Wednesday, 3 October 2018

I arrived on Fair Isle on Monday 24th September instead of the planned Saturday 22nd September due to adverse weather conditions. This adverse weather was to become a theme of the trip with this update being on Wednesday 3rd October.

Basically there was a constant and persistent westerly wing which varied from very strong to bonkers. This constant west gale force wind was not coming from anywhere near the North American landmass so American landbirds were generally going to be out of the question; though Foula yet again got a White-crowned Sparrow and a Buff-bellied Pipit.

Birding on Fair Isle was tough as there were hardly any migrants present but I still managed a Fair Isle tick in the form of a Corncrake at Quoy, god knows how that managed to get here in these conditions.

This lack of birds was a theme for the rest of Shetland and Orkney with this being one of the worst, or perhaps even 'the' worst, autumn ever. A few things obviously crept through to Shetland by Fair Isle just seemed to be devoid of birds when Shetland, Orkney and Foula all started to turn up birds.

An Ortolan Bunting, a Lapland Bunting, a few Snow Buntings, Whooper Swans and a few geese were other wise the highlights of the past 10 days, along with the previously mentioned Corncrake.

Today, 3rd October, saw light winds and slightly drifty conditions and it was a pleasant respite from the buffeting winds but despite a hell of search around the island there was no rarity found again with the best bird of the day being a long overdue Yellow-browed Warbler at Field. I was getting worried I wasn't actually going to see one this autumn, I still haven't seen a Jack Snipe yet so that ones looking dodgy for getting onto the year list this year as well.

By late afternoon there was a clear arrival of Redwings but with the now persistent rain and failing light it seemed the now late promise of good birding was brought to an end. Tomorrow we are expecting more rain and an increase in wind again from the west with Friday looking like another howler coming in across the isle.

I'll keep plugging away when the weather conditions allow but this year we are seeing the complete opposite to 2016 when we had constant flow of easterlies that brought so many great birds to the isle; to reminisce on the autumn we had: 2 Siberian Accentors, 4 Pine Buntings, 4 Red-flanked Bluetails, a 2 Lanceolated Warblers, Raddes Warbler, Dusky Warbler, Arctic Warbler, Blyths Reed Warbler, Pechora Pipit, 74+ Yellow-browed Warblers on super Sunday, 2 Siberian Stonechats, Short-toed Lark, 4 Great Grey Shrikes, Red-throated Pipit, Richards Pipit, 3 Shorelarks, 3 Olive-backed Pipits, Glaucous Gull, Red-breasted Flycatcher, Tundra Bean Geese, Paddyfield Warbler, 9+ Little Buntings, 3 Common Rosefinch and 2 Bluethroat.

Ah they were the days........