Fair Isle Bird Observatory & Guesthouse

Latest sightings

14th August 2022
Weather:
Overcast with low cloud and force 2-3 south-easterlies
Autumn migration is slowely cranking into gear with a few more Willow warblers, and a couple of Reed Warblers at Walli Burn. The afternoon was spent re-visiting our Fulmar plots to find out which of the nest sites marked in June now have a chick.


Reed Warbler at Walli Burn, by AW Alex Penn

Sightings of note:2 Greylag Goose, 5 Teal, 1 Swift, 1 Woodpigeon, 82 Oystercatcher, 21 Lapwing, 10 Golden Plover, 47 Ringed Plover, 12 Curlew, 11 Black-tailed Godwit, 24 Turnstone, 2 Dunlin, 24 Snipe, 21 Redshank, 9 Black-headed Gull, 86 Common Gull, 5 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 1 Common Tern, 63 Arctic Tern, 5 Grey Heron, 1 Peregrine Falcon, 2 Carrion Crow, 48 Skylark, 13 Swallow, 3 Willow Warbler, 1 Chiffchaff, 1 Sedge Warbler, 2 Reed Warbler, 159 Wheatear, 17 Pied Wagtail, 9 Alba Wagtail sp., 279 Meadow Pipit, 113 Rock Pipit, 81 Twite, 2 Mealy Redpoll

Year List: 166

Other Wildlife: 4 Shetland Bee, 1 Minke Whale


Common Tern at South Light, by AW Alex Penn

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13th August 2022
Weather:
Fog most of the day with light south-easterlies
Heavy fog all morning meant yet another afternoon census. A large mixed flock of waders on the cut field at Taing kept things interesting, as did the first Merlin of the autumn.


Tufted Duck at Golden Water, by AW Alex Penn

Sightings of note:2 Greylag Goose, 1 Wigeon, 3 Teal, 1 Tufted Duck, 4 Swift, 61 Oystercatcher, 5 Lapwing, 5 Golden Plover, 45 Ringed Plover, 3 Whimbrel, 16 Curlew, 29 Black-tailed Godwit, 19 Turnstone, 1 Sanderling, 10 Dunlin, 12 Snipe, 29 Redshank, 10 Black-headed Gull, 143 Common Gull, 7 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 136 Arctic Tern, 2 Peregrine Falcon, 1 Merlin, 41 Skylark, 17 Swallow, 2 Willow Warbler, 1 Chiffchaff, 1 Sedge Warbler, 127 Wheatear, 12 Pied Wagtail, 7 Alba Wagtail sp., 159 Meadow Pipit, 97 Rock Pipit, 81 Twite, 3 Mealy Redpoll

Year List: 166

Other Wildlife: 9 Shetland Bee


Juvenile Wheatear at Smirri Geo, by AW Georgia Platt

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12th August 2022
Weather:
Overcast with light south-easterlies
Another overcast day with a quiet census. One nice bit of news is that our breeding Sedge Warblers have fledged! It's been a very good year for unusual breeding birds, with Cuckoo, Common Rosefinch and Redpoll also fledging chicks.


Sedge Warbler fledgeling, by AW Alex Penn

Sightings of note:2 Greylag Goose, 1 Teal, 1 Tufted Duck, 66 Oystercatcher, 28 Lapwing, 8 Golden Plover, 23 Ringed Plover, 7 Whimbrel, 24 Curlew, 27 Black-tailed Godwit, 19 Turnstone, 9 Dunlin, 6 Snipe, 26 Redshank, 8 Black-headed Gull, 22 Common Gull, 6 Lesser black-backed Gull, 159 Arctic Tern, 3 Peregrine Falcon, 1 Carrion Crow, 48 Skylark, 18 Swallow, 2 Willow Warbler, 2 Chiffchaff, 2 Sedge Warbler, 142 Wheatear, 13 Pied Wagtail, 3 Alba Wagtail sp., 149 Meadow Pipit, 76 Rock Pipit, 112 Twite, 3 Mealy Redpoll, 1 Lesser Redpoll

Year List: 166

Other Wildlife: 8 Shetland Bee, 1 Red Admiral Butterfly,1 Porpoise


Some more wader passage included 27 Black-tailed Godwit, by AW Alex Penn

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1 11th August 2022
Weather:
Overcast with a force 4 south-westerly wind
It was an uneventful census this morning, but some large flocks of Golden Plover and Lapwing are always nice to see and hear about the isle.


Arctic Skua fledgling, by AW Alex Penn

Sightings of note:2 Greylag Goose, 7 Teal, 1 Woodpigeon, 54 Oystercatcher, 24 Lapwing, 35 Ringed Plover, 20 Curlew, 49 Turnstone, 3 Sanderling, 1 Dunlin, 19 Snipe, 1 Green Sandpiper, 29 Redshank, 31 Common Gull, 8 Black-headed Gull, 6 Lesser black-backed Gull, 121 Arctic Tern, 1 Common Guillemot, 2 Peregrine Falcon, 51 Skylark, 19 Swallow, 1 Willow Warbler, 1 Chiffchaff, 1 Sedge Warbler, 182 Wheatear, 13 Pied Wagtail, 7 Alba Wagtail sp., 189 Meadow Pipit, 83 Rock Pipit, 112 Twite, 3 Mealy Redpoll, 1 Lesser Redpoll

Year List: 166

Other Wildlife: 5 Shetland Bee

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10th August 2022
Weather:
Force 4-6 south-westerly winds with bright sun
Sunshine in the morning made census a pleasure. Wader numbers are just beginning to pick up, and we had a couple of firsts for the Autumn in the form of a Green Sandpiper, and a Black-tailed Godwit. A guided walk on Buness in the afternoon revealed that a couple of Puffins are still carrying fish, though significant numbers have left the clifftops.

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Sheep rock from Buness in blazing sunshine, by Julia Barker

Sightings of note:2 Greylag Goose, 8 Teal, 1 Tufted Duck, 27 Lapwing, 16 Golden Plover, 46 Oystercatcher, 21 Ringed Plover, 3 Whimbrel, 13 Curlew, 1 Black-tailed Godwit, 39 Turnstone, 1 Sanderling, 2 Dunlin, 1 Green Sandipier, 29 Redshank, 18 Snipe, 17 Common Gull, 5 Lesser black-backed Gull, 223 Arctic Tern, 1 Grey Heron, 2 Carrion Crow, 70 Skylark, 1 Sand Martin, 43 Swallow (minimum count), 1 Willow Warbler, 1 Chiffchaff, 1 Blackbird, 168 Wheatear, 12 Pied Wagtail, 1 White Wagtail, 1 Alba Wagtail sp., 197 Meadow Pipit, 84 Rock Pipit, 43 Twite, 1 Mealy Redpoll

Year List: 166

Other Wildlife: 6 Shetland Bee

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9th August 2022
Weather:
Fog and drizzle with south-westerly winds, turning to sun by afternoon
A dreich morning meant we did census in the afternoon, when the fog cleared to bright sunshine. The main highlight of the day was a year tick in the form of a juvenile Common Tern in the roost off South Light.

Sightings of note: 1 Greylag Goose, 5 Teal, 1 Collared Dove, 45 Oystercatcher, 21 Lapwing, 3 Golden Plover, 29 Ringed Plover, 16 Curlew, 8 Turnstone, 6 Sanderling, 3 Dunlin, 1 Purple Sandpiper, 34 Snipe, 41 Redshank, 133 Common Gull, 22 Lesser black-backed Gull, Common Tern (First of the Year), 108 Arctic Tern, 48 Skylark, 8 Swallow, 1 Willow Warbler, 1 Chiffchaff, 1 Sedge Warbler, 1 Blackbird, 138 Wheatear, 7 Pied Wagtail, 1 White Wagtail, 4 Alba Wagtail sp., 176 Meadow Pipit, 68 Rock Pipit, 88 Twite, 1 Mealy Redpoll

Year List: 166

Other Wildlife: 14 Shetland Bee ________________________________________________________________________________________________

8th August 2022
Weather:
Fog and drizzle with south-westerly winds
No census today as it rained consistently most of the day. Some more wader passage, including a flock of 26 Lapwing, presumably migrants.

Sightings of note: 1 Greylag Goose, 4 Teal, 1 Tufted Duck, 2 Swift, 26 Lapwing, 8 Golden Plover, 2 Sanderling, 3 Dunlin, 1 Black-headed Gull, 31 Common Gull, 75 Arctic Tern, 3 Common Guillemot

Year List: 165

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7th August 2022
Weather:
Sun and showers with force 4 south-westerlies
Autumn census was off to a good start today with two year ticks - a Grey Phalarope and a Sooty Shearwater! There are also large numbers of juvenile breeding passerines, including Wheatears all along the roads and hundreds of Meadow Pipits in the North.
Grey Phalarope in Muckle Uri, by AW Alex Penn

HIGHLIGHTS:
Grey Phalarope: At Muckle Uri
Sooty Shearwater: Off South Lighthouse

Sightings of note: 1 Greylag Goose, 4 Teal, 1 Tufted Duck, 1 Swift, 66 Oystercatcher, 27 Lapwing, 1 Golden Plover, 43 Ringed Plover, 16 Curlew, 53 Turnstone, 3 Sanderling, 4 Dunlin, 20 Purple Sandpiper, 28 Snipe, 29 Redshank, 1 Black-headed Gull, 15 Common Gull, 9 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 184 Arctic Tern, 1 Peregrine Falcon, 1 Carrion Crow, 57 Skylark, 13 Swallow, 1 Willow Warbler, 201 Wheatear, 1 Tree Sparrow, 14 Pied Wagtail, 2 White Wagtail, 1 Alba Wagtail sp., 203 Meadow Pipit, 94 Rock Pipit, 83 Twite, 1 Mealy Redpoll, 1 Lesser Redpoll
Year List: 165

Other Wildlife: 3 Shetland bee, 1 White-tailed Bumblebee
Ringed Plover on Hoini, by Ranger Holly Pickett

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24th July - 5th August 2022
Weather:
Sunny spells, some fog and rain, and mostly force 3-5 south-westerly winds
Latest sightings is back after a brief interlude as the team have been off Fair Isle. We are all now back for the Autumn and ready to start census again! The big news on the bird front is that we have had Common Rosefinch breeding for the first time ever, and they have successfully fledged a chick ! They nested in the Obs garden but the juvanile is now roaming the isle.
Breeding Common Rosefinches!! by AW Alex Penn

The Auks are leaving the cliffs now and many of the other seabirds are close to fledging. Autumn is definately on the way with wild Angelica springing up all over the isle and the first few juvanile Willow Warblers trickling through.


Wild Angelica and other wildflowers in Boini Mire, by Ranger Holly Pickett

Sightings of note: 2 Teal, 1 Tufted Duck, 1 Shoveler, 2 Swift, 1 Cuckoo, 1 Golden Plover, 5 Whimbrel, 15 Turnstone, 32 Knot, 3 Sanderling, 8 Dunlin, 4 Purple Sandpiper, 7 Redshank, 1 Greenshank, 1 Black-headed Gull, 140 Common Gull, 1 Red-throated Diver, 8 Storm Petrel, 1 Grey Heron, 1 Kestrel, 2 Peregrine Falcon, 1 Carrion Crow, 11 Swallow, 1 Willow Warbler, 2 Chiffchaff, 1 Sedge Warbler, 2 Common Rosefinch, 2 Mealy Redpoll, 1 Lesser Redpoll, 13 Siskin
Year List: 163

Other Wildlife: Shetland bee, Small Tortoiseshell
Swift at Wirvie, by AW Alex Penn

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15th - 23rd July 2022
Weather:
Sunny spells with mostly force 2-3 north-westerlies
We have had some gorgeous sunshine and light winds for the first time in what feels like months! This allowed perfect weather for the annual puffin feed watch, as well as continued seabird monitoring. Puffins are bringing in sizeable beakfulls of Rockling and Sandeel, while the Guillemots and Razorbills have nearly all fledged from the cliffs! The Arctic Skuas at Gilsetter have fledged and are practicing their pirate-skills on unsuspecting Rock Doves


Puffins by their numbered burrows during the feed watch at Roskillie, by AW Alex Penn


Puffin with Rockling, by Ranger Holly Pickett


Fledgeling Arctic Skua, by AW Alex Penn

The weather reached an all time high of 22.6C on the 19th , and the weather remained balmy (for Fair Isle!) for us to take part in Sheep Hill. The Caa of the hill sheep in the north of the isle is a community event and the Obs staff were keen to get stuck in.


Clipping Sheep, by AW Georgia Platt

Autumn does seem to be on the way. The first bright green juv. Willow Warbler was sighted on the 19th, and numbers of Knot, Redshank and other waders are growing around the shoreline.


Juvenile Willow Warbler at Chapel Plantation, by AW Alex Penn

A few Highlights as well this week! A Pomerine Skua from the Good Shepherd was a year tick and a Hobby is an exciting Shetland rarity! HIGHLIGHTS:
Quail: At Midway on the 17th
Pomarine Skua: From Good Shepherd on the 19th
Hobby: At Setter on the 22nd

Sightings of note: 1 Greylag Goose, 2 Swift, 1 Collared Dove, 1 Golden Plover, 2 Whimbrel, 20 Turnstone, 3 Sanderling, 1 Dunlin, 15 Redshank, 61 Black-headed Gull, 1 Red-throated Diver, 2 Storm Petrel, 1 Manx Shearwater, 1 Cormorant, 1 Grey Heron, 2 Peregrine Falcon, 2 Carrion Crow, 10 Swallow, 1 House Martin, 1 Willow Warbler, 3 Chiffchaff, 2 Sedge Warbler, 1 Blackbird, 2 Mealy Redpoll, 1 Redpoll sp., 13 Siskin
Year List: 163


Fulmar Chick – look at that ball of fluff! by Alex Colwell

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10th - 14th July 2022
Weather:
Mostly force 3-5 south-westerly winds, reaching force 7, with fog and rain showers
Despite strong winds and fog, there was a small flurry of early returning waders, and passerines at the beginning of the week. An unexpected highlight has a fledgeling cuckoo which appeared in the fog on the 11th. It still had very juvenile plumage, paddle-like wings and was begging from Meadow Pipit 'parents', so must have fledged on the isle. This is the first record of breeding Cuckoo since 2003!


Cuckoo fledgeling at the solar panels, by AW Alex Penn

In the lulls in the wind we were able to get out and continue observational seabird monitoring. Guillemots, Razorbills and Arctic Terns are all fledging, while Gannet chicks are getting big!



There are Tirrick (Arctic Tern) chicks of all sizes in the colony at the moment, by AW Georgia Platt

A benefit of the strong westerly winds and big swells has been some great beachcombing finds. A short walk along South Haven beach on the 12th revealed large numbers of Buoy Barnacles, a scattering of Goose Barnacles and few By-the-wind Sailors (Valella valella).


By-the-wind Sailor on South Haven, by AW Alex Penn


Family of Rock Pipits in Steensi Geo, by Ranger Holly Pickett

Sightings of note: 1 Greylag Goose, 1 Red-breasted Merganser, 1 Cuckoo (fledged juv), 1 Woodpigeon, 1 Purple Sandpiper, 1 Golden Plover, 1 Whimbrel, 2 Turnstone, 3 Knot, 1 Dunlin, 36 Redshank, 18 Black-headed Gull, 15 Lesser black-backed Gull, 1 Red-throated Diver, 1 Grey Heron, 2 Peregrine Falcon, 3 Sand Martin, 4 Swallow, 1 Willow Warbler, 2 Chiffchaff, 2 Sedge Warbler, 2 Blackcap, 3 Blackbird, 2 Mealy Redpoll, 1 Lesser Redpoll, 10 Siskin

Year List: 162

Other Wildlife: 1 Magpie Moth, 1 Silver Y


Knot at Mid Geo, by AW Alex Penn

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4th - 9th July 2022
Weather:
Force 3-5 westerly winds with fog and rain showers
With wind and rain continuing to slow down observational seabird work, we are definitely missing out on the heatwave the rest of the UK seems to be experiencing. Despite this, we did the annual Guillemot feed watch on Tuesday. Lots of large Gadoids were seen being brought in which is a positive sign! Thanks also to David Pickett for the help with this, we don't have volunteers this season so your time was invaluable!

In other news, we took part in Fair Isle Wildlife Day, organised by Martha Thompson, DR MPA Officer. This allowed some of the us to demonstrate some of the ways the community can get involved in citizen science projects, and show the kind of research that goes on a daily basis. If any visitors are keen to get involved in Shorewatch cetacean watches, or cataloguing the shoreline biology of Fair Isle, don't hesitate to ge in touch and we can link you up with the right people! Other birds are still rather thin on the ground. A Common Scoter at Furse on the 7th brightened things up a bit although sadly not a year tick!



Demonstrating the Shorewatch method (See WDC website for more info), by Head Teacher Gillian Maxwell

Sightings of note: 1 Common Scoter, 1 Dunlin, 1 Purple Sandpiper, 20 Redshank, 1 Black-headed Gull, 23 Common Gull, 1 Manx Shearwater, 1 Grey Heron, 1 Kestrel, 2 Chiffchaff, 1 Blackcap, 2 Mealy Redpoll, 9 Siskin

Year List: 162

Other Wildlife: Shetland Bee


Meadow Pipit nest on Ward Hill, by David Pickett

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25th June - 3rd July 2022
Weather:
Mid to light south-westerlies with some fog and rain showers
It's been a quiet week for us on Fair Isle, as COVID in the team, fog, and Avian Influenza have prevented a chunk of monitoring work. The big news, however, is that work has begun on building the new Obs. Keep an eye on our social media for updates!
Building supplies and workmen for the new Obs have made North Haven a hive of activity, by AW Alex Penn

A few more birds have been about, including a year tick of Bar-tailed Godwit, a large flock of siskin, and a juvenile Stonechat trapped in Plantation.


Juvenile Stonechat in the hand, by AW Alex Penn

We have also been treated to a visit by a couple of tall ships in the harbour, adding to the hustle and bustle. Ranger Holly took one crew of nine for a guided walk up to North Light, and in exchange was recieved lunch on board (and a very generous donation to the Obs - Thank you!!)
Guided walk with the Ranger looking at some Arctic Skuas, by David Pickett

Sightings of note: 8 Greylag Goose, 1 Teal, 2 Tufted Duck, 3 Swift, 1 Cuckoo, 2 Whimbrel, 1 Woodpigeon, 2 Golden Plover, 44 Curlew, 1 Bar-tailed Godwit (first of the year), 1 Dunlin, 16 Redshank, 1 Greenshank, 8 Black-headed Gull, 88 Common Gull, 10 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 1 Great Northern Diver, 1 Storm Petrel, 3 Grey Heron, 1 Kestrel, 2 Peregrine Falcon, 9 Swallow, 1 House Martin, 1 Willow Warbler, 3 Chiffchaff, 1 Sedge Warbler, 1 Blackcap, 1 Stonechat, 2 Mealy Redpoll, 21 Siskin

Year List: 162

Other Wildlife: Shetland Bee, Silver y, Magpie Moth, Painted Lady, 4 Harbour Porpoise (minumum count)


Sunset off Steensi Geo, by Ranger Holly Pickett

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20th - 24th June 2022
Weather:
Strong south-westerlies became force 3-4 south-easterlies with low cloud
At last a lull in the weather allowed us to fit in the last Guillemot population counts and continue observational monitoring of the seabirds. It's peak hatching time for many of the species, and the cliffs are a bustle of activity.
The Puffins on Buness are getting increasingly tame, this one had a nibble on the bottom of my telescope, by Ranger Holly Pickett

Birding has been a little more fruitful as well, with some nice sightings including a Black Redstart at Skerryholm on the 22nd, a Marsh Warbler and a fantastic count of six common Swift on the 23rd, as well as two Tufted Duck on Da Water today (24th). A Spanish ringed Dunlin was also spotted at the Haven by Alex, presumably ringed on wintering grounds on the Villaviciosa estuary.

Spanish Ringed Dunlin, by AW Alex Penn

On Wednesday (22nd), Holly (Ranger) continued working with the school to help make their garden as wildlife-friendly as possible. We Planted some Willow wands pruned from Plantation Heligoland trap. The hope is these will grow to form a bit of a windbreak and be able to be weaved in together as the grow. Birds and insects will enjoy the cover and there's potential for some good dens for the bairns!


Planting Willow, by Head Teacher Gillian Maxwell

HIGHLIGHTS:
Marsh Warbler: In Plantation on the 23rd

Sightings of note: 8 Greylag Goose, 2 Tufted Duck, 2 Red-breasted Merganser, 6 Swift, 3 Woodpigeon, 1 Collared Dove, 5 Dunlin, 5 Redshank, 1 Black-headed Gull, 6 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 1 Red-throated Diver, 5 Storm Petrel, 1 Manx Shearwater, 4 Peregrine Falcon, 2 Carrion Crow, 4 Swallow, 5 House Martin, 6 Chiffchaff, 2 Sedge Warbler, 1 Garden Warbler, 1 Blackcap, 2 Blackbird, 1 Spotted Flycatcher, 1 Black Redstart , 1 Dunnock, 2 Mealy Redpoll, 1 Redpoll sp., 2 Siskin

Year List: 161

Other Wildlife: Shetland Bee


Male Wheater singing amongst the Thrift that carpets the isle, by AW Alex Penn

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15th - 19th June 2022
Weather:
Light south-easterlies gave way to force 7 (gusting 8-9) south-westerly winds by weekend, with mixed sunny spells all week
On Wednesday and Thursday we fitted in all the seabird work we could before the weather went downhill again. This meant Guillemot population counts both days, then Wednesday afternoon was taken up with a combination of mapping the remaining Arctic Skua nests and Guillemot productivity monitoring.


The first Guillemot chick has hatched at Pietron, by Ranger Holly Pickett

Thursday afternoon was even busier, and we squeezed in a partial count of the Arctic Tern colony (also their first chick!) before heading down Easter Lother for the next Razorbill visit. We ringed a number of chicks and saw some adults bringing in impressive beakfulls of Greater Sandeels. Unfortunately this will be our last seabird handling work for the foreseeable future due to the ongoing outbreak of Avian Influenza.



Razorbill chick with both parents on Easter Lother, by AW Georgia Platt

The weekend was wild, with huge swells and gale-force winds. As a result, observational work wasn't possible and we spent a couple of days catching up on the week's admin and watching the sea in awe.
Waves breaking over Da Skerry, by Ranger Holly Pickett

By Sunday, it had calmed enough to do some birding around the crofts and the less-precarious seabird monitoring. We were even able to ring some gorgeous Curlew chicks at Da Water in the morning.


Curlew chicks at Da Water, by AW Georgia Platt

HIGHLIGHTS:
Canada Goose: 2 settled with Greylags at Da Water on the 16th

Sightings of note: 22 Greylag Goose, 1 Cuckoo, 1 Woodpigeon, 1 Collared Dove, 3 Dunlin, 3 Redshank, 8 Black-headed Gull, 11 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 1 Great Northern Diver, 1 Manx Shearwater, 1 Kestrel, 2 Peregrine Falcon, 1 Carrion Crow, 7 Swallow, 1 House Martin, 4 Chiffchaff, 2 Sedge Warbler, 1 Garden Warbler, 2 Whitethroat, 1 Blackbird, 2 Spotted Flycatcher, 1 Dunnock, 2 Linnet, 2 Mealy Redpoll, 20 Siskin

Year List: 161

Other Wildlife: Shetland Bee


Razorbill chick in the hand at Easter Lother, by AW Georgia Platt

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13th - 14th June 2022
Weather:
Mostly overcast with force 4 westerlies moving to south-westerlies
A couple more days of seabird fieldwork with three year ticks worth a mention. A Shoveler on Da Water on Monday was followed by a Canada Goose at Utra Scrape today. This evening a stunning summery Little Gull was amongst the Kittiwakes at South Harbour, roundng a busy day off nicely. Cruise ship passengers enjoyed some of the first Puffins carrying healthy beakfulls of Sandeels this afternoon.


Little Gull amongst Kittiwakes - what a beauty!, by AW Alex Penn

HIGHLIGHTS:
Quail: Singing at Setter on the 13th
Canada Goose: At Utra Scrape on the 14th
Little Gull: In Kittiwake roost at South Harbour on the 14th


A valuable year tick in the form of a Canada Goose, by AW Alex Penn

Sightings of note: 6 Greylag Goose, 1 Shoveler (First of the Year), 1 Red-breasted Merganser, 1 Woodpigeon, 1 Golden Plover, 1 Dunlin, 1 Common Sandpiper, 2 Redshank, 10 Black-headed Gull, 19 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 1 Great Northern Diver, 1 Peregrine Falcon, 7 Swallow, 7 House Martin, 2 Chiffchaff, 1 Sedge Warbler, 1 Garden Warbler, 1 Whitethroat, 1 Blackbird, 2 Common Rosefinch, 2 Mealy Redpoll

Year List: 161

Other Wildlife: Shetland Bee


Adult summer Little Gull, by AW Alex Penn

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7th - 12th June 2022
Weather:
Strong (force 4-6) southerly winds all week with sun, turning cloudy by the weekend
As census has finished for the spring and we are deep into seabird work, Latest Sightings will be a wee update every five days with just the peak counts of migrants (unless we have a mega day!). The week has consisted of counting Guillemot and Fulmars, as well as regular monitoring of productivity plots for Guillemots, Gannets, Shags and Kittiwakes. On Wednesday (8th), we got over to Greenholm in our new dingy for the first Puffin visit. This involved reaching into their burrows (known as 'grovelling') to assess occupancy. There are a few very cute chicks already, while the majority of burrows contained an adult on an egg.


Alex and Holly checking Puffin Burrows with South Light in the background, by AW Georgia Platt

The cruise ship on Friday was cancelled, so we took the chance to begin mapping Arctic Skua nests around the island. The weather only deteriorated over the weekend, so with no cruise ships and unable to work on the cliffs, we had a quiet couple of days catching up on odd jobs and admin. Birds other than seabirds have been rather thin on the ground. A Hawfinch, a Marsh Warbler, a singing Quail and a couple of Common Rosefinches were highlights in a rather quiet week.


Brown Common Rosefinch at Quoy, by AW Alex Penn

HIGHLIGHTS:
Quail: Singing east of Burkle on the 9th
Osprey: North-east over Shirva on the 9th
Marsh Warbler: At Shirva on the 8th
Hawfinch: Female at the Obs on the 9th

Sightings of note: 23 Greylag Goose, 1 Teal, 1 Long-tailed Duck, 1 Red-breasted Merganser, 1 Cuckoo, 1 Woodpigeon, 1 Collared Dove, 3 Whimbrel, 1 Dunlin, 2 Redshank, 3 Black-headed Gull, 17 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 1 Great Northern Diver, 4 Manx Shearwater, 1 Cormorant, 2 Peregrine Falcon, 3 Carrion Crow, 8 Swallow, 2 House Martin, 3 Willow Warbler, 5 Chiffchaff, 2 Sedge Warbler, 2 Garden Warbler, 1 Whitethroat, 3 Blackbird, 2 Spotted Flycatcher, 1 Dunnock, 2 Common Rosefinch, 2 Mealy Redpoll, 2 Siskin

Year List: 158

Other Wildlife: Shetland Bee, Large White Butterfly (8th), 2 Bull Orca distant off Da Skerry, Pres. Hulk and Nótt (9th)


A pair of Mealy Redpoll have been around the Obs for a few days, and the male is blindingly bright!, by AW Alex Penn

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6th June 2022
Weather:
Sun with a force 3 north-easterly wind
A beautiful day to crack on with some seabird work. The day began with AWs Georgia and Alex decending the via ferrata at Easter Lother to carry out the first Razorbill visit. In the afternoon we counted Guillemot and Fulmar population plots. Very few new birds in as spring migration draws to a close, but the Red-rumped Swallow remained around Gilsetter for a second day.


Mapping Razorbill nest sites at Easter Lother boulder beach, by AW Alex Penn

HIGHLIGHTS:
Red-rumped Swallow: Still at Gilsetter

Sightings of note: 1 Greylag Goose, 1 Long-tailed Duck, 1 Wood Pigeon, 2 Collared Dove, 2 Golden Plover, 2 Whimbrel, 2 Redshank, 10 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 1 Kestrel, 1 Peregrine Falcon, 1 Carrion Crow, 5 Swallow, 1 Chiffchaff, 1 Willow Warbler, 2 Sedge Warbler, 1 Blackcap, 2 Whitethroat, 1 Blackbird, 1 Redwing, 2 Spotted Flycatcher

Year List: 158

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5th June 2022
Weather:
Sunny spells with a force 2 WNW wind dropping to a force 1 easterly by evening
It was an early morning for the team as we completed the final Breeding Bird Survey of the season. The rest of the day was spent with seabird monitoring work. The best sighting was surely a Red-rumped Swallow (15th for Fair Isle), which remained around Gilsetter amongst a large number of common hirundines and swifts for most of the day. Despite circulating rumours, the White-throated Needletail seen 65nm off Duncansby Head yesterday evening hasn't made it closer to Fair Isle waters.


Red-rumped Swallow pausing briefly on a fence, by AW Alex Penn

HIGHLIGHTS:
Red-necked Phalarope:Calling over North Light
Red-rumped Swallow: Seen first at the Havens then spent the day at Gilsetter
Marsh Warbler: At the Haa
Icterine Warbler: At Brecks

Sightings of note: 6 Greylag Goose, 1 Long-tailed Duck, 3 Swift, 2 Wood Pigeon, 3 Whimbrel, 7 Dunlin, 3 Redshank, 1 Black-headed Gull, 10 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 1 Great Northern Diver, 2 Cormorant, 1 Kestrel, 2 Peregrine Falcon, 1 Sand Martin, 17 Swallow, 8 House Martin, 2 Sedge Warbler, 2 Chiffchaff, 2 Blackcap, 2 Whitethroat

Year List: 158

Other Wildlife: Shetland Bee, 2 Harbour Porpoise at North Light


Absolutely flat calm day to receive the Ortelius cruise ship, by Ranger Holly Pickett

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4th June 2022
Weather:
Sunshine all day and a force 3 south-westerly wind
The most excitng bird of the day was an absolutely pristine leucistic Starling found by AW Georgia, although a bit of a shock at first! A Storm Petrel seen off the Good Shepherd was also a nice year tick. Meanwhile, a female Bluethroat and Icterine Warbler added interest to the quietest census for a while. We spent the afternoon carrying out the first Guillemot and Fulmar population counts of the season, so with all the walking (over 22,000 steps each), and counting we truly earned our evening beer!


Leucistic Starling - bet that got the pulse racing for a second! by AW Georgia Platt


Snipe at Busta, by Ranger Holly Pickett

HIGHLIGHTS:
Icterine Warbler: One in Plantation
Bluethroat: Female at Shalstane


Female Bluethroat at Shalstane, by AW Georgia Platt

Sightings of note: 5 Greylag Goose, 2 Wigeon, 1 Long-tailed Duck, 2 Wood Pigeon, 61 Oystercatcher, 18 Lapwing, 48 Ringed Plover, 2 Whimbrel, 12 Curlew, 6 Dunlin, 5 Snipe, 3 Redshank, 4 Common Gull, 3 Lesser Black-backed Gull, Storm Petrel (First of the year), 2 Peregrine Falcon, 2 Carrion Crow, 64 Skylark, 5 Swallow, 2 House Martin, 1 Willow Warbler, 4 Chiffchaff, 3 Blackcap, 2 Whitethroat, 2 Blackbird, 1 Redwing, 3 Spotted Flycatcher, 63 Wheatear, 1 Dunnock, 5 Pied Wagtail, 1 White Wagtail, 82 Meadow Pipit, 56 Rock Pipit, 29 Twite

Year List: 156

Other Wildlife: 6 Shetland Bee


Puffins crowding the cliffs in the sun, by Ranger Holly Pickett

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3rd June 2022
Weather:
Sunny spells with a force 4 north-westerly wind
For Holly (FI Ranger) the day started with some rock pooling in Kirki Geo with the bairns and the valuable expertise of naturalist Nick Riddiford. Three species of crab (Shore, Velvet Swimmer, and Edible) were found to high excitement, as well as a vicious set of Monkfish teeth. Meanwhile, AWs Alex and Georgia carried out a number of jobs necessary for the seabird season which is now upon us. The afternoon was filled with seabird monitoring and birding around the crofts, with a similar selection of common migrants and scarcities to yesterday.


The Fair Isle School Expeditionary Force explore depths of Kirki Geo, by Head Teacher Gillian Maxwell

HIGHLIGHTS:
Quail: One singing at the Cemetery
Osprey: North over Shirva
Icterine Warbler: 4 - at Schoolton, Burkle, the Obs, and Lower Leogh

Sightings of note: 1 Greylag Goose, 1 Long-tailed Duck, 2 Wood Pigeon, 1 Golden Plover, 1 Turnstone, 5 Dunlin, 2 Redshank, 2 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 1 Short-eared Owl, 5 Swallow, 1 House Martin, 2 Willow Warbler, 3 Chiffchaff, 1 Sedge Warbler, 2 Blackcap, 5 Whitethroat, 1 Blackbird, 7 Spotted Flycatcher, 1 White Wagtail, 1 Common Rosefinch, 14 Twite, 2 Mealy Redpoll

Year List: 155

Other Wildlife: 6 Shetland Bee, 1 Buff-tailed Bumblebee


Guillemot monitoring at Da Swadin, by Ranger Holly Pickett

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2nd June 2022
Weather:
Cloudy with a force 4 north-westerly wind
An overcast day but with a nice selection of scarce migrants including a female Bluethroat, gorgeous red male Common Rosefinch, and a couple of lingering Red-backed Shrikes. A third Cuckoo for the season was also netted at the Obs along with a new Icterine Warbler.


An insanely bright Common Rosefinch at Stackhoull, by AW Alex Penn


Red-backed Shrike at Lower Leogh, by AW Alex Penn

HIGHLIGHTS:
Red-backed Shrike: Males at Meadow Burn and the Mast
Icterine Warbler: 5 - two in Obs Garden, one at the Haa, one at Shirva, one at Lower Leogh
Bluethroat: Female at Gully
Serin: Around the Haa

Sightings of note: 1 Greylag Goose, 1 Teal, 1 Long-tailed Duck, 1 Cuckoo, 1 Wood Pigeon, 1 Collared Dove, 62 Oystercatcher, 21 Lapwing, 60 Ringed Plover, 2 Whimbrel, 12 Curlew, 1 Turnstone, 9 Dunlin, 11 Snipe, 1 Common Sandpiper, 2 Redshank, 13 Common Gull, 3 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 1 Red-throated Diver, 1 Short-eared Owl, 2 Red-backed Shrike, 3 Carrion Crow, 73 Skylark, 7 Swallow, 2 Willow Warbler, 6 Chiffchaff, 2 Sedge Warbler, 3 Blackcap, 1 Garden Warbler, 5 Whitethroat, 2 Blackbird, 12 Spotted Flycatcher, 1 Whinchat, 56 Wheatear, 3 Pied Wagtail, 73 Meadow Pipit, 40 Rock Pipit, 14 Twite, 2 Mealy Redpoll

Year List: 155

Other Wildlife: 3 Shetland Bee


Cuckoo in the hand at the Obs, by AW Alex Penn

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1st June 2022
Weather:
Sunny morning but overcast later on, with a force 4-5 north-westerly wind
A sunny census with a handful of scarce migrants including a Marsh Warbler as a year tick, at multiple Icterine Warblers (including one unringed, i.e. probably new), a Black Redstart, and two Red-backed Shrikes. The real showstopper however was a Kestrel caught in Gully which turned out to be a Finnish control. A stunning bird to see close-up anyway but even more exciting given the journey it's been on to get here! Looking forward to hearing the details from the Finnish ringing scheme.


Finnish ringed Kestrel in the hand, by AW Alex Penn


Marsh Warbler at the Haa, by AW Alex Penn

HIGHLIGHTS:
Quail: One Skerryholm, one Schoolton
Icterine warbler: One in Obs Garden, two in the south, one at Setter
Red-breasted Flycatcher : One at Lower Stoneybrek
Red-backed Shrike: Males at both the Mast and Upper Leogh
Marsh Warbler: At the Haa all day

Red-backed Shrike at the Mast, by AW Georgia Platt

Sightings of note: 11 Greylag Goose, 1 Teal, 1 Long-tailed Duck, 5 Wood Pigeon, 2 Collared Dove, 1 Water Rail, 63 Oystercatcher, 18 Lapwing, 42 Ringed Plover, 2 Whimbrel, 12 Curlew, 12 Snipe, 2 Redshank, 8 Common Gull, 2 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 200 Arctic Tern (minimum count), 23 Arctic Skua, 1 Short-eared Owl, 1 Kestrel, 1 Peregrine Falcon, 2 Carrion Crow, 65 Skylark, 1 Sand Martin, 16 Swallow, 1 House Martin, 2 Willow Warbler, 2 Chiffchaff, 4 Sedge Warbler, 3 Blackcap, 1 Garden Warbler, 5 Whitethroat, 1 Backbird, 14 Spotted Flycatcher, 2 Robin, 87 Wheatear, 1 Black Redstart, 1 Whinchat, 4 Pied Wagtail, 75 Meadow Pipit, 48 Rock Pipit, 32 Twite, 2 Redpoll, 1 Siskin

Year List: 155

Other Wildlife: 1 Painted Lady, 5 Shetland Bee, 2 Buff-tailed Bumblebee, 1 Silver Y Moth


Black Redstart at North Light, by AW Georgia Platt

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31st May 2022
Weather:
Sun and a force 3 easterly wind
The day started quiet and then birds began to arrive towards the afternoon, with a small arrival of Icterine Warblers and a Red-breasted Flycatcher. The Common Rosefinch from yesterday was also around Chalet for most of the day. One Icterine Warbler was trapped in Plantation and then the other two were netted in the Obs Garden in the evening. What pristine lemon yellow birds to see in the hand!


Icterine Warbler, by AW Alex Penn

HIGHLIGHTS:
Quail: One singing on the Houll
Icterine Warbler: One in Plantation, two at Obs Garden
Red-breasted Flycatcher : At Lower Stoneybrek
Serin: At Houll

Sightings of note: 1 Greylag Goose, 1 Wigeon, 1 Long-tailed Duck, 1 Cuckoo, 69 Oystercatcher, 17 Lapwing, 2 Golden Plover, 43 Ringed Plover, 2 Curlew, 2 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Dunlin, 3 Snipe, 3 Redshank, 3 Common Gull, 28 Arctic Skua, 1 Peregrine, 4 Carrion Crow, 85 Skylark, 22 Swallow, 1 House Martin, 1 Willow Warbler, 5 Chiffchaff, 2 Sedge Warbler, 1 Blackcap, 1 Garden Warbler, 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 12 Spotted Flycatcher, 1 Robin, 87 Wheatear, 1 Dunnock, 2 Pied Wagtail, 76 Meadow Pipit, 51 Rock Pipit, 1 Common Rosefinch, 11 Twite, 2 Mealy Redpoll, 1 'North-western' Redpoll, 1 Siskin, 1 Snow Bunting

Year List: 154

Other Wildlife: 1 Painted Lady, 10 Shetland Bee, 3 Buff-tailed Bumblebee


A very cute Ringed Plover chick, by AW Alex Penn

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