Saturday 22 October 2016

Fourteen Days Away: Day 6 : 1st October...

Fourteen Days Away:  Day 6 : 1st October... 

Another early rise (that caused trauma for the Knitters in the Hostel but they had made the whole place smell of boil in the bag fish so...) and then off south to check out a few sites on a gloriously still and bright Shetland morning. The mirror sea revealed a widely spread pod of perhaps 30 or so Harbour Porpoises at Gulberwick while a couple of Risso's Dolphins were feeding off Fladdabister shortly afterwards as we searched the ruined crofts around the village. 


Atmoshpheric Blackbird

I found this in an old croft - wish I had gone in for a look...

Four spritely YBWs were in the same few sycamores along with a single Blackcap but it felt fairly quiet so we moved on to Okraquoy and David promptly picked up a Rosefinch in a garden from the car as we slowed to look at a Blackcap. We pulled over but the not so grotty Grotfinch had dropped down but I did pick up a rather warm shrike as it flew across the field. It appeared long tailed in flight and after just a few minutes that too did a bunk and although I was left pondering about the identity and we put it down as a Red-backed.


Common Rosefinch - Jonathan Lethbridge

My shrike pics

Jono's shrike pics
Even now I am slightly perplexed by this shrike. The side on shots seem to show a Red-backed grey cast to the nape and a not especially strong eye mask but in others the mask looks bolder and the whole bird looks a warm brown including the whole head and is concolourous with the long looking tail. The primaries length looks short and in the last shot of Jono it actually looks like the outer tail feathers are shorter... They are not great shots from either of us as it was a brief encounter and these were the best we could do.

The Harbour Seals at Sandwick were entertaining in a spotty belching banana sort of way and allowed me a fairly close approach down the Mousa slipway and a Shetland Wren with huge feet clambered over the rocks with aplomb.

Gorgeous Harbour Seals
Shetland Wren

Shetland Wren


Rock Pipit

Northern Wheatear

Beach Hopper ... umm... living with his buddies in the Sandwick gents urinals...
The next exciting couple of hours were spent in the iris beds of Quendale where as usual in my case, we saw very little with the first Dunnock of the autumn and a Blackcap being evicted while a Merlin harassed Starlings over the moor and a Green Sandpiper flipped out of view. Five Bonxies cruised overhead in purposeful fashion and both Goldcrests and a YBW were flicking around the fushias at the Mill. 

Irising at Quendale

The old rifle range mechanism is identical to that at Rainham

Hooded Crow

Yellow Dung Fly and his mate - not lunch as I thought!

Pin-tailed House Sparrow
  We deposited Nick with the newly arrived Hawky and Andy Lawson and then it was time to collect our gear from the Hostel and do some shopping before making for our digs on Muckle Roe before spending the late afternoon checking out the under watched but very inviting looking gardens on our new patch. Unsurprisingly we found two more YBWs along with singles of both Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler and the potential is there for finding something during next week's easterlies. 

Busta House

Jungle Fowl

A final YBW in Busta House followed by a glorious sunset over our own back garden lochan while we ate dinner to the sound of whistling Wigeon and squelchy Snipe rounded up the day nicely. The whisky was opened, the Milky Way gleamed overhead and we now just needed the Aurora to become visible to the naked eye...  perhaps another night.

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