Monday, 6 October 2014

Shetlands 2014

Saturday 27 September
Good first day with Arctic Redpoll, Red-breasted Flycatcher, Pied Flycatcher, Wood Warbler and Yellow-browed Warbler all seen. The flat was good the Fish and Chips even better. Bed early knackered.
Arctic Redpoll

Red-breasted Flycatcher

Sunday 28th September
Took the ferry via Yell to Unst birded the Norwick area. First up was a Temminck’s Stint basically the back of it as a Photographer got too close and flushed it. Then with a bit of a gale blowing Wryneck on the beach we had a search for other migrants but apart from Brambling it was a little quiet. Next stop produced a Common Rosefinch.

Stopped at a cafe for a coffee just after we had ordered – news broke of a Swainson’s Thrush two miles away. Hastily drunk coffee then great views of my first tick of the year. We were all buzzing on the way back we stopped at Yell to search for a King Eider – no luck the light was really poor.

Swainson’s Thrush

A few familiar faces, the Swainson’s twitch

Monday 29th September
News broke of a Yellow-rumped Warbler near Virkie, we headed down there but it was not seen, the weather was really poor with drizzle most of the day. The Captain and I headed back to the flat for a coffee joined an hour later but the rest of the crew. As the weather cleared up a little we went in search of a Barred Warbler eventually we saw the bird quite well.

Tuesday 30th September
Last night news broke of a White’s Thrush so we were up early(ish) we all had great views of this bird in a walled garden as it fed out of the wind. As we were driving away news broke that yesterdays Yellow-rumped Warbler had been relocated at Grutness we were heading in that direction and were only a couple of miles away. There were less than a dozen people present when we got there and had stunning views as it fed in yet another walled garden. Went for breakfast at the Airport then I don’t remember now what we did for the rest of the day, frankly it didn’t matter!
Yellow-rumped Warbler

Wednesday 1st October
A return visit to Unst stopping off at Yell where we dipped the King Eider again. On Unst saw Eastern Sub-alpine Warbler but in the wind it must have been wishing it was an Alpine Warbler. Its not going to be happy when it finds out Unst isn’t anywhere near Africa! Had great views of Barred Warbler as it was chased around by photographers the sight of a dozen middle-aged to old men crouched down inching forward to get closer was funny, the sound of the creaking bones was enough to flush the bird. The Captain got a brief sighting of a rather elusive Rustic Bunting which I may or may not have seen as a bunting like bird flew over me. As I was peeling an Orange at the time it was a missed opportunity. We also had reasonable views of a Marsh Warbler.

After an interesting day we tried for the third time for King Eider, this time success, but the bird was distant and the strong wind didn’t help.

Thursday 2nd October
Had a search for a Little Bunting today, I saw the bird briefly on the ground before it took flight, there was also a Yellow-browed Warbler here. Stopped at a cabbage field where the eagle-eyed Julian found a Richards Pipit, but although there were loads of birds in the field but the wind kept the birds low.

In the afternoon we saw a Pectoral Sandpiper in the south of the Island.

Little Bunting

Friday 3rd October
We went for and had much better views of the Little Bunting then birded around the Voe area for a while. We went back to the flat again for lunch and decided to search for a Corncrake on the west coast. We got there and searched either side of the burn but didn’t see the bird.

Back at the car Bobby D’s pager said there was a MEGA on Shetland but the message had broken up, no-one else had any phone reception so we headed back to civilisation to find out what was going on. As I appoached the main road Julien in the back screamed out “******* H*** a ********* Siberian ******** Ruby*******throat at ******* Levenwick” I have never heard such language!!!!

The next 10 minutes happened rather fast, “left, left, left, 1st gear, 2nd gear, 3rd gear two seconds later 80mpg and 4th gear. Two minutes later “**** we are going the wrong ******* way” Much slamming on of brakes, reversed into a gateway and headed back the way we had come. Parked up and over the next two hours some brief – some good – some tremendous views of my second tick of the week a stunning SIBERIAN RUBYTHROAT.

Back at the flat we were all buzzing and I had my first drink of the week – well it had to be done!! If you can’t have a drink after a bird like that you never will!!!!

Saturday 4th October
This was the worst day of the week with heavy rain falling we didn’t do a lot but bored we headed out to search for a Rose-coloured Starling but all we got was wet. Late afternoon it started to brighten up and a report of a Pallid Harrier got us out again. Not for the first time this week we were in the right place at the right time as the Pallid Harrier was at the north end of Tingwall Airport – we were at the south end. A couple of minutes later we were watching the bird. We still had time to fit in a Bluethroat before dark – another good day!
Rather distant Pallid Harrier

Sunday 5th October
Our last day we were up early and some of us cleaned the flat! We had another try for Rose-coloured Starling this time with success. An act of kindness from Tom who drove down to pick The Captain and I up as we had wandered off in an attempt to locate the bird, which turned up where the car was parked. We then went back for and got really good views of the Siberian Rubythroat then with our time on the islands running out we headed to Sumburgh were we saw Jack Snipe, Lesser Whitethroat and another Yellow-browed Warbler. The flights when to plan and I was sat down at home just after 10pm.

Rose-coloured Starling

It was a cracking weeks birding without the crowds, I really hope Shetland stays like that, but with birds like this is seriously doubt it!!

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