The day began and ended with a blanket of fog covering the Island but in-between it was a pleasant warm day, with the wind dropping completely. Highlights included a female Bluethroat in the road near Purtabreck, an Icterine Warbler at Ancum Willows where yesterdays 2 Red-backed Shrikes had also relocated and a Marsh Warbler trapped and ringed at Holland House in the evening. A new male Sparrowhawk was also caught there, the 9 Tree Sparrows were still at Kirbest but singles of Redwing and Snow Bunting were new arrivals.
The strong north-easterly wind made for a challenging but productive days birding with several new migrants and a few scarcities found during the morning. The best of these were the earliest Marsh Warbler by a couple of days at Barrenha and a stunning 'bright red' male Common Rosefinch at Trebb. The south end of the Island yielded most of the birds where 2 Red-backed Shrikes spent the day around the Observatory. Other notable migrants included the 2 Grey-headed Wagtails still, 11 Tree Pipits, 3 Redstarts, 19 WillowWarblers, a Wood Warbler at Howar, 4 Spotted Flycatchers and 6 Pied Flycatchers. A Little Stint on the Links was the first of the year, the first-summer Little Gull was back at Bridesness and the male Sparrowhawk was also seen again.
In an increasingly cool northerly wind there was still a fair bit to see with a few new arrivals and roughly a third of yesterdays migrants remaining. Definite new birds included a Mistle Thrush, a new Cuckoo and a couple of Swifts. Yesterday's most numerous migrants; Tree Pipit and Willow Warblers returned counts of 16 and 18 respectively with the other Warbler species, Pied and Spotted Flycatchers present in just low single figures, while not a single Redstart could be found (11 yesterday!). The 2 Grey-headed Wagtails were still near Gretchen with the Curlew Sandpiper also still on the loch there and other lingering birds included the Whooper Swan, male Sparrowhawk and Turtle Dove.
A gorgeous day with a light easterly wind produced an excellent array of common migrants scattered across the whole island; the highlights included an Osprey which flew north up the west coast mid-morning, the first Swift of the year, a female Hawfinch which was trapped at Holland House in the evening and two Grey-headed Wagtails near Gretchen - also the first of the year. The commonest migrants today were counts of 32 Tree Pipits and 35 Willow Warblers which included a Norwegian control trapped at the Obs at lunchtime.
The roll call of the other species included a Sparrowhawk, a Peregrine, a Stock Dove, another Turtle Dove, a Short-eared Owl at Hooking, 63 Swallows, two House Martins, 11 Redstarts, a Whinchat, 6 Sedge Warblers, a Reed Warbler, three Lesser Whitethroats, 6 Whitethroats, 7 Garden Warblers, three Blackcaps, a Wood Warbler, 6 Spotted Flycatchers and 10 Pied Flycatchers. There was also a few birds which are more associated with winter than the lovely spring day we had with yesterday's Whooper Swan near the lighthouse, a 2nd summer Iceland Gull near Bewan, single Fieldfare and Song Thrush and two late Dunnocks.
With the wind back in the east and a bit of rain in the morning there was a nice selection of birds present as the highlights included a single Dotterel on Torness, a Wryneck at Ancum, a female Red-backed Shrike at Brigg and an Icterine Warbler found late on at Lurand. Other migrants logged through the day included a Sparrowhawk, three Woodpigeons, 5 Tree Pipits, 2 Redstarts, a Fieldfare, 2 Pied Flycatcher, two Sedge Warblers, 4 Lesser Whitethroats, two Whitethroats, the first Garden Warbler of the year trapped at Holland, three Blackcaps, three Chiffchaffs, 9 Willow Warblers, a Common Redpoll and an influx of 6 Carrion Crows while yesterday's Cuckoo and Turtle Dove were still around Holland. Also of note was an unseasonal Whooper Swan which joined a pair of Mute Swans on Brides Loch and at least 42 Knot feeding with large numbers of other waders around the shore which included 800 Turnstone.
A very blustery day with frequent, nasty showers whipping through saw the first Cuckoo of the year seen around Holland House in the evening but unfortunately it bounced out of the mist nets a couple of times without getting caught; unlike the Turtle Dove which did manage to get caught - an unusual and not annual capture! Migrant totals included a Heron, single Wood and Common Sandpipers, three Collared Doves, a Tree Pipit, a Sedge Warbler, 4 Lesser Whitethroats, three Blackcaps, 4 Chiffchaffs, 4 Willow Warblers and a Pied Flycatcher. The 1st summer Little Gull and the flock of Tree Sparrows remained.
Strong south-westerly winds with heavy rain hitting mid-afternoon saw a handful of new arrivals with the highlights being a Hobby at the lighthouse and a 1st summer Little Gull at Brides Loch. Other totals through this quieter day included 5 Black-tailed Godwits, two Common Sandpipers, two Sedge Warblers, a Lesser Whitethroat, a Whitethroat, 5 Blackcaps, three Chiffchaffs, 8 Willow Warblers and a Pied Flycatcher while the flock of 9 Tree Sparrows were relocated at Caven.
A lovely, sunny, calm morning with a light westerly wind which gradually changed into a very wet late afternoon with a strong SE wind saw only a few new arrivals with a Turtle Dove at Sangar, a smart breeding plumaged Curlew Sandpiper on Gretchen and a record equalling flock of 9 Tree Sparrows which bombed over Holland House in the afternoon the pick of the sightings. Other birds recorded through the day included a Common Sandpiper, a Short-eared Owl at Ancum, two Tree Pipits, three Lesser Whitethroats, two Whitethroats, 4 Blackcaps, 5 Chiffchaffs, 4 Willow Warblers, a Spotted Flycatcher, 4 Pied Flycatchers, 10 Rooks feeding on a recently ploughed field, a Siskin and a Common Redpoll.
Light rain all morning left at lunchtime making way for a glorious, sunny, calm afternoon which produced the highlight of a fine male Bluethroat at Lochend; other migrant totals included two female Red-backed Shrikes lingering from yesterday, single Tree Pipit, Redstart, Whinchat, Ring Ouzel, Fieldfare, Spotted Flycatcher and Sedge Warbler, a small influx of 6 Pied Flycatchers, three Lesser Whitethroats, 5 Whitethroats, 10 Blackcaps, three Chiffchaffs, 14 Willow Warblers and two Song Thrushes. The wind had switched to the west by early evening, hopefully the change in weather will produce some different birds after this spell of easterly airflow.
With the wind still in the east and some light rain in the early morning, hopes were high for some more new birds through the day but it proved to be slightly quieter than expected with the days highlight being three Red-backed Shrikes - a female at the Obs, a male at Westness and another female at Longar and the first Whinchat of the year in the north. There was a scattering of other migrants across the island but it was unclear whether they were new birds of 'leftovers' from yesterday; totals included a Peregrine, 4 Woodpigeons, 30 Swallows, two House Martins, a Tree Pipit, two Redstarts, a Ring Ouzel, two Song Thrushes, two Sedge Warblers, a Lesser Whitethroat, a Whitethroat, 8 Blackcaps, three Chiffchaffs, 12 Willow Warblers, a Spotted Flycatcher and a high count of 9 Reed Buntings.
Definite 'leftovers' included the Green Sandpiper at Sangar, the Grasshopper Warbler at the Obs and at least five Goldfinches remaining around Holland House.
A damp, drizzly start rapidly cleared up into a lovely sunny day with a light easterly wind, last nights heavy rain seemed to have done the trick with a great arrival of birds across the whole island; year ticks came thick and fast with a Wryneck at Nether Linney, a Wood Warbler in Lenswick, five Spotted Flycatchers scattered around, a male Red-backed Shrike at the Mill, a Grasshopper Warbler trapped at Twingness and a late Waxwing which came in off the sea on the west coast. Other grounded migrants included two Sedge Warblers, 6 Lesser Whitethroats, 4 Whitethroats, 14 Blackcap, 16 Chiffchaffs, 27 Willow Warblers, a Pied Flycatcher, two Redstarts, two Ring Ouzels, 5 Tree Pipits, a Fieldfare, three Robins, three Common Redpolls, a Brambling,13 Rooks and two Collared Doves.
Raptors and waders were also well represented with a female Marsh Harrier, a ringtail Hen Harrier, two Sparrowhawks and a Kestrel while a Green Sandpiper, two Common Sandpipers and a Wood Sandpiper were noted. 53 Swallows, 10 House Martins and two Sand Martins were whizzing around, four Dotterels and 10 Goldfinches were seen again while six Arctic Skuas and 53 Arctic Terns have started to display noisily around the isle! An excellent and very enjoyable day!
A hazy day with a brisk easterly wind saw the best arrival of migrants of the spring so far with birds starting to appear from late morning onwards; new for the year were two Lesser Whitethroats, a Reed Warbler at the Surgery, a Whitethroat, a 1st summer male Pied Flycatcher trapped at Holland in the evening, three Common Redpolls and a Common Tern off the south end. Other birds seen through the day included a brilliant trip of 8 Dotterel on Westbanks, a Stock Dove near Holland House in the evening, a Wood Sandpiper, a group of six Pink-footed Geese, three Woodpigeons, a good passage of at least 58 Swallows, a House Martin, a Tree Pipit, 7 Blackcaps, 9 Chiffchaffs, three Willow Warblers and a record equalling flock of 10 Goldfinches. Rain set in late evening bringing with it high hopes for tomorrow!
Overcast conditions with a light easterly produced a selection of new birds, however thick fog rolled in early afternoon slowing new arrivals down to a trickle. The days migrant highlights consisted of the first Wood Sandpiper and Sedge Warbler of the year, two Black Redstarts and the Hornemann's Arctic Redpoll which reappeared near Ancum. Other birds included a Sparrowhawk, three Tree Pipits, 80 Wheatears, a Blackcap, two Chiffchaffs, five Willow Warblers and single Goldcrest, Brambling, Greenfinch and Snow Bunting while at least six Goldfinches remained. Wader passage is becoming more pronounced with some high counts noted today including 1,163 Turnstone, 12 Knot, 16 Whimbrel and an island record 430 Purple Sandpipers.
Smaller numbers of Dunlin were with the large numbers of Purple Sandpipers
A calm day with a light southerly based wind produced a good variety of migrants; most notably a 1st summer female Marsh Harrier seen around Ancum, the first migrant Kestrel of the year, at least four Tree Pipits and an increased count of 327 Meadow Pipits. Other birds included 12 Whimbrel, two White Wagtails, a Robin, two Chiffchaffs, two Willow Warbler, a Brambling, three Siskins, a group of three Redpoll sp. which were probably Lessers and in what is turning out to be an excellent spring for the species, at least 8 Goldfinches - in context, we have now ringed the same number of birds this year, as previously in the entire history of the observatory!
A pleasant day with just a couple of spells of drizzle mid-morning to complain about; the cracking Hornemann's Arctic Redpoll showed well again although it was slightly more mobile through the day ranging as far as Westness. New migrants included 5 Sand Martins, 13 Swallows, a count of 67 Wheatears, 6 Chiffchaffs, two Willow Warblers, three Goldcrests (including a British control caught at Holland), 4 Goldfinches and 9 Siskins. More breeding birds are starting to show up now with 10 Arctic Terns and a single Arctic Skua noted while contrastingly 'winter' birds are still evident with a Lapland Bunting, three Snow Buntings and 14 Redwings lingering on the island.
***BOOK NOW FOR 2013*** 2013 prices are now online. Book nowfor accommodation at the Bird Observatory. Various options are available from the comfortable Guest House, to the self-catering Hostel and even Camping. Don't miss out on your chance of top quality North Ronaldsay birding in 2013. Click HERE for our latest prices.
North Ronaldsay Bird Observatory NRBO was established in 1987 to study and record the migrant birds that pass through Orkney's most northerly island each year. The number and variety of birds that arrive here on migration in Spring and Autumn can be spectacular, and North Ronaldsay is well-known as one of the best birdwatching sites in the country. The observatory also provides comfortable accommodation for visitors to the island.