Tuesday 14 February 2023

Shetland 2022

 Well,  it's only been three months from when we went on our yearly pilgrimage to the Shetland Islands so I think I've been quite quick with this post .........not!! Same mottley crew as last year in the guise of Dave Gray, Andy Smith and me...  We decided to tery driving to Aberdeen and taking our own (Dave's) car across on the ferry - which worked out very well for us - sailing on 30th Sept on the MV Hjaltland arriving in Lerwick the next morning. I would like to say I had a good nights sleep - but I'd be lying thanks to my two cabin buddies who could win prizes for snoring!!  Never again ! - I shall be having my own cabin next time ......

We stayed at a lovely cottage called The Glebe, Garderhouse - again on the west side of the mainland which was our home for the next 10 days.

Hilswick was our first port of call, for a Great Grey Shrike subspecies Homeyeri (probably will be a potential split in the future so it was an 'insurance tick')  On the way out, Arctic Redpoll was reported (Hornemanni) which had been elusive but eventually showed well and we had views down to a few feet away.

Arctic Redpoll

Arriving at our cottage mid afternoon, birds of note in the bay were Dunlin, RB Merganser, lots of Widgeon, Teal, Redshank, Turnstone and Great Black-backed Gulls.

3rd October we decided on a trip to Unst - the most northern isle of Great Britain - in search of Ortolan Bunting but we didn't see it - we did have two otters though at the Gutcher Ferry!
Long-tailed Duck, Black Guillemot, Razorbill, Whooper Swan and Ringed Plover were noted.
The next few days were spent seeing Pechora Pipit, Wood Warbler and just a couple of Yellow-browed Warbler.
With strong westerly winds for quite a few days, I think everyone was hopefully expecting some American migrants - and sure enough, on the 6th October, a Myrtle Warbler (Yellow-rumped Warbler) was found at Ellister, and it was rather a confiding bird.

Myrtle Warbler

On 7th October, a first for Britain was found by the non-birding partner of our good friend Paul Baker whilst she was enjoying a stroll at Scousborough Bay; after alerting Paul about this 'strange' bird, she sent him an image from her phone, Paul realised (after ruling out Little Bittern) that she had found a Least Bittern from America..... and the rest, as they say, is history!!  The bird was in thick grass and could hardly be seen but it soon became apparent that the bird was exhausted and it w as decided that it needed to be taken into care - which is what happened; sadly, the bird never survived the night. 
Apparently, a healthy specimen would weigh about 86 grams but this poor mite only weighed 50grams...

Least Bittern

Least Bittern

After seeing this amazing bird, we went on to Whiteness Voe where we saw Slavonian Grebe, Red-throated Diver and Great Norther Diver along with two more otters at play.

Otters at play

Red-throated Diver

In the following days, the usual suspects were about - although we did find a group of Common Seal at Catfirth (and they're not as common as their name implies! - the Grey Seal is far more prevalent)

Hauled-out Common Seal

We spent our last couple of days birding the mainland and saw Pale Bellied Brent Goose at Buravoe, 
Oystercatcher, Ruff, Pink-footed Goose, Chiffchaff and Snipe were also noted during the day.
We went to Clickimin Loch at Lerwick on a couple of occasions to try and find a White's Thrush which had taken up residence near the school; we had missed out on it on a couple of visits but finally nailed it on our last day.  Blackcap and Redwing were also seen.
Andy had gone out walking so Dave and I decided to go to Bigton in search of a second Myrtle Warbler which had unbelievably been found by the same birder the day after he found the first one! ....How lucky can  you get!! Incidentally - Dave and I were the only two birders there!! - but that's how Shetland is. This bird was also very confiding.
Our final foray was for a Dusky Warbler at Ocraquoy.....

White's Thrush

Myrtle Warbler

Myrtle Warble

Myrtle Warbler

Dusky Warbler

Dusky Warbler

Below are a just few images of other birds seen......

Hooded Crow

Black Guillemot

Red-breasted Merganser

Glossy Ibis

Rock Dove

Rock Pipit

Black Guillemot

Wood Warbler

Red Grouse


Golden Plover


Hooded Crow

Herring Gull

Ringed Plover

Long-tailed Duck


As always, thanks for stopping by and I hope you enjoy looking at my images from Shetland 2022

I have a few images from recent twitches and local stuff which I hope to post shortly but until then, take care.

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