Sunday, September 25, 2011

Bird of the Week - Sept. 19th - 25th - Baird's Sandpiper

Baird's Sandpiper
 I got a call that a Baird's Sandpiper was on the North Haven Beach... being Saturday, Henry & I hopped in the car and did a little Isle twitching. We had great views as you can see. I must say I brought my field guide to try to see the specific features and learn something because waders are still a bit confusing at times. This North American bird is the rarest bird of the week and a "Lifer" for me. woot! woot!

Melodious Warbler is still showing well to the delight of many newly arriving birders.

Today Sept. 25th - My Birthday...
Can you imagine my excitement when I looked out my window early this morning and saw this Magpie?
Believe it or not, a Magpie on Fair Isle is very rare indeed. Only one ever record in the 1980's
 I was hoping to find a rare bird on my birthday?
I scrambled for my binoculars only to see it's a decoy?

Magpie? Origin still unknown? Okay you got me!

Something is fishy around here? happy birthday!
 Did you see this post from earlier in the week?

Great Grey Shrike! Killer Photos! and Curlew Sandpiper... Shetland Wildlife

photo by Jon Dunn 

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Great Grey Shrike! Killer Photos! and Curlew Sandpiper... Shetland Wildlife

Jon Dunn
Great Grey Shrike with female Blackcap
The Shrike made it's ladder in the bottom of last years Christmas tree placed in my garden for extra cover. I was just clearing the dishes from lunch for the Shetland Wildlife Group staying at our guest house. First seen in my garden by guest Brenda Roe looking out the window. Photographed by my friend & Shetland Wildlife Tour Leader - Jon Dunn. Shortly there after guest Cliff Atkins spotted a Curlew Sandpiper from the window as well. I think we all began to wonder why we walked the cliffs and crofts all morning with lesser results? but there is no denying the beautiful sunny day and spectacular scenery.

                                                                                                                                                                                                       Jon Dunn
Shrike on me Tree
Not only a new garden tick but tree tick too!
my photo...Great Grey Shrike hunting from my "Tree"

It's nice to have a good photographer around, you can see why I'm always complaining about my camera.
Just look at the photos of the Curlew Sandpiper! Thanks for sharing Jon

Jon Dunn
Curlew Sandpiper & Turnstone

Jon Dunn
Shetland Wildlife

Fair Isle - Shetland Wildlife Holiday Info:

Lisa - Brenda - Cliff - Jon - Colin

The group walking the crofts looking for rare migrant birds.

West Cliffs - Da Sharrif

One of the Blackcaps that didn't fall prey... happily eating apples I put just outside my window.
Entertained us all week.

this Starling wasn't so lucky... as the Kestrel, Henry & I

Henry & I were amazed to see this in our windowbox feeder and then down in the reeds just below.
We opened the door took a photo, then I held Henry up so he could see. so cool.
When you feed birds you can't get to surprised that other birds come to feed too.

Birds & Guests are always well fed at the Auld Haa Guesthouse.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Bird of the Week - Sept 12 -18 Spotted Flycatcher

Spotted Flycatcher
I have seen a Spotted Flycatcher in my garden everyday for weeks now... What a joy it is to watch flit from spot to spot. So even thought much rarer birds have been seen this week (Great Snipe, Citrine Wagtail, etc.) this is my personal bird of the week. Simply a delight to have around my garden. I have also included some other random sightings below that I managed to get photos of.

Goldcrest in the garden for 3 days is always fun... and so cute!

35 Whooper Swan in flight... the larges group I have ever seen on Fair Isle.
plus 1 swan (Dennis) on Meoness makes 36
The Whoopers all rafted on the sea in the South Harbour

Shanny Blenny caught by Henry

Cool cloud formation over Fair Isle's South Lighthouse

Willow Warblers everywhere

and to "cap" things off

Monday, September 12, 2011

Pallid Harrier & Melodious Warbler bring a little sunshine on rainy day.

This is a rubbish photo I know... but it's the sort of thing that happens on Fair Isle that no one believes...
2 Rosefinch & a Melodious Warbler drive by photo.
I was driving around looking for the Pallid Harrier again in the heavy fog and light rain when I stopped my car because 2 birders in the road were scoping out the Melodious Warbler on the fence line along the roadside. They were just packing up to head back for dinner after having the views they wanted. As I drove slowly down the road there was the Melodious flitting down the fence just ahead of my car. I stuck my pocket camera one handed out the window and snapped this photo while it shared the fence with 2 Rosefinch. I was a bit bummed that the Windchat flew out of frame just before the click, but you can't have everything. though I think it might be dangerous other places...

I love drive by birding!
15 minutes earlier...
Pallid Harrier by foggy Malcolm's Head
I was looking for the Melodious at Schoolton? of course that's when I saw the Pallid Harrier searching & drifting over the isles southern croftlands. Even in the blue grey fog and light rain "simply stunning" sums it up quite nicely. I got into my car to try and relocate the Pallid and that's when I drove into the Melodious sighting. Silly ain't it! Sorry my photos are not even good record shots... but I'm so amazed by this bird, I feel I must share what ever I can.

over the Houll Croft

by the Houll behind Schoolton
So the big Question of the Day? 
How many Pallid Harriers are in Shetland and or the UK. today?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Pallid Harrier! Fair Isle's Bird of the Week - Sept. 4th - 11th 2011

We just saw Pallid Harrier!!!!!
Why are we so Excited? We didn't see it the first time, so second time around was the charm for us!

Will was on Summer Holiday and Henry & I were stuck in Shetland when the Pallid Harrier was first seen on Fair Isle - August 13th - 14th. a 2nd record for Fair Isle. It was seen the morning of the 15th but not after I came back on the plane that day. Since then most likely the same bird has been seen all over Shetland mostly in Unst. To quote Will, "I can't beleave we got this one back!" and we work for it! as I was out looking for it all morning and early afternoon. Thank goodness for Will's keen eyes he made it out high above the cliffs of Hoini being attacked by Bonxies (Great Skua) and at least one Peregrine and 5 Kestrel plus plenty of Gulls and Fulmars. Finally climbing up top of Hoini is were we stuck Pallid gold. We had great views, but most were brief or distant with no real photo opportunities... as you can see below. 

Pallid Harrier mobbed by Twite.
Huge mobs of Twite overwhelmed all the birds of prey today, it was totally outrageous.

I really have been secretly channeling and psychically willing it's return to Fair Isle. Because this species of bird is one of Fair Isle legend. I have been beside myself for having missed it....
Pallid Harrier - A first for Britain in 1931 found by Fair Islander James (Jimmy Midway) Stout.

The young James A. Stout - North Haven Beach, Fair Isle - Good Shepherd #1
Fair Isle’s Living Legend
100 1/2 years old

In 1931 Jimmy shot what was believed in flight to be the first Pallid Harrier ever seen in Britain. In hand Jimmy & Fieldy confirmed the identification, the bird skin was sent to Edinburgh. In Edinburgh the identification was discredited as not a Pallid Harrier but that of a Montagu’s or Common Hen Harrier. Fieldy was furious and wrote a letter insisting the bird be sent on to London for further review. Many weeks later they received confirmation of what they already knew. The bird was an immature male Pallid Harrier, an understandably tricky identification. The two other Fair Isle visual records from 1942 &1949 were both subsequently rejected and they also were never shot! This was due to the new emphasis on birdwatching rather than shooting.
to read more about Jimmy's amazing adventures with birds...

The most gripping an amazing photos of this Pallid Harrier that I have seen have been taken up in Unst by:
Robbie's Northern Exposures - Blog Check it out... links below...
Pallid Harrier Perched:

Pallid Harrier in Flight:

Pallid Harrier is definitely "Fair Isle's Bird of the Week" even though the Island saw a Pectoral Sandpiper and FIBO ringed a Citrine Wagtail. With an unprecedented 3 or more? Pallid Harrier in Britain from Unst to the Scillies... I see no reason it shouldn't be "Bird of the Week" for all the Birders in Britain?

Sept. 12th 2011 - I did get slightly better photos today of the Pallid Harrier plus a Melodious Warbler
see next blog post or here is the link...

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Fishing with Stewart


Pollack on a string... Henry caught 4 Pollack at a go.
 Stewart of Quoy took us out fishing in his boat July 30th, the Sea/Ocean was anything but calm that day. I have a saying "you never get sea sick if you have a fish on the end of your line". It was amazing almost non stop fish! and so many different kinds. Henry & I had a blast! While Stewart was laughing at Henry's enthusiasm.

Greater Sandeel

I caught a Gunnard

The View of the Isle from Sea is always... Wow!
Kirk Stack, the white on the rocks are nesting Gannets as are most of the birds in the air. Average wingspan 180cm.

Henry's 3 Haddock
Stewart snagged this beautiful Sunstar from the watery depths.
Henry and I have never seen one before. 

We went in for a closer view at the fallen cliff face.
in a hour or two the fish box was full.
on the way back to the pier we checked our Lobster trap! lucky day!

our half or share of the catch.
Mackerel, Haddock, Cod, Greater Sandeel & Flounder
(Pollack & Coallies not shown)

I found these 2 in the the stomach of the Cod. 

Squat Lobster & Long Clawed Porcelain Crab 

We have tale to tell... Thank you Stewart!

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

The Big Year! The Movie Trailer

The Big Year by teasertrailer

The Big Year! The Movie...
I've been waiting for this movie since I read the book!
It looks quite funny...

Steve Martin
Owen Wilson
 Jack Black

as birdwatchers or
big year listers...
could they be any funnier than the
real thing?

have a look... read the book... can't wait for the movie. cheers.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Fair Isle's Bird of the Week! Eastern Olivaceous Warbler! Aug. 28 - Sept. 3rd

Eastern Olivaceous Warbler
Fair Isle, Chalet Garden - June, 21st, 2009 - found by Jack Ashton-Booth - Legend!

I had very good view of the Eastern Olivaeous Warbler Friday night just before dark as birds came to roost at the Schoolton Garden with 10 Rosefinch, a Red-Backed Shike a Whitethroat, Barred Warbler. etc. but bad photos of them all. It was getting dark, needing longer exposure times making photos near impossible for a flicking bird like this. So I have used my old photo above for reference, instead of the rubbish photo below.

Rubbish! after my first 2 photos that night... this the better one... I realised it would be better to just look.
This weeks bird found by FIBO Warden David Parnaby. who got a good photo.

I have been complaining long enough about Bird Guides choice of "Bird of the Week". They keep on picking things like Citrine Wagtail or Subalpine Warbler etc. Only when they are seen in England or more likely the writer. It's more like a personal "Bird of the Week"? and so I'm starting my own here on my Fair Isle blog. Even on the small Fair Isle picking the winning bird already doesn't seem easy... This week we had runner ups with Great Snipe & 15 Rosefinch one was even colour ringed from? Germany? Red backed Shike, Curlew & Pectroral Sandpipers are not good enough this time. Barred Warblers are a dime a dozen. Last week would of been a toss up Booted or Melodeous Warbler? I would of gone with Melodious of course not because it's rarer... because it was in my garden and I didn't see the Booted... I see how this works... I'm already as bad as Bird Guides.
Starting now I'll be posting...
Fair Isle's "Bird of the Week" every Sunday.