Sunday 30 October 2016

Fourteen Days Away: Day 12 : 7th October :

Fourteen Days Away:  Day 12 : 7th October : 

A slight lay in this morning saw us on the road just after 8am and I was still buzzing from finding the Siberian Thrush yesterday.  Lower Voe was our first stop and I quickly refound our second Brown Shrike of the trip as it hunted from the wires above the stream where we saw the Red-breasted Flycatcher two days ago. A warmer brown individual than the Aith bird but still that distinctive long tailed, short winged shape. Two YBWs got the day tally rolling before we continued across on the Aith road, stopping to check a few plots en route and adding eight more YBWs and over 250 new-in Redwings that were dropping down off the moorland to feed in gardens and pasture. A few Blackbirds and five Fieldfares were mixed in with them. 

Brown Shrike - Lower Voe - Anthony Griffiths
The Hoddins - Lower Voe to Aith Road - full of thrushes, a Merlin - oh & two YBWs

East Burrafirth - two more YBW's in that garden

After discovering the amazing Hayfield Croft cake fridge by the roadside and making some considered purchases we doubled back and headed north to check out a few far flung scraps of vegetation. 

We were very worthy of their wares...

Nine more YBWs took the trip haul to 138 and a monster billed Hawfinch at Orr Wick and three Mealy Redpolls and a Whinchat at North Roe added interest along with both Kestrel and Sparrowhawk and a heap of Goldcrests but not one YBW in the very rare feeling Burn of Valayre just north of Brae.

Burn of Valayre

Red Admiral at the Burn of Valayre

Haworth's Minor - Celaena haworthii at the Burn of Valayre - thanks Max!

Loch of Housetter - lots of Greylags and gulls and few Tufties and Bramblings in the burn

North Roe - looking over Burra Voe

Yellow-browed Warbler at Orr Wick - at last a decent picture!

A superb Ram at North Roe
Brambling had obviously come in and several flocks were encountered including at least 90 with 30 Chaffinches at North Collafirth. 

Some of the Brambling flock at North Collafirth
We had been studiously avoiding the White's Thrush parading way up on Unst but at just before 4pm we caved in and left behind the Redwings and Yellow-broweds of Ollabury (and an odd Song Thrush) and embarked on a bit of a dash to connect with appropriate ferries but by a little before 6pm we were back at Skaw and clapping eyes on my third golden spangly thrush. Bob Vaughan and James Lowan were especially delighted to lay this particular ghost to rest. 

Gratuitous White's Thrush images which I am very happy with given the lack of light!
 And it would have been rude not to have tried a little bit of phone scoping video

Only a few people remained and as the light fell it became active and we were left sitting one of the most northerly beaches in Britain, in the company of this magnificent bird as it started to feed on the grassy undercliff where once again the magical bob, weave and walk was experienced as it methodically picked up prey. It was a beautifully calm, still evening and we were all very privileged to watch this gentle looking thrush going about its crepuscular activities before we quietly backed away after about an obsorbing encounter. 

What a magical spot to watch a White's Thrush... James is reclining in a daze of smiles to the left...

The light was appalling so all credit to James knowing how to get the best out of his kit...
There were smiles all round but there was one more little treat as the crews left site. A Wheatear was seen still feeding in the road as we drove out and then as we entered Norwick another little bird appeared in the headlights... it was a delightful little Bluethroat and we stayed with it till the other three cars caught up and everyone enjoyed views down to a few feet as it actively fed on insects attracted to the lights from David's car. Possibly the most surreal birding experience any of us had ever had.

Another James 'In the dark' image...

With a wait till the ferry back to Yell, we hit the Baltasound Hotel en masse and chips and a pint were raised to the greatness of Zoothera!

We connected with our subsequent ferries although a tight knit mass of almost completely dark coloured Shetland Ponies loitering in the middle of the road, around a bend, in the pitch blackness just before the terminal almost spoilt the evening but tested first Bradders and then the other drivers brakes who thankfully were not immediately behind us!

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