Just a quick update today, since I’m pretty tired… obviously too much birding
We headed up to North Mainland this morning, starting off at a new, and rather promising, site near Urafirth. A small shelter belt near a garden had held a Coue’s Arctic Redpoll yesterday… but although it was still present, I only got untickable views of what was presumably the bird in flight! Some excitement was provided for quite some time by a rather pale looking acro that skulked around in low bushes, and tended to hold its tail cocked (somewhat banana-like, perhaps)… but when it eventually gave itself up for photos was shown to be ‘just’ a Reed Warbler. Shame!
From here, we moved north to Isbister, where a big Common Redpoll of some sort of north-western persuasion was feeding with House Sparrows. Note the typical backdrop to a Shetland bird:
After popping back into the previous site (no Arctic Redpoll, and couldn’t be bothered to wait around for a Barred Warbler in very windy conditions), we headed out to Esha Ness, where a Buff-breasted Sandpiper had been roaming around for a few days. Unfortunately, it appeared to have done a bunk, with several birders failing to find it. Some of them hadn’t seen any Snow Buntings either, but we managed to find a fantastic flock of just over 100 wheeling around and feeding on the short cropped turf. Brilliant birds, and presumably newly arrived on westerlies.
We had a brief look around the Sullom Plantation with nothing better than a Sparrowhawk and a Chaffinch, before moving down to the Busta House Hotel garden in Brae. Again, I’d not looked here before, but really liked the sheltered sycamores and long grass underneath – feels good for a rarity. We didn’t manage that, but I quickly picked up a very smart Wood Warbler – always nice to see, and not a common bird on passage.
Final stop was the plantation at Eswick, where we clearly heard the reported Red-breasted Flycatcher, but failed to see it. Just about sums up the day – a case of nearly, but not quite!