Tuesday 30 March 2010

Good company

A fine day and an early morning phone-call from Brydon Thomason had me leaving Whalsay for a day in the company of Otters, with the hope of capturing some images. Our survey site for the day in the North Mainland didn't disappoint with some fabulous encounters of family groups and a stunning Dog Otter.
The day started well with Brydon spotting this mother collecting nest material, then with a large cub in tow they both made there way to the sea. We watched as they fed just off shore and followed as they made there way along the coast line looking for a place to rest up. Unfortunately for us where they decided to rest was in a hollow of some large rocks and out of view, but a great start nonetheless.

Further along the coast we came across this impressive Dog enjoying himself in the (not so warm) spring sunshine. In the flesh an absolute beast, in the nicest sense of course.

Still on a high from the Dog encounter Brydon heard a contact call from a cub then another. As we listened we picked the duo out swimming along the rocky shoreline, and watched as they played a game 'chase' across the rocks. Whilst watching these 2 in full play mode we spotted 2 more cubs and much younger, though they seemed to melt away into the network of seaweed, rocks and kelp.

All in all a good day, 7 Otters and the chance to watch these stunning animals as they went about there daily routines. For more information on where or how to watch Otters in Shetland you wont go wrong in checking out Shetland Nature or Shetland Otter Watching.
As if our day hadn't been good enough this Long-eared Owl made sure of it, sat out in the open in Brae.

Monday 29 March 2010

Blue monday

After the storm yesterday it would have come as a great surprise if anything new was on patch today, i wasn't disappointed. The male Brambling was doing its best to get away and i could only find 4 Chaffinch, other than that, 2 Fieldfare was the lot. Better news tonight concerned City getting back to winning ways with a Tevez inspired hat-trick against Wigan.

Saturday 27 March 2010

Upgrade ?

A mixed day weather wise with a bit of everything it seemed, probably getting ready for the northerlies that are forecast for the next week. They will no doubt put a dint in the spring migration, but for now it was pretty much as it was. A good check of patch produced 2 Pied Wagtails in the infamous 'pig field'! A Rook put in an appearance, thank god, banishing the shame of the 2 i scoped up at Skaw. The rest of the migrants were made up with 7 Chaffinch and a Brambling still, 2 Dunnocks, 2 Chiffchaff, Redwing, 4 Robins and 2 Fieldfare.  

A brief check of Skaw was unexpectedly poor with just a Goldcrest and Chiffchaff in the plantation. The Little Gull reappeared also at Hamister after a 2 day absence.

Friday 26 March 2010

Expected visitors

More spring migrants today although the weather was decidedly un-spring-like. Thick fog first thing followed by frequent showers, more like winters return. Birds were pretty much as yesterday with a couple of new additions. Chaffinches have increased to 7 and have a male Brambling for company, 2 Dunnocks, 2 Redwing, Chiffchaff and a Lesser Black-backed Gull. Winds are still in the east and with brighter conditions forecast for tomorrow we can hopefully expect more of the same.

Thursday 25 March 2010

Its official ...

...spring has arrived in Shetland. The first proper walk around patch this morning since last autumn thankfully paid off. Under blue skies and warm sunshine Brough managed a Goldcrest, 2 Chiffchaff, 3 Chaffinch, Dunnock, Redwing and 4 Robins and that was to go with the obvious increase in Skylarks and the first spring Meadow Pipits.  7 months to go.

Tuesday 23 March 2010

No show to good show

A glorious day in Shetland today with blue skies and uninterrupted sunshine. A day of SE'rly winds yesterday failed to produce anything on patch this morning, surprisingly. A text informing me the Bearded Seal was still around Mid Yell yesterday spurned me to get out, so with Dr Marshall for company we set off again for Yell. Unfortunately today it wasn't there, not showing on its grassy mound, no surprise really the tide was well out (really should have checked that earlier). Maybe next time? With time to spare until the next ferry we checked out Loch of Littlester were we had 9 Bar-tailed Godwits, by all accounts a good count. News that John Laurie had relocated the Little Gull in front of his house buoyed us slightly, and on arrival at Hamister the Little Gull put on a fantastic show, looking very happy around a ploughed rig.

Later news concerned a probable Iceland Gull over the house, a very bleached out individual but more important news was my sons first involvement with the Whalsay football team. He played well and they won against Scalloway.

Sunday 21 March 2010

Little Beauty

A jam packed Sunday with the usual badminton followed by football. So what little time i could afford outdoors i seemed to use well? The half time break during the football we took the dogs around Brough for a walk, a couple of interruptions later and we were nearing home, an innocuous scan of some Black-headed Gulls on the sea was rewarded with an Adult Little Gull amongst them, a patch lifer. Always distant but hung around the same area so hopefully it may linger until tomorrow at least. Plus the added bonus City winning at Fulham, a good day all round.

Friday 19 March 2010

Billy no mates

Wet and very windy today, not that that matters! At least the migrants are arriving down south, so its now only a matter of time before we get our share. Anyway bugger all about apart from the Long-billed Starling in the garden, funny looking bugger.

Tuesday 16 March 2010

Stone the crows

Still very quiet with just the Water Rail and a couple of Robins of note over the past couple of days. The dog walk around patch this morning produced a brief Jackdaw, it wasn't long before it flew off in the direction of Symbister, probably the wintering bird stretching its wings? A tour of the isle brought nothing new apart from 2 Rooks up at Skaw constantly harassed by a pair of Hooded Crows. With them being so flighty i whizzed back onto patch and managed to easily scope them from all of 2.1 miles away. Hey, at least it was a big black bird and not a small yellow one!!

Friday 12 March 2010


Extremely cold with a very unforgiving NW'rly wind blowing all day. The Water Rail, which to date had evaded my best efforts to photograph it was still mooching in my neighbours garden this morning. So after the dog walk i went back and staked it out. Plenty of the usual watching it in the shrubs virtually hidden.

After a bit of patience it finally came from its lair, but in true Water Rail fashion it scurried through any open areas hence the crap photo. Apart from that it was very quiet with just the Jackdaw still around Symbister.

Whilst filling the car up noticed this Black Guillemot swimming around in the marina, the lengths .....

Thursday 11 March 2010


My whining the other day obviously didn't fall on deaf ears? A walk with the dogs this morning produced a patch year tick, a Collared Dove. That's how good it is here at the moment, hopefully not for much longer, cant be long until the first Goldcrest, Siskin and Stonechats appear. Also around patch today were a Song Thrush, Robin and 10 Great Northern Divers just offshore.

Tuesday 9 March 2010

Anchors on

Still slow going around Brough with only the 2 Common Scoter still and the Robin has returned to our garden. A male Hen Harrier would have been a nice isle tick if i could have caught up with it over the weekend. The great Shetland patch yearlist seems to have ground to a halt, well for me anyhow. The boys Minton, Fray and Haywood have all had ticks the past week taking their tally to a respectable 60, whilst i seem glued to 56. Not to sure on Messrs Bell and Harvey.  Oh well they will come, just have to exercise a little more patience.

Thursday 4 March 2010

Getting there

Still feeling very cold but thankfully rain and snow free. Signs of springs have been more evident over the last couple of days. Oystercatcher and Skylark numbers are increasing day by day and plenty of Red-throated Divers on the sea with a few flying over calling, but most important of all our hens are laying again! A visit to Skaw yesterday produced 4 Woodcock in the plantation, a high number locally. Today's news, the 2 Common Scoter were visible again from the garden and the Knot and Dunlin remain at the Houb. A probable summer plumage Black-throated Diver was between Challister Ness and the Houb though it was distant, so will have another look tomorrow.

Tuesday 2 March 2010

Immigrant ?

A scheduled trip into Lerwick for the weekly shop meant a chance to twitch the Egyptian Goose that resides at Seafield, just a stones throw from Tesco. Not too sure of its credentials nor am i that bothered, but a first for Shetland mustn't i suppose be sniffed at.

Egyptian Goose aside it is still very quiet, not only on patch but around the isle. The Knot remains at the Houb with a lone Dunlin and a Song Thrush put in an appearance on Sunday. Soon be spring.