Thursday, 30 September 2010


My local patch failed to turn up anything 'rare' today, but it made up for that with stunning views of this Jack Snipe (the 3rd this Autumn). This bird was watched bobbing along as it fed next to the waters edge, and then sat tight as I got closer for photos. I was even knee deep in the loch when these pics were taken! The weather today has not been good for photos, and I can only imagine how much better these shots could be with a bit of sun and less wind. The bird was still there when I left, so maybe tomorrow?...

The bird list for today stands at; 1 Jack Snipe, 1 Yellow-browed Warbler, 1 Wood Warbler, 1 Bar-tailed Godwit, 1Willow Warbler and 3 Goldcrest.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Island tour...

The last two days have seen me cover what is essentially the whole of Yell (and a bloody big place it is too!). On Tuesday I covered my local patch and the Southern half of Yell, and today I decided to see what the Northern half had to offer, after working my patch in the morning. The two day totals are below;

2 Yellow-browed Warblers, 27 Brambling, 1 Wood Warbler, 1 NW Redpoll, 1 Knot, 2 Chiffchaff and 4 Goldcrest.

I've resisted the temptation of twitching the Buff-bellied Pipit at Eshaness so far, although when I look at the fantastic photos of it, I'm left wondering if it was the right thing to do? I did get pics of the Fair Isle bird, though they are probably best left off the Internet, due to them being total crap!
NW Redpoll;

Female Brambling;

A 'windy' recording of a very vocal Wood Warbler;

On a positive note... Fair Isle did get another Wood Duck today (sound like a young bird too)! So can it be long before the BOU have to accept this onto the 'British list'? Everyone who seen the Shetland bird in April 2009 should have fingers crossed!

A very 'wild' looking Wood Duck on Shetland 2009!

Monday, 27 September 2010

My 'bogey' bites the dust

Every birder has their 'bogey' bird, but I reckon mine was taking the piss 'big time'. I've dipped Rustic Bunting on at least a dozen attempts so far, and I didn't think this afternoon was going to be any different. How wrong I was.... thankfully!
The total of today's sightings were made up of; Rustic Bunting, Arctic Redpoll, Melodious Warbler, Common Rosefinch, 2 Yellow-browed Warblers, Turtle Dove, Wood Warbler, Merlin, Kestrel, 5 Bramblings and a Song Thrush.

A ridiculously tame Turtle Dove;

A 'snowball' of an Arctic Redpoll

and a 'stripey' NW Redpoll;

Sunday, 26 September 2010

This is getting silly!

Every year I tend to get a few Barred Warblers in the South of Yell, but with a conservative estimate of numbers this year, I'd reckon I 'might' be on number 9 now!!! Also recently on Yell there has been; Lapland Bunting, Yellow-Browed Warbler, Wood Warbler, 2 Garden Warblers and a few Willow Warblers, Brambling, Chaffinch etc... All this and the weather for next week looks fantastic too!

Poss Barred No.9; and another Wood;
and a happy looking Common Seal;

Friday, 24 September 2010

PG Tips...

A rather manic couple of days, with plans made, and plans canceled. Then more plans made in haste, and a good dose of hard work and a bit of luck thrown in as well!

I'll not bore you all with the details just now, but it all started with Dave F. finding a Pallas's Grasshopper Warbler on Fair Isle, and lots of other good birds were managed on the way! I've listed the better birds seen in the last two days below, with a few pics of some of the more accommodating ones;

Pallas's Grasshopper Warbler
Buff-bellied Pipit
Citrine Wagtail
Arctic Warbler
Yellow-browed Warbler
Lapland Bunting
Barred Warbler
Curlew Sandpiper
Jack Snipe
NW Redpoll
Tree Pipit
Snow Bunting

PG Tips 'posing' as a good bird should;

My customary head shot;
and a few nice profile shots;
'voyeuristic' shot
This Arctic Warbler was photographed 'almost' in the dark at Sumburgh Head!;
Yellow-Browed Warbler on Fair Isle was quite 'showy';
Rather 'grumpy' looking Barred Warbler;
Local ssp of the 'Fair Isle' Wren;
and surprise of the day was this local ssp of the 'Fair Isle' Field Mouse;
A big thanks to all the wardens and ranger on Fair Isle, Direct Flights and of course 'Crazy' Dave...

Monday, 20 September 2010

24 hours...

The last 24 hours in South Yell have been quite enjoyable! Before I describe it, I must apologise to anyone who is hoping for good photos... this is not the right website for you!

Got a call late last night about a 'horny' Arctic Redpoll in West Yell, so a mad car dash, seen me catch a few minutes with this lovely bird just as it was getting dark. The pics were taken at iso 1600 and 100th sec, so basically crap!

Arctic Redpoll (looking more 'sleepy' than 'horny')

This morning seen me out before 7 o'clock, and by 7am I had a Barred Warbler on my 'patch', and it wasn't even fully light yet! Then within 15 minuites I flushed a Citrine Wagtail from a muddy pool at the local farm yard. This bird called a few times as it flew across the road and into some muddy tractor tracks. This is where I managed a few really crap record shots, before it decided to fly to the other side of Burravoe and vanish!.... Only to turn up again very briefly this evening!

Lack of light, and distance were never a good combination for photos!

The rest of the birds seen today include; Yellow-browed Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher, Garden Warbler, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Whinchat and a poss Jack Snipe flushed while looking for the Cit Wag again!

Yellow-browed Warbler trying to hide;

Why can't all birds 'pose' like this Whinchat?

Saturday, 18 September 2010


The last two days have seen me busy with aspects of life other than birding... Yes I know it sucks, but life does seem get in the way of having a good time, even in Shetland during Autumn!

Still, I've managed to find a few 'nice', but nothing 'rare'. The totals for the last two days include; 15 Red Grouse (anyone had a bigger group in Shetland?), 1 Wood Warbler, 1 Redstart, 1 Garden Warbler, 2 Chaffinch, 1 Willow Warbler (very pale bird), 2 Knot and 2 Bar-tailed Godwits.

Wood Warbler giving good head!;

Fat, dumpy brown bird on the moor;
A brace of Knot;

Friday, 17 September 2010

Feeling playful?

With the 'pants' weather we're having just now, and the fact there are very few birds in South Yell as a consequence. Otter watching was an enjoyable alternative this morning! I watched this one feeding just off shore for about 15 minutes. Then when it had finished 'fishing', it decided to clean itself by playing and sliding along in the seaweed! The light was very bad this morning, so the shutter speed was pathetic at best, but the pics still turned out not too bad...

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Seemed like a good idea!

With gale force Northerly winds and heavy rain, I thought maybe a wee bit of sea watching might be the best idea today... After 30 min getting soaked and wind blown at Lamba Ness on Unst, me and my dog, decided to sack it off for a bit of 'passerine' birding instead. This proved slightly more profitable than the seabirds, with Lapland Buntings, Snow Bunting and Pied Flycatcher among other small birds seen on Unst...

Lapland Bunting, one of about 20 'ish' today;
Shetland Council road clean up squad;
A windy day on Unst;

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

On Reflection.

Definitely a watery theme today. We are getting very strong Northerly winds at the moment, but I managed to find a very sheltered bay, and when the sun came out the reflections in the water were quite beautiful!

Shag just off shore;

A successful hunt!

A 'monster' of a bull Grey Seal;Dinner for two!
Oi... 'Fat boy'

and you can't have a watery theme without the obligatory Otter shot;
Bird wise there was nothing spectacular, but a few common migrants were around including Pied Flycatcher and Garden Warbler etc, and a Kestrel was at Kergord! Things might be looking up though, as Fair Isle scored the 'first' American passerine of the Autumn today in the shape of a Swanson's Thrush!