Tuesday 29 June 2010

Fetlar folly!

Phalaropes 3, Dougie 1...

That's the score so far with my day trips to Fetlar (only one sighting out of 4 visits!). So what's happened to these wee birds this year? It has been quite a cold Summer with a lot of Northerly winds, so maybe they are indeed struggling? With a bit of luck they are just hiding out in the long vegetation...

So with no Phals, it was time for plan 'B'. I'd always wanted to get some decent sound recordings of the Arctic Skuas and Whimbrels, and with a good population of both on Fetlar, it seemed like a good opportunity. The only slight fly in the ointment was the strong breeze... Not ideal, but I did manage some recordings. scroll to the end of the post for the sounds...

Arctic Skua;


Moorland sounds;

Monday 28 June 2010

Something to sing about...

Up here the sun is out, and unlike the England football team! the Wheatears all seem to be full of joy! Although being 'Scottish' I know sod all about football (I believe we have a national team, we just don't I ever hear about them!)

For a more in depth review of what went wrong see here;

and here;

Oh well, they will just have to relive 1966....again.....and again.......and again......

Tuesday 22 June 2010

Whole lotta bull...

Well, the 'bull' in question refers to a male Killer Whale, and it was putting on a show around the South of Yell for most of the day on Tuesday, along with what looked like his 'family'! (4 Orca's in total). The following crappy pics were taken from the ferry on my way to work. A massive thanks to the ferry crew who decided to take us on an impromptu trip up the Yell sound to get a look at these beautiful animals. This turned the normal 15 minute ferry journey, into a 35 minute journey, but I didn't hear anyone complain!

The light and distance were n0t the best for taking pic's, but you can just about make out what they are!

Saturday 19 June 2010

Oi....Fat Bloke....

A quick blast round what seemed like most of Britain! produced few rewards.... but a male King Eider at the Ythan, was looking good for the cameras.

and caught off guard letting it all hang out!... not pretty eh!

Saturday 12 June 2010

Move along.....

Alright...... move along......... move along....... there's nothing to see here!

The above statement kind of sums it up in Shetland just now, but I can feel a 'cunning' plan coming together though! I'll let you know what happens...

Thursday 10 June 2010


Done my BTO 'breeding bird survey' areas of East Yell this morning, and with lots of recently fledged birds about, it looks to have been a good season for passerines anyway. Lots of young Starlings about, which seem to be forming a major part of the local Herring Gull diet at present...

Only migrant bird of note being a Whimbrel at Burravoe this afternoon. Either a very late migrant? or failed breeder?

Young Blackbird;

Young Meadow Pipit;

Herring Gull snack;

And the local Pheasant;

Blast from the past; Just to prove that because it's all gone quiet just now for migrants, doesn't mean it's all over just yet! Seen my first and only (so far...) Red-footed Falcon on this day in 2006. The bird showed quite well both perched and hunting, at Brow Marsh, for about 5 min before heading off. The same day I also had a singing Turtle Dove in my Garden at Burravoe, and a Marsh Harrier at Loch of Hillwell.... So never say never!

Tuesday 8 June 2010

LBJ's rule ok...

Back onto Fetlar again this morning with Jase, only to find a complete lack of the Phalaropes again! This is getting to be quite repetitive, with only my first visit a few weeks back being successful... Still, a very active Marsh Warbler at Everland made up for it, but refused to pose for pics.

The rest of today's birds were made up of; 3 Chiffchaffs (singing), 2 Spotted Flycatchers, 1 Chaffinch (singing), 1 Willow Warbler, 1 Blackcap and a Whitethroat (also singing).

Sunday 6 June 2010

Summer Time!

Well it felt decidedly like Summer today, with temperatures up to 14 degrees and sunny weather (and about time too!). Had to visit Lerwick today, so afterwards we decided to head to Sumburgh Head to pat a few Puffins. Only we didn't find many Puffins (presume they are on eggs just now?) So no Puffin pics....

A general look about down South proved not a lot was happening, but on getting home I did score the first singing Collared Dove for Burravoe (looks like the colonisation of this species continues).

Poss. Male 'Northern' Eider?

Saturday 5 June 2010

The 'Skua'...

Don't often get a chance to photograph these beauties very often in the UK, especially in adult plumage, and as for getting a sound file too....

And a sound file (inc a background Skylark) with a very quiet chattering in the middle of all the louder calls! http://www.xeno-canto.org/europe/recording.php?XC=54467#

2nd Iberian Chiffchaff in under a Month!

Iberian Chiffchaff on Unst, was by far the highlight of the day. This wee cracker (if you can call a Yellowish Chiff that!) was performing to the five or so birders present this afternoon. The fact that it was almost constantly singing was a good thing (no iPod help either!), but due to technical problems with sound equipment, my recordings are a bit pants to say the least! If this bird hangs about, I reckon I'll be back to try again. Did manage a couple of half decent pics though...

Pretty crap recording here; http://www.xeno-canto.org/recording.php?XC=54465

Another big thanks to Stef and Ash, I reckon between them, they have pretty much saved the 'Shetland Spring' from being a complete washout bird wise!

Stork Update; Looks like the Unst Black Stork was the same bird as recently seen on the Western Isles, and was ringed in 2007 in Hungary! see here; http://maps.google.co.uk/maps/ms?hl=en&gl=uk&ie=UTF8&oe=UTF8&msa=0&msid=101316630794054239130.000488246aa2b5bd05f74&ll=58.596887,-3.977051&spn=4.07122,9.876709&z=7

Thursday 3 June 2010

Tasty Foreign Bird Offers 'Stress Relief'...

Hearing the news that a Black Stork was found on Unst, just when on your way to night shift, is never going to make for an easy night, especially when you have already dipped on this species in Shetland only a couple of years before (rare as hen's teeth up here!)

So after a frantic wait, I was finally on my way to Unst, straight from work! A good look around for the whole morning proved useless, so at midday I cut my losses and headed home to bed. Only to be woken after less than an hour by RT calling to tell me the bird had reappeared back where we had been earlier, but had since been flushed....bollocks!

So a very weary Dougie drove at speed back to Unst, and on arrival was meet by many happy faces which were watching the bird at distance. After a good look, and chat to the finders and others, I was off back to work again. (Is there a limit to the amount of caffeine you can have before it causes side effects?... I'll let you know! ), a very nice Shetland bird was added to my list...AT LAST! A lot of stress, but well worth the effort!

Cheers to the following people; The two brothers Stef and Ash for finding this gem, and Jim and Jase for the use of their cameras and lenses (I did use my card, and it was my finger on the shutter button though! so I'm claiming the pics as mine!), as my setup was just not up to the task at such long range! and of course Rory who kept me up to date on the sightings.

Wednesday 2 June 2010

Kick ass bear!

Glad the wildlife up here ain't got round to self defence yet!..... like this bear...

and I thought bears were dangerous enough without martial arts....

Warning; best viewed without sound, as the sound track is 'pants'...you have been warned!