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Shetland - Day 7

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Final day on the Isles and it was another slow day.  The morning started with the news that a rose-breasted grosbeak had been found on Unst.  Having seeing one on the Scillies, the question was whether to join the throng of birders and head north - struck with ambivalence - the decision was to stay.  The feeling was that there could be something else around. The wind had totally died down which sparked some optimism at the start of the day.  However, you can't tie the wind down for long in these parts but at least it brightened up in the afternoon with the sun adding shimmer to the sea. Of note today was the continuing pied flycatcher at Levenwick, and another at Quendale.  Three redpoll flew over Gulberwick.

Shetland - Day 6

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So it continues.  Strong winds and a dearth of migrants on the islands.  Today was leisurely with a bit of birding apathy thrown in while still managing somehow to gather some enthusiasm and energy to get out there and shake a few trees.  Alas, by 4pm all motivation had been cast asunder - the wind seemed to have slightly increased in strength during the day.  A nice cup of tea (cups of tea are invariably 'nice') beckoned and there endeth the 6th day.   Pool of Virkie - 30 black-tailed godwit and seven bar-tailed godwit of note on a low tide. Grutness - Just five kittiwake (4 ad, 1 1st cy) Boddam - The 11 pale-bellied brent goose had relocated to the small bay at Boddam. Levenwick - Managed to conjure up a pied flycatcher within the small woodland opposite the cottage.  A single chiffchaff and robin were also seen there. Sumburgh - This young  otter was very vocal while it scampered over the rocks near to the hotel.  The wind felt really strong here. Quendale - Just fiv

Shetland - Day 5

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A dismal day hampered by strong winds that finally released its grip mid-afternoon.  The morning was largely spent sheltering from the elements and repositioning between various locations.  The Isles remain bereft of notable vagrancy but there is still time.   Kergord - a short vigil within the woodland mustered around 25 chaffinch , a few goldcrest , and an elusive robin . Aith - the wind was still howling but managed to pin down the adult rosy starling whilst sat in the car.  It however eluded the lens.  A whooper swan flew over. Levenwick - the wind continued its relentless pursuit of ruining my day.  A single kittiwake was the only offering from the beach. Virkie - the weather began to improve in the short time it took to drive down south.  A group of 11 pale-bellied brent goose and two eider were present on the pool and two bar-tailed godwit were keeping the redshank company. Loch of Spiggie - 25 whooper swan and 20 wigeon were present here. Wester Quarff - bird of the day

Shetland - Day 4

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With very little around at the moment, the choices are endless so today's excursion to Unst was very much on the cards.  Two ferries are required to reach the north of Shetland from the Mainland, seemlessly co-ordinated so that waiting times are kept to a minimum.  Northbound navigation was leisurely and uncomplicated.  It helped that there were very few people making the journey. The en-route scenery is breathtaking, the big landscapes that Scotland excels in. Birding however was dire to say the least but visiting some of Shetland's most heralded sites are now etched into the memory, a reference point for the folk next week who will be arriving in forecasted winds that appear to be much more favourable for vagrancy. So, for today's sightings: Yell - a single merlin chasing a meadow pipit as seen from the car Norwick, Unst - Visiting the famous Valyie garden and chatting to the owners who were extremely convivial.  The little stint remained on the beach associating with a

Shetland - Day 3

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A grey day that rarely improved albeit for a two minute spell when the sun poked through the grey clouds revealing a bit of warmth.  It was slow, with not a lot happening round these parts or throughout the rest of the UK for that matter.  Just waiting for a weather system to liven things up.  These were the slim pickings from the day. Levenwick - moulting adult summer great northern diver in the bay with two adult kittiwake , six razorbill and three black guillemot .  Two great skua flew below the escarpment to the east and three twite were busily feeding along the roadside.  Two sanderling were amongst turnstone and ringed plover along the beach foreshore. Boddam - at least 30 golden plover flying over but was driving at the time and couldn't check to see if there was anything else mixed in with them. On the foreshore, six snipe , seven dunlin , 11 teal were congregated in loose flocks. Three redpoll and five chaffinch flew over. Two wheatear were present in the adjacent fie

Shetland - Day 2

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So it begins and a reasonable start checking out a local woodland on the outskirts of Lerwick showing some promise for the coming days.  The plan was to connect with some of the species that have been hanging around in the hope that something else might turn up en route.  The sun was shining and the winds were light suggesting that conditions were not conducive for a fall of migrants.   Wadbister - a lovely place looking over the Voe.  The king eider , a 2nd year, was eventually picked up distantly amongst a raft of around hundred common eider preening on a small platform.  There were three black guillemot there, a red-breasted merganser , and four wigeon . Aith - hoping for the rosy starling which drew a blank.  Three smart wheatear were present next to the bay and two chaffinch flew over.  Four arctic tern were feeding offshore. Quendale - an hour's drive south to this popular site. Two very brief views of red-breasted flycatcher in sycamores next to the mill.  The micro-woo

Shetland - Day 1

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Always an epic journey hauling up to Shetland which took a coach (rail replacement), train, tube, plane, plane, car - twelve and a half hours (it can be done quicker).  First flight for a while - the anticipation of the flying experience and what the coming week would hold.  A big trip.  Let's see what happens.