Saturday October 2nd
The trip did not start well. After an early start, we arrived at Gatwick to be told our plane was broken and that there was no way we could get on to Shetland today. You are having a laugh, right? Sadly not, the first leg was delayed, we would therefore miss the flight to Sumburgh, unless....
Two taxis booked to Birmingham, where we made an alternative flight to Edinburgh on a working plane, and on to Shetland only an hour or so later than originally planned. Not ideal, but at least we were there. Collect suitcases, chuck them in the Lighthouse, and get birding. Sounds like a plan.
Er, where's my suitcase? The one with all my clothes and my tripod in it. And my Double Deckers. Genius. Sod it, deal with it later, we needed to get birding. A timely text from Bradders, already on holiday for a couple of weeks, contained news of a possible Booted or Sykes's Warbler at Channerwick. Seeing as I didn't have any unpacking to do, we went straight there.
Crap views of a pale warbler, mostly in flight, though perched a couple of times, left me none the wiser. It was definitely one of the two, and seeing as either was a new bird for me, happy days. The general concensus was that it was a Booted, the most likely in any event, and as it appeared we weren't going to get any better views, we decided to head for Quendale where there was another Booted Warbler that might perform more satisfactorily.
About a mile down the road south I got a call from John H of the Drunkbirders, to say that they had just flushed a Swainson's Thrush from the quarry at Levenwick. Would that be the Levenwick about a mile ahead? It would. Cue some outrageous driving from the Monkey and we were on site literally moments later. The Thrush had flipped over the top of the quarry and been lost, so after a few introductions we split up to look for it. A distant Song Thrush had us going, but happily the bird was located in a nearby garden and showed superbly on a dry stone wall. Well done John, Dave and Andy, what a start!
Two new birds in about two hours. At this rate I'll be on 500 by the end of the week, possibly sooner. It was basically dark at this point so we headed back to the lighthouse. I unpacked, oh no my mistake, Flybe had lost my suitcase. I must have done something else instead. Wept maybe. Not to worry, I had the camera, and amazingly had had the foresight to strap a monopod onto the side of the bag in the incredibly unlikely event that a two-bit budget airline might misplace a large blue suitcase with my tripod in it. No chance of that surely?
We ate dinner at the Sumburgh hotel, had a couple of beers (where couple = 20), and I went to sleep in my clothes.
Bird count: Swainson's Thrush, Booted Warbler, Barred Warbler, Yellow-browed Warbler.