Hundreds of Redwing, Blackbird and Fieldfares moving south through Scatness today - a pretty awesome spectacle. Also at Scatness were - 3 Robins, 4 Woodcock, 3 Song Thrush and a Mistle Thrush. A Yellow-browed Warbler was in the garden for a while this morning.
Something of a clear out last night, but still the odd bird around - Dunnock in the garden, Swallow around Sanblister Beach, 2 Jack Snipe in the wet bit and a Snow Bunting on Scord Beach. Spent a good while photographing the tame Purple Sandpipers near to Moast Beach.
Now that the weather has calmed down (now a light northerly), birds were emerging from where ever they'd been sheltering all week. In Toab there were 9 Robins, a male Black Redstart, a Jack Snipe, a Chiffchaff and 4 Song Thrushes. At Scatness - 6 Robins, a single Snow Bunting and a fantastic count of 8 Jack Snipe (flushed from the tiniest boggy bit of the thistle field). A Blackcap and 2 Robins were in the garden along with a female Bullfinch (the first record for the garden since the big Bullfinch invasion of 2004, and the 122nd species on the 2009 garden list). Thrushes were everywhere today e.g. 176 Blackbirds at Scatness and 300+ Fieldfares around Toab. An Otter showed well hunting off the end of the runway. On a slightly stranger note - how weird is this ? - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NltmFRYN9os
As the SE gales continued, birding was restricted to checking the sheltered bits in the garden every now and then (mainly through the window) - 2 Blackcaps, a Robin, a Brambling and 2 Song Thrushes sheltering in the roses were the only birds of any note.
Had a few hours in Lerwick, so a quick look in Helendale - 3 Robin, 2 Chiffchaff, 2 Goldcrest, 2 Song Thrush, a Blackcap and a Robin. 2 Stonechats around Clickimin. Didn't even bother doing Scatness as SE winds now force 8-9 - birding impossible !
A good thrash around south mainland before the wind picked up - Merlin, 50+ Blackbird and a Silver Y in the Grutness crop, 2 Ring Ouzel, 2 Snow Bunting and a late Pied Flycatcher at Sumburgh Head, the day ended on a high note with a very elusive Olive-backed Pipit at Geosetter along with 2 Chiffchaffs and a fly-by Bluethroat.
Not much around Scatness - the 2 Pink-footed Geese are still there and so is the Pec Sand, though it's now in with the Redshank and flies off straight away, a Merlin knocking around and a male Blackcap in the garden. The weather is set to change this evening (currently a light SSE wind and sunny) to strong SE gales for the rest of the week ! Hopefully by tomorrow there should be birds everywhere (a few Skylarks and Thrushes in already).
If these winds don't bring anything in then nothing will !
In a northerly wind, Scatness had a proper wintry feel about the place, and the birds made it feel even more so, with 10 Whooper Swans and 38 Wigeon on the Loch, 30+ Snow Buntings out on the headland and 2 Pink-footed Geese still in one of the fields. The Pectoral Sandpiper was on the Loch shore for a while until flying off towards Moast beach (though no sign of it there, when checked later). Female Blackcap in the garden.
A day of drizzle and fog made birding hard going, tho' there were a few new birds around - a Siskin, Blackcap, 4 Fieldfare, a Wheatear and a second winter Little Gull at Scatness, a Woodcock and a Ring Ouzel at Sumburgh Head and a Wheatear and a Woodcock at Garth's Ness. The Spotted Sandpiper was in Burn of Garth again, but very flighty.
A dirty, filthy twitch to Ellister for the Western Bonelli's Warbler, the bird showed really quite well after about half an hour in the sycamores on the sheltered and sunny side of the garden, also there were 1 Yellow-browed Warbler, 1 Lesser Whitethroat and several Chiffchaffs and Goldcrests. After dipping on the Sabine's Gull in Lerwick, called in at Hoswick and dipped the Blyth's Reed Warbler - break out the Doritos - they're good for dipping too ! Pioneering stuff followed, by walking the burn from Mossy Hill into Geosetter - 34 Fieldfare, 190 Redwing, 10 Song Thrushes and a Mistle Thrush. A final stop at Garth for the 'tame' Spotted Sandpiper, so tame that I nearly trod on it at the base of a small waterfall and it promptly flew out to sea and around the corner, out of site, at the base of Fitful Head. Still plenty of Goldcrest around, seen in most places today, even on the moorland around Mossy Hill.
Stuck with Scatness again today, seems like every garden had it's own Song Thrush - a total of 21 in the area, a few other migrants around - 2 Goldcrests, 3 Blackcaps, 6 Snow Buntings, 4 Robins, 3 Fieldfare, 34 Redwing and a fly-over Waxwing. A late Arctic Tern was in West Voe of Sumburgh. No sign of yesterday's mystery Warbler.
Strong south-easterly winds meant that the garden was pretty much sheltered all day, and full of birds, mostly Starlings and House Sparrows (70+ of each), plus - a Garden Warbler, 2 Song Thrushes, 2 Goldcrests, a Blackcap, a Dunnock and a Long-eared Owl (flushed from the roses after I'd done the rest of Scatness). Out around Scatness there was a Robin and 6 Goldcrests in the thistles, as the wind was getting stronger (force 8) and the rain getting heavier, I gave up and went home to dry off, walking through the roses in my 'plantation' the afore mentioned Long-eared Owl was flushed and flew down towards the beach, where it landed behind a pile of rocks. As I was soaked to the skin anyway, I walked down to try for some shots, however, as I reached the gate at the bottom of the field the bird flew towards the runway. At this point a small bird flew off from next to the gate, and landed in some thistles about 40 yards away, I walked to the area and flushed it again from right next to me and flew into the small bit of dunes near Scord beach, the behaviour of the bird suggested a locustella and with a dark tail at that ! Soon got some help to try and nail the beast, with 7 of us walking through the dunes it was flushed again, and this time revealed the square tail of a phyllosc, another couple of flushes and a few more brief views, then the bird just disappeared ! The jury is still out on whether it was a Dusky, a Radde's or a soaking wet Chiffchaff. Despite another 45 mins of searching the bird couldn't be relocated.
Getting up this morning I wasn't too optimistic about there being any birds around (westerly gales for most of the night), however, 2 Blackcaps and 2 Garden Warblers in the garden indicated that something had happened. At 9am set out down the Scatness road - 2 Bramblings in the secret spud crop and a Short-eared Owl over towards West Voe of Sumburgh, that was pretty much it, apart from the 2 Pink-footed Geese still and a fly over Merlin. After 3 hours started to head back home, stopping to do the thistles and docks near Moast beach again, on the second sweep through flushed a small locustella from a small patch of docks, them lost it in the thistles for 90 minutes before flushing it again, this time I was pretty sure it had to be a Lancy, but on flight views only that's a pretty bold claim !! After eventually getting in touch with 'Bentos' and 'Gumbol', managed to get some help in pinning the bird down. After another 2 hours or so, with 5 of us walking back and to through the thistles and docks (SM,RF,GB,MR,AM), the bird gave reasonable views and a few shots were taken and we were all quite happy that it was indeed a Lanceolated Warbler ! I've walked through those thistles nearly every day since the end of August and apart from a few Meadow Pipits, Skylarks and a Song Thrush, this is the only bird I've seen in there. Another bird of note was a rather fine looking Lapland Bunting on Moast Beach.
Lanceolated Warbler (should be some better shots soon).