Thursday 16 November 2017

Shetland 26th September - 8th October 2017: Day 10

5th October 2017: Day 10:

Just when we thought that the weather could not get any worse it did just that and whereas we had had mini-breaks in the wind and rain, today was an almost continuous onslaught of driving rain squalls but after a moderate lay in we still hit the Hoswick patch before heading out although we only got male Merlin, Whinchat, a couple of YBW’s and a Slavonian Grebe and three Tysties in the bay. 

Even Bradders succumbed to breakfast rather than go out early...

Our first stop was Wester Quarff but it was just too windy and the garden only coughed up a Lesser Whitethroat and three Chiffchaffs so we moved onto Gott where a Rosefinch had been reported and although we did not find it we were pleased to locate two pairs of Parrot Crossbills bimbling heftily between the lochside pines and the wonderful garden up the road. They perched up briefly before disappearing round the back and out of sight. Five Siskins were coming down feed but it was otherwise quiet.   

Whale skull at Easter Quarff

Wester Quarff

A male Merlin gave some Lapwing a fright and the family of Mute Swans on the Loch included two Polish amongst their brood of three. We utilised the first of our bus stops as a temporary shelter and bird hide as the next wave came in.

Getting out of the rain in Gott

The rest of the morning was a very damp squib and we were checking out the Catfirth plantation for more Crossbills with pies in hands when we got news that the Buff-bellied Pipit of yesterday had returned to Grutness and so some filthy twitching ensued as we once again headed back south.
The bird was immediately on view by the harbour car park feeding on the short turf around the little flood alongside. Birders lined the wall and in a rare break in the weather we enjoyed ten minutes of this transatlantic Pipit parading around at just a few yards range completely oblivious to the appreciative chat and firing of cameras. This one was so much closer than the two near the Queen Mother Reservoir several years ago and a genuine education. It flew of its own accord and uttered several distinctive calls somewhere between a Grey Wagtail and a Blue Tit to my ear and hopefully one day I will find one on call myself. 

Buff-bellied Pipit

I am not one for mutiple images but this bird changed appearance with every shot and was very engaging...

The weather once again turned as we headed up to the quarries but other than a nice Mealy Redpoll, high flying Merlin and some great galloping Shetland Ponies it was just too windy and the incoming rain saw us scurry for shelter once again. The Pipit had returned to its field and we popped back for another look in between showers while two female and a male Long-tailed Duck rocketed behind us..


Great Black-backed Puffin Swallower


This little video shows just how tame the BBP was!

Leaving the Buffy in situ, the temptation of a showy Snow Bunting almost up to Sumburgh lighthouse saw us watching this lovely male from the car where is shuffled around trying not to get blown over the edge. 

Snow Bunting

A Swallow followed us up and down the road, circling the car in tight circles and was obviously but almost suicidally using us as a moving windbreak in its struggle to find insects.

Waders at Pool of Virkie comprised ten species including 12 Bar and six Blackwits, Ruff, Grey Plover and two Knot but it was not clement enough to get out and scan for the Curlew Sandpiper! Coffee by the otter-less rocks of Boddam added another three Slavonian Grebes and some very cheery haybales before Bradders forced us back out of the car to firstly check out the bird free Sycamore of Happiness at Channerwick and then to look for the Cunningsburgh Rustic Bunting although given the deluge Rusting may be more appropriate... another bus stop and a shed were utilised.

Slavonian Grebe at Boddam

It became known as the Cunning Bunting although other alternatives were available and freely used... It was in there somewhere...

Bradders and myself helpfully pointing out the number of times we dipped the Cunning Bunting

Back at Base Camp Hoswick we had just settled in and started dinner when news came through of a Booted Warbler 100 yards from the door. Wet gear back on in the gloom and rain for a last ditch look revealed no bird or fellow birders... there is always tomorrow morning...

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