17 Oct 2010

Shetland. Day 3. An elusive Pipit.

Wednesday dawned overcast and showery. Deciding to take a look for a juvenile Spotted Sandpiper that had been reported on Loch Strand we set off early intending to work a few local areas around south mainland. No sign of the Sandpiper but a Long-tailed Duck on the Loch was nice to see.

We were checking the gardens around Gott when Jase texted to say there was an Olive-backed Pipit at Quendale near the rifle range. A lifer for four of the group meant we were soon on our way. Expecting the pipit to be hidden in the iris beds I suggested not taking 'scopes and we set off up the track from the Mill. Roy Hargreaves, the finder, was still there when we arrived awaiting reinforcements as the pipit had flown off  with Meadow Pipits. Splitting up we slogged around the area searching likey boggy bits and Iris beds to no avail. A small group of Siskins provided a diversion by landing on some nearby thistle heads so at least the photographer in the group had something to do! A few Lapland Buntings passing overhead were picked up on call adding to an already impressive tally of this species I've seen this autumn.

A phone call from a number I didn't recognise threw me a bit. Should I answer it or not. It could be work related. Deciding to risk it I found Matt on the other end of a phone he'd borrowed from Rich Ford who'd photogrpahed what he thought was the OBP ten minutes previously on one of the cattle feeders where it had been originally found by Roy.

A minor twitch ensued as fewer than a dozen people staked out the feeders from a respectable distance. Sure enough within minutes the pipit popped into view before dropping into the long grass and remaining hidden until it flew up the small burn leading away from the main valley. We all managed good views through borrowed scopes and I even managed a couple of record shots for Roy's BBRC submission.

We checked out the crop fields south of the mill again before having lunch and deciding what to do next. Daylight was rapidly running out when we received a call about a juvenile Rose-coloured Starling at Cunniingsburgh found by two visitng birders as they flushed it off a roadside verge doing 50 mph.  As it was on our way back to Lerwick we called in but failed to connect despite an intensive search of nearby gardens. Whislt searching even more Lapland Buntings flew over.

Another good day, with an excellent addition to four of the groups life lists in  Olive-backed Pipit, was rounded off with Mikes superbly cooked dinner, a couple of beers and a promise we'd go to Unst to search for Arctic Redpoll the next day - only if we got up early enough to esnure we could get back to the mainland in case something really good was found! Some people took it literally and fell asleep watching TV.

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