Friday, 30 April 2010

Nice weather for ducks.

Lashing with rain all day, still 2 Shoveler on the Loch were overdue year-tick, as was a Bar-tailed Godwit. Other than that the Siskin remains in the garden, the Brent Goose and the Canada are still knocking about and the 2 Gadwall are still on the Loch. Despite the weather this month, it seems not to have effected the moth trap very much, in fact, the 325 Hebrew Characters that were caught is the highest number that I've ever had ! (253 in 2009 and 154 in 2008).


Bar-tailed Godwit.

Thursday, 29 April 2010


Another day of shite at Scatness, the only exceptions being a Sandwich Tern off the end of the runway and 2 Arctic Terns in West Voe.
Too Good, Too Bad.
Too Good - Owing to the success of Simon King's 'Shetland Diaries', the Islands are expecting a bumper crop of visitors this year - seems that a warm welcome has been sent out to all those arriving on the Islands via Lerwick - see miscellaneous debris.
Too Bad - Brian feels the bitter taste of suppression, made even worse by the fact that everyone knew about it, except him ! Do you know about the bird ?

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Into the Void.

After yesterday's excitement, it was back into the void of birdless Scatness - 3 hours checking along walls, weedy patches and sheltered cliff areas, for what ? - 4 Swallows, 2 Willow Warbler, a Blackcap, a Redwing, a female Siskin, 2 Gadwall and 7 Carrion Crow ! With the winds set to go into the north for the foreseeable future, it could be a while before anything else turns up.



Willow Warbler.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

.....and Justice for all.

Justice at last, news of the Red Kite at Cunningsburgh at dinner time had me heading north again, at least most of the mist had gone today but heavy rain was just around the corner, so confidence wasn't too high. As it turned out it was all pretty easy - saw the bird over the hill side pretty much straight away as it was being mobbed by Ravens and some Hooded Crows and occasionally saw it perched on the fence posts at the top of the hill, this scenario continued for some time before, yet again, it lifted into the returning mist.
Back at Scatness it was year-ticks galore - a House Martin along the cliffs, 7 Swallow and 6 Sand Martin at the back of the Loch, Arctic Skua over the house and a Common Tern at Scord Beach. The Canada Goose, from a few days ago, returned and the 5 Barnacles, the Brent and 28 Pink-feet remain. A Blackcap and a Willow Warbler were present in the garden and a female Merlin flew past late afternoon.

Red Kite.

Canada Goose.

Great Northern Diver.


Monday, 26 April 2010

When I Dip !

Pretty quiet around Scatness, although fog and rain didn't help, a quick look in the morning got me 1 very wet Chiffchaff. News of a Red Kite (a Shetland tick !) at Levenwick came through in the afternoon - so that's Scatness abandoned and off to Levenwick, though not before getting another patch year-tick in the form of a Sparrowhawk which flew over the house just as I was leaving. Got to Levenwick and promptly dipped on the Kite, it had just buggered off into the mist - sometimes there seems to be no justice ! Another brief look at Scatness early evening, and another year-tick - Pintail.


Sunday, 25 April 2010


Surely with the wind in the South-east for over 24 hours now, something new must be on the cards, and there was, but it was just a pair of manky Gadwall - but a year-tick none the less. Another year-tick was in the garden - a Willow Warbler, along with 2 Chiffchaffs and a Blackcap, the Geese are still about, the Pink-feet are now down to 34, and the Brent and the 5 Barnacles were in front of the house for most of the morning.


Barnacle Geese.

Brent Goose.


Saturday, 24 April 2010


South-easterlies overnight, and a definite change at Scatness - most of the Pink-footed Geese had left - with just 76 left in the fields near the loch, along with 5 Barnacles and a Brent Goose. A Long-tailed Duck was on the loch along with the hybrid Mallard/Pintail, the wind direction started to have more of an effect in the afternoon, with the garden hosting a Chiffchaff and a Blackcap (very funny video, and not at all taking the piss out of Metallica). Up to 15 Great Northern Divers in the bay, many of them now in summer plumage.


Great Northern Diver.

Long-tailed Duck with Malltail (or Pin'ard).

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Paranoid !

Nice too see the world has gone completely mad ! Some Whooper Swans fly over the ash-spewing volcano in Iceland, and then get reported, by paranoid news channels, as spaceships - brilliant - it's on youtube, so it must be true ! See here.
Meanwhile, back in the real world, the Iceland bound Pink-feet and Barnacles still remain in front of the house (presumably due to the flight restrictions still being in force in Shetland !).

Barnacle Geese.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Gutter Geese.

Scatness was positively overwhelmed with Geese today. A text from the Bell at 7am, saying there was a Canada Goose in West Voe, got me out of bed, but on getting there the bird had gone ! Went around to the Loch at Scatness and a quick scan revealed no geese at all, but after only a few minutes, the Canada flew in from the south with 5 Barnacle Geese - 2 patch year-ticks before breakfast ! The Barnacles then spent the rest of the day in the field in front of the house, along with 236 Pink-footed Geese. Presumably all these Geese were heading for Iceland, until they hit strong north-westerlies and volcanic ash clouds, and chickened out and ended up on Shetland. Also at Scatness today were a Carrion Crow, a Pergrine and a Collared Dove, most frustrating was a small Redpoll sp in the garden for a few seconds, before sodding off to god know's where.

Canada Goose with Barnacles.

Pink-footed Geese.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Snow (Hey Ho).

Nothing at Scatness, apart from a load of snow in the morning - after 2 hours I gave up and went back home. Seems like Shetland has had it's spring, summer and autumn already and now it's winter again.

Too Good, Too Bad -
Too Good - Try as I might, I just can't manage to get this on as a blog post title, such a good tune too, and a very entertaining video.
Too Bad - This week has been dominated with the news of the volcano in Iceland grounding all air traffic across the UK, one idiot, when interviewed by the BBC said "Getting back from Spain was just like the film, Planes, Trains and Automobiles", erm well, it would have been, apart from the fact there weren't any planes !

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Last Week

Spent most of the week replacing fences in the garden that have either blown down over the winter or rotted, so very little birding done. A few patch year-ticks finally made it - Dunnock and Whimbrel on the 11th, Lesser Black on the 13th and a Chiffchaff on the 14th (about 3 weeks after everyone else had seen one !). Good, but fairly brief, views of an Osprey over the Pool of Virkie and the Airport on the 12th, sadly the bird crossed the airport onto Gary's patch, not mine. The Northern Lights did their best to show on the evening of the 12th, but all in all, it was a pretty poor show.


Northern Lights over Quendale.
The other 'bit of fun' this year was to use some song titles as blog titles - seems that one of the other patch year-listers maybe taking it a bit seriously -

Saturday, 10 April 2010


At last something turns up at Scatness ! After checking everywhere at Scatness for migrants, and only coming up with 5 Wheatears and a Goldcrest, it was a bit of a shocker to find a smart male Garganey on the marshy bit at the back of the loch. It has to be said that drake Garganey are pretty smart looking ducks and this one is a welcome addition to the patch year-list, which now stands at 74.


Wednesday, 7 April 2010

A Small Trickle.

A few migrants have finally made it to Scatness, and it is just a few - the first Great Skua of the year was in Quendale Bay, scaring the crap out of the Gannets, 4 Pied and 1 White Wagtail around West Voe car park and a new Goldcrest in the garden. About 130 Purple Sandpipers are still around Scatness - typical count for mid winter rather than early April - still the wind has dropped and it's now quite sunny, proper Spring can't be far away.


Purple Sandpiper.
Too Good, Too Bad -
Too Good - The two German women who, earlier this week, tried to smuggle a corpse onto a plane at Liverpool, they said "we thought he was just asleep". More here. I know some people try to get out of Scouseland by any means possible, but this is taking it a bit far !!!
Too Bad - Tiger Woods - the story that is constantly being aired (slow week for sports news, I think) seems to be that of a golfer, who's not played golf for a while, and is now playing golf ! It all goes back to when he had a couple of affairs - so what - his name's Tiger, how do you expect a guy with that name to behave !!!

Monday, 5 April 2010


The first Moths of the season caught last night, despite strong winds and showers there were 37 Hebrew Characters and 2 Brindled Ochres in the trap this morning.

Hebrew Character.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Fool's Gold.

Still not a lot at Scatness, the only thing new was a Goldcrest in the garden, a nice year-list addition - about 3 weeks after everybody else had got one on their patches !


Friday, 2 April 2010

Tribute to the Porn King.

While there are still no birds about, here's a little tale from the past -

A good while ago, just before I’d left school, I met a birder it Risley Moss near Warrington, it turned out that he lived not far away from me and said that he went birding farther a field most weekends and if I wanted to get a lift with him to some of these places just to give him a ring. So, after a while I ended up going birding with ‘Dave’ most weekends, mostly to places in Cheshire like Frodsham, Parkgate Marsh, Delamere Forest and the like, and sometimes a little further to Llanfairfechan & Aber, Anglesey and the Shropshire Meres and so on. Now Dave was a ‘funny’ kind of fella, who usually did a running commentary on the days birding, often littered with porn related comments, a conversation at the Stilt Sand at Frodsham in 1984 for example, went something like - Me: “It’s quite a smart looking bird, innit Dave?”, Dave: “Aye, it is that, it’s almost as good as a dawn raid on fort bushy”, Me: “Erm… yeah… ok”. Or if he knew of a short cut to a place, he would always say “we’ll use the tradesman’s entrance, fnarr, fnarr”, this was quite entertaining for a while, especially for a teenager and it got me out of the house to sites I wouldn’t have otherwise gone to.
After I’d left school, I was still going birding with Dave, but not as often, one day I bumped into him and his wife in the town and they invited me and my then girlfriend around to their house for dinner, we accepted and duly attended. After dinner all of us were sat in Dave’s front room talking about this, that and t’other, when I notice a large collection of videos of football matches, England v West Germany, England V Spain, there were about 30 or 40 videos all on the shelf, I was just looking at them when his wife says “you can borrow some if you like, pick a few out”, so I did, she put them in a carrier bag and we left.
The following evening I put one on to watch, turns out it’s not an England match after all, it’s hardcore German Porn! I tried the other tape - that was the same! After watching both tapes all the way through, I was shocked and disgusted, so I phoned Dave up and asked him what was going on with these football videos ?, to which his reply was “I have to write football on them otherwise the wife will find out what they are, she’ll never watch football”. After a few months I’d borrowed all of his ‘football vids’, I even started making copies of them and sold them to the nightclub bouncers in Warrington town centre.
A short time later, and I was at Frodsham for an Avocet (a big bird in Cheshire then), when I saw Dave sat on the open boot of his estate car, eating his sandwiches, he called me over and we had a bit of a laugh and a joke, and a bit of a chat about birding and then the subject of football cropped up, and then more specifically, those the subject of the ‘football tapes’, again we had a bit of a laugh about it. Then he said “that’s nothing look at this”, pulling a copy of Fiesta out of his glove box, he then flicked through to the ‘reader’s wives’ section and proudly showed me a picture of his wife!!! (Even Fiesta had censored certain bits of the photo).
This was a very proud moment for Dave, he even went on to show it to a couple of my mates, who he’d never met before! Priceless.
I’m not sure what happened to Dave, or his wife, but wherever they are now - thanks for that big comedy moment.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Same Old Shite.... Different Day.

Nothing new at Scatness over the last few days (no surprises there then !) 3 Chaffinch, a Robin and a fall of 1 Hedgehog in the garden.

Herring Gull (after it had just emptied the bird table).

Just what you'd expect to see in a flock of Starlings.

Another 'when I can be bothered feature' - Tracks from the Past - Music to Bird to. And this weeks nomination is.... the mighty Slayer - South of Heaven ....enjoy.