Sunday, 29 March 2015

Mother's Day - Doon Da Ness

It's Mother's day and it seems spring has come again!
The birds are slowly trickling through with Chffichaff, Goldcrest, Stonechat and Lesser Black-backed Gull all making an appearance, migrants are being found and its soon going to be time for more rarities to be making appearances.

Though just before any of this happened, Dave and I went down to the South Mainland for a look on the 15th.

Our first stop was the Loch of Clumlie, we did 'try' to catch Greylags here last year but without success.
It was virtually desolate, though I did see this odd bird in the middle of the Loch, bins were raised and I was confused at what it was.
To be fair I haven't seen one for many months so it'll take a minute before I can identify one, Dave got his eyes on the same bird and ID'd it as a Red-throated Diver! summer plumage as well!
Not bad at all, another was about 50 metres to the left, which took of and circled the Loch while calling! nice way to start the day.

Boddam was next but that was empty so roll on the Pool of Virkie, now that had something, well ducks, 6 Shelducks were roaming the mudflats, year ticks, but not any 'different' waders, Scatness for a quick look but it was a bit rough, so onto the Hotel and the Head.
We met Rob Fray on the way out of the Hotel and he said there wasn't much around.... well we could still try.

A quick look in on the beach at Grutness produced my first Sanderling and Dunlin of the year, two more year ticks bagged before going up the head.

On the head, the Guillemots were back on the cliffs, it was cold and nothing else was showing so we drove on down, nearly at Grutness I spotted a Robin on the fence, and I got Dave to stop, but no it wasn't a Robin, it was a Stonechat! I was actually amazed, year tick!
I got the camera out and snapped away before it shot off so here's the results.

A nice addition to the year list though my first for Shetland was only seen in October last year!

Having a stare off with the camera

They are quite good looking birds

Like all birds do, this one ended up flying off so we moved on, Hillwell was next, maybe a chance of a grebe or a coot?
Well we did get the latter, a single Coot (year tick) was on the loch along with 8 Moorhen and some ducks, not much but something.
Roger Riddington was also scanning the loch so we went and spoke to him, he'd had a Peregrine at Sumburgh but that would be extremely difficult to locate and also he'd seen our Stonechat as well (just several hours before us), but besides that all was quiet so we carried on.
Everywhere else was quiet so we ended the day going into Lerwick, with a grand total of 5 year ticks added to my list.

Solar Eclipse 20th March 2015

Everyone would of known about the Solar Eclipse last week on Friday the 20th.
Well the Mid Yell Junior High School had a visitor from the National Schools Observatory, one of the men from there had come up to try and photograph the Eclipse since our science teacher was the most northerly member in the UK.

I took my camera in with the off chance of managing a photo or two of the Eclipse (it'll be the last "good" one until 2026 so I'd have a while to wait).

On arrival at the school, solar viewers were going around and the Eclipse could be partially seen at time, I tired holding the camera in front of the view to take a photo and it worked! so I managed a few photos from that and also later on when it virtually covered the whole sun.

 First attempt at Solar Eclipse Photography, achieved

Slightly better

97% covered at about 0947. We were able to photograph without the viewers

More dulled photo

Soon though it ended, the clouds covered it and that was that, later on in the day the man from the National School's Observatory requested if he'd be able to use my photos on their website, I was pretty happy at that so I agreed as long as credit was given.
But that was the end of a truly marvellous Solar Eclipse and I can't wait till 2026 to see the next one!

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Dipper Dipping

Well the title isn't strictly correct, let me explain.

Some of you may know that there had been a "black-bellied" Dipper (one of the Scandinavian/Continental races) seen at Voe, during the week of the 7th with another bird seen on and off at Skaw, Unst for a while as well.
On the 7th I'd been up in Ollarberry with my Dad checking out an old car and we decided to have a look on the way back.

Upon arrival to what I know now as the "Burn of Daal" in Voes Bottom, I saw two birders waiting to photograph the Dipper, Jim Nicolson and another whom I'd met while hunting for a Glossy Ibis at Sullom last year.

I went up and joined the two birders and they gave me straight directions to the bird, which was dead center in a heap of willows going over the burn.... well it had to come out sometime.
Actually seconds, mere seconds, it popped out of its hiding spot and flew a couple of metres upstream and I could see it through the branches! ticked! Shetland addition number 231 and my third addition of the year! not bad.

'Black-bellied' Dipper by Jim Nicolson

It showed its lovely white throat and dark belly before going past its "favourite" perch and going upstream, that was the last we saw of it and I only got views for maybe 20-30 seconds.

But yes to the dipping part....

The next day I headed up to see it again with Dave (Okill) and we dipped it along with the Green-winged Teal at Orwick Water, Muckle Roe though we did pull up a Woodcock.

So just to conclude I managed to add another glorious bird to my Shetland List before dipping it the next day, well its just luck isn't it?