White-tailed Eagle - photo Isak GrimsbyGeneral: coverage and weather:
An average temperature of 3.9degC for the month, 1.4degC over the normal. Highest temperature was 8.1degC on the 7th, and lowest -3degC on the 13th. January was a dry and very windy month with a total rainfall of only 6.2mm. On the 13th drifting snow came, but otherwise the island remained snow free. The highest recorded wind was 27.4 m/s on the 25th. The weather was a challenge for both birds and birders. In the years’ first month 60 different species were recorded. This may seem a low figure compared to the mainland but a reasonable tally for the island.

Daily observations of White-tailed Eagle with up to 3 on the 1st. Regular sightings of the resident Peregrine Falcons and a Sparrowhawk which was resident from the 1st to 18th.

Seabirds and waders (shorebirds):
Typically shorebirds contribute well to this year first month total of species. 34 of the months 60 species were such. January is an important geese month, starting from the 8th at Pedlestemmen with 28 Greylag Goose and a Pink-foot. The Greylag flock reduced to 18 and on the 21st came two further Pink-feet and 13 Bean Geese (2 fabalis and 11 rossicus). The Bean Geese were present to the end of the month whilst a young White-fronted Goose appeared in the flock on the 26th. 

A large number of Snipe and Woodcock were noted throughout the month. On the 11th 27 Snipe were noted, which is probably a maximum for the January month on Utsira. The young Moorhen from December was also registered at the beginning of the month and the two Little Grebes present from October were also stationary in Nordvikvågen. The strong wind has resulted in only a few Common Scoter, Long-tailed Duck and Eider. A storm on the 26th resulted in 60 Common Gull, 2 Wigeon, a Tufted Duck and a Lapwing. The best day for seabird passage was the 1st with 120 Little Auks, 25 Kittiwakes plus singles of Gannet, Fulmar, Guillemot and Razorbill.

Of special note is a Jack Snipe in the middle of the month in Vestremarka and a flyby on the 26th. A Great Northern Diver was noted in Sørevågen on the 12th, whilst a cold period on the mainland on the 29th resulted in a Water Rail.

Great Northern Diver - photo: Isak Grimsby

No great numbers of any particular species. Passerines were made up of those remaining from December in the form of a long staying Black Redstart around Siratun and Pedlestemmen, while a Blackap remained until the 10th. The same story for Blue Tit, Great Tit, Chaffinch, a Brambling and a Greenfinch present at various feeding stations on the island. A Waxwing made a brief stop to Herberg on the 11th. The freezing conditions on the mainland on the 29th produced 60 Mealy Redpoll.

Sveinung Larsen had one weekend of ringing in Herberg which resulted in 14 individuals being ringed of 3 species: 12 Blackbird and singles of Snipe and Great Tit.

Year ticks:
All 60 species were new species for the year.

Local and national rarities:
3rd and 4th January record of Jack Snipe (previously in 1985 and 2006); 2nd January record of Black Redstart (first 26th and 27th January 2012); sixth year with January records of Blackcap (previously also in 1983, 1995, 1997, 2006 and 2009).