Well now spring is well and truly over and summer is here. It’s been an interesting time out here, including the birdlife. Small offshore islands are often referred to as ‘migrant-traps’ in that when birds are on migration some of them often get blown off-course or stray too far out over open-water and after an exhausting marathon flight the first dry land they see is often an island, and so certain small islands can be inundated with migrant birds during spring and autumn migration. This is especially true on the east coast when a lot of birds migrating over the continent can be blown of course in big easterly winds. However, St Kilda is so far away from regular migration routes that it experiences very little in the way of the usual migrant-trap action. Instead of a flood of standard European migrants, you usually just get one or two totally lost species from North America. However this season has seen rather a lot of European birds showing up and a few American species as well.
Laughing Gull: A visitor from America
photo: Will Miles
On the European front so far we have had Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Garden Warbler, Marsh Warbler, Reed Warbler, Grasshopper Warbler, Blackcap, Whitethroat, Crossbill, Blue-headed Wagtail, Pied Flycatcher, Spotted Flycatcher, Cuckoo, Kestrel and Hen Harrier to name a few. And from America we have had a Baird’s Sandpiper, Green-winged Teal and a Laughing Gull. Some birds that arrive here in spring are probably not lost, even though they do not breed here, such as Swallows. However they do turn up in some surprising places as I found out one day when I heard a strange noise coming from the porch; a couple of Swallows had decided my lifejacket would make a good roosting perch!
What a fine lifejacket!