Wednesday 31 October 2018

Siberian Stonechat

A rare Siberian Stonechat turned up in Scalloway and was showing well but i found out too late the first day.

As i work in Scalloway i decided to make an afternoon visit in glorious sunshine and calm conditions the following day

Two other birders were on site and had seen it briefly. After a short search the bird turned up in a weedy area at the top of a drive.

It showed well for a good 5 mins before heading towards the gardens. A male Bullfinch was also seen here , another uncommon bird.

Last year i had good views but no photos of a Siberian Stonechat at Swinister Burn, Sandwick so it was good to get some photos in good weather.

Its range covers East - Western Siberia, with the subspecies ` Maura' breeding over most of the range, often separated into two subspecies, the easternmost one called stejnegeri . This one is thought to be this subspecies, it was ringed a few hours before i photographed it with DNA taken.

The race variegata is basically similar to the respective plumages of maura but it shows a considerable amount of white on the inner part of the tail. This Stonechat stayed for four days

This is the sixth Siberian bird i have seen in Shetland, the others Siberian Rubythroat, Siberian Snow Bunting (Fetlar) Siberian Chiffchaff ( Unst, Sandwick) Siberian Accentor (Dunrossness), Siberian Oystercatcher(Sandwick)

Saturday 27 October 2018

Birding in the sun

A sunny ,warm, windless day arrived earlier in the week and i was off work so headed down the south mainland.

Stopping off at the beach at Grutness a group of south birders congregated trying to find the White Rumped Sandpiper that had turned up late yesterday. Not seen today and neither was the Pallas's warbler from the garden.


Up at Sumburgh Head a flock of around Brambling (50) Twite (28) House sparrow (34) filled the rose bushes, a Merlin came over and spooked the lot and the flew up together. Lots of Gannet diving into the sea below the cliffs while a flock of Raven (14) came passed calling.


Blackbirds started to appear on the east side and a flock of Skylark (28) headed out to sea going south. A couple of Robin were found around the lighthouse.

Down at the quarry the Redstart was still present and a few Goldcrest but little else , while the Barnacle flock opposite had reduced to 28 birds


Back at Grutness garden another Redstart put in an appearance with Chiffchaff(2) and Robin (3) but no Pallas's Warbler. News came in that a Shorelark was present down at the point, so i headed down with a couple of others

Its been a while since i saw my last Shorelark which gave good views in Norfolk, this bird would be my first for Shetland.


It showed briefly before flying south, calling. Then arrived back in the same place and began feeding. It gave some distant views before i left going over to West Voe for another look at the Booted Warbler. It wasn't present at the spot i saw it yesterday.

Hoddie Crow
Later i found out that it gave excellent view in the park (Field) near the cattle shelter.


On the way back i called in a Clumlie where a Ring Necked duck had been reported yesterday. All the duck including three Scaup and 15 tufted were all over the far side with most of them asleep  the Ringed Necked was still present but too distant to photograph being on the far bank.


A flock over at least Fieldfare (30) and Redwing (20) flew off the moorland and into a grassy area flushing a couple of Snipe.

Teal in early morning light at Boddam

By the end of the week it was  heavy rain all day so i decided to bird from the car and called in first at Clumlie where a female Ringed Necked Duck, Scaup (3) Pochard , Goldeneye (2) and Tufted (16) showed in the distance and a short while later i was watching another female Ringed Necked duck over at Spiggie,with the Pied Billed Grebe showing to the east of the fishermans hut at the north end.

Good numbers of Swan have arrived with Whooper (175) Mute (6) on Spiggie and Whooper(4) at Clumlie. Lots of Redwing and a few hundred Fieldfare, falls of Brambling in the south mainland with 50 coming in off the sea and three Great Grey Shrikes

Wednesday 17 October 2018

Shetland - Pallas's and Booted Warblers

With easterly winds at last birds started to turn up at the weekend , rare and common migrants. Our first stop was down at Grutness where a Pallas's Warbler had been found.

I walked up to the wall and the bird showed immediately flitting between the sycamores. The bird performed well for an hour for just six birders. Anywhere else there would have been a hundred or so people on site.

Pallas's Warbler

A Chiffchaff and Robin were also seen in the garden

Up at the Quarry a good number of common migrants, Redstart, Goldcrest (6) Chaffinch(12) Blackcap(2), Robin (2) Twite(12) , Blackbird(5)Wren (2) and lots of Fulmar, sparrow and Starling.

Opposite, in the field Barnacle Geese (65) were very noisy and these increased to 110 the next day.

Barnacle Geese

A flock of Chaffinch arrived and started to feed allowing a close approach


I tried without luck for the Booted Warbler down at West Voe but it didn't show on Saturday but was later seen in a different spot. The following day i located the Booted warbler in the garden but then it flew down onto the tide line and started to feed on flies , darting among the seaweed

 I spent about an hour with the warbler before it flew off again into the garden area and didn't reappear in the 1/2 hour i waited.

Booted Warbler on the beach

 The garden held the usual, Redwing, Brambling, Chaffinch, Wren, Sparrow and Starling.

The Pallas's Warbler showed well at Grutness  and although i didn't see it a White Rumped Sandpiper flew from the pool across the beach. I went to the quarry where a Long Eared Owl was reported but no one could find it.

Common Migrants were not as numerous as yesterday but the Redstart showed again.


News came in that a River Warbler had turned up at Wester Quarff so most of the birders left. We returned to Sandwick where a large flock of Greylag and Pinkfoot fed up near the Wart, lots of Golden Plover , Curlew, Turnstone, Lapwing, Redshank and Ringed Plover

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