Monday, 30 October 2017

Parrots and American Bellies

Its one of those times where you just have to expect the unexpected.
On the 2nd of October, Iceland had its 6th ever Parrot Crossbill, now this got me thinking, is this the start of a potential invasion? oh boy was I right.
It wasn't long (well only a day later actually) before news got out of around 5 Parrot Crossbills in Unst!! the first ones in Shetland for 23 years!
Though the one agonising thing was that I couldn't make it up there until the 4th.....
I had hope that they would stick about and a few people said that these things tended to hang around, though I also had a bit of a sneaky feeling that these were only the trickle before the flood gates of the invasion opened up.
And for once my sneaky feeling was right! the next day there was double figures of Parrot Crossbills in four locations across Unst and the Mainland, some were actually on my patch of Clickimin/Helendale just a fifteen minute walk away! That was enough to get me running out of school and towards Clickimin, luckily I met my Granny on the way who saved me the travel time by a bit and I began searching, Phil Harris and another birder were in Helendale so I asked if they'd seen the birds but sadly they hadn't, we spent a good bit of time looking around and then we split up to cover a few of the nearby streets but still nothing.
By this point I had to go as I was going to miss tea, also the sky had opened up so I was being drenched, personally I'd rather be warm and with a full belly than without.

The next day (4th) there was still Parrots in Lerwick, but with some easier to see birds at Ackrigarth next to Quoys in West Lerwick I decided to cut my losses and head there during my school lunch break with Tommy, we arrived to a gaggle of twitchers staring into a single conifer tree.
I headed up to talk to a few birders (which around a third were locals) and discovered the two Parrotbills were hidden in the top of the tree and hadn't been seen for around twenty minutes, so of course the only thing we could do was play the waiting game and wait til they came out.

Single conifers much favoured by Parrot Crossbills 

It's a beast!

Parrot Watchers

With all the excitement over I headed back to school and I did think that was going to be everything for the day but I was wrong.

I happened to be going up to the ferry with a friend of mine when my phone bleeped, I didn't think much of it but when I checked my heart dropped 'Buff-bellied Pipit Grutness around pools near toilet block', that was all I needed, I phoned my granddad and he was out the door before I'd even put down the phone, my friend dropped me in Voe and it was only 10 minutes later my granddad showed up and we were racing down to Sumburgh. 

Just over an hour later we arrived on site, it was hard to miss the huge line of birders along the coast road! When I got out the car I was met by a familiar face who I hadn't seen in quite a few years.
I first met Jason Moss way back in 2011/12 on Fair Isle when he was an Assistant Warden and I was just starting to get properly into birding, so really it was quite surprising to see him here since he hadn't been back in Shetland since then.

Jason kindly pointed out the bird, which was quite easy to see as it strutted its stuff along the edge of the pool, talk about good views!

Another great bird to see

I missed the bird that was down in the South Mainland a few years ago so it was good to catch up with this, only 15 minutes after I arrived it flew off and wasn't seen again for the rest of the day, talk about luck!

I hanged around for a while trying to relocate the bird but with no luck so I spent my time speaking with local South End birder Gary Bell before I headed back north and home.

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