Shetland final update – 6th – 7th October and the bird of the trip.   Leave a comment

THe 6th was cold, windy and wet. During the morning I visited Grutness where I had distant views of a Red-backed Shrike, Pool of Virkie where a Long-tailed Duck showed well, Scatness, which held four Whooper Swans but little else and Channelwick where I also saw very little.

Paul and Liz have spent the last few days in Aberdeen on business and returned this afternoon, so I spent much of the rest of the day with them.


Immature Long-tailed Duck.

Bar-tailed Godwits

The island of Mousa is an RSPB reserve. Photographed from Channelwick in better conditions early in the week.



The 7th was windy too, but much drier. I visited the Pool of Virkie where I saw a few waders and two Long-tailed Ducks. A  scan across the bay towards Garthness revealed big numbers of Fulmars and Kittiwakes on the move. I picked up an all dark shearwater with them, the only realistic candidate would be a Sooty Shearwater, another year tick.

Hoping it would hang around, I drove right round the bay, past Quendale to Garthness, but an hours seawatch produced nothing but Fulmars and two Bonxies with a Merlin on the way back.

In the afternoon a trip around Scatness gave me my final chance to see a goodie on Shetland but produced little but a couple of Whoopers and a few common ducks and waders.

I have kept photos of my favourite bird until the end. On the 25th I had poor views of a Lanceolated Warbler on Whalsay. A day or two later Paul and I visited Sandness in the far west of Shetland mainland, where another Lancie had been seen. Originally our views were brief as it scuttled around in a mass of weeds, but then it flew to the nearby farmhouse lawn and from there to a drainage ditch, where it fed unconcerned by our presence. Lanceolated Warblers are closely related to Grasshopper Warbler and have been spreading westwards across Siberia in recent years and now breed as close as eastern Finland. Even so, they remain very rare in the UK and are hardly ever seen away from Shetland. This was one of my most desired birds of the trip and definitely gets the accolade of ‘bird of the trip’.

The Lanceolated Warbler played hide and seek in the weeds before flying across the road to the farmhouses lawn ……

… from there it flew to a nearby drainage ditch where it grovelled around in full view.

Lancies can be such hard birds to see that we felt really privileged to get such a prolonged and close views.

Well that’s it for Shetland, 16 days on these magic islands, 18 year ticks and two additions to my British list (Pechora and Lancie) plus some valuable ringing experience. Although much quieter during the second week than the first, it was all enjoyable.

Many thanks to Paul and Liz for their company and putting me up and particularly for Paul for the help with the birding.

Garthness as seen from Scatness. This was my sixth visit to Shetland and it won’t be my last!

Posted October 7, 2012 by gryllosblog in Uncategorized

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