06 September, 2014

Icterine and Ortolan

Icterine Warbler

It's amazing how quickly the bird migration mindset takes over daily island thinking as September arrives. It seems like a lifetime ago that I was looking for colour-ringed Puffins in Crab Bay, or snoozing on a cliff-top listening to the wind-blown calls of desperate Guillemots chicks. Instead, I now find myself in a weird but excited rarity-fuelled trance, waking-up extra early for the possibility that a 'yank' wader might be feeding on North Pond, or a scarce warbler skulking near one of the Heligolands. Whilst it's hard not to miss the mellow seabird months of summer (even if that did coincide with the busiest time of year for guests!), autumn brings its own sense of excitement, with endless birding possibilities (given the right weather).

The first week of September has yet to end, but things are already looking exciting on the rare bird front- I was lucky enough to find an Icterine Warbler during my morning rounds of the island back on Tuesday. Despite being half-asleep at the time, there was little mistaking the striking tones and bulky size of a Hippolais warbler, almost dwarfing the Sedge Warbler sitting next to it in the same bush, and ten minutes later all island folk were enjoying views of the little beauty as it made its way through an Elder, often coming out into the open to catch flies with several Spotted Flycatchers and a Redstart feeding nearby.

Fast-forward to yesterday and a cracking Ortolan Bunting turned up at the Farm, showing brilliantly throughout the day to all. The string of scarcities continued today, with a Common Rosefinch trapped and ringed early in the afternoon. The 'commoner' migrants have been just as exciting to watch however, with small arrivals of Pied Flycatcher, Whinchat, Stonechat, Tree Pipit, Redstart and Yellow Wagtail frequenting the cliffs and coastal paths. What a fantastic time of year!

Ortolan Bunting

Common Rosefinch

Pied Flycatcher


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