Friday, 22 February 2019

22nd February

An overcast day with a brisk southerly wind; there were few new arrivals noted around the Obs and Brides as totals included 17 Red-throated Divers, 5 Great-northern Divers, 2 new Mute Swans at Brides, the 3 Pink-footed Geese, the drake Green-winged Teal still on Gretchen, 4 Pintail, 8 Shoveler, 12 Long-tailed Ducks, a Merlin, 56 Skylarks, 8 Rock Pipits, the 5 Chaffinches, 60 Twite, 3 Common Redpolls, 35 Snow Buntings and 6 Reed Buntings.


Thursday, 21 February 2019

21st February

A good birding day with light S / SE winds and overcast conditions; it was the first day of the year that there seemed to be some decent landbird migration over the island, highlights included the first Pied Wagtail of the year at the pier, the first 2 Linnets of the year in off the sea from the south, the first Sparrowhawk of the year at Holland, 2 Peregrines (2cy male and 2cy female) causing havoc amongst the waders and a good total of 173 Skylarks seemingly moving in all direction with c50 trickling south through the day, a flock of 38 which left to the north from the lighthouse and a big flock of 65 in East Loch Park.

                Other totals from some good coverage included 10 Red-throated Divers, the Eurasian White-fronted Goose still, a single Pink-footed Goose, 15 Gadwall (highest count of the year so far), the drake Green-winged Teal on Gretchen, 38 Tufted Ducks (highest count of the year so far), a Merlin, 84 Ringed Plover, 550+ Golden Plover, 80 Sanderling, 162 Snipe (highest count of the year so far), 90 Curlew, 124 Redshank, 20 Black-headed Gulls and 461 Common Gulls (both the highest counts of the year so far), the 5 Chaffinches, 40 Twite, the 3 Common Redpolls and 56+ Snow Buntings.


20th February

A wet morning and a grey afternoon; the first Lesser Black-backed Gull of the year – an adult on Garso, was the only new bird seen during limited coverage through the day.   Other birds of note included 6 Red-throated Divers, a single Pink-footed Goose, 4 Shelduck, 5 Gadwall, 10Pintail, 10 Shoveler, 24 Tufted Duck, 6 Red-breasted Mergansers, a Merlin round the Obs, 40 Twite and 15 Snow Buntings.

Common Gulls and Purple Sandpipers

Tuesday, 19 February 2019

19th February

A decent day, bright and clear with a decreasing WNW wind which dropped off to almost nothing by late afternoon; some good coverage from a walk round the coast from the Obs to The Links and then a drive round the rest of the lochs produced some further increases in wildfowl and wader numbers including year’s high counts of 246 Teal, 97 Mallard, 9 Red-breasted Mergansers and 370 Lapwings.   Other totals of note comprised 4 Little Grebes (with birds now on Brides, Hooking and Garso), 3 Pink-footed Geese (not sure where they’ve been since they were last seen on the 10th), 263 Wigeon, 7 Gadwall, 6 Pintail, 11 Shoveler, 22 Tufted Ducks, 220 Golden Plover, a Knot, 25 Dunlin and 170 Common Gulls.

                There were some increases on the land as well, most notably a total of 107 Skylarks along with a Hen Harrier, a Song Thrush, 4 Chaffinches, the 3 Common Redpolls, 55+ Twite and 80 Snow Buntings.   With the very calm conditions in the late afternoon I opened the nets at Holland and was rewarded with a beautiful young female Merlin which, as well as getting caught herself managed to chase five Fieldfares into the nets.

Red-breasted Mergansers getting in the groove

Monday, 18 February 2019

18th February

Bright and sunny throughout the day but we kept the strong southerly wind which made things tricky in the field; walked up the west coast to Westness and back down the middle of the island and birds of note included the 2 Whooper Swans which landed on Gretchen, the drake Green-winged Teal also on Gretchen, an adult male Peregrine (only the second record of the year - probably the same bird as in January) causing havoc over Loch Park, a Merlin round the Obs and c70 Snow Buntings dotted around the place.


Sunday, 17 February 2019

17th February

Largely overcast with a strong southerly wind throughout; with summer migrants amazingly turning up on Shetland today, there was a smidgeon of anticipation out in the field but there was little new to mention as totals from around the island consisted of long-staying or regularly commuting birds.   Numbers included 4 Herons, the 2 Whooper Swans which didn’t leave after all, the Eurasian White-fronted Goose still, 4 Shelduck, the drake Green-winged Teal still on Gretchen, 97 Mallard, 10 Pintail, 10 Shoveler, a further increase to 36 Tufted Duck, the drake Smew once again on Bewan (last seen here on the 5th and present on North Loch, Sanday yesterday), 4 Red-breasted Mergansers, 47 Coot, 50 Black-tailed Godwits still on Brides, 12 Fieldfare, 5 Chaffinches and 15 Snow Buntings.

White-fronted Goose

Saturday, 16 February 2019

16th February

A lovely calm start with a light easterly breeze slowly increasing through the day; there was no evidence of any other new arrivals after yesterday’s ‘excitement’ as totals around the south end of the island and a brief look at the north end included 11 Great-northern Divers, the 2 Whooper Swans which left to the south in the morning, the Eurasian White-fronted Goose still, 8 Pintail, 19 Long-tailed Ducks, a Hen Harrier, 61 Oystercatchers, a Knot, a noticeable build-up of Black Guillemots around the south end starting to display, 29 Skylarks, a Robin at Holland, the 5 Chaffinches, 60 Twite, 3 Common Redpolls and 51+ Snow Buntings.


Friday, 15 February 2019

15th February

Bright and sunny throughout with a brisk southerly wind; good coverage through the day consisting of a walk round the coast from the Obs to The Links, working round the Obs and a drive round the lochs produced some notable influxes of a few things hinting at the spring to come.   These included an excellent build-up of 60 Coots (the highest count since 2012) – up to 20 have been present through January and early February, a much-improved count of 83 Skylarks (with a flock of 59 near the school) – c30 over-wintered, year’s high counts of 27 Tufted Ducks, 96 Mallard and 13 Black-headed Gulls and three new Mute Swans on Bewan (with the resident pair still on Garso).

Other totals through the day included 4 Herons, the 2 Whooper Swans still, a Pink-footed Goose seen leaving out to the south, 220 Wigeon, 175 Teal, 6 Pintail, 8 Shoveler, single Hen Harrier and Merlin, 450 Golden Plover, 275 Lapwing, a Knot, 35 Bar-tailed Godwits, the flock of 51 Black-tailed Godwits again on Brides (last seen on the 6th, maybe commuting between here and Sanday), 12 Rock Pipits, 2 Chaffinches, 60 Twite, 2 Common Redpolls and 49+ Snow Buntings.

Black-tailed Godwits

The Brides Great Black-backed Gull pair have started to get aggro already

Thursday, 14 February 2019

14th February

A damp start but the day marginally dried and brightened up but remained cloudy with a light southerly breeze; it was a quiet day in the field as totals comprised 8 Great-northern Divers, 2 Whooper Swans on Ancum – first ones since 24th January, the Green-winged Teal still on Gretchen, 10 Pintail, 6 Shoveler and 4 Goldeneye on Bewan, a Merlin round the Obs, 2 Chaffinches and the big flock of 80+ Snow Buntings which had moved to Nether Linnay.

Snow Buntings

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

13th February

Morning rain moved through by 10:00 leaving a decent day with a moderate southerly breeze; during a walk round the south end and later a drive round the lochs a few things posted their highest counts so far this year with 905 Greylag Geese, 310 Wigeon, 190 Teal and 37 Bar-tailed Godwits of note.   Other birds included 3 Shelducks, the drake Green-winged Teal on Gretchen, 4 Gadwall, 9 Pintail, 6 Shoveler, a Hen Harrier, a Knot, 18 Skylark, 4 Chaffinches, a single Common Redpoll with 32 Twite and 85 Snow Buntings.   Two Harbour Porpoise in Nouster Bay were the first of the year.

The Gretchen Shelduck pair were busy seeing off an interloper

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

12th February

A very different day with a strong and increasing southerly wind but it remained dry and sunny throughout; a few hours spent in likely spots during high tide produced the highlight of 2 Glaucous Gulls – a near-adult and a 2cy, roosting on the grass near the lighthouse.   Otherwise it was unremarkable as birds of note included 4 Great-northern Divers, the Eurasian White-fronted Goose, 6 Gadwall, 3 Pintail, 6 Shoveler, 15 Tufted Ducks (the highest count this year so far), 18 Bar-tailed Godwits and a bit of an influx of Gulls in the rough weather including 285 Common Gulls, 105 Herring Gulls and 180 Great Black-backed Gulls.

Glaucous Gulls

Monday, 11 February 2019

11th February

Not a bad morning, dry with a light but cold NW wind; a look around the north end produced the day’s highlight of a monster HUMPBACK WHALE seen briefly a couple of times off Bewan, I only saw it blow twice and caught a quick glimpse of the animal itself before it disappeared into the sun and rougher water round the point.   Birdwise it was much quieter as totals just included 8 Red-throated Divers, 9 Great-northern Divers, 3 Shelduck, 4 Gadwall, 6 Pintail, 17 Long-tailed Ducks, 6 Goldeneye, 7 Red-breasted Mergansers (highest count of the year so far) and 355 Golden Plover.

                It was nice and calm in the afternoon so I managed to open the nets at Holland for the first time this year and managed to catch 25 birds – an excellent total for February, including the three over-wintering Common Redpolls and a bunch of Redwings, Song Thrushes and Blackbirds as they came into roost.   A Woodcock was flushed out of the garden, a Merlin flashed past and a Kestrel came into roost as well – the wintering one was last seen at the start of January, surely it would have been spotted between then and now if it had lingered, did it leave and come back, is it a new one, have I missed it all this time?

The three Common Redpolls

Sunday, 10 February 2019

10th February

A stunning, flat calm morning with Skylarks singing over the fields and Long-tailed Ducks yodelling in the bay, there were a couple of sharp showers from lunchtime as the NE wind gradually picked up; despite the lovely morning and a huge hatch of flies all around the coast there was little new to report out in the field (hence all the sightings being prefixed by ‘the’ rather than ‘a’!).   Totals seen along the coast from the Obs to The Links included the Black-throated Diver again in Nouster, 7 Great-northern Divers, the Eurasian White-fronted Goose and 3 Pink-footed Geese with the Greylags, 2 Shelduck, 165 Wigeon, 130 Teal, the Green-winged Teal again in East Loch Park, 78 Mallard, 8 Shoveler, 7 Tufted Ducks, 17 Long-tailed Ducks, 340 Golden Plover, 305 Lapwing (the highest count of the year so far), 2 Knot, 145 Purple Sandpipers, 82 Dunlin (the highest count of the year so far), 2 Ruff, 90 Snipe, 35 Bar-tailed Godwits, 151 Turnstone, 7 Black-headed Gulls and 295 Common Gulls.

                Landbirds comprised a Hen Harrier, 16 Skylarks, a Meadow Pipit, 21 Rock Pipits, a Song Thrush, 1,250 Starlings (including c1,000 feeding on the beach at The Links), 4 Chaffinches, 3 Common Redpolls with 63 Twite at Kirbest, 85 Snow Buntings still in East Loch Park and 5 Reed Buntings.

Golden Plover

Common Redpoll with the Twite

Saturday, 9 February 2019

9th February

Lighter winds than yesterday but still a damp and horrible day with waves and waves of heavy rain sweeping across the island throughout; not much coverage through the day but birds near the Obs included the Green-winged Teal in East Loch Park, 2 Shelduck, 7 Shoveler and a Black-headed Gull on Gretchen and 40+ Snow Buntings still in East Loch Park.

Snow Bunting

Friday, 8 February 2019

8th February

A real change in the weather with a blazing strong force 7 easterly wind bringing long periods of heavy, driving rain only clearing through by late afternoon; most of the sightings were restricted to a drive around the lochs at lunchtime and was highlighted by a brutish 3cy Glaucous Gull at Bewan – white-wingers have been very scarce this winter.   Other birds included 3 Shelduck, a single Pintail, 12 Tufted Ducks (the highest count this year so far), 5 Red-breasted Mergansers, a Black-headed Gull and 150+ Great Black-backed Gulls – the first rough weather build-up since I’ve been back.

Glaucous Gull

Thursday, 7 February 2019

7th February

Calm and overcast through the day with a spell of light rain around lunchtime; there was little new around the south of the island in the afternoon but birds did include 5 Red-throated Divers, 5 Great-northern Divers, the Eurasian White-fronted Goose and 3 Pink-footed Geese with the Greylags, 2 Shelduck, the Green-winged Teal on Gretchen, 3 Pintail, 4 Shoveler, 12 Long-tailed Ducks, a Hen Harrier, 450+ Golden Plover, a Woodcock in Holland, 5 Skylarks, 2 Meadow Pipits, the 5 Chaffinches and 75+ Snow Buntings.

Snow Buntings

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

6th February

Another fine day with some good spells of sunshine and a lighish but cold SW wind; there seemed to be a few new birds across the island, predominantly represented by some notably increased wader counts, the highlight was a flock of 51 Black-tailed Godwits on Brides – an unseasonal date for such a big arrival, they probably haven’t come from that far away, also notable was a much improved count of 816 Golden Plover – nearly double recent counts.

                Other high tide totals from Westness, Ancum to Hooking and Brides included 4 Herons, a Shelduck, 170 Wigeon, 10 Shoveler. 335 Eider (highest count of the year so far), 5 Goldeneye, 95 Ringed Plover, 40 Sanderling, 185 Purple Sandpiper, 57 Dunlin, 2 Knot, 4 Ruff, 29 Bar-tailed Godwit, 68 Curlew, 121 Redshank, 6 Black-headed Gulls and 160 Common Gulls.   Across the land, birds included single Hen Harrier and Merlin, 8 Skylarks (including several singing birds), a Meadow Pipit, 33 Rock Pipits, 16 Fieldfares, 38 Redwing, 980+ Starlings, the five Chaffinches and 83+ Snow Buntings.


Tuesday, 5 February 2019

5th February

A stunning morning, bright and sunny with not a breath of wind; a few flocks of Skylarks and a couple of Meadow Pipits were seen flying very high and calling like they were tempted into doing something migratory but I don’t think they followed through in the end.   Totals through the day from walks round Westness and the north end as well as a drive round some lochs included 6 Herons, 7 Gadwall, 138 Teal, the Green-winged Teal back on Gretchen, 6 Pintail, 11 Shoveler, 5 Goldeneye, the drake Smew still on Bewan, 70 Oystercatchers, 75 Ringed Plovers, 464 Golden Plover, 215 Purple Sandpipers, 64 Dunlin, 3 Ruff at Claypows, 25 Bar-tailed Godwits and 138 Redshank.

                Landbirds of note comprised 17 Skylark, 2 Meadow Pipits, 18 Rock Pipits, a Robin, 18 Fieldfare, 40 Redwing, 2 Song Thrushes (Obs and Longar), 9 Hooded Crows, the 5 Chaffinches and the flock of 80+ Snow Buntings in East Loch Park.

Tysties are beginning to turn black again

Monday, 4 February 2019

4th February

Nice and bright again with an increasing NW wind and a few light showers; birds around the Obs and in the middle of the island (Westness, Torness and Ancum) included 4 Great-northern Divers, 6 Herons, a Pink-footed Goose, 2 Shelduck, the drake Green-winged Teal still in East Loch Park, 7 Shoveler, a Hen Harrier, a Merlin, 60 Oystercatchers, 310 Golden Plovers, 2 Knot and 35 Bar-tailed Godwits in wet fields around Phisligar, 155 Purple Sandpipers, 37 Dunlin, 69 Redshank and a Black-headed Gull on Ancum (only the second of the year).

                On the land, totals included 2 Skylarks, a Meadow Pipit, 11 Rock Pipits, 8 Fieldfare, 10 Redwing, 2 Song Thrushes (at Nether Linnay, so possibly new birds), the 5 Chaffinches, 30 Twite and 80+ Snow Buntings in East Loch Park.

Bar-tailed Godwits

Sunday, 3 February 2019

3rd February

A fine, bright morning with light winds but a prolonged band of wintery showers moved in at lunchtime only clearing by mid-afternoon; a walk round the coast from the Obs to The Links produced many of the lingering highlights including the drake Green-winged Teal on pools in East Loch Park, the Eurasian White-fronted Goose with Greylags near Holland and presumably the same Black-throated Diver off The Links.   Other totals included 3 Great-northern Divers, a Heron, a Pink-footed Goose, 210 Wigeon, 115 Teal, 75 Mallard, 7 Shoveler, 22 Long-tailed Ducks, 3 Red-breasted Mergansers, a Hen Harrier, a Merlin (a different bird to the one that was seen several times in January), the Water Rail in Holland, 161 Lapwings, 52 Sanderling, 165 Purple Sandpipers, 4 Ruff and 3 Black-tailed Godwits with Lapwings at Brides, 76 Snipe, 51 Curlew and 110 Redshank.

                Wintering Passerines largely remained the same as totals included 16 Skylarks, 2 Meadow Pipits, 12 Rock Pipits, 9 Fieldfares, 7 Redwing, 3 Ravens (an extra one!), 45 Twite, 2 Common Redpolls and 60+ Snow Buntings.

Purple Sandpiper


Saturday, 2 February 2019

2nd February

More nice weather, plenty of sunshine and only a few half-hearted wintery showers but a moderate and cold NW wind did a good job of giving the day an edge; not much time spent in the field although the Eurasian White-fronted Goose was still in fields opposite Purtabreck and the drake Smew was on Bewan with 4 Goldeneye.

This fine drake Wigeon was the highlight of a short dazzling session last night

Friday, 1 February 2019

1st February

Another glorious day with plenty of sunshine and hardly a breath of wind (until mid-afternoon when a series of heavy, wintery showers swept across the island); totals on the calm seas along the coast from the Obs to The Links included 5 Red-throated Divers, 16 Great-northern Divers, 18 Long-tailed Ducks, 2 Red-breasted Mergansers and the highlight of a Little Auk in Nouster Bay.   Other birds of note through the day comprised the Eurasian White-fronted Goose, a single Pink-footed Goose, a Hen Harrier, 351 Golden Plover, 2 Knot, 2 Ruff, 11 Rock Pipits, 36 Redwing, 11 Fieldfares, a Song Thrush, the 5 Chaffinches and 20 Twite.

The Fulmars had a lot to say