May 23, 2012

Morris’s Dotterels

Just been to see Morris’s Dotterels in a rolled field just beyond the east mainland kirk, that’s beyond Graemshall on the St Andrews road. Flighty with a long view I was glad of the scope!! Three were in sight but moved about within the adjoining field as well. They were there yesterday so they might remain for a day or so with a bit of luck.

May 17, 2012

Oooo err

I am about to be in so much shit!! We are about to go shopping , the cubbords are bare and the last two weeks housekeeping have all been spent on petrol and mars bars while i have twiching and searching the county. Money well spent i think!!

Little Egret

There is a nice Little Egret feeding behind Banks cottage at the Loch of Banks right now!! It is giving nice views from the road!

May 14, 2012

May 11, 2012

Red Grouse

I met the Shetland wildlife group on a cold and desolate Hillside Rd out west late this afternoon. There was nothing to see apart from some distant gulls and dark showers on the horizon. Five seconds after they departed this Red Grouse popped up close by and started calling. Taking the piss isn’t it !!

May 9, 2012

A stunning day of migrants!!

Stunning day of migrants!!

We have had a stunning day and I haven’t traveled any further than half a mile about the sooth parish!! I had planned to get out early this morning and head towards the south end then work my way back. Delayed by showers but enthused by Barrie Hammils finds across Burray first thing this morning off I set! It was just past nine when I pulled in at Burwick and Swallows were in and out of the buildings whilst others were sitting about on fences and wires. I took a look about the back there but didn’t see anything then moved on to the rugosa bushes at the end of the Kirk yard. These soon showed a pair of chiffchaff and other movement within.. Further along and looking around the back a sedgie shoots out and over the road to starts singing on landing, Under the bushes and out a bit a single female blackcap becomes a pair of females and off on the grass two brambling are going back and forth to the bushes, in between all these arrivals the local linnets scurry about with beaks full of dry grass to build their nests.
Thinking this was something best shared I shot off up the road to Stan and Margaret’s house, They had been enjoying a fall that started at dusk last night with the arrival of a garden full of blackbirds followed by brambling and chiffchaffs. Some were still there and whilst Stan dragged himself from his office we managed chiffchaff a pair of redstart, robin, goldfinch and saw a breeding pair of Widgeon. So once ready to get going we decide to wander a bit and see what’s about after all we are right down at the south end and you couldn’t ask for better place for migrants dropping in. At the end of the road is a deserted house with an over grown garden.. It proves to be a disappointment full of starlings and sparrows and a fleeting glance of a small grey thing! Never mind onwards. Beyond this and over a couple of fields there is a promising stand of willow and scrub so we head there to give it ago. The threatening and rainy skies of earlier have broken up and the north wind has dropped to produce a bright spring day, even with the north wind its lovely to be out! Approaching down a track we crisscross a bit along a very rankly grown quarried bank and reach the trees end on looking down the length of them which is about eighty yards. Straight away its clear there is quite a bit of activity with birds at the far end actively fly catching from the fence and bushes!! Yefuckin ha !!!this is what we have come to see. The three of us move up the field of rank grass and settle down about twenty yards up where we gain a nice view along the trees and fence line. Settling in to the deep grassy tussocks activity is almost uninterrupted. Before us every thing sits in the lea of the wind its still and awash with warm sunshine, in front of the trees the ground is wet with marsh marigolds flowering and it is alive with flies and insects. This is an all you can eat bonanza and the hungry migrants were taking full advantage. Scanning along the fence with bins had four redstarts and three spot flys all diving in and out back to their perches. I have only ever had glimpses of redstarts and here they were en mass, superb!! There were plenty of other common migrants about with lesser white throats having a bit of a sing as we arrived. There were a good few of these about and they popped up over and over for the three hours we sat there. Three at the same time was the best count with them. The bottom end of the trees has a stand of fir and the chiffchaff seemed to be loving this, although it was far away you could see them constantly moving about flicking their tails and wings. I was going to return to the house for the scope but Margaret insisted on doing it, the girls a star as she returned with sarnies and kitkats.!!! It was a return not a moment to soon as well because a Pied flycatcher had started to hunt from a perch thirty yards away. This was a male, striking in its black and white plumage. At times it and the redstarts would be passing a few feet over our heads as they circled round to return to a perch. It was breath taking stuff.
All of this activity can help but produce some interest from hungry raptors and sure enough we had a sparrow hawk come tearing in at ground level and disappeared in to the trees. She soon popped back out and circled a couple of times before disappearing to the north. A little while later the birds scattered to cover again, this time a buzzard and a peregrine had a big falling out about two hundred feet above us. Both of them lost any chance of any thing and separated moving away. The redstarts almost immediately repapered . The males were calling quite a bit with a single repeated call that sounded like a male chaffinch or greenfinch. A reed bunting showed for a while and the calls of a pair of terns had us spinning round to see the first arctic terns any of us had seen this year pass over head, A robin appeared as well!, It seem you cant go anywhere for the last few weeks with out finding a robin !! You would think I couldn’t get better but it kept creeping up the scale. At one point we realised that there were two male pied flys in sight at the same time and I got a pic with pied and spotted and a chiffchaff all in the same frame. Photography was to prove challenging for me tho (I don’t know about Stans yet) the warmth produced a mad heat haze and the sunlight made exposures on the white feathers a nightmare but I digiscoped away like a mad thing getting a succession of soft images. Even this failed to dampen my spirits, I was in seventh heaven, hid was bliss.!! Im sitting here typing with one side of my face burnt red and I have a matching nose and I couldn’t care less!!!
I have never seen a fall of migrants so concentrated like this. It was the sort of thing you dream of on those cold winters night in front of the fire.
I really have no idea how many birds were in the trees but it was hooching!! This a list of the most seen at one time. 2 pied fly, 5 spot fly, 3 blackcap 3 lesser whitethroat, 1 reedbunting , 2 willow warbler, 4 chiffchaff , and best of all 7 redstart 5male ,2 female.

That was one of my best birding sessions….ever!!! it just went on and on and on!!!! The south parrish rocks!!!

May 6, 2012

Huge wimbrel fall in Stenness

I have just been out to see the Whimbrel flock that Erik Meek reported on orkbird.. They are in a field near Millquoy, Stenness. This is just up the back road to Stenness going from the mill of Ireland off the Orphir road The birds are in the fields to the right on the brow of the hill. There have been fifty or more and I counted twentyeight. Not only are they rare, unusual and fantastic sight but they also sound amazing as they are calling back and forth…don’t miss out as they will be gone all to soon.

May 2, 2012

Golden plover

We are getting passing migrants and from tine to time you can see visable migration but its been quite quiet on the rarity sightings. There has been a marked passage of Sea eagles over the last few days with birds heading in both directions a couple of times!!