Friday, September 28, 2012

Fair Isle number 5 on National Geographic Top 10 Islands List

check out this link...
National Geographic Top 10 Islands.
Fair Isle is number 5 on the list.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Richard's Pipit & other Birds & Jellyfish

Richard's Pipit Anthus richardi
Deryk caught this bird by hand! After watch a following the bird for some time. The bird was seen entering a hiding spot in the Wali Burn near my house, he stuck his hand in under the overhang and like a magician and his hat he pulled out the rare bird. The bird was caught & ringed yesterday evening and seen again today. 

Besides Richard's Pipit there was plenty of other interesting birds around...
Paddyfield, Lanceolated, Arctic Warblers, Olive-backed Pipit, etc.
 but no further sightings of the Magnolia Warbler...

Little Bunting
Roadside Lapland Bunting

Redpoll in Driveway

Female - Blackcap

Can I log into my Facebook?
Inquisitive Lesser Whitethroat at my window.
South Harbour Shags

Jellyfish invasion in the North Haven Henry found 2 species we still have to research.
If you can help with the ID please let us know?

I had another major lifer tick this week! The Big Five Oh!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Magnolia Warbler a Mega North American Stunning Rare Bird! on Fair Isle!

Magnolia Warbler Dendroica Magnolia
2nd record for Britain!
1st for Fair Isle & Shetland
I must say AWESOME!

Steve Arlow

Thank you to visiting birdwatcher & photographer Steve Arlow
for the use of his photos as you can see from my photo below... 
My record shot is rubbish in comparison.   

Late in the day I got a call from Jason from his cellphone standing on the edge of a cliff in the North West of Fair Isle. "Tommy I have an American Warbler! I don't know what it is? I've got photos and will be able to ID it later but can you look in your American bird books?" (Jason, knowing I'm American and I always have my Sibley & Crossley bird guides about.) My books are in the other room I start running with the phone, Jason describes the bird, I start to go through the Warbler sections. Too many yellow grey American Warblers! I can think strait or focus because I want to see the bird too! what ever it is? I'll bring my books with me! I'm on my way! My son Henry & I grab the books and hop in the car and play rally drivers to the airport then half way up Ward Hill. In the car, my mind reeling, I was thinking from the brief description what could it be? Bay-breasted Warbler? Female American Redstart? The suspense was killing me! Out of the car with still a rough hike up up over pitted heathered moar land hills and then down short slick grass slopes ending at sudden cliff edges as fast as I could, trying not to have a heart attack or slip and kill myself. I get there... Heart pounding, out of breath, it's a Magnolia Warbler! Someone arrived with a North American Bird Guide just before me. But wow what a bird! The setting sun lit the cliff face perfectly with warm light as we all watch from across Copper Geo. Jason let's Henry & I look though his scope. Instant Legend!

Photos of the twitch...

The finder of the Magnolia Warbler Asst. Warden Jason Moss of the Fair Isle Bird Observatory spreads the news!

Nice one Jason!

Walking away as the Sun set in the West, I couldn't help think that the small bird's home was somewhere far beyond the horizon as is my family and the home of my birth. America, the promised land with stunning colourful warblers. With strong South Westerly wind whipped up by hurricanes most of September the Fair Isle Birders have all had little hope for anything else but such a bird as Magnolia Warbler. We did have to wait until the winds turned from West to East? For weeks now I personally have been publicly saying "I hoping for any North American bird besides a wader." A Black-Throated Blue Warbler was my dream, but Magnolia is dream come true! We did have a few "Yank Waders" I hate it when people use that phase Yank or American Wader, North American is so much better. Truth be known this bird is most likely from Canada and should be heading to Florida. I like the phrase New World Warbler... I hope Jason enjoys his little new world for years to come!

Steve Arlow
Blyth's Reed Warbler Acrocephalus dumetorum

After a unsuccessful 7am. start in my own Auld Haa garden to try and relocate the Booted Warbler seen the day before. The phone rang a few times yesterday with news of rare birds...

Blyth's Reed Warbler at Schoolton,
Lanceolated Warbler caught & ringged at Da Water,
Arctic Warbler still at Pund,

But it was only the news of Magnolia Warbler that got me out of the house and running.

HM Coastguard medal ceremony & service awards

HM Coastguard - Honoured Fair Isle's Cliff Rescue Team Members.
Some recently retired members awarded 45 + years service bars,
While others received Queens Diamond Jubilee Metals.

45 years...

42 years...

3 Cheers Everyone!

Shetland Wildlife- September's Autumn Tour - Fair Isle

Highlights of the Shetland Wildlife Autumn Birding Tour visit to Fair Isle.

Pectoral Sandpiper Calidris melanotos
seen on the Meoness croftland viewable from the Auld Haa 3 of the 4 days of the tour.

Plenty of common birds were seen like these Willow Warblers.

Razorbill Rescue
This young Razorbill was found in the tall grass along the road in calm conditions.
This happens from time to time so I picked it up and let it go in the South Harbour.
Very feisty bird and it did nip at me several times, and swam away seeming quite healthy.
Always a delight for everyone to see a bird up close and to help it on it's way.

That Auk-ward moment... 

I'm fine...

A private viewing inside of the South Lighthouse.
Arranged with the Fair Isle Lighthouse Society.
View from top of the South Lighthouse.

Bonus! The group had great show of the Northern Lights!

Grasshopper Warbler?
Originally thought to be a  Lanceolated Warbler? possibly even more interesting as the measurements and other details may hopefully find it of an rare eastern race of Grasshopper Warbler? 

Lapland Bunting
Other bird highlights seen...
Barred Warbler & Rosefinch are nice birds to see.
 Well done the group leader Jon Dunn, he was the first to find & identify the Citrine Wagtail by name while we all were watching the Arctic Warbler.

Viewing the Arctic Warbler!
Then having the thrill of seeing it caught & ringed...
Arctic Warbler Phylloscopus borealis
"coinciding with the Aurora Borealis"

& of course waiting for the plane... the Fair Isle experience ended with a stunning rainbow...