Thursday, 22 January 2015

NGB Bird Race - Winter Warmer

Its been a while since my last post, I've been out once or twice since then picking up an ok selection of birds but the 17th had to be my biggest birding of the year so far.
As part of an event staged by NGB (Next Generation Birders) a singles/pairs bird race was to take place on the weekend of the 17th/18th, deciding to do mine on the 17th I checked to see if Dave was free and we headed out while doing the International Swan Count as well.

I came down from Yell getting my list started up and was on twenty odd after a run out to Seafield with my Dad.
Dave came by an hour later and we were off, Mute Swan, Tufted Duck and Greylag Goose were picked up along/around Clickimin but it was virtually empty so we went south to Burra & Trondra.
Doing the three isles (West & East Burra + Trondra) wasn't bad, we came out with quite a few additions to the list and a couple of Swans, Teal, Wigeon, Rock Pipit, Snow Bunting (flock of 25), Fieldfare, Redwing, Comorant, Great-northern Diver, the list goes on!
Scalloway was our next destination, heading to Ladysmith Rd (home of Shetland's 1st breeding Goldfinches) with staked out the place in hope of some wintering Goldfinches along with the Great & Blue Tits.
Half and hour later, with very little birds appearing we finally got what we wanted, first 3-4 Chaffinches flew in and afterwards a Robin, shortly followed by a Blue Tit (and the latter could be seen chasing the other!), finally with two Goldfinches in the sycamore right above the car! not bad if I say but time was against so we pushed north along the Tingwall Valley.
The Lochs were packed with Tufted Ducks (presumably the Clickimin birds) but no Scaup in among them, Oystercatcher was the only bird picked up before heading to Griesta (site of a recently 100% fire damaged house), after a quick talk to the policewoman in the car saying I was just wanting to look at some birds up the road, I headed up and picked up 10 Twite! the only place in the Central Mainland that I can find them with ease, Rook was also picked up and then it was onto Strand.
Nothing was managed here, no Goosanders or notin' bar some Mute Swans, I'd had an idea to head out to Breiwick/Califf for Golden Plovers as one autumn there was hundreds out there (I was looking for an American Golden Plover but that refused to be found).
We gave it a go, hopes started to dwindle but I looked onto the park where I'd seen them and they was some Lapwing! (we haven't been able to find these all day and now about 15 appear!), Dave turned around and there was also Golden Plover!! finally!
Lerwick was next and we had a few sites in mind, Dave made a call to Dennis Coutts to see if he'd had the Velvet Scoter out by his recently but he hadn't seen it since the storm.
By this time we were on a great total of 49 species! so I was striving for a minimum of 50.

Shetland Catch was our next destination, two species of white-wingers and a duck was in mind so we wanted .
Second Gull flock we saw I picked up a 1st winter Glaucous Gull (White-winger no.1!) and we quickly moved towards the sea.
Long-tailed Duck came next with several out in the sound and then Dave managed a 1st winter Iceland Gull! (White-winger no.2!) we quickly left and Seafield was empty of anything I hadn't already got.
Finally location of the day, Helendale, my own patch and a good spot for a few garden birds and wintering bits and bobs.
I went in quickly and brought out nothing and Dave came in, we spent the last half an hour of light here (1510-1540), first bird I picked up was a Merlin being harassed by a Hoody overhead (a patch tick surprisingly).
Dave flipped on the calls to see if we could bring any Great Tits in, some appeared but weren't really interested, by some I mean a grand total of 3!! which is pretty good, 4 Chaffinches also appeared and a Brambling calling somewhere! not a bad end to the day I have to say.
A few of the poor record shots I managed are below.

One of the Chaffinches at Ladysmith Road

And also the Blue Tit that was there

So after that I was back home on a total of 54 species for the day, one specie that was missing was the Wren which I managed to get on the path to the house the next day.
For January this is a great total, 65 could easily be possible if we'd started earlier and gone to the likes of the South End but that's for another time.
Without Dave it seems my total would of been much, much less than what we got so I can't but thank him for all his efforts and assistance.

  1. Raven 
  2. Hooded Crow
  3. Great Black-backed Gull
  4. Curlew
  5. Gannet
  6. Shag
  7. Common Gull
  8. Rock Dove
  9. Starling
  10. Collard Dove
  11. Herring Gull
  12. Black Guillemot
  13. Black-headed Gull
  14. Eider
  15. Goldeneye
  16. Gadwall
  17. Mallard
  18. Redshank
  19. Turnstone
  20. Kittiwake
  21. Red-breasted Merganser
  22. House Sparrow
  23. Greylag Goose
  24. Mute Swan
  25. Tufted Duck
  26. Blackbird
  27. Snipe
  28. Grey Heron
  29. Fieldfare
  30. Comorant
  31. Redwing
  32. Great-northern Diver
  33. Wigeon
  34. Teal
  35. Ringed Plover
  36. Rock Pipit
  37. Snow Bunting
  38. Fulmar
  39. Moorhen
  40. Whooper Swan
  41. Chaffinch
  42. Robin
  43. Blue Tit
  44. Goldfinch
  45. Oystercatcher
  46. Twite
  47. Rook
  48. Lapwing
  49. Golden Plover
  50. Glaucous Gull
  51. Long-tailed Duck
  52. Iceland Gull
  53. Merlin
  54. Great Tit
  55. Brambling

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