Wednesday 26 October 2016

Fourteen Days Away: Day 9 : 4th October:

Fourteen Days Away: Day 9 : 4th October:  

The team were up even earlier this morning for a pre-dawn dash to be up near Eshaness in the hope of refinding the White's Thrush reported yesterday. 

Bob coming back from chasing a Blackcap through the irises

It was just a wee bit gusty and our efforts yomping up and down hills, through irises and nosing around the old farm buildings was unrewarding so we made a dash for the ferry to Yell but could not get the connecting ferry to Unst so we spent an hour checking a few windblown patches of vegetation and dug out three Yellow-browed Warblers and a Goldfinch but the real highlight were two flocks (totalling 83) of newly arrived Barnacle Geese that were desperately battling their way into the south-easterly wind. At one stage they gave up and were blown back a good couple of miles before coming in again at a lower elevation. The second, larger flock ended up wave skimming like a flock of pied Scoter. We checked a shed load of Golden Plover and we're a little aggrieved to discover that one had been found up on Eshaness by Team Norfolk – well done lads! 

Barnacle Geese

Barnacle Geese - one of the highlights of the week for the combination of sight, sound and location

The Stallion at South Garth on Yell - saw him last time too

A Raven literally 10 feet from the car window... no fear at all

The rest of the day was spent on Unst were our efforts were not in vain but the rarities of recent days had all gone AWOL. Around Norwick, two Little Buntings were with Twite in a weedy field and a Rosefinch was in another plot with Skylarks, Siskins and seven Brambling. The first Siberian Chiffchaff of the trip was seen briefly along with a couple of 'normal' ones and we picked up singles of Blackcap, Garden Warbler, a completely sandy small eastern Lesser Whitethroat and a brief Barred. Two Dunnocks were skulking and seven Goldcrests were zipping around. Bonxies and Ravens were overhead but the Osprey snuck behind us unseen and our search for the Great Snipe only produced 23 Commons. Down on the beach there were a couple of Ringed Plover including a small billed adult, a fine male Greenland Wheatear and a White Wagtail.

Norwick from the middle of a very wet field

The Taing - where the Oceanic and Continental rocks start getting a bit friendly...

A superb geology interp board... loved it...
Rubbish pic of a Little Bunting

Cracking little Ringed Plover...
Lunch at Shaw (the most northerly habitation in the UK) added a very obliging YBW to the Unst list and Goldcrests were trickling in off the sea which bodes well for the coming days while a dark female Stonechat was a trip addition. 

Skaw Beach - we would return

and the Shags and Cormorants off shore on the Bluejibs...

Bonxie alert

A briefly posing Rock Dove

Yellow-browed Warbler

which performed slightly better for Jono

Coffee at Burrafirth was enlivened by our first Otter of the day before we made our way to Halligarth (via a second YBW at Northdale where the Barley stooks were traditionally stacked) where the sycamores provided cover for a pale Siberian Chiffchaff, a tailless normal one, Blackcap, Goldcrest and the a ludicrously tame but wafty winged Wood Warbler. It spent most of its time feeding on the ground but was certainly able to fly up into the trees despite the feathers of the inner part of the left wing being all askew and spent a glorious ten minutes feeding at eyelevel out of the wind on the outside wall where it called all the time as it actively searched in all the nooks and crannies. Let's hope it can sort out those feathers and move south asap. 

I was taking a bit more time on the history of places visited this time and there is a grand project to restore the Haa alongside the dome of the Halligarth sycamore copse to its former glory as the home from 1832 of Dr Laurence Edmondston, a medical practicition and renowned ornithologist. He compiled the first comprehensive list of bird species on Shetland and assisted in the oberservation of birds using the surrounding woodland to Halligarth. Laurence''s son, Thomas, was a botanical prodigy by the age of 16 whilst his daughter Jessie helped publish her fathers work to the world. Jessie became an avid writer publishing nearly 150 works. Amazing stuff...


Burrafirth Bunny

The tiny enclosed Halligarth graveyard

Where the moss on the inner walls was amazing

Wafty the Wood Warbler

A last stop at Westing gave us more memorable views of another Otter as he caught crabs and munched them on the shore before a third one did likewise as we waited to catch the ferry back to Yell at Belmont. 

Button nose

This seal wanted us to think she was a rock and actually put her head under the water to complete the look...

So all in all a strange day with no new major finds but a good selection of commoner species kept us going and hopefully tomorrow will see us find the big one... or at least see someone else's!

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