Saturday 31 October 2009

Not a lot but fog

As the tittle suggests we are in a blanket of fog at the moment, though thankfully the winds have eased. Not much in the way of birding has happened, in fact none yesterday and only a walk with the dogs today. A Woodcock, Mealy Redpoll, Robin and Chiffchaff was as much as Brough had to offer. The weather doesn't look to promising tomorrow so may have to wait until Monday ?

Thursday 29 October 2009

Being green ?

Not an envious blog title by any stretch of the imagination. Today was all about recycling, the same birds, so not a cue to me waffling on about saving the planet. A grey, foggy, damp day with a niggling SSE'rly wind blowing. Brough was birdless so gave Sandwick a look, the same birds still in residence with the Little Bunting, Chiffchaff, Robin and Blackcap.

A check of Skaw bore one new addition, a male Reed Bunting, other than that it was as it was with Woodcock, Black Redstart and Goldcrest. A Jack Snipe was at Challister and that was the lot, well what i could find anyhow. Maybe thats it ? Ah well, soon be spring. Better get used to photographing the gulls !

Wednesday 28 October 2009

Its all black ?

A murky but dry day thankfully, with what looked like an almighty deluge of rain through the night (the roof seems to be doing the job). After a visit to Lerwick for our weekly supplies it was up to the place of the moment ? Sandwick. No sign of the Little Bunting or Common Rosefinch but the Lesser Whitethroat was showing well, the rest was made up of 2 Chiffchaff, 3 Goldcrest, 2 Robin and 2 Blackcap.

Brough faired no better with 2 Goldcrest, 3 Robin, 2 Chiffchaff and a Blackcap in the garden. The day however was dominated by Blackbirds with hundreds in residence.

Tuesday 27 October 2009

The Sooty Show

A calm but dull day was made up with a good variety of birds, some new some old. After finishing some work in the office and walking the dogs decided to check the isle. A check of Symbister meadows for Jack Snipe drew a blank so headed up to Sandwick. More luck here and birds. A late Common Rosefinch was new and showed extremely well for a change, as did a 'northwestern type' Redpoll.

The Little Bunting was still showing on brief occasions as was the Lesser Whitethroat, Blackcap and a Robin !

A momentary cause of panic ensued when i got a brief glimpse of a very dark 'Sparrow' sized bird feeding with Sparrows. Thoughts of a Junco soon disappeared when the bird came into full view. It was unfortunately a House Sparrow which looked like it had been dipped in soot.

Next stop Symbister, only a Reed Bunting and a Robin. Onto Saltness for Blackcap and Robin. Then Skiberhoull for Goldcrest and another Robin. Skaw was slightly more rewarding with a Woodcock in the plantation, a Robin and the Black Redstart looking comfortable in the quarry.

Brough could only boast a Blackcap and yet another Robin. Tesco tomorrow aswell as rain so dont expect too much.

Monday 26 October 2009

Is it, isn't it ?

Now the wind has calmed it was nice to get out, although i didn't spend as much time out as i would have liked. A combination of work stuff and trying to find out why SKY were not coming took up far to much time. Once out, it was disappointing to say the least. Patch had 6 Robins, 2 Chiffchaff, Reed Bunting, Goldcrest and later a Jackdaw that a neighbour had found in there garage, that was taken to Dr Marshall for ringing.

A check of Skaw produced the main interest, though not for very long ? Whilst checking the trap yard a phylosc flew from the cabbages into some bushes, not great views were had but what was seen were yellow legs/feet, short primary projection and a well defined supercillium ? Unfortunately it flew from the trap towards the plantation so i tentatively sent a message 'poss Dusky Warbler'. After spending the next 40 minutes trying to relocate it i went back to the yard to check, fortunately it had returned and was soon in the mouth of the trap, from there trapping it was a formality. Upon closer inspection it was just a Chiffchaff but was surprised when handing it to Dr Marshall for ringing, he himself had to do a double take and commented on the very pale legs/feet and the strong supercillium. Just glad it reappeared, so i didn't have another possible/probable hanging over me. Also at Skaw the Black Redstart, Chiffchaff and 2 Goldcrests persist. On a positive note i have ordered my new camera and lens, so i should be back to my old photographic self in no time at all.

Saturday 24 October 2009

Dishwater vision ?

Another blustery dull day, but thankfully rain free. A walk around Brough with the dogs before i checked it properly produced a Jackdaw and a Blackcap. Once free from my restraints checked to see if the Woodlark was still about, it was but was even flightier than yesterday. A check of the rig produced another Blackcap and a Chiffchaff. Whilst checking out a slightly melanistic Redwing i managed to flush the now relocated Woodlark, just a stones throw from my house feeding on a neighbours drive. Thankfully with the aid of my car excellent views were had, which is more than i can say about my photos ! The objective lens resembles the bottom of an empty pint pot. New camera on its way i think.

A Reed Bunting was new and a patch tick feeding loosely with Redwings and 2 Ring Ouzels were new.

Around isle, a Jackdaw was at Hamister and the Little Bunting and a Leeser Whitethroat were at Sandwick. Another windy one forecast tomorrow, thankfully badminton will take me to lunch.

Friday 23 October 2009

Get a grip ?

Awoke this morning to the news of the Eastern Crowned Warbler still present in a quarry in County Durham. Oh well theres me gripped off all day. I had envisaged ECW to be found in Shetland first, bugger. Decided in the crap morning light to visit Sandwick in the hope the Little Bunting was still around, fortunately it was as was the Reed Bunting and Yellowhammer.

A check of patch bore nothing, that was until i flushed a Woodlark whilst driving to the quarry. It showed well at distance and was more importantly a top patch tick.

Other notables on the isle were a Woodcock flushed from the roadside, a Black Redstart up at Skaw along with a 'eastern type' Chiffchaff. More wind and rain tomorrow so more uncomfortable birding in prospect, tough but someone has to.

Thursday 22 October 2009

A Bunting Trio

Being the loving husband i am plus a way to stay in the good books, i offered to do the weekly shop in Lerwick. Thinking of course that no right minded birder will be out in 40mph winds, how wrong i was ! A call whilst in the butchers from John Laurie put that right. For the second day running he had found another Bunting, this time of the Little flavour. Fortunately i managed to get the earlier than arranged ferry home and met up with John Laurie and Dr Marshall at Sandwick where hopefully it was still residing. Thankfully it was where they last saw it, still feeding with Sparrows, although very mobile i managed to pin it down in some docks where it seemed to go to roost. Hopefully it will be present in the morning so an attempt can be made to photograph it. Also present at Sandwick was a Reed Bunting and a very late Willow Warbler, and even though i didn't see them the Yellowhammer was still and a Water Rail was new.

Wednesday 21 October 2009

As good as new !

Overcast with a very blustery SE'rly wind today which made birding rather difficult. Yesterdays camera episode was confined to history as a night on the radiator seems to have done the trick, still some water marks on the lens inside but nothing canon cant sort, i hope ? Whilst psyching myself up to get out received a text from John Laurie about a Yellowhammer at Sandwick. So without further ado paid it a visit, and it was worth it a smart but flighty adult male. Unfortunately that was the birding highlight of today, a check of patch produced 2 Blackcaps, Chiffchaff and a Robin. Various sites throughout the isle had Blackcaps, Goldcrests and more Robins. But a good day especially now i have my camera i working order.

Tuesday 20 October 2009

An expensive slip ?

The forecast SE'rly winds arrived but unfortunately they didn't produce any birds, unless you want to count Redwings ? A very eager John Laurie arrived at 9am and with the help of Bella we set out to try and relocate yesterdays Spotted Crake. Some 90 minutes passed by with no luck and to compound the misery further whist crossing a ditch i slipped and fell side first into the waters below. Not only did i get my leg very wet my camera also went for a dip, well more of a dunk, end result the camera was full of water and looks totally fucked. Time for the insurance policy to come into its own i think, and for the cheque book to resurface ! Fortunately as earlier stated there were no birds to see and furthermore none to photograph. Better luck tomorrow i hope !

Monday 19 October 2009

The vanishing crake trick

A very un-autumnal day weather wise, warm and sunny with just the hint of a breeze. Weather for the week ahead looks very interesting with strong SE'rlys forecast, looks like the roof got done just in time ! A good day on patch today with the the Bluethroat fortunately still in the tattie rig and showing a hell of a lot better than yesterday. The tatties are being lifted tomorrow so i doubt it will be there much longer, unfortunately.

The only remaining birds were 2 Blackcaps, both females so maybe 1 was new ? But the undoubted highlight of the day was just down from the house ? Whilst walking the ditches before a well earned cup of tea i flushed a (probable) Spotted Crake, it flew no more than 20 metres ahead and dropped into another ditch. I left it there until reinforcements arrived, unfortunately i had to wait until Dr Marshall got back from Lerwick and when we did go looking we couldn't relocate it. I managed to get the short bill, spotted flanks and mottled brown back and saw nothing to suggest Sora (wishful thinking). Whether i saw enough to submit a description ? I'm not sure. Hopefully with John Laurie home and needing it as a lifer we can refined it in the morning and make the rest a formality. On a more amusing note an Otter that showed well until i informed my badminton partner, when he arrived it vanished until he left only for it to reappear. When he returned a 2nd time it swam around the corner and out of view. But he did just see it as well as 2 Harbour Porpoise.

Sunday 18 October 2009

Have i missed much ?

Finally got the roof finished, thank god, just hope it holds up ! So after 2 totally birdless days, well unless you are counting Brambling it was good to get out on patch. But not before 2 hours of Badminton this morning (my new way to get fit). A male Blackcap in the garden replaced the female that had been around lately, and it became evident that not a lot was new. The female Redstart, Chiffchaff, 2 Robins and the female Blackcap were all still in situ, as well as 6 Brambling. Highlight of the day was a patch tick Bluethroat in the large tattie rig, but frustratingly it was incredibly elusive and impossible to photograph. Hopefully it will remain til the morning so i can give it more time.

Thursday 15 October 2009

Through the roof

After yesterdays semi-high excitement, today was a totally birdless affair. With the morning comprising of a trip to Lerwick, which wasn't needed as we later found out. The afternoon was a case of reducing my blood pressure ? When i eventually got out on patch it was a bit to late in the day, so god knows what may have been lurking in the murk. Another Bluetail in the south and a Blackpoll warbler on Fair Isle may be good ingredients for some more decent birds, hopefully. Coverage may be thin on the ground around patch for the next few days as good weather looks likely, so i need to get my roof finished. And i do need to finish my roof !

Wednesday 14 October 2009

Ring-a Ring-a Rouzel

A dull and at times foggy day with occasional drizzle. Thrushes were back in good numbers today with Redwings into 3 figures. News of a Long-eared Owl at Skaw yesterday sent me north for a speculative punt, fortunately it paid off whilst checking the plantation a LEO flew from the conifers, obviously favouring it for roosting in (unbeknown to us). When it eventually settled it gave good views even though it was constantly harassed by the local Starling population. Also of note a Woodcock flew by and 3 Goldcrest were buzzing around the plantation.

An eventual check of patch was rewarding with 2 Ring Ouzels (patch tick) that showed as well as they do. The Redstart was still around as well as a Chiffchaff, 4 Robin, Blackcap and 5+ Song Thrush. A check of Vats-houll to see if the OBP was still around drew a blank.

Due to it being my sons 11th birthday thought it best to cut short my days birding, to do some dad stuff ? And was rewarded with another Ring Ouzel this time just outside the back door, and was a most welcome garden tick.

Tuesday 13 October 2009

A Blue's Tale

A pretty miserable day with persistent rain and an uncomfortable SE'rly wind, which unfortunately doesn't seem to be originating from the continent more off the east coast of the UK. But as this is Shetland any wind with east in it is most welcome, especially in October. A check of patch didn't bear any surprises with the only newcomer being a female Redstart, the Blackcap was still in the garden and the rest was made up with a Robin, Chaffinch, Fieldfare and 3 Song Thrush. Rather than get under the wife's feet at home decided to take a trip to Sandgarth for the Red-flanked Bluetail this afternoon. Still a bird with the WOW factor it showed well around the feeders but in terrible light, rain and a distance my photos don't do it any justice at all. Hopefully it will settle for a few days and when it dries up may go back for another go ? Maybe.

Monday 12 October 2009

Back for seconds

A fine bright day with just a hint of a northerly wind that swung slowly east as the day progressed. Brough was down on its bird numbers with the most notable absence Redwings, with just over a dozen around. A Blackcap and a Robin graced the garden throughout the day whilst patch hosted a Chaffinch, Chiffchaff, 2 Brambling, 5+ Robin and Goldcrest and 3 Song Thrush.

Decided to see if the Olive-backed Pipit had stayed the night at Vats-houll, and thankfully it had. Still quite flighty but with a little patience it showed fantastically well and at close quarters.

After lunch went a checked Isbister with yesterdays disappearing locustella still fresh in the memory. Whilst driving through Isbister flushed a Bunting from the roadside which fortunately flew just off the bonnet of my car then landed. Not the rare Bunting we all crave but a Lapland Bunting and the first i had seen on the isle.

No sign of yestrdays bird with only 6 Brambling, 4 Robin, 2 Goldcrest and 2 Chiffchaff. On the way home called at Livister which also had 2 Chiffchaff, 2 Goldcrest and a Song Thrush.

Sunday 11 October 2009

3rd time lucky

Up early this morning and out on patch in fine sunny weather, all before my date with a pal for a game of Badminton ! Redwings were still in residence looking capable of outnumbering the Starlings. Plenty of fresh birds also around patch with 6+ of Robin and Goldcrest, 2 Chaffinch, Mealy Redpoll, Dunnock which was a patch tick. The Yellow-browed Warbler was still in the rig and the male Redstart was giving good distant views. 2 Chiffchaffs and 5+ Song Thrush made up Brough's numbers.

Upon leaving the leisure centre slightly aching, bumped into Jon Dunn who wasn't having a productive morning. Whilst chatting he fortunately got a call from John Laurie to say Dr Marshall had found an Olive-backed Pipit at Vats-houll. A quick change into the correct attire and for next couple of hours we were subjected to cracking flight views with constant calling, lots of good views of it disappearing into the grass. But best of all was when it landed at my feet to get up again (bugger), of course all this resulted in not the best photos. If its there tomorrow will give it another try.

Whilst in stalker mode got a call from Dr Marshall, informing me for the 2nd day running Jon Dunn had kicked up another locustella this time at Isbister. So again we all converged, this time on a smallish patch of cabbages. A few sorties later and a small brown bird flew from the cabbages straight into some potato haulms, but in keeping with our locu-luck it vanished again. Hopefully next time it will be 3rd time lucky, just like the OBP. Once home looked out of the front window to find a Greenfinch feeding with the Sparrows on the heavily seeded path, a nice garden/patch tick.