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Montrose Basin & Ferry to Shetland 21/09/18

We started our hoilday to Shetland with a visit to the Montrose Basin. We had a cup of tea in the Vistor Centre & saw Tree Sparrows & Reed Bunting around the feeding station. We saw some Common Eider & Pink-footed Geese around the lake. Afterwards, we made our way to Aberdeen to catch the ferry over to Shetland. We saw lots of Herring Gulls as we left the harbour & the odd Common Gull. We also saw some Kittiwakes flying past.

Shetland 21st September-1st October 2018

Tree Sparrow [Adult]

Pink-footed Geese

Herring Gull [Adult Winter]

Shetland [day 1]
22/09/18

We arrived in Lerwick, just after 7AM and made our way to the harbour where we saw loads of Black Guillemots, Turnstone, Knot & Hooded Crow. We went to Leabitten near Sandwick, where we had our first encounter with Twite. A Hooded Crow was foraging along the road. Also Rock Pipit and a couple of Ravens. We headed down to Boddam & a Common Seal was resting on the rock. A few more Hooded Crows were foraging amongst the rocks. A Common Gull was perched on a rock by the road. A pair of Red-breasted Merganser were feeding in the bay. We finished the day at Pool of Verkie, watching Waders. These included Ringed Plover, Turnstone, Knot, Dunlin, Bar-tailed Godwit, Black-tailed Godwit, Common Redshank & Greenshank. A Rock Pipit was perched up on a fence post. Afterwards we made our way to the Sumburgh Hotel.

Black Guillemots [Winter]

Black Guillemots [Winter]

Hooded Crow [Adult]

Twite [Adult]

Common Seal

Red-breasted Merganser [Pair]

Knot [Winter

Ringed Plover [Winter]

Dunlin [Winter]

Rock Pipit [Winter]

Hooded Crow [Adult]

Twite [Adult]

Shetland [day 2]
23/09/18

After meeting up with the Shetland Wildlife Group, we set off to catch the ferry to Whalsay. We headed off to see the Yellow-breasted Bunting, that had been found the previous day. The 1st Winter bird had been very mobile during our visit & showed well at times, mainly on the ground. It occasionally perched on the fence line. There was also a Bonxie [Great Skua] & a Spotted Redshank. We headed back down to the terminal at Symbister for lunch. There were loads of Kittiwakes on the water & on the jetties. A Grey Seal was nearby in the water. A couple of Dunlin & a Ringed Plover were foraging along the beach. From the seawall, we saw Gannets plunge diving. We caught the ferry back over to Laxo. We headed back down to the Sumburgh Hotel.

Yellow-breasted Bunting [1st Winter]

Kittiwake [Juvenile]

Grey Seal

Grey Seal

Gannet [Adult]

Kittiwake [Juvenile]

Shetland [day 3]
24/09/18

We started the day witha look around Hoswick in the South Mainland, looking for a Barred Warbler. Sadly we didn't see the bird. We did see a Female Northern Wheatear, a few Starlings & a Rock Pipit. We had better luck with a 1st Winter Barred Warbler in Wester Quarff, albeit a brief view. Nearby was a Red Admiral on a gate. We headed down to Quendale Mill, to look for more migrants. We saw a possible Blyth's Reed Warbler near the mill, which only gave brief views. If it gets accepted, it'll another record for Shetland. Further up, we saw a Yellow-browed Warbler. There was a possible Booted or Syke's Warbler, but the views were pretty poor. Probably will never be resolved. We headed back to the Sumburgh Hotel.

Barred Warbler [1st Winter]

Rock Pipit [Winter]

Red Admiral

Shetland [day 4]
25/09/18

We headed up north to Unst in the Northern Isles. We stopped at Leabitten near Sandwick, where we saw Ruff, Oystercatchers, Shags, Gulls & Purple Sandpipers. Next port of call was Lerwick Harbour & to see Black Guillemots. There was not so many there as there was when we first arrived. We headed up to catch the ferry over to Unst. We saw loads of Gannets flying past on the crossing. On arrival on Unst, we headed to Uyeasound to look for Waders. We didn't see any, but saw newly arrived Whooper Swans, from Iceland on Easter Loch with Tufted Ducks. A Female Northern Wheatear was on a rock by the road. We headed towards our overnight destination at the Baltasound Hotel.

Purple Sandpipers [Winter]

Black Guillemot [1st Winter]

Ruff [1st Winter]

Black Guillemot [1st Winter]

Gannet [Adult]

Northern Wheatear [Female]

Whooper Swan [Flock]

Shetland [day 5] Unst
26/09/18

The full day exploring around Unst & the first stop was at North Dale, looking for a 1st Winter Pied Flycatcher. It showed briefly on a wire fence for a few seconds, before flying to the ground. We headed to Saxa Vord, which over looked Skaw. The bird we were searching for was a Snow Bunting. We had a very confiding Juvenile that spent a lot of the time feeding on the ground. When were leaving, we spotted a Male Snow Bunting perched on a rock. We also had a Bonxie [Great Skua] & a bonus Short-eared Owl flying over the road. It was last seen being harassed by angry Bonxies. We headed to Norwick, having been hearing a report of a Juvenile Common Rosefinch. On the beach were Turnstone, Sanderling & Ringed Plovers. The Rosefinch was apparently seen in the garden. Sadly, we didn't see it, but saw Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Meadow Pipit, Redwing, Pied Wagtail & Lesser Redpolls. Our final port of call for the day was at Halligarth in search of the Wood Warbler. There was still plenty of Barn Swallows around the area. One of the Juveniles landed on the fence. One of the fields had a flock of Greylag Geese with one Pink-footed Goose. On our way back to the Baltasound Hotel, we stopped by the field for a better view of the Geese.

Snow Bunting [Juvenile]

Snow Bunting [Juvenile]

Sanderling [Winter]

Meadow Pipit

Pied Wagtail

Blackcap [Male]

Ringed Plover [Adult & Juveniles]

Greylag & Pink-footed Geese

Baltasound Bus Shelter, Unst    

Shetland [day 6]
27/09/18

The next morning, we headed back to Halligarth for the Wood Warbler. We had very brief views of it in the canopy. We went back to Norwick to look for the Rosefinch, before catching the ferry back to the mainland. Sadly no luck again. After arriving back on the mainland from Unst, we drove south. Our next port of call was at Loch of Benston near Garth to look for the Red-backed Shrike. The 1st Winter had been elusive throughout the day & only gave brief views occasionally. We drove alongside Tingwall Loch in search of a Little Egret. Sadly it flew off minutes before we got there. Loads of Common Gulls were around the loch. We finished the day at Moast Beach, Scatness watching both a Slavonian Grebe & Grey Phalarope in the evening sunlight. Just when were leaving, a Merlin flew overhead. Afterwards, we made our back to the Sumburgh Hotel.

Red-backed Shrike [1st Winter]

Common Gull [Adult Winter]

Slavonian Grebe [Winter]

Grey Phalarope [1st Winter]

Shetland [Day 7]
28/09/18

We started at Quendale Point for a bit of seabird watching. There was a Black Guillemot, Porpoise & 7 Juvenile Great Northern Divers. There was even a little bit of calling. We tried another site for a Rosefinch near Cunningburgh. We saw an Adult Great Northern Diver moulting out of Summer Plumage. The Rosefinch was apparently feeding in the potatoA field with other passerines. We only saw House Sparrows, Twite & Merlin. We had lunch at Fladdabister, while we were looking for the Orcas or Killer Whales. In the afternoon we went to Swining, where we saw another 1st Winter Pied Flycatcher, Common Tern & Red-breasted Merganser. Our final chance for the Rosefinch was at Leabitten, Sandwick. The 1st Winter was feeding on the bank with the local House Sparrows amongst the grass. We then made our way back to the Sumburgh Hotel.

Twite [Adult]

Pied Flycatcher [1st Winter]

Herring Gull [Adult Winter]

Pied Flycatcher [1st Winter]

Fladdabister, Mainland Shetland

Common Rosefinch [1st Winter]

Common Rosefinch [1st Winter] with a House Sparrow

Shetland [day 8]
29/09/8

In the morning we said goodbye the rest of the group, before exploring around the island for the final time. We started at Pool of Verkie to look for Waders. These were Ringed Plovers, Common Redshanks, Turnstone, Bar-tailed Godwit & Black-tailed Godwit. Near Boddam, we saw some Dunlin foraging along the beach. A quick look Leabitten, where a couple of Common Eider were seen. We had a final look around Lerwick for Otters & had a brief view of one foraging in amongst the rocks & swimming off to the holt. In the main harbour were Black Guillemots, Common Eiders, Common Guillemot, Great Black-backed Gulls, Herring Gulls & Kittiwake. We caught the overnight back to Aberdeen.

Black Guillemot [Winter]

Ringed Plover [Winter]

Ringed Plover [Juvenile]

Kittiwake [Adult Winter]

Common Eider [Female]

Common Eider [Male]

Common Guillemot [Winter]

Kittiwake [Adult Winter]

Great Black-backed Gull [1st Winter]

Herring Gull [Adult Winter]

Vane Farm/Loch Leven RSPB & Musselburgh 30/09/18

We arrived at Aberdeen at daybreak and made our way to Dunotter Castle to watch the sunrise. We popped into Loch Leven RSPB for a cup of tea on our way south. We went to the first hide to see if the Tree Sparrows were about. I managed to see one perched in the tree behind the hide. We also popped into Musselburgh to look for the American White-winged Scoter. We saw a Common Guillemot & Velvet Scoters on the sea. Also there were Sandwich Terns flying past. We eventually managed to see the White-winged Scoter very distantly with the Velvet Scoter flock. But it was very nice to see so many Velvet Scoters at close quarters. On the lagoons, we saw Dunlin, Greylag Goose, Barnacle Geese, Pied Wagtail & Curlew Sandpiper. Afterwards we continued our journey down to Gretna Green for the night.

Tree Sparrow [Adult]

Sandwich Tern [Winter]

Common Guillemot [Winter]

Velvet Scoter [Males]

Dunotter Castle at sunrise

Firth of Forth from Musellburgh seawall

Leighton Moss RSPB 01/10/18

The following morning, we saw a massive flock of Barnacle Geese flying over Gretna Green from the WWT Caerlaverock. After breakfast, we headed off to Leighton Moss RSPB in Lancashire to see the Bearded Tits. We got down to where the grit trays were & waited. The birds made 3 appearances during the early part of the day and disappeared after 12:00PM. A couple of Common Darters were seen on the boardwalk. On the way back to the Visitor Centre, we saw Robins, Nuthatches, Coal & Marsh Tits. After having a cup of tea in the cafe, we started to make our way back south. It was marvellous hoilday, the weather could been slightly better. Thanks to Judd Hunt of Shetland Wildlife for leading. Also thanks to Sue, Karen, Rob, Richard & Gary for their company.

Bearded Tit [Pair]

Bearded Tit [Female]

Bearded Tit [Male]

Bearded Tit [Male]

Black-headed Gull [1st Winter]

Nuthatch [Adult]

Marsh Tit [Adult]

Barn Owl carving

Grey Phalarope [1st Winter]

©  Christopher Teague 2018