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30 August 2017

Seaton Marshes

The day started with rain but the forecast for the afternoon was sunny so a trip to Seaton was on. By the time I got there the sun was out and the birds were singing, first stop was the Tower hide and my first view of the electric blue of a Kingfisher one of three views of them on this visit.

The tide was quite high but still a few Gulls about as well as Curlew, Redshank and Mallard. On my way back to the car later when the tide was almost completely out there was several hundred Gulls, Great-black Backed, Herring and Black-headed Gulls of all ages, Cormorant, Little Grebe, Curlew, Redshank, Moorhen, Carrion Crow and Little Egret.

On to Black Hole Marsh, the Island Hide and other viewing points saw plenty of Waders in perfect light for taking pictures as well as being close which is always a bonus! Greenshank, Redshank, Common and Green Sandpiper, Godwits, Curlew, Dunlin, Ringed Plover, Snipe, Oystercatcher, Lapwing, Mallard, Teal, Shelduck, Little Egret, Swallow, Little Grebe, Moorhen, Coot, Herring, Great-black Backed and Black-headed Gulls.

Also death visited in the shape of a Peregrine Falcon that swooped down and took a Common Sandpiper, while other birds moved this Sandpiper froze which meant curtains, shame I wasn't quicker with the camera but great to watch if not for the Sandpiper!!

Another birder passed on to me that there was Yellow Wagtails with the cattle on the Common so off I went, sure enough around the cattle looked like six birds, unfortunately at a distance and half covered with vegetation but at least I've seen some! Also saw Grey Heron, Little Egret and another Kingfisher. A Green Woodpecker was on one of the telegraph poles, woodpigeons, Carrion Crows, Jackdaws, Great and Blue Tits, Blackbirds, Robin and Magpie.

Very few Butterflies with just a few Whites, saw a couple of Emperor Dragonflies and that was that!

Met lots of nice people today, good to sit down with Brian and have a good chat, lots of other birders too. Nice to see plenty of families showing the kids the birds, I know some people don't like it but these kids are tomorrows birders! Great atmosphere here as always.



29 August 2017

Evening walk around Exminster Marshes

Parked up at the RSPB carpark and walked along the road towards the fisherman's carpark and back. A lovely evening with clear visibility but the wind was definitely picking up.

Plenty of Swallows about especially around "Toby's" and the cattle in the fields. Also in the fields were a few Carrion Crows but I didn't see anything else, possibly due tot he length of grass. To be fair the cattle had cleared some areas so wont be long before the hairy lawn mowers do their job!

Around the hedgerows there was a few Woodpigeons, Great and Blue Tits, Dunnock, Robin and Blackbird. On a couple of telegraph poles there was some Collard Doves with fly-overs of Cormorant, Herring Gulls, Woodpigeons with good numbers of Carrion Crows and Jackdaws traveling towards Exeter.

Pleasant evenings walk!



28 August 2017

Bank Holiday Weekend

This weekend has been a mixture of music and bird watching, I spent quite a bit of time at the music festival outside the ship in Teignmouth and then walking around Exminster Marshes and Topsham, looking especially for Yellow Wagtails which had been seen in both places but sadly missed by myself.

The weather had been great which is not normal for a bank holiday but it went well with the music and a few beers!

To be honest not many birds on the times I visited Exminster, plenty of Swallows hawking over the reserve and over the road, Starling, Wheatear, Woodpigeon, House Martin, Blue and Great Tit, Carrion Crow, Coot and a Pied Wagtail.

There was plenty of Dragons about, many of them looked like Migrant Hawkers but there was others and the odd Darter. A few Butterflies with Red Admiral, Speckled wood and plenty of White.sp fluttering around.

Topsham on the other hand had plenty of birds, not the ones I was looking for but still plenty to see. I parked up in Darts Farm as normal which was quickly filling up with shoppers and those like me going for a walk.

Down the cycle track dodging all the bikes, kids and groups of walkers a few birds about with Green Woodpecker, Jackdaw, Magpie, Blackbird, House Sparrow, Robin and Chiffchaff. The creek was full of water as it was high tide on the way down with no birds but on the way back there was Redshank, Godwits, Little Egret and Black-headed Gulls. Goosemoor saw all the birds pilled up on the bank, you could see Godwits and Redshanks but because of the vegetation not a lot else. On the way back after the tide had almost gone, not only could you see the Black-tailed Godwits and Redshank you could see Spotted Redshank, Greenshank, Dunlin, Little Egret, Shelduck, and Great-black Backed, Herring and Black-headed Gulls.

Plenty of birds on the reserve viewable from both the road and the hide, although I still had problems finding some birds due to the height of the vegetation so I probably missed some birds but I did see Grey Heron, Little Egret, Mute Swan, Canada Geese, Herring and Black-headed Gulls, Curlew, Whimbrel, Redshank, Greenshank, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Teal, Shoveler, Mallard, Widgeon, Common Sandpiper, Coot, Lapwing, Swallow, Buzzard, House Sparrow, Blue and Great Tit.

Onto the platform and as the tide was going out more birds appeared some with there summer plumage still Redshank, Greenshank, Knot, Dunlin, Grey Plover, Curlew, Bar and Black-tailed Godwits, Oystercatchers and some fly over Canada Geese.

Not a lot on the goat walk with a few Shelduck, Mute Swans, Cormorant and Black-headed Gulls, not forgetting some annoying cyclists who cant read signs about getting off!

Plenty of butterflies about especially Red Admirals, Speckled Wood and White sp every where, just not settling to get a positive Id.

Plenty of people about and on the whole very nice bunch, nice to meet Patrick and another birder who introduced himself, sorry I forgot your name ,Iam useless on that front as I need to write it in my book (old age!). As always great to see Dave Stone and David Boult who let me look through his telescope, he has a knack of spotting a bird a mile away, telling you its age and sex before you have drawn breath! That's skill for you!



24 August 2017

Exminster Marshes

Went to Exminster Marshes today in hope more than anything of seeing some Yellow Wagtails. There had been the odd sighting with 3 last week, but was surprised by the length of the grass, even if the cattle were close you would still have difficulty seeing anything, don't think I have ever seen it that long before? Still Yellow Wags will be coming through for the next month so hopefully the cattle will eat the grass down a bit more. I did a circular walk from the RSPB carpark via Turf and back.

Did see plenty of Swallows hawking around the reserve, especially down by Turf, 200+ Starlings around Turf on the wires and boat masts, small flocks of Goldfinch especially around the Thistle heads, Blackbird, Blue and Great Tits, Chiffchaff, Robin, Woodpigeon, Carrion Crow, Rook and Jackdaw, Magpie, Mute Swans and Cygnets, Buzzard, Grey Heron, Little Egret, Curlew, Black-headed and Herring Gulls.

Saw lots of people today, all seem to be enjoying themselves except for the odd impatient driver, god sake get a life!!!



22 August 2017

The Warren and Somerset!

Got a bit behind in doing some Blogs but life getting in the way again! Last Saturday (19th)I went out to the Warren to catch the high tide in the early evening. The hope was to get a few Terns in front of the hide, especially a Black Tern which I've been unable to see let alone get a picture of! I didn't hang around the reserve and straight to the hide, they had stopped working on the flood defences so I used the normal path.

Got to the hide and the wind had picked up and it was coming directly across the front of the hide from left to right and apart from Oystercatchers birds were in short supply, there was Dunlin and Ringed Plover flying around but they pitched in the bite. A few Gulls around with Great-black Backed, Herring and Black-headed Gulls of all ages, Little Egret, Swallows, Starling, Linnet, Pied Wagtail, couple of Sandwich Terns and one Common Tern. Cormorant, Carrion Crow and a Kestrel fly-by. A bit disappointing but that's life! On the way back there was plenty of Magpies, Blackbird, Robin, Pied Wagtail, Moorhen, Starling, Linnet, Wood Pigeon, House Sparrow and Goldfinch.

Today I went up to Somerset and spent most of the day between Shapwick and Ham Wall.

In Shapwick I only looked in the Scrape at mere as it had just been drained, there was also some disruption due to the new hide being built at Noars Lake so didn't bother going any further.

Double figures of Great White Egrets, Little Egrets, Black Tailed Godwits, Mallard, Gadwalls, Coot, Lapwing, Herring and Black-headed Gulls, Cormorant and fly over Carrion Crow and Woodpigeon.

Over to Ham Wall and walked up to the Avalon Hide stopping off at all the various viewing points. Lots of great birds as well as Flowers, Trees, Butterflies, Dragonflies, Flies and Beetles! you could spend weeks here and still not see everything!

Saw Great-white Egret, Little Egret, Mute Swan, Canada Geese, Grey Heron, Coot, Moorhen, Water Rail, Little grebe, Mallard, Gadwall, Tufted Duck, Cormorant, Bittern, Buzzard, Marsh Harrier, Dunlin, Swallow, House Martin, Cettis Warbler, Great and Blue Tit, House Sparrow, Herring and Black-headed Gulls. Other Birders said they had seen Bearded Tits, Hobby and a Merlin, sadly I had missed all of them!

Plenty of Dragons about with Emperors, Hawkers sp and Common Darters seen, a few Butterflies with Peacock, Speckled Wood, Red Admiral and many White sp. Did find a 22 spot Ladybird which is a first for me, a local told me they are "Everywhere" had to laugh.

met lots of great people today and always a pleasure to come to Somerset, such a friendly bunch!



21 August 2017

Yet another Perigrine is Poisoned in the South West!!

Message sent by

Linzi Berryman (Police, Community Messaging Officer, Devon and Cornwall)

https://alerts.dc.police.uk/images/site_images/31021_Peregrine_falcon.png

Officers are investigating an incident after being contacted by staff at Glendinning Quarry in Ashburton, on Tuesday 15 August, following reports of an injured Peregrine falcon.

The falcon had been located on the floor of the quarry which is home to a breeding pair of Peregrine falcons.

Devon and Cornwall Police Wildlife Crime Officer, PC Josh Marshall, sought that the juvenile Peregrine falcon was given the immediate care it required. However, the bird died the next day.

PC Marshall said: "The initial inspection and condition of the bird strongly suggests that this bird had been poisoned. The bird has now been placed into the Wildlife Investigation scheme administered by Natural England where it will be forensically examined to establish the cause of death and a police investigation has now begun into the incident.

"Members of the public are warned that poisons commonly used to commit a crime like this are incredibly toxic to humans and pets. Should any person locate any dead or injured birds they are strongly advised not to touch them or let pets come into contact with them.

"Ingestion of these poisons can lead to death. It is incredibly concerning that individuals are using these types of chemicals within public areas that not only kill our wildlife but could also place members of the public, children and their animals into harm's way.

"The area of Ashburton and neighbouring Buckfastleigh is unfortunately a hot spot for poisoning of these birds of prey. Previous incidents at the site are as follows;

2011 - 1 poisoned Peregrine falcon at White Cleaves (Buckfastleigh) Quarry - substance used - Aldicarb and Carbofuran.

2005 - Poisoned bait (racing pigeon) Glendinnings Quarry- substance used Aldicarb. A live bird with clipped wings. Adults missing presumed dead, chicks rescued. Police fitted telemetry device to see if pigeon would relocate but this failed. In Legal Eagle 47, page 5 - https://www.rspb.org.uk/Images/legaleagle47_tcm9-132970.pdf

2005 - 1 poisoned peregrine and 1 poisoned bait (pigeon) - substance used - Aldicarb, peregrine found on dead pigeon which had wings clipped.

2003 - Two men with a pigeon on a length of string appearing to try and lure peregrines from the top of White Cleaves (Buckfastleigh) Quarry. Police visited site but men had gone.

2000 - 1 poisoned Peregrine, substance used Aldicarb at Glendinnings quarry

2000 - 1 shot Sparrowhawk near Buckfastleigh (it lived).

1992 - 2 dead peregrines at White Cleaves (Buckfastleigh), with pigeon flesh in crop - tested positive for Malathion.

"As can been seen from this data, the use of illegal banned poisons are evident and put the public at significant risk. In the 2005 incident, a number of children could have been harmed or potentially worse when the poisoned bait (a racing pigeon) was located wondering around near to a childminders address.

"Significantly racing pigeons have been used as the bait for a number incidents both here and nationally and the answer to solving and preventing these poisonings could lie somewhere within a rogue minority of the racing pigeon community.

"Peregrine falcons do not differentiate between prey items such as wild pigeons and racing pigeons, this obviously causes conflict with some prize racing pigeons being taken by these birds of prey.

"Generally the method used will be to smear the bait with a vasaline type substance containing the poison onto either a live or dead bird. When the Peregrine plucks and eats the bait item the poison is then ingested and kills the bird. The bird dies then endures an excruciating few hours whilst waiting to die.

"South West Peregrines, a volunteer group who monitor these birds and others within the South West, have described the incident as 'abhorrent'.

"We are urging members of the local community to come forward with any information they may have that can assist in bringing these offenders to justice."

Information is handled in the strictest of confidence and can be passed directly to PC Marshall at Joshua.marshall2@devonandcornwall.pnn.police.uk or by email 101@dc.police.uk or calling 101 quoting log number 0223 180817.

Information can be passed anonymously to Crimestoppers via 0800 555111 or the charity's website at www.crimestoppers-uk.org

Tony Whitehead speaking for RSPB in the South West said: "Peregrines are magnificent and much-loved birds, whose comeback over the past twenty years is a conservation success. However, once again, it appears the peregrines at this site have been deliberately targeted and, it is suspected, poisoned.

"Should this prove to be the case, this is outrageous and the criminals must be brought to justice. We are also concerned that, should this again prove to be a poisoning, someone is wantonly placing toxic chemicals in the countryside which can be a danger to both humans and pets.

"Someone in the local community must have information about who's doing this and we urge people to come forward and contact the police. A 1,000 reward has been offered by the RSPB for information that directly leads to the prosecution of the offender."



18 August 2017

Powderham to Turf Lock and Back

Had a bit of time this morning so parked up at Powderham Church and walked up to Turf Lock and back. The weather was very changeable from Blue skies to thunder and lighting. The tide was out but by the time I was walking back was coming in, plenty of Gulls with Black-headed, Herring and a few Great-black Backed Gulls present. Mute Swans, Canada Geese in the water with Little Egrets, Oystercatchers, Redshank, Godwits and Curlew seen on the tide line.

On the pasture a few Little Egrets in the odd ditch with plenty of Corvides feeding in the grass with Jackdaw, Rook and Carrion Crows. Around Turf there was plenty of Starling with 100+ on wires and pasture, other small birds present in small groups, 20+ Pied Wagtail around the Lock gates, 10+ Chaffinch in the bushes and plenty of Goldfinch feeding on the Thistles all along the path. A very smart Wheatear looking for flies on the sea wall. Plenty of Swallows hawking for flies around the pub with plenty of House Martins hawking around the fields, mud flats and Churchyard close to the "Vergers Cottage" where there looks to be a few nests.

Also saw Pheasants, Woodpigeon, Robin and Blackbird.

Plenty of people about enjoying the "different" weather in true British stile!!!



17 August 2017

Looking for Black Terns

I went to Dawlish Warren to catch the high tide today, only problem was there wasn't much of a high tide and when I got there all the birds were at some distance. I had heard that several Black Terns had been seen around the Exe and at Brixham so hoping one might put down in front of the hide.

I walked out towards the point and as many of you know there is restricted access due to the work being done on the dunes and the flood defences. I keep getting conflicting directions about the hide, signs, websites and the odd person says no entry and then I get told you can cross the golf course as long as you don't disrupt play. Well when I got to the golf course there was no one to be seen so off I went.

When I got in view of the hide I saw a female Sparrowhawk chasing some small birds at the back of the hide, this was the first of several appearances as well as a Peregrine which put in a few dives at the waders that were about the hide and Bite. These were mainly ringed Plover and Dunlin but there was a couple of Sanderling in there as well.

All the usual Oystercatchers and a lone Curlew. Cormorants and plenty of Gulls with Great-black Backed, Herring, Black-headed and a Common Gull. Several Mute Swans, Canada Geese as well as the usual Slavonian Grebe seen up river. Several Swallows and Swift seen here as well as else were on the reserve. about 20 Sandwich Terns and 1 small Tern which at first I thought was a juv Black Tern but it turned out to be the long staying juv White Winged Black Tern when I looked on the computer, a little disappointing but will be out again over the weekend as the tide will be higher Saturday and Sunday, so here's hoping!



13 August 2017

Challacombe, Headland Warren and back via the Moor

Having spent a fair amount of time next to the coast in various places decided to go inland and see what Dartmoor had to offer.

Went to Challacombe Farm with the plan to do a circular walk. Saw lots of birds, especially Juveniles but sadly all at a distance. Also the paths were very overgrown, not sure if its the time of year or the fact there is nobody to look after them anymore? At times I couldn't see parts of the moor because of the height of the bracken! I thought I was in luck with a Whinchat sat on a wall only for it to be frightened off by 5 lads on off road bikes screaming down the track, I could scream, throw a brick in temper at them but what's the point? I do wonder if they were allowed but after talking to other walkers it could be down to it being a bridal Path? They must be doing damage to the path??

Anyway back to the wildlife, saw Swallow, House Martin, Robin, Blackbird, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Carrion Crow, Jay, Woodpigeon, Buzzard, Stonechat, Whinchat, Wheatear, House Sparrow, Blue Tit, Great Spotted Woodpecker and a Male Sparrowhawk.

A few butterflies with Peacock, Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown and several White sp.

Also saw a few Keeled Skimmers around the pools close to the path, a few Dor Beetles on the paths. These stunning Beetles with its metallic blue legs and its shiny body, you can see my reflection in its body it was like a mirror!

A good walk and apart from the cyclists met lots of people all out enjoying the moor.



10 August 2017

Seaton Marshes

Went to Seaton Marshes today which took forever! Between 3 sets of road works and Sidmouth Folk Festival it took an extra hour to get there, still it was worth it! Great Weather, Birds, Insects and met loads of nice people, what more could you ask for?

Walked along to the tower hide, the tide looked like it was on its way out with plenty of mud visible, Curlew, Redshank, Mallard, Little Egret, Little Grebe, Carrion Crow, Black-headed gull and plenty of Herring Gulls of all ages.

On to the Island Hide to see what was on the marsh, was reports of Cattle Egret but I couldn't see any, there was though quite a few waders with Godwits, Green and Common Sandpipers, Ringed and Little Ringed Plovers, Dunlin, Redshank, Greenshank, Oystercatcher, Lapwing, Moorhen, Mallard, Water Rail, Black-headed and Herring Gull, Cormorant, Little Egret, Shelduck, Swallow and a Kestrel. Also a Mink swam across some of the water and sent the birds into a panic!Typically many of the birds had the sun behind them and just looked like black shadows when I took a picture.

On the lagoon two Common Sandpipers started to fight and I managed to get some great shots , but typically the sun went behind a cloud and they look a bit grey!

On to Colyford Common and Viewing Platform were there was 20+ Canada Geese, Little Egret, Grey Heron and Carrion Crows on show. A walk around the Reed bed Loop found Little Egret, Moorhen, Mallard and fly over Woodpigeon.

Around the rest of the reserve I found Magpie, Wren, Robin, Blackbirds, Goldfinches, Wheatears and a few Buzzards loafed over head.

Plenty of Dragonflies around the ponds and reeds with several Emperors, Southern Hawker and Common Darter. Butterflies saw Meadow Brown, Gatekeepers, Red Admiral, Speckled Wood and White sp.

Lots of nice people around the place, a mixture of birders, walkers and site seers, families the lot, lovely atmosphere!



05 August 2017

Shetland

Went to the Shetlands for a week starting on the 28th July and what a week! This will be my 3rd visit, in the past I have gone in the May half term which is perfect timing for seeing some of the breeding birds. It is though a bit of a rush because I have to get back to work, so decided to come up later and see the Shetlands at a different time and in a more relaxed state!

I stay with Rebeca and Phil who run a B&B and the Shetland Sea Bird Tours from Lerwick on the main island, their knowledge on where to go and what to see has been just first class!

Well the trip didn't start very well as my luggage was lost by Flybe which included my walking boots, maps, coat and bins amongst other clothes, they were very apologetic but it was so frustrating to start the holiday off like this but the bag was returned 24hrs later, better late than never!

My first morning turned out to be a real treat, I was going out with Phil on the boat, and he was running a trip to see the Gannets off the Isle of Noss. There was also a report of a Pod of Orca which was 6 animals and moving up north on the East coast, if we were lucky we might see them. Well Phil got a call on his mobile and we diverted over to the other side of the sound and there they were.

One looked like he was caught on the rocks but he was splashing his tail close to the rocks, this apparently was to disturb the seals to make them move away from the safety of the rocks. You could see Seals on the rocks and they weren't moving anywhere, had they gone in the water it would have meant certain death! The pod moved around the coast sticking close to the rocks looking to bag a seal, a couple of the younger animals were breaching out of the water but the large male which the locals call "Buster" carried on looking for food. I could have taken more and better pictures but must admit transfixed by these magnificent animals. There were people on the hillside getting such great views and quite close as the Whales tried to get at the Seals on the rocks, those in the boats kept a safe distance to give them room in the water. They eventually dived and moved away, we caught up with them later but not for long, a memory that will stay with me for a long time!

We went to see the Gannet colony on Noss, what a sight!

There is a reported 22000 pairs so with younger birds well over 50000 in total. We were able to get quite close to these stunning birds, there was birds of all ages on the cliffs and Phil explained how the colony worked with the older birds at the top of the cliff and the younger ones at the bottom, a few young birds had fallen to their deaths and several Great Skua were scavenging on them. There were Guillemots and a few Razorbills nesting on the cliffs as well.

We moved away from the cliffs and Phil put some Mackerel in the water and we got a show of the Gannets diving, amazing to watch but I should have taken a smaller lens with me to get better shots of the diving birds, but again another fantastic moment to watch and will go better prepared next time.

On the water we also saw a few Puffin, Fulmar, Herring and Great-black Backed Gulls, Black Guillemots, Artic and Common Terns, Shag, Red Throated Diver and Oystercatcher so it was a great morning and one I will remember for a long time.

In the afternoon I went to the south of the main island and saw Artic and Great Skua, Fulmar, Hooded Crow and Great-black Backed Gulls from the car while I was driving. First stop was Grutness Pier which is always a good spot especially for Waders if the tide is going out, but the tide was high! Still saw a few Eider Ducks, Great Skua, Shag, Common Gull, Great-black Backed Gull and several noisy Artic Terns.

Then on to Quendale and saw Twite, House Sparrow, Raven and plenty of Greylag Geese in the fields, in the Loch of Hillwell there was plenty of birds, Ducks, Gulls of allsorts and ages, 2 Red -throated Divers and then 1 which turned into 3 Common Crane! I had been pre warned that they had been seen on the island as they often pass through but didn't expect to see them here. Unfortunately I was unable to get close enough to even get a half decent shot, the site is quite open and they would have seen me coming, great bird! Then off to Loch of Spiggie, the road never really gets close but you can get good views down into the Loch to see what's there.

Great Skua seem to like this Loch for having a wash as in previous visits there was over 20 in the water, also saw 2 dark phase Artic Skua fly overs as well as Raven, Starlings, Mute Swans, Oystercatchers, Rock doves, Common, Black-headed, Herring and Great-black Backed Gulls. Then on to Bigaton traveling north up the island on the west coast saw lots of Gulls of all shapes and sizes sat on the fields as well as Oystercatchers, Curlew, Raven and Rock Doves, this was about the only place I saw many Swallow and this road seemed a bit of a hot spot. Then don to St Ninian's Isle which was quiet windy, plenty of Great Skua here with Eder, Cormorants and Gulls on the water with lots of Artic Terns flying around. Back towards Lerwick with Raven, Hooded Crow, Oystercatcher and Starling seen from the car. Got myself some tea and sat on the rocks at Breswick, although the wind was starting to pick up it was really nice sat here with a few Grey Seals, Oystercatchers, Redshanks and Hooded Crows as company.

On Sunday the wind was lower but there was a bit of cloud about, decided to go over to the west of the mainland to see if any Red-throated Divers were still about in the small Lochs here, many chicks have fledged and birds have moved to the coast but thought I would chance my luck. Absolutely fantastic scenery along this coast and worth just stopping in a lay-bye just to take it in! From the car plenty of bird sightings with Gulls of all shapes and sizes, Hooded Crows and Ravens. Artic Terns, Curlews, Redshanks and Starlings everywhere! Where the farmers had cut the fields for silage and hay the ground was full of Lapwings, Gulls, Curlew, Rock Doves and Starlings. Lots of Greylags in fields and Lochs as well with the odd Mallard. Then headed up to Melby on the A971 which goes over open moorland with Lochs and Lochetts, sheep everywhere mixed up with the Lapwing and Oystercatchers. Wheatears are quite plentiful along this road as well; in fact it was difficult to miss them with the car at times. At the end of the road is a beach which is good for waders and there was Turnstone, Sanderling, Dunlin and Ringed Plover in good numbers here with more Wheatears, Pied Wagtails, Cormorant and the ever noisy Artic Terns. Back on the road a few Meadow Pipits, more sheep, then diverted north on the B9071 towards Voe, again stunning scenery as you pass Aith Voe. Once I got to Olna Firth I parked up and looked over the fish farm there, plenty of Artic Terns here with a couple of Dark phase Artic Skua chasing them, Herring Gulls, Cormorants, Hooded Crow, Ravens and Red=throated Diver fishing around the farm. Then up to Esha Ness, again stunning scenery, Greylag Geese, Red-throated Divers, Lapwing, Wheatears and Starlings, hundreds of them! Then back to Brae and headed for the ferry terminal at Toft to look for some Otter were I saw plenty of Artic Terns, Great and Artic Skua, Gulls, Black Guillemot, Red-throated Diver and Grey Seals but no Otters!

Back to Lerwick for tea and very luckily for me an invite to watch the Storm Petrels being ringed at Sumburgh Head over night. They set up speakers that continually play the calls of Storm and Leaches Petrels which brings the birds into the net on the side of the garden below the lighthouse. It started at 11.30pm for me and finished at 3.30am when it was starting to get light again and what an experience; they ringed 140+ Storm petrels and 1 Leaches Petrel. They trusted me with taking them once they have been ringed to be released which was a real joy to handle these birds. I did muck up on the camera side as I failed to prepare, it was dark and couldn't see what I was doing, a learning experience!

Monday and it was off to Fetlar, so didn't hang about and straight to the ferry port and over Yell and on the next ferry. Once I got to Fetlar the weather was just great, blue skies and very little wind. The down side of this the Skuas don't turn up but plenty of other stuff to see with Snipe, Twite, Wheatears, Hooded Crows, Artic Terns and Meadow Pipits along the road. I got to Lake Funzie and just sat quietly on the grass to see the Red-throated Divers, Female Long-tailed Duck in the middle, and Waders such as Dunlin, Ringed Plover and luckily a Juv Red-necked Phalarope as well as a male. Sadly they were a bit skittish and difficult to take pics of. Also saw plenty of Oystercatchers, Fulmars, Gulls of all shapes and sizes, Gannets, Cormorants and Starlings!

On Tuesday I went back to Fetlar to look for Otter by going for a walk by the Ferry terminal, sadly I didn't see one but a few Seals and plenty of the normal birds. The wind had started to pick up and I saw a few Skuas about the place with an Artic among them, plenty of Twite seen on this visit.

Got back to Lerwick and had another chance of watching the Stormy ringing at Sumburgh Head, this was an even better night with 170 Stormies and 6 Leaches Petrels rung which I was told was excellent for this site, I was knackered by the end of it but it was worth it for the experience and would recommend it if you get the chance, I would defiantly do it again, but would take a flask of strong coffee!!

Wednesday was a late start off to Unst because I was still tiered from last night, went looking for some Two Bar Crossbills which had been seen there. Phil gave me directions which were spot on as normal but somebody forgot to tell the Crossbills to turn up! Must admit I didn't hang around too long and went off North to Skaw and the most northerly beach which is called "Stonnus Beach" and beautiful it is too! Had a look around the island, around pools and coast line and found plenty of Great Skua, Artic Skua, Artic Tern, All Gulls of various shapes and Sizes, Red Throated Diver, Fulmar, Wheatear, Greylag Geese, Whimbrel, Curlew, Hooded Crow, Raven, Rock Dove, Oystercatcher, Redshank, Twite, Blackbird and Starling. Great day around this Island, wish I had given myself more time here to go up to Herma Ness and with the weather turning bad tomorrow it will have to wait until next year!

Thursday was horrendous weather wise and were ever I go in Scotland there is always one day when it pores during the holiday and it's that day today! I did go out but didn't do a lot and went back to Lerwick to pack to go home.

Friday and home, just had a great week! A huge amount of thanks go to Rebecca and Phil who make my stay so good, a real warm and friendly atmosphere in the place and not forgetting there daughter Ayda, its been a real scream! Met lots of people and learnt new things which is what its all about! Roll on next year!



© Simon Thurgood 2017
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