BTO migration blog

Spring and autumn are exciting times for anyone who watches birds. Here on this blog we will make predictions about when to expect migrant arrivals and departures, so that you know when and where to see these well-travelled birds.

Friday 14 October 2011

Fair Isle mini blog: an awesome reputation

We all arrived on Fair Isle this morning after a 6.30am start and a fruitless search for the Buff-bellied Pipit. On stepping from the plane we were immediately greeted by a ringtail Hen Harrier and a large number of Redwings and Fieldfares, apparently fresh in today. There had only been a small number of these winter thrushes here during the previous week, which shows that things are now happening.

For  most of the day today it has been difficult to contain our excitement; it is Fair Isle in mid-October after all! We are here to experience migration and we have not been disappointed. Both summer and winter migrants are present. A Whinchat shared a fence with three Brambling at the island shop and just up the road from here was our first Yellow-browed Warbler of the day. The nearest this sprite breeds to the UK is eastern Russia. Although it is mid-October there are still a few warblers about and we caught up with several Blackcaps, two Chiffchaffs and a Reed Warbler, but none of these could beat the Blyth's Reed Warbler that was trapped and ringed early afternoon.

While there is still a taste of summer, the winter visitors outnumber the summer migrants and we found a flock of fifty Snow Buntings, several small groups of Bramblings, one Short-eared Owl and experienced a small arrival of Woodcock.

So even though we are here to enjoy autumn migration, Fair Isle has an awesome reputation for rare birds and it upheld this today. Alongside the Blyth's Reed Warbler, Common Rosefinch, Bluethroat, Little Bunting and Olive-backed Pipit were all found, unsurprisingly given the wind has quite a bit of east in it, all these birds have an origin from that direction.

As darkness falls the wind is still in the east - what will tomorrow bring - no doubt even more excitement.

Andy Clements

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