Wednesday, 2 October 2019

On this day...

France has had an Ovenbird and a Blackburnian Warbler. There are Yellow-billed Cuckoos and Red-eyed Vireos in the South West. Shetland has rare Shrikes by the dozen. Meanwhile I am in Canary Wharf, racing against other rats as usual. I had been planning to go to Shetland this year as I have not been since 2016, but the trip never really got off the ground and I ended up using my annual leave for something else. That something else has yet to happen, but I have high hopes. Shetland is unique however, and I wish I could be there. 

But I can't, so why not relive a few past glories? It's the 2nd of October today, the beginning of what I call the silly season. September largely sees the commoner rare birds, Little Buntings, Red-backed Shrikes, Barred Warblers etc, but it is really in October that things begin to hot up and the outrageous birds begin to appear.

The 2nd October was a 2010 was a case in point. It had been an anxious trip up to Shetland, with our flight from London cancelled and a mad dash in a taxi to Birmingham to catch another, which ultimately got us to Sumburgh on the same day, albeit with little time for birding. Somewhere along the way my suitcase disappeared but I had my binoculars so all was well. In the three or so hours before the daylight ended I'd seen a Syke's Warbler and a Swainson's Thrush, which had arrived on the island from entirely different directions. They breed, at a minimum, close to five thousand miles apart, yet on Shetland one was at Channerwick and the other at Levenwick, roughly one and a half miles apart. 

Amazing to think that this was nine years ago, how time flies. Three years ago, also on the 2nd of October and also on Shetland, I saw a Lanceolated Warbler creeping through some long grass, but it is the first afternoon of my maiden trip in 2010 that sticks in the mind, the start of a crazy week up there where I got six 'lifers'. Subsequent visits, six in total, have never managed to live up that first trip, but I'm feeling the urge to get up there again. Quite when I am not sure, but my tentative plan is to spend a month up there when I next get made redundant. I am a glass half full kind of guy.

As I have no UK autumn birding planned this year, this is advance warning that this type of post could feature again. Scanning down my list early to mid-October is rich in the kind of birds that bring out the urge to reminisce all too easily. I could just tweet them to far greater reaction, but where is the fun in that? Also I need to write a further 62 blog posts this year in order to equal last year's already meagre total. Quantity not quality...


4 comments:

  1. Feel the same. Went to Pendeen about six weeks ago, along with a day trip to Scilly (and saw very little) and really want to go back to that region very soon! Since the Brown Booby, so much has passed through there. Alas, I've no chance at the moment. Hoping to negotiate a two-day pass in a week or so!

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    1. Sounds like it had been good. Azores seem the place to be though!

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  2. 2010 was also my first visit, of 5, to Shetland. I also had six lifers, which included Sykes's Warbler & Swainson's Thrush. Not been since 2014.need to go back.

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    1. Did you also get Black-headed Bunting, Lancy etc?

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