Whooper Swan

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Fair Isle - Autumn 2015: Page 1
So what was the birding highlight of this year trip to Fair Isle. As an individual 'bird of the trip' I think there are three candidate's for the title; first would be the Siberian Rubythroat given that it was a Rubythroat and the run around event it gave us; second would be the Pallas's Grasshopper Warbler that ended up showing exceptionally well at the cliff end of Wirvie Burn and finally the Bluetail in the vertigo inducing Tyneside Geo. Each has its merits as bird of the trip but I think the Rubythroat takes the crown, but only just from the PGTips.

There were major birding events during my five weeks on the isle which were hugely impressive and enjoyable. The amazing flock of Barnacle Geese that covered the Skadan during poor weather was a stunning spectacle and the most I had ever seen on Fair Isle and the record influx of Yellow-browed Warblers with several counts in a week smashing the previously held isle record. It was not unusual to go out and see a minimum of 20-30 birds some days without trying. Small flocks of 4 or 5 together flocking along wire fences, the two birds having a 'dance off' at Lower Leogh well I could go on. Every wall, ditch, fence, thistle, nettle, croft garden and cliff seemed to host a striped sprite.

The other influx I enjoyed was perhaps less noticeable but it did represent the most Siberian Chiffchaffs I had ever seen, I probably recorded 10 times the amount of birds during this trip than I had seen previously.

My finds were unfortunately a little lacking and I didn't add anything to my finders list or find a BB rare during my stay but I did enjoy finding two Bluethroats, at least 8 Richard's Pipits which included a flock of 5 together, a Little Bunting and 3 Olive-backed Pipit's.

So in the end my own highlights were as follows:
Siberian Rubythroat, Pallas's Grasshopper Warbler, Red-flanked Bluetail, Blyth's Reed Warbler, Paddyfield Warbler, 2 Lanceolated Warbler, a Raddes Warbler, the flock of 5 Glossy Ibis, 4-5 Olive-backed Pipits, 8+ Richards Pipits, 3 Little Buntings, an Ortolan Bunting, 3 Bluethroats, a Common Rosefinch, 2 Red-breasted Flycatchers, 70+ Yellow-browed Warblers, 25+ Siberian Chiffchaffs, a Barred Warbler, a Firecrest, 980+ Barnacle Geese and a good showing of many Short-eared Owls and  Long-eared Owls.

Seeing the autumn season from mid September through to the near end of October was great and meant I could see the transition of species over those weeks. Do I want to do this again, hell yeah.

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Barnacle Goose
Fair Isle Birds Home Page
Fair Isle Home Page
Ringed Plover
Turtle Dove
Long-eared Owl
Siberian Rubythroat
Red-flanked Bluetail
Greylag Goose
Pink-footed Goose
Short-eared Owl
Glossy Ibis
Velvet Scoter
Long-tailed Duck
Olive-backed Pipit
UK Rarities
Richards Pipit
Lanceolated Warbler
Pallas's Grasshopper Warbler
Grasshopper Warbler
Lesser Whitethroat
Red-breasted Flycatcher
Yellow-browed Warblers
Siberian Chiffchaff
Radde's Warbler
Paddyfield Warbler
Blyth's Reed Warbler
Snow Bunting
Common Rosefinch
Little Bunting
Reed Bunting
Ortolan Bunting
Tree Pipit
Little Grebe
Little Grebe - East Lother Water, October 2015
Pretty scarce visitor to Fair Isle this one day bird was the first I've seen here and shamelessly twitched from the south of the island
Whooper Swans - October 2015
Small migrating flocks were seen during October with some down on Da Water. Due to very poor weather the bird in the Havens seemed to be struggling, almost appearing to be gulping for air and not wanting to fly much more.
Pink-footed Geese - October 2015
A few Pinkies appeared  towards the end of September however most flocks of Pink-footed Geese began to appear towards middle of October, not huge numbers but in flocks of 40 or so with scattered tame singletons, such as the bird in Walli Burn.
Greylag Geese - October 2015
As with the Pink-footed Geese most began to appear during the middle of October and was perhaps the best autumn I've had here for them. A flock took up semi-residence around the Upper Stoneybrek area that numbered around 70-80 for a number of weeks.
Barnacle Geese - October 2015
The goose highlight was the impressive gathering of in excess of 980 birds on the Skadan one afternoon during strong winds and poor conditions. The largest flock I've seen to date on the island, totally covering the South East corner of Skadan. The flock also contained a stunning leucistic bird. From here on a small flock resided around Burkle and became a little tamer as time went along allowing some, and my best to date, images to be taken.