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17th March 2012

Signs of spring

Siskin at Vatshoull

Meadow Pipit at Skaw

Iceland Gull at Hamister

The Kumlien`s gull also at Hamister

Teal at Symbister

Pied Wagtail at Hamister

There now seems to be a good build up of Oystercatchers, Lapwings and Skylarks, the latter now singing on the odd occasion that it isn't pishing down and blowing a gale from the South West. Today the Common Scoter flock off Vatshoull was at nine birds which must be a local record with a female Siskin also in a Vatshoull garden for the last day or two.

9th March 2012

Ringed Scorie



Pied Wagtail

Grey Heron

How unobservant am I ? I was recently trawling through old Gull pics from Symbister when I came on the above Glaucous Gull photo from 19/1. My finger was hovering over the delete button when I noticed the Juvenile Herring Gull  on the left is ringed on both legs. I know I have glanced at this pic several times and missed it each time. I have since found out that it was ringed as a chick at Orndalen , Tromso in Norway on 6th July 2011.

Still little to report on the migrant front, two Pied Wagtails have been around Hamister since 7/3 and I managed to catch up with the elusive Common Buzzard today at Vatshoull.

4th March 2012

 Long staying Kumlien`s Gull

Spotted the Kumlien`s Gull on a neighbours roof with a Herring Gull while preparing Sunday lunch. After two days of strong SE winds I was hoping for at least a Mistle Thrush today but had to settle for a Woodcock in the Skaw plantation and what was possibly the same Red Throated Diver on Vatshoull loch and later at North loch of Skaw. Sounds like more SE winds on the way so there may be something before the weeks out.

28th February 2012


Its now just over two weeks since my last entry. The Little Gull was last seen on the 17th with Iceland Gull numbers slowly dwindling. Eight are at Symbister today with six in the North Voe and one at Skaw. I had thought the adult Kumlien`s Gull was long gone but it  has suddenly reappeared with the gulls in the North Voe this afternoon. Four female Common Scoters were off Vatshoull yesterday and Dunnocks are overwintering at Saltness and Gardentown. Norman Poleson has reported a possible Buzzard sp. below his house at Brough on consecutive mornings but I have yet to catch up with it.

13th February 2012

Little Gull

26 Iceland Gulls with one Great Black Backed at Symbister

Iceland Gull numbers appear to be on the decrease with "only" twenty two at Symbister today. Numbers peaked 7/2 with fifty four Icelands on this date and with quite a few more gulls unchecked amongst the pelagic boats I expect a few more were present. A first winter Little Gull  with the Symbister flock was nice as they are nowhere near annual on the island.

25th January 2012

Final Gull count

First Winter Glaucous Gull (again)

As we are away fishing tomorrow morning I thought I would do a last gull update. Yesterday (24th) an incredible forty nine!! Iceland Gulls were at Symbister and with over thirty resting on the shore it made counting them a lot easier. Today Iceland numbers were down to about thirty eight but Glaucous Gulls were up to seven. Should be back to resume this drivel in a few weeks.

20th January 2012

Red Throated Diver

Got a call from my uncle Bobby Irvine in mid afternoon about a diver on North Loch of Skaw.   This turned out to be a Red Throated and is by a long way the earliest bird I have seen on fresh water on Whalsay.  Earlier in the day there were thirty one Iceland Gulls and three Glaucous Gulls at Symbister.  The Kumlien`s is still staying faithful to the same field at Hamister.

19th January 2012

 Glaucous Gulls

The white winged gull invasion has picked up pace on Whalsay with an amazing thirty six!! Iceland Gulls and two Glaucous Gulls below the Symbister fish factory today.   Hope I can find something to report that isn't a gull sometime soon.

14th January 2012

The great all Shetland Iceland Gull count


With record numbers of Iceland Gulls in Shetland at the moment the "nature in Shetland" boys decided to organise a synchronised count on Saturday 14th. BM and myself had a day in the field turning up twenty Iceland and two Kumlien`s Gulls, by a long way a record for the isle. A third winter Kumlien`s was on Hamister beach flying off just as the camera was coming out of the bag.  This huge influx is all the stranger because of the lack of first winter birds, three of twenty two on Whalsay with a similar story everywhere else. The Shetland day total was an impressive 152.

Little else of interest was seen though BM had the Bean Goose again at Isbister and a first winter Gannet flew south past me at Breiwick beach which was unseasonal. JD  had the Great White Egret yesterday (13th) fly in landing on the beach below Vatshoull though I missed it. This is the first confirmed sighting since 27/12, where's it been?

11th January 2011

More Iceland Gulls

Am on daily visits to the fish factory at the moment with Iceland Gull numbers at seven there this afternoon and a single adult on Hamister beach. Like everyone else thoughts of an Ivory or Ross`s Gull joining the flock keeps you going. Nothing like a bit of blind optimism.

6th January 2012

Iceland Gulls

Iceland Gulls and Juvenile Kittiwake at Symbister




The current Iceland Gull influx into Shetland seems to have reached us too with BM yesterday finding a first winter at Skaw  then five of different ages at Symbister below the fish  factory. My efforts at photography were hampered somewhat by the car being filled with spray every thirty seconds or so. The Kumlien`s Gull was back in its chosen Hamister field today after being seen and photographed at Shetland Catch factory in Lerwick yesterday. It was with a second winter Iceland Gull and BM informed me that yesterdays five Icelands were still at Symbister. A walk in the Skaw Taing accompanied by BM added single Little Auk and Merlin to the year list.

1st January 2012

Common Buzzard

 After the usual Christmas/new year excesses  I was out a couple of times today. The Kumlien`s Gull was in its usual Hamister field and two Chaffinches and a Long Eared Owl were also at Hamister. Six more Chaffinches were at Symbister and one European White Fronted Goose was still in the Skaw Greylag flock.

 JD was out doing his annual new years day birdrace against Tommy from Fair Isle and after a slim defeat last year was looking for revenge in 2012.  Jons best birds were a Common Buzzard being mobbed by a Hooded Crow over Challister Ness, a Little Auk off Symbister, a Jack Snipe in the Symbister meadow and a couple of Iceland Gulls so with a very reasonable 51 species seen the title is apparently back in Whalsay.

photo Jon Dunn