Sunday 25 February 2018

Pied Billed & Spiggie birds

With the weather good this weekend we headed south to Spiggie an RSPB reserve. This is a large area with a road leading down the western shore. In Winter it is good for Duck, Waders ,swans and on this occasion we had 39 Whooper swans

The Pied Billed Grebe had now moved to the northern part of the Loch and tended to favour an area of reeds quiet a distance from a viewing spot.

It has been seen catching large fish but only small ones caught today. This bird has been in Shetland since early November 2017 and on the whole is fairly easy to see, although distant most of the time.

If any cars or walkers pass, it moves well away from the reeds , so you need to spend a bit of time to get reasonable views. This American visitor, a first for Shetland seems well settled so we hope it staying well into spring.

                                                                                                 Iceland Gull

Apart from the grebe and Whoopers, Two Grey Heron could be seen flying about and lots of Graylag Geese passed over, disturbed by a Peregrine Falcon.

In addition to the Iceland Gull, three Glaucous Gulls could be seen with other gulls but tended to keep well away from the edge. Flocks of Curlew, Redshank, Lapwing and Oystercatcher moved about and sometime disturbed Snipe and Fieldfare

Duck present included, Teal, Wigeon, Mallard, Shoveler, Shelduck (4) and Goldeneye

Sunday 11 February 2018

White Billed Diver

Since last August a White Billed Diver has been in Mousa bay, just a few minutes away from home. I have seen it a few times but it has been very distant and the weather dull. Last Sunday the weather couldn't have been more perfect, sunny and still (yes no wind)

                                                                                                  White Billed Diver

Earlier in the day it had been seen under the large layby at the top end of Sandwick but by the time we arrived, about 1pm I located it further south, just north of Mousa and about mid way between the island and Sandsayre.

When it dived I was surprised how far it moved and how long it dived for, White Bills prefer the deeper waters unlike the Gt Northern Diver which come closer inshore.

The first record for Scotland was a dead bird at Whiteness Voe, Shetland 21 January 1946, but the first live bird was in June 1947 when a bird came close inshore at Weisdale Voe, Shetland.(Scott and Shaw). Most birds occur on spring passage with a few over wintering.

These birds may well be from the eastern Russian population, with birds usually wintering off the Norwegian coast

The Mousa Sound bird is one of two / three present in Shetland with another regularly seen at Kirkabister and in Bluemull sound.  Birds tend to start to gather at Skogsoy Norway late April so it will be interesting to see how late this bird stays in Shetland.

Throughout the following week I managed another three visit but failed to see the bird. Two other local birders who have spent a lot of time watching have also only seen it occasionally. Whether the bird moves out of the area or just goes to the east of Mousa is a  mystery.

Today no sign of the bird again even though the sea was calm

                                                                                               Gt Northern Diver
                                                                                                      Black Guillemot

                                                                                                      Long Tailed Duck

                                                                                                        Purple Sandpiper

Other birds at Sandsayre :
White Billed Diver, Gt Northern Diver, Red Throated Diver, Long Tailed Duck (46) Eider (58) Goldeneye (M& F) ,Shag (28+) Fulmar, Black Guillemot (32) Red Breasted Merganser (3) Common Scoter,  Purple Sandpiper (38) Turnstone (22) Oystercatcher (2),  Redshank (8) Curlew (4) Greylag (6) Rock Pipit, Starling, House Sparrow, Blackbird, Wren, Twite

Elsewhere the Pied Billed grebe is still at Spiggie, Glaucous Gulls(4) Lerwick, Blue and Gt Tit Hillwell