Our final day dawned bright but cool and the threat of
squally showers was never far away and with them the now expected rainbows.
A final birdless look at Busta House and then into Brae for
a look around the community woodland which on previous days had been blown out
by the wind. It was, like so many places we had looked at deathly quiet and in
fact the family party of four Mealy Redpolls in the Alders were practically the
only signs of life. They were very tame
and allowed some great views.
The gardens at Sandgarth were next and we had them to
ourselves. It always feels so rare there
but it was hard going with just single Siskins and Bramblings, seven Mealy Redpolls
and a Blackcap for our time.
|Sandgarth looking to Dales Voe|
News on the rediscovery of the Pechora up on Unst at
Haroldwick left us torn as to what to do.
Getting there and back would be tight for us to make our evening ferry
connection and we would have only had about 90 minutes to play with and so with
little news we chose to keep birding mainland and headed back up to Lunna
passing a couple of dark Icelandic Redwings on the way.
The Melodious Warbler that caused us so much trouble on our first
day was still present but covering a huge circuit taking in all the available vegetated
gardens but it showed incredibly well wherever it managed to feed out of the
breeze and in the sunshine. It had a
penchant for the numerous sluggish Bluebottles equally trying to find a warm
|and one from Pete Moore|
It was quite pleasing to discover that it still showed a
secondary wing panel and bluish legs so at least we were not imagining that on
our first visit.
|The view acros East Lunna Voe to Vidlin Voe|
|...and just a few minutes later|
A summer plumaged Great Northern Diver was found on the way
out of Lunna in Grunna Voe – our first of the trip and always a welcome bird in such
magnificent spangled plumage.
|Great Northern Diver|
|Laxfirth down to the left and South Nesting Bay ahead where Porpoises played|
A look around Garth provided us with more views and some funky
graveyard lichens but almost nothing avian bar some obliging Lapwings.
|Looking north east across the Vadill of Garth|
|Eswick looking north west to Whalsay to the mid-distance left and the Out Skerries in the far distance about 17 miles away|
From here we headed west and out across the island of Tronda
and on to West Burra before stopping at the very end at Papil.
A delightfully relaxing hour was spent walking down towards
the crescent of sandy beach at Banna Minn with Wester Quarff opposite to the east
and then the entire western coast of Mainland heading south towards Dunrossness
and the imposing (and still doubled Yankee Sparrowed) Foula 25 miles off to the
|West Burra looking across East Burra towards Dunrossness in the far distance|
|Banna Minn across the Kame of Riven Noup with Foula 25 miles away in the distance|
The sky was blue, the clouds white and fluffy, the waves
lapped upon a beach strewn with nothing but silver sand and the odd pebble and
I had a beautiful tortoiseshell cat keeping me company as I sat and watched
Mergansers diving in unison offshore.
|Banna Minn Beach|
|She was very cute...|
|...and loved Bob too|
|I was content.|
It was time to start heading towards Lerwick and the 12
hours of bobbing on the ferry back to Aberdeen. Thankfully it was once again
uneventful and we arrived on time and disembarked equally smartly.
The journey homewards was as long but good humoured as usual
but the North Sea sunrise was simply spectacular and the sight of literally
tens of thousands of Pink-feet streaming out of Loch Leven across a rolling Perthshire
landscape peppered with swashes of gold, red, orange and brown painted pictures
in the mind that simply do not fade...