Friday 28 May 2010

False hope

At last some birds have arrived, though not the hoped for 'rares' but it was a start and better than we have had. A Lesser Whitethroat skulking around in one of the first gardens on patch filled me with hope but it turned out to be a mere loner on patch. A Sanderling was a patch year tick at the Houb and other than a very curious Ringed Plover, a vocal Arctic Tern and 3 Whimbrel that was it. Joined John Laurie for an assault on the isle but came away with a paltry count? 3 Willow Warbler and 2 Chiffchaff. But, the wind is still in the east so maybe tomorrow.

Thursday 27 May 2010

Stiched Up

Another couple of days have passed and still nothing, well i lie. A Swallow was sat on the fence in front of the house this evening, tried to get a picture but couldn't get in the house? Maybe another time. Spent yesterday digging borders in the garden for a range of plants yet to be decided. Did have a fly over mystery bird yesterday evening whilst walking the dogs and i will never know. Laid some carpets for our new neighbours today and in true 'out of work practice' mode i stuck the Stanley knife in my knee, properly as well as it needed 2 stitches. Well the wind is vaguely SE and it does keep raining but i have lost all hope so anything would be a bonus, but be sure i will be out tomorrow looking, hoping.

Tuesday 25 May 2010

Last Resort

Well its now 2 days since my last post and guess what? There is still nothing. Did patch fairly thoroughly yesterday for nothing, not a hint, and today? Well i checked the Houb for waders and there were a few, just. Quite a cold wind from the NW but i see reason to be optomistic? Metcheck has 1 more day of NW'rly's then a couple of days of E'rly's with some rain. Maybe a present is on its way for John Laurie come the end of the week, saying that i will gladly accept anything as below is what it has come to.

Here's a Skylark from yesterday.
 I even resorted to photos of bee's!

Sunday 23 May 2010


What can i say? Well i never got to Fair Isle due to the fog. The White-throated Sparrow at Spiggie wasn't eaten by a cat, but rescued and released later that evening at Boddam. Unsurprisingly it hasn't been seen again. Oh yes and there is absolutely nothing around. Yesterday managed 2 Swallows and 11 Knot in the gloom and today i just couldn't be arsed in the rain and gloom. Oh well looks decent for seawatching in the week, better than nothing i suppose?

Taken from the garden 30.5.08. There's some hope yet!

Friday 21 May 2010

Cat food

A day spent on Fair Isle would have been so nice, but for the fog we abandoned our plan. So we went to Out Skerries, yes i eventually got there, in the fog. It would have been so much nicer if there were some birds? 2 Willow Warbler, Siskin, Common Sandpiper and 3 Swallows. So, crap really. News of a White-throated Sparrow at Spiggie cheered me up, only to be brought back down with news it has been eaten by the neighbours cat. Booked to Fair Isle tomorrow, will i go? God only knows.

A walk around Brough with the dogs after diner, no birds but 4 Dolphin sp, i think! They didn't look like Harbour Porpoise, which means they probably were!

Thursday 20 May 2010

Just the two of us

Blanket fog this morning cleared to produce a warm sunny day. Unfortunately the weather isn't helping the migrant numbers it seems. The Lesser Whitethroat was still in-situ with another up the road, a Collared Dove was around, a Swallow flew over the house and a Carrion Crow was soon ushered off by a local Hoodie. Pairs seemed to be the order of the day with pretty much every bird having a mate. Its the middle of May and i am posting pictures of gulls! It must be dead!

Wednesday 19 May 2010


Back on patch and thankfully it seems i haven't missed anything. A bright sunny day with a moderate southerly breeze. A Lesser Whitethroat was eluding good views and a Common Sandpiper was an expected patch year tick at the Houb.

After the high excitement of Saturdays Wood Sandpiper i managed another unexpected patch year tick with a Grasshopper Warbler skulking around one the gardens.

And with that there ended today's birds. Conditions seem ideal for Red-backed Shrike , Bluethroat and Icterine Warbler so that's the kiss of death on that then!

Oriental Express

I cracked? Decided to take a trip down south with Dougie on Saturday with a feast of goodies on offer, or at least better than what was on offer here. Once off the Northlink we collected our hire car and made haste for the Oriental Pratincole at Frampton Marsh, for the best part of 2 hours it sat on a distant island but with the day disappearing as well as the light it took to wing and produced a fabulous aerial display, quality bird. Also around this cracking site was a Temminck's Stint and a Wood Sandpiper.

Next up was the Great Reed Warbler at Straw's Bridge Ponds, Derbyshire. After arriving on site in the early hours of Monday and a couple of hours kip it was over to what must be the smallest reedbed ever? It showed well though nearly always obscured.

From Derbyshire it was North to Yorkshire and Potteric Carr NR for the Iberian Chiffchaff. A very vocal bird which in part showed very well, it is a Chiffchaff after all.

A slight detour east next to Welwick for a very flighty Purple Heron.

After a well earned night in a Travel Inn it was north en-route to the Northlink. First stop Mussleburgh, Lothian were 2 drake Surf Scoters showed distantly with Velvet Scoter. Our final stop was in search of the drake King Eider on the Ythan estuary, Aberdeen. After a fair bit of searching we finally tracked it down resting on the far shore.

Also some of the commoner birds were rather nice to see.

Saturday 15 May 2010

It's a mystery

A beautiful sunny day and its quite warm too. A check of patch this morning didn't surprise, 2 Chiffchaff, Willow and Blackcap. But the day was saved thanks to a call from Dr Marshall? Whilst counting Purple Sandpipers at the Houb a Wood Sandpiper flew in, thankfully it hung around just long enough before it flew off high to the south. One bird i wasn't expecting on patch, so a welcome bonus. Sorry about the absolutely crap picture, probably struggle in a mystery bird competition.

Friday 14 May 2010

Never gonna happen

A planned day off isle and my first visit to Out Skerries, unfortunately never happened? A phone call from Dougie whilst on the ferry was not the news i wanted, suffice to say when we did meet up the Skerries ferry had gone. A bit of mainland birding then ensued. Went to Scalloway saw a Chiffchaff. Went to Kergord saw nothing. Ended up at Voe and at last some birds. 2 Common Sandpipers, Reed Bunting, 2+ Siskin and a Pied Flycatcher. Not great but better than nothing.

Thursday 13 May 2010


A fine, dry, mostly sunny day, and if it wasn't for the strong wind blowing i am sure it would have been warm! Wind firmly set in the south all day and with clear skies overnight it came as no surprise there was nothing new around Brough. A good check this morning produced only 2 Willow Warblers. The Knot at the Houb where reduced to 29 but the Arctic Terns topped 100. A check of Skaw this afternoon only had a Willow and Garden Warbler, though John Laurie had a possible Wryneck that couldn't be relocated there. A call from Dr Marshall about a 'small owl with ear tufts' seen by a neighbour in Brough had me checking various areas. Fortunately it wasn't long before i relocated said bird, with the help of the local Starlings. A Long-eared Owl was sat out in my neighbours back yard and was a welcome, overdue patch tick.

Wednesday 12 May 2010


After the murk and high winds, today made a pleasant change. Gone was the strong N-NW'rly wind replaced by a welcoming SSE'rly. We can look forward to a few days of this providing Metcheck is telling the truth? Hopefully it will herald spring! Weather aside a Lesser Whitethroat was new and a Willow Warbler remained, the Knot at the Houb increased considerably to 35 as had the Arctic Terns to c.50.

Tuesday 11 May 2010

Plan B

With no change in the weather and 17 Long-tailed Skuas seen yesterday off Eshaness it was time to resort to seawatching. A very early start with Dr Marshall for company we made our way to Wats Ness, the weather wasn't doing what we expected but showers were moving through. Unfortunately no id'able Long-tails but 3 Pomarine Skuas flew north as well as 1 Manx Shearwater, with another (or possibly the same) heading south. Plenty of Skua action on the horizon but just to far to be certain. Still better than i would have seen sat at home. Back at home decided to check patch, no surprises. 2 Willow Warblers and the Knot have increased to 10 at the Houb.

Monday 10 May 2010

Black & White

A complete mix in the weather today. Woke up to find snow on the side of the hen-house, the sun has been beating down all day, the wind is persistently strong from the NW with occasional hail showers and its bloody freezing. Spring? I don't think so. Besides all that there where surprisingly some birds around Brough. 3 Blackcap, 2 Willow Warbler plus 1 each of Chiffchaff, Robin and a year tick Pied Flycatcher. Looks miserable for the rest of the week, but you never know.

Sunday 9 May 2010

Heaven knows i'm miserable now

Eventually got back home this afternoon. That bloody ash cloud shut Sumburgh yesterday afternoon which meant a 24hr stop at Glasgow Airport incurring another delay. The delays meant missing new migrants on Whalsay and probably around patch, as well as another Wryneck, this time under John Lauries house. A King Eider from yesterday at Sandwick would have been nice, if it was there today. So mental note to self and all ' if you need to travel DON'T FLY'. I also tried to connect with birds on Thursday on the way to the airport but failed miserably also? Had a scan for the White-billed Diver in Mousa sound, no joy, then a Hoopoe at Exnaboe seen 5 minutes before i got there, bugger. Even away south i managed one measly year tick? A Swift. Enough moaning back home had a quick drive round patch in the freezing wind, a red Knot at the Houb, bloody great.

Wednesday 5 May 2010

I missed again

  • My flight to Manchester was cancelled due to an ash cloud.
  • The Wryneck reappeared in Dr Marshall's garden.
  • City DID what city do best. Maybe next season?

Monday 3 May 2010

Lets get it on

Very un-spring like conditions up here at the moment with a cold northerly wind blowing again. Although that doesn't seem to deter the birds from there objectives. Got through my BBS this morning with the addition of a few migrants along the way. 2 Mealy Redpolls were a patch year tick, a male Blackcap was possibly new as well as a Chiffchaff, a White Wagtail, Willow Warbler and Redwing remained. 6 Dunlin down at the Houb were full of the joys of spring as were 2 cavorting Curlews at Vats-Houll.

Random fun of the day was a call from RBA this afternoon asking did i know of the Mega on Shetland? Not just any mega but a Fox Sparrow in Sumburgh quarry. Some hastily made phone calls later soon shed light on the record? It was indeed a hoax (unfortunately) that kind of back fired. Shame as it would have warmed the blood at least.

Sunday 2 May 2010


In the last 24 hours Shetland has come to life? A Snowy Owl on Unst, 3 White-billed Divers and a Subalpine Warbler. The latter 2 would be most welcome on isle but the Snowy Owl is the only one i will travel for, that was if the ferries were working as they should? The normal service to Yell is suspended and a shuttle service is running from Vidlin (mainland), it could possibly turn out to be an epic mission, but a worthy one. We shall see what tomorrow brings! Away form all these rare birds Brough was doing its best to stay out of the lime light. 2 White Wagtails, 6 Dunlin, a very confiding Whimbrel and a hungry Bonxie was the best i could do, although i didn't put that much effort in.