Sunday 2 October 2016

Shetland - day 3

Dawn chez nous
Lots to tell, lots to tell. Today we were on a bird-finding mission. We, all alone, would find lots of rare birds up on north-west mainland. American birds mostly, but we would accept eastern vagrants in our bushes if absolutely necessary. It started well, with two Yellow-browed Warblers at Tangwick Haa in a garden the size of my greenhouse. It's ridiculous up here it really it, these fantastic gems outnumber all other warblers combined, I've seen nearly 30 in three days now and the way the weather charts are looking suggests I'll likely double that.

Eshaness was quiet - lots of Golden Plover but little else of note - certainly not the flocks of Semi-P and Buffies that we had been banking on. Nevermind, on to the next bushes, up on one of the longer Voe's that point due north. A spectacular garden here held no fewer than four Yellow-broweds, which is crazy when you think about it. There I was worrying that I'd missed the 2016 influx. As it stands it may only just be starting.

Then it all went wrong. Lanceolated Warbler at Boddam. Boddam which is basically at Sumburgh. Lanceolated Warbler that Bradders and Bob both need.  We carried on birding up north, pushing harder than ever for that gross mega-find

Boddam was heaving, a good 80 people crowded along a fence line peering into a tangled garden. Pager bleeps, mobile phones, shuffling, groaning, audible angst bordering on panic as desperation set in. I saw one bloke punch the air..... This hadn't really been in my plans today. I would have been fine with it had the plan been to stick down south and soak in the combined finds of millions of birders revelling in the obvious arrival of stuff from the east, but it felt like a rendition. Of course had it been a PG Tips that would have been totally different.... The bird showed blindingly, my second up here and as good as the first. Ninja-like I snuck in beneath the feet of the thundering herd and sat down next to the fence. Within about five minutes I had the Lancy down to about 30cm as it crept around like an avian mouse right in front of me, amazing views even if it didn't walk over my foot like it did for some. Job done I backed out and went birding, finding another YBW. Who would have thought it.

With all the boys also now one Lancy to the good it was time to leave, so we went to Hestingott to find more birds. Unfortunately the only birds present were Yellow-browed Warblers... Bored of these we twitched a pod of Orca from Sumburgh Head and Scatness. Distant but spectacular. Onwards to Geosetter where we found three more YBW, and then at Ellister another six. Minke in Levenwick Bay for another UK mammal tick and then back up to Muckle Roe. A full day by any stretch of the imagination, and the team inornatus count is now 56. A fish supper showed briefly, as did the Aurora, and with the easterly conveyer belt in full swing tomorrow could be very interesting indeed.

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