Sunday, 17 March 2013

South Mainland Birding Bananza

Today I went on a trip to the south mainland of Shetland with Paula Moss and her friend Nat Hall,
It was quite a cold start to the day when we headed out to to the Pool of Virkie for Waders and Shelducks.

On a first look at the pool we saw an Oystercatcher, 5 Shelducks, 2 Redshanks, 2 Goldeneyes and a Long-Tailed Duck (or Calloo its Shetland name).
After spending a bit of our time working our way round the Pool we stopped at the Boating club, got a few pictures of Turnstones on Paula's camera and left again.

Turnstone (or its Shetland name Steynpickker its gets the name
 because it flips of stone it find its food.)

After leaving Virkie we went to Grutness for a look, when we arrived we quickly got some pictures of  2 Long-Tailed Ducks (2 Female), Purple Sandpipers, Turnstones and a Brown Rat.

 Brown Rat a different sight from birds.

Me taking pictures of Long-Tailed Ducks (photo Paula Moss)

Female Mallard


Moving out towards the pier, there was a beautiful male Long-Tailed Duck, Paula and Nat quickly whipped out their cameras and got some amazing shots, while I sat there eating a ham sandwich.
After the Duck had swum away Nat sought after a Wren which she had been hearing while taking pictures of the L-T Duck after 5 minutes she had gotten a few photos.
As we were getting into the car along came another bird watcher Gary Bell, bringing news of the Blue Tit in Virkie, we thanked him and quickly sped towards Virkie, stopping at the Toab shop along the way.

When we arrived back at Virkie, I noticed a flock of "Grey Waders" they turned out to be Bar-Tailed Godwits.

8 Bar-Tailed Godwits 

After we had finished with the Godwits, me and Nat headed to see the Blue Tit, while Paula took some more pictures.
After less than 5 minutes of searching I spotted the Blue Tit (The first I've seen in Shetland after many failed attempts in Scalloway) flying into a tree, me and Nat quickly started taking lots of photos and then it moved further into the trees (The photos taken on  my camera were very blurry)

When Paula had noticed we had seen the Blue Tit she came up to take some photos, after another minute or two the Blue Tit finally came out of the trees and Paula took some photos, Paula let me take a few pictures on her camera.

My first Blue Tit seen in Shetland!
A truly great and beautiful find

When we had finished with the Blue Tit we headed towards Boddam, when we got to he north of Virkie a tractor was ploughing up the ground, with 100-200 Common and Herring Gulls following behind it.
After a closer look into the flock I spotted an unusual dark backed gull in the flock, after I got better looks at it, it turned out to be a Lesser Black-Backed Gull (probably the same one from Toab, seen a few days ago).

When we arrived at Boddam, Paula quickly took some photos of Purple Sandpipers, Turnstones, Redshank and Oystercatchers, while Nat took some photos of about 40 Greylag Geese on the other side of the road and I started scanning for any nice looking ducks.
After we all finished, we moved along a bit to get some pictures of some nice looking Teal and a few Mallards.

Greylag Geese

Male Teal


Spiggie Loch was our next stop, and shortly after arriving we saw Black-Headed Gulls, 2 Long-Tailed Ducks (Male and Female), 5 Moorhen, 10 Shelducks and 2 Wigeon.
A bit further along the Loch we came across a giant flock of Wigeon about 90 strong (most certainly the biggest flock I've seen yet).

Male and Female Long-Tailed Duck
(sorry for the odd sizes shall be fixed)

Male Moorhen

Male and Female Moorhen


Before Heading of towards Quendale and Hillwell Loch we headed up a small back road,
that was full of birds one flock of 12 Ravens and 3 flocks of Greylag Geese making up to One Hundred strong.

Cow on the horizon


Lapwing or Tieve's Nacket (its Shetland name)

After we'd finished with the Greylags and Ravens we headed towards Quendale.
On arriving we could see a flock of 96 Wigeon, 20 Mallard, 14 Teal, 4 Moorhens, 12 Whooper Swans, 2 Ravens, 2 Hooded Crows, 8 Twite and lots of Lapwing.

Whooper Swans

After the Loch had shown us all it had we headed out towards Quendale Bay for a diver.
One arrival we spotted 2 Mergansers and a few Fulmars.
We then stopped next to an old building just at the Shoreline and after a minute Paula and Nat had spotted a Great-Northern Diver but quite far off so it took me a minute to find it,
And after we had finished with Quendale Bay we headed home for a well deserved rest.

I would like to thank Paula and Nat for taking me on this great day out.

So today I saw a huge variety of species in large and small numbers heres the list for today.

Greylag Goose 331

Oystercatcher 50

Curlew 70

Common Gull 76

Rock Dove

Raven 18

Long-Tailed Duck 6

Starling 250+

Greater Black-Backed Gull 2

Turnstone 70+

Blue Tit 1

Lesser Black-backed Gull 1

Black-Headed Gull 10

Hooded Crow 4

Teal 28

Common Scoter 1

Great Northern Diver 1

Herring Gull 70

Purple Sandpiper 30+

Whooper Swan 12

Blackbird 4

Wigeon 180 

Shelduck 15

Bar-Tailed Godwit 8

Fulmars 30

Twite 8

Mallard 32

Wren 1

Eider 2

Redshank 10

Total : 30 species 
and approximately 1400 birds in total

Thursday, 14 March 2013

It's a Winter Wonderland, in March?

After all the cold weather we've had, it Finally snows but in spring ? what next to come a Tsunami? a Hurricane? and maybe a few rare birds or two, well we'll just have to wait.

This Morning (the 13th) before school I decided to take a few photos before the snow melted, hoping to get a good picture of a bird or two in the cold weather.

This reads "Its a winter wonderland"

This is our most common garden visitor "Black Sheep"
happily eating all my bird seed!
Mid Yell

Rabbit Prints
A "Cold" Craw
A very blurry Snipe, I find that its the hardest bird to photograph
because they blend so well into their surroundings
The Sun
Muckle Vandra Water

Mid Yell

On the 11th I went around the shoreline at Mid Yell searching for anything bird or carcass that I could find .

Rock Pipit
and a Ringed Plover
Birds seen over the past two days:
3 Herring Gulls
2 Snipe (or Snippeck)
3 Oystercatchers (or Shallders)
3 Turnstones also known as Steynpickers
because they can flip over stones to look for Insects
Hooded Craw
and 12 Ringed Plovers

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Springs on its way

All though it doesn't seem like it spring is coming, the birds are sing and the flowers are coming into bloom, sadly the weather is still bitter.
But sooner or later lots of birds will be returning to Shetland, all though there might be that one special visitor.

 Yellow Crocuses

A Purple Crocus
Snow Drops

This Male Blackbird happily posed for me many times letting me get
some excellent shots with my Finepix S camera, at Ladysmith Rd, Scalloway.

He is very tame because he is fed in a garden nearby where
Blue Tits, Great Tits and a Great Spotted Woodpecker has been seen.


A Sparrow giving the "Bums" up.
And best so far is this Grey Wagtail (a new one to my Shetland list!),
which popped out of no where from under the bridge below the Weisdale Kirk,
A beautiful Bright yellow breasted bird with an unforgettable call.
A truly great bird to find when going to look for Shetland Hazelnuts
(that trip was not very successfully)

Monday, 4 March 2013

1, 2, 3, 4, 5 How many Stirlings are alive.

After school I came across this very large flock of Stirlings sitting on a hydro wire.

I counted 211, can anyone beat this number.
Also In Mid Yell today was a Jackdaw (quite an unusual bird for me to see in Mid Yell),
I only got a quick back on view of it before it disappeared.