Saturday, 31 December 2016

The year of records 'n' rares: 2016

What a year this has been, 2016, the year of losing celebrities and the best autumn in my lifetime.
Its been a bumper year for me, so below as always I've summed up the year as best I can month by month.


The year got off to a slow start but I had soon caught up and broken my own month record.
Highlights being Mourning Dove'Black-bellied' Dipper, Rough-legged Buzzard, Lesser Scaup, Jack Snipe, Goldcrest, Goldfinch, 5 Little Auk.
I relocated Whooper Swan 'JB4' back on Clickimin again on the 24th.
At the end of the month saw me and Dave take a twitch to Whalsay for a 'putative' American Herring Gull, I've never seen such a strange looking bird.
And also during the month I got an email concerning some recoveries of birds I had rung, my first three recoveries, 2 Oystercatchers from the same area in West Mainland (to Inverness and Wales) and a Mute Swan which I refound where I ringed it in Scalloway!

Year List by months end = 79


Like always a quiet month, with funnily enough the same amount of year ticks as last year.
Birding was restricted as prelims took over a good portion of the month.
On the 26th-28th I went down for a 'residential' in Edinbrugh for my collaboration in Reroute (Scotland's Youth Biodiversity Panel) but before it started I headed out east with my friend Andrew Russel for a spot of twitching, Black-necked Grebe, Caspian Gull and Water Pipit were all on the cards but in the end we only came across the Black-necked Grebe but it was a lifer so I was happy! biggest excitement had to be when we came across a very tame young fox which had quite a liking for bread!
Only my second ever Fox, you might say I had good views!
(courtesy of Andrew 'the twitcher' Russel)

Year List by months end = 83


On the 5th I finally saw my first Killer Whales with a pod of 5 off Sumburgh Head/Compass, views were distant but I was more than ecstatic!
The 12th resulted in a trip to Unst with Robbie Brookes to see Surf Scoter (twitched successfully) but also resulted in a couple of hours spent looking for a White-tailed Eagle which finally showed itself the next day but not to me.
It was good over the coming weeks to see the migrant and breeding species return to Shetland as winter finally ended and a Wheatear at Sumburgh on the 29th was the earliest record for me of the species.
A cycle to Fetlar on the 31st was slow going but produced highlights such as Glaucous Gull, Blackcap and Tree Sparrow (last two being year ticks).

Year List by months end = 100


The 6th-11th saw a trip to Fair Isle which resulted in one of my best April birding ever with highlights being Hawfinch, Black Redstart, Great Gret Shrike, Ring Ouzel, Grey Wag, Hornemanns Arctic Redpoll, first Bonxies of the year, a Hawinch ringing tick, the islands first Shelduck for the year, finally ticking Tree Pipit, Long-eared Owl, Stonechat, self-finding Fair Isles earliest ever Common Redstart and swallow.
As always April is the time we check the Raven nest sites, defiantly one of my favourite times of the year.
The 24th was an exceptional day with Garganey and 12 Pintail seen at Scatness, only 1 more bird and we would of equalled the Shetland record!
Finally the rest of the month was spent doing Ravens.

Year List by months end = 121


The first half of the month was dominated by exams but some birding was fitted in.
Return of Terns is always good with my first Arctics on the 7th.
A first for Shetland, Rose-breasted Grosbeak was stressfully twitched between exams on the 4th in Burra.
A much relieved tick came in the form of White-billed Diver on the 5th in Basta Voe, Yell after many fruitless attempts
On a windy Saturday morning (14th), news came of a confirmed GREEN WARBLER on Unst (2nd for UK), a twitch soon ensued and I went with some Shetland veterans to successfully twitch it, after many fleeting views.
The 19th was a notable date with my first patch record of a Mouse with two on the beach at Seafield,
A volunteering stint at Fair Isle Birds Obs from 19th-27th and then extended to the 30th, a dream of mine to work there or even volunteer for a long time and definitely worth it and not just good for birds! some birdy highlights being BLACK-BROWED ALBATROSS, Rustic & Ortolan Bunting, Little Egret (self-found first for the island!), several Bluethroats, Woodchat Shrike, Corncrake, Red-backed Shrike, Crane, two Nauthusius Pipitstrelles and a host of many common migrants.
Jobs though labour intensive at times, cruise ships were much rewarding as cleaning out the Obs Wader Scrape, as it produced 3 Wagtail species in one day! it was also great to see many old faces and meet many new ones. Big thanks to FIBO for having me and all the staff and visitors as well, though the 5 hour journey on the Shepherd was a bit rough!

Year List by months end = 161


As always a quiet month for birding but its when the ringing really takes off with waders dominating the month and the freedom of having no more exams until next year, not as many waders as past years but still good with even a trip to Yell but we only saw one wader chick.
Though the one bit of birding excitement was a singing Quail at Burravoe, Yell on the 19th, big thanks to Dougie Preston for the tip off as its the first time I've ever heard one!

Year List by months end = 162


Mainly dominated by a trip to China 9th-28th as part of the Confucius Hub project to learn the culture and language of China, dominated by classes and visiting areas around Tianjin and Beijing such as the Great Wall, Olympic Park, Forbidden City, Summer Palace and a mix of culture & food streets with a few lifers and birds seen such as Chinese Pond Heron, Chinese Bulbul, etc etc
The last few days of the month were spent getting back into ringing with the Divers, as July is the official start of the wonderful diver season.

Year List by months end = 163


Things really started to speed up in August in all senses for birding.
The month started off with Divers, with a few sites being tended to before the chicks fledged and then I moved on to a smaller kind of bird.
Storm Petrels then came mid month where I joined Phil Harris, Georgie Petrie and Glen Tyler on a few Storm Petrel sessions, it was good to get more experience with petrels and to rack up my ringing total a bit! A Leach's Petrel caught was also a nice year tick even if Fair Isle was catching Swinhoes on the same night!
My first real autumn birding on the 27th with Paula and Julie Redpath resulted in Wryneck and a s-f male Rosefinch at Spiggie!
The 29th was also a pretty good day for rarities as Paula and I head down to the South Mainland to twitch a Arctic Warbler at Geosetter and a Booted Warbler at Sumburgh, safe to say we managed to get both birds in the space of an hour and a half!

Year List by months end = 174


The month started off well with Wood Warbler at Mossbank on the 4th and a patch tick on my second patch of the Knab in Lerwick with 8 Mallard on the 5th!
I headed into Fair Isle again with family between the 9th-13th for our great-grandmothers funeral, one or two birds seen whilst there, Sooty & Manx Shearwaters, Lapland Bunting, Greenshank, Grasshopper Warbler, two Convulous Hawkmoths courtesy of Nick Riddiford and the Legend that is the Biking Birder, Gary Prescott.
The 13th was the day I equalled my own year list record with a Yellow-browed Warbler at Quendale.
The 29th resulted in my own personal year record of 181 being broken with a Pallid Harrier at Quendale and then a Pochard at Spiggie.
On the 30th news broke of a Brown Shrike in Aith which I twitched after school, saving me the 14 hour plus trip to Skerries for the one there!

Year List by months end = 184


The month started off good with a trip to Unst with Tommy on the 1st for Paddyfield and Blyth's Reed Warbler. Blyth's Reed (possible self-found or relocation of Norwick bird), RBFly and Water Rail were all logged bringing the yearlist to 187.
Another trip to Unst on the 8th for White's Thrush was unsuccessful but sunny weather and good views of an Osprey made up for it!
The 9th was a day that went down in history as a SIBERIAN ACCENTOR (1st for UK) was found at Mossy Hill, Scousburgh by Judd Hunt and would prove to be the start of a UK influx (I did see it).
A trip to Fair Isle with Tommy from the 10th-17th was one that will stick in my memory, with rarities appearing in the form of Pechora Pipit, two of three Pine Bunting, OBP, Red-flanked Bluetail, Dusky Warbler, Siberian Stonechat and a 'Stenigers' plus a Shore Lark (self-found and a lifer), also a supporting cast of Waxwing (Sf), Blue Tit (self-found and 13th for Island), multiple Little Bunting, Yellowhammer, multiple Yellow-broweds, Great Grey Shrike and lots of common migrants to make it an ultimate trip.
Even though I'd left Britain's most remote island there was still birds to be found with an Isabelline Wheatear at Noss, Spiggie which showed nicely along with a Mistle Thrush (which was bird no.200 for the year!) bringing the total to 201 for the year!
The next few weeks were quiet as I was away down south for a residential as part of Reroute but I still managed to get a few birds in the shape of Desert Wheatear (21st), Pied Wheatear and Rose-coloured Starling (24th) and two Striped Dolphins in Scalloway!

Year List by months end = 204


This month saw a new menace released in Shetland, myself on the roads, now being able to drive (but only on L-plates at the moment) I went further round Shetland and did a bit more twitching than usual.
My first twitch as a learner driver was a North American Killdeer at Sandwick on the 13th which was an unexpected lifer but certainly much appreciated!
The 21st also saw my second ever birdrace fundraising for Hillswick Seal Sanctuary and was a great day with the three teams and my team personally got a respectable 67 species! including highlights of Green-winged Teal, Waxwing, Merlin, Scaup and Little Grebe.

drake Green-winged Teal (top) and Eurasian Teal (bottom) at Orwick Water, Muckle Roe

Year List by months end = 207


An extremely quiet month for birding, the short period of light and other bits and pieces played a big part in limiting birding but weather wasn't really a problem as it was quite a good month.
One possible new addition to the year list was a Buzzard sp that I saw at Mossbank on the 27th, the views were great but I had no camera and have a little experience with Common and Rough-legged.
Though I managed to get a new bird on the Mid Yell School List in the shape of a 2nd winter Iceland Gull which did a flyover on the 31st.

Year List by Years end= 207/8

Another crazy year, one that will forever go down in memory of birders nationally and locally, certainly it will be one I look back on when I'm old and remembering the ' good 'ol days'.
In both personal and birding life it will be one I won't forget, every year comes with ups and down but this years pros have shot past its cons and its a year where there has been faults but I'm proud of my achievements.

Many new faces this year and but also great to catch up with some many old ones back on Fair Isle who I'm now joining as the 'regulars'.

This year has seen me break an aim of mine and that is see 200 species of bird in Shetland in one calendar, I can safely say with 207/8 by 22.55 on 31st December 2016 that I have done that and with no less than 19 additions to my Shetland List included in that, so here's my additions this year:
Tree Pipit, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, White-billed Diver, Green Warbler, Woodchat Shrike, Ortolan Bunting, Little Ringed Plover, Osprey, Rustic Bunting, BLACK-BROWED ALBATROSS, Sooty Shearwater, Manx Shearwater, SIBERIAN ACCENTOR, Pechora Pipit, Pine Bunting, Shore Lark, Isabelline Wheatear, Desert Wheatear and Killdeer

Of course once again, this year couldn't of been what it was without the help of so many people, the list grows more and more every year, as more people come and go. Like always I thank everyone for the help they've given me across the last year, whether just pointing me in the right direction to a bird or driving with me miles on a twitch.
Once again thanks to Dave and all the Shetland Ringers for giving me some great ringing experiences.
Certainly some of the biggest thanks goes to my granddad, throughout the year he's been there for birding trips, twitches and just general driving and has been such a big help.
Thanks to Paula for the runs to so many birds this year, certainly without it I wouldn't have broken 200.
To all those at Fair Isle in the Obs and on the island, I've had a lot of great memories and trips there this year and its certainly made the year great.
Finally to all my family and friends who helped out in smaller ways throughout the year and to all the birders from whatever corner of the country they have come.

Finally Happy New Year! lets make 2017 just as good!

No comments:

Post a Comment