Hooded Merganser…

Following the end of my time volunteering at the Fair Isle Bird Observatory, I teamed up with no other than Shetland’s very Logan Johnson (believe or not, he’s Shetlands only young birder!), for a day’s birding before hitting Lerwick and making the journey back down to the Wirral.

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Pool of Virike: Red-necked Stint, Harlequin Duck, Western Sandpiper & Pallas’s Grasshopper Warbler to name a new of the MEGA’s Virkie has held host to! An honor to be at such a site.

Kick starting our day tour were trips to Pool of Virkie, Scatness, Stumbrough Head RSPB and a stop off at the mine which held host to the first British record of Siberian Accentor…wow! Even when we were at Pool of Virkie & ‘Sib Mine’, no rarities were present but that really didn’t matter because you’re at a site that in its self is just a sheer privilege to be at! Brief stops were made to see some of Shetland’s breeding Whooper Swan’s, which much to my delight was when in the same scope view as a family of Whooper Swan, a European Otter popped it’s head up! Lifer and wow what a creature! After this extraordinary experience, an experience I was happy to call it a day from, a call I wasn’t familiar with came over our heads which was when Logan called it a Red-throated Diver and given how we just don’t get close-in ‘RTD’ on the mainland I pointed the lens and well…below the result and what a bird!

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Mossy Hill, Scousburgh, Mainland Shetland; the site of Britian’s 1st Siberian Accentor.
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Red-throated Diver (Gavia stellata); a truly epic to witness in such close quarters in summer plumage!

Before ending our trip Logan took me to see his pride and joy, Sea Lettice. It’s a localised species on mainland Britain, but on Shetland it’s a completely different story as there’s only ever been three records of this species and one of which, Logan found. Just a single plant currently exists on the entirety of Shetland and despite not being as into my botany as I am compared to my beloved birds (the feathered kind), it still felt a privilege to witness this beauty, but beast of a plant which most people just pass by without even a glance.yZxo6u8X.jpg large

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2cy+ moulting ‘Shetland’ Wren (T.t. zetlandicus); hand held digi-scoped through Viking Kestrel ED Binoculars & Samsung SJ7’16

After spending almost seven and a half hours out in the field, time flies when you’re having fun, Logan and I called in for one last time at Pullus Loch for what was for me the big one. Hooded Merganser are a controversial species, it’s either a real deal or plastic fantastic; most often it’s the latter which is bad cause we need to be concerned about plastic in our waterways. But every so often, the real deal does show it’s self from time to time. They’ve got a hard time getting accepted but, one turning up Shetland and it’s a female…gotta be real deal? If, accepted then this would be the 11th for Britain, 2nd for Shetland the 1st record in August! Whether or not it’s genuine or not is left up to the records committee, but either way best get it as an insurance tick surely? Either way, when observing it, it really wasn’t what I was expecting it to be. The so called ‘loch’ was a pool if anything and well, the images below taken on my phone (besides the decent one), just show how well the bird was performing! A really treat and a smashing way to end what was certainly one of my most memorable days birding, if anything the best of the year: legendary sites, quality birds, surreal scenery and a great lad for company. Couldn’t have asked for more.

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Hooded Merganser (Lophodytes cucullatus)

 

Thanks for reading. Kind regards,

E.

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