Oct 152018

My trip to Shetland this year (2018) took place on 21st September 2018 till 29th September 2018. It turned out to be one, if not the, worst week we have had in the last 10 years of visiting Unst. The weather conditions were very grim, with a continuous strong wind blowing from the west or north west, with heavy rain on most days. There was simply very few migrant birds about and the conditions were very difficult for migrant birding. The conditions were the same across Shetland during our stay. The weather improved from the 1st October and several good birds were discovered, but alas too late for us.

We did manage to get over to Walsay Island on the 23rd September, to see a first winter Yellow-breasted Bunting, discovered the previous day, which these days is a mega rare bird. This was definitely the bird of the trip.

Other highlights were – 2 Common Rosefinch on 22nd Sept; Common Whitethroat on 22nd and 28th; Spotted Redshank on Walsay on 23rd Sept and 3 Arctic Tern; Wood Warbler on 25th Sept; Common Rosefinch on 26th Sept; Barred Warbler on 27th Sept and 28th Sept and White-winged Scoter at Musselburgh on 30th Sept.

1st winter male Yellow-breasted Bunting – Above 3 images – Walsay Island, Shetland – 23rd September 2018 – Tony Davison©

Drake American White-winged Scoter – Musselburgh, Lothian – 30th September 2018 – Tony Davison©

1st year Barred Warbler – Norwick, Unst – Tony Davison©

1st year Black-headed Gull – Norwick, Unst – Tony Davison©

Common Seal – “Chilling Out” at Baltasound, Unst – September 2018 – Tony Davison©

Eider or Dunter as they are called on Shetland – female and 2 offspring – Norwick, Unst – Tony Davison©

Gannet – photographed in a howling gale on 29th September at Belmont on Unst – Tony Davison©

Hooded Crow – Baltasound, Unst – Tony Davison©

Redshank – Norwick, Unst – Tony Davison©

Ringed Plover – above 2 images – Norwick, Unst – Lying amongst the smelly, wet seaweed for several hours paid off with some good interaction with common waders – Tony Davison©

Sanderling – above 5 images – Norwick, Unst – Tony Davison©

Shetland Wren – Juvenile – Lund, Unst – Tony Davison©

Turnstone – above 7 images – Norwick, Unst – Tony Davison©

Black Guillemot or Tystie as it is called on Shetland – Lerwick Harbour – Tony Davison©

Storm action at Skaw, Unst – Skaw beach is one of the most dangerous beaches I’ve ever been on during a gale. It is easy to get caught out by the waves – Tony Davison©

Willow Warbler – Lund, Unst – one of only half a dozen we saw during the week – Tony Davison©


 Posted by at 2:05 pm
Sep 102018

A juvenile Red-necked Phalarope was discovered at nearby Attenborough Nature Reserve this lunchtime, so a trip to see it was worthwhile. Red-necked Phalaropes are now on the move, migrating from their arctic breeding grounds, to winter in the Pacific Ocean, (see below) a truly remarkable journey. The bird was only at the Attenborough reserve for a few hours before flying off and lost to view.

I’ve been reliably informed that the majority of Red-necked Phalarope winter in the Arabian Gulf. However, I read an article about a Red-necked Phalarope, from the Scottish population, that was fitted with a Geo Location Tracker, that weighs less than a paperclip, helped scientists track this particular bird to the Pacific Ocean. This migration pathway had never been recorded before from a European breeding Red-necked Phalarope.

The bird was successfully recaptured when it returned to its Scottish breeding grounds the following spring. By reading the data from the Tracker, scientists discovered that the bird had made an incredible journey of some 16,000 mile round trip during its annual migration. It had flown from Shetland across the Atlantic via Iceland and Greenland, south down the eastern seaboard of the US, across the Caribbean and Mexico, ending up off the coast of Ecuador and Peru. This ties in nicely with the population of Red-necked Phalarope from Northern Canada and Alaska, which migrate south to the Humboldt Current off Peru and Ecuador. It may well be that the Western Palearctic population winters in the Arabian Gulf. Very little appears to be known about the migratory or wintering biology of this species. No doubt scientists will discover more facts over the forth coming years of research.


Red-necked Phalarope – Juvenile – Nottinghamshire, September 2018 – Tony Davison©



 Posted by at 9:06 pm
Sep 092018

The Derbyshire Wildlife Trust reserve at Willington is getting to become a favoured place to see a Great White Egret. Another of these graceful birds arrived a few days ago and so I decide to take a look at it this morning. Although distant, it was showing well feeding out on one of the lagoons, before taking flight and disappearing into a reed bed. 

Also present and of note were a Black-tailed Godwit, a Ruff, 2 Green Sandpiper and still a few Sand Martin and Swallow about.

Great White Egret – above 3 images – Tony Davison©

Great Crested GrebeTony Davison©

 Posted by at 2:28 pm
Sep 022018

A couple of special Derbyshire birds turned- up at the local reserve at Willington Gravel Pits this morning. A Spotted Redshank and a couple of Black Terns were discovered early morning. With a couple of Green Sandpiper, several Dunlin, a Kingfisher and plenty of Migrant Hawker dragonflies on the wing, it was a great place to be in my local area.

Migrant HawkerTony Davison©

2 Black Terns were gracing the lagoons at Willington this morning – Tony Davison©

Spotted Redshank – not many of these appear in the county during the year. Tony Davison©

 Posted by at 8:07 pm
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