Sunday, 2 October 2011

A Smattering of Siberians

Redwings heading south (Will Scott)

A Song Thrush takes a rest (Ciaran Hatsell)

Female Blackcap rescued from inside Brownsman cottage by warden Ciaran

A Yellow-browed Warber sits amongst the vegetation (Ciaran Hatsell)

The female Hen Harrier shows well (Graeme Duncan)

Sunday 2nd October comments: Well, what a weekend we’ve had. Light easterly(ish) winds and damp misty conditions gave the islands perfect weather for a fall of migrants and it didn’t disappoint!

The Saturday morning sunrise dawned on our resident Kestrel roosting on the Brownsman sticks, surrounded by a plethora of migrant passerines including two male Blackcaps and 11 Brambling, whilst the ever-present female Peregrine watched from the south end of the island. It wasn’t long before the Kestrel was off hunting for butterflies and snatched a red admiral out of the air 5 meters away from the Brownsman team, an awesome sight!

As the (human) visitors arrived on Inner Farne, thrushes in their hundreds began to pour over the island, with over 700 Redwing and over 120 Song Thrush recorded both flying overhead and resting on the ground. The sight was a welcome bonus for the visiting public, who enjoyed the spectacle, a true Farnes experience! It truly was a sight to behold, a full-on demonstration of migration in action.

Then, as the team gave the island a proper walk-around after visitors left, a call went out on the radio. Not one, but three Yellow-browed Warblers had been found in the Lighthouse garden on Inner Farne! These tiny Siberian sprites were contentedly feeding around the dock stalks, providing excellent views to the admiring warden team. The team were relieved to finally get a fall of these beautiful birds after jealously watching them crop up on the Northumberland coast all autumn!

As if this wasn’t enough, a pipit was discovered on top meadow. After brief views led to the initial assumption of Tree Pipit, further glimpses allowed the team to confirm that it was in fact the fourth ever Olive-backed Pipit to be seen on the Farnes! The bird gave brief but good views, allowing all present to appreciate the finer points of its identification. Breeding in Siberia and wintering in south Asia, a few of these birds fly the wrong way due to winds and inexperience and end up on our coastline.

Sunday brought in more surprises, with Brownsman playing host to a variety of birds of prey. Two Kestrels, a Peregrine and two Short-eared Owls graced the skies above the outer group of islands, playing havoc with the passerines. The real star of the show, however, was the female Hen Harrier. This upland wanderer quartered above both Staple and Brownsman for most of the day, providing spectacular viewing, before finally heading west (once the mist had briefly cleared) over Inner Farne and on to the mainland. Later on in the day, although the Olive-backed Pipit was no longer present, the Yellow-browed Warbler count on Inner Farne increased to four. Cracking stuff!

Saturday 1st October totals: Redwing 768, Song Thrush 129, Blackbird 16, Brambling 53, Redpoll 4, Snow Bunting 1, Reed Bunting 4, Tree Pipit 2, Olive-backed Pipit 1, Yellow-browed Warbler 3, Blackcap 2, Goldcrest 2, Red-throated diver 11, Velvet Scoter 1, Black Tern 1, Peregrine 2, Sparrowhawk 1, Kestrel 2, Great Skua 3.

Sunday 2nd October totals: Redwing 92, Song Thrush 71, Blackbird 10, Brambling 21, Redpoll 11, Chaffinch 6, Linnet 4, Siskin 2, Reed Bunting 5, Tree Pipit 7, Meadow Pipit 125, Dunnock 4, Yellow-browed Warbler 4, Chiffchaff 4, Willow Warbler 6, Blackcap 6, Goldcrest 8, Robin 2, Skylark 8, Swallow 2, Wheatear 6, Lapwing 2, Black-tailed Godwit 1, Hen Harrier 1, Short-eared Owl 3, Kestrel 2, Great Northern Diver 1.

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