Thursday 20 October 2022

Shetland Adventure - 8th October 2022

Today was the day to find something big.  It was calm and still and at last we would have the chance to finally search bushes and trees not trying to thrash themselves to death.   We could even hear Red Grouse across the inlet from The Waddle.

We started at Burrastow after a quality sunrise with some loafing  Harbour Seals once again  but the copse at the end still only held a Chiffchaff and the same flock of Twite so we continued round to Leeans where again nothing had changed with a Chaffinch and two Goldcrest although it was not teeming with rain and you could have heard a pine needle drop once we got inside.  A Peregrine overhead was our first and 24, mostly immature Rooks were feeding with Rock Doves in the two plots where Barley stooks had stood earlier in the week.


Rooks not Stooks


We checked a flock of 250 Golden Plover on the way out...

On to Dale of Walls where a single Goldcrest had replaced the Willow Warbler – I joked about Kinglet and two days later one was in Iceland so it was not such a crazy suggestion.  We walked the burn all the way to the sea for the first time but there was nowt but a couple of Rock Pipits and Fulmars circling offshore while Foula caught the sun but still looked forbidding. 

Goldcrest  - Peter Moore

Rock Pipit -  Peter Moore


A wondrous piece of Kelp

 When a Shetland Sheep pretends to be a Border Collie

 Yomping Bradders - checking the bushes other birders do not reach

 A gloriously dapper House Sparrow

The gully had been thoroughly checked and was bird free so we pushed onward stopping at Bousta where a Woodpigeon was the highlight along with a handful of Redwings, a secretive Brambling and a Common Whitethroat that was actively on the move.

 The bay below Muckle Bousta


 Harbour Seal

 Common Whitethroat

We found a few Wigeon and a pair of Mute Swans on Ness Loch before revisiting Sandness, Norby and Melby.  The beach at Norby was glorious with two Great Northern Divers and Kittiwakes offshore and 13 Barnacle Geese south but only a Rock Pipit and two White Wagtails were using the beach. 

Serious Tuppage with junior gang member hitching a ride

The 12 Whooper Swans were still in the fields and a Tufted Duck and some Teal were amongst the Mallard and Wigeon while even the Magpie popped up to say hello.

Whooper Swans 


Whooper Swans 

The dog Otter was once again at Melby actively catching Butterfish in the bay and both Peter and I picked up Grey Phalaropes as they flew through the turbulent channel between the mainland and islands.  One landed briefly at range but we both still managed to capture the moment for this surprisingly scarce Shetland bird.  Tysties were feeding actively even in the rough water and Gannets torpedoed in around them.  I found some Bristletails around the toilet block which is still the only place I have seen them in the UK!


Herring Gull


Cryptic Turnstone

Grey Phaladot


Ringed Plover


The drive back out saw us stopping to check an errant lone Wigeon before a final search around Culswick and Gardins which sadly only produced three calling Water Rails and a Merlin briefly perched on a wire.



Hooded Crow

We called it a day and headed back for an epic fry up (cheese omelette al la Moore) but we shall never talk about the frozen beer trauma...

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