Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Shetland 2014 - Day 4 - Wild, wet and windy, a Pallid Harrier and the Golden Godwit!

The morning started pretty late due to a combination of awful weather (and a few aching heads!)... but news of a Rosy Starling up the road at Breiwick got us moving and out of the house. Unfortunately the bird must have moved on as we couldn't relocate it and so feeling pretty damp and miserable we made our way back to the house for a cup of tea.... only for Dan Pointon to call Al to tell us he'd just relocated the Pallid Harrier flying towards Tingwall Airport just up the road from Gott.... I needed this as a lifer, so we dropped Al off and set back out to look for the harrier.

We drove down to the airport expecting to find Dan watching the bird flying over the airfield itself, but upon arrival there was no-one around.... we'd got mixed messages from Al and after driving part-way to Gott, we decided to get some height and scan for the bird (without much hope!).... We parked up in a car park on the main road overlooking the airfield and almost as soon as I stepped out to scan the fenceline on the other side of the valley, I picked it out sat on one of the fenceposts around 6-700 metres away. We got the scopes out to confirm it was the bird, then put the news out.... it was obviously quite a quiet day as within 10-15 minutes there was a bit of a crowd starting to form in the car-park.... We also found out that the Rubythroat hadn't been seen all morning (which explained why there was such a crowd for the Pallid), thankfully for the many who had travelled up overnight to twitch the Rubythroat it was relocated later on a little further down the road in the same garden where we'd seen the Pechora Pipit last year!
Phone-scoped shot of the Pallid Harrier (Circus macrourus), Tingwall, Mainland
The weather was still awful, so we decided to go back to the house and take it easy and get ready for the Shetland Bird Club evening that was being run by Rebecca Nason later that evening at Sumburgh Head.

As we made our way down to the lighthouse the weather cleared up providing us with a stunning sunset as we arrived.
Sumburgh Sunset
We chatted to Rebecca and her partner Phil for a while until the main event got underway.... a Mystery Bird ID Quiz.... 50 photos taken by Rebecca of birds taken on Shetland... it was tricky, with a summer-plumaged male Pine Bunting causing us all to become unstuck and several birds in the hand giving the ringers amongst us some headaches, but by the end the totals were added up and amazingly I had won! A total off 44 out of 50 gave me the chance to hold the 'Golden Godwit' for 5 minutes (as it couldn't be taken away from Sumburgh for 'security purposes'), along with being presented with a wad of bird reports and a bottle of Famous Grouse! Suitably embarrassed (although a little proud it has to be said) after having my photo taken to document my dorkishness and we were heading back to the house ready for another day of searching for the big one!


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