4th – 5th October – Shetland Update 7   Leave a comment

The 4th was cool, with a very strong westerly wind and regular short but heavy showers. With lots of work to catch up with, I stayed inside in the morning, but ventured out in the afternoon to try some seawatching which was followed by a visit to Loch of Hillswell, Quendale, Loch Spiggie and the Scousburgh beach which was where the Buff-bellied Pipit that I saw on the 30th was last seen.

Both seawatching and rare pipiting were unsuccessful, but I did get great views of a Merlin, a Peregrine, two pairs of Whooper Swans, a few Twite and a Scaup with some Goldeneye.

A Merlin at Quendale.

Ravens are common all over Shetland.

Starlings and Sparrows are also abundant across Shetland.

Shetland has an endemic subspecies of Starling ‘zetlandicus’ which is slightly larger and has a much darker juvenile plumage.

Two Whooper Swans on Loch Spiggie

Black shower clouds were propelled across the sky on the strong winds.

No pot of birding gold today I’m afraid.

As conditions were surprisingly still on the 5th I opted to do some ringing in Paul’s garden. It was quiet at first but about lunchtime I suddenly started catching loads of sparrows, in the end I ringed about 40. Some might think there is little point in ringing large numbers of a common and sedentary species like House Sparrow. I disagree, House sparrows have undergone a dramatic decline over much of Britain. By ringing the species in areas where they are still common, like Shetland, comparisons of population dynamics with areas that are badly affected can be made and hopefully causes of decline identified.

By mid afternoon the sparrow rush dried up so I furled and headed for the Rerwick reed bed where a Great Reed Warbler had been found that morning, eventually I got flight views; not very satisfactory but at least I saw one well at Radipole this May.

The Rerwick reedbed, the only reedbed on Shetland. Note the birders to the left waiting for the Great Reed Warbler to show. Rerwick beach where I saw the Buff-bellied Pipit is just beyond the reedbed, on the other side of the bay is Scousburgh beach where I went yesterday and in the distance Loch Spiggie can be seen.

Posted October 5, 2012 by gryllosblog in Uncategorized

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