More hot Little Bunting and pussy action

Now there’s a blog title. If that shameless attempt at luring sad wankers (and frustrated adolescents) to my swell my blog’s visitor-roll doesn’t work, I don’t know what will. Enjoy.

Covered most of the isle today, though not I think seeing an enormous amount that was actually new in – but plenty of recycled birds from previous days. A Brambling in my tattie yard first thing had presumably relocated from a few hundred yards away (and had moved on to the heligoland kale yard later on); and the Black Redstart JLI found yesterday on my drive was still there, mainly in the vicinity of the dead black feral cat by the foot of the drive. I feel a note to BB coming on…

091024 Whalsay 002

Working my way down the isle just turned up a few Goldcrests, Robins and yet more Bramblings, but the latter mainly still in the places and numbers I’d seen them a week ago. Feeling a little disillusioned (but obscurely heartened by the lack of news from elsewhere in Shetland) I went to see the Little Bunting JLI and I found a couple of days ago. The perfect antidote, it was showing well.

091024 Whalsay 007

Little Bunting doing straining

Little Bunting doing done a poo

Little Bunting doing a Holloway

Little Bunting doing being plain lovely

Also nearby the same Lesser Whitethroat we saw 2 days ago.

091024 Whalsay 004

Back home for lunch, and to dig some tatties I’d promised JLI and family for their Sunday lunch. Climbing into the yard, and there in front of me was a new Little Bunting. Result. Less resultful was it taking off, dropping briefly into a patch of weeds, and then going over the hill and towards the more sheltered heligoland yard. Heyho. A brief but significant bird for me – 102 on the house yearlist. Met up with JLI in the afternoon, delivered said tatties and some cabbagey stuff too, and after a beer to fortify ourselves it was back out into the field to give Brough a good going over. Brough delivered as usual, with a female Redstart and 2 Ring Ouzels (male and a female). All of which could easily be semi-residents, as have all been seen in Brough in the past week already. Oh, and a Chiffchaff, to which we didn’t need to play tristis calls in order to eliminate, er, tristis. 😉

091024 Whalsay 017

And so the day ended. Or rather, not quite… Back home for tea and crumpets, and time to get the dogs in from their dog-run for the night. And what should greet me when I went to the dog-run door? A hugely excited lurcher, and a freshly killed feral cat. Daisy Dingo clearly got a taste for pussy after the August feral cat kill, and had struck again with another of the small black feral numbers that have been lurking about the place recently, and this afternoon had shown the spectacular ill-judgement of slinking into the Dingo’s dog-run. That’s 2 down in the past 2 days – one road-kill, and one dog-kill – and given how attractive 1 dead cat was proving to be this morning for a Black Redstart, imagine what sort of chat 2 dead cats together might attract tomorrow…

Bunting hunting

Had a really good hour out with JLI at lunchtime wandering around Sandwick – given the atrocious conditions, (south-easterly gales still, with persistent rain showers – horrible to bird in, but promising for when it finally eases), I dared to hope for a Reed Bunting at the least. And the first bird we clapped eyes on as we got out of the car was a passerine in flight, white outer tail feathers… Reed Bunting. And landed next to a Common Redpoll. All very promising.

Five minutes later, and we’d flushed another bunting from the edge of a garden. This one looked small though. It dropped into a nearby ditch, and on creeping up we found a smart Little Bunting bathing in a small pool in the base of the ditch. BM and JA phoned… BM on his way, JA in Lerwick. Heyho. By the time BM had arrived, the bunting had done a flit, and it took a little while and a fair amount of ground covered (and re-covered. And covered again) until we’d pinned it down. Following was taken through a gate, so you’ll have to excuse the blurry bits above and below the bird.

bunting doing little

With a little time remaining before I had to get back to my laptop, we pressed on through Sandwick, refinding the male Yellowhammer JLI initially found yesterday, a Water Rail, and a Lesser Whitethroat. I think it’ll be a bit manic in Shetland when the wind finally does drop. Or at least, I hope so. Final bird of the day was a Jackdaw beside the road at Challister. Best find of the day – one of the small black feral cats dead at the foot of my drive. Presumably hit by a car. Heyho again – the birds won’t mourn its passing.

A Fair Isle weekend

Back today from a weekend on Fair Isle – primarily there for work purposes, but Saturday (and what little I saw of Sunday after a great night out at a party at Setter on Saturday – a party that saw me get back to the Haa at 5am!) was reasonable for birding – an Arctic Warbler played hard to get, but was often visible if only distantly. Also my first Yellow-browed Warbler of the autumn put in a brief appearance.

Arctic doing not-a-Greenish

There was a definite bunting theme, as apart from a nice smart Little Bunting in the hand, there seemed to be quite a number of Lapland Buntings around – they were often calling overhead, and showed well on occasion. I was briefly stumped when I heard a familiar song – one I last heard in Western Iceland a couple of months ago – then the penny dropped – the AW’s were tape-luring in their garden, and that familiar song was of course Lapland Bunting.

Lapland doing seed

Other highlights a Common Rosefinch sharing the same garden as the Arctic Warbler, and a typically flighty Richard’s Pipit. A great weekend, and fine to see old friends and make a couple of new ones too. Left late this afternoon on the same plane that had just brought the crack team of PS and AS – if there’s a mega to be found on the isle this week, they’re the ones to find it! Back home to a couple of intriguing bird-related emails (watch this space) and confirmation that last week’s dragonfly is indeed a Common Hawker, and not the very similar Bog Hawker it was hoped it might be. Still, it seems as if it’s only the second record for Shetland, and a first for mainland Shetland (the other record being from, appropriately enough, Fair Isle).