Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Shetland 2014 - Day 5 - Blues and Reds

The weather had settled down a little bit in the morning so we chose to get down to Hoswick and wait on news for the Rubythroat as we felt the crowds might have dispersed and it would be great to see it again if it was there.

I had a wander round to the Orca Inn picking out a Yellow-browed Warbler, a couple of Blackcap and a Great Tit in the surrounding sycamores. We carried on to Cliff View Cottage, where the Eastern Olivaceous Warbler had been the previous October and as I got round the corner something flicked out of the garden, hovered briefly and dropped into the dog roses on the edge of the garden. I called Al and Sean around and as they appeared the bird shot out and flew straight past me, dropping into a building site across the field.... The rusty-red on the sides of the tail were obvious and all of us shouted Bluethroat at the same time. We went over to the building site to try and relocate it, but after half an hour of searching for it, the bird was nowhere to be seen. 

We walked around to the other side of the garden where we met Phil and Mark, who had just had what they thought was probably a Barred Warbler disappear into cover and we watched a couple of Yellow-browed Warblers before deciding to give the Rubythroat another go.

As we arrived, there was only a small crowd of around 15 birders gathered at the end of the drive where the Rubythroat had relocated to so I lay down on the grass at the side of the crowd and waited. It didn;t take long for the Rubythroat to appear, wandering across the drive and along the edge close to the vegetation, but it showed wonderfully well... much much better than when we'd seen it a couple of days ago... it really was quite special sharing such a magical bird with such a small crowd and every 20 minutes or so the bird would show on the path after vanishing on its circuit of the garden, one time coming to within 10 foot of us - catching us all off guard and no-one being able to get a shot of it! I was pretty pleased with what I managed to get from that session though and I stayed for a little while longer whilst the rest of the guys went to check Channerwick.
Siberian Rubythroat (Luscinia calliope), Levenwick, Mainland
After they came back to pick me up we moved on to the other side of the island to check out Geosetter, a few Yellow-browed Warblers (not much of a surprise there then!) and a showy Pied Flycatcher were the best we could manage there.
Pied Flycatcher (Ficedula hypoleuca), Geosetter, Mainland
We made our way back towards Lerwick and the Pallid Harrier was reported again back at Tingwall, so Al and I stayed in the van as we dropped the rest off and headed down to try and find it again. We had no luck with the harrier, but while we were there Chris Rodger arrived with the Shetland Nature tour group and as we were chatting, a couple of guys appeared saying they'd just found a Hornemanns Arctic Repoll by the pumping station in Veensgarth. As we could see the plantation from where we were stood, Al and I decided we'd go and have a look. We got there with no sign, a Pied Flycatcher was flicking through the back of the plantation, so we moved slightly round the corner and picked up a couple of Redpoll moving through the back. We kept scanning and the white blob finally flew in and settled on a low branch of one of the trees at the front for a minute before flying through the back to feed on the thistles behind the trees giving decent but obscured views. Not the best views of Hornemanns I'd ever had, but an obvious Arctic Redpoll all the same!

We went back to the house and told the rest of the group we'd jammed onto the Hornemann's to find out that Mark needed it for a lifer! At least we knew what the plan for the morning was going to be then!

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