Monday, 22 September 2014

List secured

After the Pallid Harrier the other day, Shetland migration season is producing a range of good birds. We headed down to the south mainland  where there are several excellent birding spots. On Friday fog and easterly winds looked promising.

The fog  started to cleared later but by then a superb Red Flanked Blue-tail, Barred Warbler (2), Little Bunting & Red breasted Flycatcher,  had all given great views

                                                                     Superb Red Flanked Blue-tail

With a supporting cast of Redstart (4), Goldcrest (5), Robin, Blackcap, Brambling, Redwing, Swallow, House Martin, Kestrel (4), Willow warbler(5) Chiff Chaff (2) Knot (34) Oystercatcher (8)  Redshank, Snipe(6), Curlew (19), Lapwing (6), Raven (6) Twite (30) White Wagtail, Hoddie, Gt Skua , Wheatear (8), Starling (300) House Sparrow (150) , Gannet, Kittiwake, Fulmar, Shag, Rock Dove (12), Meadow Pipit (30) skylark (12), Blackbird (15), Herring Gull (22) Gt BB (2) Rock Pipit (6) Mallard (12)


I bet that a lot of people (Birders) are relieved that the vote for a Scottish independence was a NO. I have met many birders that are listers and they need as many birds on their lists as possible. If the English birders had lost their Scottish birds then they would have seen a big drop in their lists. I know of a few that would have instantly struck off the Scottish birds - so bye bye to birds like Golden eagle, Ptarmigan, Capercaille, Crested Tit.
                                                                                         Willow Warblers

As for Scottish birders then they would have lost birds such as Avocet, Cirl bunting, Nuthatch, Magpie. All birders keep some sort of list, either on paper or in their head, its all about competition and providing evidence of expertise. Well I say expertise but many people just respond to birds found by others and don't really identify the birds for themselves.

                                                                                   Red Breasted Flycatcher

I met a couple of birders a few years ago in Shetland that spent the whole holiday chasing other people's birds and couldn't  even identify a Siskin that appeared at Kergord. That life !!!!!

In Shetland there are a lot of very experienced birders, who have lived in the isles for a number of years. They may be ringers, study a patch or spend time really looking at birds so if something unusual turns up, which regularly happens in Shetland then they are in a better position to identify the new bird.

                                                                     Lets not forget the little house sparrows

For those new to bird-watching then most birds are rare in a sense that they haven't been seen before by the observer but they may not be rare nationally. Lists are very precious and there is an element of one up man-ship so birders have to see a new bird and they will travel the length of the UK to see this bird spending hundreds of pound to get there as quick as possible. Sometimes it works , but a bird can be here one minute gone the next.

Several years ago I got talking to some birders that had come to live in Shetland for a few years to bump up their lists, they worked at the fish factory and would work all hours but would disappeared if a rare bird turned up. Its quite noticeable that during the past few days a number of twitchers have turned up, eager to boost their own lists.

                                                                   Fulmars ever present around the cliffs

So back to lists and at present the number of birds seen in Shetland stands at  453 inc Fair Isle (2012) - Shetland Bird Report (596 birds on UK list at December 2013), which represents a fair number of migrants as Shetland has only around 70 regular breeding species

                                                                           Gannets pass Sumburgh Head

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