Saturday, 31 October 2015

Hot patch

Firecrest Durness
Firecrest- a patch tick!
As most patch workers will appreciate, sometimes it is easy to go for many a month or even a year or two with very little reward- but still we feed our addiction and keep plugging away in the hope of turning up a good bird on 'our patch'. If memory serves my last 'good' bird on a local patch was a grey phalarope back in 2009! Anyway, this week after getting back into local birding after the autumnal delights of the Hebrides and Northern isles I finally found a new patch bird in the shape of a delightful firecrest! Although not great rarity this is a very significant find in Scotland and particularly in the highland region where it is still a description species on account of it being recorded on less than an annual basis. I have managed to see the delightful bird on 3 of the last 4 days and am hopeful that it may over winter- it is in classic, sheltered habitat that should sustain it through the winter months. Having said that, last night was clear and fine and I couldn't locate it today. By a strange coincidence I had a day birding in the Durness region yesterday where I found another firecrest whilst in the company of Peter Stronach. Two birds, two descriptions and a patch tick! 
Firecrest in Durness

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Wilson's warbler, Port Nis, Isle of Lewis

Don't have much to say about this- I was fairly speechless when I saw the bird and although my photos. don't give the bird the full credit it deserves, some of the amazing shots put out on the various bird news services say it all- probably the best best bird I have seen in Britain! 

However, I will briefly thank Tony Marr and Roy Dennis for finding the bird and putting the news out so that others could enjoy it and also express thanks to the owners of the property who so willingly allowed several hundred birders access to their private garden. 

The vast majority of birders on site were incredibly pleasant, helpful and well behaved but I'm amazed at the 60+ year old chap from down south who squeezed through the legs of the patient crowd on all fours to get to the front of the crowd and then stood up in front of us and totally ruined our view and photo. opportunity- cheers mate whoever you are! Why is there always one? ;) Fortunately I stayed around and got better views later in the day when the minority hooligan element had dispersed. 

Shetland phase II

Back to Shetland for some more quality birding. This autumn has been fairly quiet by Shetland's usual high standards. Weather systems were largely benign, with no predominant airflow from either the east or west- just big lumps of high pressure sitting over the Northern isles- beautiful conditions for being in the field but not great for bringing in migrants. The priority for me and my fellow birders was to work habitat in the hope of finding our own birds. Although we worked very hard for a considerable number of days, our 'self-founds' were limited to a bluethroat, a Richard's pipit and a little bunting. The quality of birding was still very good however, and I have to remind myself that seeing Great grey shrikes, Red-backed shrikes, Richard's pipits, OBP and Dusky warbler in addition to heaps of YBW's is not to be sniffed at- especially now that I am back home in the birding 'black hole' of the NW highlands! We cut our Shetland time a day early to dash south for the little yellow gem found by birding friend Tony Marr on Lewis...........  of course that meant missing a red-flanked bluetail and a cattle egret- but I'm sure there will be further opportunities to catch up with those!..........

Barnacle geese over Lamda Ness, Unst.
Bluethroat, Quendale (not found by us!)
Little bunting, Toab
Red- backed shrike, Burrafirth

Dusky warbler, Sandwick