Tuesday, 31 December 2013

The end of the year

Well it's the end of the year and what a year its been.
The year has been beyond great and I've met so many nice people while out birding, these people have told me so many stories about the birds where they come from and I have told them some of my stories.
Of course I would love to relive this year but who knows what will be coming next year.
I have seen some many rare birds many of which were new ones for me.

From here I would like to provide a quick summary of some of the birds I have seen month to month.


At the start of 2013 I was on Fair Isle celebrating new year, on new years day Tommy, Henry, David and I did a bird count of the island where we clocked up forty-four species of bird, up on two from last years, the middle of January brought me two more birds to my list Ring-billed Gull (found by Russ Haywood) in Scalloway and Pintail in Boddam, the rest of January was quite very slow and RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch ended off the month, I saw a total of three new bird species this month.

The Ring-billed Gull at East Voe of Scalloway


The 1st started off very good when a Pine Grosbeak had been at Collafirth.
The bird had been found previously but had been mis-identified as a Crossbill, luckily the Grosbeak was relocated on the 2nd and my granddad Tommy and I went to see it on the 3rd.
I went round Strand and Clickimin quite a lot through the month and on the 21st I made my first blog post.
On the 22nd I headed into Fair Isle with my family, during my stay there I was able to see my first White-fronted Goose which had evaded me since October last year, I did a bit of rock-pooling with Henry and on my second last day we found some interesting creatures so we took them to Nick to see if he could identify them, the next day Henry and Tommy told me that we had found three first's for Fair Isle! Henry had found a sea slug and I had found a sea spider (by accident!) and the third was a worm which neither of us knew who found it.
On return from Fair Isle on the 25th I read online about a Barnacle Goose at Scalloway so I went off to see it with my stepmam.
This month I saw a total of two new bird species and a new one to my Shetland List.

My first for Fair Isle, a Sea spider (found in the rock pools at Sample on the 25th)






On the 3rd I saw a Jackdaw in Mid Yell and on the 4th I counted 211 Starlings, the tenth brought me a new Shetland bird when I found a Grey Wagtail below the Weisdale Kirk.
The 16th brought a few new birds when myself Paula and her friend Nat headed down to the South End, we were able to see a Brown Rat at Grutness, my first Blue Tit in Shetland at Virkie and one of the first Lesser Black-backed Gulls of the year at North Virkie.
I was able to find two Blue Tits in Helendale on the 23rd.
Finally for the month I headed to Melby with my Dad and Mairi on the 30th and we managed to see our first Knot of the year along with 50 Ringed Plovers.
This month I didn't see any new birds but I did add two bird species to my Shetland List.






During the start of the month I headed into Fair Isle on the 3rd, during my stay I was able to see 46 species of bird, I photographed a colour ringed Rock Pipit which is the only British Rock Pipit known to take a regular migration and I saw a Sparrowhawk which was a new bird for me.
On the 13th I saw a very nice Coot at Grutness and on the 21st I went with my Dad to Toab in the South End in search of a Coal Tit, we never saw the bird but we did see my first Sandwich Tern which was ringed.
This month I was able to add two new bird species to my list.




I saw a  Canada Goose on the (5th) shore of the Clickimin Loch and that added another specie to my Shetland list, the 5th also brought my first Red Grouse of the year.
The 11th saw three hirundine species (twenty Swallow and one of both House and Sand Martin) flying over the Clickimin Loch and I managed to find a new bird and my first of the flycatcher family, a Pied Flycatcher.
I got a call the next day (13th) about a Goldfinch down at Linkshouse in Mid Yell and luckily I saw the bird hopping on the ground.
On the 13th I headed to Skaw, Whalsay in search of a Collard Flycatcher, sadly I didn't see it but I did find a Whitethroat (a lifer!).
On the 25th I left for Fair Isle with my granddad Tommy and during our four-day stay we saw at least ten new birds each, mine were Lesser Whitethroat, Red-backed Shrike, Tree Sparrow, Lapland Bunting,
"Eastern" Subalpine Warbler, Bluethroat, "Greenland" Wheatear, Sedge Warbler, Marsh Warbler, Blyth's Reed Warbler and on this trip I saw 73 species of bird!
The month was pretty good for new birds because I saw thirteen new birds and one to my Shetland List!

My self-found tick, the male Pied Flycatcher at Helendale, Lerwick






On the 2nd I headed to Mousa and I saw most of the breeding seabirds but no Storm Petrels!
The earlier start of the month was a bit quite until the 11th when I and my granddad headed up to a pool near Ollaberry to see a Green-winged Teal (which was a lifer for both of us).
I headed down to Grutness on the 15th with my Dad and Mairi to see a Little Stint which was again a lifer for me.
The rest of the month was quiet and only breeding birds were of much note, to end it I saw two new bird species this month.




On the 3rd Tommy and I saw 80+ Common Crossbills at the Plantation at the Loch of Voe, Shetland's first breeding Goldfinches at Scalloway with two of their four chicks.
On the 7th I took a trip with my Mairi and Dad to Hermaness as part of the Shetland Nature festival, while there I learnt about some wild flowers.
The next the day the 8th I went up to Unst (again) with my granddad, we went round Baltasound in search of the "grounded" Common Crane and we had a look at the rare plants on the Keen of Hamar.
On the 13th I headed with my family to the Netherlands to see Mairi's cousins, It was an amazing country and everything there was great, I saw two new birds: Egyptian Goose and Jay.
On the 23rd we left the Netherlands and headed out to the West Coast of Scotland to see Mairi's Auntie, Uncle and Granny, while out there I got to go on a boat trip round Handa Isand with Mairi's Uncle and my Dad.
While I was there Mairi's Auntie Rona got me a wildflower book which I used everyday afterwards.
During our stay we headed out to the Durness Highland Games where I competed in a couple of events.
On our return from the West Coast, I headed down to Sumburgh to try and see three lifers Gull-billed and Rosete Tern and Two-barred Crossbill.
Sadly the Roseate Tern had disappeared this morning and I had missed the Gull-billed by ten minutes! but I did get amazing views of a juvenile Two-barred Crossbill on Sumburgh Head (with thanks to Gary Bell).
This month I added three new species to my list.









On the 5th I headed into Fair Isle for a seven-day trip and during that stay I was able to see Storm, Leach's and Swinhoe's Storm Petrel (Fair Isle's Second in two weeks!) on the Petrel ringing, I got to see my first Leach's on the 6th and my first Swinhoe's on 7th!
Also during my trip in Fair Isle I was able to meet Dougie Preston (a Yell birder) right outside Schoolton!
I was able to spot my first Cuckoo flying over Dittfield on the 11th (the bird had been originally seen over the Obs in the early part of the afternoon and was trapped the next day! but I missed it).
On the 11th I headed over with my granddad to Burra in search of a Rose-cloured Starling, but we couldn't find the place so we didn't see the bird and I found out later that we were only a stone's throw away!
A rush down to Sumburgh Farm on the 25th to see a Short-toed Lark brought three new lifers (a Wood and Icternine Warbler and the Short-toed Lark) plus a Wryneck which was a new bird for the year.
So this month was pretty good for new birds because I was able to add six new bird species to my list.




The 6th of this month brought a mad dash to organize a trip into Fetlar in search of a Black-and-White Warbler and on the 7th despite extensive searching by myself and seventeen other birders we did not see this American rarity.
The middle of the month was a kinda quiet and I didn't see much.
I saw a "Western" Subalpine Warbler on my home turf in Mid Yell on the 24th which was found by Dougie the day before.
On the 28th I saw the Wester Quarff Brown Shrike which was a first for me and a Little Bunting which was another first.
The 29th brought a long sought after bird when Tommy found a Great-spotted Woodpecker in Brae and lucky enough I was able to see it, another lifer!
This month ended with three new bird species to my list




The 1st brought a new bird to my list after school when I was able to see the Hudsonian Whimbrel outside Mid Yell, the bird had been originally seen on the 30th of September.
On the 5th (my birthday) My Dad, Tommy, Henry and myself went out birding to the South End, during our trip we saw an Eastern Olivaceous Warbler which was a new bird for me, Tommy and Dad, a Thick-billed Warbler (Shetland and Britain's 5th) at Geosetter and also before we headed down to the south end, Tommy and I saw an Arctic Warbler at the Loch of Voe which was a new bird for both of us.
The next day (the 6th) I got a text from Dougie saying that he'd found a Buff-bellied Pipit on the Mid Yell football pitch (right outside my school!) and later when I was heading up to Yell I got a text from Mairi saying that there was a Red-eyed Vireo on Fair Isle! the second for Shetland! Sadly the Pipit had flown off shortly after Dougie had seen it so I didn't get to see it.
On the 12th I went birding round the Clickimin "patch" and I was able to find a stunner of a male Pochard swimming about (my first of the year), afterwards I saw a Wilson's Phalarope at Sand with Paula, the Phalarope was the first in Shetland since 1988!
On the afternoon of the 13th I got a text from Dougie saying that he'd found a Hornemann's Arctic Redpoll at the Windhouse Bod on Yell, so I went to see it on my way back from the Mainland, this time I got to see one of Dougie's birds and I got several photos of the Redpoll.
The 14th brought a trip to Unst with my granddad Tommy in search of two rarties, a Black-bellied Dipper and a Paddyfield Warbler but we couldn't find either so instead we went birding and met Brydon Thomason.
The next day (the 15th) I went birding with Mairi's Dad, Stewart and we went in search for the Wilson's Phalarope but with no luck but instead we saw a possible Minke Whale at Channerwick and a "ringed" Starling in Lerwick.
On the 16th I flew into Fair Isle with my Dad, during our (original) seven-day stay I saw many new species  such as Dusky Warbler, Dotterel, Red-throated Pipit, Richard's Pipit, Yellowhammer and Paddyfield Warbler, luckily (for me) on the 21st we got stuck in the isle due to mist and high sea so I got to stay in the isle a bit longer, that day a male Siberian Rubythroat was found by Graham and I got see it (my second!) and for Becki at the Obs this was her 4th Rubythroat!
So on the 25th I left Fair Isle but where one journey ended another started.
After getting off the plane myself, Tommy and another birder called Alan Leitch headed up to Unst in search of a Cape May Warbler (second for Britian/ the Western Palearctic) which had been found by Mike Pennington three days ago.
Luckily we did see the bird and it was a first for all of us.
On the 27th I went birding on my patch of Mid Yell, I found several Blackcaps, a dead Great-spotted Woodpecker and the long-staying Bearded Seal off the Mid Yell pier.
Finally for the month I headed into Whalsay with Tommy in search of a Isabelline Shrike which we did not see.
This month was good for new birds, I saw a total of thirteen new bird species plus one (a Bullfinch) to my Shetland List.

The Fair Isle male Siberian Rubythroat on the 22nd








The month started off with me, Henry and Tommy heading up to Baltasound on the 2nd to see the Cape May Warbler (again), we were lucky enough to see it and also a Grey Wagtail at Haroldswick.
On the 9th I saw a "Lecustic" Shag at Toft and a Black-throated Thrush (a very unexpected lifer) at Sound, Lerwick which had been originally found at Gulberwick an hour before.
The next day some of us went to Kergord as part of the Wildlife Explorers and Henry and myself were able to find lots of Goldcrests and a Woodcock.
On the 16th Henry and I went birding round Clickimin/Helendale, we saw an Iceland Gull, several Goldcrests and an "Eastern" Chiffchaff we also met a birder from the South End.
The 17th brought a very nice Little Grebe to my eyes when I saw one out at Seafield the bird had been seen by several people before I finally found it.
For birding the rest of the month was very slow with Clickimin with the only birds of note.
This month I was able to add one new bird specie to my list.






Right at the start of this month (the 1st) I went round some of the streets in the west of Lerwick, I didn't find anything special but I did see a few Robins.
Birding was pretty quiet for most of the month but I did have a new high count of House Sparrows in my Mid Yell garden and the record now stands at forty-five thanks to the cold weather and also I saw the "ringed" Starling on the street again but I couldn't see/photograph the numbers on the ring.
The 15th did shine some light on things when I saw two Iceland Gulls in Lerwick.
On the 21st I did a bird watching trip round all the streets in Scalloway and I did come up with an unexpected Great-spotted Woodpecker in the same area as a Lesser-spotted was found last year.
The 25th was of course Christmas and I got a new camera! it had a really good zoom and the pictures are better so expect some better ones to be along the way.
On the 30th I went birding with Tommy to the North Mainland in search of a male Green-winged Teal at the Loch of Flugarth, we were easily able to spot the bird with it's distinctive vertical breast stripe also up north we were able to see three otters! also in Lerwick I saw a colour-ringed Whooper Swan.
Today the final day of 2013 I went birding round Clickimin and Seafield, on Clickimin this morning I saw a juvenile Mute Swan and two Black-headed Gulls (I did see more birds but nothing but the "usual") and at Seafield I saw fifteen Shalders (Oystercatchers), a Purple Sandpiper and some Common Gulls.
This month ended with no new birds at all for any of my lists.



This year had been absolutely amazing I cannot begin to thanked everyone who has helped me this year.
Amazingly I have seen a total of 50 new birds this year!! (halfway through the year I was secretly aiming for this total) I know the total will never be as high as that again but I'm just really happy that I've seen these birds common, scarce or rare.
So here is all the new birds I have seen this year Ring-billed Gull, Pintail, Pine Grosbeak, White-fronted Goose, Sparrowhawk, Sandwich Tern, Pied Flycatcher, Common Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat, Red-backed Shrike, Tree Sparrow, Lapland Bunting, "Eastern" Subalpine Warbler, Bluethroat, "Greenland" Wheatear, Sedge Warbler, Marsh Warbler, Blyth's Reed Warbler, Green-winged Teal, Red-necked Phalarope, Little Stint, Egyptian Goose, Jay, Two-barred Crossbill, Leach Storm Petrel, Swinhoe's Storm Petrel, Cuckoo, Wood Warbler, Icterine Warbler, Short-toed Lark, Brown Shrike, Little Bunting, Great-spotted Woodpecker, Hudsonian Whimbrel, Arctic Warbler, Eastern Olivaceous Warbler, Thick-billed Warbler, Wilson's Phalarope, Dusky Warbler, Dotterel, Red-throated Pipit, Richard's Pipit, Yellowhammer, Paddyfield Warbler, Cape May Warbler and Black-throated Thrush.

My year list stands at 175 birds and that is more than my life list from last year! my life list stands at 201 and who would of believed that I would of seen some many birds.

Finally I would like to wish everyone a happy new year and I hope it is a good one! till next year everyone!

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Scouring Scalloway (21st of December 2013)

So this is probably my last blog post up to Christmas and until then I wish everybody a Happy Christmas.

This weekend I went with my Dad to Scalloway, while I was there I had a look round the streets (most of them!) for birds.

I started off at 11.55 and I headed to Ladysmith road, I had a look for some Goldfinches which had been seen in a garden a few weeks ago, but alas there was no Goldfinches and instead I got to watch a young Blackbird with a worm.

The young Blackbird was happily eating while I took some photos of it a mere three or four metres away

I watched the Blackbird, a few Starlings and twenty House Sparrows feeding in the garden for five minutes before a walker-by scared them all off, it was time for me to head off anyway so I went to have a look round the next street.

In the next street I found a garden with some feeders that were covered in Starlings some of them were feeding on the ground.

This individuals colours seemed so bright, in this picture you can see a kind of lilac collar on the bird.

And on this one the Starling has a kind of greeny yellow collar

I left the Starlings and I explored several streets before coming to one called "The Creek" I went down it and then I turned back around to head into another street when I saw a Hooded Crow alight itself into a large tree to my right, the Crow had got itself a piece of bread which had been chucked out, I got out my camera and got a few photos of the bird.

 The crows are disliked by some people, I like them because they are a bit of a challenge to get close to

From "The Creek" I followed the streets north until I came to a place called "Sycamore Avenue" I followed the street and I came to the edge of a park (field) and I saw a few Blackbirds feeding, I got my "bins" on the closest one and watched it for a while, I noticed something fly across the road from where I was standing and this bird was black and white, a Woodpecker!! I immediately got my camera out and I tried to get a photo of the Great-spotted Woodpecker but it was always behind a branch (Scotland's first Lesser-spotted Woodpecker was found (by Rob Fray) in Sycamore Avenue/the Scalloway Health Centre last year, I sadly missed the bird by three days as I was in Fair Isle, the day I left the isle I missed a Siberian Rubythroat! but had luckily seen one the year before).

This is probably my best shot of the "pecker" (which was a juvenile or a female) but for me it was a great find, only my 4th ever sighting of the species, my first was this year in Brae which was found by my grandad Tommy!

I "woody" stayed around for a few minutes, calling most of the time too! but all birds go and this one flew over a house and disappeared, I had a look around for it but there was no sign so I moved off in search of the avian-flyers.
I found myself looking over a park (field) next to the Scalloway Health Centre and I managed to see at least twenty Curlews or Whaps as we call them, I had a better look at the flock and I counted sixty bird! I can't believe I'd missed that many! the Whaps in the park flew up onto a hill and joined ten or twenty more.
I decided to have a closer look and I was able to count 74 Whaps they blended in very well with the hillside so there was probably 80 birds.
I started heading south towards the shop because I was starting to feel hungry and after I got a bag of crisps I went and had a quick look round some large trees (by Shetland Standards anyway), surprisingly I didn't see any birds but I didn't check the entire place.
The area round the Leisure Centre was my next destination and it was a good one! I saw 7 Greylag Geese, 28 Lapwings and 40+ Starlings!
I doubled back and went along the road to the Scalloway Castle and in the parks below were Twenty Herring Gulls, four Great Black-Backed Gulls and two Rooks.

I managed to get a picture of one of the Rooks in flight

I walked down the road to the pier and I sat myself down, I had a quick scan of the sea and I saw three Dunters and two very nice Red-breasted Mergansers.
A few minutes later I got a call from Dad saying that he was ready to pick me up.
By this time it was three o'clock so I had spent three hours checking through most of the streets in Scalloway!

Here is a picture of the Scalloway Castle, taken from my sitting spot beside a lamp post

Dad then came to pick me up and we headed home, on the way I tallied up all the birds I had seen during my three hour period of birdwatching.

Starling 200+

Blackbird 14

Herring Gull 53+

Hooded Crow (Cra) 13

House Sparrow 54

Collard Dove
(a very, very low count compared to what I normally see in Scalloway)

Great-spotted Woodpecker 1

Curlew (Whap) 80+

Rock Dove 2

Greylag Goose 7

Raven (Corbie) 1 or 2

Lapwing 28

Great Black-backed Gull (Swaabie) 7

Rook 2 possibly 3

Eider (Dunter) 3

Red-breasted Merganser (Herald Deuk) 2

Common Gull (Peerie Maa) 1

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Weekend Birding 16th & 17th of November 2013

Saturday the 16th of November 2013

This morning I headed down to Lerwick on the bus.
When I got to Lerwick Henry and I headed to the "street" and then to the hostel.
We stayed there a while before Mairi picked us up and we went to the house for lunch.
After lunch Henry and I checked the Clickimin.
On arrival we saw fifty-four Stirlings, eight Turnstones, fourteen Greylags, thirty Herring Gulls and twenty-two Shalders.
While I was counting the Herring Gulls I noticed a different coloured gull washing itself in the water,
we both moved closer to it and I noticed it had white wing tips, a white-winged gull! a 1st or 2nd winter Iceland or a Glaucous Gull!
My thoughts were moving towards Iceland Gull but I couldn't be sure, so since the bird didn't seem to be going anywhere we went to Helendale.
We were there a few minutes and we had seen two Goldcrests, a Collard Dove, two Brambling, a Chaffinch and four Blackbirds then the birder from the south end who we saw last weekend came up the road, we spoke to him for a few minutes before he went further up the road.
We started walking towards the loch when Henry spotted a warbler on some wire, I got my "bins" on it and it was a Chiffchaff but it was a very pale bird (possibly a Siberian).
The south end birder then arrived and we showed him the bird and he said that it was definitely an "eastern" bird, we then showed him the white-winged gull he said that it was an Iceland but it was hard to tell if it was a first or second winter.
We continued birding round the loch and we found seventeen Tufted Ducks, twelve Goldeneye, the juvenile Mute Swan and two Great Black-backed Gulls we then headed back to the house.
Tonight I sent an email asking if anyone had said where a certain Little Grebe had been seen during the week.

Sunday the 17th of November 2013

I got up early this morning so I could take a look round Clickimin and Seafield.
I checked my emails before I went out just in case I had got a reply about the Little Grebe, luckily I did and I was told that no-one had actually said where it had been but an idea was a small loch at Seafiled.
With that info I gathered my stuff and headed over to Clickimin, there I saw three Whooper Swans, sixteen Greylags, fifteen Herring Gulls, one Great Black-backed Gull (which was eating an intestine or something), two Shalders, one Turnstone, eight Mallards, a pair of Teal, seven Redshank, thirteen Tufted Duck, two Goldeneye, one Gadwall, a Blackbird and two Herring Gulls.
I headed into Helendale and I found a Robin, fifteen Blackbirds and a Wren from here I went to Seafield.
On the way I saw one Great Black-backed Gull (Swaabie), four Redshank, a Raven, two Blackbird and three Redwing.

I got relatively close to the Redwings and this one stayed close enough so I could get a photo

I got to Seafield and I saw the usually Grey Seals which lie on the rocks.

I couldn't see the name of this ship, unless anyone has any ideas

Further along the coast I found a Kittiwake, two Wren, four Rock Pipits, three Blackbird, twenty-five Stirlings, eight Turnstone, four Redshank and a few Herring Gulls.

I then spotted three Ringed Plovers standing among four larger grey waders, Knot!

It's not a time lapse but three birds

You can see the size comparison with the Ringed Plovers

I was quite happy that I found the Knot because I haven't seen any in a while

I continued out to the small loch further along at Seafield, when I got there I saw five Mallards and a very (very) small bird swimming in the water, the Little Grebe! I got out my camera and I started taking some photos.

It was a piece away but I'm glad that I got a photo

If you look carefully you can see a peerie fish in the bird's beaks!

I then headed back to the house and this was the end of my birding for today.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Weekend Birding 9th and 10th of November 2013

Saturday the 9th of October 2013

Today I headed down to Lerwick to see my Dad.

I got on the ferry at Toft and at the other side Tommy picked me up and he showed me the partially lecustic Shag which had been hanging around there for several weeks.
Tommy also had my camera with him and it was fixed, I had accidentally dropped it a few weeks before and then Tommy set it on the table at the shop in Lerwick and it was fine!
I got some really good views of the bird and it sat on the same buoy the entire time we were there.

A good comparison if you know how big the buoys are

A very funny looking bird but a very nice sight

Preening time

"Tall and proud"

Tommy and I then did a run around to check for Swans on the Lochs (as it was the count for the Swans and Geese in Shetland).
On the Loch of Trondavoe we found six Whooper Swans and we continued south looking at the lochs at Voe, Laxo, Girlsta, Stromfirth and Strand, there was not a single swan on any of those lochs so we headed into Lerwick to pick up Henry.
We got over the hill at Shurton Brae and I saw a few birders, I was thinking they were looking at geese or swans but there was six or seven of them so I was probably wrong, Tommy pulled over and I got out to speak to one of them.
I asked what he was looking and he said that the bird had just flown towards Lerwick, I asked what was the bird and he said Black-throated Thrush!! I thanked him and we drove straight into Lerwick to fetch Henry.
On the way I phoned Henry and I told him about the Thrush, when we got to the hostel he was standing at the side of the road waiting, he jumped in and we were off!
We got back to Shurton Brae and we spoke to Jim Nicolson and the birder from Wester Quarff (who's name I didn't catch, again!), they said there was no sign of the bird but the Wester Quarff guy said that he would take us to where it was found.
Within several minutes we were there and we were scanning the parks for the bird, we found a few Redwings and then two other birders came, we all stood chatting for a minute and then one of them got a call saying that the Black-throated Thrush was by the cemetery at Sound! one of the birders gave us a lift down and we rushed to see the bird before it disappeared.
Many birders were already there when we arrived and so we joined in the search for the bird.
I spoke to some of them and they said it was hoping on some grass, I got my eyes on it but it looked black through my "bins" but It was a new tick for me so I was very happy, It is also the 200th bird specie I've seen in Shetland! (I think).
The Black-throated Thrush was found at Shurton Brae by Rebbeca Nason and if she had never found maybe it would of gone un-noticed.

I then got this shot, for all anybody knows it could be a Fieldfare but its something to remember the bird by.

I then watched the bird for a while and then it flew off, everyone stood around speaking for a while, Tommy then took us to Netherdale and he dropped Henry and I off.
 Henry and I had our lunch and then we were off for a look at the Clickimin Loch for some birds.
On the south side of the Loch we spotted forty Turnstones, twenty-eight Shalders, seven Redshank, eight-teen Hooded Crows! five Goldeneye, four Redwings, five Blackbirds and two Great Black-backed Gulls.
We then spotted a juvenile Mute Swan, Henry wanted to try and see if we could get it to come close so we bought some bread.
We started chucking a few pieces in the water but the swan didn't notice and instead three Mallards came over (domesticated origin birds) and we fed/photographed them for a while before we noticed that the Hooded Crows had made a circle round us (kinda creepy) we then headed round the loch to find more birds before the Crows decided to find their next meal!

A Hooded Crow on the Clickimin Loch

We headed into Helendale and we met a birder from the south end, he showed us two Goldcrests which he had found and also a Gadwall which was on Clickimin, also in the trees in Helendale were over twenty Hooded Crows!
We then headed home and then out to Girlsta with my Dad.
At Girlsta we visited Paula and she showed us a Hedgehog which she was looking, Henry had only seen a dead one before so he was really excited to see it.
We stayed there a while before we headed back into Lerwick.
When we arrived we put Henry back to the hostel and we went for tea.
Afterwards Dad ran me to Isleburgh for a Shetland Bird Club talk, I enjoyed the talk and I spoke to a few birders who were there before Dad picked me up and we headed home.

Sunday the 10th of November 2013

This morning I headed out to Clickimin.
There I found seven Greylags, several Redshank, two Herring Maas, one Great Black-backed Maa, one Snipe, the juvenile Mute Swan from yesterday, thirty-one Goldeneyes and ten Mallards.

Three of the seven Greylags

I fed the Mallards the last of the bread from yesterday

I then headed to Helendale and I found three Blackbirds, one of the Goldcrests from yesterday, a male Chaffinch and two Bramblings.

When I came out of Helendale I spotted three very nice Whooper Swans swimming on the loch.

These two are probably the parents if the bird below

The juvenile Whooper Swan which is probably related to the ones above

The juvenile Mute Swan which Henry and I found yesterday

I watched the Whooper Swans move closer to the young Mute and they were soon trying to scare it off, the young Whooper Swan started hissing and running at the young Mute Swan.

On the side of the loch I spotted this lone Turnstone

I then headed back to Mairi's and when I arrived she had picked up Henry and the five of us (including Laura and Ellie) headed over to Kergord to take part in an event planned by the wildlife explorers (a group that teaches the younger ones about nature).

When we got there loads of people had already arrived and soon about thirty of us set out into one of the woods at Kergord.
Henry and I took our own route into the woods to look for birds.

An old ruin of a house in the trees at Kergord

From the bottom to the top of the trees we heard Goldcrests, we got some quick views of some but we could never find them again but at the top of the trees we finally found one in a bush!
I got within two feet of the bird and some really good views came with it.
The Goldcrest went deeper into the bush so I tried to find a way round to Henry's side of it, I found a way round and I managed to flush a Woodcock on the way!
Neither of us managed to find the Goldcrest again so we went and joined the main group.

Some people were huddled around a log looking at something so I joined them, the thing turned out to be a fungus and they were all trying to figure out what it was but in the end no-one had any idea.

The fungus

I was speaking to someone when I spotted this strange moth land on my jacket, someone said (or at least what I thought they said) that it was a Ghost moth.

A ghost moth (I think)

Somebody then pointed to some trees in front of us and I saw Goldcrests, at least eight of them!
The birds were to far away to get photos of but I did get some really good looks, I then went off to tell Henry about the Goldcrests.
I found Henry taking pictures of something in the trees above him and it turned out to be more Goldcrests!
I got our my camera to try and take pictures of them.

This is the only decent shot of a Goldcrest I saw in Kergord, see if you can find it

Soon the Goldcrests disappeared, Henry and I then tallied up all the Goldcrests we had seen which was about eight and all the ones that we heard and that brought our total to fifteen in this one plantation!

Mairi, Laura and Ellie soon found us and we all headed back to Lerwick.

When we got back to Lerwick, Mairi took Henry back to the hostel and I went to Clickimin.
I found the Whooper Swans from this morning, seven Greylags and the juvenile Mute Swan.
Also on the loch was fourteen Herring Gulls, eight Mallards and thirty-two Goldeneyes.

I got really close to this female Goldeneye 

I then headed into Helendale and I found three Blackbirds and two Brambling.

This Wren was also hunting for insects, I saw it catch one in the small hole to the left of it

I see this Rabbit most afternoons running about but I haven't seen it eating lettuce next to a Blackbird who is eating an apple

A close up of the Blackbird

I left Helendale and I headed back to the house and I saw two Snipe and this flock of twenty-eight Shalders on the way.

I like seeing the Shalders during the winter

I finally returned to the house and that was the end of this blog post.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Hills 'n' Hares

Sunday the 24th of November 2013

This morning I headed out to Girlsta with my Dad to do a few jobs on the croft.

In Girlsta we checked the sheep and fed them too.

He doesn't look very happy even though he has two females

Later we headed out onto the hill to put out a few feeding blocks for the sheep and we found this Mountain Hare

Not exactly the best coat to have when there's no snow

But it tries to make it work.

On the top of the hill I got a few pictures of Girlsta and a few other places.


 Panoramic view from the top of the hill

It was very cold and icy so we headed back to the house to warm up.

(There is still a few blog posts from past dates that aren't finished but they soon will be)

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Cape May Warbler #2 (Saturday the 2nd of November 2013)

Today Tommy and I took Henry up to Unst to see the Cape May Warbler.

The 2nd of November 2013

I got my stuff ready and then I waited for Tommy and Henry to come up from the Mainland.
Soon Tommy and Henry arrived and they had Paula's camera which they had been told to pick up on the way from Lerwick (my camera was till "out of action" so I was very glad to see Paula's camera) the three of us then headed up to the Gutcher ferry.
We took the ferry across to Unst and soon we were heading up to Baltasound.
Once in Baltasound we headed straight to the Old Manse.
As we rounded the corner from the school, we saw a few cars parked up and a lot of birders so we continued going and we parked up the car.
We got out quickly and went to see if they had seen the bird.
The bird was working it's way along a dyke and we soon got some good views of it.
Henry had met a lot of the people who were there because they had stayed at Haa over the years.
It then disappeared and we were just about to leave when it was spotted in a sycamore tree no more than ten feet away!
Henry and I slowly moved towards the dyke between us and the tree and we started getting amazing views while passing the camera between us.
When I had the camera the bird landed on the dyke really close to where we were standing! and I got these great shots.

I have to say this is a pretty good shot of the bird and it has a insect in it's beak!

Such an amazing bird  to be able to get all the way over to Shetland

The bird then flew back into the tree and then along the dyke and we lost it, so we went round Baltasound to find other birds.
At the Baliasta cemetery we spotted a few Chiffchaffs and a bird of prey (it could of been a Merlin but a Sparrowhawk had been sighted in the area), Henry and I spotted some Chiffchaffs flyover to a nearby house and we tried to get picture of them.
I got a really good look at one and it was really pale, I then noticed a small white wing bar and I was thinking that it could be a Siberian Chiffchaff.
The bird then flew off and we lost it so we continued looking round Unst.
We headed up to Haroldswick to a marsh which had a group of bushes on the edge of it, last year Tommy and I came here and we found my first Reed Bunting and some Willow Warblers and every time we've come to Unst we have checked this same spot.
We didn't find anything in the bushes but we did find a few Wigeon and some Snipe, Henry and I then had a quick look on the beach there and he spotted a Grey Wagtail! No matter how many times he pointed to it I couldn't see it, then he pointed and I saw it at the far side of the beach.
We chased after it for a while but were unable to find the bird and so we headed back to the car.
On the way we heard a Great-northern Diver calling, we checked in the sea and we spotted an adult and a juvenile bird (A very nice sight).
We got in the car and we headed south to Baltasound, on the way Henry wanted to have a look at the famous Unst bus stop.
We then went along the coast and then up to Halligarth where we met Brydon Thomason, he asked us if we'd heard about the Dipper (I was thinking, Dipper?!? what Dipper?!?) we said no and he said that one had been found in a burn on Hermaness, he said that we wouldn't have enough time to go up.
I thought we could make it but we turned around when we got to Haroldswick and instead we went to see the Cape May again.
When we got there all but one birder was there so we asked him if he'd seen the bird, he said that he had just lost it so we had a look along the dyke where we originally saw it.
Within a few seconds Henry and I relocated the bird on the dyke sitting next to a Blackcap! we called Tommy and the birder over and they saw it, the birder then started walking back to his car and we headed back to the ferry.
At the Loch of Belmont we spotted a duck, Henry and I got out to have a look at it and it turned out to be a female Long-tailed Duck (there was four-hundred on the Loch this year or last!)
We then crossed back over to Yell and I was put back to Mid Yell.

I had checked Nature Shetland a few days later to see if the Cape May Warbler was seen on Sunday or Monday, it hadn't so I was thinking that Tommy, Henry and myself were the last people to see it!

Mid Yell & Whalsay Birding 26th, 27th and the 28th of October 2013

Saturday the 26th of October 2013

Since it was the holidays I thought I would have a look round Mid Yell to see if I could find any interesting birds.
While I was walking down from my house I spotted this Blackbird which was missing his tail feathers.

It seemed to be doing fine without a tail

I continued to the School and I had seen a total of seven Blackbirds, four Meadow Pipit, two Redwings, twenty-one Starlings, four House Sparrows, four Herring Gulls, two Hooded Crows and two Rock Doves.
I was wandering down to the shop when I spotted the Redwings, so I wandered up the road and I heard a rustling sound in the grass next to me, I looked at the thing and it was a Hedgehog! I know that they aren't usually meant to be out during the day so I picked it up in my jumper and I got some dog food for it and I placed it in the trees at the School, the Hedgehog fed happily for a while and then it wandered into the trees.
This time I went towards the shop, I had nearly got there when I spotted a Swallow flying about, I had heard that one had been seen a few days ago in Mid Yell so this was most likely the same one.
I stayed around the pier for a while and by the time it was starting to get dark I had spotted six Curlew, a Tystie, over 40 Starlings and a few Blackbirds.

Just before I left to head home I saw the Swallow sitting on a wire

Sunday the 27th of October 2013

I headed out early this morning to find some birds and as I stepped out my front door some Redwings flew over the hill (not a bad start to the day).
I reached the bottom of Hillend and I spotted a small bird flitting around in a tree so I moved in to take a closer look.

My little bird turned out to be a Chiffchaff and I also found a male Blackcap (this day was getting better by the minute)

I kept following the road towards the school and I spotted two Greylag Geese fly over head.

I also found this dead mouse

At the Mid Yell hall I spotted a Robin and ten Twite flew over, I also found two Redwings.

I continued to the School and I found a Robin (which was possibly the one that was around the School last year), seven Fieldfares, four Blackbird and a male Blackcap.

He sat for a minute on the roof of the old school

I headed down to Linkshouse and the Swallow was still flying about, I also found this dead bird lying in a lump of grass I took a closer look and I thought it was a funny looking Blackbird but it had red on its head and a blue eye then I got it the bird was a Great-spotted Woodpecker!

A very sad sight but it happens to all birds in the end, this was the first time I had seen one in Mid Yell but I hoped it would be in better circumstances.

I continued towards the Pier and I found two Blackcaps (both male), a Common Gull, a Blackbird, a Black Guillemot (which I think stays round the pier for most of the year).

This was one of the Turnstones scurrying along the pier

I got to the edge of the Pier and I spotted a seal in the water, I had a look through my "bins" and it was the Bearded Seal! who was still in Yell after at least four or five months.

The long-staying Bearded Seal just off the Pier was quite a nice sight before it swam away

I started heading back along the pier and then a Snow Bunting flew by! my first one in Mid Yell! also I spotted a Redshank and that was the end of my day.

Monday the 28th of October 2013

I headed down to Brae this morning so Tommy and I could go to Whalsay.

I got the quarter past nine ferry from Ulsta and on the crossing to the Mainland I saw twenty Black Guillemots, four Kittiwakes, two Shag, a Great Black-backed Gull and four very nice looking Long-tailed Ducks.
Tommy then picked me up and we headed to Brae, on the way we had a look at Laxobigging and we found some Redwings and a Blackcap.
We then checked a pool at Sullom Voe and there we saw fifty-seven Wigeon, six Greylag Geese, sixty-six Lapwings, a Curlew, a Wren, fifteen Teal, fourteen Redshank and two Dunlin.
From here we headed to the Loch of Trondavoe, a place good for wildfowl (Swans, Geese, Ducks).
At the Loch we saw the usual Whooper Swans with a few others taking the total up to eight, ten Mallards, twenty-five Greylag Geese and a few Wigeon.
We had a quick run into Brae and then we headed for the half ten ferry at Laxo.
We got on the ferry and on the crossing to Whalsay we saw two Red-breasted Mergansers, sixteen Shags, six Black Guillemots, thirty Fulmars and a Red-throated Diver.
We had nearly got into Symbister and we saw a big flock of 400 Eiders (Dunters), I got out my camera but the zoom wouldn't work! I tried again and again but with no luck so I put it away.
We got off the ferry and we popped into the shop at Symbister, afterwards we headed to Brough to look for the Isabelline Shrike which had been around there for the past few weeks.
After a while at Brough there was no Isabelline Shrike so we went to a beach to look for some birds.
There we found twenty-two Ringed Plovers, ten Turnstones, a Curlew and two Redshanks, we then tucked into the food we got at the shop (which was very good).
After we had eaten our food we went to Skaw and all we found was a Blackcap so we headed back to the ferry and that was the end of our day.