3 May 2014

Cretzschmars Bunting, Fair isle

When the last Cretzschmars Bunting was found on North Ronaldsay a few years ago I was unable to make the trip. With only four previous records and all of them on Shetland or Orkney this was a bad  I didn't expect to catch up with again so soon. Low & behold, Deryck Shaw was photographing a Red-breasted Flycatcher outside his Fair Isle home then up popped a Cretzschmars Bunting! Unfortunately the bird did one or appeared to have done so. Luckily it reappeared a day or so later & I found myself up at 3 am and leaving to catch a flight Friday heading north. I'd been in contact with Susannah Parnaby at Fair Isle Obs and she kindly rang me at 07.30 to say she'd had a quick look for the bird but there was currently no sign. She'd look again after breakfast. Decision time - did we wait on news or fly? We took the brave and ultimately right decision to fly as just as were literally 11 miles out from Fair Isle Susannah relocated the bunting close to its usual haunts.

Some friends call me lucky & I think I called in all the luck of the gods on this one!  With Susannah meeting us of f the plane and driving us to the site we were soon watching this mega rare outlandishly coloured refugee from the southern Mediterranean.

After filling our boots with the bunting the small appreciation society including my 5 fellow passengers & Shetland birders Steve Minton & Jim Nicolson headed a bit further down the road where a potential future  split was present in the form of a very distinctive 'Caspian' Stonechat. This was a little stunner and almost overshadowed the bunting. Get a look at that tail pattern!

Keen to visit the new observatory I started walking back along the road in beautiful sunshine stopping periodically to admire the occasional Whinchat or Redstart. Rounding a corner I came across the vision that is the new Obs. Its huge!

Susannah knew I was a member of Hilbre Bird Obs and I was lucky enough to be able to ring some birds and do a round of the heligoland traps with Kieran & Rob - cheers lads. I ringed a male Blackcap i nthe Obs whilst a good catch of Brambling & Twite were ringed 'in the field'.
A fantastic place and I booked to stay for a week next autumn.
Looking around the shop I came across this - the closet I've been to a Whites thrush yet.......
After a few more hours exploring it was time to head off and we flew out of Fair Isle around 15.30 - I was back in time for a pizza and a few well earned beers. Tired but very happy.

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