Saturday, 14 May 2016

GREEN WARBLER: Baltasound, Unst 14/05/16

I was out doing a Breeding Bird Survey on Mainland Shetland when a text came through of a probable GREEN WARBLER at Baltasound, Unst which had been initially Id'd as a Greenish the day before.
I phoned up Dave and he was going so I said I'd join him and we shot up for the 1355 ferry to Yell.
At Toft terminal we rendezvoused with Georgie Petrie and Pete before catching the ferry up and speaking with Andy Cook from Fetlar who was also heading up.
Ferry came in and we headed straight up before catching the next ferry to Unst and then heading straight to 'SHE' in Baltasound for the Warbler.
Several cars of birders left when we arrived but many were still around, bird has been sighted 10 minutes before we'd arrived and had dived into cover again, usually showed well every 15-20 minutes, so now the waiting came set in

We waited an hour and many people had left so it was just our group, one or two of us had spread out to check other sites and then George found the bird a couple of hundred metres away! we legged it but it would not be refound again.
10 minutes later, Pete and I headed back to the site where George had found it and we picked it up again before it shot off towards the main plantation on the east side of SHE!

We spent the next 10 minutes checking the bushes and gardens in SHE but with no luck so Pete and I went back to check the main plantation.
I went up the east side and within a minute I was greeted by a bird feeding in the trees, I quickly raised the bins and bam!! the Green Warbler!!!! I shouted out to everyone else and you could here them running towards me.

Green Warbler if accepted 2nd for UK, first for Scotland/Shetland

The bird happily fed for 20 minutes and I managed some record shots, even better was that everyone present got to see the bird and with that we headed for the 1715 ferry, eating celebratory lemon tarts from Andy Cook on the way down, we were definitely some happy birders.

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Study leave and some home birding

Officially now we are on study leave for our exams, so we can either go to school or not, its really our choice, usually I end up going to school but yesterday I decided to do a bit of birding on the way since it was such a great day and birds had been popping up all over the place.

I checked the trees at the Old Mid Yell School before I headed into study and what looked like a Sylvia warbler caught my eye so I sat down and waited for it to pop back out from the undergrowth.
Within a few minutes I was enjoying views of both LesserWhitethroat and Pied Flycatcher, both year ticks and additions to the school list, which has even had Buff-bellied Pipit on it!

Other birds around Mid Yell yesterday included 3 Siskin and a singing Chiffchaff so migration is definitely happening.

Thursday, 5 May 2016

White-billed Diver after 15 attempts......

Its been a long road, over two years of searching, 3 different birds, around 15 failed twitches and a lot of man hours later I have finally managed to hunt down and see a White-billed Diver.

A White-billed Diver has been in Basta Voe, Yell for over two weeks now, originally found by Brydon Thomason (probably wintering in the area) and I dipped it two weeks ago but I decided today that I'd head up and try find it after my English exam since it had been seen yesterday.
I spent an hour walking along the south side of Basta Voe and had just given up hope by the time I'd gotten to the bottom of the Basta road.
But I decided I'd give it one last scan because I'd covered a large area before I'd done the last one, I raised my bins and after a couple of seconds I spotted this Diver and it flapped its wings and boy it was big! huge! I had a good feeling this was it and quickly set up the scope but it was too windy so I rattled off a few shots and quickly looked at them and there she was, all beautiful with its huge big bill and lighter head.
White-billed Diver! I actually shouted with joy I was so pleased, I've tried so hard to get one of these and they've always eluded me so its great to get one of the home island.

White-billed Diver in all its glory!

Number 252 for Shetland and 124 on the yearlist and my most wanted specie of the year, I got some good views in the scope before it just disappeared, and with that I left.

Wednesday, 4 May 2016


STOP PRESS: first for Shetland, 1st summer male Rose-beaked Grosbeak at Toogs, West Burra, Shetland

On Tuesday the 3rd of May 2016 I was browsing the Internet when I came across a picture on Shetland Birds & Wildlife that had just been posted by a wife called Lynn Goodlad in Burra of a bird which had appeared in her garden.
I looked at the photo and my heart sank, it was a Grosbeak and I comment just that right away without any hesitation, I had no clue what type and was quickly trying to find out as much info of its location to get ready to send out the info.
Lynn got back to me and suggested Rose-breasted Grosbeak after having looked it up and she was bang on! (after I did a quick google search to see what one actually looked like) and I quickly sent the message out to three other birds in hope they would relay the message out to the rest of Shetland.
At the time I wasn't too excited as I figured that it would get accepted as some American buntings don't but I was way wrong with this one.
Soon I got a phone call from Hugh Harrop who'd got my message about it and was currently on his way to see it and also to thank me for the call.
Worst thing was I couldn't go see it til Wednesday so I sat and waited for the next 24 hours and hoped it stayed while most of Shetland got glorious photos of this Grosbeak.

On the 4th I headed down mid afternoon with my grandad Tommy and we went off to see it, one birder was at the garden and he got us onto it straight away in the far corner of the garden!

Utter record shots but I'm glad I finally saw it!

The Rose-breasted Grosbeak now took my Shetland list up to 251 and my year list up to 123, breaking my May best year record by 1!he 36th record for the Uly K and on
The bird was also the 5th for Scotland, the 36th for the UK and the 2nd ever spring record!
It was a stunning bird but we couldn't stick around as I had revising to do for my exams the next day so we were off! amazing bird and big thanks to Lynn Goodlad for finding it and posting the photo or else it would have gone completely unnoticed!!