Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Pied-billed Grebe 1st for Shetland 04/11/2017

As all big rarities they are unexpected, jaw dropping and very inconsiderate of timing.

On the 4th of November I was thinking the rarity season would be over, I was getting ready for a friends birthday in Whalsay when the messaging system went off with a King Eider in Wester Quarff found by Russ Haywood, it was a personal bogey bird of mine and it was also a drake which made me more inclined to go but I still had a lot of planning to do before the party so it would have to wait til next weekend.

Fast forward to 20 minutes later and my phone went off again with a rarity message from Roger Riddington 'Pied-billed Grebe, Setter marsh Spiggie', it was safe to that after that my jaw hit the floor and I was rushed into action.

I quickly checked ferry times and I had just missed the 1245 ferry and would have to wait til 1430 for the next one, that gave me a bit of time to prepare but also not much chance of getting it as I would only get there around 1600 and it would almost be dark then.

I phoned up my friend Harry who I was taking to Whalsay and told him to be ready for 2pm, I then arranged for transport across the Mainland and everything was sorted, now time for the waiting game.

Come 1430 we were on the ferry and heading off of Yell and off Grebe hunting, by 1545 we were rolling up to the site, dark clouds were looming above and darkness was virtually upon us.

There was two cars on site, Roger Riddington and Julie Redpath, though nobody was outside, we pulled up and Julie got out to say she hadn't seen the bird in 30 minutes......

Julie kindly got out her scope to give it a try at least and I began scanning the marsh for this American vagrant, it was hardly three minutes before Julie shouted that it was there! I rushed into action and Julie let me see in the scope, there it was!! it was getting difficult to properly identify things but you could tell this was little grebe shaped and looked a good piece bigger than a normal Little Grebe.

May be a dark silhouette but here it is! Shetland's first Pied-billed Grebe

Harry and my granddad Tommy got onto it and there was joy all around, several hugs were exchanged and it was great to see it even though the odds were against it.
Soon the light properly closed in and we struggled to see it with bins, Roger had returned after trying to photograph the Grebe, so I congratulated him and thanked him for finding the bird before we headed off and went to Whalsay.

This first for Shetland was my 279th bird for Shetland and for some people a long awaited first for Shetland.

Many thanks for Tommy for taking us down to see the bird and for Roger and Julie for help down at the twitch!

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