Monday, 12 October 2009


It's become clear over the last 9 days that we can't find our own arses with both hands, let alone any rare birds, so rather than go home having not seen much we decided to twitch a few things today. First off was the Taiga Flycatcher at the splendidly named Gloup (pronounced gloop) on Yell. This was a British tick for me, so I was pleased to find that it was still there and showing well. It was 'doing a circuit' as they say, but eventually it stopped flitting about long enough to get some photos:

This is my kind of twitching - a third for Britain with just three of us watching it! A Lapland Bunting flew over calling, and there were 5 Bramblings in a nearby field, but that was about it, so we headed south, checking various gardens on Yell, which were mostly devoid of birds. At Mid Yell we stopped at the leisure centre car park, and were just about to leave when Rob spotted the Arctic Redpoll feeding in a weedy patch by the car. We leapt out again and got a few shots of it feeding with its friend the Mealy Redpoll. The size comparison was interesting, the Arctic appearing about a third bigger!

A stop at the aptly named Graven (which consisted of a graveyard and a house) produced a nice Bluethroat, a Yellow-browed Warbler and this Pied Fly:

Next on the twitching agenda was a Red-flanked Bluetail at Sandgarth, which we saw but didn't manage to photograph as it was flying around all over the place and never staying still for very long. Always a nice species to see though. Finally on the way home we caught up with an old favourite, the drake Ring-necked Duck at Loch of Tingwall.

We also had a half hearted go at the Catfirth plantations, but it was getting dark by then, and the most important thing was to get to the shop before it closed. There we found a splendid selection of pies, including the 'Holy Grail' – the fabled macaroni pie (see Mark's blog for a full write up with photos). I had a very nice cheese, bean and tattie pie, which rounded off the day nicely.

Tomorrow is our last full day; we intend to continue with the twitching, the targets being the Quendale Spotted Sandpiper and the Bigton Western Bonelli's Warbler if they're still there.


Tim Allwood said...

Sounds like a fair day when contrasted with mine:

Thanks to the "news you can trust" I stopped off at Winterton South dunes for a possible Sardinian Warbler that later became a possible Subalpine Warbler. When I arrived the bird was actually a Dartford Warbler and it was in the north dunes. And the Laps with it were Reed Buntings.

And I missed all those 'Little Auks' in sept too.

Great eh?

The Leicester Llama said...

Twitching up here isn't entirely without its perils. Fortunately we've avoided going for any of them (mainly by chance), but there have been 5 or 6 single observer rarities in the last few days, all 'seen' by the same single observer. I can't say any more than that, mainly because I don't know any more than that!

Jeff Higgott said...

Not heard mention of Gloup on rare bird reports before. I once went to Gloup Holm (that tiny lump or rock off Gloup) with the intention of spending the night and catching some Leach's, but we fucked up and lost the food, water and CB radios (remember those) in the sea as we tried to climb up from the boat. We tried to wave to the boat to come back and help us and they just waved back and headed for Yell.

The Leicester Llama said...

Gloup looked an excellent place for rare birds. There's not much there - a tiny garden (about 3 square feet) at the farmhouse, a few patches of weeds, a couple of iris beds and a potato field. The flycatcher was feeding around the farm buildings, in the shit heap, perching on fences, rusting farm machinery etc. Nice and easy, unlike the bluetail - too much cover at Sandgarth!

Jeff Higgott said...

Hope you paid homage to the memory of Bobby T on your visit to Mid Yell.

Mike Watson said...

Lovely photos of the Taiga Fly's main features by you and the Pie man, that's something special! Makes me want to see one in the UK now. BR, Mike