Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Singing the Blues

Last weekend i was busy all day Saturday so when Sunday arrived we headed down to Quendale where a Bluethroat had been reported six days earlier. Autumn migration is different to Spring migration as birds are not in such a hurry to leave an area. They have to refuel and if enough food is locally available then they may stay awhile, that was the hope anyway.

Arriving at the farm i met David Gifford who said he was just about the walk up to the quarry where the bird had been seen a few days before. A few other birders came and went, while others made their way up. At least today the cattle would not block the way. Quendale recorded a Thick Billed Warbler last week so you never know what is going to turn up.

A look in the bushes revealed three Yellow Browed Warblers, numbers are still very high for this species. A couple of ticking Robin was also very welcome - a rare breeding species in Shetland. On the way up lots of Raven, Herring and Gt BB gulls flew over, while a flock of 70 meadow pipit keep pace with us.

The Bluethroat was seen on arrival which was good and we settled down for a prolonged look. This used to be a bogey bird for me in England, missing a few by 10 mins or so, but since moving to Shetland I have had very good views in Spring and Autumn.

This bird performed very close to the admiring viewers, moving across vegetation several times before jumping up into a bush, posing for photos before headed over over our heads. It really deserved a round of applause from the small group of birders.

The bird didn't return in the hour so I set off up the track to view another place it had been seen, but no luck, others search the iris bed but nothing. I headed back to the car , greeting several small groups of birders keen to see this stunning bird- with `no sign' signalling a bit of annoyance in a few people, especially with a couple of birders who had just come down from Unst only to find that a Swainson Thrush had just been located where they had searched just a few hours before.

We headed south to Sumburgh head where two groups of birders stood, one looking out to sea the other staring at some rough grass. a scan of the area revealed a Lapland Bunting a nice bird to see, then word came across - Whales and dolphins.

A mass rush to the cliffs just in time to see a couple of Minke Whales and a couple of Porpoise in the distance while another Minke could be seen near Scatness. Things settled down so most went back to see the Lapland bunting until a shout of Dolphins

This time 5 Risso's Dolphins could be see close to the base of the cliffs moving to the west, a superb sight - everyone giving a cheer. News came to us later that at least 150 Porpoise had been seen near Mail beach in Mousa Sound, another good feeding area for cetaceans.

What a day, and even though the light was poor the wildlife certainly came out  to brighten things up.

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