Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Shetland 26th September - 8th October 2017: Day 9

4th October 2017: Day 9:

The machine gun rattle of rain ensured that we were up bright and very breezy this morning and out of the door before sun up to ensure we were at Kergord Plantation by 0730 to give us the best chance of locating last night's Olive-backed Pipit. Our first belated Merlin cruised over high and freaked out a couple of Wood Pigeons and the Rooks. The wood was quiet and I unfortunately put up what was undoubtedly the OBP but it flew straight up into the canopy and was not seen again despite giving it time to return to the grassy hollow is erupted from. 

Kergord Plantation

Kergord Plantation from the upper plot
Three YBWs called and there were a few Blackcaps, Goldcrests and Robins and a female Sparrowhawk was harried by Hoodies. We ventured up to the higher plantation which was far better on the inside than it looks but a good look round only produced a few Chaffinches until l three of us independently heard the jooping of Parrot Crossbills as at least two birds flew above us invisibly.

On returning to the road I picked up a female bird heading into the wood calling and two males and a female were seen stripping spruce cones shortly afterwards. Five Siskins, two Brambling and four Mealy Redpolls completed a good little haul.

Parrot Crossbills

Parrot Crossbills

News of a Rustic Bunting at Lower Voe had us leaping in the car as it was on route to our ferry connection and it was seen immediately on arrival grovelling in the verge. If anything a better marked one than the Melby individual. With roadside viewing on a blind bend becoming the only option and not wishing to see splattered birders, we soon moved on to catch the ferry from Toft to Yell. 

Rustic Bunting
A large Stoat carrying a damp and deceased Starling dashed across the car park at Toft and a single Bar-tailed Godwit was with Curlews

Stoat with dinner - Peter Moore

The Yell Rally then unused to get us to the terminal at Gotcher. Bob spotted an Otter as we pulled up and after a short wait this chunky lad was seen swimming back to shore with lunch but dived and was not seen again.

Otter - Peter Moore

Once on Unst we headed straight for Skaw in the hope that the Red-throated Pipit would still be around and despite mixed news, the double braced beauty popped up right next to the car on a post. We all raised bins and only twigged when it dropped down! Excellent views were had in the grass before it zoomed off over the house. It took about an hour to refind it when it returned to the same spot and in giving us the run around it led to us inadvertently finding a Tree Pipit too. It even came down onto the beach and ran around with a Whinchat.  

Skaw- remember the White's Thrush rocks?

Pipit stalking - Skaw

Red-throated Pipit

Red-throated Pipit
Red-throated Pipit - Peter Moore

Tree Pipit - Peter Moore

Blackcaps, Lesser Whitethroats and Chiffchaffs flicked around the sheep pens and Rock Pipits fed with Starlings, White Wagtails, Ringed Plovers, Turnstones and Redshanks on the tideline.

Ringed Plover

White Wagtail

A thick carpet of Shags were piled up on the grassy clifftop until a couple of passing Bonxies spooked them and the rough sea was alive with sheering Gannets and Fulmars.

Best Axminster...
Thanks to Peter Moore for this fetching picture of me in full Shetland mode, complete with wet gear, ginger winter pie catcher beard, the actual pie to be caught, appropriate optics, fingerless gloves (to aid holding of said steak pie) and never-been-there-but-it-is-a-real-one Fair Isle hat
We retraced our steps to Norwick (passing the Popemobile) and some poking about only dug out a few Redstarts, Robins, Blackcaps, a Reed Warbler and Swallow so we moved onto Halligarth which was a bit too windy and only gave us a Pied Flycatcher and a timely phone call from Dave Fairhurst had us walking briskly to the car as he was watching a perched White-tailed Eagle just up the road. 

Popemobile - it even says it on the side...

Redstart - Norwick

Redstart at Saxavord

Wheatear at Saxavord
And a roadside Curlew
Dave and his group kindly stayed with the bird till we arrived and his bus made a handy windbreak for us to scope this magnificent full adult at great range on the far side of Loch of Watlee. What a bird and even at such distance the full yellow bill, pale head and white tail stood out. What a superb bonus.

Notice the landslip...

Zoom a bit closer...

Keep going.... what a beast!

Some searching around the Nettle Bed of Lund gave us spectacular views in some brief sunshine across the deserted beach and we added Cryptic Mallard to the list as Peter and I managed to walk right past a drake on a small pool that suddenly erupted into flight without us seeing it. If we could not see that how were we going to find LBJ’s?


Uyeasound added four Goldeneye to the trip list with a flotilla of 19 Tufted Ducks and it was nice to reminisce at the spot of last year’s Siberian Thrush triumph...

Uyeasound- Happy Sibe palpitations...

And the Hoodies on the quay were entertaining

Along with a few Ravens
Two ferries later were we sitting down to see fine haddock and chips in Frenchie’s of Brae before chasing the full moon all the way back to Hoswick...

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