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Friday, 13 October 2017




The weather was dire this morning, gloomy, wet and dark. We met up for breakfast and then packed all our gear up and loaded it into the minibus. Today we left the Sumburgh Hotel to head to Gutcher, to catch two ferries to stay in Unst for the next four days. We stopped at the Virkie Pool and saw 5 Red-breasted Mergansers and 2 Eiders.

We then moved on to the Loch of Spiggie, which is an RSPB reserve. This was a stunning place with the road running between the loch and a track leading down to to Scousburgh Sands (known as Spiggie beach). There were lots of Whooper Swans in the loch along Mute Swans, a couple of Goldeneye’s, Tufted Duck, Teal, Wigeon and a Red-thoated Diver flew past. The beach was beautiful with almost white sands and clear blue sea – from here we saw four cracking Great Northern Divers, 5 Long-tailed Ducks, 1 Merlin flew over the dunes, Ringed Plover 14+, Turnstones, Eider and a Black Guillemot. There was tons of ribben seaweed amongst the stones and white sands – a beautiful place indeed.
Loch of Spiggie RSPB

 Loch of Spiggie RSPB

 Whooper and Mute Swans at Spiggie Loch

Scousburgh Sands, know as Spiggie Beach

Several Seals at Spiggie Beach

One of two Common Cranes at Brow Loch

At Brow Loch we had distant views of two Cranes in the drizzle and poor light which have been a round for a while. Next stop Lerwick!

At Tescos, Lerwick, Ashley picked up his pre-ordered on-line shop, whilst we shopped shopped for our lunch and other goodies! We then went to the Fjara Cafe on the harbour side and had coffee and cake – fabulous views of the sea here! Bumped into Jacquie and Dave Bridges again We then left to drive to Gutcher.
Fjara Cafe at Lerwick

At 12.50 (ish) we caught the ferry from Gutcher to Yell. We had a while to wait for the ferry to Unst when we reached Yell, so managed to squeeze in some birding. We walked up the very steep hill and peered into some gardens, finding a Yellow-browed Warbler, Bramblings x 2 and there were Highland Cattle lounging around in a field. We had to speed walk back to our vehicle and only just made it in time for the next ferry to Unst! Both these ferries were brilliant fun and exhilarating to say the least. I managed to get some shots of a Black Guillemot swimming whilst on the second ferry. We arrived on Unst at 1.50pm.
Yellow-browed Warbler at Gutcher

Speed walking, to catch the ferry to Unst at Gutcher!
Geese at Gutcher

Highland Cattle at Gutcher

Black Guillemot from the Gutcher ferry

We drove to the Saxa Vord complex and Ashley picked the keys up for our accommodation. We had three houses between us all. I stayed in a house with Ashley and Nick, Lyn and John in another and John and Ian in the last house. All the main cooking would be done in the house I stayed in, as Ashley would be doing all the cooking! After putting our luggage into the house, we all met up again and went off birding to Haroldswick and to the shoreline to hunt for a Bluethroat. It didn’t take long for us to find this cracking little bird and it was lovely to see John and Lyn enjoying their very first Bluethroat – it momentarily perched on a small boulder for pictures and the light was stunning! An  excellent start to our arrival on Unst!
Red-Spotted Bluethroat
Feeding on the shoreline at Haroldswick, Unst

Next stop was to Baltasound to look for a redpoll flock, but no luck at all this evening. We were very rudely shouted at by a local man, who told us to F off and to move our mini bus away from his house and ‘didn’t we know where the f……g car park was?! He was very aggressive and obviously had problems with anyone else in the human race! He remained verbally angry even after we apologised (for parking on a public road). His blood pressure must have been sky high. We did jest over the following days that maybe we should sprinkle some bird seed in his front garden or put news out that a mega bird had turned up in his garden, but decided that might not be a good idea!!!

We sat by Hunter’s Wood, watching birds coming into roost and after a few Blackbirds bombed in there, I decided to keep a Blackbird count – this created lots of entertainment for us with Blackbirds flying in and then Blackbirds deciding to depart, which totally messed up my figures and created some amusement! We headed back to the Saxa Vord complex and Jason discovered that he had left his SLR camera in the ditch by the bank, where we had all been watching Hunter's Wood! He raced back with Ashley and found it, still in the ditch!

Ashley cooked us a fantastic meal in the evening – awesome birder and chef too! So looking forward to exploring Unst over the next few days! Not WiFi here to upload pictures though!


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