A trip to the South Isles to show some inexperienced birders some of the hot-spots proved quite bizarre. Not much was expected after a clear night and the wind turning into the SW and strengthening.
It started well enough with a couple of little terns. Honeysgeo and Cara Willows were almost birdless but at Eastside were a couple of female redstarts, a blackcap and 1 or 2 willow warblers and chiffchaffs. Windwick yielded a lone blackcap.
The first real surprise was where we parked near the Burwick ferry terminal. In and out of the hollow concrete blocks stacked at the terminal were several willow warblers and chiffchaffs and at least one wood warbler hunting insects and occasionally doing some airborne fly-catching. Quite spell-binding, but time was pressing and with great reluctance we left them to it! A kind local birder put us on to 2 whimbrel on the road to Brough where also were the only wheatears seen during the day.
Our next stop was at the plantation east of Graemston Loch which was absolutely hooching with warblers - mainly chiffchaffs, willow warblers, 1 or 2 garden warblers and a couple of blackcaps. In contrast to the Wednesday fall there were no flycatchers or whitethroats and the ratio of chiffchaffs to willow warblers was 50:50 (10:50 on Wednesday). There must have been at least 50 warblers in the plantation and probably many more.
For the botanists, there was a very unusual saxifrage in flower on the side of the burn which flows past the plantation. It was probably a hybrid and a garden throw-out. Another alien was Magellan ragwort growing vigorously in the burn. A most unusual and intriguing day out!