Thursday, 31 March 2016

Spring has sprung 29/03/2016

Its now officially that time when the migrants are coming, birds have arrived and in Shetland we noticed the first real migrants arriving at the start of the week.

I'd been in Aberdeen during the bank holiday and had come back to find that a few birds were creeping in.
Dave was interested in going out so we headed down 'Da Ness' on Tuesday the 29th to find any early returners in the South Mainland.

Also to explain why there is so much writing and no photos my camera died and I had no spare batteries 

First migrant I had of the day was a female Pied Wagtail at Seafield just before Dave picked me up, taking my year list up to 95.
Dave soon came and we headed down with our first stop being at Clumlie and Boddam, both though appeared pretty quiet and I was wondering if we were going to see any birds.
Virkie didn't have an early Sandwich Tern but 3 Bar-tailed Godwits or Barwits and a Knot were present on the tideline.
Next we tried to pick out the Black-throated Diver that had been wintering in Quendale Bay by scoping it from the western end of the Sumburgh Airstrip (Scord), I wasn't that hopeful as it could literally be anywhere in the Bay and it might be too far away to ID.
We spent around 10 minutes scanning for it and then I picked up this diver which looked slightly odd, not like your usual GND, I got Dave onto it and he scoped it out, it took a bit of time to ID due to the difficulty of the waves and it had a tendency to never look at us but Dave eventually decided that it was the Black-throated after he pointed out some of the features that separated it from GND.
Now that was another year tick, number 96 and only my second ever sighting with much better views!
The Loch of Gards at Scatness was next but there wasn't any American Wigeon in the duck flocks but instead to make up for that there was a very out of place Barwit on the loch's edge.

Grutness was next for the Gadwall which was still in the exact same spot as it was on Saturday and then it was up to the quarries to try and get Saturdays' Chiffchaff, driving along we both noticed this thing on a dyke and it took a minute for our brains to figure out what we were both seeing, before we both blurted out 'Wheatear!' and it dived over the wall. First one back in Shetland and year tick number 97!
Its the first time I've ever seen a Wheatear in March and its a pretty early one as well.
Finally we got to the quarry and it was a mess, it isn't a big quarry but a lot of sheep had been shut in there and it had completely messed up the ground.
Though in fairness there wasn't really anything in there anyways, a Robin was it and then the Head produced nothing in its bushes until two Woodpigeon started circling overhead, presumably migrants thinking of leaving Shetland?
It was time to head to Hillwell but for some odd reason I wanted to look at the dyke that went from the road to the farm, it was a good idea because we found the Chiffchaff feeding in the March sun, number 98, now I'm pushing close to 100.
Hillwell and Quendale had very little stuff to find after 45 minutes of searching and the only birds of note were the lingering Pink-footed Goose and Coot, quite poor for Hillwell.

Spiggie though had the lingering Brent Goose and the Little Grebe from Saturday was changing into summer plumage and we finally ended on Geosetter (the first time I've visited there since autumn last year) where two Goldcrests and a possible Water Rail were in the trees.

That concluded our day, taking me the step closer to 100 species but who knows, will I be able to get 100 before month's end?

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