Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Sooth End Birding: Birding round "Da Ness"

So the 21st of September, the day before I'd been in Unst and now I'm heading down to the South of Shetland for some more birding!

Last night (20th) a talk was done by Malcie Smith on "Where on Earth do our Phalaropes go?" and "Larking in Ethiopia", the first talk was on the study to where the Fetlar Red-necked Phalaropes migrate to, it was first presumed off the coast of the Middle East but from the study with geolocaters then it was found to be off the coast of Peru with the North American Population.
The Second talk was mainly about the "Liben Lark" a critically endagered lark in southern Ethiopia which only numbers around 250 birds and they future doesn't look so good for them.

Now you might wonder, how did I get down? very generously of them, Malcie Smith and Martha Devine (one of the co-founders of the Shetland RSPB Youth Volunteers, a teenage nature group) gave me a run down to the talk, we also twitched my Sea Kale along the way.

The talks were very good and I managed to speak to some of the Shetland birders while I was there, I was speaking to Dave Okill and he asked if I wanted to come down "Da Ness" tomorrow (the South Mainland), so I said yes, hoping for a few birds while we were down.
The Bird Club also had a few old reports going for sale, I got the '08 and '09 to my collection with only two 90's to go!
Glen Tyler gave me a run back to Sound and that was a bit from the Bird Club Talk.

Dave came around at 9:10 the next morning and we set off south, I dropped Glen a text asking him where the Arctic Warbler (found yesterday) was, he got back to me with the "Barclay Arms" Dave knew exactly where to go so we were straight there.
Dave and I searched the trees, catching sight of a couple of Blackcaps but no Arctic Warbler, we spent a good half an hour searching but the best birds were six Swallows.
We carried on south from here, checking in a Boddam and seeing 150+ Golden Plovers, 7 Bar-tailed Godwits, 3 Teal and a Little Stint.

Golden Plover

Dunlin and Little Stint

Dave and I carried down to Virkie and we managed to speak to Rob Fray who was out and about, we asked if there was anything about and he said that the Red-backed Shrike was at Hestingott yesterday, by the playpark and there wasn't any sign of the Red-breasted Fly at Sumburgh Farm so after a few minutes of speaking we went for the Shrike.
Dave then got a call so we pulled over, after he'd finished he'd said that there was a Hoopoe up at Veensgarth, Tingwall.
It was a bit much to head up there for one bird so we decided to head after we'd searched around the South.
We found the playpark and we headed over to check out some bushes, there was a couple of Willow Warblers after a few minutes but nothing else.
Dave got me to go round and check out the other side of the bushes, so I did and there was the Shrike! Mainland/year tick! I got a shot and waved over Dave.
He got a look and I slowly moved closer getting more photos, the bird wasn't wary at all and was great for photos!


A nice start to the day

 This photo is know the cover photo for the Nature In Shetland Facebook Page

We left the bird after I'd gotten my shots and headed to the Sumburgh Hotel next, the first thing that took me was a group of ten birders.
Leading them was one of Hugh's Wildlife Group Leaders, Judd, we pulled alongside and asked what the birds were.
There'd been a Little Bunting and a single Yellow-browed Warbler among a field for of crop but nothing else, we told Judd about the Shrike and the Hoopoe.
So we parted and Dave and I rummaged around the Hotel Bushes before making our way to the farm.
A bird caught my eye among some nettles and it was actually running in the nettles!
After me getting distracted bird which turned out to be a Song Thrush (year tick), I finally flushed the bird which turned out to be a Redwing (first of the Autumn).
The actual part of the farm was next and we came to a stone sheep cru, Dave got his eyes on a bird and it flew off, I moved a bit to the left and got my bins on it. It was a Red-breasted Flycatcher! A lifer and no.217! It flew off and the two of us searched the rest of the area before coming back to the same spot and watching the bird for a brief few seconds over a couple of minutes, I even managed a few record shots.

The Red-breasted Fly! missing its red breast but it was still a beauty

Our next spot was Sumburgh Head, we met Martin Heubeck up there and he told me to come in and get the '94 bird report when we'd finished having a look around.
So the way it went was Dave was on look out and I was searching through the bushes, anything that was flushed, Dave would see.
A few times around we pulled out two Barred Warblers and a Willow Warbler but Dave had, had something "different" so we went around the head hunting for it.
I only managed to pluck up a Skylark and a Kestrel before we decided to head inside and have a chat with Martin.
Half an hour later, three cups of Coffee and a bird report later we were back outside trying to find the "mystery bird" I got the same birds again running the bushes but a Common Redstart flew up and I shouted it to Dave.
I did it one last time and then I went up to him, he said that was his bird, he'd only caught a flash of orange but he wasn't sure what it was.
The Pool of Virkie was finally low enough that we could see some Waders! we managed to spot 70 Redshanks, Dunlin, Ringed Plovers, 2 Bar-tailed Godwits and a Oystercatcher.
Gary Bell was also around so we spoke to him, he'd just started and hadn't got anything but he'd heard the Pallid Harrier was flying south past Fleck so we had a look around the nearby parks but nothing.
One of our final sites for the day was Hillwell, the duck numbers were pretty good with 180 Wigeon, 120+ Teal, Moorhen, Tufted Ducks and Mallards.

 The Wigeon Flock 180 strong

Our last stop in the South was the Loch of Spiggie the first birds we had were a Swallow and the Spiggie Whooper Swans which totaled an impressive 7 birds (2 Adults and 5 juveniles!) but other birds included three other Whoopers, four Mute Swans and my first two Slavonian Grebes of the year! one in summer plumage and the other winter.

Our final stop for the day was Veensgarth, we spent twenty minutes looking for the Hoopoe but with no luck, Dennis Coutts also came from Lerwick but I don't think he got it either.

So Dave ran me to Girlsta and that ended out birding.

Now this is probably my last blog post until I get back from Tenerife (I'm leaving today), I still have my blog post from my trip to Fair Isle in August so there is still a bit to go....

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