Hoody by Flashlight
OMG it's early! I wanted to make the most of my last day on the islands so I was heading back up to Unst to connect with my long time Blocker and personal nemesis...the Paddyfield Warbler. I don't care if the bird is in good or poor condition, or even if it's wearing a pink Tu-Tu with bright green socks! I want that bird.
First I had to catch the ferries to Unst and I arrived at Toft in the dark. As I pulled into the boarding lane I could see two Otters tumbling, playing and chasing each other around the car park on the dock. "This has to be a good omen" I thought. I got out of the car and immediately got straight back in. It was bloody freezing and the wind was mad. I added several layers of clothing and ventured out again. Ringed Plover, Curlew and Turnstone on the beach but no sign of the Otters again. A single female Snow Bunting foraged around the high tide mark.
The ferry journeys were unremarkable except for an unexpected pair of Little Auks that whirred south like two wind-up toys.
On Unst I thought I would travel straight to the Nemesis den of Norwick but I noticed that there was no-one at Haligarth so I had a little snoop there first. The Wood Warbler, perhaps surprisingly, was still alive and doing well, growing accustomed to the human intruders to its larder. There were a few Yellow-browed Warblers and Goldcrests, the latter, finally, in decent numbers. The Lesser Whitethroat was also there with a large warbler which was probably Barred Warbler but it hid well. A Little Bunting paid a fleeting visit and then flew of towards the beach.
Wood Warbler, Haligarth. A real fighter.
From Haligarth I travelled to Norwick and parked by the beach. I could see several people walking through the fields trying to flush the Great Snipe from the day before. Unsuccessfully. The path and fields around Valyie held another two Little Buntings, Mealy Redpolls, Red-breasted Flycatcher and Common Rosefinch.
A walk up to and around the site for the Paddyfield Warbler gave nothing until a birder flushed a yellow-brown warbler from the field. Unfortunately it was not the Paddyfield but a Lesser Whitethroat. I have never seen a Lesser Whitethroat that colour. A true Desert Lesser Whitethroat.
Back at the car I scanned the beach and sea. Loads of Gannets and Fulmars including a nice Blue Fulmar. The beach had a Ringed Plover, Wren, Wheatear and the local Rock Pipits. There was also a Scandinavian Rock Pipit of the race littoralis which was quite different from the local kleinschmidti. As I drove off the long staying Osprey flew over from the east mobbed by a Hooded Crow.
Little Bunting, Norwick
littoralis Rock Pipit, Norwick
Mealy Redpoll, Norwick
Ringed Plover, Norwick
zetlandica Wren, Norwick
Then it was time to head for the ferry to Aberdeen with just time left for a short walk around Sandgarth. Plenty of Mealy Redpolls, Spotted Flycatcher, Pied Flycatcher and the ubiquitous Yellow-browed Warblers. The last bird, I'm pleased to say, was the Blyth's Reed Warbler. What a finale.
Kittiwakes, Lerwick Ferry terminal
Gannet on a mission
Black Guillemots or Tysties, Bressay Sound