Friday, 15 May 2009

Blue turns to Red

Another cracker: Red-throated Pipit on Brownsman today, Farnes seventh
© Joe Cockram, National Trust

Move out the way Blue-throat, Red-throat coming in...
© Joe Cockram, National Trust

Out of the way: Staple Island no match to Mother Nature
Up and over - waves crashing over Staple Island

Friday 15th May Comments:
Wallop. It hit us like an express train, and didn’t stop.

The wind continued throughout the night and strengthened during the morning and backed by an incoming tide in the afternoon, the sea was brutal, real brutal. The wave height couldn’t be measured, but when they are crashing over the sixty foot Pinnacle stacks (complete with nesting birds), you might get an idea what was happening. Nothing stops it nothing stands in its way. The Guillemots can only do their best and cling to their single egg with what they’ve got, whilst the Shags on the south end of the islands stood very little chance.

Tomorrow might reveal the true extent of the devastating hit, but if the islands have one bit of comfort, it’s that it’s only just the start of the breeding season. The Kittiwakes haven’t got any established nests, let alone eggs, so they were lucky this time. The losses experienced by the Guillemots and Shags will be replenished as its early enough to cope with the setback. However we could do without a repeat next month, during the crucial stage, so fingers crossed for some good weather. I suspect the Arctic Terns were aware of poor weather on its way, hence the late nesting this year.

As for the team, we watched in awe as Mother Nature dealt a savage blow. However it wasn’t all bad news as the wind and rain did one favour – it dropped migrant birds, swept in from the North Sea, onto the island. The Bluethroat remained throughout and a good scattering of common migrants were seen including a Cuckoo – a scarce visitor to the islands, dropping into both major islands. However the best was kept until last as the seasons second Red-throated Pipit was found at 17:30 – only the Farnes seventh in total (and by Adam Scott, the finder of the first!). This rare eastern vagrant is rarely seen in the UK and for the islands to boast two this year is outstanding. More to the point, Joe managed to grab some photos of the bird which we failed to do with the first. Hold onto your hats, tomorrow is just around the corner…

Weather: E 6-7 increasing to gale force 8 occasionally severe gale force 9, with rain mid-afternoon, poor visibility

Highlights: Little Gull 2nd summer, Cuckoo visited both Brownsman and then Inner Farne, Tree Pipit 2, Red-throated Pipit summer plumage adult, seventh for Farnes (and second this year!!), Whinchat (first of the year), Wheatear 2, Bluethroat male for third day, Black Redstart female, Lesser Whitethroat 5, Whitethroat 2, Garden Warbler, Willow Warbler 3, Chiffchaff 7 and Pied Flycatcher 2 (male and female).

Breeding birds: Despite the weather things did happen! The day brought the confirmation of the first Fulmar eggs whilst a pair were seen copulating – just the Arctic Terns to go! A pair of Great Black-backed Gulls have three eggs in a nest on Brownsman, while huge numbers of Arctic Terns have finally arrived with nesting activity imminent.

Tomorrow: Another day of strong winds and big seas, so no visitor boats and I suspect more interesting migrant birds will be found. The Arctic Terns can only be a few days away from laying eggs, so watch this space...


Jan said...

You said in Thursday's blog about the Eider maybe taking ducklings to sea in the next 24 hours. Judging by the reports on your weather experience, I hope she didn't, or if she did the ducklings survived the blast. Not that I expect you could know with such a storm.
Eagerly awaiting reports on whatever new migrants/rarities get blown in.

kezia said...

Hi folks I have been away for a week and thought there would be a few posts to catch up on but where are you all - hope all is okay - you are no doubt busy eh either doing repairs due to bad weather or maybe seeing visitors - hope all is well thou . Great great pics once again thank you .