The Spring passage began with whimbrels and sandwich terns going through on 1/5.
Great views in brilliant sunshine on 4/5 of 2 pairs of hen harrier, an Iceland gull, and red-throated diver.
Our swallows finally made it back very late on 7/5, along with our first sighting for the year of a queen great yellow bumblebee (we saw another on 23/5).
Some super migrants on 9/5: male pied flycatcher (female on 24/5) and white-billed diver (also on 17/5); with the Arctic terns arriving back at last.
SE Herts RSPB LMG had a great week in mid May, smashing our week’s record with 108 species, adding more on North Ronaldsay! They saw migrants such as wryneck, red-breasted flycatcher, red-backed shrike and rustic bunting.
Other unusual birds for May included little egret and a calling corncrake (17/5 ++); a crossbill (18/5); and redstart (20/5).
Quite exceptionally, Scapa Flow held a humpback whale on 18/5 and a sperm whale on 19/5.
We also saw the 1st basking shark of the season on Westray on 20/5.
Flycatchers were around late in the month (spotted on 21 & 24/5; and pied on 24/5); a whitethroat (23/5); red-backed shrike (23/5); and a cuckoo at last (27/5).
We saw the month out with good views of a Minke whale in the Stronsay Firth (30/5).
A great start, with 14 Lapland buntings on the Brough of Birsay (3/9), followed by our 1st fieldfare at home on 6/9. 7/9 was a bit of a red-letter day with a pair of common cranes at Warebeth; 4 curlew sandpipers in stunning light at the Loch of Skaill; and 4 Lapland buntings on the Brough of Birsay.
The purple patch continued on 9/9 in classic ‘fall’ conditions with a wryneck and a stunning male red-breasted flycatcher, both nearby on South Ronaldsay.
Migrants everywhere – garden warblers, willow warblers, pied & spotted flycatchers, and redstarts.
We enjoyed a juvenile red-backed shrike at Burwick on 11/9, saw more Lapland buntings at Hoxa on 12/9, and saw the cranes again on the shores of the Loch of Stenness on 13/9.
Other interesting birds included a greenshank and a juvenile black-throated diver on 13/9; & a family of snow geese in with greylags on 16/9 in Deerness. On 20/9 the greenshank was still present, along with 2 little stints; and the 1st common scoter of the winter was seen in the Bay of Skaill.
The month ended with a flourish, with a pectoral sandpiper in the heart of Kirkwall in the Peerie Sea (22/9); whilst closer to home, literally yards away we finished the month with another red-breasted flycatcher (that’s 2 in one season!) and a yellow-browed warbler on 30/9.