At the end of last week, I had a look around the north of the island and re-found the Shore Lark at Lamba Ness and also a Short-toed Lark near Haroldswick. The S-t Lark was very flighty and difficult to get anywhere near to - even in the car. For some reason it would spend most of its time when feeding, on the roadside verges. This proved difficult for two reasons, firstly, the bird would be feeding ahead of me which made things difficult for using the camera out of the window and secondly, just when I'd get reasonably close, a car would come along and the bird would then fly off to another piece of road often some distance away. The picture below is a rather large crop. -
After the quite large numbers of small migrants around over the last few weeks, things are starting to quieten down a bit with most of the smaller birds having moved on. The redpoll, Brambling and Chaffinch numbers have dropped off and so to have the numbers of Robins and Goldcrests. I'm still seeing a few Chiffchaffs around (three yesterday) and amongst these are the occasional 'Tristis' or Siberian Chiffchaff. This race of Chiffchaff are often the latest of the Chiffchaffs to pass through and are now believed by some to be more regular visitors to our shores than previously thought. I'm not going in to the identification here as it would take up a lot of space and also I'm certainly no expert !
Last Friday (22nd Oct) I took the girls with me down south to Lerwick and then on to Sumburgh airport to pick up Catriona who'd been away working. As far as wildlife goes, there wasn't much about although we did have a Red Grouse fly across the road in front of the car as we drove south through South Mainland. I've said it so many times - if fact I reckon it happens every time I go south - something turns up on Unst I've not seen here, this time it was a Blue Tit. I can almost hear the laughter, getting exited about a BLUE TIT ? Well, I think it's good bird when you look at the map where Shetland is, the Blue Tits in my garden down in the Cotswolds looked as though they'd have a hard job of flying across the nearest field, the same goes for Goldcrests. When I suggested that I'd like to get back fairly early on Sunday so I could go and look for it there were almost horrors of disbelief from the rest of the family ! Did I see the bird ? - no I couldn't find it.
Yesterday (26th Oct), I had a quick visit to Lamba Ness to see if the Shore Lark was still around. On the road down, I past a perched Merlin that took off as I rolled to a standstill. I love these little birds and never get tired of seeing them, despite some days seeing several. This bird took of at great speed and headed off towards the headland, putting up virtually every small (and large) bird in the process. It was now doubtful if I would see the Shore Lark, I was right, no sign of the lark. The one that wintered on Lamba Ness two years ago, would often disappear for a week or more then show up again at the head; maybe this one will ?
As I started walking back around to the car, I heard a bird call coming from high over head heading north. It was a sound I wasn't familiar with but it had the tones of a diver species. Scanning the sky above me, I found two divers flying over at quite a height. The sun was lighting up the birds and from what I could see, they both appeared to have very light coloured bills and necks; I'm pretty sure they were both White-billed Divers but sadly I'll never know for sure. If, like I'd first thought, I'd taken my camera with me, I would have identified them for sure - another one that got away. Below are a couple of pictures I took a few years ago one winter of a very confiding White-billed Diver and also a Great Northern Diver that was down on the Hayle Estuary in Cornwall.
Great Northern Diver