The owl in a south-easterly came off the sea…

Working from home today, and so limited in the main to looking wistfully out of the window from time to time. Actually, not that wistfully as the weather was absolutely vile for a lot of the day – vile that is from a comfortable, desk-monkey perspective. From a birder’s viewpoint, it looks promising for the next few days. If the wind and rain ease off, there’ll be rare birds coming out of the woodwork all over Shetland. South-easterlies and rain in mid October are the dream ticket.

My window-gazing wasn’t completely fruitless, as mid-morning something large and brown went past at a hell of a clip, pursued by 2 Hooded Crows. Raptor, surely… I legged it outside and scanned the area desperately. The crows gave the game away, and there below the road was a Long-eared Owl on a drystone dyke, doing its very best to ignore the local hoodies. I had enough time to drive down and get a few photos at long-range before it noticed the plantation and dived in for cover. A shame I didn’t have longer, as I could have made an effort before it went into cover and skulked up a bit closer for some really nice pictures.

LEO! LE-E-E-O! I want a LEO and I want one now...

Strange that I wait nearly 5 and a half years to add Long-eared Owl to the houselist, and then I see 2 in the space of 6 months.

Owl doing looking

Some extremely good surprises in the post today as well – the latest British Birds (including the BBRC annual rarities report), and Birding World. Nice to see all my birds from last year duly endorsed, and a watercolour from my Hume’s Warbler submission had made its way into the rarities report too.  Birding World was particularly pleasing – 5 of my photos have been used this month – American Golden Plover and Sandhill Crane on Orkney, and Taiga Flycatcher here in Shetland. I’m delighted to see them in print – I can’t be making too bad a job of this point and shoot business!

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Taiga Flycatcher, Fetlar

Just a quick blog tonight – to upload a photo of the Taiga Flycatcher I took my Shetland Wildlife party to see on Fetlar this morning. Top bird.

Taiga woods

More photos to follow in due course.

Later. A couple more photos. The bird was a real show-off once the rain stopped and the sun came out, and performed brilliantly for the perfectly behaved assembled birders (a big Shetland twitch this, some 20 people gathered to see it). People held back, and the bird clearly felt it had enough space to go about its business unhindered, and in the open. My second Taiga Flycatcher, and both in Shetland – this time far more satisfying views than the first bird. Everyone went away delighted – the question being whether having been present for some days before being positively identified as a Taiga, the bird will go away itself tonight as the conditions for migration seem perfect as I type – a light northerly breeze, clear skies, and a bright moon.

taiga feet

taiga, taiga burning bright