Friday 9 November 2018

Shetland Day 8 & 9: 6th & 7th October 2018

Our final day dawned bright but cool and the threat of squally showers was never far away and with them the now expected rainbows.

Muckle Roe

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. 

Busta House

Mealy Redpoll

Mealy Redpoll

Mealy Redpoll
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.

Icelandic Redwing
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 spot.

Melodious Warbler
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
Rock Dove
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

Hooded Crow


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.

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...

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