Sleepy Common Seal, Cross-voe-sand, Northmavine, Shetland.
It's not all birds.
After hearing, yesterday, about further sightings of my iduna warbler at Sandgarth and seeing photographs suggesting Sykes's, I decided that's where I would be birding this morning. The possibility of yesterdays Blyth's Reed only made it more attractive.
Sandgarth is one of my favourite birding spots on Shetland. Loads of trees and brush and access, all provided by the landowner. I wasn't the only person there of course but I quickly made my presence felt when a pale acrocephalus popped up in front of me. The short primary projection, all plain greyish back and long, dark, bill suggested only one thing...my first Blyth's Reed Warbler for many a year. It wasn't a shy bird but it was damned elusive when it wanted to be. It finally flew off into the trees and I went to look elsewhere. Lots of Blackcaps and Lesser Whitethroats, including one with signs of an Eastern subspecies. I ended up at the end of the bushes, a few hundred yards from the top of the Voe, overlooking a small Iris bed where the iduna had been seen yesterday. A small, very pale, warbler sat up about 12 inches in from the edge of the plantation. Calling away wildly and quickly it was plain that this was not the Blyth's Reed Warbler. Sitting in just enough cover, it prevented those with scopes from seeing some of the crucial ID points but several were convinced that it was not Booted Warbler but, rather, Sykes's Warbler, judging by the bill color, call and overall "jizz". To confuse things further this bird disappeared without being formally identified and the Blyth's Reed turned up. I give in! That would have been nice to have on my "Self Found" list
Other birds in the area were some local Mealy Redpolls and Yellow-browed Warbler. The Voe had Red-breasted Mergansers and Eider
Blyth's Reed Warbler, Sandgarth
Lesser Whitethroat, it's outer tail feathers were completely white suggesting, perhaps, halimodendri, Sandgarth
Mealy Redpoll, Sandgarth
After Sandgarth I headed to Kergord plantation via the Sizzling Sisters Burger Van! (I don't make them up, honest.). Amazingly I found another First on the wall of the local ablutions (no snide emails or comments please). About a dozen moths were resting there and they turned out to be Brindled Ochre.
Brindled Ochre, Voe
Kergord held few birds with the exception of two Yellow-browed Warblers and a Red-breasted Flycatcher.
Time was marching on and I decided that I would spend the night somewhere on Esha Ness for somewhere different. There were a few birds including the ubiquitous Ravens and Hooded Crows also a few Whooper Swans and a Short-eared Owl. I visited the small pier at Hamna Voe where I was surprised to find a Blackbird nest amongst some crab pots. Zetlandica Wren were present along with the local Kleinschmidti Rock Pipits.
There were some amazing views of Aurora Borealis that night. I also slept in a Wig-Wam!
Scaup, juvs, Loch of Helga, Braewick
Kleinschmidti Rock Pipit, Hamna Voe
Blackbird nest in crab pots on the pier, Hamna Voe
View East from Braewick
View South between Hillswick and Braewick. The first water is Sand Wick, the jutting out bit is the Ness of Hillswick. The larger island is the Isle of Waterhouse and the large bay behind is the Bay of St. Magnus. The Houlma Sound runs between the island and the Ness.