Sunday, 9 November 2014

If you do not like Desert Wheatears, look away now

Go see a Desert Wheatear down to 20 feet or spend  5 hrs in the car to tick a roosting gull (Franklins) - no choice really. Desert Wheatear smart, Gull boring. Hawky and I waited on news before heading to Reculver, Kent to pap the smart showy bird.  

The wheatear (my 3rd in the UK) showed fantastically well as you will see below. I have to warn you there is Desert Wheatear overload below, so be warned. It was a shame it was overcast and dull but you can't have everything.


Not a Desert Wheatear phhoto - Shore Lark 

Friday, 24 October 2014

Shetland 2014 round up

Shetland 2014 certainly was a trip to remember. Many of the cracking birds we saw and found have been detailed in previous posts, but there were plenty more birds and episodes that took place that'll be remembered:

  • The evening Lanceolated Warbler twitch at Quendale
  • Finding a Long Eared Owl at Sumburgh Farm
  • Finding an Olive Backed Pipit at Wester Quarff
  • Little Bunting-gate in the lighthouse garden - was it or wasn't it, the jury is still out
  • RB Fly at Toab
  • The cracking Pallid Harrier
  • Black Redstart, Brambling, Ring Ouzel, Twite, Yellow Browed Warbler, Jack Snipe all in and around the lighthouse garden (where we stayed)
  • Tony leaving his rucksack containing his camera, passport, drivers license and wallet on a bench at Sumburgh hotel and realising over 2 hours later it was gone! It was still there when we got back - it is Shetland not London!
  • Tony then hilariously falling over in pure comedy style, then again realising an hour later he'd lost his phone and walkie-talkie in the process and having to go back again to find then sitting in the long grass where they had fallen out
  • Great Grey Shrike at Virkie
  • Northern Bullfinch at Geosetter (that I missed - grrr)
  • Horny Redpoll for the 3rd Shetland trip running
  • Thrashing our birding buddies Andy Lawson, Gary Bagnell, James Hanlon and George Kinnard on the listing challenge - they cried foul play, we cried "Losers!" - lol - it was just a bit of fun
  • All in all it was probably my favourite Shetland trip to date, and don't get me wrong the previous ones were great, but we had such a laugh, saw some great birds and of course who can forget the Siberian Rubythroat! I am already looking forward to next year's trip. 

The Long Eared Owl we found at Sunburgh Farm - pic by Hawky 

Photo: Lanceolated Warbler, Quendale, Mainland
The Lancy showed well the next day, we saw it the previous evening 
 picture by the bird's finder Chris Griffin, great find by a really nice bloke

Pied Flycatcher at Geosetter

 Blurry Little Bunting at Boddam

 Pole Cat at Geosetter

Great Grey Shrike at Virkie 


Monday, 20 October 2014

Eastern Bonelli's Warble -a MEGA way to end our 2014 Shetland trip

When news broke of a Western Bonelli's Warbler at Scalloway on day 6 of 7 of our holiday, we immediately set off knowing assuming someone had heard it call and therefore had nailed it as a Western; a good bird but nowhere near as rare as its Eastern cousin.

As is quite often we arrived in a residential area to be told it hadn't been seen for quite a while and was very elusive. We gave it around 2 hours with no further sign before we decided to head off and twitch a couple of near by Olive Backed Pipits.

OBPs in the bag and with an hour and a half day light to play with, we headed back to Scalloway, where on arrival we had been told by Baggers, Andy and crew, that it had been seen well just 10 minutes earlier. After another 30 minutes if searching we had a brief flight view as it appeared in front of us flying across the road from tree top to tree top. Still no one to our knowledge had heard it call and still it was being put out as a Western BW. And that was that for that evening.

That night many of the birders on Shetland met for a curry in Lerwick and there were a few people sceptical that the bird was a Western, given the winds of late.

The flollwing morning with just 4 hours to play with before we headed home, we found ourselves back at Scalloway, via a Little Bunting and a group self found OBP (yay!) at Wester Quarff.

On route we checked birdguides to read that it had been reported that the bird was now believed to be the rare (4 previous British records) Eastern Bonelli's Warbler. Based on what we did not know. We desperately needed it to call, and be heard by a few people.

On site again it played hard to get, but after an hour or so it eventually gave it self up. Initially skulking up in the canopy but in the end providing pretty decent views. By the time we left we had not heard it call, but with it now being reported as an Eastern all of Shetland's resident birders were on site, and by the time we got to the airport, it had been MEGAd, Boom! It had called and the ight people were there to hear it. A great way to end to the trip.  
Playing hard to get a first

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Brambling, a Shetland beauty

There were hundreds of these smart birds on Shetland, including some very large flocks. We never tired of seeing them.  

Olive Backed Pipit, Shetland

Two of the three Olive Backed Pipits seen last week, the first bird below was one of two together at Lower Voe (Voe, Voe Voe - private joke).

The third bird was something special as our group found it whilst stomping around an overgrown field at Wester Quarff, looking for yet another Little Bunting. 

Long Eared Owl, Virkie Willows, Shetland

A Long Eared Owl down to 15 feet. It doesn't get much better than that. This was one of two seen during our week on Shetland.

Yellow Browed Warbler, Shetland

We saw plenty of these lovely small warblers during our stay on Shetland, including this showy individual at Geosetter.