Thursday 26 October 2017

Shetland 26th September - 8th October 2017: Day 6

1st October 2017: Day 6: 

It dawned clear and bright and we headed out early doors to thoroughly work Hoswick. A Great Northern Diver was in the bay from the living room and our first YBW called from the garden, audible from the hall... so not too bad a start while still pulling on the Muckmasters. 

The bottom of the Oli garden in Hoswick

Hoswick - our cottage almost dead centre

Between the four of us we covered the entire village and in my eastern section I found a Redstart, seven Willow Warblers and three more energetic YBWs. Robins flicked around in the sunshine and the local plump spotty Starlings positively glowed. Three Grey Wagtails came in off and a few Chaffinches pinged about. 

Shetland Starling

Shetland Starling

Sunny Hoodie

We picked up the car and trundled up valley to pick up Peter who had just found a Reed Bunting which we all managed to see, albeit distantly. This is a good Shetland bird and new one for me like so many species so far!  A cracking but silent Tree Pipit crept along in front of us and Redwings, Song Thrushes and countless Mipits adorned the fence line. Snipe erupted from the ditches and a glance out to sea revealed that some interesting weather was coming our way and that Sumburgh was already getting hit.

As such we retreated and popped over the hill to Sandwick to look for the putative Siberian Oystercatcher. It was not on the beach so we drove down to Noness as it was now raining and discovered our second Reed Bunting amongst the ruins of the various skeletons of long dead Robin Reliants. Another Redstart and several Robins were seen but there is no cover down there so we headed back to the bay where an obviously normal Oystercatcher was just departing. 

Reed Bunting
Rock Pipit
The fields around the church were full of Golden Plover and we discovered a single Bar-tailed Godwit, four Ruff and a few Redshank, Ringed Plovers and Turnstone amongst them but no funny Oik. A quick look at the bay again only confirmed its absence but three Twite showed well in the cemetery.

In a quandary as to what to do, we had just decided on a northwards jaunt and invoked the power of the ever so slightly mangled Double-Deckers. I had barely got the last mouthful in when I picked up the Pied Mollusc-lover in the Plover field! An odd looking, skinny bird with seemingly longer legs than the 'normal' ones and a brown back contrasting with and black head and chest. As for nasal groove percentages...

Siberian Oystercatcher


With that we piled back into the car and headed back north to Melby where a Rustic Bunting was now performing on the road where we had the Great Northern Diver. Fortunately I refound it ticking in the willows within a couple of minutes and it showed very well, grovelling in the verge over the next half hour. Tysties bobbed offshore and a Wheatear was on the beach with the Turnstones and Ringed Plovers.

Bunting watchers

Rustic Bunting

And a much better Tystie from Peter

News of a Pallas's Grasshopper Warbler way up at South Collafirth sent us back on the road as Peter had not seen one and it had been 16 years since my only one up on Blakeney Point. A purposeful 45 minute drive later we joined the crowd to take our chance and over the next hour superb views were had in flight and even on the deck at a very well organised twitch. Thanks especially to Andy Mears who let me look through his scope just as it climbed up into the open in the nettles. 

Pallas's Grasshopper Warbler - my atmospheric shot

The Iris Bed  - note the lack of birders in it please

and this was when it flew behind us and landed in the nettles before circling back to the iris bed

With the rain setting in we took our leave and within a few minutes we were in a horizontal deluge. Late lunch at Brae and then a drive out toward Aith (stopping for Tiffin at the Roadside Cake Fridge of Happiness) for a joke look for a Short-toed Lark in now truly appalling weather. 

I suggested that it may well be on the road as that is what they like in Lesvos and we drove past some desparate soul out tramping the fields and sure enough the sodden little blighter popped up right in front of the car and despite its waterlogged appearance it was feeding well on worms but could have certainly done with some time with a hairdryer! 

Honestly this is a Short-toed Lark
With that we called it a day and headed back to the snug cottage in Hoswick, and we were soon replete from a gargantuan chicken Sunday roast cooked once again by Peter with the wind and rain still howling outside.

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