Wise Birding Holidays

Monday, 24 July 2017

SHETLAND: Fetlar Weeks 3 & 4

Another great couple of weeks on Fetlar with too many highlights to mention. Female Phalaropes are disappearing by the day and those that are still hanging on are in heavy moult. Great to see a reasonable number of chicks and fully fledged juveniles around too. Highlight of the last few days has without doubt been seeing Orcas just metres off-shore whilst taking a stroll with the Mrs on the west side of Fetlar - simply magic!

This bull Orca was one of the highlights of my penultimate week here - Simply magic!

Atlantic Grey Seal - Orca food!

Greylag Geese - many juveniles around at present

Lapwing - Great to see so many of these breeding up here, they are fabulous looking waders

Golden Plover - a magical sound around the moorland

Edmondston's Chickweed - Endemic to the island of Unst at the Keen of Hamar NR

Juvenile Red-necked Phalarope - Fresh juvenile plumage is quite stunning

Great Skua - You are never far away from one of these bruisers

Twite - feeding flocks are now quite common

KIller Whales or Orcas - Ridiculous views from shore seen from the west side of Fetlar at Lamb Hoga

Orca family - a group of at least 5 animals appeared right beside us for the classic wow factor experience!

More Orca action

Orca - one of two large bulls

Monday, 10 July 2017

SHETLAND: Fetlar Week 2

My second week working on Fetlar has passed very quickly. The weather has been pretty stable with some exceptionally calm days with little wind; a rarity for Shetland! Female Phalaropes are already starting to moult and will be heading south in the coming days. Below are a few more of the week's highlights from this wonderful island with a population of no more than 50 people.

Female Red-necked Phalarope, Loch of Funzie - Simply stunning birds

Male Red-necked Phalarope, Loch of Funzie - Much more variable in plumage than females

RSPB Loch of Funzie - The place to see Red-necked Phalaropes on Fetlar

Long-tailed Duck - This unseasonal bird is still present and makes it into July

The east end of Fetlar looking south to the Out Skerries

Moss Carder Bumblebee or "Shetland" Bumblebee - Shetland subspecies agricolae

Common Snipe - simply everywhere on Fetlar

Twite are often found around the meadows

Juvenile Wheatear


Otters are relatively frequent on Fetlar  - Just hope for a closer one!

The Out Skerries

Juvenile Dunlin

Northern Marsh Orchid

Black Guillemot - seen from the ferry between Fetlar and Yell and around the coast

Arctic Tern on Loch of Funzie

Pair of dark Arctic Skuas

Monday, 3 July 2017

SHETLAND: Fetlar Week 1

I am currently working for the RSPB on a short term contract based on the island of Fetlar, one of the most northerly of the Shetland Islands. I am primarily carrying out all bird surveys with a focus on monitoring Red-necked Phalaropes.
Fetlar is a wonderful island crammed full of breeding waders, skuas, terns, divers and seabirds, let alone some amazing flower meadows, insects and scenery and it is a real privilege to be working here again.

Below are just a few of the highlights from week one.

I had a great view of Fair Isle during the flight from Edinburgh to Sumburgh

Baelans Cottage - The RSPB Office on Fetlar and my home for the coming weeks

You are never too far from a Great Skua / Bonxie colony on Shetland

Lovely to hear and see breeding plumaged Golden Plovers just around the cottage

Dunlin - another great sound of the breeding moorlands

The commute to work on some days can be tricky with Ringed Plovers nesting in the centre of tracks!

The flowers on Fetlar are truly stunning - Heath Spotted Orchid

Not particularly uncommon in the UK, but great to see in abundance - Yellow-rattle

Long-tailed Duck - an unseasonal bird on Loch of Funzie

Fetlar coastline looking towards Unst

Fulmars are simply stunning birds

Arctic Tern feeding chicks

"Shetland" Wren - The endemic race zetlandicus
Female Red-necked Phalarope, Loch of Funzie

Red-throated Divers on Loch of Funzie - simply stunning in breeding plumage

Monday, 12 June 2017

Beaver Slide!

Some great views of the female pink tagged Beaver on the River Otter last night. Particularly entertaining when she decided to slide down the weir! Enjoy!
The Beaver Slide!

Beavers forage on herbaceous plants during the summer - This includes the non-native Himalayan Balsam

She looks like she may be weaning kits - Fingers crossed!

Friday, 9 June 2017

FINLAND - Wolverines, Bears and Great Grey Owls

I have just returned from a Wise Birding Holidays short break to Finland. This 3 night short break was focused on trying to see Wolverine with a good chance of European Brown Bear and of course a few birds! For the second year running we were successful with no less than 9 Wolverines, 2 Bears and a lone Wolf! Add to this a pair of Great Grey Owls feeding 3 chicks, Capercaillie, Black-throated Diver, Greenish Warbler and Red-breasted Flycatcher and it makes for a great short break. Next year I hope to include a trip to see Saimaa Ringed Seal also. If interested please contact me through the website.
European Brown Bear - an amazing animal to see up close!

Wolverines are part of the mustelid family

European Brown Bear - This animal was seen on two separate days

Wolverines are carnivores and males are around 30% larger than females

Great Grey Owl is always a "must see" species when birding in Finland. We saw two adults feeding 3 chicks

Red-Breasted Flycatcher in Patvinsuo NP

One of the hides for viewing the Wolverines