While the discovery of potentially the UK’s first RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD naturally took the headlines and much of our time in the afternoon of the 29th there were also a few other birds of note found in the morning of the 29th. It did seem we had just swapped a very strong, cold northerly wind for a very strong, cold south-easterly wind over the last couple of days but with it came the hope of some spring migrants...however the only addition to our year list was a Pochard on Hooking!
Other birds seen though included 11 Barnacle Geese, a pair of Common Scoter past the seawatch hide (always a scarce bird on here), a Merlin, a little influx of 9 Arctic Terns, 4 Swallows, the Black Redstart still at the lighthouse, 17 Wheatears, a Siskin, a Lapland Bunting and 10 Snow Buntings
Barnacle Geese, photo Simon Davies
The RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD was quickly re-found first thing in the morning of the 30th and from then on we went into full visitor mode, catering for the high numbers of birders which made the journey up to see our new star attraction – everything went well and everyone had good views of the bird!
While this different focus for the Obs staff perhaps meant that we didn’t cover the rest of the island as well as we would have liked, the extra eyes produced an array of year list additions which, when coupled with the slackening wind and increased sunshine, made for an excellent days birding; single Redstart, Lesser Whitethroat, Sedge Warbler, Garden Warbler and House Martin were all firsts for the year while the 6 Canada Geese by The Mill also crept onto the list but were not your stereotypical spring migrants!
Other migrants freshly arrived included single Kestrel and Sparrowhawk, a Jack Snipe, a Short-eared Owl, 7 Sand Martins, 15 Swallows, a Blackcap, 7 Willow Warblers and 4 Chiffchaffs while other totals of note comprised 2 Great-northern Divers, a Barnacle Goose, the pair of Garganey still, 6 Black-tailed Godwits, 6 Whimbrel, 10 Arctic Terns, 59 Wheatears, 2 Song Thrush and 9 Snow Buntings.
Black Redstart, photo Simon Davies