Saturday, 4 April 2015

First signs

Its surprising how quickly Spring arrives, for a few weeks we have been seeing Fulmar back on the cliffs, noisy Oystercatcher back in the fields and a few migrants such as Goldcrest and Chiff Chaff. Daisy have now been joined by bright yellow primroses and the days are getting longer.
                                                                                 Only one Puffin present so far

After a few days of sunny mild calm weather April 1st brought an April fool in the form of snow. For a few hours blizzard conditions prevailed, giving a good covering of snow, but by morning it had all disappeared as early morning rain had erased all traces of white.

Spring watch was on Friday night showing, at least down in England lots of Spring activity was happening. Chris Packham et all asked for 5 signs of spring to be recorded and sent in.

1. First oak leaves
2. First 7 spot ladybird
3.First Hawthorn flowers
4. First Swallow
5. First Orange Tip butterfly

That's going to be a problem to all of us in Shetland as basically we will only be able to submit the swallow records and possibly the 7 spot ladybird.

The other day i was contacted by Paul Harvey who asked whether i would like to take part in the Shetland Breeding bird survey. This requires two visits to a given location, the first between April 20th and May 10th. The second between May 20th and June 10th, following set transect routes and recording breeding activity.
                                   The Shetland Wren, numbers fluctuate depending on how bad the winter has been

I have been allocated two squares in the Sandwick area and will use the BTO codes to record species. Both these squares have been covered in the past but the observers have now left Shetland. I have been involved with similar surveys in Sheffield, these have included Farmland birds, hedgerow birds, Woodland Birds and wildfowl, each very interesting and it is good to compare year to year results.
                                              Blackbirds are with us all year, but just how many breed in Sandwick?

Without surveys such as this, its down to guess work on whether bird species are either decreasing or increasing. I am still continuing the beach survey in Sandwick which takes place throughout the year on a monthly basis. Also last year I also recorded both Bee and Butterfly records, which both had a good year as the weather was mostly dry and sunny throughout the Spring and Summer.
                                            White Tailed bumblebee
Today we had our first visit of the year to Sumburgh Head, despite the showers about 20 people could be seen looking over the cliffs. with everyone wanting to see the first Puffin back on the cliffs. We only manage to locate one Puffin on the north side which only stayed a few minutes before flying down to the sea. 

Despite scanning through several large flocks of auks on the sea we couldn't locate any more. Impressive numbers of Guillemots and fewer Razorbills joined Fulmar and Shags on the ledges. A few Rock Dove flew over and over 30 Twite fluttered between the cliffs and the look out post in front of the lighthouse.

Few birds could be found around the lighthouse, with only Robin (2) Blackbird (3) and a Wren showing, no sign of any Snow Bunting that had been seen earlier in the week.

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