Sunday 22 October 2017

Shetland 2017 - Part 3, Mainland, Shetland

The Islands that make up Shetland
Day 13 - 09/10/2017

Now back at Tingwall, Shetland Mainland, we both picked up our hire cars (mine a big FIAT 500 people carrier) and headed for the very north of Mainland, Ibister at North Roe where a Red-flanked Bluetail had apparently been showing incredibly well.  We picked it up as soon as we arrived and had excellent views of it, plus Hooded Crows, Raven and Graylag Geese.

The Ibister farm garden, where the Red-flanked Bluetail had been entertaining people

 and the star of the show!
Staying at Ibister for a couple of hours, I then made my way back to Lerwick via Sangarth, near Voe where a Thrush Nightingale had been performing well.  Or at least that’s what I tried to do - but could I find Sangarth - could I heck!  So with the light going, I dropped down into Lerwick, where I booked into the Youth Hostel for my last couple of nights - it was warm, had working internet and I could get all my photos sorted so I was happy!  I also met some other birders there who’d spent the afternoon watching the Thrush Nightingale and so I got detailed directions - perfect for my early morning outing the next day!
Day 14 - 10/10/2017 - Penultimate day
 So of course, the day started with torrential rain which didn’t stop all morning.  I eventually decided to drive over to Sangarth and did at least find the place, and spent an hour and a half in the drizzle waiting for the Thrush Nightingale to show - which it did for about a second and a half as it ran from one hedgerow to another!  Then the heavens opened again so I went back to the car and had breakfast there waiting for the rain to stop. 

 One of the showers while waiting for the Thrush Nightingale to show

I got a message to say that the Bluetail was showing well again and the sky further north looked brighter, so I decided to go back up to Ibister where I bumped into Steve again. The rain had stopped and there was even a little blue sky so conditions for watching the Bluetail were perfect and we watched it for about an hour and a half. 

 You can never get too much of a good thing - more of the Red-flanked Bluetail

  Then we got the message that the Thrush Nightingale was once again showing well, so we decided to go back to Sangarth.
I made a little bit of a boob with my navigating, so the journey took about an hour rather than half hour it should have done, but luckily there were still people there who’d been watching it and said it had been doing something of a circuit and was due out again soon - and about 10 minutes later there it was. I’d not seen one since the late ‘70’s in Eilat, Israel, and my first thought on seeing it was of a Bluethroat - very upright with that cocked tail - but it obviously wasn’t!  

 A few shots of the Thrush Nightingale at Sangarth

We watched it appear and disappear a couple of times, and then I decided to go on for my next target bird (or birds),  Rustic Bunting and/or Blyth’s Reed Warbler both of which had been showing on previous days at Sandwick on the east coast beyond Lerwick towards Sumburgh.  There had ben a message that afternoon to say the Blyth’s had been showing well so I decided to go for that first, but once again, I couldn’t find the exact location!  Coming back for the Rustic Bunting,it was by now starting to get dark, and I couldn’t find the flock of Sparrows it was meant to be with, let alone the Rustic, so I decided to give up and go back to the hostel.
Doing some internet investigation, I found the exact location of the Blyth’s, and so decided to look for it the following morning after a quick stop off at where the Rustic had been seen.
Day 15 - 11/10/2017 - Last day
Leaving the hostel as soon as it became light, but with showers, I went down to the Tesco’s at Lewick to pick up breakfast. I decided to actually eat it not in the Tesco’s carpark, but in Helendale Terrace which is where the Parrot Crossbills had been most commonly seen.  Breakfast over and the latest shower stopped, I got out of the car - and heard a strange metallic ‘pip pip’ call - surely a Parrot! Looking up into the nearest pine tree, there it was - a bright red Parrot Crossbill together with (presumably) a young male which was green with an orange wash on the chest.  I watched them both for quite a while, and then realising my responsibility to others, put the word out on the WhatsApp group.  It was great just watching them, taking pine cones off the tree and then crunching them.  The young male eventually flew into some other trees behind the houses, but the bright red one stayed, attacking the cones with gusto - obviously wanted a solid breakfast itself!  And then to top it all, it started trilling/singing. Absolutely amazing!

 The two Parrot Crossbills that were hanging around in suburban Lerwick
Well, time, which I didn’t have a lot of, was flying by and I still had some more birds to see, so I left a few people watching the Parrot as I made my way down to Sandwick. After yet another shower at about 9-45, I got out of the car in search of the Rustic Bunting.  But once again, no luck - not even a Sparrow let alone the Bunting, so cutting my losses I went further south to Leebitton where the Blyth’s Reed had been seen the previous day.  Here I had a stroke of luck - some people were just coming back from looking for it.  Although they hadn’t seen it, they COULD tell me exactly where to look and how to get there.  So 15 minutes later I was peering over a stone wall, when an almighty shower began! A quick run back to the car and I finished off all the food I had.  Steve phoned to ask if I knew exactly where the bird was, so I told him where I was and waited for him.  We waited for the shower to blow over, and then went back to the field. By now another carload of people had arrived, and when we got to the place they already had the BRW located! Yippee! My second lifer of the holiday after White’sThrush!  Well I spent 20 or so minutes watching the warbler (and also a Yellow-browed Warbler in the same hedgerow, and another in another hedgerow as I walk back to the car), and I had to make a move south as I was by now getting a little tight on time, and I still had some birds to see.

The garden at Leebitton where the Blyth's Reed Warbler was hanging out

 The Blyth's Reed Warbler
40 minutes later saw me driving around the Loch of Spiggie at Quendale, looking for two Common Cranes that had been reported from there, but without success, although I did see 22 Whooper Swans, plus some other new waterfowl for the trip (Tufted Duck; Moorhen), and a flock of about 30 Graylag Geese flew over.

Some of the Whooper Swans at Loch Spiggie
Half an hour later I was handing in my car keys and at 2pm was on the plane to go back to Edinburgh.  Here I’d left it very tight for time, as my flight from Edinburgh to London City was at 4pm and I wasn’t due into Edinburgh till 3pm (and in actual fact the flight arrived at Edinburgh a quarter of an hour late) and I had to pick up my hold luggage, drop it off again and go through security again. But it all worked and at 4pm I was on the half empty plane back to London and so grabbed a double seat to sleep on the way back.  And back in Benfleet at 7:30pm with only a minor complaint - Flybe had somehow managed to do something to my suitcase so that the handle wouldn’t fully extend, so I had to walk home from Benfleet Station with bended knees.
2017 Bird list - a list of all the species I saw on Mainland and Fair Isle, Shetland.
                      01 Raven                                                02  Hooded Crow                                       03  Herring Gull
         04  Gannet                                              05  Turnstone                                             06  Starling
         07  Twite                                                  08   Blackbird                                             09   Redwing
         10  Red-breasted Flycatcher                     11   Redshank                                             12   Mallard
         13  Curlew                                               14   Lapwing                                               15  House Sparrow
         16 Spotted Flycatcher                              17   Lesser Whitethroat                              18   Skylark
         19  Dunlin                                                20  Great Grey Shrike                                 21  Little Bunting
         22  Rock Pipit                                          23   Blackcap                                              24   Robin
         25  Chiffchaff                                         26  Goldcrest                                              27   Redstart
         28  Yellow-browed Warbler                       29  Meadow Pipit                                       30   Redpoll
         31  Greylag Goose                                 32  Fulmar                                                   33  Great Skua
         34  Siskin                                               35 Whinchat                                                36  Black-headed Gull
         37  Swallow                                           38  Grey Wagtail                                         39  White/Pied Wagtail
         40  Brambling                                        41  Chaffinch                                              42  Common Snipe
         43  Ringed Plover                                  44  Eider                                                     45  Shag
         46  Great Black-backed Gull                     47  Pink-footed Goose                                48  Jack Snipe
         49  Common Gull                                  50  Wren                                                      51   Tree Pipit
         52  Black Guillemot                               53  Snow Bunting                                       54   Songthrush
         55  Northern Wheatear                           56   Reed Bunting                                       57   Barnacle Goose
         58  Dunnock                                           59   Guillemot                                             60   Bar-tailed Godwit
         61  Ruff                                                  62  Golden Plover                                       63   Whooper Swan
         64  Common Rosefinch                         65  White’s Thrush                                      66   Red-throated Pipi
t        67  Lapland Bunting                              68  Jack Snipe                                             69   Wigeon
         70  Teal                                                  71  Little Bunting                                        72   House Martin
         73  Fieldfare                                          74   Grey Heron                                           75   Stonechat
         76  Slavonian Grebe                              77   Razorbill                                               78  Goldeneye
         79   Red-flanked Bluetail                      80  Thrush Nightingale                                81  Parrot Crossbill
         82   Blyth’s Reed Warbler                     83  Moorhen                                                 84 Tufted Duck
         85  Woodpigeon                                    86  Collared Dove

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations for the rare birds observations Richard! Regards!