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Thursday 31 October 2019



I didn't get up early, I needed to catch up on sleep. The day started off lovely and sunny, but had developed into gloom and rain by late morning. Packed up my gear up and said goodbye to Niki and Piet (owners of the apartments). Left feeling very sad at 11am.

Sandwick – Mousa Slipway – no sign of the Eastern Stonechat. Saw Wrens, Robin, Starlings, Turnstones, Fulmars and a Seal. On route to Noness Harbour I saw big numbers of Starlings feeding in fields with several Redwings. At the harbour I didn't see anything of note, the skies blackened and rain commenced!

Hoswick Cliff Top Garden – would I find something spectacular on my last day? NO! Only bird in here was a Robin. Around the clifftop I saw a Wren, a Redshank on a rock and a Black Guillemot on the sea. I was just leaving, when I realised the Hoswick Visitor Centre was open (Wednesday to Saturday during the Winter), so popped in there to see if I could find another present for Vivien's forthcoming 50th birthday and I was very pleased to find something that I know she will love – I also bought one for me in a different colour, but obviously can't say what either of them are yet, as she reads my blog! They were made by a crafts lady from Flabbister (Shetland). This visitor centre is a wonderful place, they have tea rooms, a rest room with sofas and books to read and toys for children to play with. There are also some fascinating pieces of history in a small exhibition and a huge loom and other artifacts (can't remember what they all were now!). This VC acts as a community based meet-up for local people. I love that fact that Shetland is so community orientated.

Bigton – stopped at the shop to buy ginger cake, a surprise for my work colleagues and some oat cakes – all made in Shetland. Headed to St Nininian's Beach and parked up by the picnic table overlooking the beach. The light was awful now and after having a quick cheese sandwich, I left the car to walk across the tombola, but realised how crazy I was being when I looked at my watch and had to abandon my walk and returned to the car. There were 3 Red-throated Divers distantly on the sea I noted and Redshanks, Turnstones, Ringed Plovers and Starlings were feeding along the shore and also a few Hooded Crows were seen and Fulmars glided through the Autumn air.

I was starting to panic a little now. Left and headed for Sumburgh Airport, topping up with more petrol on the way there (you have to return the car with a full tank of fuel). I got there sooner than I thought I would, so in a last attempt to find something, I diverted to the small quarry at Sumburgh. The only birds in here were Blackbirds, Redwings, a Robin, Starlings and Fulmars.

Drove to the airport and parked the car up. Walked to the airport terminal to get a set of wheels and returned to the car to pile my bags up on the wheeled truck. Gave car keys into Star Rentals and then checked in. My bags were 22kg when I came out, today they were 23kg – it must have been the food I had purchased! Had to pay another £10 fine! The limit is 20kg. Rynair have announced that their new baggage allowance will now be 15kg!!! You can go over 15kg, but you will have to pay a fine. How can you keep your luggage to within 15kg with a tripod, scope, camera, lenses, laptop and clothes etc?! Crazy!

My first flight left at 5pm and arrived on time at Aberdeen airport. The captain really made people laugh, as when we started to leave the plane to walk down the steps, he/she opened the flight deck door and stood there were a scary halloween mask! I'm glad they did that after we had flown! I had an hour and a half to kill before the next flight at 7.35pm, so managed to update most of the Norfolk bird news on the blog before the next plane left. Arrived in Norwich airport at 8.30pm. Eddie very kindly met me at the airport. Drove to Wiveton and I transferred all my stuff into my little green car and promptly whizzed home to King's Lynn. I should have gone straight to bed, but decided to unpack everything and did two lots of washing.


  For access to full details of daily sightings, please subscribe to one of RBA's Bird News Services  
Water Pipits x 2, Long-tailed Ducks x 2, Little Auk, Great White Egret, Snow Bunting, Slavonian Grebe at Titchwell RSPB
Great White Egrets x 2 flew over Hunstanton Cliffs
Richard's Pipit flew over East Wretham Heath
Snow Buntings x 29, Velvet Scoter x 6, Little Gull, Lapland Bunting at Cley
Great White Egrets x 2 flew over Cley NWT
Hen Harrier, Sooty Shearwater at Winterton
Great Grey Shrike at Roydon Common NR
Common Cranes x 2 at Hickling Broad NWT
Great White Egrets  5 at Holkham Freshmarsh
Osprey flew past Mundesley
Great White Egrets x 2 flew past Trimingham
Velvet Scoters x 4 flew past Weybourne Camp
Yellow-browed Warbler at Great Yarmouth Cemetery
Great White Egrets x 2 flew over Scroby Sands, Great Yarmouth
Great White Egrets x 2 flew past Salthouse
Cattle Egrets x 2, Great White Egrets x 3 at Welney WWT
Little Auks x 2, Pomarine Skua, Black-throated Diver, Velvet Scoters x 9, Little Gulls x 11 at Sheringham
Cattle Egrets x 8, Great White Egret at Burnham Overy Staithe
Long-tailed Duck, Hen Harrier flew past Holme Dunes
Long-tailed Duck at Kelling Water Meadow
Hen Harriers x 2 at Stiffkey
Twite at Thornham Harbour
Lesser Whitethroats x 2 (probably of an eastern form) at West Runton
Yellow-browed Warbler, Ring Ouzel at Burgh Castle
Great White Egrets x 4 reported SSE of Southery
Snow Bunting at Gorleston-on-Sea

Probable, (for 9th day – call suggests this ID) at Sennen, Cornwall
At sea on Queen Mary 2, The Lizard, Cornwall
Offshore at Fisherrow, Lothian, Scotland
Possible at The Lizard, Cornwall
Reported recently near Southampton, Hampshire
Photographed on 22nd October, all photos from 23rd are of a Common Kestrel at Fraisthorpe, Yorkshire
Dundalk, County Louth, Ireland

Wednesday 30 October 2019


Feasting on an apple in garden at Quendale, Shetland
The closest I have ever been to a Waxwing!
Photographed with kind permission from Hugh Harrop in his garden – thank you

The weather today was gloomy and dull – I prefer it when it rains! I started the day off at Levenwick. On the sea were Black Guillemots, Shags and a Seal playing with a large light orange fish – it was too far out to get a picture of though. Ringed Plovers and Turnstones were feeding along the shoreline. Around the gardens and surrounding fields were Redwings, Blackbirds, Robins, Wrens, Snipe, Greylag Geese, Curlews, Ravens and Hooded Crows.

Went to Boddham to find Otters, no luck with that – lots of Mallards though and at least 20 Snipe erupted from the rocks as I approached. Filled up with petrol just south of here and bought a hot macaroni cheese pie from the local shop – delicious! Headed west to Quendale Mill.

There was very little to see at Quendale Mill –Starlings, House Sparrows, Curlews, Snipe and Greylag Geese. Phoned Hugh Harrop up to ask where there were Rowan Trees so I could go and find a Pine Grosbeak (ha ha). He said that there wasn't that many on Shetland and Pine Grosbeaks also feed on pine cones, so to look for pine plantations and one of the places he suggested was Kergord. He very kindly allowed me to photograph his Waxwing, which is feasting on apples in his garden. I have never in my entire life been so close to a Waxwing before – I was only yards away from it and took tons of pictures! It wasn't bothered in the slightest, as long as it was able to feast on the apple – a magical experience and brightened up a very dull day. Also saw two Siberian Chiffchaffs in his garden, along with a huge flock of Twite with Siskins mixed in flying over. Left here and headed north.

I drove all the way to the pine plantations at Upper Kergord to find a mega – on route I found two Goldeneyes on Loch of Hellister next to Shetland Jewellery (where purchased two Shetland Fiddle traditional music CDs) and shortly after this, on the opposite side of the road I saw three Slavonian Grebes in Weisdale Voe!

Upper Kergord only produced Ravens, Hooded Crows, Rooks, a Heron, Blackbirds, Redwings and House Sparrows. Walked over a stile into a wood between two houses and didn't see a single bird. The weather was even more gloomy now, time to go. It seemed to take forever to get back to Levenwick! I need to pack in the morning, can't believe I fly back to Norfolk tomorrow night! No Orcas, no megas (yet), but what an incredible time I've had here. You know when you've come to the end of a holiday and you feel ready to go back, well I don't!


  For access to full details of daily sightings, please subscribe to one of RBA's Bird News Services  
LITTLE BITTERN, Slavonian Grebe, Red-necked Grebe, Long-tailed Ducks x 4, Velvet Scoter, Spotted Redshank, Snow Bunting, Water Pipit, Little Auk found dead at Titchwell RSPB
Grey Phalarope, Short-eared Owl at Breydon Water
Red-necked Grebe, Black-throated Diver, Velvet Scoter, Little Gull, Little Auk offshore at Cley
Russian White-fronted Geese x 24 at Buckenham Marshes RSPB
Long-eared Owl, Woodlark flew over Walsey Hills NOA
Hen Harrier, Black-throated Diver, Great Northern Diver,  Little Auk, Snow Buntings x 14 at Salthouse
Water Pipit at North Point Pools, Wells
Pallas's Warbler north of Shangri-la Chalet, Purple Sandpiper, Little Auks x 6, Short-eared Owl at Waxham
Snow Buntings x 30 at Blakeney Point
Hawfinch flew over Bawsey Sandpits
Pomarine Skua flew past Caister-on-Sea
Yellow-browed Warbler at Great Yarmouth Cemetery
Cattle Egrets x 2, Great White Egret, Scaup, Little Stint, Bittern at Welney WWT
Yellow-browed Warbler at north end of Lady Anne's Drive, Black Redstart at Holkham
Cattle Egrets x 8, Lapland Bunting, Snow Buntings x 2, Black Redstart, Great Northern Diver at Burnham Overy Staithe
Twite x 7 at Thornham Harbour
Black Redstart at Wiveton
Rough-legged Buzzard flew over King's Lynn
EASTERN STONECHAT sp. reported at South Beach, Yellow-browed Warbler at Heacham 
Hen Harrier at Stiffkey
Hen Harriers x 4 at Warham Greens
Velvet Scoters x 3, Little Gulls x 2 at Sheringham
Little Auk, Puffin, Little Gulls x 25 at Mundesley
Little Auk, Long-tailed Duck, Velvet Scoters x 4, Great White Egret, White-fronted Geese x 2, Water Pipit at Holme
Waxwing flew over Hunstanton

Yesterday, north of Kinbrace, Highland
Loch of Swartmill, Westray, Orkney
Still at Fraisthorpe, Yorkshire

RBA Weekly Round-Up 23rd to 29th October!

By Chris Batty

Tuesday 29 October 2019


Meal Beach, West Burra, Shetland
Panoramic Shot – taken with iPhone 11 Pro Max

I had a schedule for today and it didn't work out at all, as I spent far too much time on white sands with glittering turquoise waters and glorious sunshine – it was the best day's weather since I have been here, no wind, no rain, just sun and blue skies all day long. No rare birds, but everything else more than made up for the lack of rarities.

I was up early and headed north to Scalloway. I had a quick look around Scalloway Castle and then parked up in the town by the harbour. I walked into a small 'public' garden which had quite a few trees and shrubs and found Starlings, Blackbirds and a Robin. I then discovered 'Fraser Park' and walked over the huge area of grass, which was iced in white frost! Took a picture of a frosty sycamore leaf on the grass. At the end of the park was a very large garden, full of trees, shrubs and bushes and looked exciting for finding something good. In the garden I found 2 Collared Doves, a Robin, Wren and a Blackbird and that was it. Hooded Crows were flying around the park.

Returned to my car and watched 12 Eiders and a Black Guillemot in the harbour. Drove further around the town and parked up by the fishing boats. Walked up a hill to view another garden full of trees – found more Collared Doves and my first Bumble Bee since I have been here, buzzing around a large Fuchsia bush overhanging someone's garden wall. I really like this place, is has a lot more trees then elsewhere I have seen. Whilst photographing the fishing boats, a elderly fisherman said good morning and started chatting to me – he told me that he saw Minke Whale every time he went fishing and recently had seen a Humpback Whale! He was then going out in his boat fishing – it was tempting to join him, but I would have been sick, so it wasn't even worth thinking about! He told me about a fabulous walk that would take me around a couple of hours around the back of Scalloway, but in my plans for the day I hadn't really got time to do this.

I noticed there was a butchers in the town and asked a local lady if there was a bakers – she said 'there used to be', but there is a cafe. As a vegetarian, I would prefer a bakers rather than a butchers if I lived here! I have noticed Tesco's delivery vans a few times whilst I have been here, so they obviously deliver. I realised I had been here far longer than I had intended. Left and diverted off to West Burra.

This road is extremely scenic and I had to keep stopping to take pictures. You cross two single track bridges to get to the far end of Burra, which are very picturesque, as are all the lochs, harbours, boats, houses, sheep, Shetland ponies – the list goes on! I got to the car park for Meal Beach where I went last night in poor light and made my way down to the beach again. The light was far better today and I was overjoyed to see that the sea was a beautiful turquoise colour and was crystal clear! Watching the clear waves trickle over the white sands and black rocks, made a spectacular scene! I spent a long time here taking pictures, sitting, thinking and simply enjoying the stupendous views.
 Meal Beach, West Burra, Shetland

I met a birder here, a lady called Diana, who was fascinating to talk to – she had arrived a few seconds after me. I spent a long time on the cliff side over viewing the beach and she had walked straight down to the beach – we crossed paths as she walked back up and I was walking down to the beach. She had spent a long time staying on different islands in the most unfavourable months of the year, to see if she would like to live here permanently and she decided she did! She lived in the Cambridge area and was fed-up with the influx of second home owners and dogs in Norfolk (where she spent a lot of time), the loss of community and one thing she said particularly stuck in my mind, when she said 'you can't breathe in Norfolk now' and I knew exactly what she meant. She had just purchased a property in Lerwick and is moving up here permanently very soon. She loves it here and says she enjoys the slower pace of life here, the beauty, nature, birds etc. When I told her I lived in Norfolk, she realised who I was and told me that she reads my blog!

Later on a couple of families arrived on the beach, which added to the composition for some of my pictures. As I climbed back up the steps a Seal decided to put in an appearance and swam almost to the shore, much to the delight of excited children running along the beach to get closer views, which resulted in the Seal quickly returning to deeper waters! I left this idyllic scene and headed back to my car. On route I watched a Wren, Redwings and Blackbirds either side of the little path that leads back to the car park.

Continued to the furthest end of Burra. On route I paused to watch a horse paddock full of birds! This was just before 'Papil' at 1.20pm. It was such a wonderful scene of birds, which included 100+ Golden Plover, lots of Redshanks, Lapwings, Redwings, Blackbirds, Starlings, Linnets and a few Robins. As I have already said in another post, everyone that passes you in a car, who has had to wait on a single track road or you have waited for them to pass, acknowledges you in a very friendly manner – it is very heartwarming. Further along the road I stopped to photograph some Shetland ponies and also to photograph the island of Foula, which loomed on the horizon.

I eventually reached the furthest point you can drive to and parked up in the small car parking area for Banna Minn Beach. There were chickens, ducks and lobster pots here and House Sparrows, Robins and Starlings were around the car park – pretty houses and also ruins. The weather now looked a little less appealing and the sun had disappeared – this would not help my beach photography!

Walked through the farm gate and along a track. Suddenly over the brow of the hill the amazing view of Banna Minn beach comes into view. It is considered to be one of "Shetland's most beautiful beaches, set along the west side of a stunning tombolo leading out to the Kettla Ness peninsula, the southernmost part of West Burra. The peninsula beyond the beach gives enjoyable walking above a wild coastline." As I walked down to the white sands I felt very emotional – it was so beautiful it brought tears to my eyes. Ringed plovers were scurrying along the beach amongst the huge areas of seaweed. I headed up to 'Lotra of Minn', which just about finished me off, but the views below the cliffs and out to Foula were simply stunning and equally looking back over to Banna Minn beach.

I made my way back down the steep grassy slopes and walked along the grassy track above the beach. Suddenly out of nowhere a very pretty and friendly brindled cat appeared! I fell in love with this cat, it was so sweet and it was loving the attention. It followed me all the way back, stopped when I did and walked on when I did. When we got as far as a small pebbled outbuilding, I turned round and the cat vanished! I turned round 360˚ and couldn't see it anywhere – moments later it appeared from a small entrance in the little building and was sitting on piles of wood at the entrance and looked out at me – it then climbed up onto the fence for more attention and returned inside the building. Was it a stray I wonder? It looked in far too good a condition to be a stray cat. Maybe it was just having a rest on route back to its house! I'll never know! Back at my car, I had a quick coffee and headed back on the long and twisty journey back to Levenwick. On route back I watched 13 Red-breasted Mergansers in a loch at Papil in poor light. It was completely dark by the time I reached Levenwick.



  For access to full details of daily sightings, please subscribe to one of RBA's Bird News Services  
Yellow-browed Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, Little Gull, Velvet Scoter, Little Auk, Pomarine Skua, Slavonian Grebe, Long-tailed Duck, Water Pipit, Snow Bunting, Short-eared Owl at Titchwell RSPB
Black Guillemot on sea, Grey Phalarope, Long-tailed Ducks x 6, Velvet Scoter, Twite x 3, Short-eared Owl, Little Auks x 15, Lapland Bunting, Bean Goose sp. x 2 flew past beach car park at Cley
Twite, Hen Harrier at Cley NWT
Richard's Pipit flew over, Purple Sandpiper at Waxham
Pallas's Warbler north of Shangri-la Chalet at Waxham
Little Auk at Snettisham Coastal Park
Snow Bunting at Snettisham RSPB
Little Auk flew past, Velvet Scoters x 2, Short-eared Owl, Cattle Egrets x 8, Great White Egrets x 5 at Burnham Overy Dunes
Snow Buntings x 4 at South Beach, Heacham
Black Redstart between Heacham and Hunstanton
Little Auks x 3, Long-tailed Duck at Mundesley
Little Auk at Weybourne Camp
Grey Phalarope, Short-eared Owl, Great White Egret at Breydon Water
Little Auks x 14, Grey Phalarope, Short-eared Owl, Long-tailed Ducks x 3, Velvet Scoters x 3, Pale-bellied Brent Geese x 6, Little Gulls x 2 at Sheringham
Little Auks x 4, Long-tailed Duck, Little Gulls x 4 at Holme Dunes
Leach's Petrel flew past, Little Auk, Short-eared Owls x 2 at Winterton
Lapland Buntings x 2, Snow Buntings x 2, Hen Harrier, Vagrant Emperor Dragonfly at East Hills, Wells
Twite x 8 at Thornham Harbour
Little Auks x 3, Velvet Scoters x 5, Short-eared Owl at Sidestrand
Rough-legged Buzzard at Blakeney Harbour
Little Auks x 10, Pale-bellied Brent Goose, Velvet Scoters x 5, Long-tailed Duck, Short-eared Owl, Puffin at Cromer
Russian White-fronted Geese x 3 at Buckenham Marshes RSPB
Cattle Egrets x 2, Great White Egret, Bittern at Welney WWT

Loch of Swartmill, Westray, Orkney
Dundalk, County Louth, Ireland
North of Westgate-on-Sea on 19th October (collided with wind turbine and died), Kent

Monday 28 October 2019


Today was spent having a meeting, doing some research and then shopping in Lerwick. Bought the smallest bag of fudge, made in house at the Shetland Fudge Company and two maps from the Tourist Information Centre. I really fancy listening to some traditional music and found out that 'The Lounge' has live music every Wednesday night, so may go and listen for a while on my last night here. Spent a long time in the Shetland Bookshop and surprisingly came out with nothing, which is probably a good thing as my bags were overweight anyway and adding a book won't help when I depart on Thursday!

Late afternoon I drove to Meal Beach on West Burra – parked up and walked down to the stunning beach as the sun was settting – white sands and dramatic rocks. Sadly I had to leave because of failing light, so am going back tomorrow to see Banna Minn Beach, which is also on West Burra. I don't know if its all the fresh air and wind and rain, but I'm so tired when I get back to my apartment and don't have any energy to sort through pictures. I think its more the driving every day than anything else – you have to concentrate on the roads here, far more than you do in Norfolk!

The time is running out and there is so much more I want to do and see before I go. I put a large amount of money into Premium Bonds when I received my share of the family home – the first draw my bonds go in to is 1st November – maybe, just maybe I might have beginners luck and then I can simply return here permanently!


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Common Cranes x 6 at Clippesby
Little Auk on sea, Purple Sandpiper, Snow Buntings x 8, Puffin x 2, Pomarine Skua, Red-necked Grebe, Little Gulls x 8, Long-tailed Duck from beach car park at Cley
Caspian Gull at Cley NWT
Hawfinch flew over Norwich
Hawfinch flew over Upton Marshes NWT
Little Auk flew past Gramborough Hill, Salthouse
Snow Bunting at Runham
Short-eared Owl, Cattle Egret, Great White Egret at Welney WWT
Waxwing in Norwich
Great White Egret, Hen Harrier, Little Gulls x 7, Mealy Redpoll at Holme
Little Auk, Snow Bunting, Long-tailed Ducks x 4 at Waxham
Pomarine Skua, Short-eared Owl, Little Stint, Great White Egret, Yellow-browed Warbler, Water Pipit at Titchwell RSPB
Yellow-browed Warbler at Holkham Pines
Cattle Egrets x 8, Pomarine Skua pale morph (possible) in field at Burnham Overy Staithe
Hen Harrier at Stiffkey
Twite x 6 at Thornham Harbour
Pomarine Skua dark morph at Blakeney Point
White-billed Diver (probable) on sea briefly, Pomarine Skuas x 2, Long-tailed Duck, Puffin, Little Gulls x 13 at Sheringham
Hen Harriers x 3 at Warham Greens
Long-tailed Duck at Cromer

St Mary's, Isles of Scilly
Dundalk, County Louth, Ireland
Offshore at Fisherroe, Lothian, Scotland

Sunday 27 October 2019


Leebiton, Sandwick Shetland

I spent a long time watching the cracking Stejneger's Stonechat at Leebiton (Sandwick) in diverse weather and the best rainbow I have ever witnessed! I have seen more rainbows in Shetland than I have in my entire life I think! Got some decent pictures of the Stonechat in the end after much patience. Had to dive into the car several times to avoid a drenching. Turnstones and Starlings feeding amongst the seaweed – sea crashing into the boulders and stones, a beautiful scene and place to be. There were four of us watching the Stonechat – which is hard to take in, as in Norfolk there would have been loads! Also saw House Sparrows, Robins and Wrens amongst the boulders. A Robin chased the Stonechat off more than a few times!

Mega alert bleeped up! Swainson's Thrush in garden at Lerwick! Being as I have never seen one, I didn't hang about! I was so excited as I drove along the road! Got on site asap to find a handful of local birders peering into the back of a garden from a school playing field. Sadly they had only seen a Song Thrush in here and they all left. I stayed a bit longer and then also left! There was a cat in the middle of a shrub in the garden – I wonder?! So that was the end of that! How disappointing, oh well.

The light was dwindling and there wasn't time to go far now. I returned to the Burn of Sound to see if I could find anything there and was surprised when I didn't find a single bird in there, no Red-flanked Bluetail, no Robins, no Redpolls, nothing at all. As I returned to my car a man started talking to me – I don't know what his nationality was, but he was very, very difficult to understand – when I tried to explain I was a birder, he said asked if I was a wildlife rescue lady!!! I made a quick get-away, as I could tell by his constant quizzing etc that I would have been there a while!

Had a drive around Lerwick to see what I could find and headed north along a road signposted Gremista – several Redwings on the verges of the road. Found the college and also saw a sign for a Textile Museum (I have a DATEC in Textiles) which would be good to visit another time. There were huge ships along this industrial area of Lerwick. I retraced my journey and parked up along Commercial Road. Had a little walk round and found myself in the Market Cross and had a brilliant idea! I phoned Vivien up and told her to google Shetland Web Cams on her phone, which she did and then I told her to open up the Market Cross webcam and waved at her – she found this very amusing that she could see me live in Shetland!

I didn't feel like cooking later, so bought fish 'n' chips and ate them in my car on the quayside in pouring rain (again). Purchased a mint chocolate slice from the Fjara Cafe and then cruised back to Levenwick. Only a few days left now to see an Orca or a mega – either will do! Both would be excellent – I'll keep my fingers crossed! I felt a little sad when my email came through from Loganair this evening, to check in on-line and select my seats for Thursday's flightšŸ˜¢

Exciting news!!! I have booked to come back next year for THREE WHOLE WEEKS!!! Earlier this time though, from 26th September! I had to phone work to get permission, as anything over two weeks can't just be booked automatically. I love the diverse weather, the skies, the sea, the people, the tranquility, the wildlife, the landscape, the darkness at night, everything here! Plus the apartment I'm in is so beautiful, I couldn't not come back to the same place!


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Bewick's Swans x 8 flew over Wiveton
Bewick's Swans x 8 flew over Walsingham
Black Redstart flew over South Denes, Great Yarmouth
Twite x 10, Bewick's Swans x 8 flew over, Thornham Harbour
Snow Buntings x 2 at Thornham Point
Snow Bunting, Black Redstart, Great Northern Diver at Weybourne Camp
Whooper Swans x 9 flew over, Water Pipit, Twite x 2, Hen Harrier, Little Gull at Titchwell RSPB
Snow Buntings x 10 at Waxham
Yellow-browed Warbler at Walsey Hills NOA
Cattle Egret, Great White Egret at Welney WWT
Black Redstarts x 2 at Aylmerton
Richard's Pipit flew over Overstrand
Snow Buntings x 8 at Winterton
Great White Egrets x 2 at Hickling Broad NWT
Black Redstart at Happisburgh
Red-rumped Swallow again by Sealife Centre at Hunstanton
Lapland Bunting flew over cliffs at Hunstanton
Little Auk flew past, Great Northern Diver, Little Gulls x 2, Arctic Tern at Coastguards, Cley
Snow Bunting at Blakeney Point
Snow Buntings x 6 at Trimingham
Northern Long-tailed Tit, Hen Harrier at Upton Marshes NWT
Black Redstart on roof at Glandford
Hen Harriers x 2 at Stiffkey
Little Gull flew past Mundesley
Rough-legged Buzzard at Wells

In garden at Lerwick, Shetland
Dundalk, County Louth, Ireland

Saturday 26 October 2019


I have now added all iPhone pictures SLR pictures and YouTube videos up to the 23rd October on all my Shetland posts. Pictures take so long to sort through! Will make a start on the 24th tomorrow!

The best way to describe the weather in Shetland is volatile! Sun one minute, rain the next, rainbow, black skies, sun, blue skies, rain, rainbow and so on! That is how today was, but it also meant it was considerably better weather to go out in than yesterday!

Birded south today and started at the Virkie Pool – it was high tide so not the best time, but saw 2 Knot, 4 Black-tailed Godwits, several Turnstones and Ringed Plovers. At West Voe Beach which is stunning, I watched Turnstones feeding along the shore. At Grutness I saw Teal and Mallards in the small pool just opposite the pier and a Wren amongst the boulders. Oppositie the quarry I counted 113 Greylag Geese feeding with 40 Redshanks near the Sumburgh Farm.

At Sumburgh Head I only saw a Starling in the largest quarry, but in the smaller one I had far more birds including 6 blackbirds, 3 Redwings, 1 Robin, 1 Wren and the best surprise was a Common Redpoll that I flushed from the ground. At the lighthouse I managed to phone-scope video a Purple Sandpiper on the rocks below and saw Black Guillemots on the sea, Fulmars, an Eider, Cormorants, Hooded Crows, Starlings, Blackbirds and Ravens. There are still fairly good numbers of Redwings around too. Sat in my car and had lunch in the RSPB car parking spots in the midst of another downpour. Took pictures of Fair Isle as I left here. At the Sumburgh Hotel I saw Blackbirds, Redwings and Robins.

At Toab I took another picture of Fair Isle in beautiful light. The best and most exciting birding today was watching lots of Redwings, a few Blackbirds, Starlings and Robins feeding amongst sheep in a sugar beet field – I wonder what else was lurking in there?! At Exnaboe on a flooded muddy ploughed strip, there were 2 Snipe, 1 Lapwing and a Blackbird feeding.

Back at the Virkie Pool it was now low tide and there were big numbers of waders there, including lots of Redshanks, Black-tailed Godwits, Curlews, Turnstones, Sanderlings and Ringed Plovers. It was seriously cold now, so headed back to Levenwick. Had a quick look round the gardens and fields by Levenwick beach – still good numbers of Redwings, Song Thrushes and Blackbirds in the fields below the cemetery.

News arrived too late in the day for me at 17.24 of an Eastern Stonechat at Sandwick – hopefully will see this tomorrow. Spent the evening watching Strictly and downloading photos.


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Yellow-browed Warbler at Walsey Hills NOA
Corncrake (probable) flew in off sea, Snow Buntings x 4, Lapland Bunting at Cley
Raven (yesterday) flew over Bayfield Brecks, Holt
Snow Bunting at Weybourne Camp
Russian White-fronted Geese x 27, Ruddy Shelduck at Buckenham Marshes RSPB
Great White Egret at Blackborough End
Snow Buntings x 7 on beach north from beach cafe, Winterton
Black Redstarts x 2 at Aylmerton
Black Redstart in car park at Cromer
Hen Harrier, Water Pipit at Titchwell RSPB
Long-tailed Duck flew past Sheringham

Dursey Island, County Cork, Ireland

Friday 25 October 2019


  • Gale force winds battering the roof and heavy rain and hail ALL day long!
  • Enjoyed seeing the sun come out for a few moments every so often
  • Watched Gannets sailing over the cliffs and rough seas
  • Watched the Goats outside
  • Couldn't see the Maine Coone cat through the heavy rain on the glass doors
  • Watched Starlings outside
  • Watched the TV
  • Made decisions
  • Organised next year's holiday, thanks to S.A and A.M.H!
  • Dozed
  • Cried watching Sinead's final hours on 'Corrie' – reminded me of my mother's last day
  • Wrote the blog
  • Realised you never need to water your plants in Shetland!
  • Went to bed –  still raining!


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Common Cranes x 5, Great White Egrets x 3 at Welney WWT
Black Redstart near beach car park at Cley
Snow Buntings x 5 at Cley NWT
Black Redstarts x 2 near lifeboat station at Wells
Black Redstart near Mainsail Yard, Wells
Snow Goose (possible) flew over North Point Pools at Wells
Pallas's Warbler at Thornham Point
Short-eared Owl at Snettisham Coastal Park
Black Redstarts x 2 at Heacham
Cattle Egrets x 8, Great White Egrets x 5 at Burnham Overy Staithe
Hen Harrier at Holkham Freshmarsh
Black Redstart in Norwich
Yellow-browed Warbler at Walsey Hills NOA
Snow Buntings x 4 at Winterton
Black Redstart at Mundesley
Pallas's Warbler, Yellow-browed Warbler, Black Redstart north of Shangri la chalet at Waxham
Black Redstarts x 2 at Aylmerton
Yellow-browed Warbler, Water Pipit, Jack Snipe, Twite at Titchwell RSPB
Long-tailed Ducks x 2 at Sheringham
Yellow-browed Warbler at garden in Kelling

Musselburgh Lagoons, Lothian, Scotland
Still, St Mary's, Isles of Scilly

Aurora from Levenwick, Shetland!

 Aurora from Levenwick, Shetland
1/30 f4 ISO: 5000 Canon 7D and Sigma 10-20mm f4-5.6 EX DC HSM
1.45am – bitterly cold and my first attempt.
Learning process – focus on something in the foreground!

Thursday 24 October 2019


A beautiful sunrise from my apartment and a glorious sunny day with full of excitement! Started early and was on Levenwick Beach just after sunrise. Had a play around with phone scoping/videoing with the new iPhone and the Swarovski adapter – there were exactly 30 Ringed Plovers on the beach, beautiful to see and took a lovely video of one them standing amidst the seaweed on the white sands. There was a fishing boat fairly close in and gulls were close by. There was a big number of Cormorants on the sea, which I videoed and several Black Guillemots. Checked the gardens out and the field near to the cemetery, which held Redwings, Blackbirds, Song Thrushes and a single Mistle Thrush. A Goldcrest, Robins and House Sparrows were also seen in the gardens.

Left here and drove up a very, very steep road to Mossy Hill (I think it was called). Lots of pot-holes and several cattle grids to cross, but the views from the top were spectacular! I could see St Ninian's beach from here and just about everything! I then received a kind phone call from Hugh Harrop to say that Orcas had been reported at South Nesting Bay and he recommended that I drive to Gletness (where he was also heading) in the hope that we would see them there, as they made their way hunting around the bays. My next move before this phone call was going to be to fill up with petrol as had under 1/4 of a tank, but didn't want to delay, so headed north – a wonderfully scenic drive to Gletness, where I found Hugh scoping from his vehicle. The light was perfect and it was incredibly exciting to think that I might have my first sighting of Orcas! Got my scope/tripod set up quickly, got the camera ready etc and started to scan the seas – it was very exciting! Spotted a couple of Seals (Orca lunch!) After a while Hugh said he didn't think we were going to see them now, but he was going to look in another area close by and he would ring with any news. I stayed here another half an hour and then gave up at 11.50am. Googled mapped petrol stations on my phone and had the choice of Lerwick or Vidlin – so, in hope that I would see the Orcas further north, I headed to Vidlin!

A wonderfully scenic drive along the B9075 (choose the scenic route, rather than the quicker A970).  I had to stop the car several times to take pictures – such dramatic and beautiful scenery. Photographed some Highland Cattle, but can't remember where this was. Crossing the bridge at Laxo Voe was a particularly beautiful spot with the burn crashing over huge rocks down to the huge voe below. I had brief views of a couple of Redpolls flying off from the bushes here, but didn't see them again. Stopped at the Laxo Ferry Terminal and looked across to the island of Whalsey. Found the petrol station at Vidlin, 'J I Herculson' – the tank was very low at this point! Obviously having a well stocked shop, meant that I purchased some home baked goodies including 'Choc Cherry biscuits', 'Savoury Bannocks' (like cheese scones) and some 'Shetland Island Oatcakes' – you can never have too many oatcakes! The first two items were produced at Johnson & Woodford Ltd, The Bakery at Voe and they were delicious!

I then headed to Lower Voe (visited here with Oriole Birding two years ago) and parked up by the harbour to have my lunch and coffee. A beautiful place, nestled in a valley with a huge voe, lots of fishing boats in the harbour, lots of mature trees, pretty houses and a burn. Turnstones, Ringed Plovers and Herring Gulls on the beach in the sunshine – the light was perfect. Driving along the road in the village a bit later, I managed to take a picture of a House Sparrow in the grasses with the iPhone! The time was ticking away and decided to sensibly head back to Levenwick, which was a long drive.

Sat in the lay by above Levenwick, had a coffee and a snooze. Scanned for Orcas, ha ha! I felt exhausted after all the driving today, but didn't want to return back to my apartment yet, so headed south and ended up at Clumlie and Boddham, where I watched several Ravens near some farm buildings, Redwings, Blackbirds, a Song Thrush, House Sparrows and next to the voe, several Mallards, Ringed Plovers and Turnstones. Headed back to Levenwick and took some pictures of the surrounding area next to Voortrekker. Big gales forecast for tomorrow!


  For access to full details of daily sightings, please subscribe to one of RBA's Bird News Services  
Snow Bunting on beach at Brancaster
Pallas's Warbler at Thornham Point
Black Redstart, Ring Ouzel, Twite at Thornham Harbour
Black Redstarts x 2, Velvet Scoter at Winterton
Pallas's Warbler (for 2nd day), Yellow-browed Warbler at Waxham
Black Redstart, Black-throated Diver, Velvet Scoter off beach car park at Cley
Hen Harrier at Cley NWT
Yellow-browed Warbler at Walsey Hills NOA
Black Redstart at Campsite Wood, Stiffkey
Yellow-browed Warbler, Water Pipit at Titchwell RSPB
Black Redstarts x 2 in Norwich
Jack Snipe at Kelling Quags
Black Redstart at Weybourne Camp
Cattle Egrets x 8, Great White Egret at Burnham Overy Staithe
Purple Sandpiper on beach at Burnham Overy Dunes
Water Pipits x 2, Jack Snipe at Strumpshaw Fen RSPB
Yellow-browed Warbler at Holkham Pines
Great White Egrets x 6 at Holkham Freshmarsh
Black Redstart at Alymerton
Black Redstart at Northrepps
Black Redstart at Sheringham
Black Redstart at Happisburgh
Snow Bunting on beach opposite car park at Snettisham

Caught by cat and now in care at Radlett, Hertfordshire
Update: is an escape, primaries have been cut

The Lizard, Cornwall
Possible, yesterday, Penzance Harbour, Cornwall
Kinvarra, County Galway, Ireland
Dundalk, County Louth, Ireland

MALE SIBERIAN RUBYTHROAT caught by cat in Radlett, Hertfordshire!


Dreadful to think that such a beautiful bird has had its flight feathers cut so that it can not escape and to be kept in a cage – truly wicked! No wonder it couldn't escape from the cat! What kind of life is that!

Wednesday 23 October 2019


The heavy rain continued until early afternoon and then the sun came out for a short time!!! The rain and wind then commenced again at tea time and throughout this evening.

There is a wonderful solitude about this entire experience. There is no stress, no need to rush – its a very different way of life here and the people here seem far friendlier generally, than they are south! Because I knew the weather was poor, I didn't set the alarm this morning and woke up naturally, had a shower and edited more pictures. The internet is very good here, but upload time for videos is very slow. Its taken all day to upload three videos to my Youtube channel – the third one is currently 25% loaded!
Views from my window in the rain

From my apartment I scoped 10 Greylag Geese, Mallards x 6 and a whole roost of gulls on the cliff top edge in the South Punds, which were mostly Herring Gulls. Also Starlings, House Sparrows and a Robin were seen, along with three goats and one silver grey Maine Coon Cat watching the rain and birds from its windowsill again!

Red-breasted Flycatcher at Cliff Cottage, Hoswick

This afternoon, Juan Brown found a Red-breasted Flycatcher at Cliff Cottage, Hoswick and also a Red-backed Shrike close by! I managed to see the Red-breasted Flycatcher, but it was constantly on the move and I only obtained a dreadful out of focus picture – it was constantly being harrassed by a Robin. Also here, I watched lots of House Sparrows feeding amongst the seaweed on the beach along with 2 Hooded Crows and a Rock Pipit. There were two Seals close by too. I didn't find the Red-backed Shrike. A Heron flew over Hoswick as I was leaving.

Thanks to Birdguides for including my Red-flanked Bluetail in their weekly review today!

A much better day weather wise tomorrow:


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Short-toed Lark reported in stubble field behind VC., Yellow-browed Warbler (heard only), Snow Buntings x 2 at Cley NWT
Black-throated Divers x 2 on sea at coastguards, Cley
Yellow-browed Warbler at Walsey Hills NOA
Yellow-browed Warbler, Lapland Bunting, Water Pipit at Titchwell RSPB
Yellow-browed Warbler at Wells Woods
Water Pipit at North Point Pools, Wells
Yellow-browed Warbler, Ring Ouzel at East Hills, Wells
Black Redstart at Poplar Farm, Waxham
Black Redstart, Snow Bunting at Gramborough Hill, Salthouse
Yellow-browed Warbler at Cliff Avenue, Cromer
Hawfinch flew over Thornham
Black Redstart, Twite x 4 at Thornham Harbour
Richard's Pipit flew over Morston
Water Pipit, Great White Egret at Strumpshaw Fen RSPB
Black Redstart on cliffs at Happisburgh
Cattle Egrets x 8 at Burnham Overy Marshes
Lapland Buntings x 2, Short-leared Owl at Warham Greens
Short-eared Owl at Hethersett
Black Redstart at Weybourne Camp
Black-throated Diver at Kelling Water Meadow
Slavonian Grebes x 2 at Holkham Bay
Hawfinch, Ring Ouzels x 2, Black Redstart, Mealy Redpolls x 5 at Holme NOA

Still, St Mary's, Isles of Scilly
Dundalk, County Louth, Ireland

RBA Weekly Round-Up 16th to 22nd October!

By Chris Batty

Tuesday 22 October 2019


Levenwick Beach

A big storm throughout the night and an atrocious day of continuous rain, wind and fog. I stayed in and edited pictures, birdwatched from my window and was generally lazy! Saw a Robin, 2 Meadow Pipits a Blackbird, 2 goats and one fabulous silver/grey Maine Coon cat sitting on a windowsill in someone's house, looking out at the rain! Niki very kindly did some clothes washing for me (all part of the excellent service here) and she went out and purchased Ecover washing powder prior to this too, when I said it was the only washing powder that doesn't react with my skin – Niki and Piet really are the perfect hosts!
Rainy view from my window

I couldn't bare to stay in all day, so returned to Lerwick to watch the Red-flanked Bluetail. There had been no news on this bird, but then maybe nobody had looked today? I fully expected it be there, but I couldn't find it in any of its favoured little spots. There were good numbers of Common Redpolls here again, approximately 20+ and also 6+ Siskins feeding on the opposite side of the road in the burn, which I then walked along and ended up on a rocky beach. There were Turnstones, Starlings and Hooded Crows here. The rain was relentless and it was quite depressing. Returned to my car and headed south.

I stopped at Hoswick to look in the garden by the beach, where the Red-backed Shrike had put in a brief appearance, but nothing in there at all apart from a Robin and a Blackbird.
Levenwick Beach

From the small car park at Levenwick by the beach

Checked out the gardens in Levenwick and ended the day pottering around on the beach, taking arty farty photos of seaweed, waves, sand and scenery. The Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max is producing far better photos than my Canon 7D at the moment! I havn't taken a mint shot of any bird so far yet!

Returned home dripping wet, it really wasn't worth going out for. Tomorrow looks even worse. Thursday looks considerably better with the sun appearing on/off throughout the day! Roll on Thursday!


  For access to full details of daily sightings, please subscribe to one of RBA's Bird News Services  
Yellow-browed Warbler at South Dunes, Snow Bunting, Hooded Crow at North Dunes, Winterton
Basking Shark reported at 2pm, Great White Egret, Water Pipit, Short-eared Owl, Shorelark, Hen Harrier, Black-throated Diver at Titchwell RSPB
Twite x 2 at Thornham Harbour
RED-FLANKED BLUETAIL still, Red-breasted Flycatcher, Yellow-browed Warblers x 2, Ring Ouzel, Waxwing, Hen Harrier, Snow Bunting, Vagrant Emperor Dragonfly at East Hills, Wells
Cattle Egret, Great White Egret at Welney WWT
Little Auk flew past, Lapland Bunting, Snow Bunting, Black-throated Diver, Red-necked Grebe at Cley
Yellow-browed Warbler at Wells Woods
Yellow-browed Warbler at Walsey Hills NOA
Yellow-browed Warbler at end of Garden Drove, Warham Greens
Osprey flew over Earsham
Waxwing, Lapland Bunting, Snow Buntings x 5 at Holme NOA
Lapland Bunting at Salthouse
Little Auk, Lapland Bunting at Horsey
Black-throated Diver at Sheringham
Cattle Egrets x 8 at Burnham Overy Staithe
Little Auks x 2 at Kelling
Little Auk, Great Northern Diver, Snow Bunting at Mundesley

Fraisthorpe, Yorkshire
Unconfirmed report, Fair Head, County Antrim, Ireland
Still, St Mary's, Isles of Scilly
Dundalk, County Louth, Ireland

Monday 21 October 2019


Sound, Lerwick

This morning I was incredibly lazy! I didn't set the alarm and got up late – its very difficult to get out of this luxurious bed with electric blanket (with three different settings), very difficult indeed. Niki (who owns the apartment along with her husband Pete) came up to see if I was ok, which was very kind of her and we ended up chatting for ages about all manner of things. She really is a lovely person, extremely interesting and very funny – I could have carried on chatting all day with her!

I cooked brunch – fried eggs, toast and butter, baked beans, vege sausages and tomatoes – lovely! I was three quarters way through this when the WhatsApp rare birds for Shetland bleeped up with Red-flanked Bluetail at the Sound of Burn, south of Lerwick! Niki's husband Pete very kindly brought me up some home grown potatoes from a friend of his, how lovely was that! Hurriedly got myself into the car and I was off! I really do need to buy myself one of those magnetic holders to put the phone onto in the car, as the google maps on my iphone was far more accurate in finding Quoys Road, than my sat nav was! I still had to phone Jacquie and Dave for the final directions though – even the phone took me up a different road. The disadvantages to being a visiting birder and not knowing where the h*ll you are going can be very frustrating!

Anyway, after parking the car up along the road by the bridge, it was only a short walk to a little oasis in the midst of a residential area. It was a huge surprise to see this cracking little spot! A little waterfall started at the top and cascaded down over big boulders, all the way to the bottom. There were willows and other trees in here, lots of grasses, irises and other plants and alongside this was a fence next to someone's wild garden, which was basically long grasses and willows – it was this garden where the RFB spent most of its time. Whoever found the Red-flanked Bluetail made my day completely – this was a cracking bird and very very striking indeed, with a vivid blue tail. It very rarely kept still though and was constantly on the move and happily feeding. There seemed to be a branch or twig in the way, whenever I attempted to photograph it. It was also extremely cold and my camera started to play up, just when it landed on the most photographic branch with perfect light etc, the camera simply and unusually wouldn't focus. I spent far too long here and got frozen, I had stupidly left my Rab jacket in the car, so only had the Paramo coat on. There was also at least 20+ Redpolls here too and they were wonderful to watch feeding at really close range and a Chiffchaff was also seen.
Feeding well!

Sound, Lerwick

It was so relaxing to watch this magical little bird with so few people, a few locals and a few visiting birders. Met Steve Arlow here, who had just come off Fair Isle early because of the imminent bad weather.  There was also a man here who was Norfolk's 'Richard The Hat's' double!!! The last people to turn up were two couples I had met the other day at the Red-backed Shrike site at Hoswick – they told me the RBS never turned up whilst they were there, which was a shame. The RFB had disappeared when they turned up, so I walked down to the furthest willow to try and locate it for them and found it in there and beckoned them to come over. We saw it dive into the base of a tree (very close to us) in long grass and waited for it to come out.... and waited and waited. We couldn't believe that it had sneaked out, but it had! We found it again in the garden on the other side of the fence – I'm glad they got to see it before the light went completely. I think it was around 5pm when we all left.
Where the Red-flanked Bluetail was today – an oasis in the middle of a residential area – what an amazing little place to have on your doorstep!

Common Redpoll
Sound, Lerwick

I had no intentions of topping up food supplies until tomorrow, but being as I was in Lerwick, I decided to get it done now. Either Monday evening is the main night locals go shopping or they were topping up their supplies before the supermarket empties with what could be lack of supplies over the next few days of poor weather, as there were loads of people shopping in Tescos! Headed back to Levenwick in semi-darkness and strong blustery winds, which meant I had to drive much slower than I normally do!

Cooked my home grown potatoes and had them with a microwave vege lasagne – fell asleep! Tomorrow and Wednesday look atrocious with heavy rain and winds all day long, so I will be editing photos, as have lots to add to the blog, including beach/scenery pictures, Western Subalpine Warbler, Red-flanked Bluetail and Redpolls. It is lashing down with rain here right now with strong winds.