Saturday 11 December 2010


Not such an early start this morning, the plan being we would converge on a Waxwing flock in Warrington in the hope of erecting a mist net and catching a few, or more. Up to 39 Waxwings were present but the area was extremely exposed and was prone to easy disturbance, with that in mind myself and Mike went off to Woolston NR to erect just 3 nets. Even with the decrease in nets we still managed a small selection to process, the pick being 3 Brambling and 2 Wood Pigeons. In total 39 birds were processed with 11 extractions, 13 ringed, 15 retraps and a Wood Pigeon that wasn't rung by me. News on the Waxwings was a net was erected and 2 were caught so it wasn't totally in vain, hopefully more attempts can be made over the coming weeks.

3m (bottom) + 3f (top)
Open wing of 3f with 2 old greater coverts.
Open tail of 3f showing pointed juvenile tail feathers.

Monday 6 December 2010

Learn To Fly

Sorry for my non posting. I feel i need to post with pictures but don't have any to share, hopefully that will all change. Not so much birding happening what with work and the freezing weather (not that its an excuse) though 23 Waxwings around Summerfields Estate, Wilmslow on Saturday were nice to see so close to home. It is now official, i have applied for my 'T' (trainee) ringing permit and will be busy pretty much every Saturday morning for the next 18 months. Only 3 of us on Saturday with myself, Mike Miles (my trainer) and Kieron Foster who's ringing site it is. The majority of my training will be done at Woolston Eyes NR, near Warrington, a lot more on this site in the future. Only 3 nets were put up on Saturday but we still managed a small selection to process. I will update with numbers, species and various photos (probably open wings, tails and heads, all the technical stuff) over the coming weeks and months. There is a lot to learn and enjoy i feel from this aspect of our hobby and am looking forward the day i get my 'C' permit. I must add that if was not for Dr Marshall i doubt very much i would have ventured down this path, so for that cheers.

Saturday 20 November 2010

Ring Ring

An early start this morning (5.30) down at Woolston Eyes NR, helping to put the mist nets up. I have applied to become a trainee ringer so hopefully my enthusiasm will stand me in good stead? Time will tell. A good morning session with myself actively ringing birds for the first time. Highlight of the morning was a Cetti's Warbler, unfortunately not rung by me. Although i did ring Coal, Blue and Great Tit, Brambling, Chaffinch, Bullfinch and Reed Bunting, not a bad first selection. Hopefully next week will be good news and i can apply for my ringing licence.

Friday 12 November 2010

Back For Good ?

After a very smooth crossing on the Northlink it was the long drive south to Cheshire. A fortunate pit stop at Gretna services produced 7 Waxwings in the car park, good start. With not a great deal of light left in the day i decided to head for the Pied-billed Grebe at Hollingworth Lake today, cracking views as it swam in front of the hide, a larger stockier bird than i first anticipated. The light was poor so will return for better photos hopefully, at least you can tell what it is!

Wednesday 10 November 2010

Never Can Say Goodbye

The day that i didn't want to come unfortunately arrived today? For anybody that didn't know, our time in Shetland has come to an end and we are moving back to sunny Cheshire! We have had a wonderful 18 months, experiencing a way of life i never thought i would and making friends for life along the way. Going to miss lots of things from Shetland not least the birding, although it can be very frustrating the majority of the time, best to be left for Spring and Autumn. Fortunately i seem to have a bed all over Shetland which thankfully means i can still bird (my) patch. Going to miss my daily catch ups with the John Laurie and Dr Marshall,or Brian as he wants to be known. Dougie, Brydon, Steve, Rob and all the other guys cheers for all your help and assistance. Well not so much Dougie! In need of more like.

Saturday 6 November 2010

My Perfect Cousin

A very cold day with rain, hail, sleet and snow. A quick check around patch produced  a patch lifer? 2 Lesser Redpoll with the 8 Mealy Redpoll. We are used to getting good numbers of Mealy Redpoll through on passage, with the larger Greenland Redpoll through in the Autumn, but Lesser Redpoll remains a fairly scarce bird in any numbers in Shetland. Managed a couple of photos fortunately in the same pose which show the different plumages off quite nicely. Still no Waxwing though i shan't give up.

Friday 5 November 2010

The Final Countdown

Well after the best part of a month away it was back to what i enjoy best. Joined John Laurie this morning for a scour of the isle hoping for a Waxwing, no joy with just a very flighty Mealy Redpoll at Saltness on offer. After lunch decided to check Brough, slightly better here with 8 Mealy Redpoll, Chiffchaff and a male Brambling. At least i have managed some photos to go with my ramblings, more tomorrow i hope.

Thursday 4 November 2010

Back to Black

Literally! It is seriously dark here. Just arrived back in Shetland after what seems like an eternity sat in airport lounges. Managed a day out in the company of Phil Woolen yesterday, American Bittern twitching. Fairly distant views were had as it mooched in a ditch and a brief flight view was as good as it got for us. Nice bird to see though at least it is now it's on a reserve and not being pestered. Hoping for Waxwings over the coming days, preferably in the garden? We shall see.

Monday 25 October 2010

9 to 5

No updates can only mean 1 thing? I'm working. I've still got another 10 days or so before I return north but I have managed to get out locally at least. Last weekend was a trip over to Martin Mere, thousands of pinkfeet are always good to see but not a great deal else. Weekend just gone was spent on Anglesey in the company of Dr & Mrs Marshall, a good days birding yesterday with obvious highlights being Glossy Ibis, Chough, Peregrine, Spotted Redshank and a Barn Owl on the way back last night. Bugger all photos taken so hopefully that's something I can rectify this weekend.

Sunday 10 October 2010


Finally got my copy of British Birds, the Rare birds in Great Britain 2009 edition. Front cover, the Brown Shrike in Surrey i took last year. How pleased am i, need a chufty badge now.

Saturday 9 October 2010

Little By Little

Cracked under the pressure and headed off to Out Skerries very early this morning for yesterdays PG Tips. No sign, but that didn't come as a great surprise as last night was a 'count the stars' exercise. Also no sign of the Black-headed Bunting but the Citrine Wagtail was still in residence showing well briefly on the pool.

Managed  to cadge a lift from Vidlin to Laxo off some visiting birders (cheers guys) and waiting for us was a cracking 1w Little Gull. That showed well, obviously.

Back home and quick whiz round Brough. The Rosefinch was still in-situ and an obvious increase in Goldcrest with 15+ seen. The rest was made up of 2 Dunnock, 2 Robin, Whinchat, 3 Blackcap and 4 Chiffchaff.

Friday 8 October 2010

Peep Show

Another day of sunshine, summers come late. Went out with much optimism this morning around patch especially as i had 2 Blackcap in the first garden, which rarely has anything. My optimism was short lived! It was fairly obvious not much if anything was new in. A Common Rosefinch was in with the finch flock, quite possibly the bird from weekend and that was pretty much it. Totals for Brough were 3 Blackcap, Redstart, 4 Goldcrest, Siskin, 3 Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Reed Bunting, Dunnock and a Robin.

Once patch was done i headed home to do some dreaded paperwork. Fortunately a call from Dr Marshall dragged me away, he had found a Radde's Warbler up at Skaw. Upon arrival it had typically gone missing but it wasn't long before we relocated it and were treated to incredible views, at times a matter of inches away. It was totally at ease with our following it around taking photos and generally admiring it. Cracking bird. 

Another quick check of patch drew a blank so i decided to pay Sandwick a visit. First port of call the rig and the ditch, upon arriving at the ditch and willows i muttered that it would be nice if there was a RF Bluetail. Not quite that standard but i did manage to flush a Corncrake that scurried its way down the ditch probably never to be seen again. That rounded off what turned out to be a rather good day i'd say.

Thursday 7 October 2010


A beautiful autumn day with wall to wall sunshine and light southerly winds, far to nice for birding! An early check of patch was rewarded with a patch lifer? A Jack Snipe, a bird i have kicked up from various sites on isle just never on patch. The Red-breasted Flycatcher was still showing fantastically well on its favoured wall, but apart from that it was pretty much the same. A Chiffchaff, 5 Blackcap, 3 Goldcrest, 3 Siskin, 4 Whinchat, Dunnock and a Reed Bunting.

Drove over to Marrister to look for a Hawfinch which Dr Marshall had in his garden briefly, no sign but a Whinchat and a Reed Warbler made up for it. With not a great deal happening i plucked up the courage to go and do Isbister. A Common Rosefinch was found whilst looking for a Reed Bunting and a Carrion Crow was unexpected. A search of some crops had me kicking up yet another locustella. I got a uniform coloured bird in flight and it wasn't particularly small, so maybe just another gropper? With Dr Marshall off isle i had to leave it until he got home, fortunately it was only around an hour or so. We arrived and almost immediately flushed the bird from where i had left it, we got a couple more flight views and it was decided to erect the mist net. Twice we had the bird in the net and twice it wriggled free and on one occasion it ran under the bloody net. Dr Marshall managed a view of it scrabbling around on a rock and commented it appeared to have an unstreaked undertail, crap! Oh well, will be back for another look tomorrow and with any luck it will still be present, fingers crossed.

Wednesday 6 October 2010

Looking East

Its all gone quiet on patch with just a few migrants hanging on. The Red-breasted Flycatcher was performing well this afternoon and proved to be the bird of the day.Other birds around Brough consisted of Redstart, 3 Blackcap, 2 Robin, 6 Goldcrest, 2 Chiffchaff, 6 Siskin, 20+ Brambling and 20+ Chaffinch. The Buff-breasted Sandpiper was still associating with a few Golden Plover on the golf course up at Skaw even though i  have yet to see the bird! On a positive note, the forecast for the weekend and beyond looks very interesting with due easterly winds forecast. Days with no lunch break i think, i hope.

Monday 4 October 2010

Greased Lightning

Decided to have a day off isle and was joined by Dougie for a bit of a tour. First up was Levenwick for the (organised!) search of the now re-identified Grasshopper Warbler. Lots of people went away more than happy i think with what they saw, which was a dark tailed, pale rumped locustella spanging from one bit of cover to the next. I think there is a danger of seeing what you want to see and being sucked in by other peoples opinions and comments. Lesson learned. Next up was Sumburgh farm for the very showy Radde's Warbler, if only all birds were this easy!

Passed by Virkie on the way back north and had the Great Grey Shrike fly over heading towards Toab. The plan from there was i was going back down to the locustella and Dougie was to look for the Swainson's Thrush, that was until a text came through informing us a Booted Warbler at Channerwick had been re-identified as a Syke's Warbler, so we headed there. Just as we had encountered earlier the Syke's was bombing from one bit of dense cover to the next. I did manage a brief view sat on a fence, so better than the gropper at least. Photos here. As happy as you can be i suppose we headed north to Eshaness. Thats where we went from the sublime to the ridiculous? First the very showy Buff-bellied Pipit at Tangwick.

Then the almost tame Buff-breasted Sandpipers out at the lighthouse. Also around the lighthouse were 130+ Snow Bunting passing through.

Sunday 3 October 2010


A heavy night entertaining had me worse for wear this morning. Dougie and his better half were also over and he managed to drag me round patch with the hope we may relocate the Red-throated Pipit. No joy, but 4 Pinkfeet were the first of the autumn and Dr Marshall managed to find a Red-breasted Flycatcher in the infamous Bonelli's garden, must have been hung over as i only checked it an hour earlier. Also around Brough were Redstart, 5 Reed Bunting, Dunnock, 2 Chiffchaff, 3 Whinchat, 4 Blackcap, 11 Goldcrest, 20+ Brambling, 20+ Chaffinch and even more Song Thrushes.

Elsewhere on the isle, a Grasshopper Warbler at Skaw gave good views then did the decent thing and flew into the Heligoland trap and 6 Lapland Bunting were around the airstrip. Visiting birders had a Pectoral Sandpiper was with a roaming Golden Plover flock around Challister though we couldnt relocate it, maybe tomorrow.