6th October 2017: Day 11:
It was, after some early rain, the calmest day of the week although we rarely saw the sunshine. An early boot about Hoswick for the Booted Warbler reported the evening before did not produce the goods so we headed north as planned to Isbister where a Red-flanked Bluetail had been lurking. We were first there and it took some searching but I was delighted when the obscured wing of a bird under bush became a flashing blue tail as it darted past me. Our crew had the bird to ourselves for quite some time and it was very obliging when it to wanted too. Refinding this one brought back memories of the one that I found at Berry Head in Devon in 2005... Can it really be that long ago?
|Come on! Look at me!
From here we checked out various gardens in Collafirth, Ollabury, Orbister and Ronas Voe but it was generally quiet with a few Blackcaps, Phylloscs, Mealy Redpolls, two late Spot Flys, a Reed Warbler and the odd Redstart, Siskin, Chaffinch and Brambling.
|The Starling Blinged Sheep of Orbister
|The seductive sheep of Voe
News of an Arctic Redpoll back at Ollabury had Bob reconsidering an odd bird that he saw with sparrows there earlier. He only saw it briefly but it felt too big for a small finch. Ten minutes later we were back by the old church but it took over half an hour in failing light for a giant snowball of a Redpoll to appear. The white rump glowed and extended up into the mantle and it had wonderfully warm buff cheeks. It was very quickly apparent that we were looking at a Hornemann's Arctic. It was pretty confiding and shuffled around in the grassy fence edges occasionally showing off those amazing shaggy white trousers and flashing the white rump through long crossed wings.
|Hornemann's Arctic Redpoll
|The light was so low and the ISO so high that this one truly is 'Essence of Redpoll in flight'
|These last two crackers by Bob Vaughan
With the light fading we left it to continue feeding and made our way back south to the Brae chippy once again...