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Sunday, 15 October 2017

SHETLAND HOLIDAY, Day Eight!

TOUR WITH ORIOLE BIRDING

RAINING HEAVILY & THE SNOWBALL!

When someone found out the forecast for today, it was decided that we would have a lie-in and meet at 8am for breakfast. When I looked out of the window first thing, it was steady rain, wind and gloomy conditions. After breakfast we all had just over an hour before we headed out at 10am – it was still raining then. I used that time to write yesterday’s blog post in my pages programme until I could get onto the internet. We discovered that there is now a new bar in the complex that has free WiFi, so may be able to post later!
Looking out of my window, waiting for the rain to stop!
View from my window below: 
We started the day at Baltasound to look for the redpoll flock in hope of seeing the recent Hornemanni Redpolls – we stopped at the house with the mustard crop, just past the post office. We saw a Yellow-browed Warbler flit into the crop and that was all here, aside from House Sparrows.

Next stop was Easter Loch at Uyeasound. No sign of the Ring-necked Duck, but as yesterday a good selection, including Whooper Swans with juv.’s (no juvs yesterday), Tufted Ducks and Goldeneyes.
Whooper Swans at Easter Loch at Uyeasound, Unst

Golden Plovers at Muness

At Muness we watched tons of waders again (as last night), a huge 500+ flock of Golden Plover, which we carefully scanned, Turnstone, Ringed Plovers, Redshanks, Ruff x 10.

At Nikkavord Lea, Balta Sound we were very lucky enough to find FOUR Hornemanni Arctic Redpolls, along with a large Common Redpoll and 1 Lesser Redpoll! We have been searching for these since our arrival and had almost given up! A really kind local man beckoned us to join us in his garden, so that we could get a closer look. We ended up in a field adjacent to the garden watching these cracking snowball redpolls in the rain. We all managed to get some half decent shots in horrible weather conditions. We then returned to our accommodation to have lunch and spent a good while drying our camera gear out and cleaning steamed up binoculars.
General view of the Hornemanni Arctic Redpolls

Hornemanni Arctic Redpolls feeding at Nikkavord Lea, Balta Sound

Hornemanni Arctic Redpolls 


After lunch we went to Skaw and a Brambling was seen and 4 Redwings. The beach didn’t look as scenic as it did yesterday in the sunshine, there was no birds here of note. Even the Shags on the cliffs had decreased dramatically. There was a local birdwatcher here, an older man and he speed walked past us with a stick in his hand, way over the cliff top – I have never seen anyone move so fast!

We returned to Northdale in search of the Barred Warbler again, but no luck. There was a massive ram in the field who intrigued us all – he had such a killer expression on his face, a real character! Birds seen here: 4 Bramblings, a Blackcap and 4 Redwings.
Ram at Northdale


Jason then had news from the WhatsApp group that there was a Surf Scoter at Balta Sound, so off we went! Ashley picked the scoter up pretty quickly in his scope and we all enjoyed, distant and windy views of a fem./1s w Surf Scoter! I managed to get some very wobbly phone-scoped video too (however, this was not worth publishing). The Surf Scoter was with 2 Long-tailed Ducks and a Common Scoter. Whilst watching the Surf Scoter, we bumped into Will Miles, Magnus Robb (Sound Approach Team) and Peter Gordon – we were pleased to hear, that not only had they seen the Hornemanni Arctic Redpolls, but Magnus had also succeeded in recording them!
Jason Moss, Ashley Saunders, Peter Gordon, Will Miles & Magnus Rob


We checked another local patch of sheltered pines and scrub, which only produced a Blackbird, a Song Thrush and a cat! It looked particularly good, but maybe the cat had cleared everything out!

At Valyie, the Long-eared Owl had departed, but we did have male and female Peregrine overhead, along with approximately 10+ Bramblings and a Pink-footed Goose flew over. We didn't see the Common Rosefinch this evening – lucky we saw it when we did!

Back at our accommodation, Nick, Jason and I took our laptops to the new bar and logged into the free WiFi to catch up. I needed to write three days of Norfolk news and copy and paste my blog posts in. I will sort all my pictures out on Tuesday evening. I don’t have the time to go through them now
Saxa Vord Self-Catering Houses

SEE TOUR ACCOUNT OF THE DAY HERE:
https://www.oriolebirding.com/birding-diary-news-4.html

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