Thursday 30 September 2010

Surprise, Surprise

A semi lie in this morning considering the weather was crap outside, but i eventually got out just after 9. A check of the first gardens on patch produced a few Goldcrest and Bramblings then John Laurie arrived and we headed north. A check of the plantation first, hopefully for yesterdays locustella. Fortunately it was still present, though still very elusive. A call was made to Dr Marshall and he arrived to erect the mist net. For the next 90 minutes we drove the plantation for Goldcrest after Goldcrest, a Chiffchaff and a Blackbird. Then with the weather turning and the mist net becoming soggy we drove one last time. As we approached the net John Laurie made comment we had something, on asking what it was he calmly stated "its a bloody Bluetail" What!! Most surprising was that for over an hour we had no idea this bird was present, and the first time we saw it was it caught in the net. With the euphoria we decided one more time, thankfully the locustella decided enough was enough and was trapped. Unfortunately it turned out to be a bog standard Grasshopper Warbler, maybe the next one? Dr Marshall set about the process of ringing and description, then a few photos before it was released at the head of the plantation. Expecting the Bluetail to dive bomb for cover, it decided to fly straight out to sea and was lost in the sea fog that was surrounding Whalsay. Unfortunately for visiting birders they had a wasted journey, though they managed to find a Firecrest in the plantation which was seen again briefly. I suppose on that high the rest of the day was going to be somewhat anticlimactic, but there where still birds to be had. The Bluethroat was still in the tatties at Vaivoe. A Sedge Warbler was a patch tick and the rest of Brough was made up of 20+ Brambling, 5 Siskin, 10+ Chaffinch, 2 Chiffchaff, Garden Warbler, Blackcap, 8+ Goldcrest, Whinchat, 2 Redwing and 5+ Song Thrush. Tomorrow beckons.

Wednesday 29 September 2010

In The Dark

A pretty good day on isle, despite the weather being miserable. A dull damp start in near darkness was rewarded with what i initially recorded as a Short-eared Owl, in fact turned out to be a Long-eared Owl on photographical evidence. Easy mistake in the dark i suppose! Never took a photo on 6400 iso before, hope i don't have to take any more. As with the past couple of days new birds were arriving throughout the day, with exception to the Common Rosefinch which was still keeping its distance.  Brough's totals today were 5+ Goldcrest, 3+ Song Thrush, 2 Whinchat, 6 Chaffinch, 2 Brambling, 5 Common Redpoll and 2 Chiffchaff.

Elsewhere on isle a yeartick Bluethroat was found by Dr Marshall at Vaivoe and only gave brief flight views. The Yellow-browed Warbler was still at Hamister with another at Saltness.

Skaw had much variety with a nice male Ring Ouzel, Lesser Whitethroat, Whitethroat, 2 Garden Warbler, Redstart, Blackcap, Willow Warbler, 2 Chiffchaff, 12+ Goldcrest, 10+ Song Thrush and a couple of Redwing. Most frustrating was the locustella found by John Laurie in the plantation, seen by all 3 of us either briefly in flight or scurrying across the ground. At least the weather is crap so with any luck it will be in there first thing. Fingers crossed.

Tuesday 28 September 2010


The wind still blows from the SE but nothing really to shout about, yet. Patch was very poor with just a Blackcap being new, that was until a Common Rosefinch appeared from the cabbages above the tattie rig. A very flighty individual firstly being harassed by mipits then falling in with the local sparrows, but it was a patch year tick nonetheless. Decided to go north first and noticed John Laurie already walking the coast, so went around the top and dropped down at roadside. Whilst checking there, a Redpoll sp flew over, it called once and dropped into a geo. Noticeable was its apparent large size, very white belly and white rump. I called John Laurie and we searched with Dr Marshall joining in the hunt. A Redpoll sp flew over once but again disappeared. A Brambling was being harassed by Rock Pipits then a Common Redpoll appeared around the quarry, but this wasn't my bird. Ah well maybe it was, maybe it wasn't ? From Skaw we 3 checked around for very little. A Barred Warbler and Blackcap at Skibberhoull. A YB Warbler was still in the Hamister rig. My first Whinchat of the year and a Brambling were at Marrister. After lunch Dr Marshall joined me for a visit to Isbister. It was dead, well a couple of Goldcrest and a Redwing. With that we called it a day, that was until i noticed a YB Warbler lobbing around the shed next to Brough quarry. Thankfully another patch yeartick. Rain forecast tomorrow so maybe not so much looking ? We shall see.

Monday 27 September 2010


More like a late summers day rather than autumn, brilliant sunshine and it was quite warm too. Thankfully none of yesterdays birds off isle materialised, so a full day on isle was had with some reward at least. Not a single migrant around Brough was slightly worrying considering the wind had now switched to the SE. So a trip to Skaw would surely kick start my day ? Only just, a single Goldcrest then a Song Thrush.

After luch picked up John Laurie for a check of the south. Another Goldcrest then 2 Yellow-browed Warblers around the Hamister rigs, with a Common Rosefinch later found by Dr Marshall. Other birds around the were 2 Garden Warbler, 2 Pied Flycatcher, Lesser Whitethroat, Blackcap and another Song Thrush. With plenty of decent birds now turning up in Shetland the next few days could be very interesting.

Sunday 26 September 2010


Again, out on patch first thing and a couple of new additions. The Blackcap was still mooching, a tailless Garden Warbler caused temporary confusion and a Redstart failed to come any closer. News on the Mainland of a Whites Thrush set the pulse racing but having friends for diner put a spanner in any plans, maybe tomorrow! And like a knife in the back the Pallas's Grasshopper Warbler has reappeared on Fair Isle. Problem now is do i make a move in the hope i can get there and back or leave it be and find one?

Saturday 25 September 2010


..... from Whalsay. Finally made it home last night and wasted no time this morning getting out on patch first thing. Unfortunately the only migrant around was a female Blackcap but that didn't put a dampener on a fabulous day? The Whalsay U12 football team, for which my son plays won the football tournament held on the isle beating Delting 2-0 in a well contested final.

Running a close second to that was City humbling Chelsea 1-0.

SE winds forecast from tomorrow for the next week or so, hopefully. Only a matter of time!

Friday 17 September 2010

I Get Wrecked

Managed a couple of visits to the north Wirral coast for the annual Leach's Petrels. Unfortunately I couldn't get there Wednesday for the big count but yesterday produced fantastic views along the tide line, with some birds just a few feet away. Today's birds were all distant bar one, probably due to the drop in wind speed.

Called into Marbury CP on the way back for fabulous views of 5 juv Black Terns. Back home a week today and the forecast of SE winds midweek may be perfect timing? Fingers crossed.

Tuesday 14 September 2010


To say I am frustrated at the moment is a massive understatement! Since my last post I have been summoned back to Manchester for work, the employee problem sorted itself out, unfortunately. Well at least I see a ray of light with my flight booked home for Friday week. I am sure regular followers will be aware of the birds Whalsay has been producing of late. A Western Bonelli's Warbler on patch is the most gripping, obviously. Ortolan Bunting on Sunday along with various common and scarce migrants around isle, I only wonder what has gone a miss? Been out a couple of times whilst south but not really got much to show for my efforts, save it all for next weekend, hopefully.