Saturday 24 December 2011

Cracker Jack

A very early start and Xmas present this morning. We set 4 nets in various wet areas around Woolston for Snipe and we were rewarded with a Jack Snipe, but no Common Snipe. We shall be setting nets all winter targeting Snipe so more successful forays in the future we hope.

Sunday 20 November 2011

Come to daddy

My last twitch was for a Greenshank!! This one wasn't a Greenshank and was thankfully more productive. An early drive over to Hauxley NR, Northumberland, for the Greater Yellowlegs. As is so typical you set your stall out in the hide to be told its not there and it flew off just 5 minutes earlier, thankfully it relocated to Druridge Bay CP just a few miles down the road, fantastic views as it fed along the waters edge just a few metres away.

Whilst we were in the area we thought it rude not to have a look at the Black Redstart of eastern form on Holy Island. Again cracking views and a bird i was quite happy to sit and wait for. Cracking day but knackered now.

 Just a bit of fun.

All the C's ?

Its been a few weeks, or more since my last post. I suppose i should make more of an effort. Anyway whats been happening? Well City are stil top of the league, i didnt go for the Rubythroat! Worse still a GW Egret has now been resident on (shetland) patch for the best part of a month. But you cant win em all. Had some good sessions down at Woolston and caught my first Cetti's Warbler a few weeks ago and a second caught last week. Good news also i should hopefully have my 'C' permit come Autumn 2012, fingers crossed.

Sunday 23 October 2011

Thursday 13 October 2011

Home time

The wind swung round to the east yesterday but still I struggled. Patch had nothing, a Blackcap was in the garden and Skaw had a Goldcrest and a Mealy Redpoll. Maybe spring will be better, if I get back!

Tuesday 11 October 2011

Bloody twitchers

The planned day off isle with Dougie went according to plan, with all target birds seen easily. South mainland was our destination as this seems to be the only part of Shetland with birds actually in it! First port of call was Quendale for the Buff-bellied Pipit, which gave decent views.

After the Pipit it was the Isabeline Shrike a mile or so away at Brake. A very approachable bird that gave exceptional views. Also at Brake were 2 Common Rosefinch and a Chiffchaff.

Next up was the very easy to see Citrine Wagtail at Fleck. Not quite were I would want to be hanging around though.

From Fleck it was off to Skellberry for the juv American Golden Plover, again quickly picked out in the roaming flock. A great days twitching and 4 decent year ticks.
Back on Whalsay and a message the Olive-backed Pipit is still at Skibberhoull, still couldn't bloody find it. Ah well.

Monday 10 October 2011

Peg overhead

5 brambling on patch this morning was a bloody poor show in between heavy showers, but I a dman sight better this afternoon with a patch lifer? The juv Peregrine thats been touring the isle for the last month gave great views overhead. Various sites on isle were checked but only produced low numbers of Thrushes. Bramblings are still visiting the garden with 2 making there way into the trap as well as a couple of Starlings. A day off isle tomorrow so I may actually see something!

Sunday 9 October 2011


Not a great deal has been going on the last few days. YbW's seem to have all moved on and patch has hosted just 2 Blackcap and a Willow Warbler. At least a blast of E/SE wind yesterday seems to have got stuff moving, over a thousand thrushes moved through the isle in the space of 90 minutes this morning with Song Thush and Blackbird finding there way into the Heligoland. Bramblings were also noticable with 2 caught in the garden from a flock of 5 and 4 were around Brough. A Hawfinch appeared in the garden this afternoon, hopefully that too will find the food in the trap to good to resist? An OBP at Skibberhoull would have been very welcome if we could have relocated it, ah well always tomorrow.

Thursday 6 October 2011

Slow progress

All or nothing, that is Birding in Shetland. Patch was recycling birds I think, 3 YbW, 5 Blackcap and a Willow Warbler. Still a YbW and Blackcap in the garden at Marrister, with another YbW at Isbiter, a Lesser Whitethroat at Hamister and 4 Chaffinch at Skibberhoull. Rock and roll.

Wednesday 5 October 2011

Way up north

The weather was crap but I met up with Dougie this morning and we headed to the far north of mainland. No great rares but plenty of scarce. Starting off at Isbister and flogging through the iris beds was hard work, but with 2 YbW's and 2 Jack Snipe it seemed worth it! A ringed YbW was present at Voe, Ronas Voe but from where? South Collafirth had a smart male Red-breasted Flycatcher and 2 YbW. Another 2 YbW at Orbister and a final stop at Islesburgh produced another YbW, Pied Flycatcher, Chaffinch and a Lesser Whitethroat of probable eastern origin. A hard day but well worth the effort. Back on isle and no sign of the Ortolan Bunting from yesterday.

Tuesday 4 October 2011

If only?

After yesterday's near washout it was nice to get back out this morning and it wasn't long before bird of the day was discovered? A smart Ortolan Bunting showed fairly well throughout the day just next to the house at Marrister.
Although it looked long tailed in flight and slightly grey headed and seems to show a straight culmen in the photos, we couldn't make it into a Grey-necked Bunting. Also of note today was a YbW and 2 Blackcap In the garden. On patch 2 YbW was as good as it got. Skaw had a Pied Flycatcher and 2 Blackcap with one caught in the Heligoland. All in all not a bad day, off with Dougie up north tomorrow. Fingers crossed.

Sunday 2 October 2011

Not great but OK

An early(ish) start this am and a good thrash of Brough. Yellow-browed Warbler numbers were reduced, but only to 7. 3 Chiffchaff, 2 Blackcap and a Goldcrest made up the numbers for a rather disappointing showing. A very pale Wheatear which will probably be a northern was also noted though was flighty. On first appearances it was sandy brown, rather leggy and very upright with a pale supercillium. But the more I persued the more convinced I became it was just a northern, photos were taken and deleted apart from a flight shot showing a broad black band at the tip of the tail and slightly concolorous wings? I don't seem to be able to post photos from an iPad so will do so when I return south, aswell as recovering the deleted images. Elsewhere on isle were 1 YbW, Whinchat and Spotted Flycatcher at Skaw and single YbW's at Sandwick and Saltness. Weather forecast doesn't look to favourable for the coming week but they may be wrong.

Saturday 1 October 2011

How many?

Well, after an uneventful journey on the Northlink I arrived back in Shetland this morning and was gratefully collected by my host Dr Marshall. 30 minutes later we were scanning crop fields around the Hillwell/Brake area in the hope of connecting with one of the Pallid Harriers. It wasn't too long before I found the oiled bird sat on a fence post which gave half decent scope views, a side bonus was 2 Little Buntings also up at Brake. With a successful twitch over we headed for Whalsay and more importantly my patch. Whilst getting ready to go out a Yellow-browed Warbler was showing well in the garden, this seemed to set a precedent? Around Brough there were no fewer than 8 YbW, aswell as 2 Blackcap and 2 Chiffchaff. Isbister hosted 4 YbW and singles of Garden Warbler, Blackcap and Goldcrest. The main attention was up at Skaw with 5 YbW trapped and ringed in the plantation and another up at roadside, add that to 1 more at Hamister and without trying we had 20 different YbW in half a day. Bird of the day may have got away? a probable OBP in the plantation that we never got a look at on the ground, the call was right but that was all we had, it may go to roost in the plantation tomorrow will tell. Oh yes and Dr Marshall had a Little Bunting at Marrister also. Not bad for my first day just a shame John Lowrie has to go off fishing, sorry pal will have to enjoy the biggie without you!

Saturday 10 September 2011

Disappointment ?

Managed the Swallow roost down at Woolston last night, 51 and a Sand Martin. No setting up due to the forecast high winds and rain, that didn't arrive this morning. To make matters worse the planned ringing course i was attending at Spurn from tomorrow til Thursday has been cancelled, due to (you guessed it) the high winds and rain that have been forecast. I know it is best to take necessary measures i just hope the forecasters are not wrong. Ah well Shetland in a few weeks.

Monday 15 August 2011

Full time

After a few too many Cornish Rattler last night it was time to pack up with a slightly sore head this morning. With the tents tucked away it was off to the 'old town cafe' for breakfast, something we have sorely missed the last couple of days. Whilst tucking into our fry ups we were alerted to the sound of Bee-eater, sure enough hawking high in the sky was our target bird for the day. We watched as it disappeared over Peninnis Cue crap photo.

The rest of the day was spent mooching around the island getting lunch and buying presents. The trip back on the Scillonian was largely uneventful, lots of Manx Shearwater again, 1 maybe 2 Sooty's, a Balearic Shearwater close to Penzance and a possible pod of Orca's that i didn't see. Other than that a cracking trip spent in great company, apart from Black Shite! Cheers to Phil Woolen for doing all the driving, even with a knackered shoulder? Mark Payne & Matt Meehan for there constant sniping and general entertainment value. Great to meet Sussex birders Jake Everitt, Matt Eade and Land's End RSPB guy Chris Griffin. Massive thanks to Joe Pender, Bob Flood and Ash Fisher for there eyes, skill and expertise.

Sunday 14 August 2011

Tony the Tiger says "Great Shear's are Grrrreat" - Day 3

Up early again to warm sunshine and very little wind. Good sunbathing weather, maybe not so good pelagic conditions? We steamed out and started to drift and chum, it was immediately noticeable the lack of birds in the fine weather. As we drifted a few shark lines were cast with 2 Blue Sharks being caught in the process. The first was just a baby, as for the second i think it was mum? A good 8 foot long and weighing in at approx 140lbs, more pleasing for me was the fact that i am claiming a co-landing participation as i held onto the rod whilst the guys wrestled with it. With bugger all happening, it was again decided to steam for yet again another trawler. This time the trawler had birds, and lots of them. First up was a very showy Sooty Shearwater that performed to the masses on board.

If we thought the Sooty was a treat a Great Shearwater joined us and gave spectacularly close prolonged views, at times too damn close.

With our boots well and truly filled it was  time to head back to shore, along the way a pod of Common Dolphins performed there aqua acrobatics to gasps of oooh and aaah.

Another night in various pubs, a good Sunday roast and a pub quiz rounded off a fantastic day at sea.