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2012 Jan- March

2012 April-June

2012 July-Sep

2012 Oct-Dec

2013 Jan-March

2013 April-June

2013 July-Sep

2013 Oct- Dec

2013 April- June

29th June 2013

Common Crossbills

A dozen Common Crossbills were in the Skaw plantation tonight with Brian managing to trap two female birds.

27th June 2013

Bar tailed Godwit

Common Snipe

A Bar tailed Godwit was at North loch of Skaw tonight so after myself and BM had viewed it for a while I thought I'd sneak up on it for a few photos. Showing exceptional fieldcraft I managed to flush it at very long range resulting in the above poor effort. A pity as it was a handsome bird in full breeding plumage.

23rd June 2013

Another June Arctic Warbler

Today has been a day of fresh winds and heavy drizzle, in a word crap. Cath Simpson had  a flock of twenty plus Common Crossbills in her Symbister garden in the morning so on the strength of that I decided to brave the poor conditions and have a look at Skaw.  I reached the Skaw plantation just after 7pm and after wading through a few thousand raucous juvenile Starlings (well twenty anyway) flushed an interesting warbler with a long and very white stripe above the eye. It was obviously either Arctic or Greenish so BM was called and the chase was on. We trudged around for ages before getting views good enough to clinch it as an Arctic Warbler a very rare bird in June. The fact that there was another in the very same place on the 27th June last year makes this all the more incredible. Tomorrow promises showers as opposed to steady rain so if the bird is still present every effort will be made to trap it or at least get a photo or two.

20th June 2013

Tree Sparrow

The year list is coming along nicely with the discovery of a Tree Sparrow amongst the local House Sparrows at Skaw today. There was a very brief sighting of one in May 2011 but you have to go back quite a lot of years for another record. A Common Crossbill in the Skaw plantation was also new for the year.

19th June 2013

Mute Swans

Despite breeding at several mainland sites Mute Swan remains a very scarce visitor to Whalsay  so two juvenile birds on Vatshoull loch today is another good record for the year.

11th June 2013

Breeding plumaged Ruff

Photo by  Brian Marshall

Skylark brood amongst a coil of plastic pipes

Singing Wren at Skaw

A male Ruff in its breeding finery has been present at Vatshoull since the 4th of June but is very flighty and Brian managed a reasonable photo today at about two fields range. Hardly a major rarity but is the first either of us has seen in this plumage.

10th June 2013

Otters, rabbits and common breeders

Otter hiding in rabbit burrow at Skaw Taing

Male Blackbird feeding chick at Symbister

Skylark at Clate

Great Northern Divers off Skaw (non breeders)

With a complete lack of migrant birds on the isle at the moment a walk around the golf course produced good views of an otter. It tried hiding in a rabbit burrow before getting bored and setting off down to the shore. Was out yesterday doing a breeding bird survey in the area south of our house at Hamister. Amongst the usual dross of Starlings and Sparrows a breeding pair of Redshank in the Hamister valley was notable as was the Whimbrel pair holding territory up near "Bu water".

2nd June 2013

Curlew Sandpiper

This attractive Curlew Sandpiper turned up at Vatshoull loch tonight. As you can probably tell it was found quite late in the evening so this grainy image was taken with the ISO cranked up to 3200. Otherwise quiet with only the  Barnacle Goose pair in the same area and a pair of Common Sandpipers seen yesterday at Huxter loch.

31st May 2013

Barnacle Geese

In flight 30/5 with a Greylag

The last week or so has been fairly quiet on Whalsay. The rest of Shetland, and the south mainland in particular, has been producing good birds but we have had to make do with a few year ticks. A Cuckoo was at Hamister 23/5, Bar Tailed Godwit and Short Eared Owl at Skaw 26/5. BM saw a Black Tailed Godwit at Skaw 29/5 which I missed with five Red Backed Shrikes scattered around the Island the same day. A single Barnacle Goose was at Vatshoull also 29/5 with two there on 31/5. The only addition today was a Common Sandpiper on the north shore of the golf course bringing the year list up to 120 which is seven species ahead of my best count in 2011at Mays end so hopefully a few more will appear before migration dries up. Still need Puffin!

19th May 2013

Singing Bluethroat

A male Bluethroat was in the ditch above Sandwick beach this evening singing away flat out. With the winds now up North East there has been a bit of a clearout with a Sedge Warbler at Skaw the only other interesting migrant seen today. The Collared Flycatcher was last seen on the evening of the 16th and appears to have moved on after a splendid six day stay.


12th May 2013

Collared Flycatcher again

Here comes lunch

Little to report today. The only new bird was a Hawfinch in the plantation which I missed. The cracking male Collared Flycatcher is still doing the rounds at Skaw but is incredibly mobile and can go missing for hours at a time.

11th May 2013

Grasshopper Warblers

Less birds around today with the above Grasshopper Warbler in the small garden at the Wirlie, Skaw this morning. This is another one of those birds that cant be guaranteed for the year so I was quite pleased. Brian found another later at Vatshoull for good measure. Just as it looked like yesterdays Collared Flycatcher had flown, Brian refound it in the same area this evening.

10th May 2013

Collared Flycatcher

Came in from doing the school run this morning to the news that Brian had found a Collared Flycatcher at Skaw!  The only other Island record was also the first for Britain seen on 11th May 1947 so me and Angela set of North in great haste. It ranged from the trap yard north to "roadside" and a few photos were taken. BM left early as he had a prior engagement in Lerwick. Annoyingly just as he would have been leaving Symbister the bird decided to fly into the heligoland trap.  I couldnt resist following it in and took a flurry of shots as it sat on the ramp before backing off to leave it in peace. A good day at the office!

9th May 2013

Mystery bird competition

Any ideas?

I was walking past "Roadside" at Skaw this morning when a screaming gull made me look up to the sight of an Osprey flying South straight over my head. By the time I got over the shock and had a look through the binoculars it was some distance away, cue the crap record shot alongside. I called BM and watched it circling around Vevoe for a minute or so before it was last seen  heading off in a Vidlin direction.

Other news concerned fairly common firsts for the year - Lesser Whitethroat, two Common Whitethroats, two Tree Pipits and two Reed Buntings. I also managed to catch up with Linnet for the year with a female at Isbister. Two Goldfinches were caught in the heligoland trap with another two at a Symbister feeder.

8th May 2013

A few migrants at last

A long range and slightly blurred Sedge Warbler at Skaw

Carrion Crow at Vevoe

At last winds are in the east and a few migrants are starting to appear. As usual Skaw did best with Sedge Warbler, female Yellowhammer, Short Eared Owl, Spotted Flycatcher and a few other common migrants. A Redstart at vevoe was also a first for the year with a Carrion Crow also there. The Symbister King Eider is also still present today.

26th April 2013

Flight shots

King Eider at Symbister

Thanks again to Graham Polson and Ellis Anderson for taking me off to the Symbister salmon cages for another bash at photographing the long staying King Eider. After a morning of rain we went out at 2pm and I managed a few reasonable shots as it flew a short distance north past the boat.

23rd April 2013

More finches


Two of the four Goldfinches now at Whitefield

After seeing my first Goldfinch for a few years at Whitefield on 18/4 I went back the following day to find two birds. Despite very strong Westerly winds there has been a further increase with four birds at the feeders today in company with five Siskins. This is very likely a record count for Whalsay and there may even be a few more in the next few days?

18th April 2013


Blackcap eating nuts!

Willie Irvine phoned about  a strange bird in his garden at Whitefield today. This turned out to be a Goldfinch, a few of which have been turning up in Shetland in the last few days. Not sure how many of these I have seen on the isle but certainly it would be in single figures as they are really quite rare.

After a few days of favourable winds it now looks like its back to the usual shite for a while. As well as a scattering of common migrants BM had a Linnet in his garden yesterday and both our long stayers, King Eider and Iceland Gull are still present today.


15th April 2013


A Sanderling turned up at the Kirk beach at Brough today. A few are usually present down at South mainland at this time of year but this is a really early record for Whalsay.

13th April 2013

Sandwich Tern

A few migrants are beginning to trickle through. Yesterday saw our first Wheatear at Skaw with Goldcrest and Chiffchaff also making their first appearance for the year. A few Robins, Chaffinches, 3 Dunnocks and a Collared Dove were also seen. Sandwich Tern is a very scarce migrant to Whalsay with perhaps a records or so every three years so I was pleased to see the above bird which BM found this afternoon at the houb. The King Eider and European White fronted Goose are also still present at Symbister and Pouster respectively.

11th April 2013

King Eider back at Symbister

Still very few migrants around. The first Wheatears reached the south mainland yesterday but no sign of any on Whalsay so far.  Since my last entry a pair of Blue Tits were together at Symbister 29/3 and with one in Brian's garden at Marrister around the same time you have to assume that at least three have been present on the island.  A Sparrowhawk was eating a Starling at the North Park 31/3 and my first Pied Wagtail was at Hamister 3/4.  The main news of late has been the return of the second winter King Eider at Symbister salmon cages from 8/4 and is still present today.  A few migrants have appeared today with a Jack Snipe at Skaw, a Mistle Thrush at Brough, a Waxwing and  Dunnock at Marrister plus single Bramblings at Skibberhoull and Brough and a scattering of Robins.