Monday, 20 October 2014

A Twitch, a Trip and a couple of NGB's

On Friday the 10th of October I got a call from Brydon Thomason up in Unst.
He was taking two young birders out birding before sticking them to the Northlink on Saturday and was wondering if I would be interested in coming with them.
I said yes! it sounded like a great time out.

On Saturday the 11th my Mam put me up to Gutcher and Brydon picked me up, I chucked my stuff in the back and I got in.
Sitting in were Brydon's two student birders, Amy Robjohns and David Hunter, both fellow NGB birders.
A couple of quick hello's were exchanged and a handshake before we all headed north to Cullivoe for some birdwatching.

Our first stop was a patch of trees just as you get into Cullivoe, the four of us got out and had a look around.
There was a single Common Redstart (my first on Yell!), a flyby Woodpigeon, a Goldcrest or two and a Yellow-browed Warbler.
We all headed back in the car and headed north, we were speaking about a couple of things and one that came up was Cullivoe birder, Jim Nangle.
Just as were speaking about him we spotted him a piece along the road, Brydon pulled up alongside and Jim gave us a couple of sightings that were around.
The birds we went for were 200 Golden Plovers that were around, we headed up one of the nearby roads and we got them! not two hundred but a good number.
A quick scan produced no American Golden Plovers but a few Twite right outside the car were pretty good for photos which David and Amy got some of.
Brydon drove us north to Kirk Loch, good for wildfowl, the scope was brought out and Brydon got four Scaup! 
Most times I've been to Kirk Loch there has been Scaup on the Loch but it's still a good bird to see on Yell.

Four Scaup (two on left and right), excuse the bad photo

After decent scope views and even poorer pics we carried on just up the road.
Brydon got us out around a couple of houses and we began searching, Brydon pulled up a Mealy Redpoll and then we started speaking about the complication of the "Redpolls" as some may know 
they are very complicated, they are many different kinds or only some but what I hear is that you have Lesser and then the Mealy is more split, it goes into- Icleandic, North-western, Mealy and a couple of others but sometimes Lesser would be thrown in there.
You also have Arctic Redpolls which are split into Hornemann's Arctic and Coue's Arctic.
Its a Redpoll

Mealy Redpoll

But anyways! we got the Redpoll (and a Wagtail) before heading back down the road where we met a few locals, one of them was a wife who had, had a funny bird in her garden so we checked it out,
There was a few birds in it certainly! 2 Goldcrest, 4 Bramblings (1 caught  by Cats), 1 Wren, Starlings and House Sparrows

One of the Bramblings

 Our birding took us farther north to Breakon, we didn't get anything but a Wren before going north to Gloup.

Breakon Beach in the distance

Brydon was driving up past the first house in Gloup when he stopped and shouted out Great Tit!! First thoughts were What??!? Where?!!? Brydon pointed it out on a gate and my camera was raised!

Great Tit! best bird of the day so far, Yell and Shetland Year Tick and a pretty nice bird

Great birds in Shetland but common as muck elsewhere!

The Four of us got out around a byre at Gloup and the first bird anybody saw was a Whinchat (good spot Brydon & Amy!, Yell and Year Tick).

This Snipe was also spotted from the car! and it stayed long enough for all of us to get photos before getting up and walking away!

We passed through a gate and I got my eyes on something, it was a Bunting! I thought Little but then Reed but it dipped down, we moved along and Brydon got his eyes on it and said Reed and also saying as well a few good ID features for both.

Reed Bunting, Yell Tick!

One of the many good birds our team have found today!

We carried on but got no other birds but it was great around Gloup! we headed back south and stopped in one spot by the Cullivoe School to hunt for migrants.
The first few birds we got were a few Robins and then the Golden Plovers went up! there was hundreds!!

Anybody care to count?

We walked further along and Brydon picked up a Yellow-browed in a bush and that was all we had so we were off.
We ended up meeting Jim Nangle again and Brydon asked him if he'd had a Stonechat, Jim had, up at the road to the Cemetery (By Kirk Loch).
Well Brydon thought we might as well "twitch" it (it would be a Shetland Tick for me!) so nort' we went!
We did a drive through of the Cemetary road but there wasn't a Stonechat insight, well we tried.
Brydon drove us back past Kirkhoul but David shouted out and spotted the Stonechat!, we braked and all got our eyes on the bird.
This exact Stonechat was a Shetland/year tick for me! I've seen Siberian and "Caspian" Stonechat in Shetland before but I haven't been able to catch up with a Common Stonechat!

In Flight

Sitting, still

The bird flew about and Brydon went to check it for a Siberian bird, so Amy, David and I stood around, looking out for birds.
We did manage to get one! what looked like a pale-ish Chiffchaff but I'm not sure on the subspecie.

A Chiffchaff, any thoughts? Sibe or one of the normal races?

So after that great bird (which wasn't a Siberian) we went south for the "Queen" Eider (King Eider) at Basta Voe, after a couple of minutes and a long road later we came to a passing place and we got out the scopes before heading down to the water's edge.
Bryden got the scope's set out and we started scanning for the "Queen", we spent about ten minutes scanning through the "raft" with two on "bins" and two on scope's but with no luck so the four of us headed for the 2:30 ferry to the Mainland.
Amy, David and myself spent the ferry journey watching for seabirds, we got a couple of Shags and roughly 50 Tysties! (Black Guillemots).
But no stops along the way though, we were straight south to "twitch" the EASTERN BONELLI'S WARBLER at Scalloway which had be identified as an Eastern from a report of a "Bonelli's" by Rebecca Nason and Phil Harris.
We stopped at Houl Road in Scalloway and there was a couple of birders heading up to the top of the road, three of us set off rearing to go and Brydon stayed behind to talk to a guy.
We were following Gary Bell and another guy, who we assumed knew where the bird was but they didn't, so we all stood watching a wall for about 5 minutes hoping the bird would come out but to no avail.

Swallow, one of five flying around

David, hopped over a gate to...... well find the bird.
He ended up speaking to Phil and Rebecca, after a minute or two they went off and David waved us to come along.
So the three of us gathered, David told us that the bird had been last seen in a large amount of sycamores right next to us, we stood and a phone was pulled out with the Eastern Bonelli's call on play.
Now we knew what it sounded like, all we needed to do was find it.
A brief look in a part of the sycamores didn't produce the bird but Phil Harris had it fly into a row of sycamore across the road! we all ran over and there was movement!!
We raised our bins and got a few fleeting views but we saw it! Eastern Bonelli's Warbler! Lifer! camera's were raised and more birders arrived.
I have to admit my photos were pretty terrible but at least I got some!

Flight Shot

One of my best still shots

My best photo, some say that only calls can identify Bonell's Warblers but some say once you know what you're looking for you can identify them

Two very happy birders

The other side of Twitching, the photos between the the raised bins

Camera's, Bin's and a happy sound recorder (Photo Brydon Thomason)
(From Left- David, Logan, Amy and the smiling Phil Harris)

The Odd Twitcher 

The Twitch was successful, we got the bird! Amy's 210, my 235 and David's 250ish in Britain!
Afterwards we got a few shots of us at the Twitch before we set off to Lerwick.
I had a plan while we set off to go twitch one more thing, the easiest and most twitchable rarity in Shetland.

So! we got to Seafield! (some might remember this) we got out and onto the beach to where the Sea Kale was! (Thought we'd see one last thing before we sent them off).
The final thing on Amy and David's List for the trip ended up being a plant but not bad, I even got a photo with it, I haven't actually done that before!
Anyways, we got back into the car and set off for the Northlink, our last stop. We got the car unloaded and we sent Amy & David off, even though it was a day, it was still a great experience, to have two young birders who were the same as you made it even more better.
It was great to meet both of them and hopefully I'll see them again up here, David might even be back next year!

But the end of it was Amy & David headed in to the terminal and we headed off, Brydon dropped me at Sound and that concluded a truly great day.

Amy's Blog on her Shetland Trip-

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