It was around 1130am and my phone went off with the familiar and always exciting 'bleep' of the WhatsApp bird groups, looking at the message, Paul Harvey had re-found the Red-necked Grebe in Nesting. Red-necked Grebe, within the last few years, has been updated to a local rarity and during my birding years it hasn't been a bird I've been able to see.
The day was gorgeous and still, perfect for searching for Grebes on the water, I phoned up Tommy who was birding around the mainland and we organised to meet up around 3.30pm.
Fast forward 4 hours and we were dashing out of Lerwick on our way to Nesting. Arriving on site we spotted local Nesting birder Kristofer Wilson and Julie Redpath peering through scopes, quickly parking up, we spilled out the car to see if they had the bird, which to our luck was still in their scopes.
After only two records in Shetland during the last few years, I had finally laid eyes on a Red-necked Grebe, it was hard to contain my excitement after finally clamping eyes on this beauty.
It was a bit distant but views were still good though I was wanting to see it a bit better, it was only a couple minute walk to the shore so with my scope and bag I trudged down to the coast.
A minute or two after arriving my scope was set up and very quickly I was on to the bird.
Albeit rather distant you can make it out as the Grebe if you look closely
I'd gotten my fill of the bird and knowing that there had been the regular WBD in the area, I began scanning the voe and an interesting diver caught my eye.
This diver was not the WBD but instead a dark necked smaller bird, this bird spoke to me as odd. From the distance I did struggle to get a good look at it but it didn't look right for GND, having a black coloured neck, missing the usual brown collar and block fronted head. This got me thinking of Black-throat.
I decided to head back up to everyone and tell them of what I'd seen, when I arrived Kris said he had also seen the bird and had thought the same as me, so we set out to try get a solid ID.
Soon the four of us got eyes on the bird but it was so distant and the fading light made us struggle with the ID however we were pretty confident it was a Black-throat but I wanted to get better views, so Tommy and I headed over to the opposite side of the bay to get a better view.
Luckily we quickly relocated the bird and it was much closer than when we viewed it from the other side, I was about 90% sure it was Black-throated so I phoned up Kris and Julie to get another opinion, Kris soon showed up and clamped eyes on it as well, with the fading light we were more than certain it was a BTD, Julie had already put it out as a probable so news was out, I was happy for it to go out as that due to our views in the poor light and Kris would watch the area for the next while to see if it was around.
Kris managed to see the bird again in better light a few days later and confirmed it as a Black-throated Diver.
After having the glorious Red-necked Grebe tick the day before, I was not expecting to have any more excitement for many months but luck would have it that the special beep from WhatsApp would go off again.
At 1100, the WhatsApp group went off from Rory Tallack of a Stock Dove at Gremista, Lerwick. Stock Dove being a Shetland bogey bird and a much wanted Shetland tick I went into action to try and get to see it, only being a 30 minute walk away it was literally within running distance.
I had a few lifts that I could use to get there, I gave Dave a shout (who happened to be going for the bird) and we met up at 1310 to go on the twitch.
Arriving on site, the bird was easy to find feeding with another pigeon, I rattled off a few record shots and took in its peerie size before we decided to try and get closer.
Trying from another vantage point we managed to get within 10 metres of the bird by the roadside, where all of its colours showed pretty well.
It only stayed for a few minutes before shooting off back towards the centre of the park, but I was pretty satisified with my views and photos, its not everyday I get a Shetland tick and get so close as well! So with that Dave and I ended our skirmish for the day.
Stock Dove! a long-awaited Shetland tick and a very smart bird.
With those two additions in February it brought my list up to a respectable 282. A few birds to go till 300 but this being Shetland who knows what will turn up next!