Friday 30 September 2011

Birding on Unst

Another day, another island. Unst was one of my favourite places last year, so I was pleased that the team hadn't been before I arrived. After a quick dip of a Booted or Sykes's Warbler on the mainland, we were off up to Toft. Once again Yell didn't get a look in, the Prince Harry of birding islands, and we were straight over onto Unst to search for the Black-headed Bunting just yards from the quay at Belmont.

Tick and run. Well actually just run, as I saw one of these on Skerries last year. Whilst I'm not specifically complaining, if it could have been a different bunting sp that would have been handy. We carries on to Haroldswick where the Desert Lesser Whitethroat proved extremely obliging, and then onto Nordale, where the Bluethroat was a right sod. That said, it did lead us to the pine tree of birding dreams, which contained not only the Bluethroat, but a Yellow-browed Warbler, a Barred Warbler, a Goldcrest and a Willow Warbler. In between all this twitchery, we searched gardens and various little pockets of habitat, once again for little reward.

That's been the problem all week really - despite masses of effort, especially from this iris specialist, we have turned up very little. There hasn't been a hint of east all week, so very few birds are making it over. It has been very pleasant though, and the photographic opportunities have been great - having that extra dimension to this hobby means that even when pickings are slim I tend to have a good time. Amazingly I packed almost exactly the right amount of stuff, after agonising about what to bring for almost two weeks. Next time i won't bother with the waist belt and pouches, which have remained unused due to a plethora of pockets in my jacket being much easier, and ultimately more comfortable. Neither have I used my thermals, the weather here has been incredibly nice, verging on 20 degrees these past two days.

I'm leaving today on the evening boat, one last push for that self-found goody, and that'll be it for another year. Am I coming back? You betcha!

PS Mrs L, please can I come back next year?

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