|Great Northern Diver in off the sea|
The Loch of Spiggie is the largest eutrophic loch in Shetland and is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Special Protection Area (SPA) for wildlife conservation. While walking back from the beach for a look over the loch a Great Northern Diver heading in off the sea flew almost directly overhead, offering some excellent views in the bright sunshine.
|Whooper Swans at Spiggie|
We actually managed a good few 'Shetland Ticks' while parked at Scousburgh Sands, which is one of the few places you can park to view the loch and these included Goldeneye, Pochard, Whooper Swan, Scaup and Slavonian Grebe. Our only 'twitch' today was late in the afternoon at Gulberwick for what was reported initially as a 1st-winter Eastern Yellow Wagtail. However, at the time of writing this has now been identified as a Yellow Wagtail through sonography analysis. While here a Barred Warbler, although very flighty did show briefly before it flew across the road directly over our heads.
|View across Lerwick old town from Port Charlotte|
Our last full day on Shetland was spent around Lerwick, the most northerly town in Britain. A fascinating place containing many 17th century buildings, including Port Charlotte, first built by Oliver Cromwell and later burned and restored by George III, whose queen it was named after.
|A distant Fair Isle viewed from Ness of Burgi|
We've thoroughly enjoyed our time on Shetland and actually clocked up nearly 900 miles. For non 'twitcher's we certainly surprised ourselves at just how many we actually did attend, but quite honestly it's hard not to get caught up in the frenzy and I personally would be happy to do it again. Most sightings are a reasonably short distance from each other and in some beautiful surroundings. Another bonus is that you can drive around Shetland with impunity and when you reach a specific sighting there are plenty of eyes and ears to help look, we rarely spent more than a half-hour before seeing the bird.
|Rock Arch ~ Dore Holm Shetlands most famous rock arch.|
For the most part, the people of the Shetland Islands are extremely patient and friendly, with few trees on the Islands most sightings are near or within residential gardens, which usually have a good selection of shrubs and trees. The birders we've met have been very helpful and we've made a few birding friends and Twitter buddies over the 10 days. Unfortunately, we only managed a few sightings of Dolphins and never got a chance to see Orca, maybe next time but Dazza was happy with the several Otters we spotted during our stay. The weather was typical Island fare with some days of cloud, heavy rain and wind but we did enjoy a few days of beautiful autumnal weather even reaching the giddy heights of 16C!
|Wheatear at Ness of Burgi ~ One of many during our stay.|
Our final morning before our flight home Tuesday afternoon was spent in the sunshine walking the Ness of Burgi, one of our favourite spots and actually the mainland's most southerly point. It's also just a 5-minute drive to the airport. Here our final 'tick' of the visit was a Jack Snipe and I'll finish with a few other unpublished images and bird species count.
|Twite at Ness of Burgi|
|Shorelark ~ Another Scottish tick|
|Rock Pipit ~ Common around the shoreline.|
Shetland Trip Species Count...
Mute Swan, Whooper Swan, Pink-footed Goose, Greylag Goose, Brent Goose, Mallard, Wigeon, Teal, Garganey, Pochard, Scaup, Ring-necked Duck, Eider, King Eider, Velvet Scoter, Goldeneye, Red-breasted Merganser, Common Scoter, Red-throated Diver, Great Northern Diver, Slavonian Grebe, Fulmar, Gannet, Cormorant, Shag, Grey Heron, Water Rail (h), Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Grey Plover, Golden Plover, Lapwing, Sanderling, Turnstone, Dunlin, Little Stint, Redshank, Bar-tailed Godwit, Curlew, Snipe, Jack Snipe*, Semipalmated Sandpiper*, Ruff, Black-headed Gull, Common Gull, Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Common Tern, Arctic Tern, Black Guillemot, Guillemot, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Skylark, Shore Lark*, Barn Swallow, Rock Pipit, Meadow Pipit, Pied Wagtail, Yellow Wagtail*, Bluethroat*, Wheatear, Song Thrush, Blackbird, Redwing, Barred Warbler*, Blackcap, Western Bonelli's Warbler*, Chiffchaff, Yellow-browed Warbler*, Red-breasted Flycatcher*, Goldcrest, Wren, Woodchat Shrike*, Rook, Hooded Crow, Carrion Crow (1), Raven, Starling, House Sparrow, Brambling, Linnet, Twite*, Lesser Redpoll, Siskin, Common Rosefinch*, Little Bunting*, Rustic Bunting*, Red Eyed Vireo*
*Depicts new for Scotland
NEW Scottish Life-List Since Relocating Permanently to Aberdeenshire in October 2020