October is the silly season.
At one time October used to be the month when twitchers descended on the Sicily Isles but in recent years many have decided that Shetland has become the premier bird spot for autumn bird migration. But it doesn't take long to give all `birders' a bad name when a minority cause problems.
Already this year people have disregarded warnings by the Shetland Bird club to avoid going into peoples gardens , or on land which is sensitive, leaving gates open, parking problems, being rude the list goes on.
Some Shetland birders have had enough, with one already closing his blog. Others in the long term may be reluctant to share information if the problems get worse. Have some respect for the local people, property and the birds
Birding is exciting and very rewarding but I tend to avoid big crowds, I am just as happy to look at the more common birds, something that doesn't seem to appeal to a large number of twitchers. To venture a long way from home just to see one or two birds and disregard the rest seems mad to me. With many dipping out on the rare bird of their dreams it becomes a costly experience.
Others get caught up in mass twitchers, some people viewing a bird have just relied on others to identify it while others can identify a rare bird but struggle with common birds. I know I am showing my age but in my early birding days we took time out to develop our identification skills, undertook surveys and made a contribution to the birding world by submitting bird records. I have heard a number of times that the Shetland bird club doesn't receive enough records of the common birds , but that's a problem with other bird groups as well.
Some people get hooked on adding a new bird to their list, last year in Shetland I was on a boat trip to Mousa I got talking to a father and son, the lad had already amassed 365 birds and he was only 14 years old. On the way back he talked about the lack of good birds !!!!, on the other hand I was excited with the views I had just had of Artic tern, Artic skua, Black Guillemot, Red Throated Diver, various waders, close ups of Skylark, Wheater and Eider duck, while I would have consider a rarer bird a bonus. Look at the bigger picture and you will never be disappointed.
A Long tailed tit, a common bird in England, but when one appeared this month on Unst it was only the 5th record for Shetland, and the first one on the island for 151 years
Shetland reveals its secrets slowly, over the years we have seen rare birds, but as it has been in spring when few twitchers can react quick enough, birds pass through the islands quicker, on their way to the breeding grounds, than in autumn.
On the next blog I will share some of the rarer bird sightings.