Friday, 30 July 2010

and there's more...

A few more from my travels;
Fallow Deer in the New Forrest;
Six-spot Burnet. (more insect photos in the 'bugs' page. Link in the side bar ---------> )
And I caught up with a sub-species I've been looking for up here for a while now, but with no success so far!
'sinensis' Cormorant; (crap pic I know, but it shows the features required)
I've not even got round to posting about the xbill sonograms! (just be thankful for small mercies eh!)

It's all good...

Well the fog managed to lift long enough for the 'long' flight to Southampton (via Edinburgh), and then it was a maniacal 750 mile drive along the over crowded, tourist infested roads of the South coast! and all in the space of 3 days too... The reason for this self inflicted torture, was the lure of a few 'easy' ticks...

Living in Shetland, and never having been down to the SW of Britain, species like Cirl Bunting are never going to find their way onto my list. So a plan was hatched (and went to pot very quickly on arrival!) The 'planned' on birds didn't show at the expected times or locations, and so lots of last minute changes, and many, many more miles covered than I'd expected too! but the birds did eventually fall to my persistence, and no less than 4 lifers were scored and many more very nice 'extras' were also had!

The best looking bird, and the most photographic too, was the Cirl Buntings. 2 were seen at Berry Head, and performed beautifully.

Stunning adult Male.

and a rather scruffy looking juv.
Next bird 'bagged' was 2 Balearic Shearwaters off Portland Bill. These birds were passing the Bill with 32 Manx, so a nice chance to compare the two species.

adult Med Gull just chilling on the beach at Portland (nice but not a 'tick')

Roseate Tern was also ticked off at Titchfield Haven as it hung about with the Common Terns on the wee island on the River Meon.
Crap 'digiscoped' photo of a very beautiful bird! Bird was ringed on both legs (does this mean an Irish or an English bird?)
The last bird ticked off was Yellow-legged Gull! These birds were being reported everywhere along the South coast, but never where I was! Not having access to tide tables never helped either, but many thanks to the lads at Portland Bill obs (esp. Dennis) for helping me sort out my juv gulls... I eventually got 8 adult birds minimum at Pagham Harbour. Though due to distance and light the photos were crap (but identifiable!) so I'm not posting them here.
Other good birds seen included; Nightjar, Greenshank, Goshawk, Crossbill (more sonograms too!), Hobby, Little Egret, Grey Plover, Whimbrel, Common Scoter, Tree Pipit, Redstart and many more.

I'm also sorting out a few pics of Fallow Deer and various insects. This is as well as lots of sound recordings of the Crossbills. More to follow!

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Birders Guide to 'Burravoe'

There ain't any, so don't bother...

The only birds of note lately, have been three Common Terns on my 'commute' to work! These were 2 ad and 1 juv, so at least some terns are successfully breeding in Shetland this Summer. Common Terns aren't all that common in Shetland either, with Arctic Terns being the normal breeding tern.

So with nothing much up here just now, I'm heading off down to deepest darkest Englandshire in the hope of a few long standing 'tarts' ticks. That's presuming the mist and fog up here lets me go!.... fingers crossed eh!

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Bugs and eggs!

Well, as if the 'bug' thing wasn't bad enough, I'm now getting into the finer details of their life's as well. This female Large White Butterfly (I now know what species it is thanks to a text received yesterday) decided to lay her eggs on the Nasturtiums in my back garden, so it seemed rude not to photograph such an accommodating subject! and I'm pretty happy just to get a half decent pic of her as well...
and a new generation of leaf munching bird food is brought into the world.
and a nice comparison of the two common bees around Burravoe (Whitetailed and Shetland)

I also managed to fire up my second barbecue of the year! even though the weather ain't exactly great for eating alfresco (I'm just determined to salvage something of this crappy summer)...

Saturday, 17 July 2010


Well It's been said before that "I need help" (along with I should "get a grip", "a life" etc...) but this time I'll admit it!

With it being a bit quiet bird wise in Shetland just now, this has found me focusing my attention on other aspects of our wildlife, mainly bugs. Now although I'm interested in various aspects of nature, 'bugs' have never captured my attention till lately! and I'm not afraid to admit that I know sod all about their names. So please help out if your able...

This first one I recon is the 'Shetland' Bee.

The second individual I'd confidently say is a Red Admiral.

Now the Third one I seem to have photographed both sexes (due to the spots), although are they 'Large' or 'Small' Whites?

And lastly this wee fella seems to be impersonating a Bee of some sort... any guesses? as I really wouldn't know where to start with this one!
Who knows where this road will take me, I might even end up with a moth trap, god help me! (sorry Steve ;) ) Though well done on your 'first' for Shetland!

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

'Fieldcraft' No.2...

Don't let it ever be said that birders don't use fieldcraft anymore!

As I had to use all my skill and cunning to photograph this beautiful RT Diver today... I spotted the target bird at about 100yds range, and with my right foot I slowly brought the car to a complete standstill, while simultaneously lowering the passenger side window, and getting my camera off the back seat!..... I even reckon this might count as multitasking too! (something we men are pants at, seemingly?)

The hard part was then trying to keep the Diver in focus, while not getting too intimate with the handbrake lever! The bird didn't even seem to notice all this, as it kept bathing and shaking itself much to my enjoyment!

Unfortunately all the 'fieldcraft' couldn't stop the wind up here, but I reckon I still managed a pretty good recording of this Whimbrel...

Monday, 12 July 2010

Crossbills and Orcas!

A trip to Brae for building materials provided a good mornings entertainment!

Now anyone who knows me well, will know of my love of Crossbills. So finding 5 birds feeding in the plantation at Sullom, provided more than enough interest to keep me busy for a hour or so (photos & recordings). Then on the way back home, the ferry journey was made far more enjoyable than normal by the sighting of 4 Orcas. To my eyes they looked to be 1 Bull, 2 Cows and a Calf.

Most of the Crossbill recordings proved to be 'Glip' or '4E' depending what classification you want to use!
With one of what looks like the 'Parakeet' or '1B' variety showing up in the sonogram. (If this is the case, then it's only the third record for Shetland, with the other two being recorded by myself on Unst last year! ) any comments on these recordings are most welcome!

And can anyone guess what this is meant to be?


a, Shed. or b, Digger.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Sunshine on a rainy day...

Today was a mix of thick fog and heavy rain, without much to be cheery about weather wise! which is a good job that the wildlife was providing the highlights.

First up was a family group of Whooper Swans. These rare breeders couldn't have been more co-operative and even came closer to me as I parked. Which is a good job too, as the light conditions were awful, with high iso required...

Altogether now... ahhhh!

A Common Tern at Toft provided a slight distraction...

and an Otter on Yell to finish off with...

Friday, 9 July 2010

Bring back the 'ashes'...

No... nothing to do with cricket. More to do with natures finest!

Ok, so the ash clouds were a pain in the arse for everybody wanting to fly, but for a bit of piece and quiet they were a god send!

Trying to record the calling Black Guillemots high pitch whistle, when they are only a few meters away, should be easy. But with planes and helicopters buzzing around constantly this morning, I found myself wishing the Icelandic volcano with the unpronounceable name would cough back into life!

On second thoughts, that might mean a change to my holiday plans if it does...... hmmm, looks like I'll have to do without my recordings, or just get up even bloody earlier!

Good to see skuas attacking some thing other than me...

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Sounds of Hermaness NNR, Unst.

Here are a couple of recordings I made on yesterdays trip to Unst.

The Gannet colony was very noisy, and that's what the din in the background of the first recording is! This racket was made from the calls of hundreds of birds echoing around the cliffs. It's only a short 11 sec clip, but it conveys the noise the colony was making quite well! (just be glad I can't reproduce the smell also)...

Next up is the Great Skuas, with a particularly aggressive bird defending it's territory. There is also a Meadow Pipit trying to sing as well as a wee bit of wind noise (to say it was very windy would be an understatement!)

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Sights, Sounds and Smells...

Wednesday afternoon, and it was time for my yearly visit to Hermaness on Unst. Jase decided it was too good to miss, so decided to join me too. The birds didn't disappoint, with Puffins, Great Skuas and Gannets all showing well in the summer sun.

Star bird must go to the Puffins, which were so confiding they were walking past us at a range of 2 feet or so! Lots of these wee clowns were on the cliffs and seemed to be as interested in us as we were in them..

The Great Skuas were all over the place too, with many non-breeders forming 'clubs' and allowing very close approach. These brutes just don't seem to show any fear! and I also must have stumbled into a breeding territory, as one bird in particular was very interested in knocking my block off...

Jase about to get up close and personal with a Bonxie!

Now the 'smell' was probably the most impressive aspect of the Gannet colony! They covered almost every available cliff face, and the sound was great too.... but even in the strong wind (and we were up wind too!) the smell was pungent. A musty, fishy aroma...