Monday 31 August 2009

Knot a good day ?

Spent a good chunk of today over in Lerwick with one of our dogs, Tilley. She had an appointment with the vets, to have some x-rays taken of her stomach ! Good news is she is fine and well within herself, bad news is she has a growth the size of a tennis ball on her spleen that needs to be operated on. So for poor Tilley, the dog that bad luck follows around has her date with destiny on Friday. I just hope for my wife's sake that its a benign tumor and not the dreaded 'C' word. Fingers crossed. Avian fauna news. Brough is still like a bird ghost town with not a migrant in sight, so highlight today was a Knot down at the Houb which enabled me to grab some slightly better pics of it. Thursday looks like a day of promise with Easterly winds predicted all day, lets hope it doesn't change.

Sunday 30 August 2009

Best laid plans and all that !

As the title states things generally never turn out as hoped, do they ? With NW'rly winds forecast decided to head up to Eshaness on Saturday am and chance my arm with some seawatching. When i arrived the wind was very obviously blowing WSW'rly, 'ah well it may change' i thought. Wrong. I gave it a couple of tedious hours then headed home with 1 Manx Shearwater and 2 Storm Petrels for my efforts. When home i cleared all the old roof from the garden then had a look at patch, nowt. Maybe Sunday (today) would be better ? Nope. So decided to spend 30 minutes down at the voe below the house watching Gannets plunge diving and generally showing well a few feet off shore. That's about as good as it got.

Friday 28 August 2009

Typical ?

The weather is all over the place today ? Woke up to heavy rain and the winds from the East, then blue skies, North Easterly winds and warm sunshine and now its overcast with strengthening winds from the West. Birds on the other hand are not all over the place, if anything there is a distinct lack of them. Brough boasted 3 Willow Warblers, a Reed Warbler and the Common Sandpiper. The Pectoral Sandpiper was nowhere to be seen probably due to flooding at its favoured habitat, and here's me predicting it will be here for the autumn ! An optimistic check of Skaw had a Peregrine in residence in the plantation and it came as no great surprise there was bugger all else in there, probably all in the peg. With not a great deal to see decided to spend an hour in the company of pigs ? Not literally, of course. The walking bacon chops have churned up quite nicely 2 fields with the lower field being especially mushed up, and with its mix of waders looks ideal for a wandering vagrant to call home. Todays count in the lower field was the Common Sandpiper, 6 Dunlin, 2 Redshank, 3 Ringed Plover and 6 Snipe.

Thursday 27 August 2009

Bits & Fits

Well, it rained last night and by all accounts quite a deluge to. Fortunately there were no leaks from the new roof but i am not getting over excited. Patch got a good going over with a smattering of common migrants around. Counts were 6 Willow Warblers, Garden Warbler and a Reed Warbler, the Common Sandpiper was still with the pigs and the Pectoral Sandpiper was predictably still at Houll and looks good for a stretch well into the Autumn. An erratic Grey Heron was at the Houb doing its best impression of a bird having an epileptic fit ! Very strange.
Around Whalsay there were 3 Willow Warblers at Skaw, 1 at Skiberhoull, 1 at Marrister and a Ruff at Symbister.

I know but i couldn't resist.

Wednesday 26 August 2009

The Roof part 1

As you will know from my last post i embarked upon a mission of the utmost importance, putting right a crap job and making my house watertight. Well at 5.45pm today part 1 was completed and good job to because as we packed up it started to rain and fortunately no leaks to report, yet !
On the birdie front there could be anything out on patch. I know there was a Golden Plover because it flew over me, there was probably a Whinchat in front of the house and the Pectoral Sandpiper is probably still at Houll. One things for sure i will be out on patch tomorrow but it could all be too late by then ? We shall see.

Monday 24 August 2009

The Viking Cowboy

You are probably not aware but, i employed the shittiest builder ever last year to put me some new roofs on my house. Suffice to say they were duly ripped off today ready for the new roofs to be put on. The burning question is will it be better than it was before considering that i am doing it ? You bet it will ! Never done a house roof before so it will be an entertaining challenge, done a garage and a porch and they didn't leak so should be OK. Thanks to Dougie and my neighbour James for the lift today and an SOS is going out to any roofing birders out there who want a few days up in glorious Shetland, i could do with a lift.
On a birding note the Pectoral Sandpiper was still on Houll showing down to feet, the Common Sandpiper was still with the pigs, the Whinchat, 2 willow Warblers and at least 6 Alba Wagtails were also around on patch. A Barred Warbler was up at Skaw but never got the chance to make it up there, maybe tomorrow providing i get off the bloody roof.

Sunday 23 August 2009

Bitter sweet

Spent a pleasant day off isle over on Yell being fed and watered by Dougie and his better half ! Whilst away missed yet another Icterine Warbler this autumn, again at Skaw but thankfully not much else. The Pectoral Sandpiper was still in situ at Houll this evening and all is looking good for patch getting a good going over first thing. Whilst we are literally bathing in squally showers/rain, down at The Oval SE1 England were basking in sunshine and glory dismantling Australia to regain the Ashes. Quality.

Saturday 22 August 2009


Buoyed by a Willow Warbler in the garden this morning i gave patch a good thrashing, in the vain hope something good was lurking. A further 3 Willow Warblers and a Whinchat was the best Brough had to offer, although i am not complaining it was at least a start. The Pectoral Sandpiper was still showing ridiculously well on Houll and the Common Sandpiper put in another appearance down at the shore.

i promise after today no more Pec Sand pics, i just cant resist.

Friday 21 August 2009

Knot today

A fine day weather wise meant a good opportunity to get some more/better shots of the Pectoral Sandpiper on Houll, again it gave excellent views showing down to just a few metres.

Still no sign of any migrants on patch but my perseverance finally paid dividends down at the Houb with 4 Knot.

A visit to Skaw was rewarded with a juv Peregrine, presumably the bird i missed last week. A Whinchat was new in the plantation and the Willow Warbler still remains.

Thursday 20 August 2009

Multi-tasking, just

Us men struggle to do 2 things at the same time let alone 3 (don't women call it multi-tasking ?). Well this morning i managed 3 for at least 30 seconds, i got half dressed and held a telephone conversation whilst my wife waved a post-it in front of my face which read "Pectoral Sandpiper Houll Loch", the telephone conversation ended, i got the other half dressed and was out the door within 2 minutes. 2 minutes later i was at Houll Loch, met by Mr Marshall who planned on taking the dog round the loch only to stumble on the Pec Sand. Much like most yank waders it showed very well and seemed quite at home, more importantly it was quality patch tick. A check of patch had nothing on show in any of the gardens, a Common Sandpiper was down at the shore and 7 Crossbills flew over the house, i hope there wasnt a Two-barred amongst them.

Elsewhere the Common Rosefinch was still eluding good views in the plantation at Skaw, also present 2 Willow Warblers.

Wednesday 19 August 2009

Have i won ?

I received a comment via email on my last post which started Congratulations ? My initial excitement was extinguished when i realised i hadn't just won the lottery or even a Swan toaster ! In fact it was due to the fact that my blog 'A Tale of 2 Halves' has been added to the BBC Countryfile top 50 birding websites for 2009 !! Is it quite an accolade ? i doubt it, but still i am quite chuffed that it has been noticed by the powers that be at the broadcasting corporation, or is it just some bloke trawling the birdie interweb looking to make up the numbers ? Either way I'm there, are you ?

On a birding note, my optimism from yesterday was short lived as a good check of patch this morning produced nothing with just the juv Shelduck still at the Houb, and the chances of getting out this afternoon are slim with the weather being bloody awful. Ah well roll on tomorrow.

Tuesday 18 August 2009

Autumn 2009

Autumn arrived for me today via John Laurie in the form of a Common Rosefinch in the plantation up at Skaw, the usual brown job 1w/fem type that never bloody stayed still long enough for it to have a mug shot taken. Apart from that patch was again dead with the juv Shelduck still favouring the Houb. The wind has picked up nicely blowing E to SE'rly so hopes are for something tomorrow, in fact anything.

Monday 17 August 2009

Rough Ruff !

A most enjoyable evening last night at friends meant a sore head this morning and the inevitable rough feeling of a hangover. Fortunately the cure was a good trudge around patch, the Juv Shelduck was still around the Houb and a text of a Black-tailed Godwit, found in the company of Curlew and Oystercatchers was a patch tick.

With no migrants still or Knot, decided to visit Skaw for the 3 Ruff frequenting East Loch beside the golf club, a worth while visit as they gave great views. A Willow warbler in the plantation made up the days quota and hopes are raised with the arrival of southerly winds tomorrow, i hope.

Sunday 16 August 2009

Back at last !

Finally home after my fortnights stint of work and house preparations down south, so with that it was back out on patch. All the action seemed to be down at the Houb and with it a patch tick, a juv Shelduck that seemed very agitated. Also of note a juv Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Sanderlings and 20+ Dunlin, but still no bloody Knot ! A flock of 20+ Golden Plover have appeared around the house and the local Gannets gave close views just off shore.

Saturday 8 August 2009

Welcome to the Jungle

Just finished a most unpleasant 3 days work at Twickenham, the home of English Rugby ! Unpleasant in the respect of i have never been a fan of the hustle and bustle of southern city life, with its multi-cultural population and its claustrophobic feel. On a pleasant note Sir Richard Branson was paying my wages and Ring-necked Parakeets were numerous, although colonised it still seems slightly odd, them living with jumbo jets and the high rises but i suppose to them its just another jungle, albeit not the most picturesque.

Saturday 1 August 2009

In 2 weeks .......

Autumn migration will have started, hopefully.
The new Premier League season kicks off, thankfully.