We had an amazing tour to Andalucía in southern Spain in early April: 148 species seen (or heard) with first sightings of Baillon’s crake, little crake and Rupell’s vulture. Other highlights included great & little bustards, displaying booted eagles and Montagu’s harriers, a Bonnelli’s eagle at the nest, and a juvenile Spanish Imperial eagle overhead.
Meanwhile back in Orkney the 1st migrants appeared for us at Hoxa Head on 16/4: wheatears, puffins and a bonxie.
Migration got seriously underway a few days later with the arrival of redstart, robin, willow warbler and brambling locally (19-21/4).
More unusual birds during April included a solitary stock dove on 24/4; a water rail at The Loons 29/4; and a tight group of 6 black-throated divers at Hoxa on 30/4.
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.