The wind had switched back round to the west on the 9th after a long spell of easterlies and apart from being a bit chilly it was a pleasant day; the Red-winged Blackbird remained at Garso (both days) while there were still 2 White-billed Divers off the west coast although at least one may have been a different bird as one flew past the lighthouse at the same time as one was on the sea off Torness where there were also 9 Great-northern Divers, 3 Red-throated Divers, 21 Common Scoter and a steady movement of 400+ Kittiwakes.
Waders continued to turnover as counts included 5 Knot, 99 Sanderling, 41 Purple Sandpipers, 59 Dunlin, 17 Black-tailed Godwit (including 10 heading north at sea), 4 Whimbrel, 95 Redshank (including flocks seen heading north), a Common Sandpiper and 227 Turnstone. Landbirds were reduced in numbers with the change in wind direction as totals comprised single Kestrel and Merlin, 2 Redstart, a Song Thrush, 2 Lesser Whitethroats, 2 Blackcap, 5 Chiffchaff, 2 Willow Warblers, a Brambling, 2 Siskin and 4 lingering Snow Buntings.
Siskin, photo Simon Davies
The brisk westerly breeze brought with it waves of drizzle and general murk through the morning of the 10th so expectations were understandably low but that was blown out of the water when Eday’s awesome SNOWY OWL was flushed from the roadside at Ancum from where it flew high and steadily south over Hooking causing chaos where ever it went; unfortunately after it was lost to view over the loch it, despite much searching, was never seen again and presumably carried on straight south towards Sanday.
The wind died off to practically nothing by lunchtime for a couple of hours before springing back up from the east and there were a few more landbirds noted on the back of this change including 5 Sparrowhawks, a Short-eared Owl, 5 Sand Martins, 58 Swallows, a late Dunnock, 2 Robins, a Redwing, 4 Lesser Whitethroats, 3 Blackcaps, 3 Chiffchaffs, 3 Willow Warblers, 3 Bramblings, 2 Siskins, a Common and 2 Lesser Redpolls, 12 Carrion Crows and a Goldfinch.
A new Black-throated Diver was in Nouster – this time a non-descript first winter bird while waders were again prominent as amongst the big piles of seaweed were 54 Ringed Plovers, 46 Knot, 114 Sanderling, 93 Purple Sandpipers, 101 Dunlin, 5 Bar-tailed Godwits, the first Greenshank of the year, a Common Sandpiper and 440 Turnstone all looking mighty fine in their spangly summer plumages.
Snowy Owl, just awesome! photo Simon Davies