Monday 28 October 2019

Shetland..... 5th to 12th October 2019 Part 2

                                                Shetland :  Part  2

                                                            9th October

Mealy Redpoll

Here is part 2 of my Shetland trip with RR & PG, we decided to head North to Unst today , our first port of call was Baltasound and we saw 2 Mealy Redpoll near the post office, we then had a look around Halligarth where a smart Yellow browed Warbler & a couple of Goldcrest was the best we could find.

Stunning Mealy Redpoll.

We decided to head to Norwick and RR found a cracking Common Redstart along the fence line, we reached a small ploughed field which was alive with birds , 30+ Mealy Redpoll including one very 'pink plumage bird',   30+ Twite, 10+Siskin, 2+ Brambling , Chaffinch, Skylark, 10+ Goldcrest & 1 Tree Sparrow !!!!

Mealy Redpoll.

Male Siskin.

With the weather closing in we decided to head up to Lamba Ness to look for Buntings , we spread out and begun our search , the rain start lashing down when PG & RR got onto a Snow Bunting, i soon joined them and enjoyed watching this superb bird.

Snow Bunting.

On the way back to the mainland we called into Westing on Yell to hopefully see the       Eastern/ Stejneger's Stonechat , well we saw it very well through the scope and i believe the bird has now been trapped & ringed and DNA has been taken for , so we will know for sure in due course.

Juv Waxwing

Our last bird of the day was a very wet and bedraggled juv Waxwing sheltering in a bonfire pile, apart from being wet it looked OK , it had plenty of berries nearby and was out of the wind & rain.


10th October

We started off on Bressay this morning and the weather was awful , so we decided maybe to head north and look for the Bluethroat at Sandness, whilst waiting for the ferry i saw a brief but superb Great Skua fly over the harbour plus lots of Gannets & Kittiwakes and a single Black Guillemot.

We arrived at Sandness and was given some very good info and were soon enjoying several good but brief views of the Bluethroat, sadly i never managed a photo.

From here we headed north for my only Lifer of the trip !!!!!

Killer Whale !!!!!!

Now my only Lifer of the trip was seen today , not a bird but a mammal : KILLER WHALE at least 5 seen together from Braewick Cafe Eshaness.

There was a large bull & a calf among these incredible Orcas , i had superb views as they slowly passed by the viewing area we were in.

Brief video of Killer Whales.

The experience of watching the Orcas has to be one of the best wildlife experiences i have ever been lucky to have had and worth the trip up here on it's own.

11th October

RR & PG decided they wanted to look for the Snowy Owl at Ronas Hill today , i decided on doing some birding around Hillswick & Braewick , so i dropped them off at 9am and went my own way for the day.

Starting of at Hillswick Harbour i saw 2 distant Velvet Scoters which were new for the trip & my year list.

Velvet Scoter

From here i had a look from Braewick Cafe and added Common Scoter, Great n Diver, Red Throated Diver Plus close views of Hooded Crow.

Hooded Crow.

I spent a lot time searching in various areas with little reward today however i really enjoyed the thrill of the chase , i picked up RR & PG at Ronas Hill after their 6 hour search which sadly resulted in a dip (less said about this the better) !!!

I took them to Hillswick to see the Velvet Scoter which were still present, plus 2 Long tailed Ducks had joined them and a brief view of an Otter was good to see.

Long tailed Duck  (From previous trip)

12th October

So our last day on Shetland was upon us , we started of down south and saw a Long tailed Duck at Grutness , then we headed to Loch of Spiggie and had brief views of Little Stint before it was flushed by some dog walkers.

Lot's of Whooper Swans were on the Loch which coming from Kent where they are scarce winter visitors were great to see.

Whooper Swan.

Our main target bird here was a Barred Warbler which would be a welcome holiday & year tick for us all , eventually we managed to see it making it's way along the fence line by the road.

Record shot of Barred Warbler.

Although i only got a poor record shot of this large warbler i saw it very well and was a real bonus bird on our last day , then Hugh Harrop informed us of a Blyth's Reed Warbler that was showing well at Quendale , just like to add Hugh Harrop was very helpful everytime we bumped into him and always shared any info and generally a really good guy (if only everyone had the same outlook).

We headed to Quendale and joined the already assembled birders and enjoyed some really good views of  Blyth's Reed Warbler & Siberian Chiffchaff , however i sadly never got any photo's of either.

So that concludes this years trip to Shetland , a really great trip in great company , superb accommodation , many thanks to RR for organising everything.

Common Seal





Tuesday 22 October 2019

Shetland ..... 5th to 12th October 2019 Part 1

                                                      Shetland : Part One  

                                                              5th October


Western Bonelli's Warbler (?)

So a week on Shetland in October with RR & PG started of very well with distant views of the Semipalmated Sandpiper on the Loch of Virkie and a bit later in the morning our first Yellow browed Warbler was seen near the water mill at Quendale.

We had lunch and spent quite a bit of time in the afternoon trudging through varies habitat to try and find something ourselves, then news broke of a Bonelli's Warbler species at Papil West Burra.

We headed straight there as this would be a lifer for both RR & PG which ever race it was  , and if it was an Eastern it would be new for me to !!!

Western Bonelli's Warbler (?)

We had really great views of this delightful warbler but sadly never heard it call (which would clinch id), however it seems others heard it when it was first found and it sounded Western to them plus it also responded to Western Bonelli's  call.

Western Bonelli's Warbler (?)

 6th October

Today we headed to Ollaberry in the hope of seeing the European Bee-eater , with bad weather forecast on the 7th we thought this might be our only  chance to see it (which proved to be right), before we headed to Ollaberry we checked out our local area to near where we were staying and found a single Yellow Browed Warbler which showed well. plus Redwing, 2 Blackcap & a single Chiffchaff all seen near Vidlin Cemetary.

European Bee-eater.

The European Bee-eater gave us abit of a run around at first but great views were obtained eventually.

European Bee-eater.

From here we headed to Kergold and saw a distant Great Grey Shrike which at one point caught a small ish bird and took it back to it's larder for consummation.

Distant Great grey Shrike.

Then a drive over to Califf for a Red backed Shrike was well worth the trip as this 1st winter bird showed very well indeed.

Red Backed Shrike 1st winter

7th October

The weather forecast for today was strong gale force winds and heavy rain by the afternoon, we did our usual local area search not really turning up much other then a noticeable increase in both Redwings & Blackbirds.

We decided to head south and to try our luck with checking the Quendale area and also hopefully connect with the Short toed Lark.

Well other then more Thrushes and Goldcrest we didn't add anything at Quendale near the mill, so we carried onto the area the Short toed Lark had been seen, it didn't take long before it flew into view !!!

Short toed Lark.

Other birds seen here were : Skylark, Meadow & Rock Pipit.

We headed from here to Grutness to have lunch in the car as the wind was really blowing and the rain was beginning to become heavy.

Whilst having lunch we were treated to some great views of an Otter which had just caught a crab.

Otter with a large Crab.

8th October

We checked Vidlin Cemetery  this morning on our way out and there were now 2 Yellow Browed Warblers plus Blackcap, Chiffchaff & several Redwing , also 2 Twite flew overhead.

Another Yellow Browed Warbler & 5+ Goldcrest were seen at Sweening and 5+ Red breasted Mergansers were seen on the nearby Loch.

A trip to Loch of Spiggie produced good numbers of Whooper Swan.

Whooper Swan.

News of an OBP at Sandwick got our hopes up only by the time we got there it had done a bunk , i did have a wander and had great views of Wheatear & Twite.


We cut our loses and headed to the Burn of Valayre and we had great views of a Red breasted Flycatcher and a very bright Yellow browed Warbler.

Red Breasted Flycatcher

We watched the Flycatcher feeding along the fence line for quite sometime and the Yellow browed Warbler was often seen nearby.

A walk through the Brae community gardens produced a brief view of the Wood Warbler but little else.

The final destination today was Michael's Wood at Aith, we saw a superb Waxwing here plus 15+ Brambling, i also heard a Yellow browed Warbler.


Well that's the end of part one , thanks for sticking with it , in part two i see my only Lifer of the trip plus a couple of bonus birds on the last day.