Saturday, 12 October 2013


October the 2nd and my biannual trip to Shetland got under way with a flight from Manchester to Sumburgh via Aberdeen. The team this year comprised Phil (Mr Wizzal) Woollen, Mark (Groucho) Payne, Matt (late riser) Meehan, new recruit Chris (Family Guy) Griffin and yours truly.
With such an odd ball bunch how could we fail not to find some mega on...

The day started well with a very showy (after i'd re found it) Pechora Pipit at Levenswick, Mainland.

We could not have parked the hire car much closer, what a great bird to get the trip list off to a flyer.

Oct.3rd and we venture over to Yell for a couple of goodies. On arriving at the stakeout garden at Mid Yell village Chris spots the Eastern Subalpine Warbler perched out in the open in its favorite Sycamore tree, good man. It then plays hide and seek for the next hour or so. This could turn out to be a good investment as there are rumors its about to be split (the Subalp not the tree)...cheers Mr Frontiers!
One in the bag so we drive round the corner and fail to relocate the Hudsonian Whimbrel seen yesterday at Seafield. I manage to find my first of many Yellow Browed Warblers of the trip, quiet possibly the commonest warbler on Shetland whilst we're there.

Oct.4th and after a thorough search of Wester Quarff no sign of Pampers Pointen's Brown Shrike we debunk to Hoswick. Its grim and raining, another YBW is found in Cliff House garden (honest it was) but not much else. If only I'd of played the right tape...Eastern Olivaceous there the next day!!!! bugger.
As we're beginning to lose interest cos the weathers naff a stop at the local shop is cut short when the news breaks of a MEGA!! just 4 miles away at Geosetter (yes we've already birded this day 1)...

We arrive at a leisurely pace (Mr Wizzal driving) and join a growing group of field watchers queuing for a glimpse of Britains 5th record of THICK BILLED WARBLER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Yes for once we've hit the mother load, right place right time, there is a birding god up there. But Thicky seems to have other ideas and is being a real skulking barsteward. Time to send in the troops...

I wonder who that is?

more professional flushers are sent in

what's that guy got in his hand...a tape?

the crowds getting edgy and spooky (checkout the guy in blue)

Biggest gathering of birders on Shetland this year me thinks?  92 to be exact (get that BBA) on day one.

The THICK BILLED WARBLER does eventually play ball and I manage three flight views plus two brief perches, all far too quick for my camera unfortunately. Still to be there when a true mega has just been found is such an adrenalin rush that's why we do what we do. Awesome stuff.
The night is spent prayer mats facing east preying for clear skies and stars but to no avail Thicky devalues itself somewhat by showing (trod on more like) to the dirty twitchers from mainland UK the next day.

more to follow...

That puts me on 511 for Britain and 521 for UK/Ireland