Thursday, 14 June 2012

Is Spring over-rated?

Is spring over-rated?!

From the perspective of someone who likes to find my own birds, based in Hampshire, the last two springs have been fairly uneventful, compared to other times of the year. So I went onto Bubo and retrieved my major finds since moving to Hampshire..

Spring is rubbish

Low and behold, with the exception of a (very memorable) Montagu's Harrier in Mid-April, (not listed), Spring never seems to produce the goods for me. The last week in Shetland was an extreme example of this, although I had my share of bad fortune with the weather on this occasion.

So why do I find more birds in Autumn? Could it be that there are more birds to be found in Autumn after the breeding season? Could it be that in the Northern Hemisphere it is easy to migrate North in Spring, than it is to go South in Autumn, and therefore the Autumn Migrants get lost and held up much more? It is often said that Autumn Migration is more relaxed compared to the Spring rush to breeding territories, so the birds are easier to catch up with.

It certainly isn't me! If anything I try harder than ever in Spring. Whatever the reason.. Here's to Autumn!

And looking at the table.. I doubt it will ever get much better than 2009 for finding my own birds?!

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Unst, 2012

Spent a long weekend in the Shetlands, mainly thanks to some Flybe rewards points, and an understanding family! Weather prior to the trip had been excellent for migrants with a constant East wind for the best part of 2 weeks. Sadly it didn't last into my break, and I was faced with some pretty unpleasant North Winds for the duration of the stay.

This had a really adverse affect on the migrants with single figures in total of Blackcaps, Spotted Flycatchers, Chiff-Chaffs, plus a Willow Warbler. A likely "Tristis" Chiff-Chaff called, but didn't hang around for a look at the plumage. Pretty ironic as I spent much of last winter grilling a likely Tristis that showed well but never called!

I persevered on Unst but there was nothing doing. I was almost relieved to get back onto Shetland Mainland, but this too had very little in terms of excitement. I did see the long staying Subalpine Warbler and Long-Eared Owl at Quendale.

However, what the trip lacked in rarity finding quality certainly didn't lack in photography opportunities, and I had excellent prolonged close-up views of many of the Shetland specialities such as Arctic Tern, Arctic and Great Skua, Puffin, Twite, and Fulmar. Photo slideshow below (hit page refresh if it doesn't load)..