Monday, 29 May 2023

Whoops!! from 2022

Just sorting through a few images and forgot about these from last year. First was a Nightjar found on 5th September at Cossington Meadows - a fairly local reserve to where I live; the bird was found by a local dogwalker who takes an interest in the wildlife.



Second was on 26th September last year, when a Common Nighthawk was found at Wantage in Oxfordshire. After a phone call to a birding buddy Chris Hubbard, the pair of us set off and 90 minutes later, we were viewing said bird along with about 100 others!

Common Nighthawk

Common Nighthawk

Common Nighthawk

How I missed posting on this I'll never know!! 

We returned from Shetland in early October, when a good mate (John Judge) found a Blackburnian Warbler on Bryher which is one of The Scilly Isles - at a place called Popplestone Fields. It was a week before we could arrange a daytrip to The Scilly Isles but on 17th October, we made the trip over to see this stunning American vagrant.

Blackburnian Warbler

Blackburnian Warbler

Blackburnian Warbler

As always - thanks for stopping by; now I'm sorting through a few images again, I'll hopefully be doing another post soon


Tuesday, 14 February 2023

Shetland 2022

 Well,  it's only been three months from when we went on our yearly pilgrimage to the Shetland Islands so I think I've been quite quick with this post .........not!! Same mottley crew as last year in the guise of Dave Gray, Andy Smith and me...  We decided to tery driving to Aberdeen and taking our own (Dave's) car across on the ferry - which worked out very well for us - sailing on 30th Sept on the MV Hjaltland arriving in Lerwick the next morning. I would like to say I had a good nights sleep - but I'd be lying thanks to my two cabin buddies who could win prizes for snoring!!  Never again ! - I shall be having my own cabin next time ......

We stayed at a lovely cottage called The Glebe, Garderhouse - again on the west side of the mainland which was our home for the next 10 days.

Hilswick was our first port of call, for a Great Grey Shrike subspecies Homeyeri (probably will be a potential split in the future so it was an 'insurance tick')  On the way out, Arctic Redpoll was reported (Hornemanni) which had been elusive but eventually showed well and we had views down to a few feet away.

Arctic Redpoll

Arriving at our cottage mid afternoon, birds of note in the bay were Dunlin, RB Merganser, lots of Widgeon, Teal, Redshank, Turnstone and Great Black-backed Gulls.

3rd October we decided on a trip to Unst - the most northern isle of Great Britain - in search of Ortolan Bunting but we didn't see it - we did have two otters though at the Gutcher Ferry!
Long-tailed Duck, Black Guillemot, Razorbill, Whooper Swan and Ringed Plover were noted.
The next few days were spent seeing Pechora Pipit, Wood Warbler and just a couple of Yellow-browed Warbler.
With strong westerly winds for quite a few days, I think everyone was hopefully expecting some American migrants - and sure enough, on the 6th October, a Myrtle Warbler (Yellow-rumped Warbler) was found at Ellister, and it was rather a confiding bird.

Myrtle Warbler

On 7th October, a first for Britain was found by the non-birding partner of our good friend Paul Baker whilst she was enjoying a stroll at Scousborough Bay; after alerting Paul about this 'strange' bird, she sent him an image from her phone, Paul realised (after ruling out Little Bittern) that she had found a Least Bittern from America..... and the rest, as they say, is history!!  The bird was in thick grass and could hardly be seen but it soon became apparent that the bird was exhausted and it w as decided that it needed to be taken into care - which is what happened; sadly, the bird never survived the night. 
Apparently, a healthy specimen would weigh about 86 grams but this poor mite only weighed 50grams...

Least Bittern

Least Bittern

After seeing this amazing bird, we went on to Whiteness Voe where we saw Slavonian Grebe, Red-throated Diver and Great Norther Diver along with two more otters at play.

Otters at play

Red-throated Diver

In the following days, the usual suspects were about - although we did find a group of Common Seal at Catfirth (and they're not as common as their name implies! - the Grey Seal is far more prevalent)

Hauled-out Common Seal

We spent our last couple of days birding the mainland and saw Pale Bellied Brent Goose at Buravoe, 
Oystercatcher, Ruff, Pink-footed Goose, Chiffchaff and Snipe were also noted during the day.
We went to Clickimin Loch at Lerwick on a couple of occasions to try and find a White's Thrush which had taken up residence near the school; we had missed out on it on a couple of visits but finally nailed it on our last day.  Blackcap and Redwing were also seen.
Andy had gone out walking so Dave and I decided to go to Bigton in search of a second Myrtle Warbler which had unbelievably been found by the same birder the day after he found the first one! ....How lucky can  you get!! Incidentally - Dave and I were the only two birders there!! - but that's how Shetland is. This bird was also very confiding.
Our final foray was for a Dusky Warbler at Ocraquoy.....

White's Thrush

Myrtle Warbler

Myrtle Warble

Myrtle Warbler

Dusky Warbler

Dusky Warbler

Below are a just few images of other birds seen......

Hooded Crow

Black Guillemot

Red-breasted Merganser

Glossy Ibis

Rock Dove

Rock Pipit

Black Guillemot

Wood Warbler

Red Grouse


Golden Plover


Hooded Crow

Herring Gull

Ringed Plover

Long-tailed Duck


As always, thanks for stopping by and I hope you enjoy looking at my images from Shetland 2022

I have a few images from recent twitches and local stuff which I hope to post shortly but until then, take care.

Friday, 21 October 2022

Iceland and Greenland Cruise

 My wife and I have always fancied going to Greenland - just because its one of those countries people don't really go for as a holiday destination - so, on the 21st June, we boarded Ambassador's Ambience for a 21 night cruise to Iceland and Greenland starting from Tilbury Docks in Essex. We were going to be at sea for 3 days before we landed at Reykjavik (smoky bay). Our sea days produced Kittewake, Guillemot, Fulmar and Herring Gull also Lesser-blacked Gull, Gannet but sadly, also lots of dead Gannets due to Avian Flu. We came across a few marine animals - Grey Seal, Harbour Porpoise, four Minke Whales and White-beaked Dolphin, sadly no images of any of them



Great Shearwater

After 3 days at sea we arrived at Reykjavik. We have been here before a few years ago, but I had never seen their magnificent Church, so for  me and Sue that was our main aim but I made a school boy error in not taking my camera with me!(Doh!!) as in the centre of the town is a large lake (Tjornin) with breeding Arctic Terns; there were also Whooper Swans, Scaup coming to bread being given by the local children!  Widgeon, Tufted Duck, Greylag Goose and Ringed Plover were also there and other birds of  note were Redwing, Redpoll and Raven.

We had another two sea days before we would arrive at our first port of call in Greenland which gave me ample opportunity for some more sea watching. The only interesting sightings at sea were Great Shearwater, a distant Fin Whale and three Minke Whales - and our first 'growlers' and icebergs (in the Cape of Farewell)



One of many icebergs we encountered on our cruise

Great Shearwater resting on the sea

Great Shearwaters

Our first stop in Greenland was Qaqortoq - a town in Southern Greenland. There wasn't much on the birding front , with the only birds of note being Redpoll, Wheatear, flyover of a Red-breasted Merganser and our first gull in the shape of a Glaucous Gull. 

Heliport at Qaqortoq

Redpoll (heavily cropped image)

Northern Wheatear

Glaucous Gull in flight

Glaucous Gull  feeding in the harbour

The following day found us at Narsarsuaq - a very small hamlet but very interesting as it was originally built as an American airbase called Blue West One which played an important part in World War II. The only birds of note here were Lapland Bunting and Arctic Skua - but we managed to lose ourselves for a few hours in the Narsarsuaq Museum - absolutely amazing place, and so interesting! 

Another sea day which produced my first Blue Fulmar along with Iceland Gull, Pomerine Skua along with the usual suspects - and also a distant Sperm Whale.

Blue Fulmars flying by The Ambience

Our next port of call was Sisimuit - a much larger town than we had been to so far in Greenland. Sue was lucky enough to find a Snow Bunting's nest (which was on a rocky bank below the most beautiful rustic little church.) and both male and female were returning every couple of minutes with food for their young. It's amazing to see birds that I normally only get to see in winter plumage as migratory birds in their full summer plumage, and I had my best view of a male Lapland Bunting here.


Femail Snow Bunting at nest entrance

Male Snow Bunting 

Summer plumage Lapland Buntings

Ilulissat was our next stop and we had an overnight hers so that people could take advantage of the midnight sun tours to the iceberg alley. Bird-wise, just the usual suspects again but quite a few Iceland Gulls in the harbour - and a Fin Whale blow from off the ship on the first day and the next day we had Humpback Whale blows in the distance .

The edge of iceberg alley

Ilulissat as seen from the ship

Glaucous Gull

Iceland Gull

Fin Whale blow

It's now July 4th and we are at sea on our way to Nuuk - the capital of Greenland. No new birds at sea but a couple of marine animals - a new tick for me with many sightings of Harp Seal and also a Minke Whale

Great Black-backed and Glaucous Gulls

Harp Seal

Minke Whale

Our final destination of Nuuk produced just the usual with no new birds but we enjoyed visiting the old harbour with it's museums and a spot of retail therapy in the shopping centre.

Nuuk from the ship

A beautiful blue iceberg as we were leaving Nuuk

We left Greenland behind and travelled through the Labrador Sea into the North Atlantic as we headed towards Kirkwall in the Orkney Isles for our final stop - a sea journey of four days. Added to our list were Manx and Sooty Shearwater, Leach's Petrel and also Puffin along with a few more Blue Fulmar.


I've never been fortunate enough to visit the Orkney's before but I hope to go back if I can; Kirkwall is a lovely town with a beautiful cathedral , great shopping area and fantastic people! A few birds were added - Rock Pipit, Eider, Redshank, a Great Skua terrorising the local gulls and a very northern Sand Martin!  This was also the only place I saw Black Guillemot 

A raft of Common Eider

Fulmar with reflection

Great Skua (Bonxie)

Rock Pipit

Rock Dove flying around the ship a couple of miles out from Kirkwall 

Redshank in Kirkwall harbour


Northern Fulmar

On leaving Kirkwall we had a band of pipers for our sail-away which was a great end to our amazing cruise!

On our last full day at sea before returning to Tilbury dock, we were once again sad to see so many bird corpses - lots more Gannets and Auks - mainly Guillemot. I personally didn't see any dead Puffin though.

All in all, a great trip despite not getting closer views of cetaceans, which was a bit disappointing. 

As always, thanks for stopping by and I hope you have enjoyed reading about our adventure!

Next up - Shetland 2022!!