Tuesday 22 August 2017

The good & bad

Interesting news on the seabird population in Shetland. Shetland Amenity Trust have indicated that the Puffins at Hermaness have dropped from around 35,000 to potentially 2,000. The Puffins at Sumburgh however are not in a sharp decline, possibly feeding on sandeels which are moving north from Orkney or adapting by widening their diet.

Terns on the other hand are now bringing in larval gadoids (Kind of fish) , they would have just been sandeels 10 years ago. Bad news for Arctic Skuas with a suspected 200- 300 pairs down from 1600 pairs in the 1980's.
                                                                        House Sparrow doing well as a breeding bird

There is some good news with Waders and song birds are doing very well. Skylark, Lapwing, Curlew, Ringed Plover and House Sparrow & Starling having good breeding seasons.

                                                           Meadow Pipit another bird that is doing well in Shetland

This week the Shetland Monkey Flower was discovered by researchers at the University of Stirling, it was a chance find at Quarff.

This new variety has double the Chromosomes. this explains the bigger size of the petals which are wider and have red spots.

Another flower in the news is the Ragwort, which is very prominent around Scord - Scalloway and Sandwick & Levenwick. This is a poisonous plant which is especially dangerous to horses as they live longer than Cattle and sheep and therefore could see a large build up of the poison. With the warm moist conditions it has done very well this year.

On the birding front it is quiet at present, although i did come across several brightly coloured Greenland Wheatear and the best of the bunch, a Common Crane at rest at Hillwell. For a large bird it could have been easily overlooked as it sat behind some large weeds.

Later it moved out onto the loch, then onto a grassy field before taking off and heading SE.

                                                    Very distant view of the Common Crane at Hillwell

A Barred Warbler was found on Unst and several Minke Whales have turned up along the east coast.

Birds seen in the south mainland

Swallow, House Sparrow, Starling, Blackbird, Twite, Wheatear, Wren, Pied Wagtail, Raven, Rock Dove, Fulmar, Gannet, Black Guillemot, Eider, Shag, Gt BB , Herring Gull, Common Gull, Curlew, Redshank, Ringed Plover, Sanderling, Turnstone, Shoveler, Wigeon, Teal, Mallard, Coot, Moorhen, Common Crane, Hoddie, Oystercatcher, Meadow Pipit, Rock Pipit, Skylark, Gt Skua, Arctic Tern

Friday 11 August 2017


Otters are one of my favourite mammals and are fairly common around Shetland. Once you get your eye in they are reasonably easy to spot.

Shetland has one of the highest density of otters in Europe with around 1500 around the coastline.

Surprisingly the best and easiest place to see them is at the inter island ferry terminals. They don't seem to both about people being as close as 20 feet away providing you don't move suddenly or make a loud noise.

I remember a few years ago while waiting for the ferry, i had just got out of the car when two Otters ran down the pier towards us passing three cars, they stopped about 6 feet away before disappearing over the edge and back in the sea.

The best time to look is two hours either side of high tide when they like to find food, often i have seen them at a distance diving before they eventually swim to shore.

Just another reason to come to Shetland

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Wednesday 2 August 2017


A few seabirds in  the south mainland , Fulmars seem to be doing ok, but although some Puffins have been bring in sandeels there has been alot of birds just loafing around which is not a good sign of breeding


Gannet numbers have increased along with Storm Petrels.  Over the years  the Mousa Petrels have increased from 8000 to 15000 birds which is superb.

Not many migrants around with a few Crossbill, Willow warblers and Grey Heron


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