It was nice to see my first photos on the Nature in Shetland website, one was this Red Throated diver below. These birds are easily seen at the Loch of Funzie from the roadside so no need to disturb the birds. This particular one looks like it is just about to start dancing, but in fact was about to get up out of the water to start its take off run.
A good range of birds can be seen on the island which is especially good for waders. On our first visit in 1987 we managed to see one of the Snowy Owls behind the school. Didn't do much after flying in, but it did show that it could look like a boulder and therefore blend into the landscape. Its a pity that Myxomatosis hit the island just after forcing the two birds to turn to Unst for food. What a great discovery by Bobby Tullock, showing that you too can still find things of interest.
Apart from the first year we visited the island, we have never seen Red Necked Phalaropes from the hide in the Mires, although this year it looked cleared of vegetation in some areas, so they might have borrowed an excavator that was doing some work towards the centre of the island. We have however seen and heard Water Rail and Reed Bunting, both uncommon during the breeding season. Red backed Shrikes have been found perching on fence posts near to the hide on two occasions.
Red Necked Phalarope used to be easy to see around the Lock of Funzie but over the past couple of years we have been lucky to see just one, a far cry from a few years ago when we saw 9 birds around the edge. They are so small people often miss them as they come very close to the shore line and are very confiding birds. Usually you can only see them from very late in May. One Phalarope was seen on Loch of Spiggie during June, well away from its normal breeding area.
In Sheffield we have had some special birds breed as well. In the city centre a pair of Peregrines have nested, the only city centre pair of Peregrines in Yorkshire and it has been great to see the parents feeding the 3 young which are normally sat on the Church tower. Peregrines are very rare breeding birds in Shetland with just one or two pair, unlike the rest of the UK where they have become more common.
The other special bird is the Black Redstart which has bred on a number of occasions but I have not heard about any in the last few year. I did however hear and see a male just before we went to Shetland, this time at the back of B&Q on Queens Road. I cannot believe that they are rare breeding birds in the UK given that they are very common in the rest of Europe.
Roof top gardens have been planted in several areas around Sheffield city centre to provide a habitat for insects and encourage Black Redstarts