Sunday, 18 November 2018

Shetland: part the third, and last

As well as the rarities (see parts one and two), our week on Shetland back in October provided some opportunities to study northern species which we see only infrequently on the south coast of England. Top of the shopping list for me were the winter plumaged Tysties which frequented Lerwick Harbour. These charming birds look good in just about any plumage but I had not had much luck previously photographing them in their winter whites.
Close behind were the Twite, a bathing flock of which provided some compensation for two unsuccessful yomps through the infinite iris beds of Quendale in search of a reported Lanceolated Warbler. On both occasions we arrived to find no sign of the bird or the finders, reducing the chances of re-finding this mouse-like mega to a shade less than zero.
Otters were seen daily for the first few days, while other Shetland staples included Hooded Crow, Whooper Swan, Mealy Redpoll, Kittiwake, Fulmar and the ubiquitous Shetland Wren. The hoped for Killer Whales did not show for us but, unlike last year when the seas were whipped up by constant strong winds, we enjoyed a few calm days this year which gave us at least a chance to look for them.
Well that just about wraps it up for Shetland 2018. There were a few disappointments - principally the wild goose chases for the Lanceolated Warbler and a Pechora Pipit on Unst - but these were quickly forgotten when, as my wife said when I recounted the lowlights to her, 'there's always next year'. That's as good as a signed contract allowing me to go again in 2019!
And besides, the few disappointments were eclipsed by the many highlights of the trip: White-winged Scoter, Woodchat Shrike, Rosy Starling, River Warbler, Pied-billed Grebe, Eastern Yellow Wagtail, Citrine Wagtail, Rosefinch, American Golden Plover plus Barred, Marsh and Melodious Warbler were not bad for a week's birding.
It just remains for me to say many thanks to Bradders Birding Tours for providing another excellent driver for the trip, and the clans Vaughan for releasing Bob and Howard for another northern adventure. Good times in excellent company.
Rarest thing I saw on Shetland: a near vertical windsock

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