Saturday, 19 May 2018

Bewick's Swan at Hillwell 06/04/2018

On Thursday 5th April, a Bewick's Swan was found by friends Dave Okill and Pete Ellis at Hillwell. This big white blob was the first in Shetland since 2011 when a bird was at Northdale, Unst for a few weeks.

This was a potential tick for us so Tommy and I decided to have a twitch the following day for it. Arriving at its last known site of a park west of Ringasta, we were greeted by a group of about 15 Whooper Swans, we were a good distance away from the birds and even a scope would of struggled with the distance so we were stumped on trying to get an ID. After 30 minutes we gave up and hoped that it wasn't in the flock and was instead at Hillwell, 3 swans were on the loch and another flock of 6 were up by the road in a newly plowed park. A quick scan of the 3 brought up no Bewicks and so the park birds were next.
I scanned them from right to left and the last bird hit me like a brick, it just screamed Bewicks at me, we'd found the bird! The camera came out and we both rattled off a few shots before just taking in the swan for a good while.

 Bewicks (on left), note that the yellow on the Bewicks bill looks like half a B and the Whoopers looks like half a W, B for Bewicks and W for Whooper is a good way to look at it.

Moving on we started checking goose flocks for any birds with collars or any other species of goose.
First bird found was DTI near the Mainland's shop having been originally ringed in Clumlie in 19/07/2015 making it 2 and a half years old.
The second was DNC seen near Bigton which had originally been ringed at Clumlie in 19/07/2012 making it 5 and a half years old.

The collar scheme was set up to try and establish where Shetland birds went during dispersal, with similar projects in Orkney and Iceland, however most Shetland birds rarely leave their breeding areas (South Mainland birds stick mainly to the South Mainland)

Moving on to Spiggie we had a hunt for the wintering Pied-billed Grebe, after a brief look Tommy spotted the bird in the NW marsh, it was looking rather splendid in its new summer plumage.

Pied-billed Grebe


  1. Awesome find! Those are such lovely swans. Thanks for sharing with us.

  2. Your place is so great. It's like a sanctuary of many rare species.

  3. I think my mom had one of these ducks as a pet before. She rescued it, or something.

  4. You guys are having so much fun. I'd be happy to just go out and take photos of lovely animals too!