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30 May 2015

Last day on Shetland

Sadly last day on Shetland, so kept close to base and just went to Sumburgh and Grutness.

At Grutness there was a good number of birds with the best being a very smart Great-northern Diver which showed quite well, I sat for a while watching a Dark phase Artic Skua chasing the Terns, the flying skills of both birds were spectacular!

Other birds seen were Shag, Mallard, House Sparrow, Starlings, Sanderling's, Ringed Plovers, Great-black Backed Gulls, Herring and Common Gulls.

In the Quarries on the way to Sumburgh were plenty of Fulmars on nests, Blackbirds, Starlings, House Sparrows and at least 2 Twite.

At Sumburgh there was plenty of birds on the cliff's with Puffins, Razorbills, Gillimots with a few Bridled birds amongst them. Great and Artic Skua's, Hooded Crows, Oystercatchers, Fulmars, Shag, Eider, Skylark, Rock Pipit, Shetland Wren, Wheatears and a couple of Twite around the Lighthouse completed the day.

Had such a great time here and a huge thank you to Rebecca and Phil for your hospitality and help!



29 May 2015

Red-necked Phalarope

I went to Fetlar for a second try to see the Phalarope. I parked up at the car park just above the Loch of Funzie and walked nice and slowly around the Loch keeping by eyes on the bank, because of nesting birds you have to go further into the field, but you can see the water's edge. I got about half way around and there she was! Couldn't believe my luck, not only was she coming my way but the sun for once was behind me, Perfect!!

I laid down in the marsh to get a level shot as well as trying to stay out of sight, the down side of this was I got soaked! But it was worth it, it eventually flew off towards the hide. Such a privilege to watch this beauty and worth the journey.

Plenty of other birds about with Gannets, Shag, Wheatears, Lapwings, Snipe, Oystercatchers, Artic Terns, Artic Skua's, Great Skua's, Hooded Crows, Red-throated Diver's, Great-black Backed Gulls, Herring and Common Gull's, Starling's, Shetland Wren, Fulmars, Whimbrels, Ringed Plovers, Dunlin, Turnstones, Greylag Geese and 4 Red-breasted Merganser's completed a great day!



28 May 2015

Hermaness NNR

I went to the island of Unst by ferry to go to walk around Hermaness NNR to see the sea bird colony which totals 100000 birds, Rebecca and Phil said it was worth the journey and who am I to argue!

Once on the island I looked at the Lochs, pond's and peat bogs and found plenty of birds.

Starting off at the ferry terminal there was Cormorants, then Greylag Geese, Mallard, Teal, Great-black Backed Gulls, Common Gulls, Artic Terns, Great Skua's, Swallows, House Martin, Skylark, Starlings, Redshanks, Snipe, Fulmar, House Sparrows, Hooded Crow, Ringed Plover, Dunlin and Lapwings.

When you get to the Reserve you walk along a Boardwalk for some distance to the cliffs, the Boardwalk which is over the peat bogs also splits the nesting area of the Great Skua,while they have paired up they weren't sitting. They dive bomb you so I am glad I was early!

Other birds on the peat and Heather were Dunlin, Hooded Crow, Skylark, Starling, Wheatears and Meadow Pipit.

The Cliffs were something else with thousands of Gannets, lot's playing in the wind, such great fliers!!

Also Fulmar's, Kittiwakes and Great Skua's showing off there skills. No Auk's out to sea with Gillimots sat on the cliff's and Puffins just showing their heads out of their holes.

Such a great place to visit!!!

On the way back I popped into Sandgarth on the main island to see some Meely Redpolls, nearly gave up but some flew in and a very smart male posed for me which put a full stop on the day for me, another first!!!



27 May 2015

Red-throated Divers

The weather started off fairly grim with wind and rain but thought I would try out the West side of the main island. With a lot of help from Phil I headed off towards the Lighthouse at Esha Ness. Not only hoping to see some birds if the sun came out but to see some of the stunning landscapes.

I saw some birds in a small Loch and parked up and looked in my bins to find a pair of Red-throated Divers and they were displaying, I couldn't believe my luck!

One bird left the water 3 times, once right behind my car! By staying in the car they seemed quite happy but did look a bit wary of a couple of cyclists who had bright waterproofs on who were passing on the road.

It was quite a sight to watch them and a privilege too, I left them after a hour and half and they were still displaying.

I saw quite a few more, on water and flying overhead mostly towards the sea.

Saw plenty of other birds while driving around the peat bogs with Common Gull,Oystercatchers, Curlew's, Fulmars, Artic Terns, Hooded Crows, Ravens, Redshanks, Snipe, Wheatears, Lapwings and Great-black Backed Gulls.

Also saw lots of stunning scenery which just completed the day!

Wonderful!!



26 May 2015

Fetlar

I went to Fetlar today which involved a bit of island hopping, although the wind was getting up the passage was good.

The obvious reason to come to Fetlar is to try and see the Red-necked Phalarope which I had heard has arrived back to breed. Unfortunately for me it was a no show, I think because of the wind they were staying in the reeds and who can blame them!

At the Loch of Funzie there was a lovely pair of Red-throated Divers in the middle with several Artic Terns, Dunlin, Oystercatchers, Pied Wagtails, Wheatears, Snipe, Lapwings, Herring and Great-black Backed Gulls with Great Skua's upsetting the Terns.

Phil and Rebecca told me to try the old air strip which was a great success with 3 Light Phase and 6 Dark Phase Artic Skua's, one Dark bird landed next to the car! Amazing!!

A few Whimbrels and Ringed Plover, also 10 Great Skua's sat bathing in "Skufes Water" which is on the edge of the airfield which I better say is disused, just me and the bird's hahaha!

I then tried out Tresta Beech which was deserted apart from the bird's. In the bay was a very smart Great-northern Diver in breeding plumage, on the beech was Artic Terns, Common Gulls and a lone Herring Gull. Plenty of Great Skua's behind the beech on the grass with a light phase Artic Skua playing with the wind. Plenty of Fulmars on the cliff's with Hooded Crow, Meadow Pipit and Skylark around the car park.

Thought I would look for Otter and went to "Ugasta Pier", no Otter but 6 Red-breasted Merganser's, Artic Terns, Gannets, Black Guillemots, Fulmars and a Dark phase Artic Skua landed much to the disgust of the Terns.

I did see some Otters all by the Ferry Terminals but never had time to take some pics.

Met a few members of the human race and it's been a pleasant experience, especially the locals even if I can't always understand them! hahaha



25 May 2015

Corncrake, Skua's and other great stuff

Had such a great day, was given some info about a Corncrake that was seen a couple of days ago and the bird was quite showey. I've been next to one calling several times, especially on the Isle of Iona but not seen one and here was my chance.luckily it was by a road so I could just park up and watch, I arrived and parked up and almost immediately heard the call but it had moved to the otherside of the road. Was amazed that it was so close and out in the open! Brilliant!!

Once I got some pics I left it in peace and found a local creek, the tide was out and loads of bird's! Shelduck with 9 chicks, Eider, Mallard, Red breasted Merganser's, Dunlin, Turnstones, Oystercatchers, Ringed Plover, Artic Terns, Fulmars, Great-black, Common and Herring Gulls, Starlings and some Swallows hawking for flies over the seaweed.

Then off to catch the ferry to the Isle of Mousa. While waiting for the ferry there was plenty to see, a quick glimpse of a Otter was a treat! Seals all over the place as well as Eider, Mallard, Oystercatchers, Turnstones, Ringed Plovers, Artic Terns, Gannet, Fulmar, Great-black Backed Gull, Rock Pipit, Starling, House Sparrows and a Rock Dove.

The island is south east of Lerwick and is now uninhabited, it is an RSPB Nature Reserve, you get to it by a ferry from Sandsayre at Sandwick. While there is a lot of Wildlife there is lots of archaeological sites such as the 2000yr old Mousa Broch,the best preserved Iron Age tower in existence.

On the island there was Black Gillimots, Artic Terns, Shags, Skylarks, Starlings, Eider, Fulmars, Redshanks, Oystercatchers, Ringed Plover, Lapwing, Snipe, Red breasted Merganser's, Wheatears, Gannets, Raven, Rock Pipit, Great-black and Herring Gulls, Great Skua and best of all 2 Artic Skua's! 1 Light phase and 1 Dark phase, Stunning views!!

To finish the day off view's of Porpoises from the boat on the way back.

Just a brilliant day!



24 May 2015

Sumburgh Head and other places

On a blustery day I headed south to Sumburgh Head which should have taken 45 minutes but took 90 because I stopped to look at all the birds!

Lapwings, Fulmar, Starling, Blackbirds, Oystercatchers, Herring Gulls, Skylarks, Wheatears, Great Skua's, Article and Common Terns, House Sparrows, Swallows and Greylag Geese.

On the track to Sumburgh you pass a couple of Quarries and they were full of nesting Fulmars. After parking up I walked up towards the light house and on the cliff's there was Puffin, Fulmars, Gillimots and a couple that looked like they were Bridled. Razorbills, Shags, Rock Dove, Rock Pulpit and Wren. Great Skua, Raven, Hooded Crow, Oystercatchers, Herring, Great-black Backed and Black-headed Gulls were the other birds seen.

Next stop was Grutness to see the Tern colony which was great, both Article and Common here. Also seen were Oystercatchers, Dunlin, Mallard, Great-black Backed Gull, Common and Herring Gulls as well as a Lesser-black Backed Gull, Pied Wagtails and Starling.

Onto Scatness and the beach which saw Purple Sandpipers, Turnstones, Oystercatchers with Eiders and Shag on the water with Great Skua, Hooded Crow and Raven flying around on the prowl!

Lapwings trying to keep them at bay with Terns and Common Gull's also flying around.

Just behind the beach in some marsh area there was Ringed Plover as well as Lapwing, Meadow Pipit, Oystercatchers and Skylarks.

After a bite to eat took the road to Loch of Spiggie which had 30+ Great Skua sat in the middle of the Loch, also on the water was at least 40 Tufted Duck with4 Greylag Geese flying over.

In the surrounding fields there was Oystercatchers, Raven, Starling, Common Sandpipers, Hooded Crows, House Martins, Fulmars, Pied Wagtails, Mallard, Shelduck, Curlew, Black-headed and Great-black Backed Gulls.

On the way back I stopped by St Ninians Island were there was Sanderling and 2 Great Skua tucking into a dead Lamb on the beach.

Saw plenty of Seals about the shore and plenty members of the human race and on the whole all well behaved.



23 May 2015

Shetland

I've traveled by plane from Exeter to Sumburgh and staying in Lerwick with the loverly Rebecca and Phil for the week.

Already seen loads of birds such as Purple Sandpipers, Turnstones, Oystercatchers and Common Gulls. Great to see waders in summer plumage instead of grey.

Loads of Seals about, quite a sight for me but quite common for the locals.

Phil has filled be with info for the day ahead which will be a trip to Sumburgh Head and other places around the south of the main Island.

Early night I think!



17 May 2015

Squacco Heron, Start Point and other stuff

After hearing that there was a possible 2 or 3 Squacco Herons in South Devon I thought I would venture south and try my luck at Beesands Ley where one had been seen yesterday. I turned up at the hide and there it was! I tried to get some pics but between distance and the reeds getting in the way, the pics turned out crap and I binned the lot! Still I saw it that's the main thing.

There was plenty of other birds about with 14 Canada Geese and 16 mute Swans both with Cygnets in view. Plenty of Coot and a couple of Great crested Grebes, Tufted, Mallard and Gadwall were the ducks.

Reed Warblers were singing in front of the hide and a Sedge Warbler was along the path.

Also seen were Magpie, Carrion Crow, Blackbird, good numbers of Swallows and House Martins hawking for flies over the Ley. Chiffchaff, Blue Tits and Robin.

Apart from one "know it all" in the hide everybody seems quite happy and pleasant which was great!

On to Start Point, when I got to the car park it was quite breezy coming from the South West. Not many birds about with the usual Herring Gulls flying about and Carrion Crows, Jackdaws, Swallows, Stonechats, Skylarks, Meadow Pipits, Dunnock, Robin and Linnets. The best was 4 Cirl Buntings down by Matscombe beech was a very unexpected find and great to see!

Plenty of great flowers about with Bluebells, Thrift and Sea Campion.

Plenty members of the human race about and all enjoying the views, very pleasant!!



16 May 2015

Dartmoor

The day was sunny and clear if not a little breezy, the plan is to park up at Soussons and walk to Challacombe Farm and back.

Wanted to see Redstart to try and get some decent pics of a Male, also wanted to see if Spotted Flycatcher and Grasshopper Warbler had arrived back.

When I parked the car and got out I could hear a call from the top of the trees and looking up to my surprise it was a Male Redstart, but unfortunately not a good position for a photo!

Lots of birds around and on the walk to Soussons Farm there was Buzzard, Pied Wagtail, Jay, Chaffinch, Woodpigeon, Stonechats, Wren, Robin, Linnet, Blackbird, Whitethroat and a Cuckoo flying fast over the bushes with a Meadow Pipit in hot pursuit!

From Soussons Farm to the plantation there was a couple of smart looking Mistle Thrushes looking for food on the field with Magpie Woodpigeons, Chaffinch, Whitethroat, Wren, Blackcap and Swallows hawking for flies.

At the Plantation there was Willow Warbler, Long-tailed Tits, Robin, Carrion Crow, Crossbill, Redpoll, Wren and Blackbird.

On the open Moor going back to Challacombe Farm there was a Cuckoo calling with a Buzzard loafing about in the sky, through the scrub area there was Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Redpoll, robin, Whitethroat, Carrion Crow, Skylark and plenty of Stonechats.

At Challacombe Farm I saw Jackdaw Carrion Crow, Stock Dove, Woodpigeon, Swallows, House Martin, Pied Wagtail, Robin, Chaffinch, Wren, Nuthatch, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Treecreeper, Mallard on the pond and a unexpected first of the year was a Garden Warbler, but the best here was a Spotted Flycatcher! Brill

It got even better on the way back to the car because just past Soussons Farm the sound of 2 Grasshopper Warblers and their distinctive "Reeling" one day I will get a picture of these birds!!

A few Butterflies about mainly Whites but a couple of Peacocks also, reports from others about Coppers and Green Hairstreaks but unfortunately not seen by me.

A few humans about, all happy smiley people, a few birders about and good to have a chat, wish I could remember everybody's name!!



12 May 2015

Ideford Common

Having finished work at 6pm tonight decided to go for a walk around Ideford Common which is not far from Dawlish. Its a heathland so with a luvely sunny evening, I thought I might get lucky!

Stonechats were everywhere, also saw Tree and Meadow Pipits, Great Tit, Blackbird, Woodpigeon, Robin, Linnet, Chiffchaff, Chaffinch, Carrion Crow and Cuckoo which I picked up in my bins which was a treat.

The best though was a Yellowhammer singing away in the evenings sun, absolutely wonderful! One of those good to be alive moments;o)



10 May 2015

Dartmoor

Went up to Dartmoor today hoping to see some Redstarts, Spotted Flycatchers and Grasshopper Warblers. Got one out of three!

Parked up at Soussons as normal and walked towards Soussons Farm, the weather was supposed to be cloudy with sunny spells, but as normal it was raining. Thankfully it didn't last long.

On the way to the farm there was Chaffinch, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Blackbird, Robin, Stonechat, Tree Pipit, Linnet and Wood Pigeon.

At the farm there was plenty of Swallows flying around with Siskin, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Robin and Blue Tit.

On the field going away from the farm there was Blackbird, Robin, Wren and Buzzard and Sparrowhawk in the air. At first I thought the Sparrowhawk was a Goshawk but definitely a Sparrowhawk!

On the Bridleway through the Plantation there was Great Spotted Woodpecker, Robin, Wren, Blue Tit, Chaffinch and Blackbird. Then a stunning male Redstart flew in front of me and sat on branch but before I could get the camera up it flew off! Typical!!

Coming out onto the Moor you could hear a Cuckoo and see a Tree Pipit, also seen from the path that goes to Challacombe via Headland Warren was Chiffchaff, loads of Stonechat, Carrion Crow, Raven, Wheatear, Meadow Pipit, a pair of Whinchat and plenty of Swallows hawking flies in the valley out of the wind.

At Challacombe Farm there was Pied Wagtail, Mallard in the stream, Nuthatch, Coal Tit, Wren, Song Thrush, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Blackbird, Dunnock, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Swallows and a pair of Redstarts, frustratingly I couldn't get a clear shot of ether of them.

Back to the car I heard another Cuckoo and saw Redpoll, Chaffinch, Robin, Blackbird, Wheatear, Skylark, Swallows, Mistle Thrush, Tree Pipit, Wood Pigeon, Linnet, Magpie and a Buzzard loafing around in the sky.

Not many humans about, but those I met were happy soles!



09 May 2015

Exminster Marshes

Parked up at Powderham Church for a walk up the river to Turf and Exminster Marshes. Met by the noise of the resident Rookery, although not as visible as a month ago due to the trees coming into leaf. Plenty of other birds in song with Blackbird, Song Thrush, Robin, Great Tit in voice with Swallows in flight around the church and a few Pheasants in the field.

Along by the new bridge that goes across the railway there was 20+ House Martins collecting mud from the track and plenty of Swallows around, thought they might be building nests on the bridge but after watching for a while I noticed plenty of flies on the warm metal work so it was dinner time;o)

The tide was going out so on the mud flats there was Carrion Crows, several Whimbrel, Oystercatchers, Little Egrets, Curlew, Shelduck, Mallard, Cormorant, Grey Heron, Great-black Backed Gull and Herring Gull.

On the fields there was Jackdaws and Blackbirds looking for food in the pasture and on the way back I found 2 stunning Wheatear which was a nice surprise.

At Turf there was Swallows and House Martins, Robin, Dunnock, Goldfinch and Pied Wagtail.

Along the cycle track there was Blackbird, Sedge Warblers, Magpie, Long-tailed Tits, Wood Pigeon and some Mallard flew over.

A quick look on the canal only found some Mallard and a Moorhen.

Walking on the road through the Marshes Coot, Mute Swans, Pheasants, Mallard, Skylark, Sedge Warblers, Swallows, House Martins, Carrion Crows and Jackdaws were on show. But the biggest Surprise was to see a Avocet asleep on the scrape, thought they had all gone??

On other paths around the Marsh I found Blue Tit, Magpie, Blackbird, Grey Heron, and Moorhen. In the sky there was a Buzzard loafing around a Hobby was near the pylons. Several Lapwings around and along the back path from the RSPB carpark to Turf the Warblers were in good song with Reed, Sedge, Cettis, Blackcap all singing away in the evening sun. Also Blackbird, Dunnock and Wren joining in! Luverly to hear.

Also on the Marsh there was a family of 6 Canada Geese Goslings which followed there proud parents into the water.

Only Butterflies I saw were Orange Tip and a Common Lizard sunning himself on a log was also a nice find.

A few humans around, all behaving themselves and nice to bump into Ivan.



04 May 2015

Shapwick, Somerset

I got up early to go to Shapwick to see the Hudsonian Godwit which had been on Meare Heath all week but typically for me there was a NO show today!!

But never mind as it turned out a fantastic day around the reserve for me as the place was just teaming with birds.

The Warblers were really going for it with Blackcap, Whitethroat, Sedge Warbler, Garden Warbler, Chiffchaff, Reed Warbler and the explosive call of the Cettis Warbler were all around the reserve. When walking past a Cettis just as it calls is like being hit with a hammer!!

Jackdaw, Carrion Crow and Magpies made up the Corvides with Buzzards, Sparrow Hawk, Hobbies and several Marsh Harriers making up the Raptors! The Marsh Harriers were putting on a good show all over the reserve with Hobbies sat on trees just posing, sadly to far away for a picture.

Swifts, the first I have seen this year with Swallows in good numbers flying around the skies hunting for flies.

Also plenty of Woodpigeons about as well as Cuckoos calling in several parts of the reserve.

Other small birds about were Robin, Blackbird, House Sparrow, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Goldfinch, Song Thrush, Dunnock, Long-tailed Tit, Wren, Reed Bunting, Chaffinch and a Great Spotted Woodpecker.

Waders on the Scrape were about 30+ Black-tailed Godwits, Ruff and a Redshank.

Bitterns "Booming" around the reserve with a couple of birds flying and annoyingly I was too slow with the camera! Must do better!!

Pochard, Gadwall, Tufted Duck and Mallard were the Ducks on show with Great White Egret, Little Egret and Grey Heron were the long legged birds as well as Cormorants both flying around as well as resting on the dead trees at Noah's Lake. Plenty of Mute Swans as well as Greylag Geese on the water, Coot, Moorhen, Great Crested Grebes as well as some smart looking Little Grebes in their summer plumage. The distinctive sound of a Water Rail, Herring Gulls and several electric blue flashes of Kingfishers in flight always send the pulse going! Luv those birds!!

Saw a fresh looking Hairy Hawker and several Butterflies, Small Tortishell, Orange Tips, Comma, Small White and some Brimstone, the Peacocks looked quite warn and scruffy.

Plenty of humans about and all seemed happy and well behaved, those like me who travelled a distance to see the Godwit seem to take it in there stride as just one of those things!

Another great day in Somerset and if my maths is correct that's 50 species!!



03 May 2015

Wet day on Dartmoor

I left Dawlish on a luvely sunny day to arrive at Soussons Woods yet again in rain and mist! Well hay ho off we go, put my water proofs on and walked off to Soussons Farm. Despite the weather there was plenty of birds about with several Tree Pipits singing and doing display flights, Nuthatch, Robin, Great Tit, Woodpigeon, Blackbirds, Chiffchaff and Swallows flying around. Also the first of many Cuckoos I heard on the walk.

At Soussons Farm there was noticeably a high number of Great Tits as well as Blackbird, Robin and Woodpigeons flying over.

Through a area of small trees with some willow there was a few Chiffchaff and a Willow Warbler, also Great Tit, Tree Pipit, Green woodpecker calling, Jay, Robin with Raven and a Buzzard soaring.

Through the other side and back on the path to Challacombe Farm, in the bushes there was Long-tailed Tits, Chaffinch, Great Tit, Chiffchaff and Robin.

On the more open areas there was Skylark, Stonechat, Meadow Pipits with Raven, Woodpigeon and Swallows flying over and another Cuckoo calling.

At the farm I was hoping that Spotted Flycatcher and Redstart would be around but sadly not arrived yet but Blackbird, Swallow, Robin, Chaffinch, Dunnock, Nuthatch, Song Thrush, Wren and a Goldcrest was a nice find.

I walked up towards Headland Warren which found Stonechat, Wood pigeon, Robin, Magpie, Raven, Meadow Pipits, Chaffinch, Wheatears, Pied Wagtail and a Mallard in the stream. Another Cuckoo calling and I could see it in the distance with my bins on top of some scrub.

From the farm to my car there was Chaffinch, House Sparrows, Blackbirds, Carrion Crow, Tree Pipits, Great Tit, Robin, Jackdaws and a group of 3 Jays.

It then poured down again and I then realised my water proofs were useless and I was getting soaked!!

Very few humans about but all seemed stoical in the conditions! hahahaha



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