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15th March 2018

Mistle Thrushes

Our Blue Whiting fishing season has been delayed by a SE gale and we are now leaving early morning on 17/3. The said gale has at least brought in a few few migrants which are new for the year - White Wagtail and Snow Bunting at Newpark plus a couple of Dunnocks at Skaw. The Coues's Arctic Redpoll remains at Skibberhoull and there were single Mistle Thrushes at Newpark and Skaw.

11th March 2018

Gone Fishing

Coues`s Arctic Redpoll still at Skibberhoull for over a month now.

Iceland Gull at Skaw.

Whooper Swan pair on north loch o Skaw.

Long range and crap Mistle Thrush photo at Hamister today.

A last update before we head away for a month+ to the blue whiting fishing.  The Coues's Arctic Redpoll is still at Skibberhoull today after a month on site. The adult White tailed Eagle toured the island and was last seen be me flying west over our house at Hamister on 9/3, it may well still be somewhere on here. A pair of Mistle Thrushes were on the big rig at Hamister just in time before we go.

3rd March 2018

White tailed Eagle

Jack Snipe, one of five! in this ditch at Skaw.

The Coues's Arctic Redpoll again.

Willie Hutchison phoned today having seen an Eagle flying from Skaw towards Isbister. BM picked it up on the hilltop NW of Isbister and through the telescope could be identified as an adult White tailed Eagle. Our attempts at stalking wasn't very successful as it flushed from quite long range. It seemed to come down near Marrister so we hope to encounter it again. Five!! Jack Snipes were in a single ditch at Skaw with two Common Snipes giving good photo opportunities. With the Coues's Arctic Redpoll still at Skibberhoull this was a very good days for the start of March. 

1st March 2018

Coues's still present after three weeks

Slightly blurred undertail shot

Bloody photographers!!

Robin attracted to the seed at Skibberhoull also.

A few Song Thrushes with the Fieldfares and Redwings now.

Water Rail at Marrister through a window.             Photo  Brian Marshall

The Coues's Arctic Redpoll is still at Skibberhoull after three weeks. Hope to eventually post a photo of something different!

19th February 2018

May be the last time I don't know

Undertail photo by Jon Dunn

The Coues's Arctic Redpoll remains at Skibberhoull and as you can see I cant resist putting on more photos of it! Brian has had two attempts with the mist net trapping seven Mealies the first time then three plus a Blackbird the second try. A third attempt is planned for the 21st if its still about. Brian found two female Common Scoters today on his daily dog walk around Skaw Taing.

16th February 2018

Coues's still at Skibberhoull

The Coues`s Arctic Redpoll is still at "Frankies" Skibberhoull  today with a minimum of sixteen Mealy Redpolls. The blurred bits on some of the photos is the fence I had to peer through!

7th February 2018

Coues's Arctic Redpoll

A Coues's Arctic Redpoll was at Skibberhoull today with at least ten Common Redpolls. A novelty to have a good bird in early February

30th January 2018

Humpbacks North of the Outer Hebrides


The usual Orcas around the boat too.

Just home from three mackerel trips from north of the Outer Hebrides. The sight of Humpback Whales is very unusual so to see them on all three trips is unprecedented. Four on 18/1, two on 21/1 and four again 26/1. The photos above were of the two seen on 21/1 twelve miles NW of Sula Sgeir which lies to the north from the Butt of Lewis. As usual there was always a few Orca pods in attendance though I think the 20+ on 26/1 was probably the most seen. Eleven Pilot Whales also visited on this date. Best bird on Whalsay for January was undoubtedly the female King Eider found by the SNH Seabird monitoring team at the Symbister salmon cages 2/1 but sadly this bird has not been seen by any of us. Single Waxwings were at Whitefield and Skaw on 4/1 and three different Water Rails have been seen throughout the month. Also managed to catch up with six European White fronted Geese at Pouster that Brian found a couple of days ago.

31st December 2017

Whalsay bird review 2017


A first winter Glaucous Gull was off Skaw Taing 2/1. Three Common Scoters were off Vatshoull 5/1 with a Peregrine bombing through at the same time. An Iceland Gull was in the north voe 6/1. Two Common Scoters were still off Vatshoull 7/1 with another two off Symbister. Little else was seen till 27/1 when three Glaucous Gulls were at Skaw and two Iceland Gulls at Symbister. Seven European White fronted Geese were at Challister 29/1.


A quiet month with a Water Rail at Hamister 7/2 and the first Red throated Divers back on north loch of Skaw 18/2 the only notable sightings.


Two Mistle Thrushes were at Hamister and five Pink footed Geese at the Burns 6/3. The Hamister Mistle Thrush numbers doubled to four on 7/3. A male Stonechat was at the Burns 8/3. A Mistle Thrush at Skaw 9/3 pushed the island numbers up to five with the Hamister birds still present. A male Yellowhammer was at Whitefield 17/3. The first Dunnocks of the year were at Saltness 24/3 and Skaw 25/3. A pair of Shelducks flew north past Vatshoull 27/3 and a Woodcock was at Skaw 28/3.

White fronted Geese at Challister

Stonechat at the Burns

Yellowhammer at Whitefield



I was away fishing for the whole of this month. Brian had a Black tailed Godwit at Vatshoull 20/4 and a Hawfinch was photographed at Skaw 29/4 and were two species I never did catch up with for the rest of the year.






A female Subalpine Warbler sp. was at Skibberhoull and a Grasshopper Warbler at Skaw 3/5 with a Goosander on Vatshoull loch 6/5. A Sand Martin was at Vatshoull 12/5. A Thrush Nightingale skulked around in a Hamister yard 13-14/5 with a Stonechat at Skaw also on 13/5. The years only Common Sandpiper was at Skaw 14/5 with a male Red backed Shrike there 15/5. A female Stonechat joined the male at Skaw 16/5 with a very brief Dotterel on the golf course 17/5. A Long eared Owl at Skibberhoull 22/5 later self trapped itself in a Saltness shed before being trapped, ringed and released by BM. The last week was quiet with the years only Bar tailed Godwit at the houb 27/5 the only remotely interesting record.






4/6 saw a Barnacle Goose at Vatshoull loch and a Male Red backed Shrike at Symbister. A Greenish Warbler trapped at Isbister 7/6 was the third individual in three consecutive Junes never having had a spring bird on the isle previously! An Icterine Warbler shared the same garden. A female Nightjar was in the Skaw plantation 10/6 our first record since 2009. A Common Swift was at Symbister 18/6. Away from birds briefly a Hummingbird Hawkmoth was at Hillhead 23/6. A Mute Swan on Vatshoull loch 27/6 and an unseasonal Black Redstart at Skaw 28/6 rounded off the month.

Long eared Owl trapped in a shed at Saltness

Thrush Nightingale at Hamister

Pied Flycatcher at Skaw

Greenish Warbler trapped at Isbister

Red Grouse chicks north of Vatshoull



As usual very few birds of interest. A juvenile Cuckoo was at Skaw 21\7. Brian had a couple of male Two barred Crossbills in his garden 29/7 which was only a third island record.



A very early Pied Flycatcher plus a Common Swift were at Skaw 3\8.  I was away for the rest of the month at the herring fishing and missed out on an island tick in the form of a female Marsh Harrier around Isbister from 20-21\8. A Black tailed Godwit was at Skaw 20/8. BM went away as well after this and with a good range of scarcities throughout Shetland who knows what was missed.



A Sooty Shearwater was off Skaw 2\9. An Icterine Warbler was at Isbister 9\9 with early Yellow browed Warblers at Saltness and Skaw the same day. 10\9 saw Barred Warblers at Hamister and Symbister and a Red backed Shrike at Brough. An adult American Golden Plover in a flock of its european cousins at Skaw from 12-13\9 was only a second island record. Another Barred Warbler was at Hamister 15\9. Considerably rarer was the Golden Oriole at Saltness from 17-20\9. Red breasted Flycatchers were at Isbister and Hillhead 25\9. On 27\9 a Great Grey Shrike was at Skaw, Little Bunting at Brough plus Grasshopper Warblers at Skaw, Vatshoull and Brough. On 30/9 a Stock Dove was at Hamister, Short eared Owl at Skaw, Little Stint at Symbister plus Little Buntings at Brough, Burns and Skaw(2).





Two barred Crossbill at Marrister       photo by Brian Marshall




American Golden Plover at Skaw

Great Grey Shrike at Skaw

Icterine Warbler at Isbister

Little Bunting at Brough



A Turtle Dove was at Saltness briefly on 1/10 with a Lesser Redpoll at Isbister 2/10. A Great Grey Shrike was at Marrister  3/10. There was a quiet period till the discovery of a Steppe Grey Shrike at the roadside near Vevoe on 14/10. This was a first island record, fourth for Shetland and the first since 1994. A very tame individual which entertained quite a few visitors till 31/10. A Stock Dove at Hamister 18/10 may or may not have been the same bird seen two weeks earlier. A Stonechat was at Houll also on 18/10. 20/10 saw Ring Ouzels at Creadyknowe, Challister, Skaw and Brough, Water Rail at Skaw and a Black Redstart at Hamister. A Pallas`s Warbler was a first island record for a good few years on 22/10 at Creadyknowe, unfortunately for me one day after heading to sea! A Mistle Thrush was at Skaw the same day. A Blue Tit was at Marrister 24/10 with a Long eared Owl at Sodom 25/10. A Blue Tit was at Gardentown at the months end.



A Blue Tit was at Skibberhoull 11/11 (the Gardentown bird?) A Glaucous Gull was at Brough 18/11 with single Blue and Great Tits together in the same Symbister garden 19/11. Another Glaucous Gull was at Skaw 27/11. A Jack Snipe was at Pouster and a 3rd winter Iceland Gull at Symbister 28/11.




A Water Rail was in a Vatshoull garden on 13/12 with a female Common Scoter off Skaw Taing 15/12. An Iceland Gull was at Symbister 16/12. A Glaucous Gull was at Skaw Taing 18/12 with two Mealy Redpoll at Brough. A Glaucous Gull joined the Iceland Gull at Symbister 24/12.

Steppe Grey Shrike near Vevoe

Water Rail at Vatshoull

Another poor year with 137 species recorded by me. Last years low of 129 was beaten and thankfully we didn't go the whole year without a national rarity like 2016 but this was still my second poorest total in the seven years I have done this. The October Steppe Grey Shrike was the first addition to the island list for a few years raising the total to 303. The adult American Golden Plover at Skaw in September was a 2nd record and the Two barred Crossbills at Marrister in July a third. As usual a few common species went unrecorded on Whalsay - Tundra Bean Goose, Storm Petrel, Little Auk, Greenshank, Waxwing, Linnet and Common Crossbill. Species seen but missed by me were - Goosander, Sooty Shearwater, Moorhen, Dotterel, Black tailed Godwit, Marsh Harrier, Turtle Dove, Subalpine warbler, Pallas`s Warbler, Short eared Owl, Hawfich and Two barred Crossbill. Some good stuff missed but never mind, all the best for 2018!

13th December 2017

Water Rail

A couple of slightly grainy images of a Water Rail in Lowrie Patons garden at Vatshoull today. Having missed one at Skaw earlier in the autumn I was pleased to add it to the year list. Very little news since l