Tuesday, 6 September 2011

It's that time of year again when I head north to Shetland in search of some rarities.  If you've never been to Shetland I wouldn't bother it's really hard work and the weather is shit, you'd be much better off in Norfolk or on the Scillies!!!

Once again I'll be on Foula although probably only for a week this year, but then I'm flexible I could come straight home if needed for work or stay for another week or so.

Anyway with it getting so close I remembered I hadn't got round to posting the pics from last year due to the computer trouble I had.  So here's a few shots, mostly crap, some pretty good, some educational.

Foula was pretty quiet for the first few days, we mopped up on this Pec and Bluethroat on the first day and the Buff breast in the next day or so. 

While Shetland was being swamped in rare stuff we had to settle for Barred Warblers and Rosefinches.  OK I know the Barred pic is crap but where else are you gonna see two sat together?  There were actually three but I couldn't fit them all in the shot!

These two were feeding on the same tiny puddle in an old quarry and were allowing approach down to a few feet.  
It was a great couple of weeks on FOula but Easterlies aren't a great wind as mainland Shetland filters out lots of the birds.  We had to settle for a Paddyfield (which was originally thought to be a Sykes's Warbler, not by us I add) and a Lancey that only half of us saw.

As soon as we got back onto Mainland Gav stopped me from nearly walking into this Nightjar, a scarce bird in Shetland and we had a Hawfinch at the same site.  Plus many yellow browed, at times it seems like they are the commonest Warbler!

We also managed to see the first of two Bluetails, a Sykes's Warbler which was impossible to photograph and plenty of other good birds like this RB Fly and we found a Dusky Warbler.  The morning I was flying onto Fair Isle I found this Spotted Sand which was cool.

My First day on Fair Isle was a repeat of last year as almost the first bird I saw was a Blyth's Reed that had just been found, It went missing for several days before reappearing only a few hundred yards from the first sighting.

All in all it was pretty quiet with few good birds, best I managed to find was this Red Kite!  They are pretty rare on Fair Isle with about ten records I think.

Even though nothing really rare there were plenty of decent birds around like this interesting brown Lesserthroat and Little Bunting.

Jack scored by finding this OBP and Becca Nason pulled out this Radde's

When I got really bored I started messing about trying to take flight shots of Snedge bunts.  And this rather bizarre nominate Treecreeper was well worth a look

The chiffchaffs are interesting too all three of these gave a siberian like call!  I've just about given up trying to work out what's what with these things,  I just enjoy them for what they are....eastern!

Here's a nice pic of the Blyth's when it reappeared and a Reed from Foula to compare, chalk and cheese!

The second and much duller of the two Bluetails I saw.  And below the Izzy Shrike that our Finnish mates Janne and Pottu found.

Continuing the Shrike theme I called for this Steppe Grey at the Loch of Strathbeg when I left Shetland  It was just as tame as the Lincs bird from a couple of years back and even landed on my knee whilst I was crouched down photographing it!

That's just about it then, certainly not the number of rares as the year before but still enough to make me go back this year.

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