Party ’till the End
We were very fortunate to begin and end this holiday with sea mammals, Killer Whales to begin and Minke Whales at the end. In-between we squeezed in some 109 bird species, with many scarce and some rare bird as well ass all the islands specialties. the very last on the list a Thrush Nightingale. here’s part 3 of our report:
This 1st summer Common Crane was seen every day on Unst, with its damaged wing (assume it had hit an overhead lines).
In a little purple patch we found Greenland and Mealy Redpoll, Quail, and Wood Warbler in small area of Haroldswick. Baltasound yielded migrants too including Long-eared Owl and Cuckoo and Otters on an early morning safari.
Fetlar for a Day
Known as the ‘Garden of Shetland’, Fetlar never fails! Here’s Brydon Thomason of Shetland Nature. Born and bred on the island, it’s clearly ‘his island’ and always gets nervous whenever I take groups over 😉 . This year it held easily the rarest bird of our spring holiday. BOOM! Blyth’s Reed Warbler….
Brydon Thomason “welcome to my island” 😉
Exploring Tresta Manse on Fetlar in spring. The only mature garden on Fetlar, having seen Taiga Flycatcher, Grey-cheeked Thrush and nearby Sykes’s Warbler – you can understand I hope why every visit is anticipation filled. The garden held a Spotted Flycatcher this time… what might we find there this autumn?
Our day trip to Fetlar seems always to produce something special. This time a Blyth’s Reed Warbler no less- only the 7th May record for Britain and my 2nd record on Fetlar! Here’s the first one which was a group find. Redstart, Short-eared Owl and Siskin were all migrants and we found another Red-backed Shrike!
Group peaks with major rarity. Worth a big X for a Blyth’s Reed Warbler! 🙂
Back on Unst, as the week started to close out, besides all the birds and wildlife, the scenery was much loved. Some of the seacliff views off the west side of Hermaness.
The Subtle Stuff
Greenland Redpoll ssp. rostrata. Pretty confident streaky long-bodied redpolls (especially this one with its very buffy face) at Haroldswick and Sumburgh looked good for ‘North-westerns’. A Mealy Redpoll was also at Haroldswick. We also saw 1st summers (2cy) of both Atlantic and Continental Cormorants to compare (the latter rare on Shetland), normal and eastern (kobylini-type) Red-backed Shrikes, Greenland and nominate Wheatears side-by-side and acredula Willow Warblers.
Rare and beautiful flowers on Unst
On it’s rocky desert-like environment, the Keen of Hamar on Unst is always part of a spring itinerary, even for those not used to looking at wild flowers, it’s a special experience.
(Above) Beautiful Moss Campion and endemic Edmonston’s Chickweed at the Keen.
Like book ends, the last day of the holiday was marked by surprises which included rare birds and cetaceans. We got to be in on the identification wrestle with a Thrush Nightingale at Virkie and finished before dinner by finding 2 Minke Whales passing north off Sumburgh Head (this photo by Brydon Thomason of a Minke off Fetlar, showing the characteristic shape and dorsal fin).
Space and words in a report like this make it impossible to shoehorn in, all of the wonderful experiences and discoveries we had. Suffice to say it was such a starlight holiday- we are already planning next spring’s gig, with a special guest ‘new guide’ for Shetland Nature.
if you can’t wait that long, there are still places for this autumn birding holiday adventures!