Friday 30 October 2020

Shetland Long stayers

Although the main season for migration in Shetland is over for the season, its still happening with several more Siberian Chiffchaff, including one in the garden. There has been a good number of Jack Snipe, Common Crossbill and various Redpoll

Rarer birds including a Raddes warbler at Clickimin, Little Bunting Fetlar, White Billed Diver at Nesting, American Golden Plover in Unst and a Black Bellied dipper at Walls.

Autumn migration is much slower than Spring, all breeding is finished and many birds need to feed up for a long migration.

The Siberian Chiffchaff, see last blog, appears to be ringed somewhere outside Shetland, pity photos didn't give more information. Experts also think it is a `flavescens' race, which is used to describe the birds are intermediate between tristis and abientinus

A few birds have stayed a long time, a Kingfisher at Voe,(May have been the one on Skerries (3 October) Blackpoll warbler at East Burra firth (Since 16 October) and a Great White Egret since the 12 October at Spiggie,

The GWE has now moved more or less permanently to the NW side of Spiggie making it easier to see.

It seems to be well settled and feeding well. At 3.5 feet high they can easily be seen and to avoid confusion with the smaller Little Egret which has yellow feet and black feet, the GWE has the opposite, a long yellow beak and black feet

The UK's first breeding record was down at the Summerset Levels back in 2012

Also just a bit further out in the loch 5 Scaup fed. A total of 88 swans both Whooper and a few Mute swans, at least 55 Goldeneye, 120 Wigeon, 1 Shoveler (m), Teal (50+) Mallard (30+) Moorhen, Coot and Slavonian Grebe(1), Graylag (150)

A few 100 Fieldfare and Redwing down in the NE corner but little else except flocks of Curlew flying over with numerous Skylark and Meadow Pipit.

Monday 26 October 2020

Siberian Chiffchaff

Most birders have now left Shetland so its down to a few local birder to come up with the goods. The Blackpoll Warbler remains up at East Burrafirth and on Sunday a Whites Thrush made an appearance in Gulberwick, may be the same one from last week which appeared in nearby Lerwick

A number of Arctic Redpolls are still getting reported, most from Unst and several Siberian Chiffchaff from various parts including two from the south mainland.

I went down to the Blyth Reed Warbler site at Spiggie, a place i intend to keep an eye on. As soon as i arrived the Sib Chiffchaff was seen on nettles just a few feet away.

A Blue Tit made a couple of fleeting appearances then moved back into  dense nettles, a rare bird in Shetland.

It flew over the narrow burn and landed near the cattle feeding rings and started to feed. It posed a few time then dropped to the ground where it caught a Crane fly

This was a ringed bird

It then moving further into cover in the corner near the fence. I spent some time here and a flock of Brambling moved in, 6 birds with a couple landing on the fence. A Chaffinch soon joined them and they flew and landed in a field on the opposite side of the road.

Two Robin and three Wren fed close by, a Wood pigeon flew passed and then a couple of Goldcrest appeared in front of me feeding before moving up the burn

Flocks of Fieldfare (50) and Redwing (20) were joined by Blackbird (20) but were very wary. From the nettles further in flocks of Meadow pipit (40) and Skylark (22) took to the air.

No sign of the Great White Egret but plenty of swan with Whooper (64) and Mute (12) with lots of wigeon, goldeneye, Tufted, Mallard, Teal and a few coot on the loch.

Sunday 18 October 2020

Shetland Blackpoll Warbler

 A good run of rare birds in Shetland continued with the Blackpoll warbler over at East Burrafirth near Aith in the west mainland.

The Blackpoll Warbler is a rare North American visitor, recorded only 5 times before in Shetland. All Uk records all have been in October. This is a long distance migrant over wintering in central and south America and travelling up to 12,500 miles a year.

This bird has been present in a small hidden plantation for the past three days. Very few people know about this plantation which was planted 20 years ago. Its a mixed wood with a few confers but also with lots of Alders.

This warbler preferred the Alder finding lots of insects.

Unlike the Red Flanked Bluetail which showed for about 10 mins in around 8 hours looking, this warbler showed straight away and stayed in the same Alder for about 20 mins before disappeared further into the wood.

It was very, very active and with the poor light in the middle of the wood made photography challenging.

Most of these photos were taken at ISO6400 and even then no higher than 1/500 second on a 600mm lens.

The bird was joined by two Yellow Browed Warblers and a Goldcrest while further in a Blue Tit was seen and heard.

It was good to see Paul Bloomer and his wife and they left Hugh Harrop and me to the bird. The day before there may have been over 20 birder present, not good for social distancing in a small are.