Thursday 17 October 2013

Shetland trials

First of all, let me say that it's great to be back - I love it up here. It's a wonderful place to be, and there is practically nobody around. The birding, as is fairly normal, has been hard work. So far all interesting-looking birds have turned out to be Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs, but that's the name of the game up here. One minute you can be looking at Blackcap on a dry stone wall, the next bird that flits through your bins could be a sensation. Each morning starts with great excitement, and then you gradually get worn down throughout the day, such that on quiet days you can hardly bear to lift your bins again, knowing exactly what you won't be seeing. But when it's good......

Today was a quiet day for the most part. Little Bunting was the best of it until a I opened my first double decker of the holiday, whereupon an Isabelline Shrike and Citrine Wagtail appeared instantaneously. Three of our team needed the Wagtail, so the decision was easy, and off to Boddam we trotted. Like many rarities on Shetland, it showed superbly, and all five of us ended the day on a high. You will note that we are now five; we have acquired Marco from West Ham. Unbeknownst to all of us he was up on Orkney, gallivanting, and in the middle of the night boarded the ferry that Bradders, Nick and Matt were on. Apparently they were quite surprised to find him wandering around the MV Hrossey as it steamed into Lerwick, and I guess he was quite surprised to see them too.

The guys were kind enough not to find the big one whilst I was still sat at work in London, and so on Wednesday afternoon I set off the vast distance to City Airport for what I hoped would be a straightforward trip to Sumburgh. How wrong I was. I have yet to have a non-traumatic flight to Shetland - this time a huge delay on the London leg put the Shetland leg almost beyond reach, and so for a time I was looking at spending the night in Aberdeen. As it turned out, the Shetland flight was delayed too, and so I made it, but with minutes to spare. My suitcase, alas, did not, and as I type this on my second evening here, it is still in transit somewhere, though allegedly getting closer all the time. Extremely annoying, as it contains many things that I would like to have. Like pants.

Happily I was sensible enough to keep my bins on my person, as well as my camera, so birding has continued uninterrupted. So here are a few of the Wagtail. I wonder what tomorrow will bring?


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