Sunday 17 December 2017

Iceland gulls

Shetland always attracts a number of white winged gulls in the winter months, usually after Christmas

This year the gulls have come earlier than normal, this weekend 6 Iceland gulls frequented the harbour in Lerwick while a couple could be found over in Scalloway

We didn't come across the Glaucous Gull that had been present for a few days earlier in the week

All the Iceland gulls seemed very approachable. To attract gulls bread was thrown and soon around 50 + gulls gathered. In addition to the Iceland gulls, Herring, Common, BHG, Fulmar and a lone Kittiwake.

Gt BB Gulls didn't seem to bother coming down and just stood on the rocky foreshore.

A few Black Guillemot also came close in, these looked splendid in winter plumage

A flock of 12 Long Tailed duck remained close to the gulls, many displaying and again the looked superb

Joining the LT ducks, a flock of 18 Eider.

Not much else about, only a few scattered Snow Bunting and  a couple of Gt Tit (Rare here)

Sunday 26 November 2017

King Eider

I had only been saying a few days before that it would be good to see a male King Eider. Then at the Pied Billed Grebe viewing one turned up at Wester Quarff.

Unfortunately it only stayed a very short time as a speed boat disturbed the flock of eider and it disappeared until the next day.

Again the same thing happened and the King Eider flew off. I caught up with the bird a week later still present among the large flock of eider. (Can you find it)

It was very windy and cold but as the flock was the closest yet to the viewing shoreline we could just make it out.
After about 10 mins Julie Redpath showed up and had a scope. Even with a scope it was still difficult to pick out.
Once you got an eye onto it , it was easier to pick out in the flock except when the all dived.

The group of eiders split making it slightly easier to pick out the King Eider. This was the first male I had seen since the regular King Eider at Tresta back in the 1990's

Its a superb bird, just a pity we don't get more, hopefully it will settle in and keep returning in future years

After about 15 mins the speed boat came in back and all the eider flew off. No doubt that the owner of the speed  boat was the owner of the mussel bed.

Even now the Pied Billed Grebe is still on Spiggie and both Glaucous and Iceland gulls are regular in Lerwick harbour. A few Waxwings have arrived, lets hope its a good year for them

Although most of the Fieldfare and Redwing have departed south there seems to be an influx of Blackbird with many in the south mainland. One field at Spiggie held 34 Blackbirds.

Friday 17 November 2017


You cannot get better than the recent 1st in Shetland a Pied Billed Grebe, this was followed a few days later by a superb Aurora then the day after a couple of Humpback whales in nearby Levenwick bay

This mother and calf had been seen on the previous afternoon and early in the morning reports came in that they had come back into the bay, just 10 mins away.

Arriving in the layby overlooking the bay just two cars parked with telephoto lenses stuck out. A few mins later more cars pulled in to view the Whales which now moved towards us from the Clumliewick side.

They started coming closer to the shore but were disturbed by a fishing boat which seem to cut off their movement, perhaps they were unaware on the boat. The boat moved down the bay while the whales moved the other way.

Still giving good views they stayed in the bay for around 2 hours before moving off south and we were unable to relocate them in a strengthening wind.

This was a whale species I have always wanted to see and with several sighting last year in the north isles it was only a matter of time until we caught up with them.

Humpbacks usually travel singly or in a small family group, like these two. They feed on shoaling fish such as Sandeel , Herring or mackerel as well as Krill or plankton

Sightings in British waters  have increased since the early 1980's although still rarely seen. There seem to be three main areas for sightings including Shetland, south - eastern Scotland and between southern Ireland and south Wales

Humpback Whales have been seen on a regular basis in Shetland since the 1990's 

These two Whales then moved up the coast to Gulberwick where they stayed for three days. I managed brief views of the whales between bouts of heavy rain.

                                                                   Later both were seen up in Yell

Its been a good 3 years since we moved to Shetland and have had views of Humpback, Killer, Minke, Pilot whales, White stripped, Common, Risso and possibly White sided Dolphin as well as many Neesicks(Porpoise).