Monday, 17 February 2014

Weekend Birding 15th & 16th of February 2014

Saturday the 15th of February 2014

There has been a bit of excitement in Shetland these past two days because a Snowy Owl was seen at Enxaboe, South End, from the pictures I saw the bird looked amazing!
I have heard of an invasion of Snowy Owls in the USA and I was hoping that we might get some.
So I planned on the Friday to try and head down to see it the next day.

On Saturday I got on the ferry from Ulsta and I headed to the Mainland, on the other side Tommy was waiting and we headed south.
We took one stop at Strand to try and find the Tundra Bean Geese which we had seen a few weeks ago.
The geese weren't about but I did count 150+ Greylags.
We quickly headed into Lerwick and picked up Henry before heading to Clickimin.
On arrival we saw three Whooper Swans and a Coot! I had a look at the Whoopers to check for a colour-ringed individual but no luck so I focused my attention to the Coot.
We had a look at the Coot and Henry spotted a "second" one but with a closer look it was a Moorhen!

A good comparison between the two species and I've never noticed that Coot are twice the size of Moorhen!

We left Clickimin and then we popped into Mairi's for a minute and then we headed south, straight to Enxaboe.
On the way I spoke to Hugh Harrop to see if the bird was there but he said that no-one had seen it.
After half an hour we arrived at Enxaboe and we saw Russ Haywood, we spoke to him and he'd been looking three hours but with no luck so we left and went to look round the Pool of Virkie before going to see a Peregrine that Russ had seen at one of the Sumburgh Quarries.
The tide was too high for anything at the "Pool" so we checked round the Ness Boating Club and we saw four Shelducks! (a pretty good count I would say) so we then left for the Sumburgh Quarries.
We searched the Quarries but there was no sign of the Peregrine so we had a check at some geese that were at the Sumburgh Hotel.
It took us a few minutes but we got to the Sumburgh Hotel and I started scanning the geese for anything different.
I soon spotted a smaller, dark headed goose and I had a better look at it, a Pink-footed Goose! my first of the year!
I quickly told Tommy and Henry where it was and we all had our eyes on it, I got my camera out and tried to get a few pictures but it was raining and the bird wouldn't keep still.

The Pink-foot seemed to have something wrong with it's wing because one part of it seemed to be hanging down

It did stand still at times and it was a nice find

We headed off to Scatness to try and find some Pintail but with no luck Hillwell was our next stop.
At Hillwell we saw a single flock of 150+ Lapwings! we searched round but found nothing major so Spiggie Loch was our next destination and just before we got to the loch we had a scan through the geese flocks.
I was having a look through one flock at the Bakkasetter /Culsetter and I spotted a strange goose which I immediately thought was a Pink-foot, Tommy stopped the car and I got a  better look, a Tundra Bean Goose!!
I got my camera out and started taking some photos in case it flew off.
The photos came out okay but the one thing I was wondering was if it was a new bird or a previous one that already been spotted in the area.

The Tundra Bean did not fly away like the other Greylags so I was able to get this shot

I liked this guy because it seemed quite cute

So we headed in Bakkasetter to have a look at a bigger goose flock and instead we found two Meadow Pipits, my first of the year! (I seem to be doing very well for year ticks on weekends).
So we followed the road along the western side of the Spiggie Loch and at the turn to Littleness we spotted two Shelducks really close to the road so we tried to get a picture but there was a car behind us so we pulled into a passing place.
We waited a second but the car had stopped so I had a look at the driver and it was Paula! we got out the car and we spoke to her for a while, she'd come to look for the Snowy Owl but with no sign of it she went round looking for birds.
Soon we all headed off and at the north side of the loch we spotted a Moorhen running along a ditch so I whipped out my camera and tried to get a few pics.

This peerie guy would not sit still and this was the only shot I got

This Corbie was sitting crouched on the edge of a roof at Spiggie

We started heading north along the road to Bigton and at the turn into Rerwick we saw a flock of Greylags and I noticed something strange about some of the closest two, they had neck collars!
We all tried to read the numbers but we weren't close enough so I tried taking some pictures with my camera.
Surprisingly it actual worked and the numbers came out quite well.

The left bird reads "SSO" and the right "DNG", both I've been told are probably local birds

The bird with the collar "SSO" 

And that was our final stop before we headed tae Lerwick and that ended our day.

Sunday the 16th of February 2014

So today was kinda slow, it was about  10ish when I left the house (a bit late for me) because Dad, Mairi and myself were going to Bananmin Beach (Burra) for a look, on the way we saw eight Shalders on Tronda.

The Banamin Beach

We got there and we started walking across the beach, halfway across it started bucketing it down with rain so we got ran to the other side of the beach.
The rain last about ten minutes and then we walked back across the beach, back into the car and back to Lerwick.

Two Eiders I photographed on the way

On the way I spotted a Great-northern Diver at the Burra Brig, it was really close to the road so I got some photos.

I was able to capture the G-northern with it's wings open!

Side on view

So we got into Lerwick and I soon headed out to Clickimin, when I got there I saw some Greylags and a few ducks.
I tried to photograph the Greylags but they flew off, I then saw Graham Ball (a local birder) walking into Helendale, it then started to rain and so I ran into Helendale.
I caught up to Graham and I spoke to him, so we went to the Loch and we tried the Gadwall that I saw last week but with no luck.
So we stayed round the loch for a while and Graham spotted seven thrushes, Redwings (year ticks!) so after that we headed to Seafield where we didn't see anything but I did get to hear some of his great birding tales.
We ended up travelling to the Tingwall and Asta Lochs, there was nothing on Asta but on the banks of the Tingwall Loch then there was tons of Waders! I managed to count 64 Shalders with over 40 Redshanks!
I was quite amazed by the number of Shalders during this period of time and I'm thinking it might be my biggest ever flock!
Actually in the loch was a beautiful adult Comorant, we watched it dive and then come up before taking off and flying near to the car, what an amazing sight it was!
We continued north to the Strand Loch and we checked the Goose flocks for anything different, at the end of a park at Gott, I saw five geese which I though were the five Tundra Bean Geese I had seen a few weeks ago, and they were!
After checking the rest of the geese we backtracked past the Asta and Tingwall Lochs before checking the East Voe of Scalloway and then back into Lerwick, ending our day.

So this weekend was quite good even though I never saw the Snowy Owl (but no-one saw it again after Friday!) but I did hear that it was in Ireland near Bigton so who knows where it could be.
Other than missing the Snowy Owl I did get a few more year ticks which was a bonus, thanks to Tommy and Graham for taking me around and thanks to Graham for the stories!

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