Monday, 27 October 2014

Birding Down the Ness: a mid October jaunt

An edition to my action packed weekend, Sunday the 12th.
After having a great trip with Brydon, David and Amy on the Saturday, I headed down to the Southend with Dave Okill and Pete Ellis for a bit of birding.

Dave picked me up at 9 and we headed south, stopping in Helendale to try and find some Blue Tits that had been around, we spent a couple of minutes standing around and up popped a Great Tit! a Pied Flycatcher and two Yellow-browed Warblers! not bad for a couple of minutes of birding.
We got a few views before it was time to go, we headed south and did a bit of birding in Sandwick before picking up Pete.

There'd been a Siberian Stonechat by the Hoswick Beach yesterday so we decided to go for that.
Pete said that it was hanging around the fences so we spent sometime scanning them but it didn't pop up.
We were checking other posts when I spotted Glen Tyler & Juan Brown strolling down the side of a park, so we went up and checked if they'd had anything.
A couple of Stonechats was a couple of birds they'd had, one even flew by but I didn't see it, the five of us decided we'd have a joint search of the Swinister Burn, 2 from the South and 2 from the North.
Dave took us to the north end of the burn and we checked a few gardens beforehand.
These gardens pulled up a few Chiffchaffs, Robins and Goldcrests, Pete and I headed in and Dave went down to the middle of the burn.
We'd just gotten in and then Juan showed up, in no time at all they'd headed up the burn and already met us! so Glen showed up and the for of us spoke for a minute before Glen went farther up the burn to try and drive birds to us.
A few birds did pop up, a Jack Snipe (which landed and was then flushed by Juan's dog! also a year tick for me), 2 Mealy Redpolls, a Song Thrush and a very pale Chiffchaff (which gave a call different to the normal Chiffchaffs and it was believed to be an Eastern bird).
The four of us headed back down the burn and Dave was waiting, he told me he'd had a Grey Wagtail in the fork of the burn so I went for it (as I still need it for my yearlist and Dave remembered that).
I went all the way up and back but I couldn't find it, even though it was there a few minutes ago!
Anyways we all headed off, we didn't see any more birds but we went our separate ways, Dave, Pete & I headed off elsewhere, getting 40 Brambling.
We'd gone hunting for the Siberian Stonechat when I got a text from Glen, he'd had a Black Redstart at the Hoswick Beach so we thought we might as well go for that.
Glen and Juan were above the beach waiting and they pointed out the bird, it was a beauty! my first on Shetland (away from Fair Isle), but also there was a Siskin! a juvenile and it was really easy to get close to, presumably one from the forests of Scandinavia and never seen humans before.

Black Redstart, distant but you can make it out!

 Not a very cooperative Siskin

The next spot was a Cottage which held an Eastern Olivaceous Warbler last year (on my birthday), I stood with Pete and I saw a Goldcrest which flew within inches of us and a Great Tit which flew over me and Dave when I got back in the car!!
After the cottage we headed south, at the exit of Hoswick there was a good flock of Jackdaw (year tick), 35 exactly! and a few Chaffinches.
A quick run through Levenwick produced a few common migrants and the same on the Loch of Clumlie.
Boddam was our next stop, there was several hundred (c300/400) Golden Plover, very jumpy birds and they wouldn't land.

Only a part of the flock

The Voe itself at Boddam was pretty quiet bar a couple of Teal, though there was a Siskin and a very late Barred Warbler!

A couple of Teal

Russ Haywood was also doing a bit of birding and said he'd had a male Stonechat a little bit further along the road so we went for that, it showed quite well and we also got a Reed Bunting!

Another record shot, male Stonechat

Down at Fleck there was 74 Pink Footed Geese, 40 Barnacle Geese and some Greylags.
The Sumburgh Quarries was next along our stop, Pete went and did the farm while Dave and I did there and the Head.
In total we managed to get 1 Reed Bunting, 1 Snow Bunting, 2 Blackcap, 1 Robin, 1 Song Thrush, 6 Bramblings, 1 Chiffchaff and 1 Chaffinch.
It wasn't bad I'll say that! we found Pete round Sumburgh Hotel and he'd managed 40 Bramblings and a Jack Snipe.

This Blackbird never shifted once while Dave and I stood near it, I could of almost grabbed it

It also has two white outer tail feathers on either side of its tail

A skein of flyover Geese

Next stop on the list was the Pool of Virkie, we met Jim Nicolson who told us there was a Long-eared Owl in the willows a few metres away!! We rolled up and there it was! sitting all peerie and Owly, I even got some shots.

Hide and seek

I have to say that I really do like this picture, its probably my best of an owl

Jim also told us that there was an Olive-backed Pipit by the old bus along at Eastshore, it wasn't far so we went for it.
There was a single twitcher standing in a park with a scope, Pete & I headed up to talk to him and it turned out he was scoping Mipits, trying to find the OBP.
No luck, we shot off to Hillwell, scoping out two Scaup (male/female), Tufted Ducks, Teal, Moorhen, Wigeon and a few Greylags.
The Quendale MIll produced a Chiffchaff and 6 Blackcaps and Spiggie was more productive with 2 Barnacle Geese, 86 Pink-feet, Greylags, Wigeon, Curlew, 3 Goldeneye, 3 Grey Herons, 11 Whooper Swans, 2 female Shoveler, 1 female Pintail (year tick), 4 Slavonian Grebes and 2 Mute Swans.

A nice comparison between female Pintail and Shoveler

The last leg of our journey ended in Sandwick, with Dave dropping off Pete (and us getting 40 Chaffinches) and us heading back north.
A great day nonetheless.

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