Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Hermit Thrush on Noss 19/4/17

First post for a few months now, things have been relatively quiet with me due to preparations for exams and many things but hopefully this is the start of some more blog posts.

On the 19th of April I was sitting in school with ten minutes remaining when I had a quick look online to see if there was anything worth looking at. Something that always catches my eye is the Bird of Noss Facebook page because its always about some interesting wildlife that has been seen on the island. First thing I noticed was a photo of a rusty-orange coloured thrush with a brighter tail of the same colour. Alarm bells started ringing for me and I quickly got into reading the chunk of paragraph above it which helped to confirm my alarm bells. Craig Nisbet, one of the wardens on the island, had found a Hermit Thrush. I could pretty much see Noss from where I was so I knew I had to somehow get there for it.

I headed out class just before the bell and raced up to my room in the Janet Courtney Hostel to check for any messages on my phone, as soon as I switched it on I got a rush of messages. I sent one into the Shetland group seeing if there was anyway we'd be able to get over to Noss for it.
Andy Denton, the other warden, said they would take people on the 3.30pm ferry but not the 4pm, looking at the time it was 3.30pm, knowing I couldn't make it to the ferry I started running down to it in hope someone would be able to take me across which I knew was very slim.

I was almost at the ferry terminal when I passed someone who then began shouting at me, I turned around to see Phil Harris, lifejacket and bins at the ready. Now I had a pretty good idea what he was up to so I went and asked Phil if he had a space on his boat going over to Noss which he did so the twitch was on!

Just after 4pm, myself, Phil & Rebecca along with their daughter Ayda and Glen Tyler left Lerwick Harbour and went round the South end of Bressay to get to Noss, we arrived around quarter to 5 and after around five minutes spent pushing the boat back out to shore (which resulted in me being in knee depth of water) we trekked across the island to East Punds Geo (conveniently on the north-eastern edge of the island, just about as far away as you could get).
We were nearing the geo when about 8 people came from over the hill and started walking towards us, mainly consisting of the birders who made it over on the 3.30 but also the two wardens, Andy was good enough to take us up to the site and show us the bird.

A few minutes later we arrived to a breezy East Punds Geo but all seemed quiet and there wasn't a bird to be seen, I managed to find a Willow Warbler (year tick) but there was no sign of the Thrush and after 20 minutes we were starting to think it had gone.
Then things happened quickly, everyone noticed a starling sized bird fly up out the Geo and land directly on top of the stone dyke at the geo mouth. Shouts started coming from everyone, IT WAS THE THRUSH, it dropped behind the dyke and a stressing few minutes ensued as everyone came from their positions around the geo to try get a look of it. Me I was pretty much running and I joined Andy who had a good view of where it went and soon Phil & Becca were with us too, none of us could see it but Glen had it on the opposite side of the wall so we joined him.

There in front of us sat Britain's 12th Hermit Thrush, Shetland's 5th and my 270th bird in Shetland. It was better in the flesh than It was in the photos but I was so happy to see it, we spent around 30 minutes watching the bird feed on the ground and coming within 20 feet of us. By this point the light was going and we started walking back to the boat, with Phil and Glen heading back on the boat and me, Rebecca and Ayda going overland to get the ferry. That was the end to one lucky twitch and maybe one of my jammiest so far.

Big thanks to Phil and Becca for taking me over on the boat and the run home because without them I would never of seen the bird! and of course to Craig and Andy on Noss, mainly for finding the bird but also for helping with relocating it and the info giving to me before hand so I knew where I was going!

(I would add some photos but sadly my computer is not playing ball!)

A couple of links below of the finders account from Craig

Rare Bird Alert
http://www.rarebirdalert.co.uk/v2/Content/Finders-in-the-field-Hermit-Thrush-Shetland-Apr-2017.aspx?s_id=5991079

BirdGuides
http://www.birdguides.com/webzine/article.asp?a=6325

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Welcome to 2017

Its a new year.
Now 2017 has begun and the big question every birder asks is raised once again, what do you think we'll have this year?
Will it be another first for the UK? will we have a huge invasion of finches, crossbills or Waxwing from Scandinavia? Is there going to be some long-awaited rarity that hasn't been seen on our shores in decades? Well there is no answer, only time will tell.

This winter has been mild and allowed for a few birds to overwinter, Chiffchaff, Blue Tit and Dunnock being a few of the notable species.
Also as I am writing this we are currently experiencing a small influx of white-winged Gulls into the isles with around 37 Glaucous Gulls in Unst on the 9th.

This year I have finally given up trying to beat 200 for my year list after having conquered the barrier in 2016 by reaching a good 208 after 3 years of trying.
So obviously my year list has gotten off to a slower start with only 39 birds by the 14th, mainly just common birds but also a self-found Little Auk in Burravoe, Yell on the 7th was a treat.

Lonely Little Auk in Burravoe

But as the days lengthen then there is more birds to be found and soon before we even know it spring will be here.