Friday 30 April 2010

Black Friday

Another grey, wet day. The son returned from south after a week away. I went to the dentist, again and a funeral seemed to dominate lives on the isle. Other than that it was as it was, the wind is still from the west but at least i managed a patch year tick? A Wood Pigeon, i feel slightly fortunate though as once in flight it didn't stop. The Dunnock, 2 Willow Warbler, 1 Redwing remain. 2 Whooper Swans flew by and a Whimbrel was by the house. Planning a trip south next week for a couple of days, lets hope i get it right!

Thursday 29 April 2010

Winds Of Change

Not much change from yesterday, the sky was still grey and the wet stuff was still falling. The winds have swung to the west and northerlies are on there way, so spring will be put on hold for the foreseeable future. A couple of garden ticks today. First up, a Collared Dove was the first bird i saw this morning and this afternoon 2 Carrion Crows were feeding in the fields in front of the house. Other than that it was the same around Brough, 2 Whimbrel, Blackcap, Dunnock, Willow Warbler and 2 Redwings.

Wednesday 28 April 2010


That was the order for the day, and not the proper stuff but the drizzly type that manages to soak everything. Patch only got a once over on foot with the usual suspects still around. The male Blackcap still refuses to come within camera range, a Dunnock reappeared, 2 Willow Warblers and the 3 Redwings made up the gardens tally.

The Houb hosted 2 Dunlin, first ones of the spring and probably a Whimbrel but only managed a brief view. Not that it mattered as the first Whimbrel of the year was soon ticked, typically distant.

Tuesday 27 April 2010

Unexpected song

Well the winds switched but nothing new arrived, or so i thought? A good check around this morning under grey skies produced the male Blackcap still, 2 Willow Warbler, 3 Chiffchaff and the 3 Redwing, with 2 of them singing! A check of Skaw in the company of John Laurie was pretty fruitless also with just 2 Willow Warblers and a Chiffchaff, although we did managed to trap the Willows, though that was pointless as Dr Marshall was nowhere to be seen. On arriving back at home for lunch a Carrion Crow flew by and was set upon by 2 Hooded Crows, suffice to say it swiftly moved along. A call from Dr Marshall mid afternoon set the pulse racing? He had found an early and very unexpected Wryneck just behind his house and on arrival we set about trying to relocate it. John Laurie arrived shortly afterwards and immediately clapped eyes on it then it disappeared, again. Needless to say over the next hour or so i didn't see it, lets just hope we get another or its there tomorrow?

Monday 26 April 2010

A little bit more

A double dose of patch today with a scheduled trip to Lerwick sandwiched in the middle. Thankfully some overnight rain grounded some new migrants which meant some much needed patch year ticks. A male Blackcap was new briefly as was a very flighty male Linnet and the first of the years Arctic Skuas flew by heading north. Chiffchaffs increased to 5 and Willow Warblers to 2. Also about were a pair of Brambling the 3 Redwings and the Song Thrush. Winds seem to switch E to SE overnight so hopefully more of the same tomorrow? We shall see.

Sunday 25 April 2010


For once the weather forecasters got it spot on, SE'rlys and overnight rain. Yesterday produced a Dunnock, 2 Chiffchaff and a Redwing in the short space of time the wind blew. But today was an improvement if not a little disappointing! The Dunnock remained as did a Chiffchaff but then 3 patch year ticks followed in quick succession? First a Swallow flew through heading north then a very obliging Willow Warbler allowed close views followed by a pair of Shelduck on the Houb, last up was a very flighty Song Thrush. Hopefully tomorrow will follow in the same vein though i fear it may be short lived with northerly winds forecast to come back midweek. Lets hope this time they get it wrong.

Friday 23 April 2010


....will hopefully see a forecast change in the wind direction so we can at least get in on the migrant action? The past few days have produced nothing other than 3 Redwings, hardly surprising in blasting NW'rly winds. Anyway happy St Georges Day and only 49 days until England's bid for World Cup glory begins.

Monday 19 April 2010

Wow !

Nothing? Not even a hint. I suppose the longer this goes on the better it will be when it eventually happens, or in theory that's what i like to think will happen. Anyway apart from bugger all its cold. A day off isle yesterday for diner at the Spiggie Hotel was nice and a Slav Grebe on the loch was equally appreciated. Today it was Gannets and a Otter at the Houb. Wow! Soon be May.

Sunday 18 April 2010

C'est La Vie,

C'est La Vie - That's just the way it goes (That's life) Oh yeah.

Thursday 15 April 2010

See the light

No updates means no news. Wind is fixed in the north now and looks that way for the foreseeable future, what birds there have been are very few and far between. 2 Chiffchaffs and a Chaffinch yesterday were the pick of the last 4 days. Most noticeable is the increase in Wheatears, always a welcome sight and a few more Bonxies overhead. Highlight of the last four days has to be the Aurora on Sunday evening, a very washed out green but 'the northern lights'. Lowlight was the display i missed on Monday evening!
Check out Ivan Hawick's fabulous website for images of the Auroras throughout Shetland. Well its windy and cold so i am going back to my hole. Bye for now.

Sunday 11 April 2010

Hi 5

Plenty of 'out time' over the weekend with not a great deal to show for it, at least we are bathed in sunshine at the moment. Yesterdays efforts produced 2 patch year ticks with a Teal on the Houb and Tufted Duck scoped on Vats-houll. Other than that the Collared Dove has attracted a mate and 2 Chaffinch remain. Today wasn't much different on patch, the Collared Doves and Chaffinches remain and a Chiffchaff was possibly new, also a few more Wheatears were around though very unapproachable. A scan of the sea produced the Black-throated Diver again off Challister Ness, so a speculative punt on the ness for maybe a photo only produced 3 more Wheatear.

Man City on the other hand are producing the goods at the right end of the season, thank god. Another mauling today, this time it was Birmingham City's turn with a 5 goal demolition. That's 14 goals in our last 3 matches and sets it up quite nicely for the derby on Saturday.

Friday 9 April 2010

Happy Anniversary

9th April 2009. A year to the day the Atkinson family made the move from Cheshire to Shetland, and for the most the last 12 months have been a success. A few teething problems sure and home sickness expected, but our boy has settled into school and has an active social calender. The wife has her jewellery making scheme and is progressing into making her own glass beads with a view to becoming Shetlands only bead making supplier. Myself on the other hand, well i know how to mend leaking roofs done by so-called builders, other than that i get to look for rare birds and take some half decent photos along the way. Do i miss Cheshire? Sometimes but not very often. I have the guilt i am not on hand for work but it seems to work fine for the most whilst i am not there. Shetland is a stunning place with breath taking scenery and wonderfully welcoming people. Am i glad we moved12 months on? Most definitely.
Life aside today was very successful day. An early morning text (cheers Rory) was welcomed with the news that the long staying Bearded Seal was swimming around at Mid Yell voe looking ready for a day of sunbathing. A slight delay in getting off Whalsay meant i had some time to kill, so a check of the gulls around Laxo voe produced a very rare sight this year? An Iceland Gull.

Once on Yell i was met by Dougie who very kindly taxied me (again) up to Mid Yell. At first we couldn't see the seal and feared the worst, but all anguish was soon gone when it was spotted haul out on the muddy bank. 3rd time lucky and well worth all the effort, an absolutely beautiful creature with not a care in the world. it was totally unperturbed by our presence looking on at us rather bemused. Mid Yell is a far cry from the Canadian Arctic but it looks well at home, as you can tell.

 Picture courtesy of  Dougie Preston

Wednesday 7 April 2010

A great return

Thankfully the weather forecasters got it right as today was fine, bright and more importantly dry. All we need now is for the wind to do 180° and bobs your uncle. As for today, well the Chaffifnch is still in the garden, and around patch its another Chaffinch, 3 Robins, a Redwing and a Collared Dove. Highlight of the day was 2 Bonxies powerfully heading south. Spring stutters on.

Tuesday 6 April 2010

Things can only get better !

As you can probably tell there isn't a great deal happening up here at the moment. Most of that is possibly due to the crap weather, but hopefully it will have passed by this evening and the forecast for the rest of the week looks good, thank god. Sunday was as you were, with the local migrants still about. The female Brambling and Chaffinch got some male company by the way of 2 more Chaffinch in the garden, elsewhere 4 Robin, 2 Chiffchaff and 2 Dunnock remained. A very frustrating read on Dougie's blog alerted me to the passing of the Northern Lights on Sunday evening / Monday morning, next time? Other than that its been a Male Chaffinch in the garden for the last 2 days and a Chiffchaff visited today. All very nice but time for a change i think.

Saturday 3 April 2010

Any way up

A good day all round really today with a decent mix of birds and football. The Black Redstart reappeared this afternoon and showed well though very nervously, a Brambling was a welcome garden tick and the female Chaffinch was about also this morning, other than that 3 Robins and 3 more Chaffinch made up numbers for Brough. The first Wheatear of 2010 was from the lounge window yesterday morning and put me on 69 for the year, a fairly comfortable position i think !

Football end of the day was decent with Chelsea beating Man U, then Sunderland beat Spurs. But the icing on the cake was City thrashing Burnley 6-1 to go back to 4th. Happy days.

Thursday 1 April 2010

Not before time

A cracking day on patch today with a good variety of migrants, some new some old. Pride of place on the bird front went to well overdue patch tick, an immaculate male Black Redstart. Unfortunately after letting the others know i couldn't bloody relocate it, hopefully it will still be around. 3 Goldcrest were also new in as was a Song Thrush, the rest was made up of 2 Chiffchaff (including 1 in the garden), 6 Chaffinch (including a female in the garden for the past couple of days), 2 Robin and a Dunnock. Fine weather forecast tomorrow so hopefully more of the same?

As if i didn't have enough Otter action on Tuesday, managed to get myself into position (luckily) for this beauty as it surfaced from the sea after a feed. Probably about 2 metres away at most i had to take all the photos on 100mm. Simply stunning creatures that i just cant get enough of.