Wind, waves and birds


The evening sun catching the waves


Thousands of kittiwakes trying to roost on the sea but being hassled by arctic skuas.

What a last couple of days. Yesterday the storm started to ease after lunch but by then a huge swell was well set up for rolling in.  By evening it made a hugely impressive sight and the strong winds had stirred up the birds. The best sights were off-shore with over 100 black-headed gulls passing and up to 3000 kittiwakes gathered to roost on the sea just by the island. Attracted to this tightly gathered food were skuas, a few bonxies, more arctic skuas and at least 1 long-tailed skua all looking to make a meal of a kittiwake.


The song thrushes were all over the island, in every ditch, behind every wall and around the buildings.

On the island migrants were starting to appear with large numbers of song thrushes with a scattering of redwings and blackbirds being the most obvious. A water rail appeared but just as quickly disappeared. Moving through were groups of meadow pipits and skylarks and 50 bramblings stopped for the night. And to light up this selection was a red-breasted flycatcher.


The Middens going under a lot of water.

But today things really got going. The swell had picked up during the night and peak at 4.5 m with some truly astounding curlers thundering down the east side. Waves were going right over the harbour rocks, completely covering them, the Middens disappeared under big rollers and the South Ness was getting covered. The crump of the biggest waves and the spray covered the island. As the day went on the wind went round to the north west and started quite a chop of the west side so it felt like we were getting it on all sides.


The harbour entrance. No boats today.


The top jetty under feet of water.


And the birds kept moving through. We estimated over 1000 thrushes stopped on the island, 7 yellow-browed warblers appeared and another red-breasted flycatcher and a reed warbler. Also on the cast were some 250 redwings, 100 meadow pipits, 25 chaffinches, 40 bramblings, 3 ring ouzel, 1 whinchat, 4 reed buntings, and 10 late swallows.

A day to remember for certain and feeling of real privilege to be able to be out here and experience the island on days like this.


The second red-breasted flycatcher


The yellow-browed warbler receiving lots of attention.


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