Saturday 27 February 2010

Welcome back

All the pre match Bridge/Terry talk was soon forgotten as City hammered Chelsea 4-2 at Stamford Bridge. A much needed 3 points with the only sour note being we help out our poor neighbours.

Back on patch today in the snow and sunshine. Pretty much as it was before i went south, quiet. The highlight was at the the Houb with 6 Goldeneye superseding the pair i had to scope a few weeks ago.

Friday 26 February 2010

Into the abyss ?

A new Shetland birding blog hit the web yesterday, though this one is slightly different ?
Burravoe Birding is my good friend Dougie Preston's take of birding on Yell. Told you it was different !

Saturday 20 February 2010

All work little play

Flat out at work meant a Saturday visit to Moore NR. A pleasant bright day with noticeable signs of the imminent arrival of spring. Lots of activity at the feeding station with 2 Willow Tits being the highlight. A Little Owl was present at Big Hand Ranch, the first time i have actually seen it. A nice break from the daily grind !

Wednesday 17 February 2010

A quick gander

Headed down to Sumburgh this morning for an unscheduled journey back to Manchester, so allowed a little time to check out south mainland. A missed turning resulted in a Pink-footed Goose with Greylags at Boddam.

4 Pinkfeet were at Culsetter but there were no sign of any beans? A scan of fields at Brake resulted in a Whitefront then thankfully managed to locate the 3 Bean Geese (2 Tundra & 1 Taiga) at Culsetter.

News of a delay to my flight meant some more searching. Stopped at Grutness first for the Gadwall which showed well.

 A lucky scan of Greylags at Exnaboe produced 2 Pale-bellied Brents.

Monday 15 February 2010


Saturday 13th September 2007.
The days prior had seen quite a fall of migrants, most notably good numbers of Redstarts and Willow Warblers around patch. The day earlier had me scampering around Shetland ultimately for stunning views of a Lanceolated Warbler at Sumburgh Head, not before I had attempted Yellow-breasted Bunting on Fetlar (got as far as Yell) and a Great Snipe at Quendale (needle in haystack springs to mind).
The morning of the 13th was very pleasant after the strong winds and persistent rain of the previous days. It was pretty evident early on that there had been a considerable fall of migrants overnight and meant a full day concentrating solely on patch. The morning produced a very showy Red-breasted Flycatcher and a Common Rosefinch. Down at the Houb a Tree Pipit showed well, as did a Yellow Wagtail around the churchyard and 5 Brent Geese flew over.

After a quick bite to eat it was back around patch retracing my steps. The Red-breasted Flycatcher was still about but there was no sign of the Common Rosefinch. A Wryneck was found by the 2 Johns at the rig, which showed well on a fence post albeit at a distance. After circumnavigating all the gardens and ditches I decided to check Brough quarry, I later found out no-one had ever checked here. It looks decent enough habitat a small grassy area outside the perimeter fence and a decent area of scrub and weeds inside, mainly made up of nettles and docks with a lone bush for cover. No sooner was I walking through the docks I flushed a Bunting which gave a short flight and pitched back down. With very little to go on I walked forward but this time it flew out of the quarry and into the fields over the road. I did manage to get enough to eliminate the commoner Buntings, and also had the Fetlar Yellow-breasted Bunting from yesterday swirling around my head. As I tried to call Jon Laurie he was in turn calling me ? A Corncrake in a garden at Vats-Houll, I told him of my Bunting and felt it best to see the Corncrake then return to the quarry 'mob handed'. After good scurrying views of the Corncrake it was back to the quarry. Fortunately the Bunting was back and again flushed easily and again out of the quarry, but this time John Laurie managed enough of the salient features to be sure it was a Yellow-breasted Bunting. We searched around a few of the crofts and the fields opposite the quarry but no sign, then after about an hour returned again to the quarry. Again the Bunting was back but thankfully when it flew it stayed in the quarry and on its second flight flew out onto the hardcore to reveal itself. It was thankfully a Yellow-breasted Bunting, not only was it a lifer but also my first self found BB rarity. Makes you wonder what has gone undisturbed here in previous years ? It showed well into the fading light were we left it to roost. It was still present early the next morning showing well but wasn't seen later in the day. Managed to source some excellent images off Dr Marshall, as mine were crap. So glad I did.

Full days count around Brough - 10+ Redstart, 20+ Willow Warbler, 2 Blackcap, 5+ Garden Warbler, 3 Yellow Wagtail, 5+ Whinchat, 5+ Spotted Flycatcher, 2 Pied Flycatcher, 5+ Robin, Red-breasted Flycatcher, Common Rosefinch, 5 Brent Geese, Whimbrel, 2 Reed Warbler, Whitethroat, 5+ Redwing, Fieldfare, 5+ Song Thrush, 2 Chaffinch, Wryneck, Tree Pipit & Yellow-breasted Bunting.

Friday 12 February 2010


If only it was spring, because you could have been mistaken for believing it this morning ? An absolutely stunning day, cloudless skies and motionless seas. A trip to Lerwick this morning for the weekly shop. So paid the Catch a visit, but apart from the local Eiders there was bugger all doing.

On the ferry home a female Common Scoter at Laxo gave me hope of maybe finding one on patch. So, once home grabbed the scope and set about some seawatching. Plenty of Great Northern Divers and a couple of Red-throated Divers, just one Long-tailed Duck and a notable increase in Guillemot's. After a couple of hours I was all but given up, on the way home stopped just down from the house to have one last search. Bingo! A male and female Common Scoter, fairly distant at first but eventually came a lot closer, thankfully.

Tuesday 9 February 2010

Show off

A brisk northerly wind but good spells of sunshine was the order of the day. A good check round patch as usual but nothing to show for it, apart from the very showy Purple Sandpipers at the Houb.

Elsewhere on the isle, the female Scaup is still on Sandwick Loch and a Woodcock was up at Skaw.
Elsewhere, pals from the Wirral have embarked on a 3 week tour of Antarctica catch all there goings on at Southern Seas Seawatchers.

Monday 8 February 2010


The cold northerly wind has returned but thankfully it had something to show for it ? The usual Greylag flock that was so elusive yesterday returned to the fields in front of the house with a count of 48. The Knot was still at the Houb, a Hooded Crow was on the beach feasting on a washed up seal carcass and a Merlin upset the calm by exercising the Ringed Plovers.

A drive around the isle was in danger of being unproductive, thankfully an Iceland Gull was at Hamister, showing quite well at times. Not sure on the age, 2w? Also a Woodcock flew by.

When I returned home the postman had delivered a complimentary copy of this Italian birdwatching journal. Complimentary because they published my Cowbird photo for their Western Paleartic review 2009. My best return for photos, 4 journals in a month. Must be doing something right ?

Sunday 7 February 2010

Knot alot

Since the relative highs of Wednesday its as you would expect, very quiet. A trip into Lerwick yesterday meant a visit to the catch, again no white-winged gulls ? This must be a record low for Shetland with just the odd record here and there. A text off Jon also yesterday to let me know the Black-throated Diver had now made its way up to Skaw, but returned in fading light so no prospects of grabbing a photo. Dougie and his better half visited today and a quick scoot round Brough only produced the Knot still at the Houb. Even the Greylags in front of the house have dwindled to a measly 5 from the dizzy heights of 55.  It can't be to long until something half decent turns up surely ?

Wednesday 3 February 2010

Snow at last !

For the most it was blue skies and sunshine with just the occasional snow shower. No wind meant a clam sea to scan although it didn't produce anything different. 7 Great Northern Divers, a single Red-throated, scores of Long-tailed Ducks and a lone Guillemot. The Knot was at the Houb with the Golden Plovers. A check of the cabbages above the rig produced 2 Skylarks and 10+ Twite.

Whilst photographing a very obliging Blackbird (makes a change) a male Snow Bunting flew by calling, fortunately it didn't go straight through and showed incredibly well in a ditch beside the road. This makes up for the ones I missed last year (funnily enough in the same spot) and also made a nice patch tick.

Tuesday 2 February 2010


A bitterly cold day but thankfully we had some good spells of sunshine. Managed to add another to the year list with a male Goldeneye scoped on Vatshoull Loch, this is the only loch i can see from patch that gets any kind of wildfowl. A Song Thrush was on patch at the Houb and for a change stuck around so i could get a picture and a 'long-billed' Starling was in the garden. Had a quick drive around the isle but the only birds of note were a Coot (probably the Vatshoull bird i missed) and the Scaup still on Sandwick Loch.

Monday 1 February 2010

Ticking along

Still very cold with intermittent snow showers means a lot more being inside than out at the moment. A call from John Laurie this morning alerted me to a Knot just beside my house with the local Golden Plover flock, as much as i tried i could not get it onto the garden list so hopped in the car and drove round to add it to the year list. The Greylag flock persists in front of the house still with 55 being the maximum count yesterday. A check of the Houb in the faint hope of a Little Auk resting in the bay paid off with the Black-throated Diver again, over at Challister Ness. Thats 2 more to the list and thankfully passed the 50 mark.