Monday, 10 February 2014

Weekend Birding: Divers, Ducks and years ticks

Saturday the 8th of February 2014

So today I headed off Yell and onto the Mainland to see my Dad, when I got into Lerwick we headed out birding to the Shetland Catch.
We were looking for a Eider that had the characteristics of a "Northern" Eider, we searched the sea and we spotted a flock of Eiders, I tried to get my scope on them but it was hard to see as they were in the rough sea and there were going farther out.
While I was looking at these Eiders I spotted a small duck pop up, a Long-tailed Duck! I then turned back to the Eiders but it was so hard to see any sign of the possible "Northern" Dunter so I got out my camera and tried to get a few photos but they were just that bit far away.
So we were about to leave when we started to notice some difference with some Herring Gulls, some had darker backs than the other ones, I was thinking that this was the northern kind of Herring Gull "argentatus" whereas the ones here are of the race "argenteus".
We left and headed off to Nesbister, Whiteness to try and see a Black-throated Diver which was found by Paul Harvey on Friday.
We arrived Nesbister and there was nothing in the voe besides a bathing gull so we went along the voe.
We headed in as far as we could and we saw a Robin and six Mergansers but no diver! so we started to head back along the road, we were over halfway along the voe when I spotted something dive in the water and I told Dad to stop!
We waited a couple of minutes until a bird came up in the middle of the voe and I got my scope on it but too late! it went down again!
It did the same again and on the fourth time I was ready and I saw it through my scope, the Black-throated Diver!! my first new bird of the year! and a very nice bird.
It was to far away for photos so we headed off to Girlsta.
Later on I headed to a Shetland Bird Club meeting at Isleburgh with Tommy, the first part was the Annual General Meeting and the next part was a talk by Larry Dalziel on "A Circumnavigation of Spitsbergen".
I really enjoyed the talk and it was amazing to hear about the birds, mammals and plants up in the far north.

Sunday the 9th of February 2014

So this morning I checked Clickimin for a colour-ringed Whooper Swan, on arrival I saw no sign of any swans.
Instead the wintering Greylag flock round the loch had grown to twenty-six and there was Twelve Redshanks, seven Black-headed Gulls and thirteen Herring Gulls.
I was standing and looking at the gulls when I saw a massive bird fly off the side of the loch, I watched it for a second and it was a Haegrie! (Grey Heron) the first I'd seen on Clickimin.
So the Haegrie flew and landed next to the broch out of decent picture range! so I turned my attention to the ducks on the loch.
A man was walking round the broch and he flushed the Haegrie closer to me so I got some pictures.

The Haegrie, (as we call them in Shetland)
On the side of the loch

Four Mallards started swimming round the side of the loch and they caught my eye, I was thinking that they were all Mallards but I had a second look and one of them was noticeably smaller than the other three.
I had a look at the smaller duck and I though straight away it was a female Gadwall.
I went with my suspicions and I was sure that it was a female Gadwall, I took some photos to get a record of my first for the year.

My first Gadwall of the year, happily paddling in the loch

 The Greylags were scared up by the Haegrie so I got a photo of them before they landed

I decided to try and move closer to the Gadwall so I hopped over a fence and moved behind a dyke, I popped my head and camera over and the four ducks we only a few metres away.
I got my camera ready and I started taking pictures of the Gadwall.

 The light wasn't very good at all but I'm still glad I was able to get some pictures of the duck

 A comparison of Gadwall and Mallards

She didn't seem to scared of me, probably because she hadn't noticed me

Gadwall and wall

The Gadwall got a piece away and I turned my attention to some Black-headed Gulls bathing themselves on the edge of the loch.

Five of Seven Black-headed Gulls that were at the Loch this morning

I had a quick look into Helendale but the only thing there was a Wren so I left the loch and headed home.

I photographed this Greylag on my way back to the house

So I headed back to the house and I stayed in a few minutes before heading out to Seafield.
I was walking round Seafield for a while and I wasn't able to find any Little Gulls which had been seen in Breiwick.

Here the sea kept coming up and crashing onto the road

I continued walking to Pullar's Loch and I saw a Goldeneye there, a minute later the four feral geese started swimming towards me, one of the whitish ones came really close and I started taking pictures of it.

This beauty came so close that I could get a good shot of it's eye

I stayed round Pullar's Loch for about 20 minutes and then I started walking home, on the way I stopped at a small car park near Tescos.
I was walking along when a dead thing caught my eye, I had a closer look and it was a poor Common Guillemot.

The poor thing had probably been killed by all the bad weather that's been hitting Shetland, sheep have died from it as well

So I walked further round the car park hoping not to find any more dead birds and luckily I saw an "alive" Razorbill in the sea, my first of the year!
I started heading back to the hoose and I had just reached the Sound Service Station when I saw a sliver car go by with a man I recognised, I immediately remember the face and placed it to a local birder called Graham Ball, he noticed me and he pulled into the Service Station and then alongside me.
He asked me if I wanted to come to see the Black-throated Diver at Nesbister, I said that I had to get back to my house so I told him exactly where I'd seen it yesterday.
We spoke for a few minutes and I told him that I'd found a Gadwall on Clickimin earlier today, then he told me that he'd just seen a Pochard, Coot and a Little Grebe on Clickimin!! three year ticks for me and the Gadwall was a year tick for him, so we both headed straight there.
We got to the loch and we scanned the loch for the birds, I saw the Coot after a few minutes and then Graham spotted the Pochard!
The three Mallards that were hanging around with the Gadwall showed up but there was no sign of the Gadwall, we scanned the loch for the Gadwall and Little Grebe but neither showed themselves so Graham stuck me to Nederdale and then he headed off to find the Black-throated Diver.

The very nice adult Coot

So Dad and I stayed in the hoose for a while and then we headed out to Girlsta, on the way we went by Strand to see if we could find the five Tundra Bean Geese which had been hanging round there.
We saw a flock of Geese at the far end of a park but we found it quite hard to ID all of them, we knew some of them were Greylags but two of them might of been the Bean Geese.
We left the Strand Loch and we headed along Laxfirth, we were driving along the side of the road and Dad spotted a Mute Swan right next to the road, we pulled alongside it and I got some photos.

A very nice Mute Swan but I was wondering why it was so close to the road

We drove around the Central Mainland for a while and then we came across a Mountain Hare.
I walked up to it and I got some great photos of it.

Hare enjoying what dry weather it can

I was watching it and it's ears kept getting farther and farther apart

I got that bit closer and it was sitting perfectly so I got a good shot of it's face and body

A black and white shot of the Hare

We left the Hare and we drove around until we got to Girlsta, we headed to Paula's House and we spoke in a while, I then had a try to photograph the Collard Doves in her garden.

This one sat for at least a minute and it let me get some great shots

This is my favorite one with the red eye and it's upright posture

At around three o'clock I was heading back up to Yell when I got a text from Dougie saying that he'd found two Taiga Bean Geese at Aywick in Yell! when I got back onto Yell I had a look but sadly there was no sign (always next time!)

So this weekend alone I was able to add a new specie to my ever growing bird list (Black-throated Diver) and four new species to my year list (Gadwall, Razorbill, Coot and Pochard).


  1. Gadwall nice find for Shetland!

  2. Tell me about it - I still haven't seen one on Fair Isle!

  3. Well then that's one for the prediction list!

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