Sunday, 9 October 2016

Impressive sightings

I never fail to be impressed by Autumn migration, each year it is completely different. One year it can be a massive fall of Goldcrest, Thrush or warblers. With so many people out watching it is no surprise that many rare birds are found.

                             Barnacle geese ready to head south

The experience of migration was typified when a Lanceolated Warbler was found at Boddam the other day. Many people on hands and knees peered through a fence as the warbler moved up and down a few feet away, but on one occasion it was videoed walked over some ones boot then another person's hand. You could only get this happening in Shetland.

While many birds moved on at the beginning of the week leaving a few birders frustrated, new ones started to arrive and i saw a flock of Barnacle geese (77) flying south, always a great sight. Looking over to Scatness seconds later i could see a larger flock (over 407) an impressive number for Shetland.

The Barnacles gathered on short vegetation towards the headland, they were very noisy but i got very close by using a bank to hide behind, even when i stood up to get a photo (200 mm lens) they didn't take off. A passing Merlin spooked them and they all took off joining another flock who must have been feeding higher up near the cliffs

A small flock of 8 Goldcrest's came in off the sea and landed in the cliffs before flying further inland and i saw a further 3 on the road coming out of Scatness

It was good to meet Steve Minton at Scatness who has made this his patch and turns up some impressive birds and moth's. Again it shows the value of looking at an area on a regular basis.

                                                                                            Storm Petrel

Mid week i was in Lerwick when i was asked by the skipper of the Knab - a tug, to come and identify a bird that had landed on the boat just south. It turned out to be a Storm Petrel which breed on nearby Mousa. It looked very tired and had been resting in a bin where it gained some peace and quiet.

It was moving ok and stretched its wings several times, the plan was to see whether it would fly from the boat when it went out again 1/2 hour later. Hope so very impressive bird- note the webbed feet

Back south, in the quarry at Sumburgh , another or the same Garden Warbler gave good views this time supported with a few Goldcrest. A short distance away at Grutness, another Goldcrest and a Yellow Browed Warbler with a flock of 8 Pied Wagtail.

Levenwick quarry held a flighty Little Bunting, it surprising how easily a bird can disappear into a small area of vegetation. Down at Maywick the Red Breasted Fly had gone with only Blackcap, Goldcrest and Chiffchaff present.

At Quendale I met up again with the Welsh birders who yesterday had found a River Warbler up at the dam. No sign today, but Yellow Browed warblers (3) Goldcrest and a Chiffchaff showed with a Grey Wagtail on the burn

I found a stranded Juvenile  Gannet down at the point of Grutness, it didn't seem injured and came to rest on a grassy bank , no doubt waiting for the tide to come in.

More photos at

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