Thursday, 10 October 2013

Birthday Birding 5th of October

Saturday the 5th of October 2013

So for my birthday this year I planned a very well timed birding trip to the South end of Shetland with my Dad, granddad Tommy and Henry.

This morning I got picked up by Tommy from the 8.15 ferry from Ulsta and we headed down to Brae to see if we could spot anything.
All we got was a couple of Whooper Swans and several Mallards so instead we quickly started on our journey to Lerwick to meet up with my Dad and Henry.
We slowed down a bit next to the Loch of Voe incase we saw the Arctic Warbler which had been hanging out around there, luckily a birder came out and said that it was showing well just a few metres along the path, I rushed into action and ran to the bird with Tommy behind me, I saw two guys trying to get some pictures of it so I slowed down a bit and asked them where it was, they said that it had disappeared into the trees but it flew over a heads a few minutes later and landed in a tree several metres away, all four of us moved into positions so we could take some pictures.
The guys probably got photos ten times better than mine because the Arctic was hidden behind a twig when I took the shot but it will be a good memory of the bird.

Arctic Warbler

So after the bird flew deeper into the trees I went to a small path which led into to where I guessed the bird was and yes I guessed right because I found the bird again, it showed really well but I didn't get any more shots of it because it disappeared after about 2 minutes.
So Tommy and I left the two men searching for the Arctic while we rushed down to Lerwick after happily adding Arctic Warbler to our ever growing lists.
We finally arrived in Lerwick at 10.30 after our delay watching the Arctic Warbler, we got into the house and had a bite to eat and a speek before heading south at 11.
After being no less than 5 minutes out the door I got a call from Mairi saying that there was a Eastern Olivaceous Warbler at Cliff Cottage, Hoswick! so that was our first destination on our birding trip.
As soon as we arrived in Hoswick we saw a "flock" of birders with scopes and cameras looking into the trees at Cliff Cottage from the border of the fence, within minutes we were part of the flock and enjoying views of the Eastern Olivaceous Warbler! first for me, Dad and Tommy. Henry had seen een on Fair Isle a few years back.

Eastern Olivaceous Warbler in flight

and in the grass

So after watching the Olivaceous for about ten minutes it started raining and even retreated to their cars and we headed to see the Geosetter Thick-billed Warbler.
At Geosetter we could see at least 20 cars and over 80 people with scopes looking for the Thick-billed Warbler in a field full of some kind of crop (oats), after we found a parking spot we joined the mass of birders.

This is only a small portion of the birders that I saw at Geosetter 

 Two male Blackcaps

After half an hour we saw no sign of the Thick-billed Warbler so we left and went to Spiggie to try and find some other birds.
On arrival we found two Blackcaps, 25 Whooper Swans and 8 Mute Swans and surprisingly not much else so we headed towards Hillwell to find some more birds.

Whooper Swans at Spiggie


At the Hillwell Loch we found at least 250 Rock Doves, 8 Moorhen and 10 Mallard, we then moved a bit further along the road to the Quendale Mill where we found several Yellow-browed Warblers and some Chiffchaffs, I also saw a man there who I had met on Fair Isle when I went there a year ago in October.
After spending several minutes looking around the mill we met Paul and Roger who had been birdwatching around Quendale and Hillwell, also this man went past us and said that there was two Great-spotted Woodpeckers up the road from where we were standing, so after speaking with Paul and Roger we went to see the Woodpeckers.

Rock Doves and a Shalder

Can anyone guess who these two birders might be

A Chiffchaff at the mill

along with this Yellow-browed Warbler


A look around some nearby gardens came up with nothing so I headed back to the car but as I looked up I saw dad and Tommy pointing to something behind me I quickly turned around to see a Woodpecker pecking on a fence post! I whipped out my camera and quickly took some shots and then Henry joined me and we watched the Woodpecker working its way around the fence post.
After watching it for a minute or two it flew off and we rushed back to the car to see if we could catch up with it, luckily we found it again and I got a few more shots before it disappeared.

One of my first shots of a Great-spotted Woodpecker ever and my second ever sighting

It sat very well on top of this strainer post

And posed for the camera every now and then

This the time I got really close to it

And I got this great shot before it flew farther along the fence

So after seeing the awesome Woodpecker we went to the Pool of Virkie in hope of seeing some waders.

On arrival at the pool we spotted a few Redshanks and then a small flock of Godwits flew to the west end of the pool, we quickly turned around and went in the direction of the Godwits.

We were able to find 10 Godwits and we identified them as Bar-tailed Godwits also near the flock of Godwits were several Redshanks, Dunlin and a Shalder also as we were just about to leave the pool Tommy spotted a Redwing in some willow trees.

Three Bar-tailed Godwits

So we left the Pool of Virkie and headed straight to Geosetter to see the Thick-billed Warbler before we had to head back north.

On the road between Scousburgh and Bigton I spotted some dark shapes in the sea, after a second of watching them I spotted a fin, dolphins! Dad braked and we all trained our eyes on the sea; after several minutes we counted at least 15 animals and later decided that they were Harbour Porpoises also we found a Great-northern Diver north of the Porpoises.

The Harbour Porpoises

At Geosetter the birdwatchers were all huddled around the trees opposite the field, Henry and I quickly jumped out the car and joined them, some of the birders told us that the Thick-billed had flown into the trees several minutes before, several minutes later the Thick-billed flew out of the trees and back into the field of oats!! I had just seen the Thick-billed Warbler!!, sadly Henry had been looking into the trees but he didn't see the bird because of the big rush of birders in front of him, so Henry stayed and looked into the field while I went and got Tommy and Dad.
When I arrived at the car Dad and Tommy said they had seen the bird and that Henry was waving me back, I thought they were joking until I turned around and saw Henry waving me back! so I ran straight back to the field and got a very good view of the Thick-billed through my bins just before it flew back into the trees and the 5th Thick-billed Warbler for Britain disappeared (from our eyes anyway).

So us four happy birders started the journey back to  Lerwick (but that wasn't the end of my day)

When we got back to Lerwick at 4pm  Henry had to be taken back to the hostel so Dad dropped Tommy and I at the house, we went inside and waited for Dad to come back.
When he came back I got to open my birthday presents which were amazing (thanks Dad, Mairi, Abby, Laura and Ellie) and also the truffles were fantastic.
At 5.15 all of us went to the Shetland Hotel for a meal, the food there was great and the puddings equally as good (I was planning to try and have a sundae for three, it said that you could have it if you liked a challenge but Tommy and I had to go to a Shetland Bird Club meeting at the Lerwick Hall at 7 so we were a bit pressed for time but I'll ).
So when we both finished our puddings we went straight to the town hall for the talk on 5 decades of rare moments, luckily we arrived in time for the first talk which was an introductory talk by Dennis Coutts. Throughout the night I got to hear about all the rare birds that different people had found across the decades in Shetland, it was great and I learned so much more about how the birders actually found the birds.
At 9.30 the talks finished and Tommy to me back to the house, and that was the end of my Birthday Birding.

Today was great, I got 3 new birds to my list (Arctic, Eastern Olivaceous and Thick-billed Warbler) and also the meal and the talk were fantastic and the presents and the messages were all very thoughtful.

Total species for today 37=
Greylag Goose
Herring Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Whooper Swan
Collard Dove
Arctic Warbler
Golden Plover
Eastern Olivaceous Warbler
Rock Dove
Hooded Crow
Mute Swan
Common Gull
Meadow Pipit
House Sparrow
Yellow-browed Warbler
Great-spotted Woodpecker
Bar-tailed Warbler
Great-northern Diver
Thick-billed Warbler

1 comment:

  1. Happy Birthday indeed! all the best! see you soon.