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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 July - September

30th September 2013

Olive backed Pipit

An Olive backed Pipit was found in the  Skaw plantation around midday by an incoming birder. It was fairly secretive and I only managed one  photo through the grass before it went back into cover. A Great spotted Woodpecker would have been another year tick but I missed the bird seen at Marrister where the Western Bonelli`s Warbler was still showing quite well.

29th September 2013

Western Bonelli`s Warbler

Grey Plover at Skaw 27/9

After a terrible week with birds on every island except ours, Brian found a Western Bonelli`s Warbler in his  garden at Marrister this afternoon. Luckily the bird was calling confirming the identification.  Attempts to trap it were unsuccessful as it was very mobile, maybe tomorrow. Bluethroats were at Isbister and Sandwick with at least nineteen Yellow browed Warblers scattered around.

22nd September 2013

Yellow browed Warblers

Common Redpoll

Still on the quiet side, the two Yellow browed Warblers are still playing hide and seek in the Skaw plantation with two Common Redpoll also there. There was a single flock of ninety four Snow Buntings on the golf course this afternoon  but that's about it so far.

20th September 2013

Little Gull

The year list has now crept up to 141, ten behind my best effort in 2011. BM found bird of the day with a juvenile Little Gull offshore below the trap area at Skaw. It was keeping company with eight latish juvenile Arctic Terns and I managed a few long range record shots. Two Yellow Browed Warblers have been in the Skaw plantation for the last three days but so far are proving camera shy.

17th September 2013

Snow Buntings

Golden Plover

Yet again September is providing constant Westerly winds.  A walk around the golf course on this date last year turned up a Buff breasted sandpiper but today I had to make do with a flock of at least forty five Snow Buntings. This is a decent count these days but hardly what you are hoping for at this time of year.

9th September 2013

Common Rosefinch

A very light scattering of migrants has been seen in the last couple of days. A Barred Warbler at Skaw yesterday and again today was a year tick and a Common Rosefinch was at Symbister this morning. BM found a pair of Little Stints on the golf course in company with a few Ringed Plover and Dunlin. I hurried to the scene only to see the flock disappear over a hill and into hiding. North winds now so there may be little news for a bit.

7th September 2013

Home again

Booted Warbler at Symbister    Photo Brian Marshall

Sabine`s Gull. One of two birds seen off the north coast of Scotland 3/9.

Just back from this seasons herring fishing, the highlight bird wise being a pair of Sabine`s Gulls which flew south past the boat 3/9 in a position approx. 15 miles north of Thurso. They were at long range and only one of my attempted photos was even close to being clear, unfortunately of only one of the birds. I have missed one or two decent birds at home in this time but far and away the rarest was the Booted Warbler at Symbister from 28-29/8. Cath Simpson had found it in her garden and unsure of its identity took a photo and went along BM.  This is only the second island record of this species which, luckily I saw in September1977.

25th August 2013

Greenish Warbler

An Icterine Warbler showing better at Skaw

Another Black tailed Godwit pic. (one of six birds present)

A Greenish Warbler turned up at Isbister this afternoon and is long overdue with no records for well over ten years. It played very hard to get staying deep in cover then spanging off and disappearing. Eventually got a few record shots as it landed on a wall for about ten seconds before Brian trapped it in the early evening. An Icterine Warbler which has been at Skaw since the 23rd was more obliging allowing me better pics. Along with a scatter of common migrants a pair of Common Rosefinches were in the Skaw plantation briefly adding another bird for the year. Going away herring fishing tonight so no more updates for a week or two.

22nd August 2013

Black tailed Godwits

Ponies checking to see if I'm in season!      photo Brian Marshall

Still a bit on the quiet side. Skaw held four Willow Warblers, one Pied Flycatcher and five Black tailed Godwits, the latter being a year tick for myself

20th August 2013

Signs of improvement

Willow Warbler in the Skaw plantation.

Greenshank pair at Vatshoull loch with a fence in the way.

A few days of light easterlies are forecast so we are hoping for a few migrants in the next day or two. A Sand Martin was at Vatshoull loch today just as I had given up hope of seeing one this year. Two Greenshanks were also present and four Willow Warblers were in the Skaw plantation.

16th August 2013


Pink footed Goose at Skaw

Sanderling at the houb

Still no small stuff to be found, not even a single Willow Warbler. Despite a few more small parties of Common Crossbills none of them has had the decency to have any wing-bars. A Pink footed Goose was only the second for the year and was with a few Greylags at Skaw. A Basking Shark was seen somewhere off the south end of the isle 13/8. It must surely improve soon.

8th August 2013

Storm Petrels

Turnstone at the houb.

Joined Brian for an evening of mist netting Storm Petrels at the shore below his house at Marrister. Seventeen birds were trapped between 11:35 and 1am which was a bit slow but very enjoyable none the less. One bird was ringed so it remains to be seen where it came from.

5th August 2013


Angela and Chloe viewing the Sperm Whale remains at Brough.

Starling chick on our garden wall.    Photo by Angela

A few waders are passing through with my first Greenshank of the year at Vatshoull loch today though well out of camera range. Two Ruff were at the Houb with a single Sanderling. Three more Sanderlings were at the north shore of the golf course with an early Fieldfare in the same area. Common Sandpipers were at the North beach 31/7 and the Houb 1/8. A Goldcrest at Hamister from 29-30/7 was highly unseasonal and very likely a first July record of this species on Whalsay. A Crossbill 4/8 didn't have the decency to have any wing-bars.

Other news concerned a very dead Sperm Whale which washed up at Souther Ness lighthouse at Brough and has been attracting a steady stream of locals since its discovery in late July.

27th July 2013

Velvet Scoter

With a few Two barred Crossbills starting to appear in Shetland I had another look in a few likely spots on the isle today without success. A walk along the Skaw road produced a reasonable consolation prize with a smart male Velvet Scoter offshore below the trap area. It is the first Whalsay record since a pair were seen off Symbister on the 2nd of January 1993!

17th July 2013

Rain Geese

Arctic Terns

Juvenile Wren

Arctic Tern chick at the houb

With absolutely no migrant birds on the isle at the moment heres a few photos of some of our local breeders. The first Red Throated Diver chicks are on the west loch of Skaw with further birds still sitting on nests on most suitable pools.

7th July 2013

Common Swift

I decided on a walk around the golf course this afternoon wimping out of the tensions of watching the Wimbledon mens singles final. A Common Swift was another year tick bringing the total up to 128 which is eight species ahead of my best year list in 2011 in early July. The Swift was on view for a couple of minutes and of  ten photos taken six were of a similar standard to the above, three were even worse and one missed the bird altogether! A single Common Crossbill in the Skaw plantation and a Collared Dove at Hamister were the only other migrants seen today.