Wednesday, October 06, 2021

πŸ“– Shetland Trip Report πŸ‚ ~ 05/10 ~ 06/10/21 Part 2

Tuesday, October 5th  🌦 13C ~ Today the weather was much improved with light winds and prolonged sunny periods. Just right for our pre-booked trip across to Yell (20-minutes) and then on to Unst (10-minutes). Well, I say pre-booked but we did, unfortunately, screw up! We'd booked our passage across from the mainland at Toft over to Ulsta on Yell but didn't realise that the small ferry from Gutcher to Belmont on Unst also required a booking. Long story short the only ferry that was available was the 2pm crossing and 4pm return so we sadly only managed two hours on Unst before returning. If the weather is good, we'll try again on Friday. 

Toft ferry to Ulsta on Yell

Our timing could actually have been perfect at one stage during the day as purely by coincidence a Lanceolated Warbler ( a lifer for us) had been reported early morning on Unst. However, with the Unst ferry now completely booked up at this stage many would have been unable to get across. At least we would have had a couple of hours to locate the bird. However, news came through later in the day that the bird had been re-identified as a Grasshopper Warbler, so panic over! 

Little Bunting in the garden of a cottage at Guther

Despite our screw up, we had an enjoyable day with a few notable sightings. Good scoped views of a Ring-necked Duck on Sand Water, Yell and a self-found Little Bunting while waiting for the ferry a Gutcher, good things do show up in peoples gardens in Shetland. Also of note Yellow-browed Warbler, which I was actually searching for when the bunting appeared. 

Wednesday, October 6th 🌦14C ~ Just 4 miles from our accommodation is Kergord, which according to the SOC App 'Where to Watch Birds in Scotland' is Shetlands most extensive area of woodland. A Radde's Warbler had been found on Tuesday and I decided on an early start in search, giving Dazza the opportunity for a well-earned lay-in. I arrived at twilight but was hampered by drizzle and low clouds to begin. The one thing that was apparent though was that there had been a large fall of Redwing overnight, they were literally everywhere. After a few hours, I gave up and headed back for breakfast although I was certain I'd heard the bird call at least once, that was until another birder appeared from the opposite side of the copse I was watching, a recording or the bird? Who knows!


Yellow-browed Warbler through the window

While having breakfast back at the cottage Dazza spotted something flitting around on the ground just outside the kitchen window which turned out to be a Yellow-browed Warbler, along with a Blackcap both of which I managed to photograph through the glass. 

Rustic Bunting ~ Close encounter of the blurred kind!

Just as we finished breakfast a Rustic Bunting came up on birdguides and would you believe it, it was back at Kergord! So Dazza and I made it our first stop. According to the report, the bird was in a field opposite Kergord house hallway along a burn but when we arrived it had flown to the top end, we just headed for the crowd. After around 15-minutes the bird flew up from a ditch onto some fence wires and perched up beautifully. It was at this point that we saw why a minority can spoil it for the majority when several of the group just rushed forward to the fence, the bird was gone. I did try for the money shot but my camera simply failed to focus in the short period I had and I ended up with a close encounter of the blurred kind. 


Monarch Butterfly (UK first for us) at the 'sunken garden' Sumburgh Hotel

Now the wind had abated, in fact, it was turning out to be a gorgeous day weatherwise we headed back down to the southernmost part of the mainland for another walk. Well, five Shore Larks reported at Scatness could have been another reason but that must have been physiological! Then just as we were parking a Monarch butterfly was reported at the Sumburgh Hotel, literally minutes away and simply too good to miss, so off we went. 

One of five Shore Larks at Scatness.

Still elated to have seen the Monarch and catching up with the Shore Larks we spent the rest of our afternoon at Scatness walking this stunningly beautiful area. As you head towards the headland, the peninsula narrows and the ground becomes uneven and rocky. From here, there are excellent views on either side of Fitful Head and Sumburgh Head. 

One of five Twite along the shoreline this one sporting a ring which unfortunately is unreadable.

We took a leisurely walk back to the car along the craggy shoreline stopping on many occasions for Dazza to enjoy one of her favourite pastimes, rock pooling and for me to photograph a half dozen Northern Wheater and a group of five Twite. What an amazing place this is!!

A Few More Images of the Day...

Blackcap from the kitchen window

Bar-tailed Godwit at Vikrie
Grey Plover fly-by

Northern Wheatear Scatness

Inbound ATR from Aberdeen

Saab 340B on finals to Sumburgh from Aberdeen over Sumburgh Hotel