Wednesday 1 October 2014

Shetland 2014 - day 4 and 5

Typical autumn weather of the sort you should expect on Shetland
Day 4
The penultimate day of my epic, and one that started in a good way. As is my wont, early doors I was sat minding my own business on the Toilet of Death, when I perceived a cry from Howard. Something about a Poopoo. Well, tough, I got here first. More insistent this time. "Hoopoe on the roof!!" It could have been a trick of course, but nevertheless I sprang into action from a sitting start, exited the bathroom and rushed to the back door where H was gesticulating excitedly. He had opened the back door for a spot of fresh air, and in the half-light had detected a Hoopoe sitting on the roof of the owners' cottage, which was adjacent to the croft building we were staying in. Only H could do this, what other bird can be identified so easily as a silhouette? It was still there, and with remarkable presence of mind I grabbed my camera which was conveniently parked by the door, dialed in an approximate exposure, and fired away to record the bird for time immemorial. Then the resident Hoodie swept in and flushed it off.

Did that really just happen? 

Yes, I think it did.

I retired back to the Toilet of Unhappiness, where things got going again. Once done, we proceeded up towards Lunna, and spent a massively unrewarding morning birding there, Sweening and Vidlin, site of my OBP triumph last year. Hopeless, there had obviously been a bit of a clear out, that or all the birds had funneled south. We changed tactics and headed for Whalsay, which I wrongly thought would be an island tick for me until I recognised almost everywhere we went. This was still hard work, but we ended up with a few more Yellow-browed Warblers, two Common Rosefinch together, a very showy RB Fly following a home-owner's invitation to go into his garden, and best of all, a Dunnock. I jest not, Dunnock is a pretty rare autumn migrant on Shetland, and nailing this one in a plantation took the best part of an hour. My sixth visit to the islands, and my first Dunnock - I've seen more Pechora and Buff-bellied Pipits here.

This photo was taken in the dark. I love IS.
We arrived home to find that some Hoopoe dippers had discovered a Yellow-browed Warbler in our garden.....

Day 5

So, another day, another Yellow-browed Warbler, and of course it fell to Howard to open the back door of the cottage and immediately hear the bird. We had expected it to be present given it had been pelting it down all night, but it was just too easy. No Double Deckers even needed. 

As it happened, today ended up being all about Yellow-browed Warblers, and we ended up with six birds, to take my trip total up to a healthy 23. There was one at Hoswick, two at Geosetter, one at Cunnigsburgh, and another at Grutness, which ended up being the last bird I saw, as at half three it was all over for another year and I was sat in Sumburgh airport waiting for my flight to Aberdeen. Only one tick, though I did claw the now long-staying Masked Shrike back, but heaps of quality seen. Where else, in four and a half days, could you see the following list of goodies?

Pechora Pipit
Rusting Bunting
Arctic Warbler
Subalpine Warbler x 2
Red-backed Shrike
Little Bunting
Red-breasted Flycatcher x 6
Barred Warbler x 3
Common Rosefinch x 3
Yellow-Browed Warbler x 23

Howard terrifies a very small horse
"Sheep of the Week"

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