Wednesday 18 October 2017

Shetland 26th September - 8th October 2017: The Journey Up

26th September: The Journey Up... Day 1: 
And so, after meeting Bradders and Bob V in Colchester and collecting Peter Moore, fresh from Dorset at Jim Lawrence's Huntingdon pad, we headed north and thankfully the quick re-identification of an in the hand flycatcher in Yorkshire precluded a detour (but not Subway related indigestion) and the late afternoon was spent in Northumberland with my first visit to Lindesfarne where two Yellow-browed Warblers obliged but a creeping Locustella seen by locals eluded us. 

Onto Lindesfarne

The Snook

The Snook

The Snook - before the sun went in!

A couple of Redwings dropped in and a Pale-bellied Brent was with the Mute Swans on the way back to the mainland. Before the sea fret came in there were many pristine Red Admirals and fat Bluebottles sunning themselves on the wall and pampas grass of the Snook including an huge blue green monster with an orange face that Phil Collins identified even from my poor photo as Cynomya mortuorum.

Red Admiral

Red Admirals


Field Grasshopper but I have never seen one this wholly green before
Pirri-Piri Burr

Pirri-Piri Burr- the only flower I found

Having extricated ourselves from the Pirri-Piri Burr (A New Zealand escapee) we headed back up the road where the wonderfully friendly golfers of Goswick welcomed us and the delightfully obliging juvenile Long-tailed Skua while skeins of Pink-feet ‘wink-winked’ over the fields... 

'Gonna get your ball....'

The Long-tailed Skua would go for regular flights the whole length of the golf course before returning to its favoured fairway!

Pinkies - a sound of any autumn
Someone turned the sun out...

Long-tailed Skua

A magical evening to get proceedings started and capped off with a fine pub burger in Berwick-upon-Tweed and a couple of pints of fine ale which probably assisted in the wrongness of the toilet roll dispenser in the rather spelndidly posh Youth Hostel in town!

This so discombobulated Bob that he dropped his phone down the loo...

27th September: The Journey Up... Day 2:  
After a traditional Golden Arches Borders breakfast we made our way to St Abbs Head for a quick skirt around Mire Loch. 

St Abbs Head

Mire Loch

The lochside trees were full of crests and Chiffies but although we could not find the Bonelli's Warbler we did find four dinky, striped Yellow-broweds, two Willow Warblers, Blackcaps and a Treecreeper. Robins ticked and four Brambling and a party of Redpoll dropped in while Bullfinches tooted invisibly and they had obviously been feeding on the Rowans whose berries littered the ground. 

To be honest it was the seriously irate local shepherdess howling abuse at her disobedient hound that raised the most smiles. “Get back here you useless bastard mutt!” was possibly the mildest phrase used and quite audible at about half a mile! 

Shepherdess (top right) before it all went very wrong for her - and her dog

A fine Romeo!

St Abbs and its rugged folded cliffs was left behind and we continued north over the new Forth crossing which is truly spectacular.

Bradders sat nav was having locational issues at this point
We made for Kilminning near Crail where a field of Skylarks, Meadow Pipits and Yellowhammers were buffeted in the wind and offshore, Gannets careened by along with solitary Manx Shearwater, Arctic Skua and Razorbill. 

The sun popped out at Kilminning but the wind had got up...

An the Isle of May in the distance...


Goldfinch hanging onto the Swedish Whitebeam

The scrub was very quiet bar a couple of Goldcrests and a goodly number of Goldfinches and Greenfinches. It was however the very obliging, boisterous young Barred Warbler that plucked elderberries at close range in the sunshine that instantly became the bird of the day.

Barred Warbler

Barred Warbler

Nice shevrons!
A Common Darter - the last I would see for two weeks

Some fine Puffballs - not sure of species yet

And I could not leave out the tattie harvesters!

The 'Hrossey' to Shetland in Aberdeen beckoned and although the weather looked a little interesting for the first couple of days, the wind direction was superb so fingers were crossed...

A murky Aberdeen

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