Friday 11 October 2013

Great Spot!

Woody (Graeme Duncan)

Inner Farnes Woodpecker (David Kinchin-smith)

Great Spot on the Farnes (Graeme Duncan)

Can't see the wood for the...Chapel? (David Kinchin-smith)

Double trouble on Brownsman (Graeme Duncan)

Seven stripe sprite; Pallas's Warbler (Will Scott)

The autumn's second Red-breasted Flycatcher (Graeme Duncan)

Migrant on the rocks; Long-eared Owl (Graeme Duncan)

Lingering Stonechat (David Kinchin-smith)

Friday 11th October comments: Easterlies and October, it’s a good mix. The severe storm of yesterday subsided and in came the birds. Birds from the north arrived, birds from the south departed and birds heading for the open oceans sheared past.

When the Farnes ‘cooks on gas’ it cooks on gas mark nine. A quiet start was shattered by the arrival of a northern Great Spotted Woodpecker. This isn’t your local woodland we are taking about, this is the treeless Farnes. This impressive bird looked for anything resembling timber, so the stunted Elders, a door frame and St.Cuthbert’s Chapel were all utilised by the foraging woodpecker. This arrival did not come as a shock as Shetland have been experiencing a similar invasion so therefore we were not surprised when a second, then a third arrived, both on Brownsman later in the morning.

The excitement didn’t stop there as a seven-striped sprite; a Pallas’s Warbler was found on Inner Farne seconds after the discovery of the Great Spotted Woodpecker. The birds kept on coming as a Long-eared Owl was discovered in a Kittiwake nest on Brownsman whilst the same island hosted a Red-breasted Flycatcher later in the day.

All of this excitement didn’t even include the seawatching. A record number of Great Skuas were recorded flying north, alongside a Leach’s Petrel and an impressive 22 ‘Blue’ phase Fulmars (northern Fulmars). You couldn’t take your eyes off the Farnes today and I suspect tomorrow may just bring just as much excitement. You have been warned….

Seawatching: Great Northern Diver 2N, Black-throated Diver 1N, Red-throated Diver 11n 3s, Manx Shearwater 44N, Sooty Shearwater 62N, ‘Blue’ Fulmar 22N, Balearic Shearwater 1N at 14:40, Great Skua 216N (new Farnes record), Arctic Skua 1N 1S, Leach’s Petrel 1N at 17:30, Velvet Scoter 8N, Common Scoter 108N, Red-breasted Merganser 1N, Goldeneye 6N, Long-tailed Duck 3N and Little Gull 1N.

Migrants: Peregrine 2, Merlin 1, Kestrel 1 male, Long-eared Owl 1 on Brownsman, Wood Pigeon 1 on Staple (first of autumn), Grey Wagtail 1, Great-spotted Woodpecker 3 (first live birds since 2003), Stonechat 1 lingering for third day, Redwing 138, Pallas’s Warbler 1 (first this autumn in the UK!), Goldcrest 15, Red-breasted Flycatcher 1 on Brownsman and Mealy Redpoll 1.

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