Thursday, January 31, 2013

Sunday 27th January UHA part3

Today's bird of the day was Long-eared Owl! Brilliant views as it flew out of its roosting site flew around settled on a fence post looked at our group carefully watched us - while the photographers took their shots - I was so happy watching. (No I had deliberately left the camera in the minibus - I never thought we would get such good views! Fortunately Mark will post me one of his shots which are great- I expect to edit this post when I get the photo!) We saw lots of birds today - Eiders to add to yesterdays list as well as most of the birds I had seen yesterday. A Cormorant at the Shetland Catch site in Lerwick was the only one of the trip. We went to see if the RBG was about but he didn't show today - we had 3 trips there between us and a local birder was there for a long time this afternoon. Seals came to see us at Lerwick! Today had great views of Ravens - oh yes a flock of Jackdaws - a very rare bird for Shetland! and the Hoodies were lurking about..... I also saw a Great Tit today! This is a very rare bird for Shetland and goes on my mainland list only ever having seen one before on Fair Isle in October 2012! Shelducks, Goosanders, Goldeneye and finally a GBBG! Grey Heron , Tufted Duck and an overwintering female Scaup looking very fine and another scarce bird for Shetland a pair of Gadwall - threw themselves on my Shetland life list!Slav Grebe, Great Northern Diver, Red-breasted Mergansers and Kittiwake plus Wigeon were all added today! We also saw a Mountain Hare or two in the scope and long distance but as they are white and the background mainly brown do stand out when they show! Otters did not play fair today and hid from us.....not many pics taken by me today think I remember it rained a lot and winded a lot! But Eiders ere displaying in Lerwick Harbour so I got some distant shots.

UHA part2

Purple Sandpiper - not taken on Saturday but better a pic than nowt! Yes the pic on the first post was a Raven- looks incredibly scruffy! When I arrived at Sumburgh it was good to meet Hugh again - I had already seen Mark at Heathrow as we were booked on the same plane to Aberdeen altho on different planes to Shetland.To the Hotel and once unpacked and piled on more gear I was ready for a little walk and bird watch. So to Grutness - apart from a calling Rock pipit nothing on the beach nearby - then I spot 2 people and a couple of dogs...okay so wish I had my scope...but there were birds over the far side nearer the airport buildings....trek off to see. This as much better Turnstones and couple of Purple Sandpipers and then 2 Long-tailed Ducks! Joy! Once my eye was in there were 3 more LTD along way away but coming closer and closer. The light was not brilliant and photos rubbish - all birds too far away. Redshank appeared....on the walk back to the Hotel there were Curlew, Oystercatcher and more Redshanks on the airfield and I flushed a Snipe out of the grass by the side of the road - made me jump!Fulmars were in the quarry (distant). A lovely Common Gull as sitting in a field nearby Lapwings wheeled and landed , wheeled and landed...and Herring Gulls were every where. A Pink footed Goose was seen very briefly. A small flock of Greylags (from Greenland) rose into the sky that was threatening to rain flushed apparently by dog I got back to the Hotel CP . I looked across into the Voe opposite fortunately for me another SW traveller had a scope and we 3 watched Shags, and divers at distance then 2 red-throated divers appeared nearer as well as several Tysties (Black Gulillemots) appeared - we also spotted a Little Auk but that spent most of its time feeding or hiding below the wall as we looked! oh and lots and lots of brightly shining Starlings were everywhere! House Sparrows around the Hotel as usual. It was good to be back on Shetland!

Up Helly Aa Trip Part 1

Shetland again! This time in January and for a special event along with wildlife encounters! Well some of the wildlife encounters were hoped for - never sure with otters! Actually even the birds dont always appear either but then most of you know that! So another Shetland Wildlife trip - with Hugh Harrop and Jon Dunn plus 16 assorted travellers! You can look up Up Helly Aa on Promote Shetland website. I will not go into great historical detail here as I want the atmosphere/ambiance...... Before I arrived there was a target list of birds I wanted to see some so easy up here in the winter that I as sure of seeing and then there were the others! A Ring-billed Gull had been showing on East Voe Scalloway - really wanted to see him - a rare bird for Shetland and anted for my Shetland list, Long eared Owls can be easier here than down south so talons crossed and Iceland Gull but these had been few and far this winter so just a possiblity. The usual suspects were expected Long-tailed Ducks, Eider and Black Guillemot - with Purple Sandpipers and Slavonian Grebes plus a diver or two. Seals both Common and Grey I knew would be seen. Mountain Hare - see them yes but could I ever get a photo or even a record shot? Would we see an Otter? What would Up Helly Aa really be like to experience? Yes I had seen photos and it looked good....

Saturday, January 19, 2013

The first Snow adventure!

Enzo my friends Belgium Shepherd puppy -in the snow for the first time in his life! He loved it! Friday 19th January Richmond Park - Surrey For me the most surprising sighting was a Skylark flying from the grass across and back into the grass! On our way back we passed near but not over(!) the same spot and it flew again but back towards the original spot! My 50th bird this year! Not been birding much yet this year!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Happy New Year!

I will attempt to be better at blogging this year! Ok so quick catch up- start of the year was all to do with looking after my friends Belgium Shepherd Puppy and two kittens whilst they went ski-ing. So I was relocated to Richmond Surrey- and due to dog walking duties as well as feeding 3 lots of other cats birding was done despite of and not deliberate! lol! But I was able to go to South Ealing to see the waxwing flock there - photo Sue Barry used with permission.
Yesterday despite a persistent cough and not feeling brilliant I determined to cheer myself up as it as a dry day and no snow! So off birding - this time following a well trodden route by other birders! Moor Green Lakes- Horton GP's- Wraysbury (overlooking not walking around!) and then to local patch at Stanwell Moor. Well I was cheered up - as I was able to see a Pallas' Warbler - followed by two Buff-bellied Pipits (first I have seen in England- although I have seen them on Shetland before!) - strangely feeding around large puddles! Result! But also the supporting cast of Goosander, Smew and assorted ducks made a nice trip- but this was all topped off by one showy Water Pipit and 2 Short Eared Owls hunting on Stanwell Moor! Oh yes and what a calamity a flat battery in my camera :( - so much for being an organised person- I blame the cough.