Saturday, 26 October 2013

Shetland day 3: Siberian Rubythroats are puffs compared to Northern Bullfinch

Having not poisoned anyone with my cooking, again, we ventured south today, after a quick scan of the loch opposite Tescos in Lerwick, where Marco thought he might have seen a Ring-necked Duck the night before. We tried but only could find a small group of Goldeneye and a few Pochard.  The others tried to string a Scaup, but even that was beyond them.

First up Sandwick and the walled garden at Sand Lodge. It all looked promising, but wasn't, though Matt picked up the only Swallow of the tour, before he disappeared over the hill again. Bradders checked out the farm buildings while Marco and I went back to the village. While I was trying to coerce a shag on the beach, Marco had found a Shetland mega: Great-spotted Woodpecker. Yup!

Had to see it though didn't I?  Had to take pictures of it didn't I?  Well it soon got bored of the situation and decided to check out fence posts elsewhere, and so did we. Next stop the main part of the village and its burn, where last year a Sibe Stonechat, amongst other things, was to be found. What we did find is more Chiffs of various hues, Blackcaps - of course, and another Great spot, while Mr B scored the first Merlin.  Matt was already in Hoswick by now, while we dawdled, by various routes, down the hill. A cloud of Snow Bunting rose from a field between Marco and myself about the only thing of interest, but everything looked so promising!

In the car park of the Orca (birders now welcome) we picked up the most colourful bird of the trip, and probably in Shetland (at the time): a male Northern Bullfinch.  A massive bugger, and simply stunning.

More stops down the coast: first at the famed Channerwick, where loads of Jack Snipe were flushed and more arsey Blackcap and Robin gives us the proverbial finger before being nailed and then, after I had managed to climb up the hill to the car, Levenwick. The bay gives us Slavonian Grebe, though Marco and myself tried desperately hard to turn a Long-tailed Duck into another one: the state of moult... (yeagh right)

Quendale was thrashed all the way up to the shooting buts, again, and provided more ammunition for hating Blackcaps. Matt did find another Yellow-browed, which we all got to see, along a dry-stone wall south of the farm, and I flushed a probable Lapland Bunting, but it aint on the list cos we couldn't find its arse.

While Matt walks the coast, we motored in comfort to have a quick look at Vrykie: Bar-tailed Godwit tick, and another bloody woodpecker, then back up to Toab. By now the light was beating us so it was off to the Sumburgh Hotel for Mr B's Birthday Bash and to pick up a certain Mr L from the airport.

He was there but his baggage was still enjoying Aberdeen. Lol apparently!

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