Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Little Oik !

No sign of yesterday's Yellowhammer at Old Scatness - just a single Redwing there, 2 Whooper Swans on the Loch, plus another 8 flying North, the Mallard x Pintail hybrid was on the marsh along with 3 Grey Herons. Moast Beach was pretty productive with a female type Common Scoter offshore along with a Little Auk, which eventually came very close in, showing down to 3 feet in Stinky Geo ! The Waxwing flock in the garden had increased to 16 birds by late afternoon and another Fair Isle colour ringed Starling was at Colonial Place.
It's pretty good when Little Auks show this well.
Colour ringed Starling
Common Scoter

Monday, 29 October 2012

Record Equaled

Equaled the patch year-list record of 150 (set in 2010 - see here), with a Yellowhammer at Old Scatness. Elsewhere on the patch there were 6 Waxwings in the garden this morning with 2 remaining until dusk and a couple of Robins and a female Blackcap still kicking around, plus 2 Snow Buntings near West Voe carpark.

Sunday, 28 October 2012


Pretty quiet around the patch now with just 2 Robins, a female Blackcap and a Peregrine seen today, but at lunchtime, got a call concerning a Waxwing at Ness Engineering (cheers Russ) so had a quick walk down to see it, got it nailed and then it followed me and ended up in the garden !

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Rude not to

It'd be rude not to have twitched the Chestnut-eared Bunting today, especially as it was only just over a mile away from the house. A second for Britain, a second for Shetland and a second for me !

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

A Visit to Harley Street

Up at Scalloway Health Centre, curiously on Harley Street, at about 9am looking for Shetland's and Scotland's first Lesser Spotted Woodpecker. No sign to begin with, but plenty of other birds around the surgery area - 40 Bramblings, a Willow Warbler, Sparrowhawk, Merlin and loads of Goldcrests, after about 45 minutes a Great Spotted Woodpecker flew in - but still no sign of the Lesser. At about 10 ish decided to have a bit of a walk round and check some of the other gardens out, after about three quarters of an hour doing this, heard that the Lesser Spot had been found near the surgery in Meadowfield road, as I'm not really built for running, a fast walk was in order by which time it had flown off, which, amazingly worked out really well for me, as Jim Nicolson was pointing furiously at the bottom of a Sycamore next to the road. I could see movement but not the bird until a cat walked up and started stalking the Pecker, at which point the bird just jumped on top of the wall less than 10 feet away ! Mega views until a van went past and the bird flew - a lot of thanks to Jim for giving me the nod, and a lot of sympathy too, as, although he had fired off a load of shots, he'd forgot to put a card in his camera !!!!
After this it was a quick visit to Lerwick, where the Blue Tit and Great Tit both showed well in Helendale - interestingly the Blue Tit is wearing a shiny new ring.
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker
Where the bird was originally found yesterday
The Helendale Blue Tit

Sunday, 14 October 2012


On part of my patch there is a secret crop field known only to a few, I've been keeping it a bit secret this autumn mainly because access to the crop is only available by cutting through somebody's garden, and although I have permission, I didn't want others to inadvertently cause any problems. That said, I've been checking the crop on every easterly since August and have seen sod all ! That is until today, the first bird to come out of it was a Short-eared Owl which then flew around putting everything up, then out popped 3 Bramblings and finally, right at the very end of the crop, about a dozen Meadow Pipits got up calling and amongst them, calling like mad, an Olive-backed Pipit, luckily it landed briefly on the airport fence for a decent view through the bins, before flying over the runway towards Toab.
The rest of the patch was pretty productive too, with another Short-eared Owl, 6 Goldcrests, 5 Song Thrush, 49 Redwing, 3 Fieldfare, 2 Snow Buntings, 2 Wheatear, a Woodcock, 2 Whooper Swans and a Barnacle Goose.
A Blackcap and another Brambling were in the garden.
Short-eared Owl
Whooper Swans

Saturday, 13 October 2012


Similar birds on the patch today, but lower numbers in most cases - 8 Goldcrest, 2 Siskin, 1 Brambling, 4 Fieldfare, 4 Song Thrush, 25 Blackbirds (including a rather scaly looking 1st winter male in the garden), 2 Wheatear, 1 Merlin, 1 Blackcap and 31 Redwing. On a bit of a serious note, I've had to put the watermarks back on my photos, this is due to me finding a whole album of my photos on the web yesterday in someone else's name !
'Scaly' Blackbird

Friday, 12 October 2012


Things improved on the patch overnight, but the lack of rain meant that there wasn't the deluge of birds that there could have been. The totals for the day were - 1 Brent Goose, 11 Barnacle Geese (including 3 hybrid young - more on that lower down the page), 1 Bonxie, 1 Greenfinch, 99 Rewing, 5 Wheatear, 6 Goldcrest, 6 Song Thrush, 45 Blackbirds and finally a patch tick - a Little Bunting around Ness Engineering.
Brent Goose
 The Hybrid Geese - Although superficially resembling Barnacle Geese, the three young birds initially stood out from the flock due to their smaller size, on closer inspection I noted that they lacked the white forehead of Barnacles and had rather Canada Goose looking head patterning, they also had a very faint brown wash to the flanks. A little research online when I got home and it seems that they were most likely Small Canada Goose x Barnacle Goose hybrids back-crossed with Barnacle Goose, a few photos that seem pretty close to these birds can be found here.
Barnacle Geese, adult and hybrids

Thursday, 11 October 2012

A trickle

With a south-easterly in full force, I was out on the patch from about lunchtime, it may have been a little early though as all I got was 2 Bonxies and a Wheatear. After 4pm though birds started to arrive, at first it was just a few Blackbirds, and then in the last hour of light 2 Bramblings and a Lesser Whitethroat arrived in the garden  - a bit of optimism for tomorrow then.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

The Calm Before the Storm

South-easterlies forecast for the next few days and pretty strong ones at that, whether anything good will turn up though remains to be seen. Meanwhile out on the patch today and 4 Whooper Swans, 13 Pink-footed Geese (south), 2 Redwings and a male Blackcap, plus another Fair Isle colour ringed Starling - that makes 3 now since 29/9. Hopefully there should be a good show of the aurora tonight.
Whooper Swans
Colour ringed Starling
This evenings sunset

Sunday, 7 October 2012


Bloody hard work on the patch in a westerly gale, managed to year-tick Brent Goose though. A few hours later and all I had to show for the effort was a Goldcrest, 2 Whooper Swan, 6 Tufted Duck and a Merlin.
Brent Goose with Greylags