Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Shetland highlights 2013

We after 12 days on Fair Isle and mainland Shetland here are some of the Highlights
Thick-billed Warbler, Lanceolated Warbler, Syke's Warbler, Eastern Olivaceous Warbler (all lifers) Olive-backed Pipit, Short-toed Lark, Red-breasted Flycatcher, 35+ Yellow-browed Warblers, 2 Barred Warblers, Dotterel, and several each of Jack Snipe and Lapland Bunting. Oh an who could forget the great scenery, hospitality and fantastic company.

6th,7th, and 8th October

The first full day on Mainland Shetland was windy and damp with drizzle on and off all day. We spent the morning birding around the accommodation, finding Spotted Flycatcher, a couple of Yellow-browed Warblers, and Blackcaps. After that we headed to Voe in search of the Arctic Warbler that had been present for a few days. The Warbler wasn't present but we did find a new Red-breasted Flycatcher and a supporting cast of 2+ Yellow-browed Warblers, blackcaps, Great spotted Woodpecker, Siskin and Chiffchaff. The rest of the day was spent birding different spots around the Island but only produced more Y B Warblers and  2 Goldfinch (scarce on Shetland).
The 7th was less windy but with low cloud and almost constant light rain. We headed to Yell in search of the Buff-bellied Pipit but it failed to show in the time we were there. We did get great views of the Eastern Subalpine Warbler as the rain got heavier around late morning. We spent the rest of the day birding around Yell finding yet more Y B Warblers with every area we looked at having one. A Siberian Chiffchaff was also found and was a first for me as I have never seen one that has had enough plumage characteristic to tick with confidence. A Reed warbler gave us the run around for well over an hour at one garden before giving itself up and showing well, if only it could have been a Blyth's Reed!
The 8th was our last day as we were travelling home, and what a mad and exhausting series of events that was. We did however manage to get great views of the Short-toed Lark at Sumbrugh before we left. The journey home involved delayed flights from Shetland, plane breakdown (again on Shetland), running for plane at Stansted with minutes to spare, and problems in the car park. In all I was rather glad to make it back home at 8pm and still can't believe we made it.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

4th and 5th October

Well the 4th was a bit of a nonevent as the weather closed in and meant we couldn't get off Fair Isle, what added to the pain was the news of a Thick-billed Warbler on mainland Shetland. It took all day before we were actually told that there would be no flights but to be honest from the weather we were pretty sure that would be the case. We did get out during the afternoon but migrants seemed thin on the ground with the best being a few Brambling.
The 5th dawned a lot brighter and hopes were high that we would get off on the first flight. Just as we were going to sit down for breakfast we were given the news that the Thick-billed Warbler was still present, tension was high.
As we touched down on mainland news of an Eastern Olivaceous Warbler made the smile on my face a whole lot wider! We were soon on site and after a wait of over an hour we got our first brief flight views. Better views soon followed and we got views of it as it worked its way through a line of willows. We had it a couple more times in flight before we headed off for the Olivaceous Warbler.
It didn't take long before we were watching it flycatch and work its way through a sycamore tree. A superb bird that brought up the 400 on my UK list! Bring on tomorrow!

Thursday, 3 October 2013

3rd October


2nd October

Well I think hard work is an understatement, the wind was strong and at times gusting to gale force. An early Olive-backed Pipit eluded to better things but in all it was a slog. Covering 15 miles in the day the Pipit remained the highlight with most birds sensibly keeping their heads down. A Hen harrier was the highlight of the afternoon and a flock of 6 Redpoll avoided identification as they dropped in briefly before being blown to another part of the Island. The weather forecast for tomorrow is more of the same but with the added delight of rain!

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

1st October

With an increasing south east wind hopes were still high of quality birds being dumped on the Island. However the reality is little has come in. A Richards Pipit was new but very mobile so none of us got it. The Dotterel was still in with the Golden Plover flock and showed well. A few finches had also dropped in and Thrushes seem to have increased. This afternoon I headed out to do some digiscoping.
Dotterel and Great spotted Woodpecker photo by Craig Holden.

29th and 30th

Well the last couple of days have been spot on for the weather but as yet we have seen comparatively little by Fair Isle standards. After covering most of the island between us the best we have managed is a few Yellow-browed Warblers, Lapland Buntings,Sykes's Warbler still present,  Red-breasted Flycatcher, Redstart,mealy Redpoll, Great spotted Woodpecker, Jack Snipe, Dotterl, Ring Ouzel, Bluethroat, and a few Pink-footed Geese. We hope the weather finally delivers the goods tomorrow.