Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Shetland: Day 4: Mainland

Tuesday October 5th
A hard day in near gale-force winds made for poor birding. We tried a number of sites on South Mainland but saw very little. The best bird was another Yellow-browed Warbler found after over two hours of slogging through iris beds at Quendale. Overall scant reward for many hours of effort, but I imagine that this is the norm on Shetland.

Seeing as there are no birding highlights, let me introduce the team. First, Paul and The Monkey. They both adore junk food and like to wash it down with Nelson Mandelas. On this trip, malt whisky chasers also featured rather heavily. It is amazing that they actually got out in the mornings.

The other two are Steve and Vince. Both big-time listers, they were stunned to get a tick in the form of the Sykes's Warbler.

In the background is one of our hire cars. It had a 0.35L engine and had to be pushed up hills. If you look close to Vince's leg you can see a hole that he put in the bumper by reversing into a sharp piece of farm machinery at Quendale Mill. Unfortunately I was not there to see this happen, but having spent the last two days birding with them after the others had gone, I expect the atmosphere was somewhat lively! Although both cars were naff beyond description, they did their job and got us to all the places we wanted to go. Throughout our trip we listened to Sibe FM.

The Sumburgh Hotel. The only place to go in the evenings, although the Gurka Curry House in Lerwick featured more than once. My diet was terrible, grease and alcohol. I came out in spots and felt awful most mornings. Once home, I attacked the vegetable box in the fridge, and a steady intake of White Burgundy is restoring my natural balance.

Running Bird count: Buff-breasted Sandpiper x 2, Glaucous Gull, Short-toed Lark, Buff-bellied Pipit, Citrine Wagtail, Swainson's Thrush, Radde's Warbler, Booted Warbler Sykes Warbler, Pallas's Grasshopper Warbler, Lanceolated Warbler, Barred Warbler, Yellow-browed Warbler x 3, Black-headed Bunting.

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