Sunday, 29 September 2013

Weekend Birding 28th and 29th of September and the 1st of October

Saturday the 28th

So today on our way back from Grutness Mairi and I went along to Wester Quarff to see a Brown Shrike which had been seen the day before.

On arrival I spoke to a birder who told me that the Shrike was further along the road, a bit further along I spoke to two more birders who said it was further along the road and finally I came to a group of birders who said that the bird was on a fence post at the bottom of a park (The end of the park was at least 250 metres away).
One of the birders let me and Mairi have a look through his scope and there in the centre of the scope eyepiece was the Brown Shrike a first for both of us and a very nice bird with its rusty brown head.

My very blurry shot of the Brown Shrike

After watching the bird for 20 minutes I went to have a look for a Little Bunting in the garden next to the group of birders.
After 5 minutes I spotted the bird perched in a tree, I took several photos of the bird and then told a passing birder who was quite pleased when he saw it and then the Bunting when deeper into the tree and disappeared.

Little Bunting 

I came back a few minutes later and saw some Goldcrests in the same tree after watching them for a few minutes I moved on to try and find the Shrike again.
I found the group of birders a bit further along the road, I set up my scope and repeatedly tried to find the bird but it kept moving from post to post so after 10 minutes Mairi came back along the road and we headed back to Lerwick.

Sunday the 29th

I arrived in Brae this afternoon before I went up to Yell, on arrival my granny and granddad said that they had a Woodpecker flying around, I quickly rushed out with my granddad Tommy in search of it.
We checked the plantation next to their house and I had barely spent a minute in the plantation before I came to a small tree with some red berries on it as I started to walk closer to the tree the Woodpecker flew out of it!, a Great-spotted to be exact, a long sought after first! I quickly chased after it and caught a glimpse of it before it flew off towards some houses, I met back up with Tommy and we watched it fly into the centre of an area of Brae called "Toy toon".
We both split up to see if we could relocate the Woodpecker, Tommy went in the direction of were the bird was last seen and I went into the trees to see if it had flown.
When I got back into the trees I found a Redwing, Tommy had spotted the same one earlier.

So this was quite a good weekend with several new birds, the Great-spotted Woodpecker was a very good bird because I had been missing ones quite alot this year.

Tuesday the 1st of October

So here is a bit of an add on from my weekend birding.
On Monday the 30th of September (yesterday) a Hudsonian Whimbrel (a recent bird elevated to a fully species) was seen outside Mid Yell at what we call the "Head o da voe", it was seen flying north and was not relocated again.
The next day (Tuesday) after school I got a text saying that the Whimbrel was back, luckily my granddad Tommy was up and we went to see it, on arrival we spotted several birdwatchers, one of them was Yells oldest, Andy Gear he pointed the bird out for me just before he left, Tommy and I were able to get some good looks at it and a bunch of blurry shots before we went back into Mid Yell.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

The Twitch of the Black and White Warbler (The 7th)

On the 6th of September a small black and white bird was found on some willow trees at the Funzie hide on Fetlar by Jim Nangle and was later seen flying by Andy Cook.
The bird was later identified as a Black and White Warbler! the last one in Shetland was seen in 1936 at Tingwall!
The news quickly spread, but it was too late in the day for anyone to go looking for it.
I myself was trying to get travel into Fetlar, luckily I had texted Dougie that night and by the next morning we had arranged for him to pick me up on his way to Fetlar.
When we arrived at the Gutcher ferry terminal several of the mainland Shetland birders came up in a car behind us.
After a few minutes we went into the Gutcher cafe to have a bite to eat while waiting for the ferry.
At 10.10 we headed on the ferry to Fetlar to try and find this rarity while 5 more birders were already on the island hunting for it.
On arriving at Fetlar we headed straight to Funzie to check the willows incase the bird was still there.
When the car stopped at Funzie, all of us unloaded our gear and went straight to the hide, sadly after searching in and around the willows there was no sign of the bird at all so the search of the island began.
Our first check was Everland which came out with 11 snipe, lots of Meadow Pipits and several Blackbirds.
The next shop was a croft at Aith where we dropped George off before heading into Houbie for a look around (and a quick visit to the Shop).
A quick look around the shop turned up with several wet Hooded Crows, so we turned around to pick up George.
We found him at the Fetlar Hall so we all had a look around the trees there which turned up with nothing. So we turned round to go to Tresta.
Tresta looked like a better place to find the bird since it had the most trees in Fetlar, a quick look in the trees produced a Wren while several more were heard singing.
We all  headed back to Funzie for a quick look in the willows, on the way we saw Paul, Roger and Rory sitting outside the interpretive centre, they told us that there was two Common Rosefinches in some trees up the Houbie burn and a Chiffchaff was in a garden 100 metres to the east of us, so on our way back from Funzie (only a Snipe was seen) we headed to look for the Rosefinches.
The five of us got out the car to look for the birds and after ten minutes there was no sign, there was a few Meadow Pipits and a dead Blackbird but that was it.
Another look in the trees at Tresta produced nothing but there was a Blackbird and several Meadow Pipits at the graveyard.
Everyone's final destination of the day was the Brough Lodge, on our arrival we flushed a Snipe from the side of the path, there was several Wrens about and finally and I quote from Dougie "The best bird of the day" a Willow Warbler which was in some segs in a park on front of the lodge.
So we all left Fetlar at around half past four.

We might not of seen the Black and White Warbler, but that's birding for you, you win some you lose some. if you saw them all it wouldn't be fun, but the best thing about I'd say is getting to meet all the different people and hear their stories of birds they have seen.

(No photos I'm afraid, the weather was rubbish!)

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Weekend Birding trip 25th of August: 3 Lifers, 30 Minutes

Sunday the 25th of August

At around 10.30 ish, my Dad and I headed out to Girlsta to his Dads house to do some work, I went inside his house and spoke to Paula.

Just after 11, Paula got a message saying that there was a Short-toed Lark at Sumburgh Farm, We got our cameras and various other bits of equipment and then we set off to Sumburgh only ten minutes later.

When we arrived at Sumburgh Farm Paula dropped me off while she went and parked the car.

I went and spoke to Roger Riddington, who he told me that the Short-toed Lark was in a field next to the Sumburgh Hotel, so I started walking over that way when I met Paul Harvey who told me about a Wood Warbler and two Icterine Warblers were right around the corner! (both of these would be new birds for me).

As soon as we arrived around the corner I spotted a small warbler hopping about on an old building, Paul had a quick look through his bins and told me that was the Wood Warbler! and then about a minute later we spotted the Icterine Warblers.

My first Wood Warbler, a patch tick for several people that day

 My first Icterine Warbler one of two birds, sometimes they are called "Ickys"

A female Pied Flycatcher

(The Pied Fly, Wood and Icterine Warblers were all new birds for Paula)

An Icky

I found the plant "Redshank" just before we left Sumburgh Farm

We left Sumburgh Farm and started heading up to Sumburgh Head to look for a Greenish Warbler when we met four birders who were trying to get into Fair Isle but were stranded by the mist, they told us that there was a Marsh Harrier and Barred Warbler at Quendale Mill so instead we thanked them and headed there.
(I hadn't seen a Barred Warb before and I'd seen a Greenish on Fair Isle in 2011)

A Marsh Harrier which caused several hundred Herring Gulls and Stirlings to fly off in distress

After we'd spent several minutes at Quendale, Paul and Roger happened to arrive and we quickly had a look around Quendale with them before we had to go back up north.

A Wryneck also at the Quendale Mill

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Fair Isle 5-12th of August 2013

Today we flew into Fair Isle from Tingwall for our annual summer visit.

Monday the 5th

The south of Fair Isle

We arrived in Fair Isle at about quarter to ten and then headed down the Island with Triona and Stewart to Quoy.

After spending a while at Quoy, Stewart took Abby and I out on his boat.

A young Wren which landed right next to the boat.


When we came back from the fishing I went over to Haa to see Tommy, Liz and Henry


A Rock Dove

Devil's bit Scabious

A flock of Shalders over head

A perfect line between the sky and clouds

After being at Haa for a while Henry and I went out birding

A Sea Pink or Thrift

An egg shell Henry found at the Chapel brae

Field Gentium

Hjukni Geo

A Plant Hopper (A Neophilaenus species, most likely Neophilaenus exclamationis)

A micro moth


A Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly at Barkland, one of several that were passing through the island 

A young Wheatear

Tonight I went on the Storm Petrel ringing session at the Obs which started at midnight

Tuesday the 6th

The Petrel ringing

A Storm Petrel

A Stormie (above) and a Leach's (below)

In the morning Henry and I went around the south of the Island

Crow Stack

This rock looked like it had a fossil on it

An Oysterplant

Kidney Vetch

Later on in the day I went up to the Obs to see if anything had been spotted

The Good Shepherd IV

I spent alot of my afternoon taking pictures of some Puffins outside the Obs

After I'd finished taking pictures of the Puffins I headed up north

The Wick o Furse overlooking Buness

While I was up north I found a flock of 11 Swift flying over the Burn o Wirvie, I also met this couple at Easter Lother Water who had just come of the plane.

Golden Water

A dark morph Arctic Skua, some of the light morph birds have some very strange patterns

An Antler moth which was found at Quoy

Wednesday the 7th

The Stormie ringing tonight was quite exciting 

I was outside listening for petrel calls "David come quick we've caught a Swinhoe's!" I quickly ran back into the ringing room repeating "Swinhoe's" about six times, David and Teresa just stood there looking at me and then the rush started to go see it,
I ran over towards the nets along with everyone else and I saw the dark rumped petrel and it was a Swinhoe's! an unringed one! the second for Fair Isle in just one and a half weeks!

And soon people started turning up to see the Swinhoe's including a few from down the Isle.

Dennis Coutts came in specially in hope of seeing the Swinhoe's Petrel be recaptured but he got something even better when a different Swinhoe's appeared.
This bird took his Shetland bird list up to 413 birds! (I think that is nearly as much as the Shetland Bird List!)

The Swinhoe's petrel was the
 1st for me (and many others), 
2nd for Shetland (the 1st being only 1 and a half weeks before!) 
and 6th for Britain

The happy bunch
From Left: Will, Keiran, David, Daniel, Teresa and Rachel

And here is a few blog posts about the 2nd Swinhoe's Petrel 

Fair Isle 

Fair Isle Bird Observatory: the Warden's diary

In the morning I headed up to the Obs at 9.00 for the trap rounds

A Beautiful Golden-y moth, the 7th of the species for Fair Isle 

David with a recently trapped Wheatear

And after the traps David and I did a census of Buness and the Havens


A berry pellet which was most probably made by a Common Gull

Bog Asphodel on Homisdale

A around three in the afternoon I went on a guided walk up to North Light

Easter Lother

The Obs staff out ringing Puffins and Fulmars

Like every night I went up to log but today was a bit different, I wasn't in the door five minutes before there was a call of a Minke Whale heading North-west past Buness, so I went up to North light with Daniel (a JHMF volunteer) and one of the other staff members to rush to see if we could catch the Minke Whale off North Light.
Luckily we were able to see it one or twice before it disappeared off towards Foula (and that was the first time I'd seen a Minke Whale).

Shetland, the hill on the left is Fitful Head and the one on the right is Sumburgh Head

The light of the setting sun on North Light

Thursday the 8th

A male Common Scoter at North Haven along with another male, I saw my first Common Scoters in North Haven last year in October.

A Tystie


Common Gull on North Haven

Before I went to Haa this morning I popped along Schoolton to see if I could see the male Subalpine Warbler which had been skulking around there.

After spending 15 minutes looking out the Schoolton kitchen window I spotted a bird alight itself on a small tree, it turned out to be the Sub-alp! my second after seeing an "Eastern" bird in May.

A moulting male Subalpine Warbler at Schoolton

Before denner Tommy, Henry and I all went up to the north end of the Isle for a run.

Common Scurvy Grass

Foam in the sea next to North Light

North Light

The foghorn in fog

A Maalie at South Harbour


After spending a while at Haa Liz, Henry and I went to photograph all the wild flowers that we could find in Fair Isle

Tattie flowers

Meadow Buttercup

A Plantain sp (I think)

Sheep's bit

Devil's bit Scabious




Yellow Rattle gone into seed

Yellow Rattle

Tufted Vetch

Common Chickweed



Scentless Mayweed

Friday the 9th

Today was Lise Sinclair's Funeral and it was a very sad day on Fair Isle.

Saturday the 10th

David got me to do the census of Buness and the Havens this morning

My counts were: 3 Dunlin, 1 Wheatear, 2 Rock Pipit, 1 Ringed Plover, 2 Pied Wags, 1 Rock Dove and 
3 Twite

Midway through the afternoon I was about to head up to Ward Hill but just before I went, I headed over to Schoolton to speak to a birder who was sitting on the front bench outside the house.
Surprisingly the birder turned out to be Dougie Preston who lives in Burravoe in the south of Yell, he was looking for the male Subalpine Warbler that was at Schoolton so I sat down next to him to see if I could spot it.
After 15 minutes there was no sign of it (Dougie had been sitting for an hour looking for it), so we headed round the south and west of the Island looking for birds, while sharing birding experiences along the way.

A Fulmar chick

After an hour of walking we had nearly reached the Double Dyke trap when we met David, Will and the two JHMF volunteers Daniel and Keiran about to go out ringing Bonxies, they asked us if we wanted to come along so we did and I got to ring two chicks and another one pooped on my jeans!

Also I went on the Stormie ringing which was on at 11 instead of being at Midnight

A Stormie 

Sunday the 11th

At around three in the afternoon Mairi, Inge, Abby, Henry, Laura, Ellie, Ewen, Eddie and I went to the North Haven beach.

And afterwards at about 4.30 Tommy, Henry and I went on the trap rounds with David.

A Fair Isle Wren

A Golden Plover at Chatham's land which I found on my way to Log.

An immature Puffin, one of two caught in the Obs garden 
(they were attracted to the bright moth light)

Before the Petrel ringing started some of us went out to release the two Puffins

Monday the 12th

A double rainbow

While I was waiting to go on the trap rounds with David, Dougie came into the boot room, since we both had a bit of time to kill we went out birding, when we had gone past the Double Dyke I got a text from David that he was about to go on the traps so we turned back and went to the Gully to wait for him.
Just as David was coming over towards us and I spotted a Cuckoo fly into the Gully and I quickly ran to tell David but the Cuckoo flew out of the Gully before we could all move into trap it.
Just incase it came back into the Gully David got me and Dougie to stand a the bank to see if the Cuckoo came back and it did! it flew into the trees at the bottom of the Gully and we all moved into positions, Dougie was at the small waterfall at Finniquoy (Gully), David was standing on the banks where the Gully forks into two, Kerian was standing on the southern bank and David told me to go into the Gully and drive it up towards the trap.
When I was about to start my descent into the Gully the Cuckoo flew silently out the mouth of the Gully towards the sea.

A House Sparrow that I ringed (with help from David)

At 11.45am Dougie and I caught the plane out of Fair Isle and back to Shetland,

Buness and the Havens

St Ninians Isle

The Tronda Bridge

And we finally touched down in Tingwall at around 12 ish

New species= Leach's Petrel, Swinhoe's Storm Petrel!, Cuckoo

The list of species seen in Fair Isle this trip
(not seen in this order)

Fulmar (Maalie)
House Sparrow
Great Skua (Bonxie)
Wheatear (Steynshakker)
Rock Dove
Turnstone (Steynpikker)
Gannet (Solan)
Puffin (Tammie Norie)
Shag (Scarf)
Great Black-backed Gull
Herring Gull
Common Gull (Perrie Maa)
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Sedge Warbler 
Subalpine Warbler
"Fair Isle Wren"
Green Sandpiper
Eider (Dunter)
Arctic Tern (Tirrick)
Willow Warbler
European Storm Petrel (Aalamootie)
Leach's Petrel
Swinhoe's Storm Petrel
Mallard (Stock Deuk)
Pied Wagtail
Raven (Corbie)
Hooded Crow
Oystercatcher (Shalder)
Grey Heron (Haegrie)
Meadow Pipit (Hill sporrow)
Rock Pipit (Banks sporrow)
Snipe (Snippick
House Martin
Common Scoter
Twite (Lintie)
Arctic Skua (Skootie aalan)
Black Guillemot (Tystie)
Common Crossbill
Tree Sparrow
Curlew (Whap)
Ringed Plover (Sandiloo)
Golden Plover 

Total Species=50

Wild Flower Species=35

Scentless Mayweed
White Clover
Cat's Ear
White Campion
Ragged Robin
Common Scurvy Grass
Spear Thistle
Devil's Bit Scabious
Marsh Ragwort
Common Bird's Foot Trefoil
Creeping Forget-me-not
Kidney Vetch
Field Gentium
Tufted Vetch
Yellow Rattle
Marsh Willowherb
Mouse-ear Chickweed
Meadow Vetchling
Marsh Cingfoil 
Marsh Thistle
Bog Asphodel
Sheep's Bit
Red Campion