Early Autumn Migration Round-up

Top (left) Wryneck, Top (right) Treecreeper (both David Steel)

Middle (left) Common Rosefinch, Middle (right) Radde’s Warbler (James Silvey)

Bottom (left) Yellow-browed Warbler, Bottom (right) Hen Harrier (David Steel)

Monday 21st November comments: By late-June day visitors and visitors to the bird observatory ceased due to HPAI guidance and this remained the case until late-August, bird sightings from those allowed to remain on the island were slim pickings, typical of late summer.

However the highlights during the first two week of September included four Common Rosefinches (two trapped and ringed), Icterine Warbler on 4th and the islands first Wryneck since 2016 from 3rd-6th September (so long overdue!). The best bird during this spell proved to be a Greenish Warbler present in the Top Trap on 3rd September (21st record for the island) although a male Bluethroat trapped and ringed on 11th September was the first autumn record in nine years.

Large raptor migration occurred mid-month with a Honey Buzzard south on 13th followed by a Marsh Harrier on 14th September whilst the same day produced a Barn Owl (a scarce island visitor) in the bushes near the Bird Observatory which was seen on four subsequent days. Wader passage produced the typical spread of common waders with noticeable records including two Curlew Sandpipers south on 13th September (the first island records since 1998!) whilst a Black-tailed Godwit flew south the same day.   

Seawatching has increased in recent seasons and it came as no surprise that rarer seabirds were noted on passage. The North Sea had witnessed an influx of large shearwaters in late August/early September and on the morning of 17th September a Cory’s Shearwater was picked out flying north at 09:06 and just 25 minutes later an even closer Great Shearwater was seen heading in the same direction (the double!) The same seawatchers then had double delight the following morning as two Great Shearwaters seen flying north at 07:43 and 09:56, to complete a memorable 24 hours especially considering that these were 5th island record of Cory’s and 5th-7th for Great. Later in the month another Great Shearwater was recorded flying north on 26th September whilst a juvenile Sabine’s Gull in a mixed feeding flock of Kittiwakes and Little Gulls on 2nd October was the 17th island record (involving 18 birds).

The month finished like it had started with a flurry of birds including a lingering Yellow-browed Warbler, two Treecreepers and a scattering of migrants including the autumns first Woodcock and Jack Snipe. The pick of the bunch was a Radde’s Warbler discovered in the Top Trap on 29th September before being trapped and ringed. The bird was only present for the day but represented the 12th for the island although fourth in last four years.

So the action packed autumn had produced but then there was a small matter of October and November to follow… more soon.

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