RAIN, OTTERS & BLYTH'S REED WARBLER!
Everyone met up at 7.15am to go birding, but Ashley suggested we have breakfast first as it was raining so heavily. So off with the wellies etc and we all had an early breakfast. We then left at 8.30am for a day of finding, migrants, rares and more!
Overall it was a much better day than yesterday, there were a few downpours in the morning, but this soon cleared and a sunny afternoon was enjoyed by all. At Grutness we were treated to distant but magical views of a dog Otter, but too far away for pictures – a Wheatear was also seen and a big flock of Twite were seen along a fenceline. We also saw Dunlin, Sanderling, Ringed Plover and Turnstone. We also explored a quarry close by for migrants and saw a Merlin, Blackbirds, Robin and nearby a Woodcock flew over.
At the Virkie Pool we had a Lesser Black-backed Gull, Sanderling, Ringed Plovers, Wheatears, Dunlin, Fieldfare, Blackbirds, Rock Doves, House Sparrows, Starlings, Bar-tailed and Black-tailed Godwits, Ruff x 4, Knot x 2 – however, there was no sign of the recent Little Bunting in the willows.
We then stopped at Cunningsburgh to see the recent Rustic Bunting, but sadly no sign of. The bird has been favouring an overgrown garden and house which is for sale – there was a wonderful array of plants in this garden, including Artichokes. Two Siskins were watched close by along with House Sparrows, Starlings and a Raven.
Where the Rustic Bunting was!
Artichoke in the overgrown garden
Searching for the Rustic Bunting!
Starling in garden at Cunningsburgh
We then went to Wester Quarff and searched for migrants in scrub in a large garden, where we saw a Lesser Whitethroat and a Common Chiffchaff. In the voe at the end of the road we had spectacular views of at least 500 Eiders in a raft – the contrast of the black and white Eiders against a deep, dark blue sea was stunning to say the least. A Black Guillemot and a few Shags were also seen here. We visited a new farm shop north of Cunningsburgh, which had a good and exciting range of supplies including ginger cake and organic lentil crisps! We had our lunch by the Mousa slipway at Sandwick in the sunshine – a beautiful spot with almost white sandy beach, rocks, seaweed and the deepest blue sea. We also saw a Purple Sandpiper, Turnstones and a Black Guillemot here.
Huge raft of Eiders at Wester Quarff
Mousa slipway/beach Sandwick
Turnstones at Sandwick
Rock Pipit at Sandwick
After lunch we headed to 'Sand Lodge' and stood overlooking a dry stone wall, waiting and hoping for a Blyth's Reed Warbler to appear in the fuschia bush. Here I met the incredible photographer Hugh Harrop! It was nice to put a face to a name at last. Steve Arlow, another well known local photographer was also here. We waited for over an hour to see this bird and was just about to give up, when it appeared in a small bush and then into the fuschia bush and gave us amazing views – in fact the best views I've had of a Blyth's Reed Warbler! It was more obliging than the two Yellow-browed Warblers which we also saw here amongst the sycamore leaves. We also saw a female Blackcap who was the warm up act before the main event! A Redpoll and a Merlin were also seen from this idyllic spot.
Blyth's Reed Warbler
Blackcap at Sandwick
We then returned to Quarff to relocate a Bluethroat that a group of birders had seen this afternoon, but after much searching failed to find this bird. Nothing else here was seen of note. Just before sunset we ended the day at Quendale. We walked for a approximately half a mile along the burn to find a reported Marsh Warbler, but no sign of. A good number of vocal Ravens were watched overhead and a Redwing was seen in the irises. As we departed here (a short distance along the road) some new birds for the day were found, including Willow Warbler, Slavonian Grebe on Hilwell Loch along with some Wigeon, Gadwall and two more Fieldfares.
Back at the hotel we all enjoyed a lovely meal, completed the bird log and looked at pictures we had taken.
SEE TOUR ACCOUNT OF THE DAY HERE: