Sunday, 30 May 2010

Icterine Warbler

This Icterine Warbler took up residence in a tiny patch of Rhubarb at Quendale this weekend. The bird would often burst in to brief bursts of song and as well as getting some nice images I also managed a series of composite recordings. Thanks to Pete and Andy for the news and to the owner of Quendale Farm, Martin Burgess, for allowing me to position my vehicle and use as a makeshift hide!

Icterine Warbler - composite of four recordings

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Red-necked Phalarope - June Wallpaper

This Red-necked Phalarope was photographed on Fetlar, on one one of our Focus on Shetland trips in June 2009. To set the picture as your computer's desktop wallpaper background, double click on the image below to open it in full size then right-click the mouse while it's over the picture. Select the 'Set as Background' menu option, or the 'Set as Wallpaper' option, depending on your browser type.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Male Bluethroat

This stunning male red-spotted Bluethroat was one of the first birds to be seen by some of our guests joining our Ultimate Shetland trip today. Found by Dave and Pippa as they were driving back from the airport in the fog, the bird showed on and off before disappearing in to the murk. What a great start to a holiday - that's the way we do things here at Shetland Wildlife!

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Red-breasted Flycatcher

Spent the evening watching and photographing this truly handsome male Red-breasted Flycatcher at Vidlin. The bird stayed high up in the trees and was pretty elusive - rather like the way they behave at this time of year when I've viewed them on their breeding grounds in Poland!

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Shetland Moorland Sound Recording

Three days of virtually flat-calm and sunny weather meant great sound recording opportunities. The only problem sound-recording at this time of year on the hills are the amount of bleating lambs; but I guess it adds atmosphere! Here are a few fresh out of the amazing Nagra Ares PII used with a Sennheiser ME66 and the FEL 20db micbooster - click on the arrows to play the recordings:

Northern Wheatear

Snipe Drumming



Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Sanderlings, Turnstones & Ash Clouds

A few pix of the results from Sunday. I planned more wader photography yesterday but helped Dave out with the Fair Isle group who were grounded here on Mainland Shetland. Still, this particular ash cloud certainly had a silver-lining as we managed to find a pod of 14 Killer Whales, a superb Otter, a party of Harbour Porpoise, Wood Sandpiper and Black-tailed Godwits. I think the group were happy they were stuck - and after a day like that, so were Dave and I...

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Sanderlings: born to run...

An early start for a 'wader workshop'. Sanderlings in summer plumage are really stunning birds and I concentrated on trying to 'freeze' the birds as they ran up and down the tide line. However, with the sun still low, there were some nice reflections on offer. One fresh off the card and more to follow...

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

2010 Shetland Photo Competition

Promote Shetland and Shetland Wildlife - sponsors of the 1st prize - are pleased to announce the 2010 Shetland Photographic Competition. The competition is open to resident and visiting amateur photographers. We are looking for unique and inspiring images that capture your imagination and record a moment in time.

We want you to capture breathtaking and original images which reflect and portray the outstanding wildlife Shetland has to offer. Subjects may include anything that is wild: birds, wild flowers, whales & dolphins, otters, seals etc etc. Please do not submit images of captive wildlife or livestock (sheep, ponies etc etc). Landscapes which portray wildlife in a natural setting (eg. Seabird colonies) are acceptable. Photographs must be taken in Shetland between 15 May and 30th October 2010. All entries will be judged by myself and the Promote Shetland team. The winner will be announced soon after the competition closes on 5 November 2010.

1st Prize - a superb 7-day photography holiday donated by Shetland Wildlife to be taken in June 2011 - worth over £1,000.00 !!!

2nd Prize – Full day otter watching experience in Shetland for 2 people, donated by Shetland Otters

3rd Prize - a signed copy of Simon King's new 'Shetland Nature Diaries' book

So cameras at the ready!

For further information click here or please contact Promote Shetland on 01595 98 98 98.

Terms & Conditions:-
1. The Shetland Photographic Competition is organised by Promote Shetland.
2. The competition is open to resident and visiting photographers.
3. Photographs must be taken in Shetland between 15 May and 30 October 2010.
4. Photos must be submitted in a digital format via our entry form.
5. Images should be no larger than 5MB and saved in JPEG format. Only minor manipulation is allowed and we may request to see the original file for any short listed entries we consider.
6. The limit is one photograph per entrant and it must be accompanied by a description, preferably as detailed as possible (up to100 words).
7. All entries must be the sole work of the photographer and the submitter of the photographs must be the copyright owner.
8. Entry into the competition will permit use of the photographs in Promote Shetland's online image gallery.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Mousa Sound King Eider

This very approachable immature drake King Eider was with Common Eiders at Leebitton yesterday. Scroll down the images below to see a brief video of the bird shot with the 1D Mark IV...

King Eider from Hugh Harrop on Vimeo.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Snowy Owl

Our office has received lots of calls from the press regarding the Snowy Owl that was found by a hill-walker on Unst last Saturday. I've lost count of the times I've had to say "No, they are not breeding, no they have not been re-introduced and no, we don't have Lemmings here"!

I've been lucky enough to photograph many Snowy Owls in Alaska, across Arctic and coastal Canada and closer to home, in northern Europe. They are typically very hard birds to get close to, but in my experience, if you have lots of patience and the willingness to belly crawl for a couple of hundred metres, you'll do well and get images similar to my 'Blue Peter' one depicted above. My advice would be to forget using a tripod as you will not be able to stay low enough to the ground - instead, try and use an angle finder attached to your camera and a bean bag / ground pod for support.

Its stay in the Crussa Field / Nikka Vord area would appear to be short-lived. Unst, however, is a big island and there is a huge amount of habitat for a Snowy Owl to go and lose itself - in 1986 when my late friend Andreas Clarke and I visited Unst as teenagers, it took us two full days of searching to find one of the summering birds! So fingers crossed that it reappears to allow everybody the chance to enjoy this very special bird. To sit and stare in to the piercing yellow eyes of these enormous Arctic owls really is something special...

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

One space available: Hungary 15 - 22 May

Due to a last-minute cancellation, we now have one place available on our 'Hungary in Spring' trip running from 15 - 22 May 2010. The itinerary and price can be found by following the Hungary link here

Please call the Shetland Wildlife office on 01950 422483 or e mail us for further information.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Black Guillemot Recordings

Up early today - and right now that is very early - to finish off the Black Guillemot recordings. It never ceases to amaze me how high-pitched the display call is:

Red-throated Divers are now starting to appear on inland freshwater lochs, but there are still quite a few birds on the sea.

And there are also still plenty of Whooper Swans giving good opportunities: