Tuesday 16 October 2018

Shetland Day 3: 1st October 2018

South then west this morning, cutting across towards Aith with a stop to check a great wooded valley where the only thing we heard was the tinkling of water and the ticking of Wrens.
A scan across the valley revealed that the appliance formally known as ‘The Fridge of Happiness’ was still in situ although the stocks looked a little low.  
Given our general despondency it was a relief to find some chocolate orange tiffin still residing therein although the site was re-christened ‘The Fridge of Slight Consolation’.

  A distant view of ‘The Fridge of Slight Consolation’.
Bradders showing mild Tiffin related smugness
Michael’s Wood in Aith provided close encounters of the dinosaur kind and 14 Blackbirds looked promising but we only dug out five Mealy Redpolls and a couple of Chiffchaffs.

1st winter Blackbird


Greylags and Curlews

A slight diversion took us to another very scenic but birdless spot at Vementry where the patchwork of lichens on the wall actually held our attention longer before retracing our steps past a mother Otter teaching her two well grown kits to hunt fish in the voe shallows.  I have never seen this before and it was to become one of the highlights of the week.


Amazing lichens at Vementry

Otter family

West again to the Da Gairdins i Sand passing a fine female Merlin on the way in. This is where we had the Parrot Crossbills last year but we never explored away from the pines.  This time we did both sections thoroughly and I was pleasantly surprised at the variety of planting with good blocks of single species creating a good amount of cover and shelter with great grassy paths weaving in and out and encompassing three good ponds too.

Da Gairdins i Sand

However... you guessed it... it was deathly with 15 Blackbirds, three Goldcrests, two Chiffchaffs and a Woodpigeon for our effort while a Rock Pipit pottering up and down the  rides under the trees out of the wind was just not fair...

I did find some flies though with a single Eristalis pertinax becoming my one and only hoverfly up here all week, several Calliphora that definitely included vicina and a fine Neomyia cornicia that allowed me close enough to count bristles...  A couple of bumblebees were also feeding on the escallonia and appeared to be part of the lucorum aggregate and therefore Bombus magnus – the Northern White-tailed Bumblebee.  

Eristalis pertinax

Eristalis pertinax

Neomyia cornicia

Calliphora vicina

Calliphora vicina
Calliphora vicina
Bombus magnus – the Northern White-tailed Bumblebee
We trudged back up the hill to the car and devoured our consolatory tiffin before visiting another tint two house village called Brindister where we saw a couple of Meadow Pipits, a smart Common Gull and my fifth sheep breed...

Common Gull

Another day another sheep breed...

Dale of Walls was devoid so we stuck another two fingers up at the distant Foula and visited a cracking sycamore copse at Burrastow where three Snipe erupted from the grass and our first Chaffinch ‘pinked’.

Dale of Walls with that naughty Foula in the mist
Lichen Dale of Walls

Lichen Dale of Walls

Lichen Dale of Walls

Shetland pony Dale of Walls


Harbour Seal Burrastow

It was then back to Garderhouse Voe were a Barred Warbler was very quickly located crashing around in the canopy of a single sycamore and giving excellent views before careening out across a field to another tree.

Barred Warbler

With no wind now to speak of, the Voe below was mirror calm and it was easy to pick out a Slavonian Grebe, two Red-throated Divers, Mergansers, Tysties, Shags and a couple of Guillemots.

Garderhouse Voe
Retracing our steps past Loch of Murraster we added a solitary Moorhen out feeding with some Wigeon that were tailgating two up-ending Whoopers.

The last bit of daylight before the rains returned was spent at Culswick and Gardins where a Lesser Whitethroat was the only passerine of note aside from residents and two Mallard, two Wigeon and... drum roll please... another Moorhen made for a fitting anticlimax to the day.


Gardins to the left and Culswick to the right - a lovely spot

The Culswick patch... can you see the Moorhen?
And Aith harbour on the way back home...

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