, 1 Cormorant, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Hen Harrier, 2 Short-eared Owl, 14 Carrion Crow, 55 Skylark, 1 Sand Martin, 12 Swallow, 11 Willow Warbler, 7 Chiffchaff, 5 Sedge Warbler, 1 Grasshopper Warbler, 7 Blackcap, 3 Garden Warbler, 6 Lesser Whitethroat, 2 Whitethroat, 1 Ring Ouzel, 2 Blackbird, 2 Robin, 1 Redstart, 2 Whinchat, 187 Wheatear, 7 Tree Sparrow, 4 Pied Wagtail, 68 Meadow Pipit, 3 Tree Pipit, 23 Rock Pipit, 1 'Scandinavian' Rock Pipit, 2 Brambling, 14 Twite, 2 Linnet, 3 Reed Bunting

Other wildlife: 8 Red Admiral, 1 Painted Lady, 141 Silver Y, 5 Shetland Bee

Year list: 156
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 14th May 2024
Weather:
A sunny start with a hazy horizon, with increasing cloud cover towards mid-afternoon. F5 SE.
Despite the wind direction, there was little evidence of arrivals, and most migrant passerines remained in single digit figures. Many of the recent birds of interest remain, including two Rosefinches together at the Haa. A morning greeting from above while one of the AWs was pegging out his laundry pre-census signalled our first Arctic Tern of the year, followed by a flock of 14 over Buness - notably late during what feels like a delayed spring for our seabirds. In contrast, Shetland saw a phenomenally early arrival of Arctic Terns back in April, but there has been a long gap for any boost in number until a recent consolidation. Usually, we would have expected our first 'Tirricks' just under a week ago. Elsewhere, spring moves forward; the first Oysterplant flowers are out at Muckle Uri Geo and census is punctuated with the discovery of wader nests or Lapwing chicks, complete with aggressively attendant parents.


This ring-tail Hen Harrier toured the Isle this afternoon (Alex Penn)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Wryneck: One at Da Water.
Icterine Warbler: One at Schoolton.
'Blue-headed Wagtail': One at South Harbour.
Hawfinch: Female around Gully.
Common Rosefinch: Both an orange-headed male and a brown bird at the Haa.

Sightings of note: 1 Whooper Swan, 1 Common Scoter, 5 Woodpigeon, 1 Collared Dove, 58 Oystercatcher, 30 Lapwing, 2 Golden Plover, 36 Ringed Plover, 8 Whimbrel, 14 Curlew, 8 Turnstone, 1 Knot, 1 Sanderling, 24 Dunlin, 10 Snipe, 2 Common Sandpiper, 7 Redshank, 4 Black-headed Gull, 8 Common Gull, 25 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 15 Arctic Tern (first of the year), 10 Arctic Skua, 1 Red-throated Diver, 1 Cormorant, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Hen Harrier, 1 Short-eared Owl, 3 Kestrel, 1 Peregrine, 16 Carrion Crow, 59 Skylark, 31 Swallow, 3 House Martin, 7 Willow Warbler, 11 Chiffchaff, 7 Sedge Warbler, 2 Reed Warbler, 9 Blackcap, 3 Garden Warbler, 10 Lesser Whitethroat, 1 Ring Ouzel, 3 Blackbird, 1 Redwing, 2 Spotted Flycatcher, 3 Robin, 2 Redstart, 3 Whinchat, 201 Wheatear, 5 Tree Sparrow, 1 Dunnock, 8 Pied Wagtail, 3 'White Wagtail', 82 Meadow Pipit, 11 Tree Pipit, 61 Rock Pipit, 1 'Scandinavian' Rock Pipit, 2 Brambling, 15 Twite, 2 Linnet, 1 Mealy Redpoll, 1 Crossbill, 1 Siskin, 4 Reed Bunting

Other wildlife: 3 Red Admiral, 20 Silver Y

Year list: 155
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 13th May 2024
Weather:
Largely overcast, with some fog topping Ward Hill, and a colder wind than of late. F5 SE.
A few new birds in today included that rarest of beasts, a Rosefinch displaying some colour, and a flyby Hobby - a bird which is just about annual on the Isle. AW Luke continued his talent of charming Wood Warblers from the north cliffs and a memorable Fair Isle scene featured a Bluethroat cavorting with some Puffins, viewed from above at North Naaversgill. Our birder population recieved a bump with the arrival of a few familiar faces as part of a Shag-tagging venture, and with the drift conditions before us, lady luck may be smiling down on them. Additionally, a mentionable departure today is recent FIBO alumnus Georgia Platt, who must be thanked for returning to the Isle and stepping up to cover some of her old roles during a short-term staff shortage. It was great having you back in the fold!


A male Rosefinch with head ripening into jammy plumage (Jonnie Fisk)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Quail: One flushed from Kenaby.
Hobby: One flew north over Springfield in the mid-afternoon.
Wryneck: One at the base of Hoini.
Wood Warbler: One at Easter Lother.
Icterine Warber: One at Chalet again today.
Bluethroat: One at North Naaversgill.
'Blue-headed Wagtail': Yesterday's male at South Harbour.
Hawfinch: A female caught and ringed in Plantation later frequented the crofts.
Common Rosefinch: Two; an orange-headed male at Shirva/Haa & a brown bird at Burkle.


This Hawfinch was in the traps today, with another ringing highlight being a Collared Dove (Luke Marriner)


A migrant Reed Warbler scuttles about on South Harbour beach, which it shared with a Water Rail and 'Blue-headed Wagtail' (Jonnie Fisk)

Sightings of note: 1 Greylag Goose, 1 Whooper Swan, 1 Wigeon, 1 Teal, 2 Common Scoter, 4 Woodpigeon, 3 Collared Dove, 1 Water Rail, 80 Oystercatcher, 32 Lapwing, 50 Ringed Plover, 9 Whimbrel, 18 Curlew, 2 Black-tailed Godwit, 10 Turnstone, 1 Knot, 11 Dunlin, 19 Snipe, 1 Green Sandpiper, 5 Redshank, 3 Black-headed Gull, 5 Common Gull, 17 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 8 Arctic Skua, 2 Red-throated Diver, 2 Sparrowhawk, 1 Short-eared Owl, 4 Kestrel, 2 Peregrine, 11 Carrion Crow, 1 Hooded x Carrion Crow hybrid, 89 Skylark, 32 Swallow, 16 Willow Warbler, 17 Chiffchaff, 10 Sedge Warbler, 1 Reed Warbler, 25 Blackcap, 10 Lesser Whitethroat, 4 Whitethroat, 5 Ring Ouzel, 3 Blackbird, 1 Redwing, 1 Spotted Flycatcher, 2 Robin, 1 Pied Flycatcher, 2 Redstart, 1 Whinchat, 175 Wheatear, 6 Tree Sparrow, 7 Pied Wagtail, 2 'White Wagtail', 73 Meadow Pipit, 6 Tree Pipit, 29 Rock Pipit, 1 'Scandinavian' Rock Pipit, 2 Brambling, 15 Twite, 3 Linnet, 2 Mealy Redpoll, 1 Siskin, 4 Reed Bunting

Other wildlife: 7 Silver Y, 2 Buff-tailed Bumblebee, 1 White-tailed Bumblebee, 1 Green Lacewing.

Year list: 154
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 12th May 2024
Weather:
Sunny spells throughout the day. F5-6 SE.
Today marked the start of a few days of strong south-easterly winds, bringing a few nice scarcities with it. A male 'Blue-headed Wagtail' was at Kirki Mire, male Bluethroats at Quoy and Pund and an Icterine Warbler was at Schoolton, with a Wood Sandpiper also at Da Water. In the late afternoon AW Luke heard the unmistakable call of a Little Ringed Plover as it was flying over Plantation and the Airstrip, and fortunately went on to refind the bird on the deck at Chalet, before it was chased away by territorial Ringed Plovers. The 11th isle record for this species, another which has mostly occurred in recent years, with seven being recorded in the last nine years.


Little Ringed Plover at Barkland (Luke Marriner)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Little Ringed Plover: One vocal whilst flying over the airstrip, relocated at Chalet (11th Fair Isle record).
Wood Sandpiper: One at Da Water.
Icterine Warbler: One at Schoolton.
Bluethroat: Two males; one at Quoy and one at Pund.
'Blue-headed Wagtail': A male at Kirki Mire.

Sightings of note: 2 Greylag Goose, 1 Whooper Swan, 1 Wigeon, 6 Woodpigeon, 6 Collared Dove, 75 Oystercatcher, 29 Lapwing, 1 Golden Plover, 45 Ringed Plover, 13 Whimbrel, 10 Curlew, 2 Black-tailed Godwit, 6 Turnstone, 2 Sanderling, 14 Dunlin, 22 Snipe, 1 Common Sandpiper, 8 Redshank, 2 Black-headed Gull, 20 Common Gull, 21 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 4 Arctic Skua, 1 Red-throated Diver, 4 Kestrel, 2 Peregrine, 4 Carrion Crow, 2 Hybrid Crow, 80 Skylark, 17 Swallow, 1 House Martin, 6 Willow Warbler, 5 Chiffchaff, 3 Sedge Warbler, 3 Blackcap, 10 Lesser Whitethroat, 5 Whitethroat, 4 Ring Ouzel, 2 Blackbird, 1 Fieldfare, 1 Redwing, 2 Spotted Flycatcher, 5 Robin, 3 Redstart, 2 Whinchat, 206 Wheatear, 7 Tree Sparrow, 2 Dunnock, 10 Pied Wagtail, 2 'White' Wagtail, 104 Meadow Pipit, 4 Tree Pipit, 40 Rock Pipit, 3 Brambling, 18 Twite, 1 Linnet, 1 Mealy Redpoll, 1 Siskin, 1 Reed Bunting, 1 Snow Bunting

Other wildlife: 1 Shetland Bee

Year list: 153
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 11th May 2024
Weather:
A morning of patchy cloud and sunny spells with spots of rain late morning, clearing to blue sky and sun in the afternoon. F1-2 SE in the early morning, increasing throughout the day to F4 by the evening.
A calm early morning was taken advantage of and the first Breeding Bird Survey of the spring was carried out, to a chorus of Skylarks ascending and Snipe drumming and chipping away. Census was back on the scene afterwards, with the light south-easterlies bringing a few new birds to the isle, including the first Garden Warbler and Cuckoo of the year, the latter of which spent most of the morning singing enthusiastically. A Wood Sandpiper and two Green Sandpiper were skulking around in the ditches of the south-west, whilst a Hawfinch toured the crofts and two Wryneck remain in similar locations to previous days. A good number and variety of gulls also found themselves loafing in the fields near Chalet and Stackhoull, with an Iceland Gull and 38 Lesser Black-backed Gull in the mix.


Wryneck at Vaila's Trees (Georgia Platt)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Wood Sandpiper: One in the ditch south of Lower Leogh.
Iceland Gull: One with the mixed gull flock opposite Stackhoull.
Wryneck: Two; one still at South Harbour and one still at Vaila's Trees.
Red-backed Shrike: Male still around Chalet.
Hawfinch: Female touring the crofts.

Sightings of note: 8 Greylag Goose, 1 Whooper Swan, 1 Shelduck, 1 Wigeon, 3 Teal, 2 Common Scoter, 1 Cuckoo (first of the year), 18 Woodpigeon, 5 Collared Dove, 64 Oystercatcher, 16 Lapwing, 5 Golden Plover, 50 Ringed Plover, 9 Whimbrel, 20 Curlew, 2 Black-tailed Godwit, 7 Turnstone, 4 Knot, 12 Dunlin, 20 Snipe, 2 Common Sandpiper, 2 Green Sandpiper, 10 Redshank, 13 Black-headed Gull, 36 Common Gull, 38 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 22 Arctic Skua, 1 Red-throated Diver, 1 Sparrowhawk, 2 Short-eared Owl, 2 Kestrel, 2 Peregrine, 13 Carrion Crow, 52 Skylark, 5 Sand Martin, 48 Swallow, 2 House Martin, 13 Willow Warbler, 14 Chiffchaff, 6 Sedge Warbler, 16 Blackcap, 1 Garden Warbler (first of the year), 22 Lesser Whitethroat, 5 Whitethroat, 4 Ring Ouzel, 2 Blackbird, 4 Redwing, 4 Song Thrush, 5 Robin, 1 Pied Flycatcher, 3 Redstart, 3 Whinchat, 246 Wheatear, 6 Tree Sparrow, 11 Pied Wagtail, 4 'White' Wagtail, 95 Meadow Pipit, 23 Tree Pipit, 45 Rock Pipit, 3 Chaffinch, 19 Twite, 5 Linnet, 1 Redpoll Sp., 1 Siskin, 16 Reed Bunting


Freshly-fledged Ravens at Gunnawark (Georgia Platt)

Other wildlife: 3 Shetland Bee

Year list: 152
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 10th May 2024
Weather:
Fog for most of the day, lifting slightly by late morning but descending again early afternoon. F4 S.
Another morning of fog greeted the isle, but unfortunately today it was mostly here to stay, lifting for an hour or so late morning but beginning to come down again by early afternoon. With a bit of birding around the crofts in the clear spell, it was apparent that there hadn't been much of a turnaround of birds, with many of the same migrants still lingering, including two Wryneck, a Wood Warbler and the handsome male Red-backed Shrike still around Chalet. Later in the afternoon a couple of Stonechat were discovered around Chalet and a Quail was flushed from the roadside between North Shirva and Stackhoull, so a handful of new birds must have found their way here regardless of the weather. The second cruiseship of the season had an explore around the island this afternoon, with everyone seemingly enjoying themselves despite not being able to see much!


Sparrowhawk in the hand at Gully (Alex Penn)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Quail: One flushed from the roadside between North Shirva and Stackhoull.
Wryneck: Two; one still at South Harbour and one at Vaila's Trees.
Red-backed Shrike: Male still around Chalet.
Wood Warbler: One still at South Light.

Sightings of note: 9 Greylag Goose, 1 Whooper Swan, 1 Wigeon, 6 Teal, 3 Woodpigeon, 54 Oystercatcher, 6 Whimbrel, 1 Black-tailed Godwit, 7 Turnstone, 4 Knot, 11 Dunlin, 3 Redshank, 2 Black-headed Gull, 3 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 1 Red-throated Diver, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Kestrel, 2 Carrion Crow, 3 Sand Martin, 4 Swallow, 1 House Martin, 8 Willow Warbler, 7 Chiffchaff, 3 Sedge Warbler, 1 Reed Warbler, 4 Blackcap, 16 Lesser Whitethroat, 2 Whitethroat, 1 Redwing, 1 Pied Flycatcher, 4 Redstart, 2 Whinchat, 2 Stonechat, 2 Tree Sparrow, 3 Dunnock, 2 'White' Wagtail, 11 Tree Pipit, 1 'Scandinavian' Rock Pipit, 2 Chaffinch, 3 Brambling, 9 Twite, 1 Linnet, 1 Redpoll Sp., 1 Siskin, 10 Reed Bunting

Year list: 150
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 9th May 2024
Weather:
Thick fog all morning clearing to sunny spells by early afternoon. F3-4 N, dropping to F2 by evening.
A bank of thick fog covering the isle first thing lead into an entire morning of poor visibility, although a productive morning of ringing data entry, description writing and trap rounds was still had. As promised by the weather forecast the fog had cleared by early afternoon, giving way to sunny spells with a light breeze, so a delayed yet pleasant census was on the cards. Numbers of common migrants still dwindle, although a good number of Tree Pipit remain, and the Arctic Skuas saw a slight boost in numbers around the island as well. A couple of scarcities found their way to the isle through the fog, with a new Icterine Warbler working the fenceline between Burkle and Busta and a Wryneck at Field Ditch, but the star bird was a Black Kite heading south over the Mast at speed at around 4pm, with a supporting cast of Ravens, Bonxies and a Curlew harrassing it, before it swiftly headed out towards Orkney. This was just the fifth record of this species on Fair Isle and the fourth since 2018, with previous records occurring in 2008, 2018, 2019 and 2021.


Black Kite from below (Alex Penn)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Black Kite: One south over the isle, briefly circled Hoini and then South Light before heading on further south out to sea (5th Fair Isle record).
Wryneck: Two; one still at South Harbour and one around Field Ditch/Chalet.
Red-backed Shrike: Male at Chalet.
Wood Warbler: One at South Light.
Icterine Warbler: One between Burkle and Busta.
Bluethroat: One at Chapel Plantation.


A gleaming, feather-perfect Wood Warbler on the rocks at South Light (Alex Penn)

Sightings of note: 10 Greylag Goose, 1 Whooper Swan, 1 Wigeon, 2 Common Scoter, 1 Red-breasted Merganser, 2 Woodpigeon, 4 Collared Dove, 61 Oystercatcher, 22 Lapwing, 5 Golden Plover, 22 Ringed Plover, 14 Whimbrel, 18 Curlew, 1 Black-tailed Godwit, 5 Knot, 9 Dunlin, 21 Snipe, 2 Common Sandpiper, 2 Redshank, 3 Black-headed Gull, 4 Common Gull, 2 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 14 Arctic Skua, 1 Red-throated Diver, 1 Grey Heron, 2 Sparrowhawk, 3 Short-eared Owl, 4 Kestrel, 2 Peregrine, 27 Carrion Crow, 2 Hooded x Carrion Crow, 88 Skylark, 6 Swallow, 2 House Martin, 21 Willow Warbler, 9 Chiffchaff, 2 Sedge Warbler, 2 Reed Warbler, 26 Blackcap, 17 Lesser Whitethroat, 9 Whitethroat, 2 Ring Ouzel, 5 Blackbird, 15 Fieldfare, 1 Redwing, 1 Song Thrush, 1 Mistle Thrush, 2 Spotted Flycatcher, 3 Robin, 3 Pied Flycatcher, 1 Black Redstart, 11 Redstart, 5 Whinchat, 266 Wheatear, 2 Tree Sparrow, 2 Dunnock, 2 Pied Wagtail, 5 'White' Wagtail, 87 Meadow Pipit, 43 Tree Pipit, 38 Rock Pipit, 3 'Scandinavian' Rock Pipit, 5 Chaffinch, 7 Brambling, 13 Twite, 3 Linnet, 3 Mealy Redpoll, 1 Siskin, 23 Reed Bunting


Collared Doves aligning at the Haa (Georgia Platt)

Year list: 150
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 8th May 2024
Weather:
A largely overcast day, with spots of rain in the early evening. F3 SW.
A much quieter Isle, as yesterday's sunny settled weather gave our migrant visitors inspiration to leave overnight. It's been a purple patch to remember, with a renewal in our trust that 'old school' falls can still happen...even in spring! Of our standout species in recent days, just one Bluethroat, Red-backed Shrike, Wood Warbler and Wryneck remain, sadly few of them showing themselves up for the first cruise passengers of the season. A large roving band of corvids included 35 Carrion Crows and a hybrid handful, and a pair of noisy Crossbill bombed through North Light in the afternoon. Pleasing viewing came from small numbers of Arctic Skuas at their breeding sites, with plenty of mewling pair interaction.


Among steadfast migrant highlights was the male Red-backed Shrike, still present around the Obs' (Alex Penn)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Hen Harrier: Ringtail at Shirva in the evening.
Wryneck: One at South Harbour and one around Busta.
Red-backed Shrike: Male at the Obs'.
Wood Warbler: One at Dog Geo.
Bluethroat: One at Chapel.


A handsome Black-tailed Godwit in breeding dress (Alex Penn)

Sightings of note: 16 Greylag Goose, 1 Whooper Swan, 1 Wigeon, 4 Teal, 2 Common Scoter, 2 Red-breasted Merganser, 1 Woodpigeon, 4 Collared Dove, 67 Oystercatcher, 25 Lapwing, 40 Ringed Plover, 7 Whimbrel, 19 Curlew, 2 Black-tailed Godwit, 18 Turnstone, 4 Knot, 2 Sanderling, 9 Dunlin, 70 Purple Sandpiper, 24 Snipe, 5 Common Sandpiper, 11 Redshank, 8 Black-headed Gull, 22 Common Gull, 1 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 104 Great Skua, 7 Arctic Skua, 2 Red-throated Diver, 1 Grey Heron, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Short-eared Owl, 3 Kestrel, 1 Rook, 35 Carrion Crow, 4 Hooded x Carrion Crow, 64 Skylark, 1 Sand Martin, 11 Swallow, 2 House Martin, 29 Willow Warbler, 9 Chiffchaff, 6 Sedge Warbler, 9 Blackcap, 22 Lesser Whitethroat, 10 Whitethroat, 1 Goldcrest, 8 Ring Ouzel, 6 Blackbird, 4 Redwing, 3 Song Thrush, 1 Mistle Thrush, 9 Spotted Flycatcher, 5 Robin, 3 Pied Flycatcher, 1 Black Redstart, 19 Redstart, 6 Whinchat, 210 Wheatear, 1 Tree Sparrow, 3 Dunnock, 8 Pied Wagtail, 2 'White Wagtail', 109 Meadow Pipit, 34 Tree Pipit, 30 Rock Pipit, 2 'Scandinavian' Rock Pipit, 8 Chaffinch, 15 Brambling, 13 Twite, 7 Linnet, 1 Mealy Redpoll, 2 Crossbill (first of the year), 2 Siskin, 13 Reed Bunting

Year list: 149
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 7th May 2024
Weather:
Fog in the early morning burned off, leading to a bright sun for the rest of the day. F2-3 NW.
A welcome day of sun, and an Isle still full of birds - bliss! Despite the fog of recent days, evidence of hardier migrants came from a bump in wader diversity and Fair Isle's 16th record of Garganey: a drake with Teal around Utra Scrape. Elsewhere, we retain our Red-backed Shrikes, Bluethroats, Icterine & Wood Warblers, and the pale Quail can still be found hugging the roadside by the School. We saw the highest spring count of Reed Bunting since 1999 and a new Nightingale was at the Obs', jostling for attention with three Wrynecks. The afternoon was dedicated to some seabird plot monitoring. With some Gannets, Shags and Razorbills already on eggs, we're set up for another busy summer.


Fogbound - the continuing Quail by the School still gives itself up to light-footed observers (Luke Marriner)


A new Nightingale at the Obs' - an arrival, or a bird undetected since last week's big arrival? (Alex Penn)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Quail: One again by the School brae.
Garganey: A drake among Teal on Utra Scrape.
Wood Sandpiper: Two on Utra Scrape.
Wryneck: 8; Three at the Obs', two at South Harbour and singles at Pund, Boini Mire-Upper Stoneybreck & Busta.
Red-backed Shrike: Males at Wirvie & Schooltoon-Chalet.
Wood Warbler: 5; singles Shalstane, Dog Geo, Skadan, Hjukni Geo & Pietron.
Icterine Warbler: 3; singles at Ditfield, Boini Mire & the School.
Bluethroat: 3; single males up Malcom's Head, Boini Mire & Gilsetter.
Common Nightingale: An unringed bird at the Haven.


A passing visit from a Hen Harrier while at the Gannet productivity plots (Jonnie Fisk)

Sightings of note: 6 Greylag Goose, 1 Pink-footed Goose, 1 Whooper Swan, 1 Wigeon, 5 Teal, 1 Common Scoter, 2 Red-breasted Merganser, 1 Woodpigeon, 2 Collared Dove, 63 Oystercatcher, 19 Lapwing, 21 Golden Plover, 40 Ringed Plover, 20 Whimbrel, 15 Curlew, 5 Black-tailed Godwit, 42 Turnstone, 5 Knot, 22 Dunlin, 22 Snipe, 3 Common Sandpiper, 11 Redshank, 6 Black-headed Gull, 12 Common Gull, 2 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 91 Great Skua, 11 Arctic Skua, 3 Red-throated Diver, 1 Grey Heron, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Hen Harrier, 1 Long-eared Owl, 4 Kestrel, 2 Peregrine, 1 Rook, 11 Carrion Crow, 87 Skylark, 2 Sand Martin, 18 Swallow, 2 House Martin, 59 Willow Warbler, 21 Chiffchaff, 8 Sedge Warbler, 1 Reed Warbler, 21 Blackcap, 33 Lesser Whitethroat, 12 Whitethroat, 23 Ring Ouzel, 7 Blackbird, 58 Fieldfare, 2 Redwing, 13 Song Thrush, 22 Spotted Flycatcher, 6 Robin, 23 Pied Flycatcher, 1 Black Redstart, 59 Redstart, 13 Whinchat, 331 Wheatear, 3 Dunnock, 7 Pied Wagtail, 5 'White Wagtail', 82 Meadow Pipit, 48 Tree Pipit, 41 Rock Pipit, 2 'Scandinavian' Rock Pipit, 5 Chaffinch, 13 Brambling, 15 Twite, 2 Linnet, 2 Mealy Redpoll, 1 Goldfinch, 4 Siskin, 35 Reed Bunting


Utra Scrape's current inhabitants, along with a drake Garganey (Jonnie Fisk)

Other wildlife: 1 Red Admiral, 1 Shetland Bee

Year list: 148
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 6th May 2024
Weather:
Thick fog all day. F4 NW
With visibility down to a few tens of metres at best for much of the day, census was swapped for the final few jobs on the Double Dyke Heligoland trap. FIBOT directors Mark and Glen have paid the Isle a welcome visit over the last week, doing sterling work to get this most impressive of Fair Isle's traps operational again for the season. We're truly greateful for their time and expertise, and also to Holly & Deryk at Burkle and Eileen and family at Houll who have provided them with accommodation and hospitality. While we busied away up ladders and threading wire panels together, a flock of Whimbrel, a Golden Plover and a year tick Knot passed by in the mist. Two Tree Pipits came to inspect our efforts at the end of the day...another afternoon's work should see the job done! We are still reaping the rewards of our spring fall, with Whinchats, Pied and Spotted Flycatchers, Redstarts and Lesser Whitethroats adorning those fencelines and dykes still visible in the murk. While it is atmospheric, we are looking forward to a change in the weather in the next day or two.


The Fair Isle fog of the last three days, featuring some locals (Jonnie Fisk)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Great Spotted Woodpecker: One still present.
Wryneck: One at Shirva.
Red-backed Shrike: Males around Chalet and Vaadal.
Icterine Warbler: One at the Firestation.
Bluethroat: One at Gully.
Hawfinch: One at Vaila's Trees.


A Wryneck's-eye view of Double Dyke Heligoland trap (Jonnie Fisk)

Sightings of note: 3 Collared Dove, 1 Golden Plover, 7 Whimbrel, 1 Knot (first of the year), 1 Dunlin, 2 Black-headed Gull, 1 Arctic Skua, 1 Hen Harrier, 1 Short-eared Owl, 1 Kestrel, 1 Peregrine, 1 House Martin, 1 Blackbird, 1 Song Thrush, 5 Chaffinch, 10 Brambling, 2 Redpoll sp., 1 Goldfinch, 1 Siskin

Year list: 147
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 5th May 2024
Weather:
Fog all day, lifting in the evening, but still only offering limited visibility. Still and mild. F2 SE.
A thick soup of fog tried its best to suppress migrant numbers for census, though plenty of the last few days' standout birds were seen, including seven Wryneck, a handful of Wood Warblers and Bluethroats, two brown Rosefinches, and an Icterine Warbler and Red-backed Shrike apiece. Numbers of commoner migrants are slowly dropping off, but Spotted Flycatchers and Redstarts continue to put on a good showing. A pale Quail entertained around the school and yesterday's Nightingale was caught again during a trap round, having gained a gram of weight during its island getaway. A Pintail on Utra Scrape was new for the year, as was a brief Little Bunting at Skadan.


After weeks of hearing the odd Starling mimic their calls, a bona fide Wood Sandpiper makes it to Fair Isle (Alex Penn)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Quail: One at School brae multiple times throughout the day.
Wood Sandpiper: One at Utra Scrape.
Great Spotted Woodpecker: One still present.
Wryneck: 7; two at the Obs' and singles at Single Dyke, Burkle, Lower Leough (missing its tail!), Midway, South Harbour.
Red-backed Shrike: A male around Chalet.
Wood Warbler: 3; two at Dog Geo and one at Shalstane.
Icterine Warbler: One at Burkle.
Bluethroat: 3; red-spotted males at Meadow Burn, Gully and Boini Mire.
Common Nightingale: Yesterday's bird in Plantation again.
Common Rosefinch: Both a ringed and an unringed bird in the crofts.
Little Bunting: One at Skadan.


Today's Quail, as viewed from a Citroën Berlingo (Alex Penn)

Sightings of note: 9 Greylag Goose, 1 Wigeon, 1 Pintail (first of the year), 6 Teal, 8 Woodpigeon, 3 Collared Dove, 43 Oystercatcher, 23 Lapwing, 1 Golden Plover, 25 Ringed Plover, 3 Whimbrel, 25 Curlew, 5 Black-tailed Godwit, 20 Turnstone, 1 Dunlin, 22 Snipe, 8 Common Sandpiper, 11 Redshank, 2 Black-headed Gull, 6 Common Gull, 10 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 4 Arctic Skua, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Hen Harrier, 1 Long-eared Owl, 2 Short-eared Owl, 3 Kestrel, 3 Carrion Crow, 75 Skylark, 1 Sand Martin, 10 Swallow, 1 House Martin, 53 Willow Warbler, 19 Chiffchaff, 3 Sedge Warbler, 1 Grasshopper Warbler, 31 Blackcap, 25 Lesser Whitethroat, 6 Whitethroat, 6 Ring Ouzel, 5 Blackbird, 24 Fieldfare, 11 Song Thrush, 33 Spotted Flycatcher, 7 Robin, 21 Pied Flycatcher, 61 Redstart, 23 Whinchat, 213 Wheatear, 1 Dunnock, 5 Pied Wagtail, 4 'White Wagtail', 52 Meadow Pipit, 31 Tree Pipit, 32 Rock Pipit, 1 'Scandinavian' Rock Pipit, 6 Chaffinch, 24 Brambling, 2 Twite, 1 Linnet, 2 Mealy Redpoll, 6 Siskin, 15 Reed Bunting

Other wildlife: 1 Plutella xylostella
A quick encounter with a Little Bunting, with a Redstart (right) - one of a handful joining the myriad Wheatears around Skadan and South Light (Alex Penn)

Year list: 146
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 4th May 2024
Weather:
Another warm, sunny start was cut short by the onset of thick fog by 10.00hrs. The day took a chilly turn, with a brisk wind and poor visibility. F5 SE.

"What spring trap round dreams are made of" (Alex Penn)

With more south-easterly winds, the day began full of promise: Redstarts still lined the roads and the first Heligoland trap round of the morning relinquished a Rosefinch and a Nightingale, with a Bluethroat flirting with the outside of Gully. The Nightingale was our 61st record, the majority of which are in the spring - and with a very similar number of records for Thrush Nightingale, it was good to confirm in the hand. News of lingering Wrynecks, Wood Warblers and Red-backed Shrikes set us up for census well, but a dense fog crept up on the Isle and set in for the duration. The south-west cliffs performed impressively regardless, with 12 Wood Warblers logged by Luke the phyllosc' whisperer. A male Red-backed Shrike and Bluethroat were trapped apiece at midday, with the Hawfinch and one of the Wrynecks caught and ringed at Burkle in the evening. While we seem to be over the hump of the drift event, it's still been completely magic to bird a foggy Isle with cliffs lit up by gleaming Wood Warblers and glowing Redstart tails!


Icterine Warbler on the fence at the Firestation (Alex Penn)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Wood Sandpiper: One at Da Water.
Great Spotted Woodpecker: The resident roaming male still preset.
Wryneck: 7; singles at Single Dyke, Haven, Pund, Lower Stoneybreck, Springfield, South Harbour and Burkle.
Red-backed Shrike: Two males: one around Chalet and another caught and ringed in Plantation.
Wood Warbler: 12; all in the south-west - including five together in South Geo o'Hoini!
Icterine Warbler: One at the Firestation.
Bluethroat: 4; Red-spotted males at Meadow Burn, Pund, Gully and Plantation.
Common Nightingale: One hopping around the outside of Plantation was later caught and ringed.
Hawfinch: One at Vaila's Trees was later caught and ringed at Burkle.
Common Rosefinch: 2; One at Shirva and one caught and ringed at Plantation.


A pleasant surprise on the morning trap round; the bird later relocated to Vaila's Trees (Jonnie Fisk)

Sightings of note: 14 Greylag Goose, 1 Pink-footed Goose, 1 Whooper Swan, 1 Teal, 1 Common Scoter, 3 Goosander (first of the year), 9 Woodpigeon, 1 Collared Dove, 43 Oystercatcher, 23 Lapwing, 40 Ringed Plover, 8 Whimbrel, 15 Curlew, 5 Black-tailed Godwit, 26 Turnstone, 3 Dunlin, 1 Jack Snipe, 27 Snipe, 8 Common Sandpiper, 1 Green Sandpiper, 19 Redshank, 6 Black-headed Gull, 6 Common Gull, 9 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 49 Great Skua, 2 Arctic Skua, 1 Red-throated Diver, 1 'Blue Fulmar', 1 Long-eared Owl, 3 Short-eared Owl, 3 Kestrel, 2 Carrion Crow, 92 Skylark, 1 Sand Martin, 8 Swallow, 64 Willow Warbler, 35 Chiffchaff, 7 Sedge Warbler, 3 Grasshopper Warbler, 21 Blackcap, 32 Lesser Whitethroat, 15 Whitethroat, 2 Goldcrest, 19 Ring Ouzel, 6 Blackbird, 16 Fieldfare, 2 Redwing, 18 Song Thrush, 30 Spotted Flycatcher, 13 Robin, 35 Pied Flycatcher, 64 Redstart, 25 Whinchat, 248 Wheatear, 1 Dunnock, 4 Pied Wagtail, 3 'White Wagtail', 175 Meadow Pipit, 33 Tree Pipit, 17 Rock Pipit, 4 Chaffinch, 22 Brambling, 14 Twite, 6 Linnet, 6 Mealy Redpoll, 1 Goldfinch, 4 Siskin, 16 Reed Bunting


One of seven Wryneck on the island (Alex Penn)

Year list: 144
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 3rd May 2024
Weather:
Warm winds and sun all day, very pleasant to be out in the field. F3 NE.
A satisfying sequel to yesterday's blockbuster spring arrival, with phenomenal numbers of migrants from dawn til dusk. Redstarts were chased off fenceposts by Whinchats, which in turn were pursued by Wheatears...and then replaced by more Redstarts; Tree Pipits swung about in flocks; and Whitethroats joined Turnstones and Blackcaps on the strandline. Wood Warblers put on an excellent showing, including four together at Gorsens Geo, and a swathe of new Red-backed Shrikes included four peachy males. No sooner had the ink dried on a new Isle Lesser Whitethroat record than another was set, and our earliest ever Icterine Warbler wave continued to entertain. We saw our highest spring counts of Redstarts, Whinchats and a (freshly renewed) record count of Pied Flycatchers; all since 1996. A Quail and a Wood Sandpiper were new for the year and a rather left-field arrival was a second male Great Spotted Woodpecker, which wasted no time at all in finding a friend in our resident 'pecker. The volume of birds remained steady all day, with no suggestion of an afternoon arrival top up, as so dramatically unfolded yesterday, allowing the AWs some time to join two of FIBO's visiting directors with more Heligoland trap repairs.


Utra Scrape's top billing bird of the year...so far! (Luke Marriner)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Quail: One at Mire o' Vatnagard.
Wood Sandpiper: One flew over Shirva, then later at Da Water.
Great Spotted Woodpecker: Two males now present in the south.
Wryneck: 8; singles at Chalet-Pund, Shirva-Stackhoull/Boini Mire, the Haa, Brecks, two at Plantation-Vaadal and two at the Obs'.
Red-backed Shrike: 6; males at Setter, the School, Mast and Barkland, females around Lower Leogh and at Wirvie.
Wood Warbler: 10 individuals across the north, South Light and the south-west cliffs.
Icterine Warbler: 4; singles at Quoy, Brecks, Chalet and Lower Stoneybreck.
Bluethroat: 4; singles at Quoy/Burkle, Meadow Burn, Utra Scrape and Vaadal reservoir.
Hawfinch: Male first seen at Shirva, then later at the Obs'.
Common Rosefinch: Brown bird at Shirva.


Wood Warblers continue to favour the lichen rich cliffs of the west (Alex Penn)


After rewiring Double Dyke Heligoland, a timely push of Vaadal yielded this Bluethroat. Other birds ringed today included three Wrynecks, four Redstart, three Pied Flycatcher, two Mealy Redpoll, an Icterine Warbler, a Ring Ouzel and a White Wagtail (Jonnie Fisk)

Sightings of note: 21 Greylag Goose, 1 Pink-footed Goose, 1 Whooper Swan, 2 Wigeon, 2 Teal, 7 Woodpigeon, 3 Collared Dove, 44 Oystercatcher, 29 Lapwing, 8 Golden Plover, 68 Ringed Plover, 11 Whimbrel, 19 Curlew, 5 Black-tailed Godwit, 18 Turnstone, 2 Dunlin, 25 Snipe, 9 Common Sandpiper, 1 Green Sandpiper, 12 Redshank, 1 Greenshank, 3 Black-headed Gull, 17 Common Gull, 69 Great Skua, 1 Arctic Skua, 1 'Blue Fulmar', 1 Cormorant, 1 Grey Heron, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Hen Harrier, 1 Long-eared Owl, 2 Short-eared Owl, 3 Kestrel, 2 Merlin, 2 Peregrine, 1 Rook, 6 Carrion Crow, 95 Skylark, 1 Sand Martin, 17 Swallow, 2 House Martin, 109 Willow Warbler, 23 Chiffchaff, 11 Sedge Warbler, 1 Reed Warbler, 2 Grasshopper Warbler, 42 Blackcap, 55 Lesser Whitethroat, 18 Whitethroat, 1 Goldcrest, 15 Ring Ouzel, 7 Blackbird, 19 Fieldfare, 7 Redwing, 15 Song Thrush, 51 Spotted Flycatcher, 13 Robin, 95 Pied Flycatcher, 3 Black Redstart, 83 Redstart, 33 Whinchat, 409 Wheatear, 4 Dunnock, 8 Pied Wagtail, 6 'White Wagtail', 117 Meadow Pipit, 49 Tree Pipit, 31 Rock Pipit, 3 'Scandinavian' Rock Pipit, 3 Chaffinch, 17 Brambling, 15 Twite, 3 Linnet, 3 Mealy Redpoll, 2 Goldfinch, 10 Siskin, 7 Reed Bunting


Add in a Whinchat, Buethroat and a couple of Redstarts and you'd have a good portrait of another day on the Rock (Alex Penn)

Other wildlife: 4 Red Admiral, 9 Silver Y, 2 Plutella xylostella, 1 Shetland Bee, 2 Buff-tailed Bumblebee

Year list: 142
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 2nd May 2024
Weather:
Modest south-easterlies and sun, leading to a warm day. F4 SE-NE.

POW! (Jonnie Fisk)

A spring fall made from the fabric of Fair Isle legend. A 'birdy' morning feeling, thanks to a male Red-backed Shrike and general 'bits about' gained traction, first with Lesser Whitethroats in every available habitat, and by early afternoon it was clear something special was happening. Census began to overrun, in accordance, as we whirligigged from Redstart-topped drystone dyke to Redstart-topped tiny burn, attempting to wring birds from any and all cover along our transect routes. Two Wryneck, a Wood Warbler and a surprise Icterine Warbler in under and hour were the vanguard to a hot deluge of drift, carrying with it stats for the recordkeepers: the Icterine Warbler was our earliest ever by six days; the Red-backed Shrike our earliest by a day. A pulse of Spotted Flycatchers were the joint-earliest; the Wood Warbler our earliest since 2011. And still they came; Wrynecks, Icterine Warblers - now Bluethroats! - and, while revelling in more migrants whisked around his head on the warm updrafts, the advent of a male Collared Flycatcher nearly caused Jonnie to topple off Gunnawark with joy. The 11th Isle record (ninth in spring) and the fourth year in a row we've recorded this king of Ficedulas.
While our totals for 'commoner' migrants are, so far, largely undercounts using figures from the three census routes and the wider Shirva croft, 54 Lesser Whitethroat is still an island record, and 81 Pied Flycatchers is our highest spring count since 1996 - numbers we would be pleased with on an autumn day with birds in slightly drabber garb! Everywhere you stepped there were birds to tally. For the two green AWs, it was like Fair Isle from the fairytales; something to be part of the likes of which we weren't even sure happened any more! The peculiar uplifting feeling days like this can have is something many cannot fully convey to family, partners and friends who lack the spell of birds in their lives. So it is here where you're all the more grateful for being among a community who 'gets it' - where double-thumbs-up-salutes, smiles and winks are offered as you drive by, or share a Ring Ouzel, etc. One large component of the current FIBO scene was sorely missed today, but as I type he is sailing back on north-easterly winds - see you in the field, Alex!



Today's ringing highlight. Redstarts, Pied Flycatchers and two Tree Sparrows were among other birds ringed (Jonnie Fisk)

HIGHLIGHTS:
COLLARED FLYCATCHER: A male at Gunnawark on cliffs hotching with migrants.
Wryneck: 14; with birds (in order of discovery) at Lower Stonybreck, Meadow Burn, Chalet, Homisdale, Kirk, Gunnawark, three foraging on the grass by the Obs', North Restensgeo, three around Vaadal/Plantation and one at the Haa.
Red-backed Shrike: 2; A male was by the airfield before fencehopping to Barkland, and a female was north of Chalet.
Wood Warbler: 4; Singles at South Harbour beach, Shirva, Skinner's Glig and Wester Lother.
Icterine Warbler: 6; Singles at Utra, Chalet, Shirva and Skinner's Glig, with two together on the beach at South Haven.
Bluethroat: 2: 'Red-spotted' males at Barkland and between Utra - Skerryholm.
Yellow Wagtail: A female still at South Harbour.
Common Rosefinch: One at Shirva.


No finer bumblebee-bashing beast than a male Red-backed Shrike (Luke Marriner)

Sightings of note: 18 Greylag Goose, 1 Whooper Swan, 1 Shelduck, 1 Wigeon, 4 Teal, 1 Common Scoter, 1 Woodpigeon, 1 Collared Dove, 64 Oystercatcher, 31 Lapwing, 10 Golden Plover, 34 Ringed Plover, 4 Whimbrel, 9 Curlew, 5 Black-tailed Godwit, 21 Turnstone, 19 Snipe, 2 Common Sandpiper, 2 Green Sandpiper, 6 Redshank, 1 Greenshank, 4 Black-headed Gull, 7 Common Gull, 1 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 42 Great Skua, 2 Arctic Skua, 1 'Blue Fulmar', 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Hen Harrier, 1 Long-eared Owl, 1 Short-eared Owl, 1 Kestrel, 1 Merlin, 1 Peregrine, 1 Rook, 2 Carrion Crow, 124 Skylark, 3 Sand Martin, 22 Swallow, 3 House Martin, 80 Willow Warbler, 46 Chiffchaff, 7 Sedge Warbler, 1 Reed Warbler, 70 Blackcap, 54 Lesser Whitethroat, 15 Whitethroat, 2 Goldcrest, 17 Ring Ouzel, 7 Blackbird, 32 Fieldfare, 4 Redwing, 24 Song Thrush, 28 Spotted Flycatcher (first of the year), 13 Robin, 81 Pied Flycatcher, 4 Black Redstart, 64 Redstart, 14 Whinchat, 265 Wheatear, 5 Tree Sparrow, 2 Dunnock, 8 Pied Wagtail, 2 'White Wagtail', 168 Meadow Pipit, 23 Tree Pipit, 21 Rock Pipit, 6 Chaffinch, 44 Brambling, 9 Twite, 4 Linnet, 1 Mealy Redpoll, 1 Redpoll sp., 4 Goldfinch, 11 Siskin, 1 Yellowhammer, 8 Reed Bunting


Two Icterine Warblers were feeding on South Haven's strandline, alongside Redstarts, Spotted Flycatchers, Lesser Whitethroats, Chiffchaffs, Common Sandpipers, Wheatears and a 'White Wagtail' (Jonnie Fisk)

Other wildlife: Orca: At least four north past Hoini c.11:15.
6 Red Admiral, 2 Silver Y, 2 Plutella xylostella, 2 Buff-tailed Bumblebee


Two of the pod moving off the north-west coast of the Isle (Jonnie Fisk)

Year list: 140
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 1st May 2024
Weather:
A foggy, cloudy start with the sun burning through by mid-morning. Warm and calm, with light rain showers in the afternoon and fog again by the evening. F2-3
Another birdy Isle, in warm and still conditions - bliss. Whinchats and Redstarts remained largely where we left them yesterday, but turnover of birds was obvious, with Ring Ouzels particularly down on recent days. Three handsome Black-tailed Godwit rested before the last leg of their flight to Iceland, and a Jack Snipe at Gilsetter was notable. The Good Shepherd's arrival from Grutness brought with it the welcome cargo one of the FIBO cars after a winter holiday at a Shetland garage. Nets were opened in the Observatory garden in the evening, catching a Long-eared Owl, a male Redstart, some Brambling and a selection of warblers including the first Reed Warbler of the year and a 'Siberian Chiffchaff'.


The Observatory garden, and the suburbs of its building site, have been the resting spot of a few Long-eared Owls this spring so far (Luke Marriner)

HIGHLIGHTS:
'Siberian Chiffchaff': One ringed in the Observatory garden.
Yellow Wagtail: A female still at South Harbour.


One of the day's highlights was being in the thick of warring Wheatears; the males trundling about fan-tailed and fighting, their voices angry torrents of mimicry (Jonnie Fisk)

Sightings of note: 24 Greylag Goose, 1 Pink-footed Goose, 1 Whooper Swan, 1 Shelduck, 1 Shoveler, 1 Wigeon, 8 Teal, 2 Common Scoter, 11 Woodpigeon, 2 Collared Dove, 81 Oystercatcher, 24 Lapwing, 9 Golden Plover, 51 Ringed Plover, 9 Whimbrel, 19 Curlew, 3 Black-tailed Godwit, 56 Turnstone, 3 Dunlin, 24 Purple Sandpiper, 1 Jack Snipe, 31 Snipe, 4 Common Sandpiper, 2 Green Sandpiper, 12 Redshank, 3 Black-headed Gull, 21 Common Gull, 3 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 41 Great Skua, 1 Arctic Skua, 1 Red-throated Diver, 2 Cormorant, 2 Sparrowhawk, 1 Long-eared Owl, 2 Short-eared Owl, 1 Kestrel, 2 Merlin, 1 Peregrine, 18 Carrion Crow, 173 Skylark, 2 Sand Martin, 13 Swallow, 1 House Martin, 24 Willow Warbler, 4 Chiffchaff, 1 Sedge Warbler, 1 Reed Warbler (first for the year), 34 Blackcap, 7 Lesser Whitethroat, 4 Whitethroat, 2 Goldcrest, 8 Ring Ouzel, 5 Blackbird, 20 Fieldfare, 3 Redwing, 29 Song Thrush, 19 Robin, 3 Pied Flycatcher, 2 Black Redstart, 5 Redstart, 3 Whinchat, 180 Wheatear, 2 Tree Sparrow, 4 Dunnock, 6 Pied Wagtail, 194 Meadow Pipit, 7 Tree Pipit, 47 Rock Pipit, 4 Chaffinch, 39 Brambling, 11 Twite, 3 Linnet, 2 Mealy Redpoll, 2 Goldfinch, 2 Siskin, 4 Reed Bunting, 1 Yellowhammer, 2 Reed Bunting


A lone male Pied Flycatcher at the mast in dense fog - evocatively Shetland! (Jonnie Fisk)

Other wildlife: 2 Red Admiral, 1 Silver Y, 1 Plutella xylostella, 2 Buff-tailed Bumblebee

Year list: 133
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 30th April 2024
Weather:
Full sun and moderate wind. Fog descended in the evening. F5 SW.
While it was still fantastic to be birding an isle with lots of spring migrants, the southerly winds overnight saw a clearout of yesterday's totals. Ring Ouzels remain well represented, with a spread of common warblers in modest numbers, and the ragtag flock of migrant corvids remain. A Long-eared Owl evaded capture twice around Gully, a drake Shoveler was on Da Water, and a Sanderling in the Haven was our first record of this high Arctic wader of 2024.


Another day, another special session with male Redstarts (Luke Marriner)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Great Spotted Woodpecker: Still present at the Haa.
Yellow Wagtail: A female at South Harbour.
Hawfinch: One present at the Haa.

Sightings of note: 27 Greylag Goose, 1 Whooper Swan, 1 Shoveler, 1 Wigeon, 5 Teal, 3 Woodpigeon, 1 Collared Dove, 27 Lapwing, 24 Golden Plover, 38 Ringed Plover, 6 Whimbrel, 8 Curlew, 41 Turnstone, 1 Sanderling (first of the year), 1 Dunlin, 26 Snipe, 2 Common Sandpiper, 1 Green Sandpiper, 1 Greenshank, 1 Black-headed Gull, 12 Common Gull, 9 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 21 Great Skua, 1 Arctic Skua, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Long-eared Owl, 3 Short-eared Owl, 1 Merlin, 2 Rook, 10 Carrion Crow, 1 Sand Martin, 12 Swallow, 14 Willow Warbler, 1 Chiffchaff, 1 Sedge Warbler, 9 Blackcap, 4 Lesser Whitethroat, 1 Whitethroat, 1 Goldcrest, 15 Ring Ouzel, 2 Blackbird, 10 Fieldfare, 1 Redwing, 25 Song Thrush, 2 Robin, 1 Pied Flycatcher, 5 Redstart, 3 Whinchat, 74 Wheatear, 2 Tree Sparrow, 2 Dunnock, 3 Pied Wagtail, 3 'White Wagtail', 8 Tree Pipit, 2 Chaffinch, 11 Brambling, 3 Twite, 7 Linnet, 2 Mealy Redpoll, 1 Goldfinch, 6 Siskin, 1 Yellowhammer, 2 Reed Bunting


Pied Flycatcher down Gorsens Geo (Jonnie Fisk)

Year list: 132
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 29th April 2024
Weather:
After an overcast start, it was a sunny day with moderate winds, but plenty of shelter to seek. F5-6 SE.
An excellent day of spring arrivals, with the south-west geos being the place to be, though birds were mined from all areas. Most impressive were the numbers of Blackcaps, Redstarts, and flocks of Ring Ouzels in the north, and Common Sandpiper, Whinchat and Whitethroat were added to the Isle year list, as was a Wryneck foraging on Hill Dyke. At Plantation a Hawfinch and two Sparrowhawks were caught and ringed, and a ring-tail Hen Harrier flew east over Field mid-afternoon.


A male Pied Flycatcher, a bird of northern swathes of woodlands, taking a break on a lichen-covered cliff (Luke Marriner)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Wryneck: One was on the west end of the Hill Dyke, before dropping into Gunnawark late morning.
Hawfinch: Adult female was caught and ringed in Plantation, the first to be ringed on the Isle this year.


A male Whinchat at Boini Mire (Jonnie Fisk)

Sightings of note: 6 Barnacle Goose, 23 Greylag Goose, 2 Pink-footed Goose, 1 Whooper Swan, 1 Wigeon, 3 Teal, 1 Common Scoter, 2 Woodpigeon, 1 Collared Dove, 44 Oystercatcher, 21 Lapwing, 21 Golden Plover, 57 Ringed Plover, 8 Whimbrel, 10 Curlew, 3 Black-tailed Godwit, 45 Turnstone, 2 Purple Sandpiper, 21 Snipe, 2 Common Sandpiper (first of the year), 2 Green Sandpiper, 18 Redshank, 1 Greenshank, 5 Black-headed Gull, 11 Common Gull, 5 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 82 Great Skua, 1 Arctic Skua, 2 Red-throated Diver, 1 Cormorant, 2 Sparrowhawk, 1 Hen Harrier, 1 Long-eared Owl, 2 Short-eared Owl, 1 Kestrel, 1 Merlin, 1 Peregrine, 2 Rook, 24 Carrion Crow, 2 Hooded x Carrion Crow hybrid, 124 Skylark, 1 Sand Martin, 16 Swallow, 1 House Martin, 11 Willow Warbler, 5 Chiffchaff, 1 Sedge Warbler, 1 Grasshopper Warbler, 41 Blackcap, 2 Whitethroat (first of the year), 1 Goldcrest, 32 Ring Ouzel, 3 Blackbird, 15 Fieldfare, 8 Redwing, 51 Song Thrush, 1 Mistle Thrush, 6 Robin, 2 Pied Flycatcher, 13 Redstart, 3 Whinchat (first of the year), 162 Wheatear, 3 Tree Sparrow, 3 Dunnock, 3 Pied Wagtail, 3 'White Wagtail', 208 Meadow Pipit, 10 Tree Pipit, 20 Rock Pipit, 1 Chaffinch, 37 Brambling, 6 Twite, 1 Mealy Redpoll, 1 Goldfinch, 6 Siskin, 4 Reed Bunting


The business end of a migrant Hawfinch (Luke Marriner)

Year list: 131
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 28th April 2024
Weather:
Brisk north-easterlies and sun, until mid-afternoon, when a bank of rain set in until the evening and the winds gained traction. F5-7 NE.
Yesterday's southerlies met north-easterlies this morning, with more birds new in, including the first Pied Flycatcher and Tree Pipit of the spring. Blackcaps hopped around the crofts and geos, Ring Ouzels and Redstarts gave the local Wheatears something to chase, and the Tree Sparrow flock in the south gained an extra member.


A splash of orange on the cliffs at Muckle Geo 'o Hoini (Jonnie Fisk)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Great Spotted Woodpecker: Still present in his sparrow box at the Haa.


With the onset of rain, two Ring Ouzels trundled in ditches by South Light (Luke Marriner)

Sightings of note: 37 Greylag Goose, 1 Whooper Swan, 1 Wigeon, 4 Teal, 1 Common Scoter, 4 Woodpigeon, 2 Collared Dove, 52 Oystercatcher, 14 Lapwing, 35 Golden Plover, 54 Ringed Plover, 9 Whimbrel, 19 Curlew, 40 Turnstone, 10 Snipe, 21 Redshank, 1 Black-headed Gull, 9 Common Gull, 3 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 49 Great Skua, 2 Red-throated Diver, 1 Cormorant, 1 Sparrowhawk, 2 Long-eared Owl, 1 Merlin, 1 Peregrine, 1 Rook, 9 Carrion Crow, 1 Hooded x Carrion Crow hybrid, 121 Skylark, 2 Sand Martin, 3 Swallow, 5 Willow Warbler, 8 Chiffchaff, 1 Sedge Warbler, 1 Grasshopper Warbler, 28 Blackcap, 6 Goldcrest, 6 Ring Ouzel, 12 Blackbird, 2 Fieldfare, 4 Redwing, 11 Song Thrush, 9 Robin, 1 Pied Flycatcher (first of the year), 3 Redstart, 106 Wheatear, 5 Tree Sparrow, 2 Dunnock, 2 Pied Wagtail, 175 Meadow Pipit, 1 Tree Pipit (first of the year), 22 Rock Pipit, 2 Chaffinch, 31 Brambling, 5 Twite, 2 Mealy Redpoll, 3 Goldfinch, 2 Siskin, 2 Snow Bunting

Other wildlife: 2 Buff-tailed Bumblebee


A view across to Shetland from Yessness (Jonnie Fisk)

Year list: 127
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 27th April 2024
Weather:
Sunny again, with a cooler wind and rain showers in the afternoon. F5-6 SE
After a swing to easterly winds, a modest arrival occured with the first Lesser Whitethroats and Sedge Warbler of 2024, over a dozen Blackcap, two Ring Ouzel and a roving flock of Carrion Crows logged. Sheltering from the rain under the Finnequoy pine was a fortuitous decision for a family trio of birders on hill duty when a Waxwing landed in the branches above! A Long-eared Owl took a rest at Gilsetter, the Tree Sparrow flock increased to four birds, but sight-of-the-day for this author was a Woodcock fighting for its life over Burn o' Vatstrass, hotly pursued by five Bonxies, which it was only narrowly swerving!


Starting census with our first Lesser Whitethroats of the year (Jonnie Fisk)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Great Spotted Woodpecker: Still present at the Haa.


A Long-eared Owl taking shelter, but pestered by a male Wheatear (Jonnie Fisk)

Sightings of note: 24 Greylag Goose, 1 Pink-footed Goose, 1 Wigeon, 11 Teal, 4 Woodpigeon, 1 Collared Dove, 59 Oystercatcher, 30 Lapwing, 33 Golden Plover, 84 Ringed Plover, 11 Whimbrel, 21 Curlew, 34 Turnstone, 4 Purple Sandpiper, 1 Woodcock, 19 Snipe, 20 Redshank, 1 Black-headed Gull, 14 Common Gull, 3 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 16 Great Skua, 1 Arctic Skua, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Long-eared Owl, 1 Merlin, 17 Carrion Crow, Waxwing (first of the year), 139 Skylark, 2 Swallow, 2 Willow Warbler, 10 Chiffchaff, 1 Sedge Warbler (first of the year), 14 Blackcap, 2 Lesser Whitethroat (first of the year), 4 Goldcrest, 2 Ring Ouzel, 10 Blackbird, 2 Fieldfare, 17 Redwing, 2 Song Thrush, 2 Robin, 47 Wheatear, 4 Tree Sparrow, 1 Dunnock, 6 Pied Wagtail, 2 'White Wagtail', 170 Meadow Pipit, 11 Rock Pipit, 1 Chaffinch, 4 Brambling, 4 Twite, 2 Linnet, 1 Mealy Redpoll, 10 Siskin, 5 Snow Bunting, 1 Yellowhammer


Walli Burn is a name that weighs heavy in Fair Isle birding lore. Today it held the year's first Sedge Warbler. Behind, Tommy Hyndman talks to FIBO Assistant Warden Luke (Jonnie Fisk)

Year list: 125
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 26th April 2024
Weather:
A glorious day of sun with some real warmth in the morning, cooling off slightly as the wind lightly picked up. Brief rain showers in the afternoon. F1-2 E-SE
A beautiful day to be on the Isle, and the team made the most of it! A pre-census Black Guillemot breeding survey was conducted along the east coast (many thanks to Deryk Shaw for stepping in) to the sound of singing Fair Isle Wrens, Wheatears and even a Chiffchaff. A few more phylloscs' and a couple of Goldcrest were new in, and census ended with a ripping 'Blue-headed Wagtail' at Mid and Udi Geos, foraging with Turnstones on the strandline. Two Tree Sparrows on the feeders at Burkle were new for the year, the paler 'Blue' Fulmar back at Lericum and some Bonxie ring-reading fun was had.


Our first Yellow Wagtail of the year, and what a start (Jonnie Fisk)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Great Spotted Woodpecker: Still present at the Haa.
'Blue-headed Wagtail': An adult male by The Puffinn toured a few sites around Skadan in the afternoon.


A Shag by any other name...(Jonnie Fisk)

Sightings of note: 33 Greylag Goose, 1 Whooper Swan, 1 Wigeon, 7 Teal, 1 Common Scoter, 3 Woodpigeon, 64 Oystercatcher, 17 Lapwing, 29 Golden Plover, 72 Ringed Plover, 12 Whimbrel, 23 Curlew, 30 Turnstone, 59 Purple Sandpiper, 27 Snipe, 24 Redshank, 6 Black-headed Gull, 6 Common Gull, 24 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 73 Great Skua, 3 Red-throated Diver, 1 'Blue' Fulmar, 2 Cormorant, 1 Sparrowhawk, 2 Peregrine, 2 Carrion Crow, 355 Skylark, 1 Sand Martin, 2 Swallow, 2 House Martin, 2 Willow Warbler, 6 Chiffchaff, 2 Goldcrest, 1 Ring Ouzel, 5 Blackbird, 14 Redwing, 1 Mistle Thrush, 2 Robin, 122 Wheatear, 2 Tree Sparrow (first of the year), 1 Dunnock, 4 Pied Wagtail, 208 Meadow Pipit, 41 Rock Pipit, 4 Chaffinch, 3 Brambling, 4 Twite, 3 Linnet, 3 Siskin

Other wildlife: 3 Buff-tailed Bumblebee

Year list: 122
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 25th April 2024
Weather:
Rain first thing, but a day of sun and mild temperatures. F3 NE.
A welcome calm, warmer day, with a few new Whimbrel, a Black Redstart and the first Hen Harrier of the year, a ringtail, briefly breezing past the airfield. The resident flock of finches appear to have left Plantation Heligoland for northern forests, though a handful of Chaffinch and Brambling remain in the crofts.


A very obvious coburni aka 'Icelandic' Redwing (Jonnie Fisk)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Great Spotted Woodpecker: Still present at the Haa.

Sightings of note: 44 Greylag Goose, 7 Pink-footed Goose, 2 Wigeon, 6 Teal, 3 Common Scoter, 1 Collared Dove, 44 Oystercatcher, 21 Lapwing, 72 Golden Plover, 52 Ringed Plover, 14 Whimbrel, 12 Curlew, 75 Turnstone, 118 Purple Sandpiper, 24 Snipe, 1 Green Sandpiper, 17 Redshank, 2 Black-headed Gull, 11 Common Gull, 5 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 59 Great Skua, 1 Arctic Skua, 1 Hen Harrier (first of the year), 2 Short-eared Owl, 1 Merlin, 1 Peregrine, 3 Carrion Crow, 174 Skylark, 1 Swallow, 2 Willow Warbler, 1 Chiffchaff, 4 Blackbird, 2 Fieldfare, 13 Redwing, 1 Song Thrush, 1 Mistle Thrush, 4 Robin, 1 Black Redstart, 41 Wheatear, 1 Dunnock, 1 Pied Wagtail, 1 'White' Wagtail, 146 Meadow Pipit, 17 Rock Pipit, 3 Chaffinch, 3 Brambling, 4 Twite, 3 Siskin, 3 Snow Bunting

Other wildlife: 1 Buff-tailed Bumblebee

Year list: 120
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 24th April 2024
Weather:
Overcast, growing colder with the winds as the day went on. Light rain in the early evening. F5 NW-N.
Baltic north-westerlies continue to bite, but one ringer's fingers were warmed by a smart Ring Ouzel which was caught in Gully. Elsewhere, three Collared Doves were logged, and the large flock of Golden Plover continue to grace the crofts. The Good Shepherd IV's cargo this afternoon included timber to rebuild those Heligoland traps which were damaged during the winter storms. Targeted work party days will hopefully see them back in action ready for the best of another season on Fair Isle.


Always a treat to catch! (Luke Marriner)


Every day can be made better with a Merlin moment (Jonnie Fisk)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Great Spotted Woodpecker: Still present at the Haa.


Skylarks are enthusiastic about sheep nuts, and can be reliably found around a croft's troughs (Jonnie Fisk)

Sightings of note: 64 Greylag Goose, 6 Pink-footed Goose, 1 Whooper Swan, 1 Wigeon, 4 Teal, 1 Common Scoter, 1 Stock Dove, 3 Collared Dove, 56 Oystercatcher, 29 Lapwing, 113 Golden Plover, 72 Ringed Plover, 6 Whimbrel, 11 Curlew, 49 Turnstone, 3 Purple Sandpiper, 16 Snipe, 41 Redshank, 9 Common Gull, 5 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 29 Great Skua, 1 Arctic Skua, 2 Red-throated Diver, 1 Great Northern Diver, 1 Cormorant, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Kestrel, 2 Merlin, 1 Peregrine, 1 Rook, 2 Carrion Crow, 101 Skylark, 1 Willow Warbler, 2 Chiffchaff, 1 Ring Ouzel, 3 Blackbird, 2 Fieldfare, 13 Redwing, 1 Song Thrush, 1 Robin, 52 Wheatear, 6 Pied Wagtail, 203 Meadow Pipit, 11 Rock Pipit, 3 Chaffinch, 14 Brambling, 7 Twite, 2 Linnet, 2 Snow Bunting

Year list: 119
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 23rd April 2024
Weather:
Sunny spells with a cold wind. F5 NW-N.
More of the same today, though a large flock of Golden Plover arrived, picking through the Fair Isle Starlings, Ringed Plovers and Turnstones at Walli Burn. The South Light Snow Bunting gang are up to four, having gained a brown female, and kept a guided walk entertained. On the south-east cliffs, the first Spring Squill (Scilla verna) is coming into bloom, and will soon be joined by Thrift (Armeria maritima) to turn the geos pink and blue


A large flock of Golden Plover included this aberrantly-plumaged bird (Jonnie Fisk)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Great Spotted Woodpecker: Present at the Haa.


Whimbrel (rght) (Luke Marriner)

Sightings of note: 102 Greylag Goose, 5 Pink-footed Goose, 1 Whooper Swan, 8 Teal, 1 Red-breasted Merganser, 1 Stock Dove, 56 Oystercatcher, 12 Lapwing, 109 Golden Plover, 84 Ringed Plover, 5 Whimbrel, 21 Curlew, 81 Turnstone, 12 Purple Sandpiper, 9 Snipe, 26 Redshank, 15 Common Gull, 6 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 19 Great Skua, 1 Arctic Skua, 1 Sparrowhawk, 3 Merlin, 1 Rook, 2 Carrion Crow, 150 Skylark, 1 House Martin, 1 Swallow, 1 Willow Warbler, 4 Chiffchaff, 4 Blackbird, 2 Fieldfare, 16 Redwing, 1 Song Thrush, 1 Mistle Thrush, 2 Robin, 72 Wheatear, 1 Dunnock, 4 Pied Wagtail, 1 'White' Wagtail, 187 Meadow Pipit, 19 Rock Pipit, 3 Chaffinch, 17 Brambling, 4 Twite, 8 Siskin, 4 Snow Bunting

Other wildlife: 1 Buff-tailed Bumblebee Year list: 119
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 22nd April 2024
Weather:
A foggy start, burning off with the sun by late morning. Sunny spells and a fresh breeze. F4 NW-N.
Another exciting day in the Fair Isle calendar, as the first pairs of Arctic Skuas (or "Skootie Allans" to the locals) were back on their breeding grounds. A female Common Redstart was also new in, and some varied wader passage included the calls of Whimbrels eminating above the crofts, migrant male Turnstones aquiring their ruddy summer plumages and the first Black-tailed Godwit of the year.


A typical scene from Buness in the north of the Isle: unflappable Puffins with a Sheep Rock backdrop (Alex Penn)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Great Spotted Woodpecker: Present in the sparrow box at the Haa.


2024's first Common Redstart, before being chased off by Wheatears (Jonnie Fisk)

Sightings of note: 12 Barnacle Goose, 94 Greylag Goose, 6 Pink-footed Goose, 14 Teal, 1 Common Scoter, 1 Red-breasted Merganser, 55 Oystercatcher, 34 Lapwing, 32 Golden Plover, 82 Ringed Plover, 9 Whimbrel, 28 Curlew, 1 Black-tailed Godwit (first of the year), 36 Turnstone, 1 Dunlin, 63 Purple Sandpiper, 15 Snipe, 20 Redshank, 16 Black-headed Gull, 19 Common Gull, 6 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 65 Great Skua, 5 Arctic Skua, 3 Red-throated Diver, 1 Grey Heron, 1 Short-eared Owl, 1 Kestrel, 2 Merlin, 2 Peregrine, 1 Rook, 3 Carrion Crow, 137 Skylark, 2 House Martin, 4 Willow Warbler, 6 Chiffchaff, 2 Ring Ouzel, 9 Blackbird, 3 Fieldfare, 20 Redwing, 1 Song Thrush, 1 Mistle Thrush, 2 Robin, 1 Common Redstart (first of the year), 1 Stonechat, 113 Wheatear, 2 Dunnock, 14 Pied Wagtail, 1 'White' Wagtail, 258 Meadow Pipit, 32 Rock Pipit, 1 'Scandinavian' Rock Pipit, 4 Chaffinch, 27 Brambling, 7 Twite, 1 Linnet, 1 Mealy Redpoll, 4 Siskin

Other wildlife: 1 Buff-tailed Bumblebee Year list: 119
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 21st April 2024
Weather:
Another still day, but foggy and wet, with rain until late afternoon. F2 S.
A dank, damp morning did not inhibit arrivals, with a flock of roving Barnacle Geese around South Light and and uptick in Siskins, as well as a Ring Ouzel at Gunnawark. However, numbers were low as birds went to ground in the rain. A slower pace was appreciated, as the night before (and early this morning) the Isle's inhabitants had enjoyed the hospitality at Houll for Eileen Thomson's birthday party. Eileen is at the heart of Fair Isle social fabric, part of the glue that holds this community together and always welcoming to the seasonal arrivals at the Obs' - many happy returns, Eileen!


Barnacle Geese circling Skadan, with a long migration to Greenland or Svalbard ahead of them (Luke Marriner)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Great Spotted Woodpecker: Present at the Haa.


An atmospheric vista from Hoini looking south (Jonnie Fisk)

Sightings of note: 12 Barnacle Goose (first of the year), 79 Greylag Goose, 2 Pink-footed Goose, 1 Whooper Swan, 2 Wigeon, 1 Teal, 1 Red-breasted Merganser, 1 Golden Plover, 2 Black-headed Gull, 13 Common Gull, 7 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 1 Red-throated Diver, 1 Rook, 2 Swallow, 2 Willow Warbler, 3 Chiffchaff, 1 Ring Ouzel, 8 Blackbird, 6 Redwing, 1 Song Thrush, 1 Robin, 3 Dunnock, 2 Chaffinch, 14 Brambling, 30 Siskin

Year list: 117
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 20th April 2024
Weather:
Still, sunny and warm. F2 N.
What a difference a day makes. Fantastically calm conditions for census, giving cause to shed layers. Shorts and t-shirts were sighted by afternoon! The recent northerlies have put a bit of a block on arrivals, but a Whimbrel and a Short-eared Owl were new. The clement conditions prompted the team to roll out the fencing around the colony of Oysterplant (Mertensia maritima) at Muckle Uri Geo, to prevent grazing by sheep.


Singing Fair Isle Wrens are a near-daily pleasure on census, and each one is logged for territory mapping of this insular subspecies (Jonnie Fisk)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Great Spotted Woodpecker: Present again at Shirva.


At Gunnawark, the Raven nest is quickly becoming crampt (Alex Penn)

Sightings of note: 94 Greylag Goose, 18 Pink-footed Goose, 1 Whooper Swan, 17 Teal, 4 Woodpigeon, 38 Oystercatcher, 13 Lapwing, 104 Ringed Plover, 1 Whimbrel, 22 Curlew, 44 Turnstone, 23 Snipe, 15 Redshank, 1 Black-headed Gull, 10 Common Gull, 57 Great Skua, 1 Red-throated Diver, 1 'Blue' Fulmar, 2 Cormorant, 1 Short-eared Owl, 2 Merlin, 1 Peregrine, 2 Carrion Crow, 230 Skylark, 2 House Martin, 4 Willow Warbler, 7 Chiffchaff, 1 Blackcap, 6 Blackbird, 1 Fieldfare, 24 Redwing, 1 Mistle Thrush, 2 Robin, 90 Wheatear, 3 Dunnock, 5 Pied Wagtail, 3 'White' Wagtail, 240 Meadow Pipit, 38 Rock Pipit, 5 Chaffinch, 8 Brambling, 12 Twite, 4 Linnet, 1 Mealy Redpoll, 3 Siskin, 2 Snow Bunting

Year list: 116
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 19th April 2024
Weather:
Bitter north-westerly gusts and hail showers. Sunny spells in the afternoon, but blustery and cold. F7-8 NW
Strong north-westerlies dominated the day, creating challenging conditions for census. As a result, few passerines were logged, and yesterday's Coot has seemingly moved on, replaced by a Tufted Duck at Easter Lother Water, though a flock of Pink-footed Geese remain to graze the crofts. With today's weather, a Hornemann's Arctic Redpoll would have felt more appropriate than a trans-Saharan migrant, but it was the first Arctic Skua of 2024, back from an Austral summer on the South Atlantic's high seas, which notched another tally on the year list.


Our first Arctic Skua of the year, probably regretting its decision on a day like today (Alex Penn)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Great Spotted Woodpecker: Present again at Shirva.

Sightings of note: 74 Greylag Goose, 29 Pink-footed Goose, 1 Whooper Swan, 3 Teal, 1 Tufted Duck, 31 Oystercatcher, 28 Lapwing, 16 Golden Plover, 28 Ringed Plover, 16 Curlew, 21 Turnstone, 9 Purple Sandpiper, 16 Snipe, 31 Redshank, 11 Common Gull, 6 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 35 Great Skua, 1 Arctic Skua (first of the year), 3 'Blue' Fulmar, 1 Cormorant, 2 Merlin, 3 Carrion Crow, 102 Skylark, 1 Chiffchaff, 3 Blackbird, 3 Fieldfare, 28 Redwing, 1 Mistle Thrush, 3 Robin, 29 Wheatear, 1 Dunnock, 9 Pied Wagtail, 1 'White' Wagtail, 176 Meadow Pipit, 20 Rock Pipit, 3 Chaffinch, 9 Brambling, 2 Twite, 3 Linnet, 2 Siskin, 1 Snow Bunting

Year list: 116
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 18th April 2024
Weather:
Rain, oftentimes heavy, until mid-afternoon, with sunny spells and showers ending the day. F4-5 E-SE
Heavy rain from daybreak scuppered census plans, but a birdable window in the mid-afternoon saw more Pink-footed Geese logged, and the first island record of Coot since 2019. Like March's Blue Tit before it, there are more Fair Isle records of Lanceolated Warbler than there are Coot...!


The second Fair Isle tick of 2024 for Acting Warden Alex Penn...! (Alex Penn)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Coot: A surprise event at Golden Water in the mid-afternoon. It was deftly hand-caught and sexed as a male, and later resighted at Easter Lother Water.


Red-throated Diver in South Harbour, gradually coming into breeding finery (Jonnie Fisk)

Sightings of note: 95 Greylag Goose, 64 Pink-footed Goose, 1 Whooper Swan, 6 Teal, 4 Common Scoter, 1 Woodpigeon, 1 Golden Plover, 41 Redshank, 2 Black-headed Gull, 5 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 2 Red-throated Diver, 1 Merlin, 4 Carrion Crow, 4 House Martin, 4 Willow Warbler, 1 Chiffchaff, 5 Blackbird, 1 Fieldfare, 8 Redwing, 5 Robin, 1 Black Redstart, 1 Dunnock, 1 'White' Wagtail, 4 Chaffinch, 6 Brambling, 4 Linnet, 1 Siskin, 1 Reed Bunting

Year list: 115
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 17th April 2024
Weather:
A calm, sunny day, with light rain showers mid-morning. F2-3 N
A welcome break from the winds, with a settled day of sun. A scattering of Willow Warblers caught flies in windless spots and after worrying us with their absence, the resident Peregrines are back and incubating a clutch in the north. A colour-ringed Starling spotted on census was a throwback to a previous project here, and revealed this bird to be nearly eight years old. The Good Shepherd's afternoon arrival brought with it our outboard motors from their winter service, ready for a season of seabird work. With all four auks back in number, Shags carrying nesting material and each geo alive with the flailing of mating Fulmars, busy days are ahead of us...


Up to two 'Blue' Fulmar are settled on the cliffs on the north of the Isle (Alex Penn)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Great Spotted Woodpecker: The resident male was back and touring the crofts of the south.


Our 'stalwart' male Great Spotted Woodpecker (left) (Jonnie Fisk)

Sightings of note: 95 Greylag Goose, 8 Pink-footed Goose, 1 Whooper Swan, 1 Wigeon, 2 Teal, 1 Common Scoter, 2 Woodpigeon, 30 Oystercatcher, 28 Lapwing, 32 Golden Plover, 95 Ringed Plover, 14 Curlew, 34 Turnstone, 4 Purple Sandpiper, 26 Snipe, 12 Redshank, 1 Black-headed Gull, 13 Common Gull, 2 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 32 Great Skua, 4 Red-throated Diver, 1 'Blue' Fulmar, 2 Cormorant, 1 Grey Heron, 1 Kestrel, 1 Peregrine, 1 Rook, 3 Carrion Crow, 277 Skylark, 5 House Martin, 8 Willow Warbler, 1 Chiffchaff, 1 Goldcrest, 10 Blackbird, 3 Fieldfare, 27 Redwing, 9 Robin, 33 Wheatear, 2 Dunnock, 16 Pied Wagtail, 3 'White' Wagtail, 290 Meadow Pipit, 35 Rock Pipit, 3 'Scandinavian' Rock Pipit, 4 Chaffinch, 5 Brambling, 9 Twite, 9 Linnet, 10 Siskin, 3 Snow Bunting

Year list: 114
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 16th April 2024
Weather:
Sunny spells and a biting north-easterly wind, with scattered showers and hail throughout the day. F5-7 NW
A cold blast of air kept things quiet again on census, but Bonxie numbers continue to rise as pairs settle on the hills and parks for the breeding season. The resident pair of South Light Snow Bunting were joined by a third, and a flock of Golden Plover continue to roam around the south of the Isle.


Single figures of Willow Warbler have made it to the Isle (Alex Penn)

Sightings of note: 105 Greylag Goose, 6 Pink-footed Goose, 1 Whooper Swan, 2 Teal, 1 Common Scoter, 2 Woodpigeon, 45 Oystercatcher, 23 Lapwing, 38 Golden Plover, 101 Ringed Plover, 20 Curlew, 54 Turnstone, 6 Purple Sandpiper, 22 Snipe, 43 Redshank, 1 Black-headed Gull, 12 Common Gull, 8 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 36 Great Skua, 5 Red-throated Diver, 1 'Blue' Fulmar, 1 Cormorant, 1 Sparrowhawk, 2 Merlin, 1 Peregrine, 4 Carrion Crow, 298 Skylark, 1 Swallow, 1 House Martin, 1 Willow Warbler, 7 Chiffchaff, 1 Blackcap, 3 Blackbird, 14 Fieldfare, 25 Redwing, 1 Mistle Thrush, 9 Robin, 59 Wheatear, 3 Dunnock, 5 Pied Wagtail, 2 'White' Wagtail, 291 Meadow Pipit, 23 Rock Pipit, 4 Chaffinch, 3 Brambling, 10 Twite, 9 Linnet, 1 Goldfinch, 1 Siskin, 3 Snow Bunting, 1 Yellowhammer


Bonxie (Luke Marriner)

Year list: 114
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 15th April 2024
Weather:
A morning of intermittent light rain, with sun in the afternoon, and cooler temperatures. F3-4 N/NE (from a pressure system to the south).
With no reappearance of yesterday's White-tailed Eagle, the Fair Isle Fulmars and Bonxies could rest easy once again. The silver lining of a slightly damp census was calm conditions for the first time in a decent while, though any arrivals were in short supply. The first Grasshopper Warbler of the year was in the garden at Chalet, and other points of interest came from the regular 'Blue' Fulmar on the cliffs at Furse, a Ring Ouzel at Mast and a few 'White' Wagtails.


This smart male Stonechat has been a new arrival in the last couple of days (Alex Penn)

Sightings of note: 79 Greylag Goose, 6 Pink-footed Goose, 1 Whooper Swan, 1 Wigeon, 11 Teal, 2 Common Scoter, 11 Woodpigeon, 1 Collared Dove, 55 Oystercatcher, 27 Lapwing, 26 Golden Plover, 73 Ringed Plover, 21 Curlew, 92 Turnstone, 21 Purple Sandpiper, 30 Snipe, 24 Redshank, 4 Black-headed Gull, 16 Common Gull, 4 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 13 Great Skua, 1 'Blue' Fulmar, 1 Cormorant, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Short-eared Owl, 3 Merlin, 3 Carrion Crow, 273 Skylark, 5 Swallow, 3 House Martin, 1 Willow Warbler, 4 Chiffchaff, 1 Grasshopper Warbler (first of the year), 2 Blackcap, 1 Goldcrest, 11 Blackbird, 17 Fieldfare, 50 Redwing, 1 Mistle Thrush, 10 Robin, 1 Black Redstart, 1 Stonechat, 50 Wheatear, 3 Dunnock, 9 Pied Wagtail, 4 'White' Wagtail, 318 Meadow Pipit, 24 Rock Pipit, 7 Chaffinch, 1 Brambling, 8 Twite, 5 Linnet, 2 Goldfinch, 1 Siskin, 1 Snow Bunting, 1 Yellowhammer


Pigeons and doves (apart from the resident and ubiquitous Rock Dove) are furtive migrants to the Isle. Small numbers of Woodpigeons are present in the spring, often looking uncharacteristically 'wild' as they flock around the wild cliffs of the west coast's geos (Alex Penn)

Year list: 114
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 14th April 2024
Weather:
A mixed bag of sunny and overcast conditions, and pleasantly warm when out of the wind. Rain in the evening. F7 SW.
Another quieter census for passerine migrants was enlivened by a White-tailed Eagle, which roused the modest numbers of returning Bonxies into action, as well as the local Ravens and Peregrine. The species has become much more regular in recent years, and this is the 33rd modern record. White-tailed Eagles bred on Fair Isle until the early/mid 19th Century, with a failed attempt to reintroduce them back here in 1968.) Elsewhere a few Pink-footed Geese, Redwing and a couple of Snow Bunting linger, with another 'White' Wagtail logged. With Golden Orioles, Mediterannean herons and more turning up on bird observatories to the south of us, we watch the weather patterns with interest...


Today's White-tailed Eagle makes 2024 the 6th consecutive year to record this species (Alex Penn)

HIGHLIGHTS:
White-tailed Eagle: An adult appeared around the cliffs at Easter Lother, before doing a short tour from the north to Vaasetter, back to Ward Hill, to last be seen around Sheep Rock.
Great Spotted Woodpecker: Still present and making forays between nut buffets at Shirva and Haa.

Sightings of note: 86 Greylag Goose, 12 Pink-footed Goose, 1 Whooper Swan, 1 Wigeon, 8 Teal, 1 Common Scoter, 2 Red-breasted Merganser, 6 Woodpigeon, 44 Oystercatcher, 28 Lapwing, 33 Golden Plover, 123 Ringed Plover, 17 Curlew, 70 Turnstone, 35 Purple Sandpiper, 19 Snipe, 17 Redshank, 9 Black-headed Gull, 21 Common Gull, 3 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 15 Great Skua, 1 'Blue' Fulmar, 1 Sparrowhawk, 3 Merlin, 1 Peregrine, 3 Carrion Crow, 262 Skylark, 8 Swallow, 4 House Martin, 2 Chiffchaff, 11 Blackbird, 5 Fieldfare, 38 Redwing, 4 Song Thrush, 9 Robin, 1 Stonechat, 64 Wheatear, 6 Dunnock, 16 Pied Wagtail, 2 'White' Wagtail, 309 Meadow Pipit, 45 Rock Pipit, 8 Chaffinch, 13 Twite, 8 Linnet, 2 Goldfinch, 4 Siskin, 2 Snow Bunting, 1 Yellowhammer

Year list: 113
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 13th April 2024
Weather:
Another sunny start clouded over, with strong south-westerly winds and rain from mid-afternoon. F7-8 SW.
A quieter day, with rough winds once again keeping the west cliffs quiet. It is nice, however, to start to see 'real' numbers of Wheatears back on the Isle after a long hard winter of sprinting about in the dry Sahel zone of Africa. Wet and windy weather curtailed afternoon aspirations on Vaadal trap repairs, leading to much of the South Light living room lending itself to a roof panel workshop. We await a calm day...


Great Skuas seem to be among species, such as Ring Ouzels, predisposed to showing schizochrosim/partial leucism, as shown here (Luke Marriner)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Great Spotted Woodpecker: Still present at Haa.


Another oddity plumage-wise was this leucistic Skylark at Barkland (Jonnie Fisk)

Sightings of note: 90 Greylag Goose, 3 Pink-footed Goose, 1 Whooper Swan, 11 Teal, 2 Woodpigeon, 1 Moorhen, 35 Oystercatcher, 24 Lapwing, 2 Golden Plover, 101 Ringed Plover, 23 Curlew, 107 Turnstone, 9 Purple Sandpiper, 1 Woodcock, 19 Snipe, 31 Redshank, 12 Black-headed Gull, 14 Common Gull, 7 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 9 Great Skua, 3 Cormorant, 2 Merlin, 1 Rook, 3 Carrion Crow, 318 Skylark, 10 Swallow, 2 House Martin, 1 Willow Warbler, 1 Chiffchaff, 1 Blackbird, 15 Fieldfare, 28 Redwing, 1 Song Thrush, 9 Robin, 63 Wheatear, 2 Dunnock, 1 Grey Wagtail, 8 Pied Wagtail, 297 Meadow Pipit, 41 Rock Pipit, 1 'Scandinavian' Rock Pipit, 7 Chaffinch, 4 Brambling, 5 Twite, 9 Linnet, 10 Siskin, 2 Snow Bunting, 1 Yellowhammer

Year list: 112
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 12th April 2024
Weather:
Blustery again, but sunny and mild all day, with a brief calm spell in the late afternoon. F7-3 SW/S.
A quieter census, with evidence of some departures. Flocks of finches continue to pillage the feeders in Plantation, and at least one male of the Brambling flock has taken to singing in the Observatory garden over recent mornings - joined today by a singing Redwing (this species has bred on the Isle, most recently in 2020)! A Yellowhammer, trapped in Plantation, becomes the first ringed here since 2017 - Fair Isle is experiencing an odd ringing dry spell for this species, once pretty much an annual feature on the ringing list. Another section of the Vaadal Heligoland roof was repaired during some pleasant afternoon weather, and an evening roost ringing effort caught a mixed bag of species, incuding three Chiffchaffs.


Between 2020-2023, 5 Reed Bunting, 10 Lapland Bunting, 7 Little Bunting, 3 Rustic Bunting & a Snow Bunting were ringed on the Isle...but no Yellowhammer! (Alex Penn)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Great Spotted Woodpecker: Still present at Haa.

Sightings of note: 110 Greylag Goose, 18 Pink-footed Goose, 1 Whooper Swan, 1 Shelduck, 1 Wigeon, 13 Teal, 2 Common Scoter, 1 Long-tailed Duck, 1 Stock Dove, 3 Woodpigeon, 47 Oystercatcher, 25 Lapwing, 4 Golden Plover, 96 Ringed Plover, 25 Curlew, 16 Snipe, 1 Green Sandpiper, 35 Redshank, 19 Black-headed Gull, 47 Common Gull, 2 Great Skua, 1 Red-throated Diver, 1 'Blue' Fulmar, 2 Merlin, 1 Jackdaw, 2 Rook, 5 Carrion Crow, 146 Skylark, 15 Swallow, 2 House Martin, 3 Chiffchaff, 1 Goldcrest, 16 Blackbird, 1 Fieldfare, 28 Redwing, 13 Robin, 1 Stonechat, 21 Wheatear, 5 Dunnock, 11 Pied Wagtail, 244 Meadow Pipit, 26 Rock Pipit, 1 'Scandinavian' Rock Pipit, 19 Chaffinch, 8 Brambling, 8 Twite, 4 Linnet, 4 Goldfinch, 6 Siskin, 1 Snow Bunting, 1 Yellowhammer

Year list: 112
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 11th April 2024
Weather:
Wild south-westerly winds for the first half of the day, gradually decreasing to a pleasant, sunny day with mild temperatures. F7/8-4 SW.
After waking up full of enthusiasm for the day's census, the team set of fairly despondently into gale force winds tearing across the island. Once these had blown themselves out, more of the same was revealed birdwise, with a flock of migrant Golden Plover, a few Pink-footed Geese and some hirundines floating about. The first Green Sandpiper of the year was at Vaadal reservoir, as well as a new-in White Wagtail at Meadow Burn. The saga of our poor resident Whooper Swan continues; having stomped itself all the way from Suka Mire to Ringing Hut Marsh in search of food...where next?


In recent days we've seen the return of House Martins from their still as-yet unknown wintering grounds (Alex Penn)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Great Spotted Woodpecker: Still present at Haa.


Another Fair Isle day bows out with a bang...and the call of a Whimbrel, in this case! (Jonnie Fisk)

Sightings of note: 105 Greylag Goose, 12 Pink-footed Goose, 1 Whooper Swan, 4 Wigeon, 7 Teal, 1 Common Scoter, 2 Woodpigeon, 2 Collared Dove, 1 Water Rail, 40 Oystercatcher, 14 Lapwing, 38 Golden Plover, 93 Ringed Plover, 1 Whimbrel, 25 Curlew, 137 Turnstone, 32 Purple Sandpiper, 12 Snipe, 1 Green Sandpiper (first of the year), 35 Redshank, 3 Black-headed Gull, 17 Common Gull, 8 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 3 Great Skua, 1 'Blue' Fulmar, 2 Sparrowhawk, 3 Merlin, 1 Jackdaw, 1 Rook, 2 Carrion Crow, 146 Skylark, 2 Sand Martin, 12 Swallow, 4 House Martin, 1 Willow Warbler, 2 Goldcrest, 1 Ring Ouzel, 28 Blackbird, 6 Fieldfare, 23 Redwing, 7 Song Thrush, 1 Mistle Thrush, 10 Robin, 18 Wheatear, 6 Dunnock, 14 Pied Wagtail, 1 'White' Wagtail (first of the year), 190 Meadow Pipit, 43 Rock Pipit, 3 'Scandinavian' Rock Pipit, 22 Chaffinch, 6 Brambling, 16 Twite, 6 Linnet, 6 Goldfinch, 7 Siskin

Year list: 112
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 10th April 2024
Weather:
A sunny start and southerly winds, with a couple of light rain showers up to late morning. Pleasant into the late afternoon, becoming overcast and wet by evening. F5 S.
Fair Isle life felt right on today's census routes: the Bonxies are back! Still in single digits for now, but it was so good to see their barrel-chested forms cutting shapes against the skies around the hills of the north. Some Pink-footed Goose passage was logged and a Willow Warbler apiece was mined from each census area. A new spring record count for Ringed Plover was achieved, and a 'Blue' Fulmar was back on the cliffs at Furse. The Heligoland trap roof at Vaadal recieved some attention in the afternoon before the wind picked up once more.


Wheatears are now becoming daily fixtures on census (Alex Penn)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Great Spotted Woodpecker: Dismantling timber in the garden of Haa.

Sightings of note: 131 Greylag Goose, 46 Pink-footed Goose, 1 Whooper Swan, 3 Wigeon, 8 Teal, 1 Red-breasted Merganser, 1 Woodpigeon, 2 Collared Dove, 46 Oystercatcher, 29 Lapwing, 42 Golden Plover, 121 Ringed Plover, 16 Curlew, 131 Turnstone, 52 Purple Sandpiper, 20 Snipe, 33 Redshank, 5 Black-headed Gull, 15 Common Gull, 4 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 6 Great Skua, 1 Great Northern Diver, 1 'Blue' Fulmar, 1 Cormorant, 1 Sparrowhawk, 2 Merlin, 1 Jackdaw, 1 Rook, 2 Carrion Crow, 300 Skylark, 6 Swallow, 2 House Martin, 3 Willow Warbler (first of the year), 3 Chiffchaff, 1 Blackcap, 1 Goldcrest, 18 Blackbird, 8 Fieldfare, 18 Redwing, 4 Song Thrush, 16 Robin, 14 Wheatear, 6 Dunnock, 1 Grey Wagtail, 11 Pied Wagtail, 204 Meadow Pipit, 61 Rock Pipit, 4 'Scandinavian' Rock Pipit, 10 Chaffinch, 9 Brambling, 1 Greenfinch, 8 Twite, 8 Linnet, 1 Redpoll sp., 2 Goldfinch, 5 Siskin, 2 Snow Bunting, 1 Yellowhammer

Year list: 111
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 9th April 2024
Weather:
Rain all day. F4-5 N.
A bit of a washout, yet new birds were in thanks to the weekend's southerlies. It was a four-dove-day with the arrival of a Stock Dove and a Collared Dove, plus a handful more finches and the first Bar-tailed Godwit and Sand Martins of the year.


The smart male Snow Bunting continues to potter around Skadan (Jonnie Fisk)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Great Spotted Woodpecker: Once again taking refuge in the sparrow nestbox at Haa.


A sensible place to be on a wet April day (Jonnie Fisk)

Sightings of note: 7 Pink-footed Goose, 1 Whooper Swan, 2 Wigeon, 6 Teal, 3 Common Scoter, 1 Long-tailed Duck, 1 Stock Dove, 2 Woodpigeon, 1 Collared Dove (first of the year), 20 Golden Plover, 1 Bar-tailed Godwit (first of the year), 120 Turnstone, 40 Purple Sandpiper, 8 Black-headed Gull, 4 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 2 Great Skua, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Rook, 2 Carrion Crow, 2 Sand Martin (first of the year), 5 Swallow, 2 House Martin, 3 Chiffchaff, 7 Goldcrest, 12 Robin, 10 Wheatear, 5 Dunnock, 17 Chaffinch, 7 Brambling, 11 Goldfinch, 11 Siskin, 2 Snow Bunting, 1 Yellowhammer

Year list: 110
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 8th April 2024
Weather:
Sunny all day with blustery southerlies, petering out in the late afternoon. F5-7 S.
The unsettled weather continues, but brings with it a few new birds; including Pink-footed Geese, Golden Plovers and some year ticks in the forms of a Greenshank, two Whimbrel and a Great Skua, which cut 'inland' at Furse. It won't be long before our local birds are holding territory. After a bit of equipment admin for the spring's seabird season, ringing at the Observatory garden produced a few new finches and a male Blackcap, with a beautiful sunset to round off the day.


The first few hirundines of the spring have been recorded in recent days (Alex Penn)

Sightings of note: 45 Greylag Goose, 6 Pink-footed Goose, 1 Whooper Swan, 2 Wigeon, 8 Teal, 1 Red-breasted Merganser, 6 Woodpigeon, 49 Oystercatcher, 34 Lapwing, 7 Golden Plover, 45 Ringed Plover, 2 Whimbrel (first of the year), 20 Curlew, 147 Turnstone, 1 Dunlin, 112 Purple Sandpiper, 12 Snipe, 31 Redshank, 1 Greenshank (first of the year), 9 Black-headed Gull, 18 Common Gull, 5 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 1 Great Skua (first of the year), 25 Puffin, 2 Merlin, 1 Jackdaw, 1 Rook, 2 Carrion Crow, 143 Skylark, 7 Swallow, 2 House Martin, 6 Chiffchaff, 1 Blackcap, 4 Goldcrest, 1 Ring Ouzel, 35 Blackbird, 11 Fieldfare, 11 Redwing, 11 Robin, 19 Wheatear, 8 Dunnock, 14 Pied Wagtail, 201 Meadow Pipit, 33 Rock Pipit, 27 Chaffinch, 10 Brambling, 4 Twite, 5 Goldfinch, 7 Siskin, 2 Snow Bunting, 1 Reed Bunting


Early spring is a classic time for corvid passage on the Isle, with Jackdaws, Carrion & Hooded Crows, and birds like this young Rook, above, all on the move (Alex Penn)

Year list: 107
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 7th April 2024
Weather:
Sunny all day with strong southerly winds. F6 S.
A smattering of arrivals today, with more Wheatears in (including a migrant flock of six birds), the first House Martins of 2024 (second-earliest arrival ever, after 4th April 2016) and a few finches flitting around the south of the Isle. A Shelduck at Skadan, then departing north-east along the island's coast, was a scarce visitor. With the wind due to drop briefly tomorrow, we look forward to more migrants riding these airwaves towards us.


Making do on an island with no trees to drill (Luke Marriner)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Great Spotted Woodpecker: Once again taking refuge in the sparrow nestbox at Haa.

Sightings of note: 147 Greylag Goose, 1 Pink-footed Goose, 1 Whooper Swan, 1 Shelduck, 2 Wigeon, 10 Teal, 13 Woodpigeon, 47 Oystercatcher, 18 Lapwing, 2 Golden Plover, 64 Ringed Plover, 16 Curlew, 148 Turnstone, 1 Dunlin, 14 Purple Sandpiper, 1 Woodcock, 25 Snipe, 26 Redshank, 2 Black-headed Gull, 3 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 97 Puffin, 1 Sparrowhawk, 2 Merlin, 1 Jackdaw, 1 Rook, 2 Carrion Crow, 191 Skylark, 2 Swallow, 2 House Martin (first of the year), 2 Blackcap, 2 Goldcrest, 1 Ring Ouzel, 62 Blackbird, 35 Fieldfare, 33 Redwing, 15 Song Thrush, 3 Mistle Thrush, 15 Robin, 11 Wheatear, 7 Dunnock, 1 Grey Wagtail, 10 Pied Wagtail, 177 Meadow Pipit, 32 Rock Pipit, 20 Chaffinch, 5 Brambling, 4 Twite, 8 Linnet, 4 Goldfinch, 2 Siskin

Other wildlife: 1 Buff-tailed Bumblebee

Year list: 104
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 6th April 2024
Weather:
Heavy rain and gales overnight, throughout the morning and into the early afternoon. Rain ceased by late afternoon and the day ended with sunny spells. F7-8 SE.
A washout morning with winds gusting up to 47km/h led to the day's census being put on hold. The team took advantage of the Fair Isle museum being open for a well-timed visit, enjoying tales of lairds, shipwrecks and crofting families past (and very much present!) from Anne Sinclair, before viewing some of the work produced by Borghild Telnes, the artist in residence at Lower Leogh. In the afternoon, birding was sought in the more sheltered corners of the Isle, with a male Ring Ouzel at Kroga Geo and a Swallow sailing past South Light in the sun taking the prize for sightings of the day.


A smart male Ring Ouzel arrived today in the strong south-easterlies (Alex Penn)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Great Spotted Woodpecker: The resident male's head was visible as it sheltered from the weather in the Haa's sparrow nestbox, the entrance hole of which it has specifically widened...!


The Isle's Shags will have to wait for calmer conditions before their nesting ledges are safe from the waves (Jonnie Fisk)

Sightings of note: 123 Greylag Goose, 2 Wigeon, 7 Teal, 2 Woodpigeon, 15 Lapwing, 2 Golden Plover, 41 Ringed Plover, 116 Turnstone, 2 Woodcock, 28 Redshank, 8 Common Gull, 3 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 2 Puffin, 1 Merlin, 2 Carrion Crow, 1 Swallow (first of the year), 3 Chiffchaff, 1 Blackcap, 1 Ring Ouzel, 42 Blackbird, 21 Fieldfare, 35 Redwing, 9 Song Thrush, 4 Mistle Thrush, 9 Robin, 1 Stonechat, 1 Wheatear, 7 Dunnock, 1 Grey Wagtail, 2 Pied Wagtail, 12 Chaffinch, 7 Brambling, 1 Goldfinch, 2 Reed Bunting

Year list: 103
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 5th April 2024
Weather:
Cold and overcast, with sleet around midday, followed by scattered showers. F6 ESE.
The wind swung to give us a more south-easterly breeze, though it still felt cold. A Long-eared Owl was present again around Chapel and Burkle, while offshore over 300 Puffins were congregating after a few days of no records. A Woodcock was ringed at Gully and, at Da Water, the first Mallard clutch of the year was noted.


A Long-eared Owl in the garden of Burkle (Jonnie Fisk)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Great Spotted Woodpecker: The resident male found hospitality at Haa.


A second calendar-year Woodcock caught and ringed in Gully (Luke Marriner)

Sightings of note: 140 Greylag Goose, 1 Pink-footed Goose, 2 Wigeon, 19 Teal, 1 Common Scoter, 5 Woodpigeon, 32 Oystercatcher, 28 Lapwing, 47 Ringed Plover, 16 Curlew, 20 Turnstone, 3 Woodcock, 31 Snipe, 29 Redshank, 11 Common Gull, 7 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 355 Puffin, 1 Red-throated Diver, 1 Great Northern Diver, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Long-eared Owl, 2 Merlin, 2 Carrion Crow, 255 Skylark, 1 Chiffchaff, 7 Goldcrest, 62 Blackbird, 37 Fieldfare, 19 Redwing, 15 Song Thrush, 1 Mistle Thrush, 30 Robin, 1 Stonechat, 1 Wheatear, 17 Dunnock, 1 Grey Wagtail, 2 Pied Wagtail, 102 Meadow Pipit, 18 Rock Pipit, 4 Chaffinch, 3 Brambling, 7 Twite, 3 Snow Bunting, 1 Reed Bunting


Small numbers of Chaffinch remain around the crofts, feeding up before onward migration (Alex Penn)

Year list: 102
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 4th April 2024
Weather:
A cold start with north-easterly winds and light snow, dropping off as the morning progressed. Sunny spells by the afternoon. F5 NE.
Another chilly census, with few birds to show for it. Reed Buntings jumped in number and a Long-eared Owl was flushed from the Chapel plantation while the team erected mist nets across choice sites in the south.


The first Lapwing (known as Tieves' Nacket in Shetland dialect) clutch of the year was found at Da Water today (Alex Penn)

Sightings of note: 140 Greylag Goose, 1 Pink-footed Goose, 1 Whooper Swan, 14 Teal, 5 Woodpigeon, 1 Moorhen, 24 Oystercatcher, 21 Lapwing, 1 Golden Plover, 98 Ringed Plover, 14 Curlew, 101 Turnstone, 1 Dunlin, 26 Purple Sandpiper, 19 Snipe, 11 Redshank, 1 Black-headed Gull, 5 Common Gull, 7 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Long-eared Owl, 2 Merlin, 1 Jackdaw, 2 Carrion Crow, 111 Skylark, 2 Chiffchaff, 2 Goldcrest, 52 Blackbird, 40 Fieldfare, 15 Redwing, 8 Song Thrush, 4 Mistle Thrush, 19 Robin, 1 Wheatear, 8 Dunnock, 2 Grey Wagtail, 4 Pied Wagtail, 94 Meadow Pipit, 18 Rock Pipit, 1 'Scandinavian' Rock Pipit, 7 Chaffinch, 8 Brambling, 5 Twite, 2 Snow Bunting, 9 Reed Bunting

Year list: 102
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 3rd April 2024
Weather:
A Baltic gale blew in from the east coast of Norway during the morning, easing slightly as the day wore on and the sun came out. F7-8 NE.
Punishing conditions for census unsurprisingly yielded low numbers of birds, and no arrivals. The cliffs in the north, which in coming months will be covered in breeding Guillemots, were being wiped by the waves and you can't help but feel sorry for the newborn lambs entering the world on Fair Isle's north hills!


Islanders are preparing, or already busy underway, with lambing. Pictured is one of the newest additions to the Shirva flock (Jonnie Fisk)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Great Spotted Woodpecker: The resident male was sheltering from the wind at Shirva.

Sightings of note: 96 Greylag Goose, 1 Pink-footed Goose, 11 Teal, 1 Common Scoter, 1 Long-tailed Duck, 17 Woodpigeon, 1 Moorhen (found dead at Gilly Burn), 25 Oystercatcher, 17 Lapwing, 1 Golden Plover, 76 Ringed Plover, 22 Curlew, 88 Turnstone, 1 Dunlin, 3 Purple Sandpiper, 29 Snipe, 20 Redshank, 6 Common Gull, 2 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 1 Red-throated Diver, 2 Sparrowhawk, 1 Merlin, 2 Carrion Crow, 166 Skylark, 2 Chiffchaff, 5 Goldcrest, 72 Blackbird, 64 Fieldfare, 24 Redwing, 33 Song Thrush, 2 Mistle Thrush, 29 Robin, 2 Wheatear, 10 Dunnock, 3 Grey Wagtail, 2 Pied Wagtail, 81 Meadow Pipit, 10 Rock Pipit, 2 Chaffinch, 7 Brambling, 9 Twite, 1 Snow Bunting, 1 Reed Bunting

Year list: 102
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 2nd April 2024
Weather:
Overcast, with strong, cold winds and a spot of rain late morning and early evening. F6 NE.
After some cushty conditions, it was about time early spring provided challenging weather for censusing! Most birds seemed to keep a low profile in the bitter conditions, and none of the previously lingering Fair Isle rarities were logged today.


Meeting an early-April Wheatear always makes a trip into the field worthwhile (Alex Penn)

Sightings of note: 82 Greylag Goose, 1 Whooper Swan, 2 Wigeon, 18 Teal, 4 Woodpigeon, 36 Oystercatcher, 24 Lapwing, 1 Golden Plover, 61 Ringed Plover, 22 Curlew, 36 Turnstone, 1 Dunlin, 49 Purple Sandpiper, 16 Snipe, 27 Redshank, 1 Black-headed Gull, 11 Common Gull, 6 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 1 Sparrowhawk, 2 Merlin, 2 Carrion Crow, 229 Skylark, 6 Goldcrest, 104 Blackbird, 97 Fieldfare, 49 Redwing, 24 Song Thrush, 3 Mistle Thrush, 30 Robin, 5 Wheatear, 8 Dunnock, 2 Grey Wagtail, 126 Meadow Pipit, 18 Rock Pipit, 1 'Scandinavian' Rock Pipit, 6 Chaffinch, 9 Brambling, 2 Twite, 2 Snow Bunting


Redwing continue to move through Fair Isle on their epic journeys northwards (Alex Penn)

Year list: 102
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 1st April 2024
Weather:
Sunny spells with a fresher north-easterly, picking up in strength by the evening. F5 NE.
A largely cloudless, calm night and a swing in the wind direction saw a clearout on census, with much lower totals than in the recent warmer days. However, the Red-flanked Bluetail and Great Spotted Woodpecker remain, and a flock of nine Jackdaw were the highest spring count since 2008. Four Water Rail were teased from the crofts and two Sparrowhawks are bothering the resident waders and Merlin. With another sunny afternoon at the team's disposal, a large section of the winter-worn Plantation Heligoland trap was repaired.


Though their numbers have dropped compared to recent days, Goldcrests still entertain by flycatching in sheltered, sunny spots (Jonnie Fisk)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Great Spotted Woodpecker: The resident male makes it to April!
Red-flanked Bluetail: Present at Hesswalls for its fourth day.


Fair Isle Rabbits, showing the commonly-occurring black colour form (Jonnie Fisk)

Sightings of note: 109 Greylag Goose, 1 Pink-footed Goose, 1 Whooper Swan, 25 Teal, 1 Long-tailed Duck, 3 Woodpigeon, 4 Water Rail, 1 Moorhen, 39 Oystercatcher, 29 Lapwing, 1 Golden Plover, 76 Ringed Plover, 23 Curlew, 68 Turnstone, 10 Purple Sandpiper, 20 Snipe, 18 Redshank, 6 Common Gull, 4 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 7 Puffin, 1 Cormorant, 2 Sparrowhawk, 1 Merlin, 9 Jackdaw, 2 Carrion Crow, 139 Skylark, 10 Chiffchaff, 2 Blackcap, 9 Goldcrest, 70 Blackbird, 79 Fieldfare, 45 Redwing, 21 Song Thrush, 6 Mistle Thrush, 29 Robin, 5 Wheatear, 11 Dunnock, 12 Pied Watail, 123 Meadow Pipit, 20 Rock Pipit, 3 'Scandinavian' Rock Pipit, 9 Chaffinch, 8 Brambling, 6 Twite, 2 Siskin, 2 Snow Bunting, 1 Reed Bunting.

Other wildlife: 4 Buff-tailed Bumblebee

Year list: 102
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 31st March 2024
Weather:
An overcast start became another beautiful early spring day, with clear blue skies and warmth. F2-3 W.
A beautiful Easter Sunday on the Isle, with further seasonal flair provided by the first lambs around the crofts in the south and our earliest Ring Ouzel since 2012. The Red-flanked Bluetail remains on its favoured roll of wire, and Shirva hosts the regular Great Spotted Woodpecker and a Hawfinch; competing with breeding-plumaged Bramblings for sustenance. The first Puffin 'touch-downs' of the spring were noted at North Light and Gunnawark - we wish them a bumper breeding season!


The sunny weather prompted Puffins to investigate their breeding sites for the first time this year (Alex Penn)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Great Spotted Woodpecker: Still making short work of the Shirva woodstore.
Red-flanked Bluetail: Present at Hesswalls for its third day.
Hawfinch: A blue-beaked male continues to enjoy the feeders at Shirva.


One of the South Light Purple Sandpiper flock (Jonnie Fisk)

Sightings of note: 132 Greylag Goose, 1 Pink-footed Goose, 3 Wigeon, 27 Teal, 1 Common Scoter, 1 Long-tailed Duck, 10 Woodpigeon, 1 Water Rail, 37 Oystercatcher, 36 Lapwing, 3 Golden Plover, 83 Ringed Plover, 30 Curlew, 94 Turnstone, 1 Dunlin, 79 Purple Sandpiper, 2 Woodcock, 28 Snipe, 13 Redshank, 2 Black-headed Gull, 12 Common Gull, 2 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 45 Puffin, 1 Great Northern Diver, 1 'Blue' Fulmar, 2 Cormorant, 2 Merlin, 1 Peregrine, 8 Jackdaw, 2 Carrion Crow, 114 Skylark, 10 Chiffchaff, 27 Goldcrest, 1 Ring Ouzel (first of the year), 66 Blackbird, 114 Fieldfare, 31 Redwing, 44 Song Thrush, 1 Mistle Thrush, 64 Robin, 3 Wheatear, 12 Dunnock, 3 Grey Wagtail, 8 Pied Wagtail, 214 Meadow Pipit, 3 'Scandinavian' Rock Pipit, 8 Chaffinch, 5 Brambling, 1 Greenfinch, 16 Twite, 3 Linnet, 1 Mealy Redpoll, 1 Goldfinch (first of the year), 2 Siskin, 2 Snow Bunting.


Twite are a daily delight on Fair Isle - small numbers of these ground-nesting finches breed here (Luke Marriner)

Year list: 102
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 30th March 2024
Weather:
Another beautiful day, an overcast spell in the late morning giving way to prolonged sun and blue skies. F3 SE.
Another pleasant day in the field, with expectations high for the first Wheatear of the year...By 13.00hrs the deed had been done, with two at Skinner's Glig and one at Meoness - an appropiate landmark species for the 100th bird on the Fair Isle year list. Yesterday's Red-flanked Bluetail remained to brighten the day of the warden on south-east census, plus two Hawfinches were whizzing around, and the South Light Woodlark made a welcome reappearance. The team are mapping the newly-singing Fair Isle Wrens, the Raven pair at Gunnawark have chicks and a Buff-tailed Bumblebee was roused into action by the sun. An afternoon of Heligoland repairs was rounded off with a finch roost ringing session at the Observatory.


Two confiding Snow Buntings have been flanking the road to the warden's accommodation at South Light (Jonnie Fisk)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Great Spotted Woodpecker: After a few days absence, the 'overwintering' male is back.
Woodlark: Similarly, the bird which favours the South Light area, was rediscovered in the afternoon sun. It has been present since the 21st.
Red-flanked Bluetail: Yesterday's bird was still favouring the beach at Hesswalls.
Hawfinch: Two birds on the Isle, though both mobile.


Yellowhammer at Lower Leogh. Furtive migrants, presumably heading to Scandinavia for the spring (Alex Penn)


Just two pairs of Raven breed on the Isle, with newly-hatched chicks seen today (Alex Penn)

Sightings of note: 117 Greylag Goose, 1 Pink-footed Goose, 4 Wigeon, 26 Teal, 1 Tufted Duck, 1 Common Scoter, 1 Long-tailed Duck, 17 Woodpigeon, 44 Oystercatcher, 23 Lapwing, 2 Golden Plover, 57 Ringed Plover, 44 Curlew, 185 Turnstone, 1 Dunlin, 80 Purple Sandpiper, 3 Woodcock, 29 Snipe, 19 Redshank, 2 Black-headed Gull, 7 Common Gull, 4 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 6 Puffin, 1 Great Northern Diver, 1 'Blue' Fulmar, 1 Grey Heron, 1 Merlin, 2 Carrion Crow, 170 Skylark, 20 Chiffchaff, 1 Blackcap, 38 Goldcrest, 135 Blackbird, 134 Fieldfare, 63 Redwing, 61 Song Thrush, 6 Mistle Thrush, 63 Robin, 1 Stonechat, 3 Wheatear (first of the year), 26 Dunnock, 4 Grey Wagtail, 5 Pied Wagtail, 162 Meadow Pipit, 46 Rock Pipit, 5 Chaffinch, 5 Brambling, 10 Twite, 2 Linnet (first of the year), 1 Mealy Redpoll, 3 Siskin (first of the year), 2 Snow Bunting, 1 Yellowhammer, 3 Reed Bunting.

Other wildlife: 1 Buff-tailed Bumblebee. Year list: 100
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 29th March 2024
Weather:
Calm, with sun breaking through from late morning, turning into a still, warm day. F3 SE.
A glorious Good Friday to be out on census, with light south-easterlies producing another arrival of birds, and the north and west cliffs were buzzing with thrushes and small parties of Goldcrests. This decent arrival of early spring migrants was accompanied by the Isle's second ever spring Red-flanked Bluetail. Two Tufted Duck flew past South Light, the first Hawfinch and Blackcap of the year were logged, along with a handful of Long-eared Owls. Afternoon fun in the sun concerned the repair of the Gully Heligoland trap roof, with a backtrack of Fair Isle Starlings mimicking Snow Bunting, Turnstone and Wood Sandpiper...!


A Red-flanked Bluetail showing its namesake parts (Alex Penn)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Red-flanked Bluetail: A surprise find on the beach at Hesswalls before midday, consorting with Robins and present into the evening. The 28th record for the Isle, and the second in spring (previous 30th March 2014; similarly a decent day of Robin arrivals).
Hawfinch: One at Shirva mid-afternoon.


A spot of ringing included some dapper Bramblings at Plantation (Jonnie Fisk)


Census revealed double figures of migrant Woodcock, bound for northern forests (Alex Penn)

Sightings of note: 43 Greylag Goose, 1 Whooper Swan, 4 Wigeon, 24 Teal, 2 Tufted Duck (first of the year), 2 Common Scoter, 5 Woodpigeon, 34 Oystercatcher, 30 Lapwing, 98 Ringed Plover, 38 Curlew, 137 Turnstone, 1 Dunlin, 5 Purple Sandpiper, 10 Woodcock, 20 Snipe, 23 Redshank, 5 Common Gull, 2 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 1 Cormorant, 1 Grey Heron, 1 Sparrowhawk, 3 Long-eared Owl, 1 Merlin, 174 Skylark, 15 Chiffchaff, 1 Blackcap (first of the year), 48 Goldcrest, 152 Blackbird, 188 Fieldfare, 36 Redwing, 86 Song Thrush, 14 Mistle Thrush, 65 Robin, 1 Black Redstart, 19 Dunnock, 3 Grey Wagtail, 3 Pied Wagtail, 139 Meadow Pipit, 44 Rock Pipit, 3 'Scandinavian' Rock Pipit, 10 Chaffinch, 7 Brambling, 1 Greenfinch, 8 Twite, 1 Mealy Redpoll, 1 Snow Bunting, 2 Reed Bunting.

Year list: 97
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 28th March 2024
Weather:
Overcast and settled all day, with light rain in the evening. F5 SE.
The team has been in situ for over a week now and, having settled into South Light and ping-ponged a mainland cold between themselves, embarked on a full census for the first time this season. The south-easterlies produced notable numbers of migrant Goldcrests, Robins and Dunnocks, with Blackbirds taking over as thrush du jour. A drake Red-breasted Merganser, a Black Redstart and Mealy Redpoll were additions to the Fair Isle year list and no fewer than four 'Blue' Fulmar were amongst the colonies in the north.


The 6th Blue Tit to be ringed on Fair Isle (Luke Marriner)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Blue Tit: Present for its third day. Caught and ringed at Plantation late morning before returning to the comfort of the Haa peanuts.


An exciting moment as our 2024 Wardens popped their Geo Goldcrest cherry! A uniquely evocative Fair Isle scene as these 5g migrants scale the lichen-covered cliffs, watched by numerous pairs of Fulmar (Jonnie Fisk)


A dapper male Mealy Redpoll adding finch interest to a modest day of migration (Alex Penn)

Sightings of note: 81 Greylag Goose, 1 Pink-footed Goose, 4 Wigeon, 30 Teal, 1 Common Scoter, 2 Long-tailed Duck, 1 Red-breasted Merganser (first of the year), 8 Woodpigeon, 1 Water Rail, 36 Oystercatcher, 43 Lapwing, 1 Golden Plover, 93 Ringed Plover, 20 Curlew, 97 Turnstone, 2 Dunlin, 5 Woodcock, 16 Snipe, 49 Redshank, 4 Common Gull, 1 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 4 'Blue' Fulmar, 1 Grey Heron, 2 Merlin, 2 Carrion Crow, 123 Skylark, 5 Chiffchaff, 27 Goldcrest, 93 Blackbird, 25 Redwing, 51 Fieldfare, 16 Song Thrush, 4 Mistle Thursh, 28 Robin, 1 Black Redstart (first of the year), 25 Dunnock, 3 Grey Wagtail, 4 Pied Wagtail, 124 Meadow Pipit, 31 Rock Pipit, 4 Chaffinch, 2 Brambling, 1 Greenfinch, 10 Twite, 1 Mealy Redpoll (first of the year), 1 Snow Bunting, 1 Reed Bunting

Year list: 93
________________________________________________________________________________________________

27th March 2024
Weather:
Overcast all day, with heavy rain setting in by mid-afternoon. F5-6 SE.
Morning mooches around the south of the Isle allowed the team to get seconds, and even thirds, of the Blue Tit which spent most of its time in the garden of the Haa, with the odd flyby by the Great Spotted Woodpecker. Yesterday's quick afternoon patch up of Plantation and Vaadal traps allowed for a few migrants to be ringed, before rain stopped play in the afternoon.


Fair Isle's 17th Blue Tit providing colour combos rarely seen in these parts (Jonnie Fisk)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Great Spotted Woodpecker: One still around the crofts.
Woodlark: Around South Light and Utra for its seventh day.
Blue Tit: Yesterday's bird kept close proximity to the peanut feeders at the Haa, joined at one point by a Brambling.


(Jonnie Fisk)


It's been very pleasant to nonchalantly bump into our resident Woodlark when stepping out of South Light (Alex Penn)

Sightings of note: 72 Greylag Goose, 1 Pink-footed Goose, 2 Wigeon, 16 Teal, 2 Long-tailed Duck, 10 Woodpigeon, 2 Water Rail, 1 Moorhen, 3 Golden Plover, 44 Ringed Plover, 11 Curlew, 78 Purple Sandpiper, 4 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 1 Red-throated Diver, 1 Great Northern Diver, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Kestrel, 2 Carrion Crow, 2 Chiffchaff, 1 Goldcrest, 2 Song Thrush, 6 Robin, 1 Dunnock, 2 Grey Wagtail, 2 Pied Wagtail, 1 'Scandinavian' Rock Pipit, 2 Chaffinch, 1 Brambling, 6 Twite

Year list: 90
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 26th March 2024
Weather:
A fresh easterly met sunny conditions for an overall pleasant day. F5 E.
Some quiet morning's ringing at the Haven (where the resident Moorhen was caught for an ongoing national colour-ringing project) was happily interrupted with the news of a Blue Tit at Shirva. For those devotees of British birding culture and history, the four words "Fair Isle Blue Tit" carry an unironic mythic resonance that perfectly encapsulates the contrary grip some birds can hold on us when placed in a different setting. This Fair Isle mega quickly took in the crofts of Burkle and Haa and became Acting Warden Alex's first Fair Isle tick of the year! Almost certainly a Continental migrant from northern forests, this bird seemed au fait with peanut feeders - a talent it presumably picked up on its wintering grounds. Alongside the Shirva tit, the Great Spotted Woodpecker reappeared, and the Assistant Wardens took in the south-east census for the first time, followed by some afternoon Heligoland trap repairs. Happy Days!


Moorhen in the hand. Hopefully the colour ring will return some useful data to the national project for this species (Jonnie Fisk)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Great Spotted Woodpecker: The 'overwintering' male was also at Shirva.
Blue Tit: One found at Shirva by Freyja Parnaby, before school beckoned, becomes the 17th Isle record (4th in spring) and the first Blue Tit since 2020!

Sightings of note: 72 Greylag, 1 Pink-footed Goose, 15 Teal, 7 Woodpigeon, 1 Water Rail, 1 Moorhen, 88 Ringed Plover, 13 Curlew, 1 Woodcock, 1 Black-headed Gull, 5 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 1 Great Northern Diver, 1 Short-eared Owl, 1 Peregrine, 2 Carrion Crow, 3 Chiffchaff, 1 Goldcrest, 2 Song Thrush, 2 Robin, 1 Grey Wagtail, 1 Pied Wagtail, 1 'Scandinavian' Rock Pipit, 2 Chaffinch, 1 Brambling, 6 Twite, 1 Snow Bunting

Year list: 90
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 25th March 2024
Weather:
A cold north wind blew, and sunny spells soon gave way to looming opaque clouds which delivered snow by the early afternoon. The remainder of the day was calmer with bursts of sun and light showers. F5 NE.
The team traced the north census route; a chance for the Assistant Wardens to add more geos and headlands to their Fair Isle phrasebooks. Shortly into proceedings a 'Blue' Fulmar was found at Furse. Some typically acrobatic views showed it to be the same individual which spent the 2023 spring in the colony, when it was caught and ringed by the FIBO team. A Common Scoter was on the sea below, and a second 'Blue' Fulmar was looping around Wirvie. While a few thrushes flocked around the Haven and Hill Dyke, it was apparent we'd had a big clearout; similarly evidenced by the lack of any Woodcock on the hills or geos. A sorry-looking Whooper Swan was on Suka Mire and back at Buness the first Puffin of the spring was awaiting the arrival of some friends. A Great Northern Diver at South Light and a Short-eared Owl at Da Water bumped the Isle's year list, and 2024's ringing kicked off with three Blackbirds in the Obs' garden.


The 2023-ringed 'Blue' Fulmar was back for another spring among its paler cousins at Furse (Alex Penn)


AWs Jonnie & Luke dream of future finds at Troila Geo...(Alex Penn)

Sightings of note: 1 Whooper Swan, 2 Teal, 1 Common Scoter, 1 Moorhen, 9 Curlew, 3 Black-headed Gull, 1 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 1 Puffin (the earliest returning record from land since 2012), 1 Great Northern Diver (first of the year), 1 Cormorant, 1 Grey Heron, 1 'Blue' Fulmar, 1 Short-eared Owl (first of the year), 2 Jackdaw, 2 Carrion Crow, 1 Chiffchaff, 4 Song Thrush, 5 Robin, 1 Grey Wagtail, 1 Pied Wagtail, 1 Twite, 1 Snow Bunting

Year list: 89
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 24th March 2024
Weather:
A brighter, clearer day as the wind swung round to the north. Sunny spells all day with scattered showers in the afternoon. F6-5 N.
Calmer weather gave a timely window for the season's Assistant Wardens to learn the art of FIBO's south-east census route, taking in many of the crofts, burns, mires and geos under the tutleage of Acting Warden Alex Penn. As our thrush numbers drop off by the day, the Woodlark continues to call South Light home, and there was a reappearance from Fair Isle's resident Great Spotted Woodpecker.

HIGHLIGHTS:
Great Spotted Woodpecker: The 'overwintering' male was once more at Shirva.
Woodlark: Present for its fourth day around South Light.

Sightings of note: 90 Greylag Goose, 1 Pink-footed Goose, 2 Wigeon, 13 Teal, 12 Woodpigeon, 1 Water Rail, 1 Moorhen, 15 Oystercatcher, 13 Lapwing, 57 Ringed Plover, 9 Curlew, 1 Dunlin, 16 Snipe, 3 Black-headed Gull, 4 Common Gull, 4 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Merlin, 3 Jackdaw, 2 Carrion Crow, 1 Chiffchaff, 128 Blackbird, 189 Fieldfare, 83 Redwing, 4 Song Thrush, 3 Robin, 1 Dunnock, 3 Pied Wagtail, 3 Chaffinch, 3 Twite, 1 Snow Bunting, 1 Yellowhammer

Year list: 86
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 23rd March 2024
Weather:
Strong winds again with frequent passing showers, but prolonged sunny spells from the afternoon. F8 SW.
The team spent the morning inspecting the damage inflicted on the Isle's Heligoland traps at the hands of the winter storms. It was another day of tricky birding conditions, though we are rapidly running out of early-season indoor jobs! A brighter window in the afternoon allowed for more birding until the evening. After a quick hello to the South Light Woodlark, a trek along the western cliffs and Ward Hill was productive for Woodcock, which have presumably arrived with the thrushes but keep a much lower profile.

HIGHLIGHTS:
Woodlark: Present for its third day around South Light.

Sightings of note: 1 Pink-footed Goose, 2 Wigeon, 7 Teal, 10 Woodpigeon, 1 Water Rail, 1 Moorhen, 2 Golden Plover, 3 Dunlin, 9 Purple Sandpiper, 12 Woodcock, 2 Black-headed Gull, 1 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 1 Grey Heron, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Merlin, 1 Peregrine, 2 Carrion Crow, 2 Chiffchaff, 114 Blackbird, 205 Fieldfare, 105 Redwwing, 3 Song Thrush, 2 Robin, 2 Pied Wagtail, 2 Chaffinch, 6 Twite, 1 Snow Bunting, 1 Reed Bunting

Year list: 86
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 22nd March 2024
Weather:
Ripping wind and needling rain showers, some hail in the late morning. Rough all day, F9-11 SW.
Another day to challenge the grip on one's binoculars and waterproofing on garments, with conditions tough to bird in from start to finish. A few loops of the South yielded decent, though decreasing, numbers of thrushes, plus a Water Rail was at Burkle, a Mistle Thrush at Skadan, the first Greenfinch record of the year and second helpings of yesterday's Woodlark, which waddled around South Light in various states of sogginess. The corpse of a ringed Starling was collected, our data showing it to be a local bird almost ten years old.


Some massive 'White Horses' from the south of the Isle in today's wild weather (Alex Penn)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Woodlark: The individual found yesterday around the south of the Isle was again with the thrushes at South Light.

Sightings of note: 1 Pink-footed Goose, 2 Wigeon, 7 Teal, 2 Woodpigeon, 1 Water Rail, 22 Lapwing, 7 Golden Plover, 1 Woodcock, 1 Black-headed Gull, 1 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Kestrel, 2 Merlin, 3 Jackdaw, 2 Carrion Crow, 1 Chiffchaff, 1 Goldcrest, 17 Blackbird, 154 Fieldfare, 121 Redwing, 1 Song Thrush, 1 Mistle Thrush, 1 Robin, 2 Pied Wagtail, 2 Chaffinch, Greenfinch (first of the year), 1 Yellowhammer

Year list: 86
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 21st March 2024
Weather:
Frequent driving showers with sunny spells in the afternoon, and a F8 SW.
After yesterday's clement weather, the wind picked up overnight and the two new Assistant Wardens were treated to some proper Shetland conditions, complete with decorative dancing Fulmars. Many thrushes linger in the crofts, joined by a Woodlark at Utra later in the day when the weather brightened, though the wind never let up. Two Stonechat were logged in the south and a Water Rail was at Burkle.


Woodlark in between showers at South Light (Luke Marriner)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Woodlark: One mobile bird was found at Utra in the mid-afternoon. This is the 60th record of the species for Fair Isle.

Sightings of note: 141 Greylag Goose, 1 Pink-footed Goose, 2 Wigeon, 6 Teal, 1 Long-tailed Duck, 1 Woodpigeon, 1 Water Rail, 1 Moorhen, 35 Lapwing, 1 Golden Plover, 4 Dunlin, 9 Purple Sandpiper, 34 Redshank, 1 Black-headed Gull, 4 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 1 Kestrel, 3 Jackdaw, 2 Carrion Crow, 3 Song Thrush, 3 Robin, 2 Stonechat, 1 Pied Wagtail, 12 Twite, 1 Snow Bunting, 1 Yellowhammer

Year list: 85
________________________________________________________________________________________________ 20th March 2024
Weather:
Remarkably sunny and even warm, with a F5 SW.
Today's plane brought the season's Assistant Wardens Jonnie Fisk and Luke Marriner, who seemed stunned to have arrived as planned, after some mainland travel hiccups. Flocks of yesterday's thrush arrival still covered the crofts and a few Goldcrests and Chiffchaffs were inspired by the sun to show themselves in the south. Two Carrion Crows reappeared to presumably breed again on the Isle, a Pink-footed Goose was among the Greylag Geese and other migrants included two Woodcock, a Grey Wagtail and a Snow Bunting. The wintering Great Spotted Woodpecker was again flinging itself around the crofts. After unpacking at South Light, at least three Orca were seen very briefly heading south-west off South Harbour in the mid-afternoon - a complete surprise, but frustratingly fleeting; we certainly hope for better encounters with the pods this year!


Mixed thrush flock at Stackhoull, with Raeva as an imposing backdrop (Jonnie Fisk)

HIGHLIGHTS:
Great Spotted Woodpecker: The overwintering male, first ringed on the Isle in autumn 2023, continues to linger around the crofts.

Sightings of note: 1 Pink-footed Goose, 1 Wigeon, 10 Teal, 1 Common Scoter, 2 Woodpigeon, 1 Moorhen, 10 Lapwing, 6 Dunlin, 2 Purple Sandpiper, 2 Woodcock, 1 Red-throated Diver, 1 Grey Heron, 3 Jackdaw, 2 Carrion Crow, 3 Chiffchaff, 4 Goldcrest, 185 Blackbird, 230 Fieldfare, 95 Redwing, 10 Robin, 1 Grey Wagtail, 1 Pied Wagtail, 3 Twite, 1 Snow Bunting, 1 Reed Bunting

Other wildlife: ≥3 Orca

Year list: 84
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