Sunday 31 May 2009

A Whale of a time

Repetitive i know but another glorious day. Hot, sunny and still. A check of patch produced 2 Spotted Flycatchers and a Chiffchaff also numerous Painted Lady butterflies.

So with a near birdless isle and the stunning weather decided to pack the family up and head off to Watsness for the afternoon. A stunning area of Shetland with panoramic views for miles and not another soul for miles, there was no sign of the Common Crane that was reported but a smart 1st summer Arctic Tern had me scratching my head for a short while.

On return to the car i checked my phone to find a text, 4 Orcas off Quarff heading north, so with that news headed south. Fortunately i had a contact on one of the spotting boats and managed to pin point there location and after a bit of careful navigation managed to get into position on the headland overlooking Bressay, and then we were treated to views i never thought i would witness. Breathtaking.

On return home got another text about a male Bluethroat in Brians garden and managed to get to Marrister to see it before it vanished. A fantastic day and if nothing else i will die a very happy man.

Saturday 30 May 2009

Black and Gold.

Another gloriously sunny day but for a fresh wind it would have felt like the med ! A strange sort of day bird wise Brough boasted 3 Spotted Flycatchers and that was it, a Golden Oriole did a tour of the isle finally being pinned down around Marrister and a Black Redstart showed well up at Skaw late afternoon. Hopefully the wind will ease for tomorrow and will tempt some new birds to show.

Friday 29 May 2009

4th time lucky ?

In keeping with the rest of the UK Shetland was basking in glorious warm sunshine, and with a wind blowing from the SE all day things are looking up for the weekend. 4 visits around patch with some birds noticeable on the last check, a Garden Warbler and a nice male Linnet provided a welcome patch tick. Hopefully with the warm weather and the SE winds some Shrikes should be on the cards, surely?

Thursday 28 May 2009

Hot & Cold

Chcked patch this morning in glorious sunshine and shirt sleeves (it was that warm), apart from the 3 Common Scoters down at the Houb it was dead !

Decided to make a visit to the mainland to order some some wood for our sun (wet) room and paid a visit to the Lesser Scaup now residing on Loch of Freester, then thought whilst i was on the mainland may as well pay the south a visit. Managed to see the Subalpine Warbler at Scatness, majority of the time in flight and probably got one of the most worthless photos of it ! A very quick search for the Laughing Gull again drew a blank, but there was some good news with Mr Marshall finding a Great Reed Warbler on Out Skerries and hopefully this will transfer to new birds tomorrow ? I live in hope providing it stops raining.

Wednesday 27 May 2009

felicitaciones barca

Decided to give sea watching another go today with a visit to Watsness being most favourable, as this is where it is apparently best when it blows from the NW. Arrived around midday and after 45 minutes had 3 Adult Pomarine Skuas (2 pale phase) with 'spoons' heading north, then a probable Long-tailed Skua but frustratingly it was very distant, then that was was it. Spent the next couple of hours watching Bonxies, Gannets, Fulmars etc. Still it was better than my last attempt. The juv Kumliens Gull was loafing around Symbister this morning also.
Great news just in from Rome ? Barcelona have won the prestigious European talent competition.

Tuesday 26 May 2009

Food for thought

A sunny warm day and not a hint of wind meant the bloody midges were out, in force. Slightly better on patch than yesterday with a patch tick, 3 Common Scoters off the Houb also around were a Whitethroat and a singing Chiffchaff.

Plenty of birds feeding young also with the Starlings screaming from the dry stone dyke next to the house and Arctic Terns flying back and forth with small fry, presumably food for their mate. Winds later in the week seem more favourable for some migrants but until then will just have to keep plugging away.

Monday 25 May 2009

Not so funny

Funny thing birding in Shetland ? One day your revelling in rare/scarce migrants the next day nothing, not a hint that they ever passed through. A grand total of a Garden Warbler (that did its best to get off patch) was the best Brough could deliver today even with my best efforts of 3 fruitless searches around patch. The only thing of note is the amount of fledged House Sparrows there are, hardly exciting i know !

Sunday 24 May 2009

A bit better

At last an improvement on the last few days ? Started frustratingly with an unidentified acro, then the first Marsh Warbler of the year which i suspect may have been around for a few days. A smart male Redstart, 2 Tree Pipits, Whitethroat and a Chiffchaff made up Brough's tally.

A text about a Canada Goose at Skaw had me venturing north, just incase it was of the small race. Arrived at Skaw to see Brian pointing in the plantation not at the Canada Goose but a Long-eared Owl which flew off alerting every Starling around Jon's house, no sooner had the owl gone the Canada Goose took to wing also. A Tree Pipit and 2 Willow Warblers were also noted.

Never again

Well the day after the night before was one of those 'I am never drinking again' moments. Finally rose from my pit at 9.30am feeling slightly worse for wear so took the dogs for a walk around the patch, no birds to report. Painted the hen house with help from my artistic 10 year old son ! Then decided to check patch a little more thoroughly, slightly better this time with a Mealy Redpoll. Winds blowing from the SE all day and finally rain around 6pm, lets hope it brings in some excitement.

Friday 22 May 2009

Phylloscless ?

Went out onto patch this morning not expecting anything, i wasn't disappointed. Not even a Willow or Chiffchaff, a probable Reed Warbler gave me the run around and an unidentified acro that just kept going ! A Swallow and a Carrion Crow was as good as it got. With that decided to get the wood for the hen house roof from Lerwick and took a slight detour via Boddam ! No sign of the Laughing Gull (no suprise) but late news of a Subalpine Warbler at Scatness kept the spirits up for tomorrow, thats if i get out ? Off to a 50th Wedding Anniversary so will probably have a tipple or 2.

Thursday 21 May 2009

Erection Day ?

Patch was dead ! 2 Willow Warblers, Garden Warbler and a Sparrowhawk. So decided to get to work on the Hen house, sourced some pallets and erected the Hilton of Hen houses, or at least it will be when it gets a roof. From the comfort of the garden had 14 House Martins, 2 Swifts and 3 Collared Doves fly over, and i have a Starling that mimics Twite, very distracting.

Wednesday 20 May 2009

Getting a sweat on !

An overcast start this morning had be donning full wets for what looked like rain, good for keeping the wet stuff out but also bloody good at keeping your own wet stuff in. Rain seemed to have passed through the night and with it most of Brough's birds with only Garden Warbler, 2 Wood Warblers, 2 Lesser Whitethroat, Whitethroat, 4 Willow Warblers, 3 Chiffchaff, Pied Flycatcher, 2 Swallow, 2 House Martin, 2 Mealy Redpoll and a Tree Pipit around. The Kumliens Gull was still loafing around Hamister on the way to the Leisure Centre.

Checked the plantation this afternoon with the hope of photographing another Icterine Warbler found earlier with no such joy. Other birds around were Whinchat, Tree Pipit, Garden Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher and a male Sparrowhawk. Back to the plantation this evening for another mist net session with Icterine Warbler, Garden Warbler, Robin, Mealy Redpoll, 2 Lesser Whitethroat, Whitethroat, Blackbird all caught and ringed. Another Icterine Warbler evaded the net as did a few Willow Warblers and a Carrion Crow was noted late on. Still no sign of a Red-backed Shrike, maybe tomorrow ?

Tuesday 19 May 2009

Quantity and quality

Back on patch this morning full of hope of finding the 'rare for the day', no such luck with only yesterdays birds still in residence. I was actually half thinking about going to have a look at the Laughing Gull on the mainland, that was until i received a text from John Laurie "Wryneck at Sandwick". Sod the gull a Wryneck is worth 2 Laughing Gulls any day. It showed well whilst we watched it all the while being flanked by a territorial Meadow Pipit.

From there i joined John for the rest of the day checking various site around the isle, getting some insider knowledge. Lots of common migrants around with the most notable sightings being Kumliens Gull still at Hamister, a Bluethroat and Tree Pipit at Vaivoe and a Sedge Warbler, 2 Tree Pipits, 2 Icterine Warblers and 3 Bluethroats at Skaw.

A check of patch before diner was rewarded with an Icterine Warbler and Tree Pipit. After diner it was back up to Skaw for the evening mist net session with Icterine Warbler(re-trap), Bluethroat, Robin, Lesser Whitethroat, Garden Warbler and 5 Willow Warblers all trapped. The days patch tally was 10+ Willow Warbler, 5+ Chiffchaff, 4 Redstart, Wood Warbler, Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat, 2 Mealy Redpoll, Pied Flycatcher, 3 Spotted Flycatcher, 3 Garden Warbler, 3 Swallows and 2 House Martins. A great day and fingers crossed for more of the same tomorrow.

Monday 18 May 2009

The Variety Club

Out on patch pretty much all day apart form a trip to Tesco for the weekly shop. A major arrival seemed to have happened overnight as there where birds everywhere, unfortunately not the 'hoped for' rares but a cracking variety and good numbers of them also. The largest increases where Garden Warblers and Spotted Flycatchers with 5+ each of both and 4 Wood Warblers. 4 Tree Pipits were new and 3 Common Sandpipers were a new patch tick as was a House Martin. The rest consisted of 5+ Redstarts, 10+ Willow Warbler, 5+ Chiffchaff, 3 Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat, 3 Mealy Redpoll, Song Thrush, 3 Swallows, Whinchat and 2 Pied Flycatcher. The winds still blow from the east so hopefully a few more tomorrow with maybe a Bluethroat, Wryneck or Red-backed Shrike. Please.

Sunday 17 May 2009

Soggy memories !

The forecast rain arrived overnight, unfortunately it stayed all bloody day and was coupled with a blustery wind which was fortunately still blowing from the SE. On patch it was evident a clear out had took place as numbers were well down on yesterday. Some new arrivals though with 2 Garden Warblers, Pied Flycatcher and a Whitethroat. Also present on patch were 10+ Willow Warblers still, 2 Redstarts, Spotted Flycatcher, Lesser Whitethroat and Mealy Redpoll. Tomorrows forecast looks drier with a considerable drop in the wind speed, and with it being shopping day looks like a 6.30am start beckons.

Highlight of this soggy Sunday were 4 Dotterel found at Skaw on the golf course. Amazingly confiding they seemed to be totally oblivious of our presence. A very memorable moment.