Thursday 15 November 2012

You sometimes forget you are in Shetland, in spring on a sunny day you might be lucky to be watching a bird that should really be down in the warmer Med. But this could easily be side by side, (well nearly) to a bird from America, the Artic or the East

Over the years we have been lucky enough to have seen a few bird that we have seen in France & Spain . While not a common visitor, the Little Egret is wide spread in England and moving north quickly as a breeder. Although herons are not that common in Shetland we have seen one at Loch of Spiggie a few years ago. As a tree nesting bird they will find it hard to find a nest site, perhaps at Kergord in 50 years time !!

Marsh Warblers are normally found towards the end of May and into early June, and have bred in Shetland. We have seen several and including this singing bird at Hoswick a few years ago and with no other birder present on the day.

Perhaps the most exciting bird was the sub-alpine warbler found at Skaw on Unst, yet gain no other birders around . This was present for about a week. We saw it collecting nest material and moving in and out of a spearmint patch near the stream. It sang a number of times. One visiting birder managed to identify the song from that of an Italian raced bird. It goes to show that the level of expertise is fantastic, not just of recognising the song, but others are able to pin down the race of other species from looking at the birds plumage etc. This takes a tremendous amount of work and dedication to birdwatching and often involves many trips abroad to gather the knowledge.

One bird that was instantly recognised was a Bee-eater which we watched at Vidlin. It seem incredible that this could survive, but it stayed around Shetland for over a week and looked totally out of place as sheep walked past.

Turtle doves are very rare around South Yorkshire, but I have caught up with quite a few in Shetland, usually getting good views. Earlier this year we visited Royan in France where Turtle Doves seemed to be reasonably plentiful. Its surprising any are left as the French shoot about 100, 000 per year as they migrant over the Pyrenees

Black Redstarts are one of my favourite bird, we are lucky to have a pair or two breeding in Sheffield, one of the few cities in the UK. In Shetland they often appear late autumn and early spring and are always nice to find.

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