Tuesday, 19 May 2015

East meets west! Ducks, Crakes & Egrets

For this weekend I intended to spend it on Yell for my siblings birthday party, but due to a sickness going round we had to cancel and I still stayed in Yell.
On the morning of the 17th of May, I headed out to find nesting birds and maybe a few migrants, Blackbird nests were logged and even a migrant Redpoll but nothing else, then news broke of a Little Egret at Spiggie in the South.
I'd said to myself if anything turned up on Sunday then I'd go for it so I did, within the next two hours I'd journeyed down to the Mainland and with the help of Paula we went down for it.

Hugh Harrop and one of his tour groups had found a singing male Corncrake down at Boddam the day before, nowadays this species is quite difficult to find in Shetland since they've stopped breeding but this bird was said to be quite easy to see so we decided to head to it first as I have never seen one,
We rolled up to Boddam, parked up and waited (after being told where to park by Roger Riddington), 40 minutes passed, we'd heard it call many times, this weird insect like noise and then Paula spotted it but it disappeared again.
My hopes slowly started to dwindle but it called again and then Paula spotted it again, skulking through the grass away from us! I got good views and a photo before it wandered off.

Well its a record shot!

The rain came back on and the bird seemed unlikely to come out again so we headed off to Spiggie for the Little Egret.
We arrived to Spiggie and from a distance we could see Jim Nicolson parked up (most likely photographing the Egret).
Suddenly Paula spotted this white bird fly up from the marsh and up comes the Egret! it flew overhead and then lands on the cliffs! Certainly an easier Shetland tick than the Corncrake!
No.234 on my Shetland List so I'm not doing to bad.
I got a few photos of the Egret before Jim rolled up and we spoke for half an hour before heading off to Hillwell for a Garganey.

Flight shot

The bird seemed to like sitting on the cliffs

Not the typical spot for a Little Egret

Arriving at Hillwell I whipped out the scope and started scanning the Loch, first of all I noticed a large number of Swallows, 2 Knot and a pair of Shoveler.
One male Pintail was picked up among the reeds and then a pair flew in! I tried to get Paula onto them (who was using binoculars) and in the process I spotted my first Garganey in Shetland! a splendid male which very quickly disappeared into the reeds.
It was around 3 o'clock by this time and we were needing to head back north so we headed off.

We were heading through Cunningsburgh and I got a call from Hugh Harrop (I assumed it was about the Garganey) so I picked up.
He asked where we were and I said Cunningsburgh and he told us to quickly turn around and get to South Punds, Levenwick, he'd just found two drake Ring-necked Ducks!
After a slight rearrangement of plans we doubled back south and were enjoying these North American beauties within 10 minutes!

It may be distant but you can make out the white line on the bills if you zoom in

Next came the actual trip north, I ended in Brae and found myself a year tick of 3 Siskins in the Plantation between the school and "Toy Town", so not a bad end to the day!
But big thanks to Paula for taking me around, I would of never seen them without her help!


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