Blog Category | UK Birding

Fair Isle - Day 4

Tue 2 Oct 12

Two recce patrols set out at dawn to relocate two of the rarities seen the previous day whilst the rear party opted for another leisurely breakfast, albeit after a patrol of the Havens and Bu Ness.  One patrol relocated its quarry, Pechora Pipit, and had it under close observation for a good period of time.  The second patrol was unable to find the target species, Little Bunting, despite significant efforts to find it.

Morning operations were disrupted by the discovery of a Locustella warbler.  Early reports were confused but the identity of the target was soon confirmed as Lanceolated Warbler.  After excellent uncommon views the team dispersed to different searches.

Having re-grouped at FIBO at lunchtime the team went back to observe the Pechora Pipit before conducting an extensive search for the Little Bunting.  The rear guard eventually found the Little Bunting at the school, not long after the remainder of the team had recovered back to base, at approximately the same time of the evening it had been found the previous day.  There is still some debate amongst the team as to whether or not it is a Little Bunting.

The winds have been predominantly south-westerly since the team’s arrival but some north/north-westerly’s are forecast so hopes are high for an influx of new birds.  Tomorrow is another day…


Fair Isle - Day 3

Mon 1 Oct 12

A ‘quiet’ sort of day.  Whilst operations were not hampered by any rain the strong south-westerly winds still had their impact.  A pre-breakfast recce of the Havens and Bu Ness failed to reveal anything unusual.

The morning patrol concentrated on the south-western side of the island; the report reads, ‘Nothing Significant to Report’.  In true military fashion the transport failed to show at the RV and the team had to tab most of the way back to FIBO for lunch.  However, whilst waiting for the transport, some of the team re-located the Bluethroat at the Stackhoull Store.

The afternoon patrol headed north to North Lighthouse and a period of sea watching before splitting into teams and heading back via multiple routes including the old radar station on top of Ward Hill.  The afternoon report reads, ‘Nothing Significant to Report’. 

The team was settling into harbour routine and preparing for dinner when a FIBO ‘crash out’ was called - Pechora Pipit!  The FIBO staff organised a swift response and all troops were quickly moved to the south of the island around Shirva to see the Pipit.  With the light beginning to fail everyone saw the Pechora Pipit, which clearly hadn’t read the manual, and was frequently out in full view!  All of the team made the crash out bar one who was reluctant to leave the shower they were taking when the crash out was called!

So, the ‘quiet’ day ends less than quietly with another three star rarity captured.


Fair Isle - Day 2

Sun 30 Sep 12

The recce screen deployed before first light but became a little bogged down having made contact with 11 Jack Snipe.  Meanwhile the main force scoured the Havens and Bu Ness in rain and driving wind before retiring for a leisurely breakfast!

Once deployed, the main force recovered the recce screen and spent the morning searching for new and existing rarities.  The morning turned up Richard’s Pipit above South Harbour and a Paddyfield Warbler at the shop, re-discovered just before the transport back to FIBO.

After lunch the team deployed back to the shop to get good views of the Paddyfield Warbler.  The task was expected to last most of the afternoon but the bird was very obliging and good views were achieved within half an hour.  With the Paddyfield Warbler having completed its photo call the team returned to scouring the south and were put onto a Red-breasted Flycatcher hiding in the cliffs around Hesswalls.

Another successful day.  What will tomorrow bring?


Fair Isle - Day 1

Sat 29 Sep 12

Not a promising start to the day with the FIBO warden, Dave, deciding whether or not to start the early morning trap run because of the wind and rain.  In the end it was go and, whilst those new to the island learnt about the Heligoland traps and their use, the sum total of the trap run was two birds, a Meadow Pipit and a Song Thrush.

After breakfast the team headed out for an abortive attempt to find Barred Warbler and was just considering moving on when a ‘red flag’ event was called.  All birders on the island moved to Furse where a Buff-bellied Pipit had been located and was showing well.  After a Snipe search the team returned to the observatory for lunch.

Whilst everyone was enjoying a post lunch cuppa in the lounge a warbler popped in through the open door.  Having stunned itself against the glass and dropped down behind a sofa it was recovered by one of the rangers who confirmed it as a Blyth’s Reed Warbler.  It was bagged, allowed to recover in the ringing room, and then tagged before being brought out for a ‘press call’ and being realised.  Armchair birding for rarities at its best!

After all the lunchtime excitement the team resumed the hunt over the southern half of the island turning up: Arctic Warbler, Little Bunting, Barred Warbler, Bluethroat, Yellow-browed Warbler, Lapland Bunting.  Quite a collection for an afternoon and a fair few lifer’s for some.

After dinner Saturday night went with a swing and following an informative talk on the history of Fair Isle the CAOS team managed a creditable third place in the ’mystery birds’ quiz although, it has to be said, this achievement was marred slightly by the fact that there were only three teams!


Fair Isle - Arrival

The Team Arrives - Fri 28 Sep 12

The two traveling teams made the RV at Tingwall Airfield in good time for the flight to Fair Isle, scheduled for 1430, having traveled to Shetland Mainland by either air from Inverness or the ferry from Aberdeen.

Following the team arrival at FIBO the team took over their rooms, dumped their kit and, after the welcome briefing, legged it out for quick tour of the island in the remaining available light.

Although only out on the ground for two hours much was seen the highlights being: Fair Isle Wren, Great Skua and Olive-backed Pipit.  A cheeky Twite also welcomed our arrival greeting us from an adjacent gate top.

Sat 29 Sep will be the team's first full day on the island and expectations are high...