20 Oct 2017

Fair isle 2017. Day 4. A wizard day!

Crap. Thats the only way to describe the weather. Crap but improving to shitty in the afternoon. Undeterred we ventured out into the remnants of storm Ophelia and headed north into a strong north westerly gale! Spirits were high though, even with depleted numbers as Mark had failed to surface for breakfast after a few to many sherbets the previous night celebrating Ken Shaw's 65th birthday.

This was Fair Isle at its stormiest best.

Once again there were hundreds of Redwings in the sheltered areas and a small fall of Wheatears - including some gorgeous Greenland birds.

Deciding it was to miserable for a packed lunch we returned to the Obs for lunch and ventured out into improved weather in the afternoon and headed south. Despite some serious foot work being put in we failed to find any rarities but there was plenty of commoner stuff to see.

 Hooded Crow
 Female Redstart
 Shetland Starling - race zetlandicus

Swans and geese were taking advantage of the tail winds and started appearing over the island in good numbers heading south towards the Orkneys and then on to the mainland. Three Lapland Buntings showed fairly well on the track alongside Boini Mire.

With the daylight fading we started the long walk back to the Obs. On arrival we heard a merlin had been trapped in one of the heligoland traps and I decided to stay and see it being ringed.  Susannah duly arrived in the Obs vehicle and Sara came out holding a large bird bag which she passed to me. Uncertain what to do I was about to hang it up in the ringing room for one of the wardening team when Sara told me Dave Parnaby had told her to give it to me or Richard to ring and release!!!!
With no sign of Richard the honour fell to me and with an appreciative audience of admirers (for the falcon, not me) I duly ringed and processed the 1st year female Merlin. Wow.

That certainly made my day! Wing length suggested it was an Icelandic bird and as most of the Shetland nest sites are monitored and the young ringed this makes sense - I was even more privileged than I thought as, talking to Cieran later, it transpired he'd never ringed a Merlin as all the others caught when he'd been there were controls from Shetland mainland.

Distance walked :22.34 km.

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