Winning White . . .
An added bonus last night before we left Fair Isle, was finding out that my White's Thrush image below is the SURFBIRDS RARE BIRD PHOTO OF THE MONTH - OCTOBER 2008.
As seen in Birdwatching Magazine!
Friday, 31 October 2008
Mainland Magic . . .
After a suprisingly smooth flight from Fair Isle back to mainland Shetland, we went on a twitching spree! First was Sandgarth for a very active Coal Tit which was busy removing peanuts from a bird table & stashing them in nearby vegetation before returning for more. This was our first Coal Tit for Shetland - a rare bird here! We then drove to Kirkabister where, after some searching & false alarms (Great Northern Divers), we located the White-billed Diver which has returned to winter here again & was a British tick for me. Our next stop was a very good fish & chip shop in Lerwick, followed by a visit to Clickimin Loch where we dipped the Ring-necked Duck (& the one at Tingwall Loch). However we found 8 Waxwings in Lerwick, in beautiful late afternoon light, gorging themselves on ripe rosehip fruits. Our last twitch of the day was to Fladdabister for another rare Shetland bird, a Blue Tit! - which showed well & again added another good bird to our Shetland lists!
Thursday, 30 October 2008
Farewell Fair Isle . . . last day & promised birds in!
Our last day on Fair Isle proved to be a very enjoyable one! An increasingly fresh North-easterly wind & sunshine throughout most of the day made birding the Island a pleasure. A Waxwing made a brief appearance in the New Obs Plantation first thing & later in the morning Phil trapped a Siberian Chiffchaff (Tristis) in the Obs heligoland. Deryk took all the necessary biometrics & I photographed it (see more pics in The Ringer Blog). In the afternoon I approached a group of Shag which were busy fishing in the Havens. The Shags were a mix of adult & 1st year birds & showed well for photographs in the shallows. Dusk came too early (around 3.30) as I headed south to catch up with a Bluethroat at Quoy. In the half light I re-found the bird which was very well marked & managed a few record shots before darkness set in. Other birds noted today included Woodcock, Greenfinch, several Chiffchaff (including Abietinus) & Blackcaps but notably less Thrushes about. Looking forward to a weekend on Shetland with good friends before heading south again (temporarily) . . .
Wednesday, 29 October 2008
Eastern Promise ? . . .
A calm & bright start to the day with light North-easterly winds, distinctly different conditions than the last ten days or so. Spirits were raised by the sighting of 3 Waxwing over at first light & the realization as the morning developed that there were a lot more 'birds in'. There were a few Blackcap, Redpoll sp, a Garden Warbler, a few Chiffchaff, good numbers of Goldcrest, a Greenfinch & a Yellowhammer. I walked down to the Havens after breakfast & had my first Waxwing of the Autumn/Winter calling overhead. On reaching the Havens a 1st year Glaucous Gull passed through North Haven & I had an adult Glaucous Gull from Buness. There were a lot more Fulmar around both out at sea & on the cliffs. I spent part of the day searching for rares & the rest chasing & photographing Fair Isle Wrens on South Haven beach as well as more Wader photography.
Monday, 27 October 2008
Goodbye Autumn . . .
Today had a distinct northerly 'chill' in the air with a temperature 'feel' factor of -2 & more strong winds! It is official - winter is here! There were very few birds about but good numbers of Greylag Geese still in the south & notable numbers of Thrushes. In the afternoon a walk to south light & back produced 8 Teal, 2 Grey Phalarope, 1 Knot, 1 Grey Heron, 1 Merlin, 1 Pied Wagtail, 25+ Lapwing, 5+ Golden Plover, plenty of Greylag Geese - 1 with orange neck ring (BCS). In the Havens a Chaffinch remains along with 2 Long-tailed Duck & a reduced flock of Snow Bunting. I photographed a Common Snipe in the New Plantation & several Redwing, still in abundance. A Glaucous Gull was seen eating kitchen scraps near the Obs first thing this morning. Monday nights dazzling session was not very productive with 3 Greylag Geese being caught from a flock of over 40 - and 2 of these 3 were already ringed!
Sunday, 26 October 2008
Purple Rain . . .
Internet access has finally been restored after several days of lightning, heavy rain, hurricane force winds & numerous power cuts! Yesterday (Saturday) saw the strongest winds I have ever been out in, force 12! over 100 mph . . . it was quite difficult to walk about & not get blown over, let alone pick up the bins or camera! Watching the sea & skies became fascinating, even more so when a large thunder & lightning storm rolled around the Island on Friday night - seeing Sheep Rock lit up by purple lightning was quite something, I had never seen lightning on the Island before. Today I enjoyed photographing more Purple Sandpipers on South Haven which were very approachable. There are still good numbers of Fieldfare & Redwing about & the weekend weather brought in good numbers of waders with small flocks of Dunlin & Sanderling in the south & a lone Bar-tailed Godwit. On Friday afternoon as the weather deteriorated I had a Corncrake at the roadside up near Furse which flushed up from a roadside ditch & landed in the heather briefly before catching the wind & disappearing in the storm force winds towards north light. Also today we noted one of the Grey Phalaropes heading south past Chalet, being battered by the wind & the other Grey Phalarope had left South Haven by the evening.
Thursday, 23 October 2008
Gale Force Grebe & Phals . . .
Gale force 9 to storm force 10. Say no more . . .
There was a small 'twitch' on today as a Little Grebe was discovered at Furse - an Island tick for many. A Great Northern Diver was also at Furse. There was a significant increase in Fieldfare numbers throughout the day with over 1000 seen! I returned to photograph the Grey Phalarope still feeding away in South Haven which had apparently been joined by the second bird again. However as I watched the pair & began photographing them it became apparent that the second bird was a 'new' bird & not the second bird from earlier in the week (which was much more colourful & less advanced into it's winter plumage).
Redpolls & Redwings . . .
Tuesday was a bit of a wash out day once again. Highlights were increasing numbers of Geese, Whooper Swans & Redwing. One Grey Phalarope was still present in South Haven. 3 more Snow Bunting were trapped & 1 Tufted Duck, Purple Sandpiper & Woodcock were also ringed. Wednesday saw better weather with force 6-7 westerlies, sunny spells & the odd hail-filled shower. Ventured south in the morning, photographing a smart NW (Iceland/Greenland) Redpoll at Barkland on the way down. This bird had been ringed the day before. There were a lot more Redwing about & at least 2 Merlin hunting the flocks. A few Redwing (Islandica) were very approachable for photography as was the Lesser Whitethroat which fed frantically on an apple (!) in the Obs heligoland trapping area. The evening saw another 'dazzling' session with 2 Juv Whooper Swans caught, 1 at Da Water & 1 at Field Pond as well as more Greylag Geese, taking the number caught to 22 in 3 days . . . .