Sunday 25 June 2017

Shetland Breeding birds

Shetland is internationally important for its seabird colonies and also for the number of breeding waders, many of which are on the decline.

Its been interesting this year to find a number of Oystercatchers nesting in unusual situations, one on an old fence post - wide enough for a nest, two pairs on a roof and another in a pile of gravel- The farmer wanted to resurface his road but had to wait for the Oystercatcher to lead her young down through the gravel.

                                                               Gt Black Back gull taking a crab- far better then an egg

Oystercatchers are very noisy at the moment and a flock of 25 birds has been feeding in the field next to our house which has just had the grass cut for silage. In addition 17 Curlew are regular visitors but tend to feed away from all the other birds.

                                   Ringed Plover seem to be doing well, breeding on the beach and moorland as well

Curlew are very numerous throughout the south mainland, especially around Spiggie, sometimes close to Whimbrel.

Flocks of Lapwing are also gathering, hope these aren't failed breeders. One flock of 38 was notable for this time of year. Snipe are still drumming and Redshank as always very noisy if approached.

I have just completed my third Shetland Breeding bird Survey in the south mainland, results as follows:

Plot 1                                      2015                       2016                      2017

Oystercatcher                           2                              4                            3
Lapwing                                    0                              0                            0          
Curlew                                      1                              1                            1
Snipe                                         0                              1                            1
Redshank                                  0                               0                           0
Ringed Plover                           1                              0                            0
Skylark                                      8                              6                            6                
Meadow Pipit                           6                              5                            8
Wheatear                                   0                              1                            1
Blackbird                                  3                               3                           2
Twite                                         1                              0                            2
Wren                                          0                               1                            0
                    Total Pairs          22                            22                          24
Plot 2

Oystercatcher                             1                              0                             0
Lapwing                                      1                              2                             3
Curlew                                         2                              1                            2
Snipe                                            0                              0                            0    
Redshank                                     1                              1                            1            
Ringed Plover                             0                               0                            0
Skylark                                        4                               5                            4
Meadow Pipit                             7                               3                            5
Wheatear                                     1                              1                            1
Blackbird                                     1                              2                            2
Twite                                            1                              0                            1
Wren                                             0                              0                            0
                  Total Pairs               19                            15                         19

Elsewhere there may be three pairs of Robin nesting in Shetland this year with a new pair at Tresta which nested in a plant pot.

A total of around 76 species of bird now regularly nest in Shetland, with  Linnet, Grey Wagtail and Swallow recently added.

                                                      Brown Rats at Boddam could be taking Shelduck eggs

With a number of scarce breeding birds such as Red Throated Diver, Whimbrel and even Arctic Tern needing extra protection , the RSPB have issued a notice to people with dogs to keep them on a lead, and to be aware not to disturb nesting birds.

             Red Throated Diver on the nest, taken from the far side of the loch so not to cause disturbance

Many birds can easily seen away from the nest, Divers come down to the coast to feed as do terns so if you do find a nest on your walk please leave the spot as soon as possible as Skuas, Gulls and Corvids are just waiting for an opportunity to raid a nest.

The Boddam Shelducks never seem to have much luck, this year they are left with 2 + 4 young, not much return from an original brood of 10 each

                                                 Young Shelducks have done well to get to this stage in life

Please take a look at my other blogs etc

Shetland Aurora Hunter - Facebook just send me a request to join (Canvas Prints)

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