Sunday, 19 October 2014

More Shetland, Pallid Harrier

Undoubtedly the highlight from the week on Shetland had to be the Rubythroat but witnessing a stunning juvenile Pallid Harrier hunt over the open grassland and moors surrounding the airfield at Tingwall came a close second.

After seeing the Hornemann's Arctic Redpoll at Veensgarth, and although nice this was, it was a little under whelming as the bird wasn't quite the big snowball I had hoped for but a rather plainer looking 1st-winter female, the team decided to head the short distance to Tingwall in hope of catching up with the juvenile Pallid Harrier which had been reported in the area for the last few days and whilst we still had some light left in the day - but in all honesty I didn't think we had much chance of seeing it giving size of the area and the large range the bird could cover.

But within minutes of arriving as we stood watching from our vantage point on slightly higher ground above the airfield and sheltered from the elements by a farm building, luck would have it the bird came into view and I was able to enjoy excellent scope views down to less than 30 metres as the bird circled the airfield. At one stage as it passed relatively close by I was so engrossed with watching it hunt, mesmerised by the birds head pattern and soaking up the moment through the scope, I had to be reminded I was carrying a camera, to the point I almost missed the opportunity in getting the photographs below.

Juvenile, Shetland

Juvenile, Shetland

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Bonelli's Warbler of an Eastern persuasion

It took two trips to Scalloway to nail this rather special little Phyllo. The first attempt was a little half-hearted as the our crew had all seen Western Bonelli's Warbler before. After a couple hours searching the mature Sycamores and gardens we did finally manage the briefest of flight views, content this was another bird added to the growing trip list we moved on, but things changed once news broke that the bird had been heard calling confirming this an Eastern Bonelli's Warbler! The flight views were not going to be good enough and we were back on site the following morning for another attempt.

Stopping on route at Wester Quarrf to search for yet another Little Bunting (one of many we dipped, strung, and eventually saw that week) we stumbled across an Olive-backed Pipit in the same crop field, a great find for our four man crew and thoroughly deserved after all the miles, slog and hours we'd been putting in.

Back at Scalloway our initial search drew a blank but as more and more birders arrived on site, eventually the bird was located and prolonged and good views were had by all, although during this time the bird didn't call for us. I'm happy to pencil this one in as a tick and await confirmation in the coming months from the BBRC - but all the signs are looking good that this is going to be Britain's 7th record.

Shetland, Scaloway

Shetland, Scaloway