Sunday, 4 October 2015

Shetland Week

Have just returned from a week in the Shetland Isles with The Captain, Bob, Tom and Julien. It all went well and we had a good week of birding. It wasn’t up to the high standard of last year but nothing was going to match the birds we saw in 2014.

It got off to a good start when a Lanceolated Warbler turned up at Vale of Walls but as we were within a mile of an American Golden Plover we went to see that first. There were around 40 birders present when we arrived at Vale of Walls, like a lot of places in Shetland it has more letters than houses. The bird was being pushed around a fair bit, but unfortunately that is the name of the game in Shetland! There is so little cover but the birds use it well. This bird was running around on the ground in amongst the long grass like a mouse! The next day (Sunday) we went south again to Toab where were saw Blyth’s Reed Warbler and this bird was being pushed as well and we only got flight views.

The garden of the house we were staying in had a Sycamore in the front garden “The Tree of Dreams” and it held a Lesser Whitethroat for the whole week, whilst the back garden had a Yellow-browed Warbler. In a way the bird of the week was Yellow-browed Warbler, every tree in Shetland seemed to have one and we must have seen in excess of 50 during the week, more than I have seen in 35 years of birding.

Monday saw us on Unst where our luck changed missing Arctic Warbler and Pallid Harrier, to compound things a Grey-cheeked Thrush turned up on Mainland! Unfortunately wrong place, wrong time.

Tuesday the wind had increased and we went for and missed the Grey-cheeked Thrush which had moved on overnight, we then missed a Eastern Subalpine Warbler then a possible Icterine Warbler, it was starting to be a recurring theme. In the afternoon with the wind blowing a gale The Captain and I spent a couple of hours at Quarff where we saw a couple of Red-breasted Flycatchers and several Yellow-browed Warblers.

Wednesday started with a trip north to look for a Pechora Pipit that was seen late last night, we were lucky and connected with the bird straight away. In the afternoon it was again very windy and birding was hard work, The Captain and I birded around Boddam where we were given a verbal volley from a women when we were in the garden of a derelict house! We found a Woodcock sitting in a field and there were bird coming in off the sea with Redwing, Snipe and Swallow all arriving looking knackered from fighting the wind. We did however catch up with a Bluethroat and a Pied Flycatcher further South.

The rest of the week drifted but we really enjoyed birding some of the settlements in the south we didn’t find anything rare but it was enjoyable just birding and not chasing rare birds (although a chance would have been nice).

There was a bit of a mix up with flights on the way back with one of the party missing an earlier flight and being stung over £300 to get home, but that is airlines for you.

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