Saturday, 15 October 2011

Shetland Day 3 - Fetlar

Despite having only been on Unst for a couple of days, we decided to go to Fetlar today to look for the Pallid Harrier and three American Golden Plovers which were near Funzie the other day. All the ferries to and from Unst are free (once you've paid your initial return fare from Yell), so it didn't cost us anything. Not having checked the ferry times before we set off, we were very lucky to arrive just as one was about to depart – a minute later and we wouldn't have got to Fetlar till the afternoon.

As we drove across the island in heavy rain I picked up a ringtail harrier, which obviously we hoped might be the Pallid, but on closer inspection it was yet another Hen. The rain continued for most of the day till about 3pm, and the south-south-west wind steadily increased from about force 5 in the morning to gale force 8 or 9 by late afternoon.

We spent most of the day trying to get good enough views of the Golden Plover flock between Funzie & Everland. This was difficult, as the flock was flighty and kept splitting up into smaller flocks. Eventually we had reasonable views of most of them, but couldn't find any Americans. A Lapland Bunting was at Loch of Funzie, and then in the afternoon the juvenile Pallid Harrier flew across the road and landed at Mires of Funzie. Got some crap flight shots of it, which at least prove that it was a Pallid:
Loch of Funzie

Poor record shots of rare bird caused partly by forgetting to turn the
image stabilizer back on, and partly by general photographic incompetence

Another stroke of luck was arriving at the only shop on the island just as it was closing (at 1pm!) – fortunately the proprieter let us in, and we were able to purchase a couple of Johnson & Wood chicken and bacon pies. Again, a minute later and we would have been left hungry till we got back to Unst!

While we were consuming said pies, we received a text from Rob about a 'probable Black-eared Wheatear' reported on Unst, which we didn't really want to hear, as we couldn't get back till about 17:15 or so. Fortunately it was re-identified, as Rob correctly predicted, as a wet Northern Wheatear.

Very rough crossing back across Bluemull Sound. Forecast for more of the same tomorrow.

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