17 Oct 2010

Shetland Day 1.

Once again our annual trip to Shetland has been and gone. This year a different group made the long trek up from Cheshire to Glasgow airport as Matt Meehan, Damon Howells & Mike Stokes joined Mark Payne and me. The usual crew had gone to Fair Isle the previous week and some of them are currently whizzing around the Scilly's on a golf buggy!

The trip started well with a Glossy Ibis sighted over the M6 in Cumbria - next day one turned up a few miles further north in Dumfries & Galloway! The flight to Sumburgh was uneventful and we had time for a quick dash north to Channerwick before dark. Unfortunately the Sykes Warbler seemed to have done one overnight but we took a look anyway. Plenty of commoner migrants around with Goldcrests, Blackcap and Chiffchaff lurking amongst the undergrowth. A Red-breasted Flycatcher gave frustratingly brief views to Matt & me before flying across two fields never to be seen again.

Next morning we were up before light exploring the area around Sumburgh Hotel, farm and Quarries. It was obvious there had been a movement of 'crests overnight as Goldcrests were everywhere. They were working their way down the dry stome walls to more sheltered areas. The quarry held a Common Redpoll amongst the House Sparrows and Twite.

We picked up a Short-toed Lark in flght with two Sylarks on several occasions but couldn't pin it down on the groumd. Several Brambling also dropped in to the crop fields and the whole area was buzzing with birds.

Some of the birds,like this first year male Blackcap, were obviously exhausted and wouldn't survive the day. A fact the farmer confirmed when he said his cats had already caught 6 Goldcrests & a Blackcap.

With breakfast calling we headed back to the hotel where we'd spent our first night as our accomodation wasn't ready for us until later on Monday. As usual the local race of Starling provided good photo oppurtunities around the hotel grounds.

With several of the team needing various birds on the Islands as lifers it seemed churlish not to try and get most of them. This inevitably meant more driving than anticipated but we managed to mop up most of the birds that were present during the week. With Matt needing Common Rosefinch as a 'lifer' we decided to head towards nearby Quendale where despite a thorough search we couldn't locate the bird reported earlier. We did find a nice tristis Chiffchaff and moore Bramblings!

A text from Jase Atkinson alerted us to a Western Bonelli's Warbler at Seafield, Lerwick so we headed that way as it was a lifer for Matt. Our landlord had rung to say our accomodation was ready so we decided to get the Bonelli's and then do our shopping for the week at Tesco's before heading off to our home from home.

What a cracking little bird. A lifer for Matt but a good bird for all of us to catch up pwith again.. Only on Shetland can you see a bird of this magnitude with less than 10 other people!

Shattered after a long day we retired to our apartment and an excellent meal cooked by Damon and an early night for all. Well most of us.................................

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