Saturday 13 October 2018

Shetland Day 1: 29th September 2018

After surviving another 12 hour sea crossing to Shetland, our first day on the islands was somewhat turbulent weather wise. 

It was already fairly inclement but with breakfast being the priority we headed straight for Fjara on the waterfront near Tesco for a hearty full Scottish.  Replete with many forms of meaty bi-product, eggs, toast and coffee we ventured forth and had quick scout along the same stretch of coast for the Little Egret seen the previous day.  This is still a rare bird up here and none of us had encountered one here before but it was not to be seen but there was suitable recompense in the shape of a rather large dog Otter finishing off his breakfast on the rocks while three Purple Sandpiper were found amongst the Turnstones.  Gannets plunged into the steely blue and Eider, Bonxie and Tysties were quickly added.

Blurry Otter in rain and wind and very poor light... a list of excuses!

The rain had set in and with nothing whatsoever to chase, we opted to head straight for our digs at Orwick Lodge on the island of Muckle Roe where we stayed in 2016. Nineteen Wigeon bobbed on the adjacent loch along with seven Mergansers and Curlew and Snipe were seen around the edges while we drank our first cup of tea.

Orwick Water from the living room

With the weather marginally improving we headed out to explore passing a silky juvenile Arctic Tern at Roe Sound as we passed back over the bridge to Mainland.

Busta House was far too windy but Lower Voe and Loch of Voe wood provided some shelter from the string westerly but still only yielded two large noisy North-western type Redpolls, Siskin, Robin, two Goldcrest , Chiffchaff, three Blackbird and a couple of Woodpigeon. This was obviously going to be hard work.

Busta House

Busta House

Ringed Plover at Busta House

Lower Voe

Sheep pelvis with a mossy skin

A tailless Whooper Swan was on Kirkhouse Loch just before Vidlin and an immature male Tufted Duck had us momentarily going with its patchy back. Swining was blown out but a Pied Flycatcher did the decent thing and literally popped up next to us but there were no warblers to be found.

Whooper Swan



Continuing out to Lunna Kirk was certainly scenic and there were plenty of Rock Doves around the farms but again, no migrants until David found a warbler in the nettles within the wall enclosed ram pen. Staring into the wind at a ground feeding is not ideal but, from looking at photos later on we concluded that the pale wing panel and blue grey legs pointed very firmly at it being an Icterine Warbler and that was how we put the news out at that point.

Lunna looking north

Lunna Kirk

A most wondrous gravestone

Lunna Ram #1

Lunna Ram #2

Lunna Ram #3 - if someone can help me with the breeds please that would be great!

The Lunna hippolais warbler... (Peter Moore)

Back at Vidlin a walk around the village did not yield anything with the large roving Sparrow flock and I was entertained by the Hooded Crows dropping mussels into the road from height to crack them open much in the same way that the Carrion Crows do at Rainham with Walnuts in the car park!  A female Merlin zipped energetically past us as we called it a day.

Gang of Hoodies...


Not the best of starts but we were at least trying and there is something about just being up here that lifts the soul.

We headed through the squalls and multiple rainbows all the way home where a beer and a Peter chilli set us up nicely for the evening.

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