Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Buff-bellied Pipit Recording

Headed back to Tangwick for the Buff-bellied Pipit again, which gave incredible views once people had realised that the best ploy to see this bird was to just sit and wait! As the bird was coming and going, I decided to lay a wireless microphone in the grass in the hope of getting some calls - for once, it worked and below is a recording as it took flight - it reminds me of a cross between a Meadow Pipit and a Grey Wagtail...

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Buff-bellied Pipit

A late afternoon message with news of the first Buff-bellied Pipit for Shetland away from Fair Isle and Foula had me heading north to Tangwick. After a short wait, the bird obligingly flew back to its favoured area and gave absolutely wonderful views. Fortunately, one of the Shetland Wildlife autumn birding groups were nearby and diverted west to see the bird - which turned out good for everybody as the group who headed to Unst first found a Red-flanked Bluetail - and most of the participants in that group saw the Buff-bellied Pipit on Fair Isle last week! Our sincere thanks to the finder of the pipit - Graham Smith.

Monday, 27 September 2010

Buff-breasted Sandpipers

After spending the best part of the yesterday sound-recording and photographing Lapland Buntings, I headed back to Eshaness at dawn to see if the two Buff-breasted Sandpipers were still present - and was pleasantly surprised to find that two had become three - and I had found a new bird with them! The light was absolutely amazing for the first few hours of the day, allowing the 1D Mark IV to really bring out intricate detail in the plumage.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Another Arctic Warbler!

A case of Déjà vu - this Arctic Warbler was in exactly the same clump of roses at Sumburgh Head as the one earlier in the month! This bird is clearly an adult - easily aged by the abraded primaries and the worn greater coverts.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Scottish Birds

Thrilled to have the front cover image on the September 2010 issue of Scottish Birds, published by the Scottish Ornithologists Club. For more information on the journal and the SOC click here

Monday, 20 September 2010

Common Rosefinch

These two Common Rosefinches at Quendale offered some nice opportunities in the early morning sunshine...

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Slavonian Grebes

A hectic week of work concentrating on photographing nothing but common migrants - passerines and non passerines - with some dramatic seascapes also on offer during a fierce force nine gale! These Slavonian Grebes took me by surprise at Boddam Voe early on Friday morning as I was there to photograph waders in a tapestry of colourful seaweed. Fortunately I was already at a low angle when the birds appeared right in front of me!

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Canon 1D Mark II FOR SALE

We have a Canon 1D Mark II pro body for sale on ebay at the moment. This is a great entry level pro-camera and has taken many stunning pictures - 90% of the 100 or so images published in the Birds of Scotland were taken using this body! Click here for more information. We are also looking for a spare 7D body that is in mint condition with less than 10,000 actuations - so if you have one to sell to us, then get in touch


The John Muir Trust is a leading UK charity dedicated to the protection of wild land for both nature and people. Scottish-born John Muir inspired the name and ethos, as the first person to call for action to be taken to protect wild land, and an instrumental figure in the modern conservation movement. The Trust was founded in 1983 to safeguard the future of wild lands against development and to promote awareness and recognition of the value of such places. The John Muir Trust educates people about the value of wild places through the John Muir Award. It was started in 1997 to offer people of all ages and backgrounds the opportunity to learn about wild places.

The Trust has developed a new project to link young aspiring photographers with professional photographers to create a 20 month picture diary of an environmental project. There are only 20 places in the whole of the UK - and they have guaranteed one for Shetland.

For those interested in wildlife/ landscape photography it’s a fantastic opportunity with real career prospects. If you are aged between 16 and 24 and would be interested in participating please contact

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Curlew Sandpipers

Along with lots of other migrants, (including the Eastern Olivaceous!), really happy to have these three Curlew Sandpipers on my patch for a few days last week:

Monday, 13 September 2010

More Eastern Olivaceous Warbler Video

A couple more grabs of the Eastern Olivaceous Warbler - filmed in HD with a 1D mark IV and 800mm f5.6L lens.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Eastern Olivaceous Warbler

A superb day! Before migrant-hunting close to home in the valley, I decided to start off by trying to get some more photographs of the 3 juvenile Curlew Sandpipers that had been around the Bigton area since Friday. As I sat looking at any empty foreshore, Alan Wheeler had come to find me to inform me of a grey Hippolais warbler that he had seen go to roost the previous evening in his garden. He'd seen the bird early on this morning once again, and his description was more than interesting - especially when he mentioned it to be tail-pumping. We discussed the finer points of Hippo ID and everything seemed to be adding up to one species, which I already felt Alan had pretty much got all the features for - Eastern Olivaceous Warbler.

On arriving at Alan's house and looking at the photographs on the back of his camera, it looked exactly as Alan had described it and after an anxious 15 minute wait in Alan's (and Jane's) kitchen, the bird in question appeared in the roses, offering the briefest of views. A few minutes later, the bird hopped out in full view, started tail pumping and looked an absolute dead-cert for an Eastern Olivaceous. I personally did not want a repeat performance of the 2006 Olive-tree Warbler scenario, so we waited for the bird to return to the garden and I took plenty of photographs and some video through Alan's (incredibly clean!) kitchen windows.

On arriving back home I had a good look through my images, reference papers and books before being 100% certain - and very happy - that we had indeed been watching an Eastern Olivaceous Warbler - only around the 15th record for Britain - and could put the news out on the local grapevine. A fantastic bird - well done Alan!

Wednesday, 8 September 2010


There are currently some great opportunities for photographing migrant waders here in Shetland. I particularly enjoyed photographing the Ringed Plover with a 'moving carpet' of sand in a mini sand-storm! A juvenile Little Stint at the same site was also a nice subject to photograph.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Arctic Warbler

A south-easterly breeze produced a good scattering of migrants today. This Arctic Warbler at Sumburgh Head gave superb views during the afternoon as it fed in the stunted rose bushes: