But for now I'll just head onto the monthly summary
The first 5 days of the year were spent on Fair Isle with a total of 36 species being found on New Year's Day (less than what we've had the past two years).
The 5th resulted in me getting Pomarine Skua added to the list, with a bird at Ulsta on my way home from Fair Isle!
Generally the rest of the month was spent year listing as I'd falled into the habit once again
On the 24th I twitched Surf Scoter on Unst, another addition to my Shetland List.
By the end of the month I had gotten 2 Lifers and the year list sat at 71
Generally a more quiet month where few birds are seen, but still the American Wigeon from 2014 was still hanging around at Sandness.
I also managed to ring my first Mute Swan in Scalloway during a very snowy day.
Two Greenfinches that turned up in Brae during February
There was no additions at the end of the month and the year list stood at 76
Things started to pick up more this month with a 'Black-bellied' Dipper which roamed between to burns in Voe was my first in Shetland but was seen only briefly on the 7th.
A few migrants here and there but still quiet, though a Solar Eclipse on the 20th was worth the sight if the cloud was obscuring it, as most of the country found out the cloud was in the way.
One Shetland tick for March and with the year list at 90
Birds have started showing up in better numbers now, with a trip down the south end with Paul Harvey in the middle of the month bringing up Green-winged Teal, Sandwich Tern, Iceland Gull, Shoveler & Pintail.
Black Kite was the only Lifer/addition this month with one bird at Exnaboe on the 26th which resulted in a mad dash both up and down to see it!
Ended the month on 1 Lifer and 105 on the year list
May was to be more of a bumper month for ticks with Dark-eyed Junco at Toab (11th), Corncrake, Little Egret & Garganey in the South Mainland (17th), Hoopoe at Clibberswick, Unst (22nd) and Nightingale on Noss (24th).
Corbie (Raven) ringing was also in full swing this month and out of the 56 ringed in Shetland this year I ringed 28!
Lifers 2 Shetland Ticks 4 Year List 133
A Great Reed Warbler on Unst was the only addition before thing started to quieten down, also in Unst- Wood Sandpiper, Short-eared Owl, Red-backed Shrike, Icterine Warbler & Spotted Flycatcher.
Only 1 Lifer this month and 142 on the year list
A trip to Italy with the Yell Youth Club was amazing with quite a few nice birds on the side during activities. Just a couple of the birds I saw were Alpine Swift (Lifer), Serin, Black & Common Redstart, 'Italian' Sparrow, Little Bittern (Lifer) & Black Kite.
A bit of Diver ringing was done as well with 5 Red-throats done while out.
A view from one of the valleys in northern Italy
No Shetland additions this month but 2 lifers abroad, the year list is at 148
At the start of the month we visited Edinburgh to see my sister in the Edinburgh Military Tattoo, I haven't stuck it in the 'Summer Summary' but I did get 2 Lifers- Treecreeper & Stock Dove and a Scotland tick in the form of Nuthatch.
Two additions, both warblers, with me confirming Booted Warbler at Sumburgh Farm (22nd) and a Melodious Warbler at Norwick, Unst (26th)
Lifers 2 Year 154
Long-billed Dowitcher at Burravoe (8th) was my first 'Yell rarity' of the year and Curlew Sandpiper at Grutness (13th) and Grey Plover at Virkie (26th) were both very welcome and sought after additions.
Long-billed Dowitcher on Yell
Another good bird this month was a 1 day Grey-cheeked Thrush at Ollaberry, but one of the more exciting things was that a met a host of NGBer's who were up for a week of autumn birding.
Lifers 2 Shetland Tick 1 Year List 161
Swainson's Thrush, Unst (4th) and Cattle Egret, Collafirth (25th) were both lucky additions as both disappeared the next day! the latter having been around for at least a week while I heard the news in Spain! very glad I didn't miss it as the last bird was in '99.
Little Gull is also a bird of note because it is a bird I have so rarely seen before, with this bird spending some time around Weisdale but showing well on the 3rd.
Spain was very good, spending a week in the town of Nerja, Malaga in the south during the first full week of the holidays, was very good for birding and generally hot, I picked up around 5 Lifers, Little Owl, Blue Rock Thrush, Blue-crowned Parakeet, Spotless Starling & Dartford Warbler. also there was a good supporting cast of Crag Martin, Cattle Egrets, Sardinian Warbler, Reed Warbler, Yellow-legged Gull, Gannet & Common Sandpiper.
Lifer 1 Shetland Tick 1 Year 166
The month started off with the Annual Swan Count on the 8th, sadly though it wasn't as good as expected in the Central Mainland with many lochs without Swans when they have had ones wintering in the past.
Next came a Lesser Scaup to Nesting in the middle of the month but I dipped on my first try and managed to catch up with it on the 21st at the Loch of Houlland.
The bird of the year was found by Liz & Jim Watt in Scalloway on the 25th, Oriental Turtle Dove, 2nd Shetland Record and a bird many people wanted to see, it was a Wednesday it was found so I did manage to catch up with it 3 days later on the 28th.
2 Lifers and the year list stands at 173
A month where things now quieten down for the year but this being Shetland that was not the case, Little Auk was a year tick in Yell Sound on the 19th but the real star appeared on Boxing Day.
Now I haven't done a blog post for it so I'll just do it here.
On Boxing Day I had gone down to my step-grandparents in Mid Yell for 'denner', I was checking Nature in Shetland and I came across a photo by Austin Taylor of a dove in his garden, I looked at the picture and it hit me! MOURNING DOVE! I knew it straight away after seeing the photos from the Outer Hebrides bird a few years ago, news quickly got around and I helped spread it round too, a few people got onto it before dark on the day but many (including myself) had to catch up with it the next day.
I got up early and left my Dad's house in Lerwick (having arrived last night) and walked across the road to Austin Taylors at Murrayston, which is the south-east corner of my Clickimin patch! Dennis Coutts was already there and he pointed it out to me as it sat in a tree! yes! got it! I had just bagged the bird of the year, which was also a 1st for Shetland, 5th for Britain and a Lifer for me!
This North American beauty, is peerier than our Collard Doves and not a bad patch tick!
I was around from 9 til 12 and many birders came to see it in that time, a good percentage of the Shetland birding population visited and weren't disappointed!
The link to the Rare Bird Alert: Finders in the Field article by Austin Taylor
Mourning Dove was the only Lifer this month and the final tally for the year list is 176, only 6 birds short of beating 2014's total of 181, I'm hoping to surpass 200 next year.
On another note I made a challenge with Tommy Hydnman on Fair Isle to try and get 16 new species of bird to my Shetland List in exchange for a painting/drawing of my favourite bird from the past year, well I'm happy to say that I bet it back in September and I've now rocked up to 21 additions this year!!! only 7 birds off my total of 28 additions the year before!
Well here's the list anyway of all the species I've managed to add this year, certainly an odd bunch! Pomarine Skua, Surf Scoter, Dipper, Black Kite, Dark-eyed Junco, Corncrake, Little Egret, Garganey, Hoopoe, Nightingale, Great Reed Warbler, Booted Warbler, Melodious Warbler, Long-billed Dowitcher, Curlew Sandpiper, Grey Plover, Swainson's Thrush, Cattle Egret, Lesser Scaup, Oriental Turtle Dove & Mourning Dove.
Well its certainly been a great year, I couldn't of asked for more really, I have met some great people in the past twelve months and made some good friends, I have a lot of people to thank and the list is huge but I'm just gonna sum it down here.
It really wouldn't of been a good year without all the people who've helped me along the way, family have played a big part with putting up with me disappearing to go chase a rarity or for running me to a bird. The Shetland birding community have definitely contributed a lot this year, with many ringers taking me out to ring a whole variety of birds, whether Ravens, Divers or Waders, I'd just like to thank them.
To all the birders who've taken me out birding and to the ones who have giving me a lift to a twitch, taken me to a bird or just given me details concerning birds or places to visit, you all get my thanks.
I may not have spent that much time on Fair Isle this year but still the time I did spend there was great, as always the Bird Obs was very helpful and I thank them for helping me during ringing sessions, giving me advice and keeping me informed with any birds even though I don't stay at the Obs, and the Islanders need a mention as always they encourage me and always help if they can.
And to Dave, who has put up with me on many outings, twitches and ringing sessions, putting in many hours to teach me and take me around Shetland, I have truly enjoyed it and I'm extremely grateful for everything he's done for me, thank you.
Now I'd like to wish everyone who reads this a Happy New Year and I hope 2016 is just a fantastic as the past year!
PS: I may not have beaten my previous year list record but I certainly had some great birds along the way, now here's a list below, in order.
- Greylag Goose
- Herring Gull
- House Sparrow
- Hooded Crow
- Rock Dove
- Great Black-backed Gull
- Common Gull
- Rock Pipit
- Iceland Gull
- Purple Sandpiper
- Snow Bunting
- Grey Heron
- Tundra Bean Goose
- Black Guillemot
- Barnacle Goose
- Common Guillemot
- Great-northern Diver
- Water Rail
- Whooper Swan
- Mute Swan
- Pomarine Skua
- Red-breasted Merganser
- Tufted Duck
- Collard Dove
- Black-headed Gull
- Ringed Plover
- Blue Tit
- Golden Plover
- Glaucous Gull
- Long-tailed Duck
- Great Tit
- Meadow Pipit
- Surf Scoter
- Black Redstart
- Song Thrush
- European White-fronted Goose
- Slavonian Grebe
- Red Grouse
- American Wigeon
- 'Black-bellied' Dipper
- Red-throated Diver
- White Wagtail
- Lesser Black-backed Gull
- Reed Bunting
- Green-winged Teal
- Sandwich Tern
- Bar-tailed Godwit
- Mealy Redpoll
- Willow Warbler
- Black Kite
- Black-tailed Godwit
- Common Tern
- Brent Goose
- Pied Flycatcher
- House Martin
- Arctic Tern
- Arctic Skua
- Dark-eyed Junco
- Sedge Warbler
- Carrion Crow
- Little Egret
- Ring-necked Duck
- Yellow Wagtail
- Tree Sparrow
- Red-necked Phalarope
- Lesser Whitethroat
- Great Reed Warbler
- Red-backed Shrike
- Spotted Flycatcher
- Icterine Warbler
- Garden Warbler
- Short-eared Owl
- Wood Sandpiper
- Reed Warbler
- Common Sandpiper
- Common Crossbill
- Storm Petrel
- Green Sandpiper
- Leach's Petrel
- Common Rosefinch
- Booted Warbler
- Grey Wagtail
- Marsh Harrier
- Melodious Warbler
- Long-billed Dowitcher
- Curlew Sandpiper
- Little Stint
- Pink-footed Goose
- Yellow-browed Warbler
- Grey Plover
- Grey-cheeked Thrush
- Little Gull
- Swainson's Thrush
- Velvet Scoter
- Siberian Stonechat
- Cattle Egret
- Common Scoter
- Little Grebe
- Lesser Scaup
- Oriental (Rufous) Turtle Dove
- Little Auk
- Mourning Dove