In summary: we birded quite a lot, but didn’t find much. Highlight was a 1st Winter Boneparte’s Gull on the shore at Burrafirth. The weather was pretty suboptimal: howling NW for most of the trip, making it bloody hard work to find anything from the east. We did manage a few scarcities: RB Fly and Barred Warbler, and by remaining news ignorant, managed to surprise ourselves (but nobody else) by stumbling across a Blyth’s Reed and Little Bunting. The birding was that difficult that at times we resorted to twitching, as the photos below (mostly) testify.
28th September – South Mainland. Arrived in Lerwick and headed south. A Yellow-browed at Quindale was my first of the Autumn, but nothing unusual on Shetland. We flushed a bird from a veggy patch that looked like a Little Bunting, but didn’t clinch it. Somebody else did. We also failed to find the Sibe Stonechat at Hoswick, but did see a Wood Warbler there.
29th September – Unst. Uyesound in the morning produced a Yellow-browed Warbler and Scaup but little else. We got some cracking views of rostrata Redpolls at Norwick, which were there along with a Pied Fly. We also thought we found a Blyth’s Reed Warbler at Halligarth and a Little Bunting at Clibberswick, but these turned out to have been found by other people previously.
30th September – Unst. The weather was pretty crap today – howling Northwesterlies. However, it did produce the bird of the trip: a first-winter Boneparte’s Gull on the beach at Burrafirth. It inconveniently flew off before I could get a photo, winging it down Loch of Cliff never to be seen again despite extensive searching.
1st October – Unst. After looking for the Boneparte’s Gull for a while without finding it, we gave up and twitched the Hornemann’s Arctic Redpoll and Pechora Pipit at Northwick. The experience left me with a reminder of why I don’t like twitching, despite cracking views of both. Too many muppets charging around like idiots.
2nd October am – Unst. The day got off to a good start with a ringed Barred Warbler at Uyesound.
2nd Oct pm – Fetler. Cracking place and very underwatched, despite it now having a full time resident birder. Bird of the day was a cracking Long-eared Owl at Tresta, followed by a juv Marsh Harrier at Funzie.
3rd October – the weather was shite at so was the birding. We drove down to Lerwick and failed to find anything, not even the stuff we twitched on the way. Highlights were probably a few things on the north of Unst in the morning: a rostrata Redpoll at Skaw, a few crests etc around Norwick, and a flock of Snow Bunts on Lamba Ness.
4th October North Mainland – a bit of a late start, but we headed up to Kirgood where things started to look promising with a pipit with a strongly marked face hogging the canopy. I spannered this a bit, failing to take in the key features for Olive-backed the one time I got a decent view of it. It then promptly vanished. Two Yellow-broweds weren’t really compensation. The weather deteriorated in the afternoon, making birding extremely difficult, but sheer determination bagged me an RB Fly in the garden at Tresta.
5th Oct – South Mainland. We pottered around, a bit birded out, and hence not finding much. The weather was nice though. A knackered Scaup was probably the highlights in the finding stakes, although cracking views of Wood Warbler and the Sibe Stonechat eating mealworms at Hoswick was nice. It ate at least 15 while I was there, probably making it’s onward journey difficult.
6th Oct – we pottered around again in crap weather without finding much before catching the ferry home.