Thursday 14 October 2010

Shetland: Day 7: Mainland

Friday October 8th

Once again started at Sumburgh, and it seemed that yesterday's birds were still in residence, with almost identical numbers of Spotted Flycatchers and Wheatears seen. Not much else so we headed to Scatness, there to encounter an extremely friendly local birder, all too happy to share his patch with visitors. He didn't in any way patrol his patch like an arrogant bulldog and shout a lot at all and sundry, no not at all, that would be way off the mark and completely wrong. I look forward to welcoming him in Wanstead.

We left. Wanker.

We were birding Quendale again when news of a Red-flanked Bluetail at Geosetter filtered through. BLUETAIL! Sweet baby moses! Although no longer a mega following a run of birds in recent years, it still classifies as a must-see bird. I saw one in Norfolk a couple of years ago, and have been itching to see another ever since.

The bird did not disappoint, and showed at pretty much point-blank range. Phenomenal is all I can say, and it almost knocked the Hornemann's Arctic Redpoll off top spot. Almost, but not quite - the Redpoll was that good.

What more can you say about a Red-flanked Bluetail? Dream bird, and to get one as showy as this, well, wonderful. The bird was in feeding mode, constantly on the move, behaving like a Flycatcher quite a lot of the time, swooping from fences to feed and then landing again. We watched it for probably two hours, and also picked up another two Yellow-browed Warblers, a Spotted Flycatcher, and our first Pied Flycatcher of the trip.

We eventually tore ourselves away and checked out a couple more sites on the way back home. Channerwick had a Red-breasted Flycatcher that I missed, and another Yellow-browed Warbler, and at Sumburgh I located yet another Yellow-browed whilst looking for a Pallas's Warbler that had been reported. The area was carpeted with Goldcrests, clearly there had been some kind of afternoon fall.

Tomorrow was shaping up nicely.

Running Bird count: Buff-breasted Sandpiper x 2, Glaucous Gull, Short-toed Lark, Buff-bellied Pipit, Citrine Wagtail, Red-flanked Bluetail, Swainson's Thrush, Radde's Warbler, Booted Warbler Sykes Warbler, Pallas's Grasshopper Warbler, Lanceolated Warbler, Barred Warbler, Yellow-browed Warbler x 10, Hornemann's Arctic Redpoll, Little Bunting, Black-headed Bunting.


  1. Great read (as always). I'm green with envy. The problem I would suffer from, though, is every-day birding depression after a trip like that...

  2. Yep, I've got it badly. Patch-birding in Wanstead miserable. Need to find something - a Lap would cheer me up I reckon.

  3. Love that last shot of the Bluetail! Belated thanks for letting Jon Dunn know about the Pallas's south of Geosetter and sorry to hear of your incident with you-know-who at Scatness - seems you are not alone. Great to see Martin briefly in between all his dashing around!