Monday, 1 October 2012

3 Clams, 3 Days - Clams on Shetland

It's now Monday evening after another successful clamtastic birding day.

What follows is a summary of the journey up to Aberdeen and the 3 days we've, Jason, Anthony and Gary [Olly, Malteser Man and Captain] had on Shetland.

Friday 28th September 2012

The journey up started at 3.00am from Wolverhampton. Up to Loch of Strathbeg RSPB reserve and close views of the Greater Yellowlegs, a mega American wader.

1,000s of pink feets and a couple of 100 barnacles, with views of ruff and lots of tree sparrows but a short visit really as time was pressing for us to get to Aberdeen docks.

A smooth overnight crossing spent watching the first day of the Ryder Cup and sleeping in the cinema brought us to Lerwick early Saturday morning.

Saturday 29th September 2012

To Vyrkie and a walk along Toab's high street, twite, wheatear, hooded crows, ravens, rock pipits, golden plover with gannet, kittiwake and fulmars offshore.

Soon into our first rarities with hawfinch, yellow-browed warbler and OLIVE-BACKED PIPIT seen.

The rest of the day was rather frustrating as the rarities on offer went unfound as they went missing once we were in the area. For instance the little bunting at Sumburgh Farm was flushed by a belly crawling, selfish photographer who wasn't happy to photograph the bird at anything more than 10 centimetres away. An Isabelline Shrike was likewise AWOL when we arrivied at a spot where it had devoured the yellow-browed warbler a few minutes prior to our arrival.

A quick scoot up the isle to try for a blyth's reed warbler before dark but unsuccessful.

Superb accomodation soon found and food cooked and enjoyed.

Sunday 30th September 2012

Up with the dawn and off to the fields near Tingwall Airport to look for the reported American Golden Plover. Dipped on that as it had flown north just before our arrival. Searched nearby woody areas including a superb band of trees and bushes owned by a crofter, Drew Anderson, who was thrilled that some birders had actually asked him about looking in his wood. Made his day!

Siberian stonechat on the pager so off to see it. Seen and ticked, in fact a tick for all of us.

To Sumburgh again and still no little bunting, just a spotted flycatcher and a merlin at the refurbishing lighthouse.

Rumour of a buff-bellied pipit. Rushed to the spot, dashed down to the beach and joined a growing throng to peruse a nearby mega.

At last, great views of a very beautiful little bunting at Sumburgh Farm and views of the Isabelline Shrike during the afternoon. Both superb birds and both seen well, eventually.

Monday 1st October 2012

Off to Unst which was reached late due to petrol stations not opening until 8.00am.

Found a snow bunting in the quarry at Grutcher, Yell and a yellow-browed as we arrived at Norwick on Unst.

The reported snowball, i.e the Hornemann's Artic Redpoll was seen at very close range as were a variety of common redpoll types.

No luck during a flush of the pechora pipit so we went to a nearby cafe and also to Halligarth Woods, near Baltisound.

We found a small warbler high in the canopy of the sycamores. At the time we all three worked hard to dissuade ourselves that the bird was not the reported Blyth's Reed Warbler but sitting at 'home' later, looking at photos and reading notes left us without a doubt that we had looked at that bird. We also found a yellow-browed warbler here, a wren and a reed bunting.

Back to try for the pechora pipit again. A flush was organised by Martin Garner and Anthony and Jason saw the bird well; Gary didnt.

So after three days, Ant has had 7 lifers, Jason 5 lifers and Gary 3 lifers.

Life is good.

All the best


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