SHETLAND BIRD NEWS, PHOTOS, BIRDING, LIFE AND MORE! MY 13th YEAR ANNIVERSARY 2023!


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Thursday, 21 September 2023

SHETLAND BIRD NEWS!

Shetland Bird News, Latest Sightings:

 
Fair Isle Bird Observatory, Latest Sightings:
https://www.fairislebirdobs.co.uk/latest_sightings.htm

 

I can't recall ever seeing a day of so many seriously mega birds turning up!
This list is almost unprecedented!!!


Bay-breasted Warbler at Ramsey Island, Magnolia Warbler at St Govin's Head, Pembrokeshire
Baltimore Oriole at Inishbofin, County Galway, Cliff Swallows x 2 in County Clare, Cliff Swallow in County Cork, Blackburnian Warbler (yesterday) at County Kerry, Ireland,
Bobalink and probable Alder Flycatcher at Skokholm Island
Possible Sykes's Warbler and possible Eastern Olivaceous Warbler at Mizen Head, Cornwall
Black-and-white Warbler at Bardsey Island
Tennessee Warbler on Barra, Western Isles
Black-and-white Warbler at Tresco, Isles of Scilly!!!!!!

Bird & House News!

As I'm sure some of you have noticed, I started to post the Shetland Bird News from RBA at the end of the day and have now stopped. The reason for this, is because after discussion with a friend of mine, I decided there was no point, especially as the Shetland Bird Club do an extremely thorough post of all the bird news, moth news and cetacean news each day! This also reminds me, I need to join up with them. Life is too short to be typing unnecessarily and I want to cut down time spent sitting at a desk for health reasons and life balance. I can see my ratings have already dropped, but to be honest I'm not really bothered! I originally started this blog to write up my daily sightings of birds, life etc and will continue to do so. So I will link the Shetland and Fair Isle news daily on here, which will take you to both their wonderful websites, to see a full and fascinating list of bird and nature sightings daily. Also, don't forget to link to http://www.norfolkbirds.com/News.aspx OR https://noa.org.uk/ for Norfolk Bird Sightings.

This evening I was the first to view a unique and stunning house, which is about to hit the market. Its within my budget, but again, just like the property at Exnaboe that I lost out to a higher bidder, its probably going to go for far more than I have. I'm not going to give anything away at the moment, but it has stupendous sea views! I feel very excited, but no point getting over excited, until an offer is accepted. Fingers crossed!

In Scotland we have a public holiday on Monday, (we don't get the August one here), so have four days off from Friday! I'm very surprised that Shetland hasn't produced a massive bird today with rain all day and east winds, maybe we will over the next few days, hopefully! 

Monday, 18 September 2023

Searching For Migrants In The Rain!

Clickimin Loch, Lerwick 

At last I got to see the Magpie, which was feeding on the grass verge alongside the path, opposite the Anderson High School. A dog walker then flushed it and I got a lovely picture of it sitting on a stone wall. Several Blackbirds feeding in the rain and Meadow Pipits and House Sparrows seen. Also a few LBJ's that I couldn't nail down. Bumped into Andy J. who hadn't found a mega yet!

Burn of Sound, Lerwick

Lesser Whitethroat near the playground area, was the best I could find here after much searching. Returned to the road and then checked the seaward side of the burn and found more Blackbirds. I heard a Yellow-browed Warbler calling close by the bridge, but it was lashing down with rain and I couldn't see it, even though I spent a good while trying.

Wester Quarff

Just after the second house and right hand corner, there is a small copse of trees next to a burn and this can be a good spot to find birds. I found my second Lesser Whitethroat of the day here. Checked all the gardens up to the voe, but nothing else of note or at Easter Quarff either.

Cunningsburgh

Parked up by the beach for late lunch and watched House Sparrows, Pied Wagtails and 30+ Turnstone and Starlings on the beach.

Leebitton, Sandwick

Stood at the south side of the garden of Sand Lodge on the roadside, to wait for the Blue-flanked Bluetail to appear that someone had found earlier on, but no hope whatsoever in this heavy rain. Had a lovely chat with a man coming to feed his sheep in the field next to where I was standing – I don't know what he shook into the trough, but the three sheep almost sprinted over to him!

Levenwick

I found a Willow Warbler in the garden of 'Leemor', several Turnstones on the beach and a few black rabbits on the cliff.

Hoswick

At the garden by the beach I found a few Blackbirds and House Sparrows. Also checked the trees by the Orca Country Inn, but nothing seen. Too heavy rain for anything to be out on show!

Sumburgh Quarry

Blackbirds and Ravens. Drove home very slowly in dense fog.

Summary: everything will be showing in the sunshine tomorrow, whilst I'm at work!


Shetland Bird News, Latest Sightings:
 
Fair Isle Bird Observatory, Latest Sightings:

Sunday, 17 September 2023

SHETLAND BIRD NEWS & MEGAS!

SUMMARY OF TODAY'S BIRD NEWS VIA "RARE BIRD ALERT" 
  For access to full details of daily sightings, please subscribe to one of RBA's Bird News Services  

American Golden Plover at Skaw, Whalsey
Yellow-browed Warbler at Haroldswick, Yellow-browed Warblers x 4, Barred Warblers x 3, Common Barred Warblers x 4, Rosefinches x 2, Hawfinch at Norwick, Unst
Buff-breasted Sandpiper at South Ness, Isle of Foula
Red-flanked Bluetail, Arctic Warblers x 2, Blyth's Reed Warbler, Bluethroat, Yellow-browed Warblers x 9, Barred Warblers x 5, Common Rosefinch, Mealy Redpoll, Black Redstart, Pied Flycatchers x 5, Snow Buntings x 2 at Fair Isle
 
MAINLAND
Blyth's Reed Warbler in garden at Bakkassetter
Pied Flycatcher at Hoswick
Yellow-browed Warbler at Burrafirth
 
 UK  MEGA  NEWS
TENNESSEE WARBLER
St Kilda, Western Isles, Scotland
CLIFF SWALLOW
Found dead on ship at Seaforth Docks, Lancashire & North Merseyside
BROWN BOOBY
South Gare Breakwater, Cleveland
BROWN BOOBY 
Hound Point & Cramond Island, Lothian, Scotland

Saturday, 16 September 2023

Sun, Rainbows, Rain, A Shark, Dolphins & More!

Chatted with Malcolm on the phone this morning (see previous post) to see how he was coping and we had a long chat and reminisced about the 'old days', which probably did us both some good. Then phoned Pete Snook to wish him happy birthday – 21 again, like myself!

It was a stunning day of dramatic skies, which I so love about Shetland. Blue skies, dark clouds, white clouds, surreal rainbows and sprinkles of rain.

I could not refind the Wood Warbler at Boddam, but timed it perfectly when Hugh H. put out a message about a Basking Shark at Boddam, seen from the Croft Museum. I had fabulous scope views of not only the Basking Shark in perfect light – well, two fins being honest, but some White-beaked Dolphins leaping out of the water and also some Risso's Dolphins, WOW, spectacular to see all these and in under half an hour! Lucky me! I spotted a Lesser Whitethroat on a fence close by too and two Swallows flew over.

I left here and went for a scan over Boddam Voe, where the light was simply stunning. A Grey Heron was fishing and there were good numbers of waders here, including lots of Redshank, Ruff, Curlews, Turnstones etc.

Went to Quendale Mill and got very lucky with my first Yellow-browed Warbler of the Autumn (that someone else had found earlier) in the scyamores, but moving around far too quickly for any photos. Five Swallows around too, which was lovely to see. A tabby cat was sitting watching the ducks having a paddle in a large puddle – an amusing scene! Ravens calling, sun setting. Another wonderful day here in Shetland!

 

๐ŸŽ‰ HAPPY BIRTHDAY ๐Ÿฅณ

PETE SNOOK!

SHETLAND BIRD NEWS & MEGAS!

SUMMARY OF TODAY'S BIRD NEWS VIA "RARE BIRD ALERT" 
  For access to full details of daily sightings, please subscribe to one of RBA's Bird News Services  

American Golden Plover at Skaw, Whalsey
Buff-breasted Sandpiper at South Ness, Yellow-browed Warbler at Ham, Isle of Foula
Yellow-browed Warbler, Blue Fulmar at Skaw, Pied Flycatcher at Uyeasound, Common Rosefinches x 4, Barred Warbler, Yellow-browed Warbler, Hawfinch at Norwick, Unst
Yellow-browed Warbler at Burravoe, Yell
Arctic Warbler, Blyth's Reed Warbler, Common Rosefinches x 3, Barred Warbler, Yellow-browed Warblers x 2, Snow Buntings x 2, Short-eared Owl, Black Redstart, Pied Flycatcher, Mealy Redpolls x 2 at Fair Isle
Little Buntings x 2, Common Rosefinches x 2, Yellow-browed Warbler, Hawfinch at Out Skerries
 
MAINLAND
Barred Warbler at Grutness
Little Stint at Pool of Virkie
Little Stint at Boddam Voe
Yellow-browed Warbler at Swinister Burn, Sandwick
Yellow-browed Warbler, Common Rosefinches x 2 at Burn of Sound, Lerwick
Yellow-browed Warbler at Quendale Mill
Yellow-browed Warblers x 2 in plantation at Dale of Walls
Common Rosefinch at Burrafirth
 
 UK  MEGA  NEWS
TENNESSEE WARBLER
St Kilda, Western Isles, Scotland
FEA'S PETREL sp.
Eyemouth, Borders, Scotland
UPLAND SANDPIPER
Flew over Spurn, Yorkshire
BROWN BOOBY
South Gare Breakwater, Cleveland

Rest In Peace – Eileen White

           ๐Ÿ•Š
Eileen  Elizabeth  White
 
4th July 1948 – 25th August 2023

Rest  In  Peace

 

There may be a few of my readers who either knows or remembers Eileen and Malcolm White from Heacham in Norfolk. Eileen and Malcolm used to regularly visit the Bird Observatory and The Firs at Holme and were part of the 'Saturday crowd", back in the day! My family have known Eileen and Malcolm since I was a small child and they are like family to us all. Malcolm and my late father were particularly close, because of their love of photography and did several natural history slide shows together over the years, which a few of you may remember.

Eileen has been extremely poorly for many years now and has been looked after at home by her devoted husband Malcolm. A few weeks ago Malcolm phoned me, to break the very sad news that Eileen had passed away on the 25th August after a difficult few weeks.

I visited Eileen and Malcolm in late April, just before I moved to Shetland, so I'm thankful that I was able to see Eileen and give her a big hug before I left ๐Ÿ’”.

My sisters and I will always remember Eileen as a very smiley, sunny lady, who was always so kind and caring and was a very good listener. Back in the day, when we all considerably younger, I remember Eileen having to put up with Malcolm's mischevious sense of humour and teasing, which she tolerated well and with good humour herself! I can see her smiling and hear her saying "what am I going to do with him Penny?" Happy days, happy memories.

Eileen's funeral is this Monday, 18th September at 10am, at the Mintlyn Crematorium, Lynn Road, Bawsey, King's Lynn, Norfolk PE32 1HB for those who would like to pay their respects. Sadly, because of the logistics of getting back to Norfolk and returning to work at 9am this Tuesday, I'm unable to go to the funeral, but I will sit somewhere quietly and think of Eileen on Monday.

My most sincere condolences and love to dear Malcolm, to his family and close friends, at this very sad and difficult time. Happy Memories will always be with you Malcolm, always.


Rest in Peace Dear Eileen 

Free of pain and at peace,

Now fly with the angels

Love Penny x

๐Ÿ•Š 

Holme Beach, Norfolk

Friday, 15 September 2023

East Wind Overnight & A Sprinkling of Migrants!

WOOD WARBLER
BODDAM
 

I had lovely views of the Rosefinch at The Burn Of Sound in Lerwick in the early afternoon, but I was looking straight into the sun, so rubbish for photographs. The Rosefinch was feeding with around three Redpolls. I had a good look round for the Wryneck and the Yellow-browed Warbler, but no luck. I met a couple of birders here as I was leaving, who have just arrived for the next four weeks, so I retraced a few steps to show them where the Rosefinch was – it disappeared for a bit, then returned to its favourite spot with the Redpolls. Lots of bees, hoverflies and a couple of Red Admirals on the Sea Aster here. All the Fuchsia bushes are looking lush with their pink and purple flowers.

Rosefinch and Redpoll
The Burn Of Sound, Lerwick

I walked along the track opposite here (on the other side of the road) and towards the sea and checked the copse on route, but no birds of note apart from a handful of Blackbirds and two Swallows overhead.

Headed to Boddam and had stunning views of the Wood Warbler in a sycamore, along with a Willow Warbler on the edge of someone's stunning garden – watched this with Hugh H. Wood Warblers are one of my favourite birds, I felt very lucky to see this. There was also a Willow Warbler chasing it round, a Wren, a Blackbird and two Swallows flew over. Hugh and I got ticked off for standing on the verge – oh dear!

A stunning Wood Warbler at Boddam

 

I then went to the garden at Grutness to see if any of the lovely birds were left from this morning, that birders had found. Its a joy standing by the stone wall, looking into this stunning little garden, its so prettily planted! Best bird seen was a beautiful Lesser Whitethroat in the sycamores. A few Starlings and a Wren, but no sign or sound of the Barred Warbler or Redstart. In the field adjacent to the garden were 35+ House Sparrows feeding on the ground with the chickens and 2 Pied Wagtails – such a lovely scene.

Headed up to Sumburgh Head to have a look at the new Look Out Shelter/Sea-watching Shelter that the RSPB have built, just before the entrance/cattle grid walk up to the lighthouse. I saw it a few weeks ago, but it was not open, it now is. I was surprised there wasn't an official RSPB display board up? Maybe there is one coming soon? If not, they really should have one that reads something like "Sea-watching Shelter" or "Look Out Shelter" with a second line reading "Do not camp in overnight". I was slightly startled when I walked up to the shelter, to find a man, plus touring bike, plus sleeping bag gear and all the seats were covered with his belongings and he was cooking on a little stove!!! As he pointed out to me, "its doesn't say I can't stay in here" – fair point! It will be interesting to see what happens in future if this occurs again and happy campers are woken up by the pre-dawn arrival of birders intending to sit and set up their scopes for a serious sea-watch!!! There could be some issues!

Took some pictures of the North Link Ferry departing past Sumburgh with Gannets swirling by and then headed to West Voe and Scatness beach beach to take a few sunset shots and then cruised home. I actually had a space in my street, instead of having to unload the car in the middle of the road and then parking somewhere elsewhere! Can't wait to get my own drive and come to think a house would be good too! I feeling quite despondent about getting a property before my 6 month tenancy finishes – I really thought I would be in my own house by now and unpacking boxes.

Northlink Ferry and Gannets at Sumburgh Head
 

North west winds all tomorrow, south on Sunday and SE from 5pm and overnight. Monday: 5am onwards, SE, strong winds and heavy rain until 10am and then wind drops a bit with more rain, switches to south at 3pm, then SW for the rest of the afternoon. Tuesday: SW all day. Wednesday: south and SE, SW all day.

MORE PICTURES TO BE ADDED

SHETLAND BIRD NEWS & MEGAS!

SUMMARY OF TODAY'S BIRD NEWS VIA "RARE BIRD ALERT" 
  For access to full details of daily sightings, please subscribe to one of RBA's Bird News Services  

Little Buntings x 3, Yellow-browed Warbler, Pied Flycatcher at Out Skerries
Barrred Warbler, Hawfinch, Common Rosefinches x 3, Wood Warbler at Norwick, Barred Warbler at Northdale, Unst 
Arctic Warbler, Common Rosefinches x 2, Yellow-browed Warblers x 2, Pied Flycatcher, Sooty Shearwater at Fair Isle
Barred Warbler in plantation at Skaw, Common Rosefinch at Marrister, Pied Flycatcher at Vats-Houll, Whalsay
Wood Warbler at Isle of Bressay
 
MAINLAND
Barred Warbler at Grutness
Common Rosefinch, Little Stint at Boddam Voe
Wood Warbler in garden at Boddam
Wryneck, Yellow-browed Warbler, Common Rosefinch at Burn of Sound, Lerwick
Sooty Shearwaters x 2 at Sumburgh Head
Black-throated Diver at Quendale Bay
Curlew Sandpiper at Pool of Virkie
Bittern at Sella Ness, at Graven, ENE of Scatsta
Common Rosefinch at Burrafirth
 
 UK  MEGA  NEWS
TENNESSEE WARBLER
St Kilda, Western Isles, Scotland
RED-FOOTED BOOBY
Bishop Rock, Isles of Scilly
BROWN BOOBY
South Gare Breakwater, Seaton Carew, North Gare, Cleveland
FORSTER'S TERN
Arne RSPB, Dorset
FEA'S PETREL sp.
Longhoughton & Beadnell, Northumberland
DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT
Doon Lough, County Leitrim, Ireland

Thursday, 14 September 2023

SHETLAND BIRD NEWS & MEGAS!

SUMMARY OF TODAY'S BIRD NEWS VIA "RARE BIRD ALERT" 
  For access to full details of daily sightings, please subscribe to one of RBA's Bird News Services  

Little Bunting, Common Rosefinch, Hawfinch at Out Skerries
Barred Warbler in plantation at Skaw, Common Rosefinch at Marrister, Sooty Shearwater at Skaw, Whalsay
Red-breasted Flycatcher at Arisdale Burn, Yell
Barred Warbler, Common Rosefinch at Norwick, Unst 
Common Rosefinches x 3, Pied Flycatchers x 2, Sooty Shearwaters x 7, Killer Whale (Orca) x 3 at Fair Isle
 
MAINLAND
Sooty Shearwaters x 37, Pomarine Skuas x 7, Storm Petrels x 60 flew past Sumburgh Head
Sooty Shearwater flew past Noness Head
 
 UK  MEGA  NEWS
RED-FOOTED BOOBY
Bishop Rock, Isles of Scilly
SCOPOLI'S SHEARWATER
Scillonian III, west of Wolf Rock, Isles of Scilly
BROWN BOOBY
South Gare Breakwater, Seaton Carew, North Gare, Cleveland
FORSTER'S TERN
Arne RSPB, Dorset

Wednesday, 13 September 2023

SHETLAND BIRD NEWS & MEGAS!

SUMMARY OF TODAY'S BIRD NEWS VIA "RARE BIRD ALERT" 
  For access to full details of daily sightings, please subscribe to one of RBA's Bird News Services  

Common Rosefinches x 2 at Out Skerries
Barred Warbler in garden at Norwick, Sooty Shearwaters x 51 off East Hill, Unst 
Barred Warblers x 2, Common Rosefinch, Black Redstart, Sooty Shearwater, Risso's Dolphins x 7 at Fair Isle
 
 UK  MEGA  NEWS
RED-FOOTED BOOBY
Bishop Rock, Isles of Scilly
BROWN BOOBY
South Gare Breakwater, Seaton Carew, North Gare, Cleveland
FEA'S PETREL sp
North past Sandilands, Lincolnshire
FORSTER'S TERN
Arne RSPB, Dorset

Tuesday, 12 September 2023

SHETLAND BIRD NEWS & MEGAS!

SUMMARY OF TODAY'S BIRD NEWS VIA "RARE BIRD ALERT" 
  For access to full details of daily sightings, please subscribe to one of RBA's Bird News Services  

Barred Warbler, Common Rosefinch at Ham, Foula
Barred Warbler in garden at Norwick, Unst 
Barred Warbler, Sooty Shearwaters x 6, Blue Fulmar at Fair Isle
 
MAINLAND
Wryneck in garden at Loch of Hillwell
Barred Warbler at Burn of Sound, Lerwick
 
 UK  MEGA  NEWS 
SHARP-TAILED SANDPIPER
Montrose Basin, Angus, Scotland
RED-FOOTED BOOBY
Bishop Rock, Isles of Scilly
BROWN BOOBY
South Gare Breakwater, Seaton Carew, North Gare, Cleveland
FEA'S PETREL sp
Hartlepool Headland, Cleveland
FEA'S PETREL sp
Hendon& Marsdon, County Durham
FORSTER'S TERN
Arne RSPB, Dorset

AURORA NOW IN SHETLAND!

LIVE NOW!

00.27

https://www.shetlandwebcams.com/cliff-cam/

https://www.shetlandwebcams.com/cliff-cam-3/ 

RBA Weekly Round-Up 5th to 11th September!

By Jon Dunn
 
Thank you to the RBA Team for including two of my Yellow Warbler photos in their round-up!

Monday, 11 September 2023

SHETLAND BIRD NEWS & MEGAS!

SUMMARY OF TODAY'S BIRD NEWS VIA "RARE BIRD ALERT" 
  For access to full details of daily sightings, please subscribe to one of RBA's Bird News Services  

YELLOW WARBLER at Ham, Foula
Barred Warbler, Common Rosefinch at Fair Isle
Barred Warbler at Norwick, Unst
 
 UK  MEGA  NEWS 
YELLOW WARBLER
Ham, Foula, Shetland
SHARP-TAILED SANDPIPER
Montrose Basin, Angus, Scotland
BROWN BOOBY
South Gare Breakwater, Seaton Carew, North Gare, Cleveland
RED-FOOTED BOOBY
Bishop Rock, Isles of Scilly
FORSTER'S TERN
Arne RSPB, Dorset

Sunday, 10 September 2023

SHETLAND BIRD NEWS & MEGAS!

SUMMARY OF TODAY'S BIRD NEWS VIA "RARE BIRD ALERT" 
  For access to full details of daily sightings, please subscribe to one of RBA's Bird News Services  

YELLOW WARBLER at Ham, but no sign since early morning, Foula
Barred Warbler, Common Rosefinch at Out Skerries
Wood Warbler at Halligarth, ENE of Baltasound, Barred Warbler in garden at Norwick, Unst
Corncrake, Yellow-browed Warbler, Barred Warblers x 2, Common Rosefinch, Pied Flycatcher, Sooty Shearwaters x 5 at Fair Isle
 
MAINLAND
Barred Warbler at Oraquoy
 
 UK  MEGA  NEWS 
YELLOW WARBLER
Ham, Foula, Shetland
SHARP-TAILED SANDPIPER
Montrose Basin, Angus, Scotland
BROWN BOOBY
South Gare Breakwater, Seaton Carew, North Gare, Cleveland
RED-FOOTED BOOBY
Bishop Rock, Isles of Scilly
FORSTER'S TERN
Arne RSPB, Dorset

Saturday, 9 September 2023

AMERICAN YELLOW WARBLER – MEGA TRIP TO FOULA, SHETLAND!

Thursday 7th to Saturday 9th September

The most spectacular rare bird I have ever seen!

AMERICAN YELLOW WARBLER
8th September – FOULA
 
Found by Foula Birder, Donna Atherton

 

THURSDAY 7th SEPTEMBER

The morning started with a mad scrap to get out of the house and to Walls by 1pm, ready for the 1.30pm ferry to Foula. Met Jill and Rob at the pier, Walls and waited for our ferry. I was feeling extremely anxious, as boats and me don't go together at all. I knew that I had to lie down, in order to survive the two and a quarter hour journey. The ferry was far smaller than 'The Good Shepherd' which rocks to Fair Isle and I immediately imagined that it would rock even more violently in turbulent seas! There were eight people on the boat including Dan Pointon, Phil Harris and Chris – everyone else opted to sit outside on the deck. I laid down on the floor in the cabin with my head on a pillow roll thing I had bought, kept my eyes shut and tried to stay calm. As the journey commenced I felt fine, time ticked by and I started to feel very happy indeed, as I realised it was going to be more than ok. I dared to open my eyes to look at the time and a hour had passed. When we arrived at 3.45pm I had not felt in the slightest bit sick at all, I couldn't belive my luck! What a brilliant start to this trip!

Our Foula Ferry about to depart from Walls!
 

Getting off the ferry, I had the immediate sense of a unique and special island, just like I did when I first landed on Fair Isle. The sheer height of the cliffs here was jaw dropping! Because Rob has become quite disabled since his car accident, he walks at a difficult and slow pace, so we left Rob to slowly walk with his crutch and tripod to the site where the Yellow Warbler was. Jill and I were obviously desperate to see the bird ASAP, but Mai our host, who met us at the pier to take our bags to our accommodation, said she needed to drive us there, so we knew where to walk to later. So, we were very kindly driven to the Risite Self-catering Croft House, which was about 2.5 miles away. It was a unique journey indeed! Narrow roads, spectacular views and the last part of the journey was the most uneven, pot-holed mud track you could possibly imagine – this led to the croft. I could not believe where this croft was situated, its hard to describe that feeling, when you know you are about to stay in the most far flung, remote place you have ever stayed. The croft was a dot in the distance under the edge of the cliff, just WOW!

Jill, Mai and I dropped our bags and had a lighting quick loo visit. Quick initial view of the accommodation was quirky, unique and unexpectedly stunning. Jill and Rob would be staying in the only bedroom with double bed which also had a ladder up to a single bunk bed above and I would be sleeping on the window bed (you did read that correctly) in the large living room which also had sofas and arm chairs, large dining table and chairs. There was a bookcase with a good selection of books including some copies of 'Birdwatch', 'Birding World' and 'A Twitcher's Diary' by RM! Huge bathroom with seperate bath and huge shower, two hand basins, narrow kitchen, but more than sufficient and hallway to leave boots and coats. Threw my tiny ice bag of fridge food into fridge. We jumped back in the car and then returned to the pier, all within about 5 minutes. Mai had to get back quickly to collect her delivery of food that had arrived on the ferry. Mai kindly dropped us at the sight of the bird, which was only a 2 minute walk from the pier anyway. She said "I will see you on Saturday morning" to collect us to catch the 9.30am ferry. I had bought a warm hat with me as I expected it to be cold here. It was the exact opposite, very hot!

My 'best' images on the first evening were not!
 

Jill and I walked along the track to where upturned boats were next to a fairly large presumed derelict white stone house with a purple hebe bush in the front porch area with some honeysuckle also growing by the wall. Rob, Phil, Dan and Chris were also here. It didn't take too long before the Yellow Warbler appeared amongst the puple flowers. No words can truly describe my first view of this vivid yellow warbler. This was an elite bird, on another level and I felt I was watching the best bird I had ever seen. I felt privileged to be here and so lucky that I had been on annual leave this week. Here I was on a island I hoped to visit one day and now I was here and watching a mega YELLOW WARBLER!!! The entire trip felt surreal and magical. The Yellow Warbler was the biggest tease ever and would pop out for a nano second and then melt back into the bush. You hardly had time to lift your camera up, never mind hit the shutter button! Very difficult to photograph indeed! Jill got lucky with some good shots, she was standing in the right place at the right time. I did get a photograph, but only obtained the front half of the bird – see above! It was so immediately striking, it was like you were watching royalty! Every so often the Yellow Warbler would bomb down to 'Ham Yard' below by the stream, feed there for a very short time and then return to the Hebe bush. It was fascinating to observe its pattern and behaviour. It seemed to be dining well in the hebe bush and we watched it catching several insects!

Willow Warbler on path below the Hebe bush
 
 Pied Wagtail at Ham Yard, Foula
 

Below us, was a rocky tumbling stream that led to the harbour. Seals were basking and playing close by. A lone Whooper Swan, Mallards and Eider were in the harbour area. There was a large rectangular area of scrub, trees, fuschia bushes and buddleia, known as 'Ham Yard' surrounded by a stone wall, which reminded me of the Plantation at Blakeney Point, but far richer and prettier. The stream ran past this and meandered off into the valley with large footbridge over and a grass path ascending a steep hillside to dwellings and gardens. Lots of sheep and rabbits including several black ones. The valley and light in this area was truly spectacular. The abundance of flowers and the smell of water mint was simply beautiful. What a place! I will never forget this trip, a unique experience. Dan and Phil left the island on a sceduled plane.

A lady arrived who I realised must be Donna Atherton, who, along with her husband Geoff had found the Yellow Warbler. I had made contact with her before our trip to ask for location advice etc and to congratulate her on their find. It was so lovely to actually meet her, a really lovely lady. Donna is the same lady who found and photographed the incredible Blue-cheeked Bee-eater on the 10th June, which stayed for only 4 minutes – what a find list! Donna must surely now be the best female rarity finder ever! Donna told us that in 2014 there was a Green Warbler in the garden of the croft we are staying in and also a Two-barred Crossbill!!! OMG!

We also watched a Willow Warbler in the same hebe bush as the Yellow Warbler.  There was a Barred Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat and Rosefinch around in the area too, but I didn't see any of these today. Jill managed to see and get a picture of the Rosefinch, after she walked along the top road to the gardens. Another chartered ferry (from Scalloway I think) turned up later with more birders – the ferry waited for them and then took them back, so they were on limited time. It was a great feeling knowing you were the first ones to arrive and that you were staying out until Saturday morning! Jill and I were quietly, very worried about Rob – there was no way in a million years that he would be able to walk back to our accommodation that evening, we would have a job ourselves, with the very steep roads! Very luckily Donna very kindly agreed to take Rob, as far as the beginning pot holed track. This was much earlier than Rob wanted to leave, but he didn't really have much choice. Jill and I stayed birding. The Yellow Warbler stayed until dusk.

Stunning garden at Ham
 

After advice sort from Donna about when to leave to walk back before darkness fell, Jill and I started walking to our accommodation at 7pm. The gardens on the top road were truly stunning – I think one of them was Donna's. So many variety of flowers in this garden, designed in several borders and grass paths running between them. We watched a Willow Warbler, some House Sparrows and a Blackbird in here. This must be a really got spot for migrants, an amazing garden. Jill and I were fascinated by abandoned cars, being used as greenhouses with plants growing in them – totally unique! As we turned right at the end of the road, we were in awe of a distant loch under the cliffs, which I later found our was called Mill Loch "a lochan that represents the largest body of freshwater on the island", this lies quarter of a mile to the west of Ham, the island's principal settlement. We passed the school, which we were told had five pupils. The creativity of the playground equipment was something you won't see in any other playground!

The long walk back to our croft – Gaada Stack in the distance

 

We continued our walk, passing more abandoned cars, sheep and valleys. There was a particularly interesting field, which held several water pools and I remarked that this looked good for a Citrine Wagtail in the morning. It was a tough walk, very tough, not so much for Jill, but it was for me. I can still walk very fast on a flat road, but these steep inclines took my breath away, I am not at my fittest right now. The walk with stopping took just over a hour. We were very pleased to eventually spot our little croft in the far distance. I scanned with my binoculars and was shocked to see that Rob was still walking along the pot-holed track! We caught up with him and he was fine, but he had sat down and had a rest part way along the track.

Jill walking back to our croft – Gaada Stack in the distance
 
Ristie Self Catering Croft, overshadowed by Gaada Stack!
Rob still walking back along the muddy track!
 

It was so fabulous to be in this croft. We were all tired, but managed to get ourselves some tea cooked up. I opted for a packet of microwave rice I had bought and half a left over sandwich. I was far more thirsty than hungry and couldn't stop drinking. We chatted for a bit after tea. The shower pressure was amazing and you didn't even need to alter the temperature, very efficient. It was so funny, I couldn't climb up to my high window bed, so had to get a chair to get into bed! Hilarious! I only have one criticism of this first class croft and that is the fact that there were no windows to open by my bedside and it was very hot, too hot to sleep properly. There were windows that opened at the opposite end of the living room by the dining table, but it would have been dangerous to leave these open in case the wind got up and it did! It was lashing down with rain in the middle of the night. No WiFi in the croft and minimal one bar of signal on vodafone, so no blog posts from me until I return to mainland Shetland. Apparently EE has the best coverage on the island.

 

FRIDAY 8th SEPTEMBER

Jill and I got up very early, had a quick breakfast and searched a couple of geos and a burn that Donna had recommended checking out and also to view the gigantic Gaada Stack, wow, doesn't sum it up! The views on the edge of the cliffs were breathtaking! Sadly no migrants of note, but plenty of Rock and Meadow Pipits, Fulmars, Shags and Bonxies, including one resting on the hill, that quite simply didn't want to budge, which gave us a good photo opportunity. Rob stayed in the croft to have a rest and he hoped very much that someone would be able to pick him up later in a car.

Sunrise from Ristie Self Catering Croft
 
Ristie Self Catering Croft
 


The Gaada Stack
 
Cliff views by The Gaada Stack
 
Sunrise at The Gaada Stack
 
Geos at the Cliffs
 
Jill at one of the Geos on the cliffs
 
Shag below cliffs beyond Ristie
 
Bonxie (Great Skua) below cliffs at Ristie
 
Rear view of Ristie Croft – back for cup of tea!

Ristie Self-Catering Croft – 2+ mile walk to Ham
 

Risite self-catering Croft and The Gaada Stack

Views on route from Ristie to Ham
 

With food packed for the entire day, Jill and I started our long walk back to Ham. The first part of the walk was the most difficult, a long ascent before we got to the last downhill/flat stretch to the gardens and Ham Yard. It was another beautiful and very warm day. Just before the hebe bush, we couldn't believe our luck – a Crossbill in stunning early morning light was sat on the apex of a roof! Moments after this we discovered the Yellow Warbler was still there, feeding in the hebe bush! We put the news out on the WhatsApp group asap. The Yellow Warbler was much more active than it had been last night and I eventually got some some very pleasing shots today. Chris had camped out by the stream in his sleeping bag last night. I got the impression he was on such a high from the seeing the Yellow Warbler yesterday, that he couldn't be bothered to put his tent up. We heard this morning, that he regretted that, when laying in sleeping bag with fork lightening and rain flashing down!!! Jill and I remarked that we could hear rain last night, but no storm, how odd! Maybe I did get some sleep?!

Crossbill yards away from the Yellow Warbler! 
 
Ham Yard


 AMERICAN YELLOW WARBLER
Friday 8th September 2023
 

Rebbeca Nason and another male birder arrived on a plane unexpectedly – the plane was not going intially because of the fog, but at the last minute did leave! Rebecca was told because of the incoming front, there would be no return plane this afternoon. Long story short, after several attempted phone calls, I managed to get hold of Mai to ask her if Rebecca could stay in the other side of our cottage, in the seperate accommodation. Sorted and booked! 2 Swallows flew over this afternoon and lots of Starlings and House Sparrows around.

At one point this morning, we experienced something very unique. Donna, Jill, Rebecca and I stood there in a row watching a mega Yellow Warbler and there wasn't a man in sight! This in itself was a rare experience indeed!!! Later on Jill and I headed up the grassy path above the stream to the top of the hill and we got lucky with a Rosefinch perched on a fence wire. It was worth the climb up for the views alone!

Rosefinch in fields above Ham Yard
 
Rock Pipit in fields above Ham Yard
 
Whooper Swan in harbour at Ham


 Seals in the harbour by pier at Ham
 
Foula Ferry returning to the Pier
 

Later, Jill and I walked along the top road, where we watched a Lesser Whitethroat in a garden distantly. Returned to the Yellow Warbler. Mai arrived in her car to go and make up the bed in the accommodation for Rebecca and then very kindly picked up Rob and brought him back to join us, he was very pleased! I went for a little walk by myself and followed the stream from the footbridge and flushed a Snipe. Twite seen here and a Pied Wagtail. Back at Ham Yard, I found a Redpoll perched in a fir tree. Walked back up the slope to join Jill, Rob and Rebecca. Continued photographing and watching the Yellow Warbler.

Lesser Whitethroat in garden at Ham
 
Garden at Ham
 
Starling perched on sheep at Ham
 
Redpoll in firtree at Ham Yard
 
Rock Pipit alongside stream at Ham Yard
 
Blackbird sunning itself, opposite the footbridge at Ham Yard
 




Ham Yard
 
Ham Yard (far left) and The Harbour

 The favoured Hebe bush by the house
 
Birders watching the Yellow Warbler

Dusk at Ham Yard
 
Sunset as we were dropped off by Mai at Ristie Croft
 
Our amazing accommodation at Ristie Self Catering Croft
 A tough 2+ mile walk from Ham

Rebecca had been lucky enough to be able to order a meal to be cooked for her by Mai and being as Mai had to deliver this, she very kindly picked us all up at 7.30pm and took us back to the croft, this saved a long and difficult walk back! Jill, Rebecca and I walked the last section of the bumpy track, to save the car suspension. We had a quick look round each other's accommodation for future reference and then cooked tea. We all retired much earlier than last night, as we had arranged with Mai to pick us up at 7am tomorrow with our luggage, so we could get some birding in before the 9.30am ferry. Took an anti-sickness tablet, which did knock me out a bit, so got more sleep than the previous night.

 

SATURDAY 9th SEPTEMBER

All of us were up early. My alarm went off at 5.30am. Had a shower, porridge breakfast and packed our gear up. Photographed the sunrise! Jill flushed a Jack Snipe, before I went out of the door. Mai picked Rob up at 7am and to save her car suspension, Jill, Rebbeca and I had walked up the pot holed track to the top of the road just before she picked Rob up and then we all got in the car on the 'good' road. Mai took us to the pier to drop our luggage off.

Sunrise from Ristie Self-catering Croft

 Sunrise from Ristie

Last view of Ristie Self catering Croft as we head to Ham

Yellow Warbler still in the Hebe bush!


AMERICAN YELLOW WARBLER
Saturday 9th September 2023

 

Yellow Warbler was still there in its favoured hebe bush in brilliant light! We had a couple of hours before the ferry departed. I walked down to Ham yard for a while and hoped I would catch the Yellow Warbler in a different pose when it did its usual circuit from the hebe bush to the sycamore trees in Ham Yard. I did see it fly down here, but it was moving about constantly and obscured by leaves. I had a nano second view of what could only have been a Reed or Blyth's Reed Warbler perched on the stone wall, not long enough for me to lift the camera up annoyingly and I didn't see it again. No sign of the Barred Warbler for me, but I did see the Redpoll again and a Blackbird. I could swear that I could hear a Goldcrest tweeting away, but didn't see it. A Wren was also seen, perched on the wall. The Whooper Swan remained in the harbour. After the Yellow Warbler did its usual circuit of bombing down to Ham Yard at just after 9am, the others said it was a good time to walk down to the pier, ready for the ferry. I stubbornly remained for a short while. This paid off as the Yellow Warbler as far more showy with just one person standing there! Some of my best photos of the entire trip were taken in that 15 minute window – I always stay until the very end! Tore myself away and got the pier at 9.17am, just as they were loading the gear into the ferry.

Wren on the stone wall at Ham Yard
 
A house I won't forget!
 
Ham Yard

AMERICAN YELLOW WARBLER
 

The ferry back to Walls was much rougher than the journey here, but I still felt absolutely fine, laying down on the floor, whilst everyone else sat outside on deck. We arrived in Walls at about 10.40am. Loaded up our cars and all departed. I didn't leave for a while though, I just wanted to gather my thoughts and sat for a while, enjoying the beautiful view over the harbour and thinking about what an amazing experience we had all had. I will definately be returning to Foula! A truly unique, stunning and remote location!

Huge thanks to Donna Atherton for finding this spectacular American Yellow Warbler and for her company and advice throughout our stay, to Jill and Rob for their entertaining and good company, to the Ferry staff, who made my journey more than bearable and lastly to Mai the hostess of our stunning Ristie Self Catering croft, who went above and beyond in looking after us all. Looking forward to visiting Foula again soon! A highly recommended visit!