Sunday, October 04, 2009

Shetland - Two World Lifers and a UK Lifer.

First day - travel.

Arrive and whisked off to a field near the airport at Sumborough by Hugh Harrop - walk around field full of skylarks and mipits and yes eventually after much searching by Hugh - H,D and I helped enormously by walking around searching with our eyes(!)not used to this Shetland Style birding!
Hugh delivered aUK lifer- Short-toed Lark!
Great start and after booking in the hotel. I went for a walk on my own.
Beach and Garden at Grutness and then a couple of quarries(full of Fulmars) through an open access farm and back to the hotel. Almost all in sun!
It grew dark and the wind blew,but then it does that naturally on Shetland.

Slept through the gale force winds!Sea air having its usual soporific effect on me!

2nd day
- off to seek out some recently arrived migrants.

No sign of a Pechora Pipit on the Mainland - but we did see some Common Redpolls.
On to the passenger Ferry(only)to Whalsay.No transport then, but Shetland Wildlife think of everything and there a little after we arrived was the local birder - Jon Dunn. Who proceeded to search a local garden (which the bird had been favouring) decide the bird was not there so went to search another garden where - hey presto - was the Veery! Brief (seconds) view and it was off. Disappeared again and was refound briefly.(Then re-read Jon's blog see below for the tail of the misssed ringing opportunity!)The bird then disappeared.

Jon then offered to take us up near his house - to the northern part of the Island to see a Pechora Pipit. Nearly there a mobile went off - as son as we had left (into a black hole for mobs)they had rung to say the Veery was showing stunningly! Damn!
Jon whizzed us back - defo a twitchy ride!
Bird had relocated they knew not where by the time we had returned!
However the bird then re appeared in a completly different place(after magnificent searching by Dave and Jon) and some record flight shots were taken(not by me!)I had waited not so patiently by the wall in the garden.The owner we met on the Ferry (working) who said " Please go into my garden for better views if you want."The attitude of the Shetlanders is magical, they look at you strangely for asking "May we?" -to them its a given. Dont think tho that I could ever not ask, indeed the two guides do/did everytime!
The bird returned to its original garden! This time via the roof!We waited very patiently and after what seemed an age it hopped out into view for some good if brief views!

First impressions?What a lovely place!
Yes we had rain and it was windy but I also saw two lifers - VEERY and a PECHORA Pipit. Both were stunning views, even of the less than showy Veery. (I think there were a lot of twitchers there yesterday and I think it had had enough!)
The last views enabled Jon to get some brilliant photo's which can be seen on his blog "Bitter Bonxie"...there will be a link later.

Then it was to the north of the island for the PP, oh and coffee and cake at Jon's - but that was promised and delivered later after the birding!
Again we were driven there in two goes by Jon. I was left to refind the bird with two of our group.We failed! But met the woman who lived there going out with her young son."Please go round the back of the house thats where the bird has been showing." We were reluctant.I did walk up and down the ditch the bird had been favouring. No sign. But when Dave and Jon arrived it was straight round the side and "peep carefully round the wall" - there hopping about near the pipes was a beautiful large Pipit!
The Pechora Pipit showed beautifully.
Braces brilliant - in fact this is when the sun came out!

A walk around the plantation drew a blank except for a few Blackbirds, a Wren and I forget!
On the way to Jon's I chatted to him about his croft and the animals.
The welcome Coffeee and Cake was delivered in Jon's fine kitchen/dining area with stunning sea views.

We then were transported back down the island - again in two batches!
We walked to the ferry and meet a stream of birders arriving - 26 hours from Aberdeen!The Boat across had not left due to the gales.So birders who had travelled up on the same plane from London as H,D and I, but opted for the Boat instead of the plane had had a torrid time!
They all got to see the Veery and several got to see the PP too- again thanks to Jon and a couple of other local Whalsay birders ferrying all that wanted up to the PP.
They had much more limited time than us.

A big, huge, in fact, thank you to Jon for all his efforts. It was his day off!

Two stunning birds, a lovely island, great birding and fantastic hospitality.

A great day.

Some pictures are here

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