Sunday, 3 November 2013


This awesome Autumn just gets better as BOOM!! Shetland strikes again with another blocker. This one a 2nd for the WesternPal and 2nd for Britain..

found in a garden at Baltasound on Unst. Unstoppable...Unst!!

Typically I dither and the chequebook crew have already been, seen and celebrated before I've gathered enough momentum, enthusiasm and more importantly cash to venture north once again.
My trip sets off with a long drive north to Inverness Airport (tick) where I catch the early flight to Sumburgh. Worryingly the plane is only a quarter full and I'm the only birder on it!
Hire car sorted I blitz across Mainland catch the ferry to Yell (missed one by minutes agony) then across Yell and ferry over to Unst (tea stop at the ferry cafe to kill the wait more agony). Three more teams arrive thank heavens and we convoy across the island to the stakeout house. I join the melee as the assembled group of twitchers kneel to pay homage to the mega....

Its in there somewhere and the cryptic little fecker plays hide and seek for over two hours.
The truth is in there somewhere...?

Finally though after what seemed like a life time with dreadful thoughts of that most hideous of birding terms...dipping coming to mind...BOOM!!! it does the decent thing and shows really well about thirty minutes before the lights due to fade...phew!

Job done, big smile on ones face, tweets sent out and the air punched I make my way back to Mainland Shetland for a slap up meal in the most Northerly Fish and Chip Shop in Britain at Brae...sorted!

The next day after a deluxe night of comfort and style on the back seat of the hire car I find myself peering over a wall at the village of Walls. Once again I'm the only birder there but not for long as London's finest Mr Heard joins me in the search for the Bluetail he'd found the day before, top man.
Crossbills of unknown variety fly over and a couple of Sibe Chiffies perform but there's no Bluetail.
We start to widen the search and the guy next door invites us into his 'bird friendly' garden, amazing place there could be anything in here.

I get down to business and its not long before I hear a 'chak...chak' coming from the undergrowth nearby.
One step too many and a bird flits up from cover flashing a rather tasty bright blue tail.....

Ka..boom! get in what a beauty. One very well marked Red-flanked Bluetail shows itself off to me before doing at least three laps of the house and garden for the rest of the freshly arriving birders and Shetland paparazzi to fill their boots and sd cards.

first contact!

Time now to leg it back to Lerwick and drop the hire car off. Wait 8 bloody hours for the ferry to Aberdeen.
Spend an extra hour on the ferry (13!! as the clocks go back but we still have to arrive at 7am) as it plods its way to the granite city. Arrive to find there's no trains or buses to Inverness for 3 hours as it's Sunday (bloody Sunday!!) after 3 attempts at 3 different Atms (all broke) I finally get some cash. Food, drink and train ticket sorted I train it to Inverness catch a bus to the airport and rescue my car.
What a twitch! more like the good old days. Would I do it all again you ask...bring it on!

British Life List now up to 512    (UK & IRE - 522)