News archive

February 2012

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Group trip to Shetland and the Up Helly Aa festival 28th Jan - 1st Feb

Group trip to Shetland and the Up Helly Aa festival 28th Jan - 1st Feb

12 members of the group flew up to Shetland for a few days winter birding.Arriving at midday at the Sumburgh hotel we were soon out birding the voe by the hotel where resplendent male Long-tailed Ducks consorted with females. Also present were Goldeneye,Red-throated Divers, Great Northern Diver, Black Guillemot in winter plumage, Shag, Eider Duck and a diminutive Little Auk.
A Wren of the Shetland race was seen along with the commonest corvid on Shetland, Raven.
Before it became too dark we headed off to another sea inlet (voe) where a very close Little Auk was admired. A rippling movement betrayed the passage of an Otter and it entertained us in the fading light munching down on Lumpfish.
Next day we headed North,firstly, to Lerwick and the Shetland Catch, a fish processing plant, where the resident Grey Seals competed with gulls for titbits from the outfall.
This year there has been an influx of wintering Iceland Gulls and we counted over 40 of various ages amongst the wheeling mass of gulls. 2 Glaucous Gulls were seen along with Kittiwake, Herring gull, Black-headed Gull and Fulmar.
Sated with the gullfest, we headed North again and were soon at a valley where a juv Rough-legged Buzzard was wintering. After about 15 minutes the Buzzard appeared, hovering in the updraft, looking for rabbits before drifting off.
Moving on we searched a large bay where a White-billed Diver had been seen, on and off, for a few weeks but we did not see it, only Red -throated Divers and a pod of 8 Harbour Porpoises were seen.
We returned to the same area next day but a heavy hailstorm made birding impossible for half-an-hour, when it had cleared and we were able to resumed again only Red-throated Divers and the pod of Porpoises were seen.
At a small loch Whooper Swans, Scuap, Tufted and Pochard were seen along with 6 Iceland and 2 Glaucous Gulls.
After our lunch break we headed back stopping at the Shetland Catch for yet more Iceland Gulls before heading to site where Long-eared Owls were roosting,where we were able to see 3 of these cryptically marked Owls in the trees.
Our final stop was at the lighthouse on Sumburgh Head where some of the group were able to see Twite before a couple of tourist flushed the birds by walking through them. Gannets were also seen along with many Fulmars.
Our final full day was taken up visiting Lerwick for the Up Helly Aa festival, where the Jarl Squad, dressed in viking armour, show off their longship that was to be burned that night.
Aa darkness decendended, first a torchlit parade of youngsters set the scene for the rest of the night culminating in a parade of over a thousand torch-bearers following the Jarl squad before throwing their flaming torches into the longship and watching it burn.
A brillliant weekend, full of great birds, great company and a fantastic festival.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

LEE VALLEY BY PUBLIC TRANSPORT - LINE CLOSURES

08.08 London Overground from Richmond to Hackney Central (arrives 08.58).
Transfer to Hackney Downs Stn. Exit Hackney Central Stn left into Amhurst Road. At big crossroads turn left into Dalston Lane, the Stn is a short way along on the left ( approx 10 min )

Catch the 09.18 Nat Express East Anglia train to Cheshunt ( arrives at 09.39)

Alternatively, if you are unsure of travelling alone , please contact leader Robert Chubb

02087441830 or 07503615314 to ameet at Richmond Stn @ 07.45 am