Friday 1 October 2010


Shetland beckons. Not long now. According to my contacts up there, it is FREEZING. Yesterday, here in Wanstead, I was gardening in my shirt sleeves, so the wind-chill factor could be tough. The Siberian Rubythroat will no doubt warm me up though. You know that feeling when you go on holiday? The plane lands, and as you step out of the door onto the steps you are assaulted by a wall of stiflingly hot air. It's going to be like that, but subtly different.

Can't wait. The forecast has the potential to be monster. The President of the British Birding Association, who so recently graced us with his presence on Wanstead Flats, has sent a missive saying that Shetland is going to be carpeted in rare vagrants. I've been tracking the various low pressure systems, and there is a biggun headed for Shetland. And with a high still sat over Scandinavia and birds actively migrating south, he could well be right, bless his little white cotton socks.

Bradders has been up there for about ten days now, and has seen hundreds of Barred Warblers, thousands of Yellow-brows, and millions of Lapland Buntings. He's also seen a PG Tips and a Buff-bellied Pipit. Mega, however I'd like to think that those are just the warm up acts, and that the real show is about to start. We've got ourselves ready with a cheeky cast-iron Alder Flycatcher in Norfolk, and with that safely tucked away, we can now start with the properly rare birds. The sky is the limit really.

I've just been packing, trying desperately to outwit the hand-luggage gestapo. You're basically allowed a match-box on the actual plane, and then a real suitcase in the hold. The trouble is that I don't want to put any of my stuff in the suitcase, lest it end up on Ebay by the weekend, so it's the match-box I'm struggling with. The dimensions are somewhat un-500mm-friendly. It will actually fit lengthways in the rear pocket of my coat, but this may cause me to repeatedly fall over backwards in the departure lounge. No doubt I'll think of something crafty, and if I don't, well all I need is bins really.

So, very excited indeed. I'm basically ready, all I need to do is buy a couple of double-decker multipacks, and pack my toothbrush. A quick plane ride, and then I'll be wading knee-deep through grounded Sibes, kicking dross like Bluetails aside in my quest for the big one. The only slight concern is that I don't know what the big one is, and probably wouldn't recognise it anyway, but I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.

In addition to a large haul of Sibes, we expect to report many sightings of Gadwall


  1. I bet you could do some damage up there.

    Let's hope there are no Spotted Flys that need sorting out.

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