Wednesday, 31 December 2014

2014: Its all over!!

So 2014 its all over!! its been a good year and I'll say that with all of them but everyone is good.
My birdwatching has been varying a bit throughout the year with me doing really none in June whatsoever but I've been doing more bird ringing this year with 130 birds done over (roughly) 14 species! mainly all were young birds and Meadow Pipits but both were great to do!
I've also been helping out the SBC (Shetland Bird Club) with surveys such as the WBS (Wetland Bird Survey),the Beached Bird Survey and the Breeding Bird Survey round Yell.
I've also been on holiday outside Shetland twice this year, first to Northumberland in Northern England and the other to Tenerife! both got me new birds with 7 in Northumberland and 6 in Tenerife!
Now onto birdwatching! I've been able to get a bit done this year during migration period and that but more of this summer I've let it go a bit as I've been busy.
Though going in to autumn I got back into things and was back out birding getting a few birds here and there.
Going from Fair Isle, South Mainland and Unst and all back again hunting for rares and general birding with the latter of the year going good but slowly as it is.

Now for my monthly highlights!


This year New Year's Day was spent on the Mainland so I went round with Paula to get my yearlist to a start! we got a total of 43 species just being two species short of what they got in Fair Isle.
The biggest highlight of January was Shetland's fourth Glossy Ibis! first seen in Unst and then down in Spiggie! but I managed to see it.

Coming to the end of the month I'd seen a few birds but an influx of Bean Geese into Shetland got me out on the search for them and I saw some at Strand in Tingwall which were lifers.

The month ended with one lifer and one edition to my Shetland List with the year list totaling 54

Glossy Ibis, Spiggie


On the 8th I was able to add Black-throated Diver to my list with one in Nesbister Voe, Whiteness that was found by Paul Harvey and a Shetland Bird Club talk about Spitzbergen was quite interesting to hear about as well.
Clickimin Loch brought up a few first for the year with a Gadwall and a Pochard but also Grey Heron being added to my patch list they was quite good.
The 15th was spent hunting for a Snowy Owl in the South Mainland but to no luck though it got my first Pink-footed Goose of the year.

I spent four day in Fair Isle counting from the 22nd-24th and I pulled up a couple of year ticks for me and the Isle.

This month I managed to see two lifers and my year list now stands at 74


Most of March was quite quiet, towards the end of the month I was off to Northumberland for th Easter Holidays and that brought up a few good birds.

The Year List now stands at 79 species with several Lifers from Northumberland.

The start of the month was spent in Northumberland picking up some good and new species but also seeing a friend, Phil Charleton, whom I met upon Fair Isle.
Yet again the birds were slowly trickling in and Night Heron was an addition down by Reawick on the West Side.

This month lifers came from outside of Shetland as well with 7 from Northumberland, and also one addition to my Shetland List which resulted in my (Shetland) year list is 89


The 3rd was a dash into Fair Isle for a Cretzschmar's Bunting (also my first ever day trip to the isle) which wasn't seen in the end though it was the night before! but still a few birds were picked up and Caspian Stonechat and a Linnet (Shetland Tick!) .
The next day a trip down to the South Mainland for Great-crested Grebe and Common Crane proved successful with me getting both birds!
The 8th had a Yellow-rumped Warbler in Unst which I managed to twitch and my yearly trip into Fair Isle was delayed by a day but proved good with the last five minutes before the plane getting Glossy Ibis going overhead!

This month ended with two Lifers and two Shetland additions with the year list ending at 122


The birding month was slow for me as I wasn't doing much but there was plenty of breeding birds around and I managed to twitch the Baltasound Lesser Grey Shrike with the help of Rob Brookes.

To end with I managed one Lifer and 126 birds on the Year List


The 5th was spent on Noss helping out at the open day, my job, to help on a guided walk and in the end I quite enjoyed it all (despite being soaked through three layers!!).
On the 7th I managed to get the Haroldswick Pectoral Sandpiper after a failed attempt and that was a nice lifer to start the month.
After seeing many photos online I went to the Shetland Site of Great Sundew and I managed a few shots of them and a few endemic Hawkweeds.

One lifer at the end of this month and 127 on the year list

Great Sundew


To start the month off I took Herfordshire Birder, Steve Carter, round north Yell for a bit of birding before heading off to Fair Isle on the 4th.
In Fair Isle I managed to find a Red-necked Phalarope (an Island rarity), and also got a Wood Sandpiper the day after an excellent wedding.
Certainly one of the most exciting things for me was finding a Sea Kale at Seafield, Lerwick on the 24th, consisting of only the third record for Shetland and the 2nd one in a couple of weeks!

The year list stands at 141 with one lifer and one Shetland addition.


It took me a while to get the good out of the month but towards the end I managed a trip to Unst on the 20th with Jim Nangle and then to the South End with Dave where I managed a Lifer.
Also on was two talks by Malcie Smith on "Where on Earth Do our Phalaropes go?" and "Larking in Ethiopia".At the end of the month I was off to Tenerife until early October for a holiday, a bit early but some great birds!

This month ended with 7 Lifers and the year list is 148 so far.


I came back from Tenerife on the 7th and rushed down to the Levenwick to twitch the Siberian Rubythroat whilst picking up Phil Charleton from Lerwick on way the South, we never did get the bird though.
A long awaited birding trip with Brydon Thomason from Unst and also with two fellow NGB's (Amy & David) was an excellent day out on Yell and to end it a twitch to Scalloway to see an Eastern Bonelli's Warbler.
The 12th was a day trip to the South End which brought up some pretty good species.
A trip into Fair Isle on the 13th for a week wasn't as productive as expected but with Red-flanked Bluetail, Blue Tit, Olive-backed Pipit, Firecrest, Grasshopper Warbler, Yellow Wagtail, Great Grey Shrike and other uncommon species.
"The Grand Bird Race" of the 24th was my first Bird Race and was certainly a good one! with a total of 72 species seen throughout 11 hours of straight birding.
It also being the first in Shetland since the 90's and it may become and annual thing.

The month ended with 7 Lifers, one Shetland tick and the year list now stands at 172! the record is almost broken!!

Humpback Whales, Fair Isle


The start of the month started with a twitch to Unst for a Pied Wheatear but that was unsuccessful though going back a week later I managed to get it along with a Grey-cheeked Thrush (Lifer) at Rerwick and a Red-flanked Bluetail the same day, a second Bluetail and a Green-winged Teal were also seen the same weekend.
I also manged to find a Tundra Bean Goose on West Burra while doing the Shetland Goose Count with Dave (resulting in my first self-found rarity!).
Brent Goose was finally added to my list during a rainy 22nd.
Birding was generally quite good throught the month and to finish it off I was out doing surveys with Andy Gear in North Yell.

The Year List was broken this month, my own record beaten by several species! the month ended on 178 with 3 Lifers.


On the 6th I was down to the Mainland to go on the hunt for an American Wigeon out West in Sandness.
The drake which I spotted quickly was another lifer and a Mistle Thrush half an hour later was no.180 on my yearlist!
Also that night a talk was presented by Richard Shucksmith at the Shetland Museum on Shetland's underwater life which was quite good and much of it I didn't know.
The Moltoni's Warbler was split from the Subalpine Warbler and that resulted in several Shetland Birders (including me) getting one more onto their list, mine now stands at 227.
The line up towards Christmas was quite and I didn't see many birds on my outings but it was a good time nonetheless.
Though the last day of the year and New Year were spent on Fair Isle I managed a Buzzard (Shetland tick), 2 Sparrowhawks and a few other bits and pieces.

This month ended on 181 species for the year, a new record set for me with two lifers and one Shetland tick included in the set.

The Year

A marvelous, amazing year with plenty of birds and some great people along the way.

I saw so many birds and I managed to break my year list record of c172 (after having taken off and added on certain species) and get a new one of 181 which was great in my standards.
I fell short of my 200 aim but I'm happy of this one! the birds involved with great!

During ringing sessions with Dave I got a tremendous amount of birds done and all of it was a new experience.

My Shetland List went up by 28 species of bird, just two over half of last years total which was 50!
So here's them in order (roughly), Lifers and Shetland Additions - Glossy Ibis, Tundra Bean Goose, Black-throated Diver, Night Heron, Ring-necked Duck, Linnet, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Turtle Dove, Spotted Flycatcher, Moltoni's Warbler, Greenshank, Lesser Grey Shrike, Pectoral Sandpiper, Black Redstart, Wood Sandpiper, Red-breasted Flycatcher, Stonechat, Eastern Bonelli's Warbler, Red-flanked Bluetail, Grasshopper Warbler, Firecrest, Yellow Wagtail, Rose-coloured Starling, Pied Wheatear, Grey-cheeked Thrush, Brent Goose, American Wigeon, Common Buzzard. Some bunch!

Though I wouldn't of gotten any of these without the help of everyone I've met throughout the year and some old friends as well.
A shout of though goes out to all the ones in Fair Isle, whether at the Obs or the Islanders for the help I've received throughout the year, to Dave Okill for taking the time to take me out birding and ringing which I've enjoyed so much.
My family, who I've dragged everywhere hunting and travelling for birds, I really couldn't of done it without them.
Anyone else who I haven't included I thank you as well, all the people throughout this year, whether taking me out birding, giving me advice, telling me about you sightings, shuttling me around, everyone has been a massive help and the year wouldn't of been the same.

So to everyone I've met this year and the readers of this blog post, Happy New Year and lets make 2015 even better!!

Logan Johnson

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Moltoni's Subalpine Warbler Split

Today I heard of the recent split of Moltoni's Warbler from the Subalpine Warbler.
This is a bird recorded three times in Shetland, the most recent on Fair Isle (which I got) and an addition to the Shetland List which now stands at 441.
Also an addition to my list which now stands at 227.

Here's a Link to the news on the Split.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

The Good Old Days

I was up in Gutcher a week ago on the 30th doing surveys with Yell's oldest birdwatcher, Andy Gear.
While I was up he showed me the kind of camera he used back in the 60's, 70's.

This monster weighs a tons and this is what Andy would cart around to photograph birds

The lens and stand in its full form, its got a pretty good zoom, both of these together are very heavy

Andy built some of the lens himself, it was originally used on the Spitfire during World War Two, 1940's technology crafted with 1960's.

The farthest Andy took the camera was across Hermaness (a several mile walk) to see "Albert" the Black-browed Albatross, this is the film he took the photos on, amazing pieces of history.

The equipment used in the 60's compared to what we use today is amazing, the weight and size of Andy's lens compared to my light thing is extraordinary.
My camera had a better zoom magnification than the camera Andy was using so we've come a long way since the 60's!

It was still amazing to see a piece of history that I'd never come across before and I thank Andy for showing it too me.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

American Wigeon, Norby, Sandness 06/12/2014

Today I was on a quest, to find and see the American Wigeon out Wast at the Loch of Collaster, Sandness.
I stopped off in Girlsta and then I was out "Wast" with Paula to hunt for the American.
Just to make sure I checked the map as we were going out and we found the loch.
Wigeon, Swans and Tufted Ducks were already swimming around and I raised my bins to start checking them out, second bird I looked at had the amazing green and lighter markings of the male American Wigeon!! Lifer! and also my 179th for the year! one more for 180.

With the much duller colouration on the body and the creamy white "shield " on the forehead, the male American Wigeon stands out from the flock.

Also a short 1 minute video on the American (with a bit of speaking involved)

With our good sightings we left Norby and headed back to civilization, we'd passed a few bends and I spotted this thrush fly across the road, it was big, Fieldfare but no it wasn't the right colour and size, it was a Mistle Thrush, it had to be!!
I was really excited, a possible year tick had just flown past us! Paula reversed and we spent five minutes trying to track it down with rain lashing in the window but it was found! Paula spotted it on a bank and I got my eyes on it, it was a Mistle Thrush!!! this colossal thrush was finally one my year list! my 180th bird for the year!! I had officially broken the 180 barrier! 

Too finally end off the day after getting these two year ticks (and one lifer) we finished with eight Snow Buntings going over between Tresta and Bixter!!

Many thanks to Paula for taking the 50 miles there and back to help me see the bird!