Friday 21 October 2016

Fourteen Days Away: Day 5 : 30th September

Fourteen Days Away:  Day 5 : 30th September: 

It was down south for us to start with today to pick up Jono from his early flight into Sumburgh. A great couple of hours were spent around the Hotel grounds, fields and Grutness in blustery and sometimes wet conditions but the sound of a bugling Common Crane overhead is a wonderful way to start a day. It performed two huge circuits out over the Head and then north and back again before repeating the loop. 

Common Crane overhead - Grutness

Pink-feet and Greylags were on the move along with Meadow Pipits and Skylarks. I had two Yellow-browed Warblers and Nick saw a Barred in the rose garden while Twite, Great Northern Diver, Jack Snipe, Whimbrel and four adult Whooper Swans were new trip additions. 

Pink-feet - Grutness

Whooper Swans - Grutness


Pinkfoot - Grutness


Greylags - Grutness

The Shetland Starlings were in the fine form in the sunny spells, shining petrol colours as they sung and wing waved from the dry stone walls around the hotel...

With the south looking grim for a while we moved back north and checked out Hoswick where three more YBWs, Goldcrests and a fine female Merlin were encountered and I became closely acquainted with a barbed wire fence and required delicate extraction by Jono with thankfully no impalations or clothing lacerations! He did video the whole thing but thankfully has currently spared me the indignity of publishing it!

Swinnister Burn, Hoswick - NASTY barbed wire

but a good Merlin - Hoswick
  Out West for while after that, to Aith where by careful stalking, we were able to get incredible views of the Greenish Warbler as he fed and sang quietly to himself among the willows, whitebeams and miscellaneous Jurassic mega fauna also present in the grove. Predictably a YBW was also seen along with a couple of Chaffinches. News of yesterday's probable Booted Warbler had us zipping back to Sandgarth but after standing with the crowd and seeing a pale beady eyed Warbler briefly in the irises from 50 yards, we cut our losses and retraced our steps to Aith on news of an interesting Shrike.

Greenish Warbler - Aith

It was not long before we had it in the scope and all things pointed towards it being the hoped for Brown Shrike but it was incredibly mobile and would not let anyone get within 100m. After an hour of following it round it headed over a hill and out of view and so we left, happy in our own way that it was indeed the Red-backed's rarer congena.

Brown Shrike - Aith

The biggest crowd at the Brown Shrike as it never stopped long enough for everyone to gather!

Back at Sandgarth the Sykes/Booted Warbler situation was still, shall we say, confused... but after a short wait we did see a striking Blyth's Reed Warbler in the irises and along the fence line shrubbery. Certainly my most prolonged views ever of this species. 

mmm... we need to get closer...

What appeared to be a Blyth's Reed Warbler...

Modern back of camera birding...

The rest of the afternoon was spent in Kergord where three more YBWs were heard (taking us to 27 so far in two days) and a few Goldcrests, Robins, Chaffinches and many Blackbirds were seen along with the expected Woodpigeons and Rooks. Oh and I got attacked by a mother hen for rescuing one of her chicks that had its head stuck through a fence... 

Kergord hedgelines

Kergord House and environs

That night's Chinese (not a ping) in Lerwick was well earned and we agreed to tackle the south properly the following day and hopefully dig out something good...

A prickly friend who greeted us back at the hostel..

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