Sunday, 26 January 2014

Bean there, done that

Saturday the 25th of January 2014

So as most people know the winds here in Shetland and the rest of Britain have been terrible! but it final let up here this morning so I headed down to the Mainland with my granddad Tommy to do some birding.

When I got off the ferry at Toft, Tommy was waiting and we went to count a large group of Common Gulls which have been round the parks at Toft for several weeks, we managed to count two-hundred and eighteen (218)  birds but instead of them being just Common Gulls there was a few Black-headed ones thrown in too.
Also around Toft was three Fieldfares (my second ones of the year following one at Mid Yell yesterday), three Blackbirds, two-hundred Starlings and seventeen Greylag Geese (but no Beans!).
We then moved off and we started to count up a large flock of Gulls that were sitting at the mouth of a burn.
In total there was a staggering Five-hundred and twenty plus Herrings, Commons and Black-headed Gulls there!
We left and we headed into Brae and we stayed there a while, we were about to head off when Tommy shouted "Chaffinch!" and I saw three birds fly into a garden nearby, I chased after them and I spotted a beautiful male Chaffinch in a tree with a male and female Brambling and another Chaffinch!
I tried to move into a spot where I could see one of the birds completely but they were all ways behind branches.
The four birds then flew off and I headed back to the car and we left for Lerwick.
On the way we stopped to have a look for three "coal black" Geese with "white on the wings" that my StepDad had seen yesterday but of course they were not there and instead we saw a windsurfer.
On our way we headed to the Bonhoga Gallery via Kergord, we didn't see anything besides Rooks so we went into the Gallery.
The exhibit on was "Dennis Coutts: sixties revisited", all of the pictures were amazing, clear and they were just great.
So after half an hour at Bonhoga we went off to Lerwick and on the way we saw four Mute Swans in Weisdale Voe, one on the Loch of Stromfith and two in Whiteness Voe.

This is a black and white shot of the bird on the Loch of Stromfith.

The next stop on our way to Lerwick was the Strand Loch, when we got round the corner to the loch there was five swans feeding! we quickly stopped and we had a look at each one to see if they were all Mutes and they were!
I got out of the car and took some photos of a few of the Mute Swans but they didn't come out very well.
When I got back to the car, Tommy spotted a large flock of birds in the sky, I had a look with my binoculars and they turned out to be Lapwings!

There was about one-hundred and eleven Lapwings in total

We moved further along the road and we decided to have a look at five geese that I had spotted a few minutes before, as we got close to the geese I started to notice that these geese looked a bit different, we got slightly closer and immediately we noticed that they were Bean Geese!
I could not believe my eyes, my first Bean Geese and I had spotted them a few minutes before!! my first self-found rarity!!!
(Note: Unfortunately I found out a few hours later that the five Bean Geese had actually been found yesterday).
I got out with my camera and I started taking pictures of the five Bean Geese while Tommy had a look at them through the binoculars.

The five Bean Geese wandering in a park near the Gott Farm

Two of the four Tundra Bean Geese

Four of these five Bean Geese were Tundras and the bird second  from the right I was a little uncertain about

The fifth Bean Goose stretching its wing

Tundra and other Bean Goose

(later on I put the photo of the strange Bean Goose online and it was said that is was another Tundra Bean Goose, so my flock of four Tundras turned to five)

I phoned Paul Harvey after we had found the Bean Geese to make sure none had been seen in the area and not a single one had been found anywhere nearby!!!

So the Bean Geese eventually wandered to the far end of the park and we left to find some more birds.

Our next stop was the Loch of Tingwall, we were hoping that we might see some Mute Swans but instead we saw two Whooper Swans and three Goldeneyes, for some reason I rarely see the Goldeneyes out of the water.
This is only the second time I've seen a Goldeneye out of water.

So we got into Lerwick and we had some denner and then we went to the Clickimin Loch for a look.
On arrival at the loch we saw five swans, we identified four of them as Whoopers and the last one was another Mute!
We decided that Seafield would be a good place to check and we were right because when we got there I spotted two female Common Scoters!! first of the year!

A Great Black-backed Gull which sat long enough for me to get a photo

I was even able to get this closer shot

I tried to get close to this Common Scoter but it flew off

This is one of the closer ones

While I was taking photos of the Scoter, Tommy got my attention and I looked to my left to see a Wren three metres away, I was taking a video of the Scoter and so I missed my chance to get a photo of the Wren but there's all ways next time!

After the Wren flew off, I spotted three Whooper Swans flying overhead! I got out my camera and I got some great photos of them in flight.
Later on I noticed that the goose on the right side had a yellow colour ring on its right leg, I spotted this individual a few weeks ago but I haven't been able to find out where it came from.

It's not very often I see Swans in flight but it's amazing every time

In this picture and the last you can make out the yellow colour ring quite well

And off they go

We headed further along the road at Seafield and after checking Pullar's Loch at the end of the road, we turned back and I spotted three female or immature Common Scoters way out in Breiwick.

"On the look out for Scoters"

We started to head off when we saw this young Herring Gull sitting on a low wall, so I decided to get out and get some photos since it was so close.

I was really surprised that it didn't fly off

It was so close that I managed to get head shots at almost full zoom

It flew off onto a rock a couple of metres away and I continued taking photos

I decided to work with my black and white mode on my camera which came out really well with the Herring Gull

Like something from an old movie

My final photo of the posing Herring Gull

So Tommy stuck me to Dads and soon afterwards we headed out to Girlsta, while out we saw a Snipe, a Red Grouse and my final two Mute Swans of the day which brought my Mute Swan total up to 13 birds.

And finally we went home and this was the end of our day!

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Glossy a Go Go, the hunt for a Glossy Ibis

So throughout this week I have been planning with Tommy and Henry to go up to Unst to see Shetland's fourth Glossy Ibis which was found by Mike Pennington on Monday, surprisingly five Glossy Ibises arrived on the Faroes the same day.
The Glossy Ibis was the fourth record for Shetland followings single birds in South Nesting in 2002 and Unst in 1920 and 1862.

Saturday the 11th of January 2014

On the Friday that Tommy and Henry were coming up, I checked online and I found out that a Glossy Ibis was at Spiggie and the one from Unst hadn't been seen today, NO! the most likely thing was that the Unst bird had moved to Spiggie.
When Tommy and Henry came up that evening we planned our trip to the other side of Shetland to chase this dastardly Ibis.

The next morning we headed down to the Mainland on the 9.15 ferry and while on the crossing I saw my first Common Guillemot of the year.
On our way south we took a detour to Brae, one of the places we checked along the way was the Loch of Trondavoe and there we saw two Whooper Swans and forty-eight Wigeon.
After Brae we headed south.

A very late Northlink ferry heading north at ten forty

We headed straight to the Spiggie Loch after getting a quick picture of the Northlink and on arrival we met Paul, we asked him if the Glossy Ibis had been seen and he said that no-one had seen it this morning (no!) so we kept speaking and then we headed off to relocate the Ibis.
On our way we had a quick look at the loch and we managed to count thirty Whooper Swans, about one-hundred and twenty Greylag Geese, twenty-three Curlew, fourteen Ravens, fifty plus Wigeon, lots Tufted Ducks and Goldeneye.
We moved further along the road and in a park right on the turn to Littleness (at 11.12), I spotted the GLOSSY IBIS!!!!! Henry quickly spotted it about a split-second afterwards and we started shouting/mumbling to Tommy to stop the car and he nearly kept going!! we got the cameras out straight away and started click, click, clicking like mad.
I quickly got on the phone to a few birders but none of them would answer so we left a voicemail, just after I'd finished phoning, a birder who I didn't know showed up and started taking pictures of the bird.
Within the next ten minutes Russ Haywood showed up and then I phoned Paul who was just on the north end of the loch and on his way.

My first ever picture of a Glossy Ibis and my first-ever in Shetland, I saw my first one back in Spain in 2012.

A more clearer picture of this Glossy backed beauty

The bird was feeding very happily but it did seem a bit "jumpy"

The Ibis then took off and flew into the park across the road, it then landed a piece away and it was a bit far away for photos.

The Ibis in flight, from a distance it really looks like a black Curlew

I decided to try out black and white on my new camera and it showed quite well.

Since the bird didn't seem to be coming any closer I went and spoke to Paul, while we were speaking the Ibis flew closer to the road so we both went after it, the Ibis showed for a few minutes and then it disappeared into a "dip", some other birders had showed up so I spoke to them until I headed off with Tommy and Henry and we headed to Hillwell and Quendale.

On the Hillwell Loch we saw three Whooper Swans, six Lapwngs, two-hundred plus Lapwings, some Moorhen and some Wigeon.
We then left for Quendale and we saw six Shalders, over twenty Rock Doves and Common Gulls before heading off to Virkie.

One of the many Common Gulls which was feeding in a park

Luckily for once the Pool of Virkie wasn't at full tide! on the pool we saw some Redshanks, two Ringed Plovers and a flock of seven Bar-tailed Godwits.

Three of the seven Bar-tailed Godwits

I took a black and white shot of these five domesticated Mallards which were fighting over a crab

A black and white shot of the sea and Fitful Head

At Littleness people were still looking at the Glossy Ibis and by luck the sun came out! we got out our camera's and started clicking away.

The cursed wire seems to find its way into most of my photos

You can start to see the real glossyness of the birds back

black and white Glossy Ibis

A short video I took of the Glossy Ibis (you might have to change the resolution)

The Ibis hunting for worms (photo by Tommy Tyler)

The Glossy Ibis (photo by Tommy Tyler)

The colours on this bird was just amazing (photo by Henry Hyndman)

A great photo of the Ibis by Henry Hyndman

And here is my last picture of the Glossy Ibis.

The sun had gone behind a cloud by the time I had took this photo and it didn't seem like it was coming out anytime soon so we left for north.
That was the end of a birding day and we were all very happy to of seen/ found the Glossy Ibis.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

New Year's Bird Count

So welcome to 2014 everyone, hope you enjoy it and may some good birds arrive on our shores.

I spent the first day of 2014 counting up all the species of bird I could find, mostly round the south and central mainland of Shetland.

After getting up at half seven Paula and myself got ready to go down to the south end.
Before we left I looked out the window and I saw my first bird of the year, a single House Sparrow.

We soon left and after clocking up a few species we headed south, on the way we stopped along Strand and the Tingwall and Asta Lochs.
The Lochs were covered in birds and we managed to count about forty Redshank, a Shalder, sixty-three Curlew, over one-hundred and twenty Common Gulls, sixteen Wigeon, twelve Teal and some Goldeneye.
After that we headed south and on the way we stopped at Cunningsburgh to take a photo of the first sunrise of 2014.

 The first sunrise of 2014 (over Mousa), we also saw our first Fulmars of the year

From Cunningsburgh we headed to St Ninians but instead of going directly there we had a run into Maywick, surprisingly we saw a few good birds there such as thirty Twite, six Blackbirds and a Wren.
This time we headed to St Ninians and when we got there the sea was going over the beach, we also saw three Shags which were another bird to our count.

The St Ninians Isle beach

On the way our of Bigton we stopped so I could photograph some House Sparrows

And here is an "ok" picture of a female

We headed for south and on the way we went up Mossy Hill to try and find some plovers but we couldn't find any so I took this photo of St Ninians Isle instead.

St Ninians Isle from Mossy Hill

From Mossy Hill we headed to Spiggie Loch and we saw forty-seven Whooper Swans, our first two Moorhen of the year and thirty Wigeon.

From Spiggie we headed to Hillwell and on arrival I saw a Pipit fly up from the side of the road and land on the corner of the road (where I couldn't see it!) before I could get my eyes on it the Pipit flew straight south with another Pipit but I didn't get an ID on them! I know the most likely bird would of been Meadow Pipit but you can't exclude Rock, so on the Hillwell Loch we saw over fifteen Moorhen, our first Coot of the year, at least fifty Wigeon and six Whooper Swans.
The Quendale Mill was our next stop and there we had some of our picnic, there wasn't any birds at Quendale so we left for Virkie.

When we got to the Pool of Virkie it was high (high) tide so there was no waders at all but we did see some bird life in the shape of some Mallards and Teal.
We then left for Grutness and there we saw a flock of twenty Purple Sandpipers, we decided to try and find some Gannets from Sumburgh Head.
I got out the car when we got to Sumburgh Head and I had a quick scan of the sea but all there was were Fulmars, Fulmars and more Fulmars but still no Gannets so since we were a bit pressed for time we headed back to have a quick look at Grutness.

We got back to Grutness we saw Hugh Harrop so I went out to speak to him, when I got closer I saw that he was photographing Black Guillemots, our first ones of the year and there was some Long-tailed Ducks behind them.
After speaking to Hugh we headed to our last stop in the south end, Boddam, there we saw a few Redshanks, Mallards, Teal and Turnstones.
We were there a few minutes and then a medium sized wader flew in, it landed on the shore in front of us and it was a Bar-tailed Godwit!
We both started taking pictures of the bird and I got this picture.

The Bar-tailed Godwit at Boddam

From the South to the Central, we headed to Lerwick to try and find a Mute Swan, luckily the bird was on the Clickimin Loch and that was our 37th Specie before we left to head off to Weisdale in search of Grey Herons.

The first sunset of 2014 

When we arrived there was no sign of any Grey Herons but soon I spotted one flapping its wings on the far side of the voe! Paula soon spotted a male Goosander swimming about (38 & 39).

The Goosander 

Our next stop was Kergord in search of Rooks, we got past the first few plantations and there was no Rooks! just Hooded Crows! but as we passed one of the last plantations we saw about thirty down at the bottom of a park. (No. 40!)

We quickly headed off to Girlsta to try and add Golden Plover and Red Grouse to our list.
We had a run about and Paula managed to hear a Golden Plover calling, I went out and I tried to find it.
Instead of actually seeing the bird I flushed it up but I was looking the wrong way and I ended up not seeing it!
So we headed to the end of the road and we turned around and Paula heard the Plover again, I went out and I tried to find it but instead I found two Red Grouse and I flushed a third!
After I got back to the car we went off to find a Snipe, we checked some ditches and then Paula remembered a place where she had flushed a Snipe the day before, so off we went.
We got out the car and we started walking towards some marshy ground, then what flew up but a Snipe! specie number 43!! we walked further along and we spotted an Otter! with a crab! what a way to end the day!

Today we saw a total of 43 Species and here is them in order of sighting

House Sparrow, Starling, Collard Dove, Great Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Blackbird, Rock Dove, Robin, Red-breasted Merganser, Raven, Kittiwake, Hooded Crow, Whooper Swan, Goldeneye, Teal, Curlew, Common Gull, Redshank, Wigeon, Tufted Duck, Fulmar, Turnstone, Twite, Wren, Shag, Lapwing, Great-northern Diver, Moorhen, Mallard, Coot, Purple Sandpiper, Eider, Rock Pipit, Black Guillemot, Long-tailed Duck, Bar-tailed Godwit, Mute Swan, Grey Heron, Goosander, Rook, Golden Plover, Red Grouse, Snipe.

Also on the mammal side we saw Rabbit, Mountain Hare and Otter.