Monday 24 October 2022

Shetland Adventure - 9th October 2022

Our final day and it was forecast to be grim so we tidied up The Waddle, had a bacon sarnie, packed up and left as soon as we could muster and headed north with a view to having a scout round Eshaness.  We stopped on the way at Brae Community Woodland to look for a very secretive Olive Backed Pipit and merely found a couple of windblown Redpolls before checking the soggy wader field on the outskirts of Hillswick which still contained a good flock of Ringed Plover, Turnstone and Lapwing along with two long billed Dunlin, Redshanks and Snipe and a scattering of worm pulling Redwings and Common Gulls.

Ringed Plover





Common Gull

The Ring-necked Duck in all its brown glory was calling but a quick car to car chat with Judd and Dave just half a mile from the bird resulted in the message of a White’s Thrush bounding around behind Clickimin Loch in Lerwick.  With heavy rain forecast and with Peter trying very hard not to look pleadingly into the front of the car, Mr B slipped Agnetha into Dynamic mode once again, swung her around and dashed south in what became a small but determined convoy of birders.

What followed was quite possibly the wettest, windiest birding experience I have ever had but with some field craft and luck two of us managed to get some great flight views as it hurtled up and down between its chosen patches of trees.  It was never flushed or pushed but just seemed generally very unsettled by the increasingly foul weather.  The slight problem was that the one person who had never seen a White’s Thrush had very successfully managed to be in the wrong spot on every occasion. 

Lying on the bank gave you a chance of seeing it on the deck

The crowd dwindled rapidly leaving us to try and refind it.  After a couple of hours we left Peter (at his own request) and drove to the other end of the loch to check the Helendale gardens for a Wood Warbler.  When I say we, I mean David. I had had enough and was pretty much soaked through and cold.  I sat in the car and tried to dry out and possibly even have a nap but then the radio blared into life - David had seen the White’s in one of the front gardens!  With Peter trotting around the loch edge to meet us I could hardly not join in the hunt once again and although it led us a merry dance between the gardens and the high school, Peter was eventually pleased to see enough of it to be happy in the rain and failing light.  He may not have clinched that photo for his ‘other (rather amazing) list but at least we were not getting in the boat after a tragic dip.

Before too long the car was on board the Hjatland and we were trying to change and hang wet gear up in our cabin before heading up for dinner.  They had been warning of a lively night crossing all day but normally there is at least the opportunity to digest your dinner before giving up for the night.

There was no such joy that evening and we had barely finished or even got far from the harbour when the pitching and rolling began.  A hasty if somewhat wobbly retreat was called and we all crashed out before 7.30pm.  What followed was 13 hours of roller coaster ship trauma as we battled into a force 7-8 sou'-sou'-westerly with the bow rising up, hanging and then crashing down again for hour after hour.  It was a hellish experience but somehow my dinner stayed inside me from start to finish.  I have never been so glad to get to shore in Aberdeen but we were all a bit at sea for hours afterwards.

The Westerly nature of the autumn had left the East coast completely devoid of ornithological temptations to break up the long journey home and so we just cruised south uninhibited by any traffic whatsoever.

Once again another Shetland adventure had come to an end and despite the paucity of common migrants we had somehow seen three of the biggest of Far Eastern vagrants, two Butterbutts and a certain tiny heron that was never on anyone’s rarity radar.  Add in the stunning scenery and grand company and it could be called nothing less than a resounding success.

No comments:

Post a Comment