Saturday 12 October 2013

Swallows gone, Redwings arrived, Waxwings next?

Well it looks like the Swallows have all gone. I've not seen one around here since the 7 Oct although I'm sure there will still be the odd one flying about somewhere.

There have been mixed flocks of 200-300 Lapwing and Golden Plover in the field around the house over the last week and around 50 Twite were sat in/on the Fuschia bushes in the garden when I came back from my ringing session at lunchtime.

Late this afternoon I saw my first Redwings of the Autumn on my patch with 6 in our paddock. No sign of any Fieldfares yet, but as we are approaching the middle of October the question a lot of folk are asking is 'when will the Waxwings arrive?' Soon hopefully so I'd better start stocking up on apples!!

Saturday 5 October 2013

Bonelli's ticked

The Orkbird text alert sent out a message this afternoon to say that the Western Bonelli's Warbler was showing in the same place as yesterday over on the East side of Burray.

So I headed off to see if I could find it.

On arriving at the reported location I met Al, one of the RSPB wardens, who was the person who had reported it today. Al had been there for around a couple of hours looking for it and had finally found it fliting between a small clump of Sycamore trees and some Willows.

Everytime it flew into the Sycamores a Yellow-browed Warbler kept chasing it off. This could be a long search as Al hadn't seen it reappear for at least ten minutes. Suddenly Al spotted it back over by the Willows. A quick look through the binoculars and there it was sitting on the edge of the Willows in clear view.

So that was my first Western Bonelli's Warbler. The third life tick in a week!!

Al headed off leaving me to get my scope out for a closer look.

This warbler is about the same size as a Wood Warbler but has a paler brownish face instead of Yellow and White underparts like the Wood Warbler. Its most striking feature is the Yellowish-Green wings which contrast with its otherwise dull plumage.

Western Bonelli's Warbler - Photo by Pierre Dalous
A high pitched call from the Sycamores alerted me to the presence of a Yellow-browed Warbler which I eventually saw fliting amongst the leaves. After last week's missed opportunity to see one on Burray I now have that species on my Burray list too. I just need it to move a bit further West on the island to see it on my patch.

Not long after Al left I was joined by Alastair another birder and I was able to point out the location of the Bonelli's to him and we both enjoyed some good views of it. It was a shame it didn't come a bit closer so that we could get our own photos of it.

A small flock of Pink-footed Geese flying over added another species to my Burray list.

One the way back up the hill to my house I spotted three Swallows flying around over the fields.

No sign of the Ring Ouzel today.

Friday 4 October 2013

Migrant news

Today's headlines:

Bonelli's Warbler re-found?

New species found in garden.

The weather has perked up today. After a week of strong South-Easterly winds today it has eased and with the early morning rain clearing the sun came out and it has been a pleasantly mild day.

A quick stroll at lunchtime with my good lady down the track from the house to the road, along the road and back up the next track didn't reveal anything too interesting. A single Swallow was seen flying about and a single Wheatear led the way as we walked along the road. There are still a few Meadow Pipits about and a couple of pairs of Skylarks were chasing each other around. A couple of Linnets also flew overhead.

On a sad note a dead Curlew was found at the side of the road, possibly the victim of getting caught up on the barbed wire fence.

Barrie has been out and about again today and found a Bonelli's Warbler within 200 yards of where he found the previous one on the 23 Sep. It is most likely to be the same bird. Join by Paul, another local birder, it was eventually confirmed as a Western Bonelli's Warbler.

Mid afternoon I took a break from work to make a brew and while waiting for the kettle to boil I threw my apple core from lunchtime out onto the lawn. As soon as it had stopped rolling there was a female Blackbird onto it. Through the scope I could see she was wearing a shiny ring so I'm guessing she might be one of the chicks that were ringed in the garden earlier in the year.

She was soon joined by a male Blackbird and shortly after that a third bird appeared which was quickly chased off by the other two. As it flew to the small tree in the corner of the lawned area something didn't look quite right. Grabbing the binoculars and focusing in on the bird I could see straight away it wasn't a Blackbird. The first thing I noticed was that the body feathers all seemed to have pale edges making it look like the bird was covered in scales. It had a pale chin and throat. All indicators were pointing me towards a Ring Ouzel but lacking the usual White crescent this bird had to be a first winter bird.

It disappeared from view but I quickly relocated it on the rough ground across from the garden and its call as it flew off confirm that it was a Ring Ouzel.

I got in touch with Barrie to let him know that it was about and he was soon on site and after a brief look around for it it was located and he confirmed it was a Ring Ouzel.

So a well timed tea break resulted in a new bird for the garden, a new bird for the patch (2 points) and a new bird for the life list as this was the first time I had seen this species in the wild.