Thursday, 2 January 2014

New Year's Bird Count

So welcome to 2014 everyone, hope you enjoy it and may some good birds arrive on our shores.

I spent the first day of 2014 counting up all the species of bird I could find, mostly round the south and central mainland of Shetland.

After getting up at half seven Paula and myself got ready to go down to the south end.
Before we left I looked out the window and I saw my first bird of the year, a single House Sparrow.

We soon left and after clocking up a few species we headed south, on the way we stopped along Strand and the Tingwall and Asta Lochs.
The Lochs were covered in birds and we managed to count about forty Redshank, a Shalder, sixty-three Curlew, over one-hundred and twenty Common Gulls, sixteen Wigeon, twelve Teal and some Goldeneye.
After that we headed south and on the way we stopped at Cunningsburgh to take a photo of the first sunrise of 2014.

 The first sunrise of 2014 (over Mousa), we also saw our first Fulmars of the year

From Cunningsburgh we headed to St Ninians but instead of going directly there we had a run into Maywick, surprisingly we saw a few good birds there such as thirty Twite, six Blackbirds and a Wren.
This time we headed to St Ninians and when we got there the sea was going over the beach, we also saw three Shags which were another bird to our count.

The St Ninians Isle beach

On the way our of Bigton we stopped so I could photograph some House Sparrows

And here is an "ok" picture of a female

We headed for south and on the way we went up Mossy Hill to try and find some plovers but we couldn't find any so I took this photo of St Ninians Isle instead.

St Ninians Isle from Mossy Hill

From Mossy Hill we headed to Spiggie Loch and we saw forty-seven Whooper Swans, our first two Moorhen of the year and thirty Wigeon.

From Spiggie we headed to Hillwell and on arrival I saw a Pipit fly up from the side of the road and land on the corner of the road (where I couldn't see it!) before I could get my eyes on it the Pipit flew straight south with another Pipit but I didn't get an ID on them! I know the most likely bird would of been Meadow Pipit but you can't exclude Rock, so on the Hillwell Loch we saw over fifteen Moorhen, our first Coot of the year, at least fifty Wigeon and six Whooper Swans.
The Quendale Mill was our next stop and there we had some of our picnic, there wasn't any birds at Quendale so we left for Virkie.

When we got to the Pool of Virkie it was high (high) tide so there was no waders at all but we did see some bird life in the shape of some Mallards and Teal.
We then left for Grutness and there we saw a flock of twenty Purple Sandpipers, we decided to try and find some Gannets from Sumburgh Head.
I got out the car when we got to Sumburgh Head and I had a quick scan of the sea but all there was were Fulmars, Fulmars and more Fulmars but still no Gannets so since we were a bit pressed for time we headed back to have a quick look at Grutness.

We got back to Grutness we saw Hugh Harrop so I went out to speak to him, when I got closer I saw that he was photographing Black Guillemots, our first ones of the year and there was some Long-tailed Ducks behind them.
After speaking to Hugh we headed to our last stop in the south end, Boddam, there we saw a few Redshanks, Mallards, Teal and Turnstones.
We were there a few minutes and then a medium sized wader flew in, it landed on the shore in front of us and it was a Bar-tailed Godwit!
We both started taking pictures of the bird and I got this picture.

The Bar-tailed Godwit at Boddam

From the South to the Central, we headed to Lerwick to try and find a Mute Swan, luckily the bird was on the Clickimin Loch and that was our 37th Specie before we left to head off to Weisdale in search of Grey Herons.

The first sunset of 2014 

When we arrived there was no sign of any Grey Herons but soon I spotted one flapping its wings on the far side of the voe! Paula soon spotted a male Goosander swimming about (38 & 39).

The Goosander 

Our next stop was Kergord in search of Rooks, we got past the first few plantations and there was no Rooks! just Hooded Crows! but as we passed one of the last plantations we saw about thirty down at the bottom of a park. (No. 40!)

We quickly headed off to Girlsta to try and add Golden Plover and Red Grouse to our list.
We had a run about and Paula managed to hear a Golden Plover calling, I went out and I tried to find it.
Instead of actually seeing the bird I flushed it up but I was looking the wrong way and I ended up not seeing it!
So we headed to the end of the road and we turned around and Paula heard the Plover again, I went out and I tried to find it but instead I found two Red Grouse and I flushed a third!
After I got back to the car we went off to find a Snipe, we checked some ditches and then Paula remembered a place where she had flushed a Snipe the day before, so off we went.
We got out the car and we started walking towards some marshy ground, then what flew up but a Snipe! specie number 43!! we walked further along and we spotted an Otter! with a crab! what a way to end the day!

Today we saw a total of 43 Species and here is them in order of sighting

House Sparrow, Starling, Collard Dove, Great Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Blackbird, Rock Dove, Robin, Red-breasted Merganser, Raven, Kittiwake, Hooded Crow, Whooper Swan, Goldeneye, Teal, Curlew, Common Gull, Redshank, Wigeon, Tufted Duck, Fulmar, Turnstone, Twite, Wren, Shag, Lapwing, Great-northern Diver, Moorhen, Mallard, Coot, Purple Sandpiper, Eider, Rock Pipit, Black Guillemot, Long-tailed Duck, Bar-tailed Godwit, Mute Swan, Grey Heron, Goosander, Rook, Golden Plover, Red Grouse, Snipe.

Also on the mammal side we saw Rabbit, Mountain Hare and Otter.

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