Saturday, 3 October 2009

Welcome to sunny Shetland

Having only had about three hours sleep last night, I'm not actually sure what I did today, but I seem to be sitting on Rob's sofa typing this, so I assume I travelled to Shetland via Mark's car, a couple of planes and Rob's borrowed white van. Or I could be dreaming of course. No I'm definitely not dreaming – I can smell the cat piss. Actually that doesn't help, as one of our cats kindly pissed on my suitcase before I left, so I could still be at home.

Let's assume for the sake of sanity that I'm not dreaming. The passengers on the Edinburgh – Sumburgh flight seemed to be mostly twitchers heading for the Whalsay Veery/Fetlar Taiga Flycatcher, and the weather when we arrived was surprisingly nice and sunny, with just a light north-westerly breeze, although this later deteriorated into 'heavy clag' – a descriptive Northern term for drizzle. My notebook tells me that we saw a couple of Wheatears in the Toab fields and a Snow Bunting at Sumburgh Head. We thought we might have heard the Pechora Pipit over Toab, but were more likely hallucinating from lack of sleep.

Highlight of the day was watching Mark set up his much anticipated 'crop cam' in Rob's garden. Yes, there really are crops (of a sort) in Rob's garden, planted with the sole intention of attracting birds, since Rob famously shuns vegetables and usually lives on fried egg sandwiches. The camera initially gave crippling views of a drake American Wigeon skulking among the onions (anyone who knows Rob's garden will understand), but these were later replaced by crippling views of the inside of a plastic jug keeping the rain off the camera.

Aha – I can prove I'm not dreaming – here are some photos of a lovely Shetland Starling (juvenile/1st-winter female), and the Island of Fair (adult male – no I don't know what I'm talking about either), showing well this afternoon from Toab:

The weather forecast is promising, veering monster, and there are rare birds all over the place apart from in south Mainland (very mobile Pechora Pipit somewhere, probably). A bottle of Jura has been purchased for consumption later, assuming I can stay awake long enough to open it.


Alan Tilmouth said...

Terribly upset, clicked on the crop cam link and all I got was more pies. I demand a refund, bloody waste of licence payers money.

beast said...

Wot a welcome to the Shets eh Andy? First bird you photograph is a fantastic nutcracker...! Well done!
How some stupid 'mothers' ever confuse these 'big-spotty' birds with starlings is beyond me like...

ps....i saw lot's of nutcrackers today in even took to hanging on me nutz....and then it decided to peck at me big fat b....[so i shot it]....

pps...have a 'nice' spotting holiday!

The Leicester Llama said...

Alan - yes I'm afraid all you'll get after dark is the test card! But during the day it is real streaming video, although the 'live' bit is a slight lie as there's a delay of about 10 seconds on it.