Thursday, 12 October 2017

Gratuitous Bluetail

I've rather unashamedly dedicated this photo heavy blogpost to a little star performer I saw on Shetland.

Red-flanked Bluetail is no longer classed as a rarity by the BBRC (British Birds Rarity Committee) as it is now a regular autumn visitor to our shores, even with the odd spring record and recently a wintering bird in Gloucestershire, but there was a time when Red-flanked Bluetail was regarded as a 'Monster Rare' with only 12 records between 1900 - 1989. But even with its change in status it still commands a certain respect and delight to those who are lucky enough to see one, so I was thrilled when this bird showed up on a remote northern part of Shetland (Ibsiter, North Roe) and it was an easy decision to make to go and pay it a visit - and boy it didn't disappoint...

Shetland

Shetland

Shetland

Shetland

Shetland

Shetland

Shetland

Shetland

Shetland

Shetland

Shetland


Sunday, 8 October 2017

Shetland 30th Sept - 7th Oct

Just a little breakdown of the notable birds I had throughout my week on Shetland, where the crew bashed the patch (Sumburgh region) in difficult weather conditions each morning with very little reward, before heading out for the day.

Great Grey Shrike (Grutness)
Rustic Bunting x2 (Melby and Lower Voe)
Little Bunting x3 (Sumburgh Lighthouse, Grutness and Benston Plantation)
Pallas's Grasshopper Warbler (Collafirth)
Siberian Chiffchaff (Yell)
Parrot Crossbill x5 (x4 Sand and x1 Lerwick)
Hawfinch x2 (Lerwick Helendale and Housetter)
Wood Warbler x1 (Cunningsburgh)
Common Crane (Sumburgh in flight and again on the deck at Lower Brow)
Snow Bunting (Sumburgh Lighthouse)
Buff-bellied Pipit (Grutness)
Red-flanked Bluetail (North Roe)
Yellow-browed Warbler (Seen daily at several locations)
Lesser Whitethroat - Blythi (Toab)

Plus good numbers of Redstart, Spotted Flycatcher and a single Pied Flycatcher at Sand.

In addition the crew also added...
Bluethroat (Grutness)
Red-breasted Flycatcher (Benston Plantation)
Arctic Warbler (Sweening)
There was also a good shout of a Great Snipe on Fetlar, and Blyth's Reed Warbler at Sumburgh Farm - alas both of these were frustratingly never quite nailed!

Just a 102 species recorded, by no means a significant number but again the weather was always against us.

Here's a selection of photographed birds from my Shetland trip.

Melby, Shetland
Rustic Bunting, Melby
Lerwick, Shetland
Parrot Crossbill, Lerwick
Sumburgh, Shetland
Common Crane, Sumburgh
Buff-bellied Pipit, Grutness
Buff-bellied Pipit, Grutness
Buff-bellied Pipit, Grutness
Snow Bunting, Sumburgh
Shetland, Sandwick
Spotted Flycatcher, Sandwick
Spotted Flycatcher, Sandwick
Red-flanked Bluetail, North Roe
North Roe, Shetland
Red-flanked Bluetail, North Roe

Otters on Shetland

I've just returned from another great week on the Shetland Isles, and despite the difficult weather conditions in which our four man crew (Paul Hawkins, Martin Blow and Andy Lawson) battled against a strong westerly wind all week which turned gale force at times, there were still a good selection of birds to be found and seen (more about those another time) but the undoubted highlight of the trip was the discovery of an adult Otter and her two kits.

I've seen Otters on previous trips to the Islands, but typically these views have always been at some distance through bins - but this time it was on a whole new level. We discovered this family party hunting amongst the seaweed in the sheltered sea cove on the mainland at Burra Voe, so we carefully positioned ourselves behind the large rocks used as wave breaks to protect the road, and then for a short period we were amazingly watching the family at a range of about 15 meters as one of the kits called to the adult.

This was without doubt one of the best wildlife experiences I've had the pleasure in witnessing and photographing in the UK, and another reminder that visiting Shetland isn't just about the birds...

Shetland, Scotland

Shetland, Scotland

Shetland, Scotland

Shetland, Scotland

Shetland, Scotland

Shetland, Scotland