Saturday, October 31, 2009

Where to begin?

I will be blogging later - probably tomorrow as the weather will be aweful!

So much has happened since I returned from Shetland.But I will be retelling my tales and adventures there soon, just how good was it well I am going back in June for Seabirds (a week) and again late September/October for two weeks. So I have caught the bug which states you dont ever only go to Shetland once!

Since then I have caught up with our long staying Brown Shrike locally - been for a trip oop North for a couple of days(yes, I did see the ECW - in fact on two occasions!), so I am pleased! I have also been to Norfolk for a day or two and been down to Kent.BWof a change!

Some record pics - some no pics as bird (s) were too far away /batteriues failed, the usual excuses- generally its that other people take better photo's or there are better ones on the net!

For Paul some pics to come of gulls and Fulmars!!!!!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Brown Shrike on Staines Moor

Yes one of the local Kesrels!

9th day twitch makes it all so quiet. A couple of these local guys have seen the bird before.

Record shot.

I first heard about this bird on my local patch whilst on Fair Isle. Would the bird stay until the w/e?
I expected to go on my return on Saturday afternoon. On arriving home I heard my neighbour had died and all thoughts of the bird vanished.

So it was first thing Monday morning at just before 8am that I found myself on familiar territory.Bob a local surrey birder I know was there and had been since 6.30am.2 other chaps from Redhill - deliberately missing the w/e Twitchand a couple over near the bridge. That was the total until Franco arrived.

No sign of the bird anywhere.I searched bushes and tree with my scope and thats when one of the local birds - a Kestrel was spotted perched up.

It was some time about 90 mins after I arrived that the Brown Shrike decided to get up and have his Breakfast - mainly of wasps!

He showed clearly (not that you guess from my hand held digiscoped views!)
At least they look alright whe in the camera...if not on the pc or here!

Lovely to watch the bird perching, flying to catch an insect then eating it, coughing up a pellet and then repeating it all again.

Off to walk Zeta the Dog now!

Will be blogging about Shetland and Fair Isle as soon as I can - with some record shots! I am hoping that I will have some clear photos to post when Heather sends her's on to me!

Friday, October 16, 2009


There will be a full update on my return - probably Sunday eve at this rate!

Just to say Shetland went birding crazy as I arrived and continued for the first week - even Fair Isle caught the bug....and we ended with a Blackpoll Warbler!

On our return to Shetland - Hugh transported us up to Queldale (sp?) and I had brilliant views of a Spotted Sandpiper washing and preening!

Further details later but I think that adds 20 to the year list!
5 lifers and several more UK lifers!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Sunday - Shetland mainland

In the garden of the Hotel I found a Greenfinch!
Yellow browed Warbler nr Sumburgh Farm.

We walked across to the farm and up to the quarrie - then around back to the hotel. We then returned to compass hill and then back down to the farm track where there had been a GSwoody! No sign of woody but Dave found a Little Bunting.

more later soups ready!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Bonelli's Warbler

Yes - a lovely little bird. Clean, bright and very lovely!

Do you get the impression its a lovely bird!

There are hundreds of Redwings arrived...and apparently the local quarries are full of newly arrivedmigrants. Just what we will be looking at tomorrow who knows!

Went over to see the Hornemanns Arctic Redpoll again!

For photo's of the Bonelli's see here (it may not be there yet but try again!)

Destination Unst and back!

This will be updated later- with pics.
Briefly on route to catch the ferries to Unst - 2 are necessary - we swung around to Muckle Roe where we saw a lovely adult male Surf Scoter amid the flock of Eiders, much more rewarding than the female surfer in Devon earlier this year!

A brilliant cafe is at the ferry terminal on the end of Yell - the Wind Dog Cafe. Great coffee and delicious home made cakes.

On Unst I stayed at Balta Sound - thats way north!
Snow Buntings, Hornemann's Arctic Warbler(s), Barred Warbler, Bluethroat - nice and showy, Lapland Buntings, Rosefinch - oh and I havent mentioned the Yellow-browed saturday I must have seen 20 of them!

Just a taste!

The Shetland network is a great help to knowing where the migrants are!
We aided it on Friday when we found an American Golden Plover in with a great flock of GP.

Then another lifer - 2 Olive-backed Pipits - I managed to refind one on the ground sneaking along then it came out a posed a couple of times in the sunshine(!) and then flew up into a tree and was joined by another both pumping their tails madly!

Oh forgetting the Red-breasted Flycatcher - I think that was thursday - must check my notes!

Saturday and birding Shetland style on my own - another YBW - about 12 Redwings which must be newly arrrived overnight.Great views of seals today in a watching the antics of a dog on the beach!

Being picked up at 4 to go and see if a Western Bonelli's is still performing well in a on Hugh Harrops blog site soon!
The weather is not at all good at the mo- raining in all directions and that wind!
If not today there is always tomorrow!

Monday, October 05, 2009

Monday 5th October

Well a lovely clear sky greeted us this morning - would the target bird have flown overnight?

Well we set off for Fetlar anyway! As we journeyed it was the flat calm as we ferried our way to our destination. We met up with other birders and the twitch was on!
6 guys crammed into one car looked a bit keen - but they were staying for a week.

On route we watched a Yellowbrowed Warbler in a garden with chiffchaff(s)and a chaffinch, along with the numerous Shags. oh for Pauco - Great Blackbacks (GBH), Commons(lots), Herring(need to be searched well) and a few BH Gulls - We spotted one Kittiwake today as well - most have left.

News came through the the bird had been seen, what a relief.

Three ferry stops later we reached Fetlar,and on went the convoy. We all parked up and as we approached the garden the bird had been favouring, it hopped out into the road and would have stayed there except we were all walking towards it, surprised us and itself!.Birders mainly went over the fence and set-up opposite.
The Taiga Flycatcher showed wellon occasions,but was flitty to say the least but some birder even managed photos.(from a distance)
There were Merlin around as a tiny distraction.
Then on to see if the Blyth's Reed Warbler was still in the field,no but we flushed up Twite and Snipe, oh and another YBW was seen along with 2 in the TF garden!
H and D stayed with the Taiga and got much better views than I had had.

Back on mainland, it was off to find an Arctic Warbler.Once located(took a while) was photographed and even I managed a hand held digiscoped shot! Well one that was presentable! What a supercilium! Another really lovely bird.Here we also had great views of our first Brambling of the trip!

News had broken earlier of a Hornimanns Arctic Redpoll,on route for our Hotel we diverted and arrived there to find the finder and various local birders, a Shetland Twitch!
What a confiding bird, probably we were the first humans it had ever encountered.
Fab pics taken and I got a couple of nice shots! What a little stunner!

We finished by watching a large flock of Twite feeding in a field.

Throughout today news was reaching us of Fair Isle birds,please stay til next Monday when we arrive! Oh more birds may land but none to leave please!

Gales forcast for the next two days at least!

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Shetland - Two World Lifers and a UK Lifer.

First day - travel.

Arrive and whisked off to a field near the airport at Sumborough by Hugh Harrop - walk around field full of skylarks and mipits and yes eventually after much searching by Hugh - H,D and I helped enormously by walking around searching with our eyes(!)not used to this Shetland Style birding!
Hugh delivered aUK lifer- Short-toed Lark!
Great start and after booking in the hotel. I went for a walk on my own.
Beach and Garden at Grutness and then a couple of quarries(full of Fulmars) through an open access farm and back to the hotel. Almost all in sun!
It grew dark and the wind blew,but then it does that naturally on Shetland.

Slept through the gale force winds!Sea air having its usual soporific effect on me!

2nd day
- off to seek out some recently arrived migrants.

No sign of a Pechora Pipit on the Mainland - but we did see some Common Redpolls.
On to the passenger Ferry(only)to Whalsay.No transport then, but Shetland Wildlife think of everything and there a little after we arrived was the local birder - Jon Dunn. Who proceeded to search a local garden (which the bird had been favouring) decide the bird was not there so went to search another garden where - hey presto - was the Veery! Brief (seconds) view and it was off. Disappeared again and was refound briefly.(Then re-read Jon's blog see below for the tail of the misssed ringing opportunity!)The bird then disappeared.

Jon then offered to take us up near his house - to the northern part of the Island to see a Pechora Pipit. Nearly there a mobile went off - as son as we had left (into a black hole for mobs)they had rung to say the Veery was showing stunningly! Damn!
Jon whizzed us back - defo a twitchy ride!
Bird had relocated they knew not where by the time we had returned!
However the bird then re appeared in a completly different place(after magnificent searching by Dave and Jon) and some record flight shots were taken(not by me!)I had waited not so patiently by the wall in the garden.The owner we met on the Ferry (working) who said " Please go into my garden for better views if you want."The attitude of the Shetlanders is magical, they look at you strangely for asking "May we?" -to them its a given. Dont think tho that I could ever not ask, indeed the two guides do/did everytime!
The bird returned to its original garden! This time via the roof!We waited very patiently and after what seemed an age it hopped out into view for some good if brief views!

First impressions?What a lovely place!
Yes we had rain and it was windy but I also saw two lifers - VEERY and a PECHORA Pipit. Both were stunning views, even of the less than showy Veery. (I think there were a lot of twitchers there yesterday and I think it had had enough!)
The last views enabled Jon to get some brilliant photo's which can be seen on his blog "Bitter Bonxie"...there will be a link later.

Then it was to the north of the island for the PP, oh and coffee and cake at Jon's - but that was promised and delivered later after the birding!
Again we were driven there in two goes by Jon. I was left to refind the bird with two of our group.We failed! But met the woman who lived there going out with her young son."Please go round the back of the house thats where the bird has been showing." We were reluctant.I did walk up and down the ditch the bird had been favouring. No sign. But when Dave and Jon arrived it was straight round the side and "peep carefully round the wall" - there hopping about near the pipes was a beautiful large Pipit!
The Pechora Pipit showed beautifully.
Braces brilliant - in fact this is when the sun came out!

A walk around the plantation drew a blank except for a few Blackbirds, a Wren and I forget!
On the way to Jon's I chatted to him about his croft and the animals.
The welcome Coffeee and Cake was delivered in Jon's fine kitchen/dining area with stunning sea views.

We then were transported back down the island - again in two batches!
We walked to the ferry and meet a stream of birders arriving - 26 hours from Aberdeen!The Boat across had not left due to the gales.So birders who had travelled up on the same plane from London as H,D and I, but opted for the Boat instead of the plane had had a torrid time!
They all got to see the Veery and several got to see the PP too- again thanks to Jon and a couple of other local Whalsay birders ferrying all that wanted up to the PP.
They had much more limited time than us.

A big, huge, in fact, thank you to Jon for all his efforts. It was his day off!

Two stunning birds, a lovely island, great birding and fantastic hospitality.

A great day.

Some pictures are here

Thursday, October 01, 2009

And another dip!

Well I didn't really expect that the Leach's Petrel would still be on Staines Res - but you have to give it a go dont you?

So I was there at 6am complete with large Costa Coffee - and so too were a couple of other Birders - one who is a patch birder who saw said bird yesterday!

By 8.30 my hands were cold (forgot gloves) I needed a pee and I had interviewed all 6000 other birds to see whether the smug looking BH Gulls had actually eaten him for supper or he had merrily gone on his tour of inland reservoirs!

Still rather nice Linnet and Mipit flock contained at least one Whinchat!

The Pied Wags were and there was a Grey Wagtail.

oh yes and a couple of Black-necked Grebes but since they are locally known to be about it was not so exciting as it might have been - altho they are a lovely bird!

That must be all my badluck out of the way - along with the fact I cant now go to seek out the Zitting Kent bird tomorrow am as I have a committment first thing!
So Kent birders who still need it get down there tomorrow - you are bound to see it!

So fresh climes - the thermals and fleeces will be packed in readiness for the gales I am expecting on Shetland - please some Easterlies - and a couple of calm nights...

I might even have to buy a Fair Isle cardy when I am there!

No pics didn't take the camera - the canon 100-400 is on loan to a friend...but here is a little bird I saw on Stanwell Moor this week -no prizes for guessing the id.