Friday, 15 October 2021

The long road north: day 2

I'm a bit behind on the long road north to Shetland blog-wise as two of my fellow travelling companions, Howard and Jono, are also writing up our Shetland trip and are already well into the island phase while I'm still on the A1. So it's time to pick up the pace with a canter through day two (October 1st). This started with a brief stop at Musselburgh where a planned scan for a Surf Scoter was cut short by biting winds and a sudden loss of enthusiasm from all of us, even the normally irrepressible Bradders.
Knot, Musselburgh
Guillemot, Musselburgh
So we pressed on over the Forth to Fife and Chateau Lethbridge to collect the fourth member of the team. 'Chateau' turned out to be only a slight over-statement, and as we pulled up to the stately stone gates we started to feel like we should probably be using a side entrance for below stairs staff. But the Lethbridges put us at ease with a warm welcome and Mrs L even packed us off with a bag of fresh allotment veg, providing just about the only vitamin C we subsequently consumed north of the border.
Tree Sparrow, Loch of Strathbeg
Pectoral Sandpiper, Loch of Strathbeg
The boot of Bradders Volvo - christened Agnetha for her Swedish heritage and the dulcet tones of her satnav voice - was now clinking to the brim with high quality optics, so we were glad of her space-age collision avoidance technology to keep it all safe from harm. 
Greater Yellowlegs, Loch of Strathbeg
Greater Yellowlegs, Loch of Strathbeg
There wasn't much in the way of rare bird news to tempt us to stop in the lowlands, and we ignored Jono's unsubtle hints that a mere 40 mile detour might take us within striking distance of something tarty like Jackdaw for his growing Fife list. Instead we pressed on, overshooting Aberdeen to Loch of Strathbeg in the hope of catching up with a trio of American waders reported there the previous day. 
Greater Yellowlegs, Loch of Strathbeg

Greater Yellowlegs, Loch of Strathbeg
In ascending order of rarity, the Pectoral Sandpiper, Lesser Yellowlegs and Greater Yellowlegs all did the decent thing and gave good views in balmy conditions, while Whooper Swans and Pink-footed Geese provided an evocative soundtrack.
Lesser (left) and Greater Yellowlegs, Loch of Strathbeg
Lesser Yellowlegs, Loch of Strathbeg
As the sun started to drop we headed back south for the ferry to Lerwick, boarding MV Hrossey without incident. The morning would see us arrive on Shetland: the anticipation was building, but it had been a promising start to the trip already.
Whooper Swan, Loch of Strathbeg
Whooper Swans, Loch of Strathbeg

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