Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Icelandic Redwings on Fair Isle

After a long period of no new birds arriving on the island Fair Isle saw an arrival of icelandic Redwings towards the beginning of October. The first that I saw was along the road just before the Obs and it was clearly fresh in as it was knackered and really not wanting to move away from the road. It was only managing short flights along the road in front of me until it eventually flew down onto the grass above Ditfield. 

As can be seen clearly in this fine bird it has a rather large and long winged appearance with bold buffy supercilium. However the most striking aspect is how dark it is with heavy breast streaking extending in bold black streaks along the flanks and with darker mottled breast side patches. The red flanks are extensive. 

When on the roadside 'fence' above Ditfield it was particularly obliging as it began it's recovery after it's long flight.

Over the next few days more and more icelandica Redwings arrived until they were pretty much everywhere in small numbers with the area around the Obs being particularly favoured of some flocks. 

As October progressed into the second week the Redwings dynamic changed with the arrival of continental birds following a very brief spell of easterlies and the west cliffs held many hundreds all sheltering from the gales. These birds were smaller and whiter below due to the finer and less condensed streaking. 

These Redwing arrivals were one of the highlights of a quiet autumn on the island; these birds appearing typify migration and one of the reasons I keep visiting this rock in sea.

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