Sunday, 11 February 2018

White Billed Diver

Since last August a White Billed Diver has been in Mousa bay, just a few minutes away from home. I have seen it a few times but it has been very distant and the weather dull. Last Sunday the weather couldn't have been more perfect, sunny and still (yes no wind)

                                                                                                  White Billed Diver

Earlier in the day it had been seen under the large layby at the top end of Sandwick but by the time we arrived, about 1pm I located it further south, just north of Mousa and about mid way between the island and Sandsayre.

When it dived I was surprised how far it moved and how long it dived for, White Bills prefer the deeper waters unlike the Gt Northern Diver which come closer inshore.

The first record for Scotland was a dead bird at Whiteness Voe, Shetland 21 January 1946, but the first live bird was in June 1947 when a bird came close inshore at Weisdale Voe, Shetland.(Scott and Shaw). Most birds occur on spring passage with a few over wintering.

These birds may well be from the eastern Russian population, with birds usually wintering off the Norwegian coast

The Mousa Sound bird is one of two / three present in Shetland with another regularly seen at Kirkabister and in Bluemull sound.  Birds tend to start to gather at Skogsoy Norway late April so it will be interesting to see how late this bird stays in Shetland.

Throughout the following week I managed another three visit but failed to see the bird. Two other local birders who have spent a lot of time watching have also only seen it occasionally. Whether the bird moves out of the area or just goes to the east of Mousa is a  mystery.

Today no sign of the bird again even though the sea was calm

                                                                                               Gt Northern Diver
                                                                                                      Black Guillemot

                                                                                                      Long Tailed Duck

                                                                                                        Purple Sandpiper

Other birds at Sandsayre :
White Billed Diver, Gt Northern Diver, Red Throated Diver, Long Tailed Duck (46) Eider (58) Goldeneye (M& F) ,Shag (28+) Fulmar, Black Guillemot (32) Red Breasted Merganser (3) Common Scoter,  Purple Sandpiper (38) Turnstone (22) Oystercatcher (2),  Redshank (8) Curlew (4) Greylag (6) Rock Pipit, Starling, House Sparrow, Blackbird, Wren, Twite

Elsewhere the Pied Billed grebe is still at Spiggie, Glaucous Gulls(4) Lerwick, Blue and Gt Tit Hillwell

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Winter birding in Shetland

Even during winter in Shetland there are enough birds to keep any birder happy. There are still some good birds around with possibly 3 King Eider, the Pied Bill Grebe is still at Spiggie, Surf Scoter and White Billed Diver up in Unst

                                                                        Twite dispute

Flocks of Twite are always nice to see and sometime up to 100 birds are present, especially around Quendale. Theset Little Brown Birds and have been the target twice for the local Merlin

Flocks of waders can be found on most South mainland beach. These Turnstones were joined by Dunlin, Redshank, Purple Sandpiper, Oystercatcher.

The Red Throated Diver below was either very late or very early leaving Shetland, there again it may be wintering. They usually gather in large numbers in Scotland and NE England.

Long Tailed Ducks are present in good numbers in numerous voes, one of my favourite duck. Small numbers of Snow Bunting have also arrived , a Gt Crested Grebe- very uncommon in Shetland put on a good display further north and several Greenland Whitefront's have been seen in Sandwick

Sunday, 17 December 2017

Iceland gulls

Shetland always attracts a number of white winged gulls in the winter months, usually after Christmas

This year the gulls have come earlier than normal, this weekend 6 Iceland gulls frequented the harbour in Lerwick while a couple could be found over in Scalloway

We didn't come across the Glaucous Gull that had been present for a few days earlier in the week

All the Iceland gulls seemed very approachable. To attract gulls bread was thrown and soon around 50 + gulls gathered. In addition to the Iceland gulls, Herring, Common, BHG, Fulmar and a lone Kittiwake.

Gt BB Gulls didn't seem to bother coming down and just stood on the rocky foreshore.

A few Black Guillemot also came close in, these looked splendid in winter plumage

A flock of 12 Long Tailed duck remained close to the gulls, many displaying and again the looked superb

Joining the LT ducks, a flock of 18 Eider.

Not much else about, only a few scattered Snow Bunting and  a couple of Gt Tit (Rare here)