Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Bewick's Swan! Fair Isle Tick! with neck collar?

Bewick Swan with neck collar and yellow leg band.

I got a call this morning from Neil to tell me about some "Island Twitching" as 5 Bewick's or Tundra Swans had been located at "The Water" near the Kirk. Excited I gather myself and gear then start walking at pace. Half way there Brian stops his truck and says get in I was just coming to get you. It's a small island and earlier he had seen Liz had our car parked at school. Thankfully he gives me a ride and drops me off on the road with the other Islanders viewing the birds. A Winter twitch of five people. LOL. Nick said it's a Island Tick for him too. Lifer for me. Woohoo! 

Bewick's Swans, The Water & The Kirk.
 Swans are such Beautiful Birds and are always a pleasure to see on Fair Isle. When Swan's are seen on Fair Isle the are usually Whoopers. I did see one Mute Swan last Summer. Bewick Swans breed on the far North East Tundras by the Arctic Ocean wintering in Southern Europe usually missing Fair Isle and Shetland all together. Fair Isle has not seen a Bewick's Swan since Jan. 1971 and this is only the sixth recorded sighting with a new total of 17 birds as they come in small groups. Now with the Bewick's, I score the Swan Hat Trick or Trifecta.

You can see the neck collar and almost make out the yellow leg band.

Below is this photo zoomed in on the Bewick's Swan's neck collar.

I don't know for sure? it could be 1240? A248? 1246? etc.
The winner is 124E

They took off before I could get close enough. 
I wasn't that concerned as I knew the sighting would be reported.

Hear is a added link to more info:
Bewick's Swans and Sheep Rock
The Swans circled the lower half of the Island, then came back to "The Water" I didn't bother them again.
Little did I know at the time... my son Henry was the first to see 5 Swans flying while walking to school and alerted others to there presence. Of course he didn't know they were Bewick's...

Other recent Bird Sightings around the Auld Haa:
Creamy off white winged gulls - Iceland 13th -14th & Glaucous Gull 14th in the South Harbour
 ( together in the same field of view through my bins! if it was always so easy)
Also: 1 Carrion Crow, 1 Raven, 3 Redwings, 6 Fieldfare, 2 Red-Breasted Merganser
24 Oystercatchers, 41 Curlew, 7 Sylarks 1 Chaffinch 1 Snowbunting
Lapwings? Turnstones? Redshanks? countless? well I didn't count them...

Large flock of Lapwings today.


  1. I'm going to suggest E240 or 1240 for that neck collar... Hope its origin is discovered!

  2. This collar would have probably been placed on the bird in the Netherlands. At WWT Slimbridge, several weeks ago we caught/controlled two Bewick's that had yellow neck collars (106E & 107E) - The collars carry a special blue tooth tracking device, which allows the researchers to download the information, from c300 meters away from the bird - using a hand held device/mast. Looking at your photos, I think this bird is also carrying the blue tooth device (?) See my blog here ( for a picture of one of the ''bluetooth'' birds that we caught.

    Best wishes


  3. Fantastic record Tommy! Are they still there today?