Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Shetland Wildlife

I went to Shetland for two week at the beginning of October. (If you have been reading my blog you know all this anyway...and my friends do!)
When I booked I was hoping to see migrating birds and some rarer birds as well. Maybe even a mega! I decided to go with a birding(wildlife) company as I hadn't been to Shetland before and I wanted to glean as much info as I could from the experts!
I have been following a few blogs from birders on Shetland for a while now and realised it was very different birding - it is different!
I had been with Hugh Harrop on a Company of Whales trip - from Portsmouth to Bilbao - 4 days watching for cetaceans and birds from just below the Bridge on a special platform at the bow- spectacular views.(if you have been- just above the helicopter landing deck).I had a great time.I went to the Guggenheim Art Gallery when we got to Bilbao as I had done quite a bit of birding earlier that year in Espana.A culture vulture!Think this was 2005 - ???????? (i will date this later!)
Hugh's Company Shetland Wildlife is obviously based in Shetland (locals always know best places and would have a network of other birders who might find good birds).

I went full of expectation and hope and returned and booked again for next year!
Yes - it was that good! Loved Shetland, loved the locals (Shetland people are warm, friendly and welcoming)loved the birding and loved being near the sea - almost all the time!I might add that Hugh ensured that everything went as smoothly as it could and we got to see the best birds in the best way. Our guide for the two weeks was David(Dave)Fairhurst - tip top birder and a top bloke. He went out of his way to seek out our own birds- Hornemanns Arctic Redpolls and the Unst birds.(another post for these). He also got us quickly and safely to any rare, scarce or mega that anyone else found!
We also looked at the local resident birds - Starlings(defo bigger here) well I did in case of a Rosy (none)I expect he did too but didn't say.Bonxies, Fulmars (I looked closely at a lot of these!)and Gulls - Dave spotted a Little Gull(I think he said it was the first he'd seen since moving up to Lerwick)which I was able to get onto quickly.
Common gulls were everywhere which was good as we dont see as many down south,oh yes and the Wrens - Shetland Wren and Fair Isle Wrens are sub species and do look different to our usual (English)Wrens.

Thanks to David and Jon Dunn (who also works for Shetland Wildlife but part-time
along with other job - the Local Council and runs his own croft!)we enjoyed a special day on Whalsay on our first full day. Two lifers - Pechora Pipit and a Veery. (see below)Nothing was too much for these guys.

David managed to put up with my stream of questions about the birds,whether it was what was usual here, specific ID questions, Shetland questions,he even managed to answer them all!

We had a great time birding and we laughed a lot as well.

Criticisms....well I never did see an Otter or an Orca but then neither did most of us!LOL! My fault for not getting up and going out on our first morning at Balta Sound Hotel,they (Otters)are there but not when I looked later in the day!
My tired legs - kicking through lily plants and walking miles on Fair Isle, getting mizzeled out - cant see through glasses when it mizzels - it was the combination of wind and mizzle!Dont mind the rain you can see through the raindrops!
Did I mention the wind?

Going out birding now...may go and see the Brown Shrike again...I need to see my local patch!


Anonymous said...

Just love the 'moody' effect of that photo.


Eagleseagles said...

Thank you - I am okay with scenery usually!