Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Fair Isle - 31st May

The forecast from last night came true and I awoke at 05:30 to a sunny morning and a stiff easterly wind blowing. The sun was shining and expectations were high. I bumped into David Parnaby as I left the observatory, David had had the nets open since the first hours of daylight and had caught a Blackcap and a Dunnock, both new birds in so I decided to head off south before breakfast. I birding along the road bumping into a chap at the plantation who was staying at the south light, he mentioned a Great White Egret he had seen at Da Water and we both wondered how rare the species was on the island although both of us assumed that they must be fairly rare so I sent a text back to the observatory and went to have a look at the bird. As I walked around the corner by the school I saw the bird being harassed by Lapwing and almost immediately it saw me it took flight circled above me and disappearing to the south over Malcolm’s Head. I decided to bird back to the observatory for breakfast via the east coast, Field Ditch, Bulls Park and the Gully seeing a couple of Redwing, Blackcap and Raven but little else. Back at the observatory my text had not been received and when I mentioned the egret not only was it the first Great White Egret but it was the first egret of any species recorded on the island, the observatory team dashed down the island and fortunately they had the bird fly north and disappear over Ward Hill. The bird spent the rest of the day commuting between various water areas in the south of the island.

After breakfast I birded Pund, Gilly Burn, Lower Leogh, across to Ha and then back up the eastern road via Da Water. The sky had clouded over and the wind was now a strong easterly and pretty cold to boot and it made birding a little difficult, I certainly got the impression that while the easterlies may have delivered a few birds they were definitely hunkered down. Numbers were low with four Chiffchaff, two Blackcap, a flock of 34 Oystercatcher and that was pretty much it. Huge expectations on an easterly wind but with nothing to show for it.

At 13:30 it started to rain and I had an extended lunch finding it difficult to get motivated after high expectations came crashing down with a relatively birdless morning. The rain got heavier and heavier and there was little motivation amongst the observatory birders. Eventually I headed out in pouring rain at just gone 16:00 and walked from the observatory a short way up the Hill Dyke. The birds that I saw were sheltering on the leyward side of the wall, Wheatear and Twite and a single Whitethroat.

And that was it, an easterly wind on Fair Isle, peak spring season and the highlight a Great White Egret, a first for Fair Isle but not quite what I had hoped for. There is always tomorrow……

Great White Egret - A first for Fair Isle and the first egret of any species on the island

And here are some shots taken on my iPhone of island scenery from the last few days:

Sheep Rock from the Observatory

Hjuknie Geo

North Raeva

South of the Island

Croft Land in the South of the Island

South Light


North Light from the Mast

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