Saturday the 8th of November 2014
Tommy came up on the 8.15 am ferry, armed with bins and food to head into Unst, our reason? the Pied Wheatear.
That elusive bird was still there and it was time for us to get it.
By 9 we were in Unst and by 9:35 we were already at Haroldswick, I got out and started scanning the first line of fence posts and there was the Wheatear!!!!!!
I told Tommy and we both got eyes on the bird, I got my camera and rattled off some shots while the bird moved along the fence line in front of us.
The bird flew off onto the beach and we lost it, never to see it again.
Pied Wheatear, Lifer and No. 223 on my Shetland List!
We decided to work our way north before having to head back for the ferry, we were going by the camp when I spotted a corvid on the grass in front of us.I got my "bins" on it and it was all black and smaller than a Hooded Crow!! it went round the side of a building and I ran after it, a few pics and views later we decided it was a juvenile Rook, my first on Unst!
Up to Norwick next and the garden at Valyie was pretty good with Woodcock, Dunnock, Snow Bunting, 5 Goldcrest, 4 Blackcaps, 1 Kestrel and 11 Chaffinches!! but also Tufted Duck and 6 Redpolls were elsewhere.
Also a couple of Rock Pipits were around Norwick
And here is the Dunnock, my first on Unst
Back south and we met Rob Brookes and Larry Dalziel hunting for the Pied Wheatear and in Baltasound we went hunting for a Little Gull which Rob & Brydon had told us about, but of course no luck.
We were back down on the 1140 when I got a text from Rob about a Grey Phalarope at Haroldswick!! sadly we couldn't head back for it and so we went south, getting a Rook in Mid Yell (Yell Tick) and hearing about a Rough-legged Buzzard in Unst!
(We don't seem to be doing to well with northern vagrants today do we?).
The Rook in Mid Yell, certainly wasn't scared of cars, it was on the edge of the road!
On the 1230 from Ulsta and then via Brae for an hour I got a text from Dave Okill about a Grey-cheeked Thrush in Rerwick, South Mainland!! I was going to get it!
One stop on the way for a jacket in Lerwick before we zipped down for it, arriving at the scene which already had a few twitchers (and then some more).
It took me 10 minutes to see the bird and get a three shots before it hopped off!
Grey-cheeked Thrush, Lifer and No.224 on my Shetland List! nice addition of east meets west today
I was speaking to George Petrie and Jim Nicolson while waiting for the bird and George said the Red-flanked Bluetail was still at Geosetter so seeing as we had some light we went for it.
I got out at Geosetter and had a quick look around, I crossed over the bridge and a small bird flew onto the fence, bins raised and it was the Bluetail! the orange stripe very prominent.
I ran back to Tommy (and my camera...) and we moved into action! though the bird never showed itself again I did get some Goldcrests and a Woodcock.
It was time to head back north so we were off, on the way Dave sent me a text about a 2nd Bluetail in Voe.... time for seconds?
We came down to Lower Voe but we weren't sure if we were in the right place so we spent the next 15 minutes getting confused and not ending up seeing the Bluetail but the one was quite nice.
Sunday the 9th of November 2014
Today I was due to head out Swan counting with Dave Okill, and after a get together last night with a couple of old friends I was up and ready to go.
Tommy and I had a quick look at Voe and thanks to the help of Larry Dalziel and Dave Gifford I saw the Red-flanked Bluetail! 2nd in two days!
A couple of Bramblings
Anyways we met Dave at Petta Water, a few miles south of Voe and that was me off Swan Counting.
Every year an organised count is done on the peak numbers of Swans in Shetland.
Our first few lochs came up with no birds but at Stromfirth the only bird we saw was a Slavonian Grebe which was quite nice.
Next was Laxfirth and that pulled up 1 Mute Swan, round the Loch of Tingwall and Asta there was 6 Whoopers and 4 Long-tailed Ducks.
A quick dash to Scalloway produced 2 Robins, 2 Blackcaps, 1 Woodpigeon and 2 Chiffchaffs with one being a Siberian.
Anways we checked the final Swan lochs and they were none! we ended the count on 7 birds, not the number we expected.
A look in Lerwick found my Sea Kale still intact and 9 Long-tailed Ducks on the sea at Breiwick.
Also this Black Redstart was at Norstane, Lerwick though afterwards I doubted the ID because of my overexposed photo
We went up north to Kergord to try and get a Sparrowhawk, when we'd first started Dave had got a call about a Dusky Warbler up north in Sandgarth and a Green-winged Teal in Muckle Roe, both we year ticks.
Dave thought I should call Tommy to take me back north so I could get them and that's what happened, 15 minutes later and Tommy and I were off for the Dusky Warbler.
Well in the end I couldn't find the bird but I did see a Woodcock which wasn't half bad, so next was Muckle Roe, a place I hadn't been in years, and our destination, Orwick Water.
We arrived to the Loch and I started scanning for Teal, there was a group of 30 odd on the far bank and they were pretty distant but I picked out the Green-winged!! number 176 for this year in Shetland! I broke my previous record of c172, there was a few changes made to last years one as I had to take off a few birds.
Its the bird in the middle with the very faint, vertical white strip
But really that ended our day, I was back up to Yell for the night as school was in the morning.
I have to say though I had a fantastic weekend, the amount of birds I saw was great, for November five rarities of four species isn't bad along with two lifers!
But I have to thank Tommy as he drove me to all of these birds and back again, Dave as well for sending me the info when it came out and to all the birders in between who told me of birds along the way.