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Wednesday 5 July 2023


Boddam, Shetland


Will Miles refound the Pacific Swift this morning at 8.40am, south of Mainlands shop! Of course I was heading to work at that time! I returned home from work this evening, gathered birding gear and headed south. The Pacific Swift had been seen on and off throughout the day and was also seen at Hillwell and Brake. When I arrived, I was too late – it had last been seen at 5.18pm!

I drove around the areas of Quendale, Brake and Hillwell to search, but no luck at all. I headed towards The Mainlands shop and garage and as I pulled into the parking area, Andy Johnson and another birder were standing there and had just lifted their binoculars up excitedly. I had timed it perfectly! The Pacific Swift flew low across in front of us, behind a house and then over the car park and off south towards Boddam direction. It was so fast, I didn't even get time to photograph it, but WOW what a bird! My second Pacific Swift (first in Suffolk), second for Shetland and only the thirteenth for the UK!

I then left to search Boddam – drove around the entire area, stopping and scanning the fields. I was just about to head back to the Mainland shop area – I had just driven past the Clumlie arrowed sign, when the Pacific Swift hurtled at break neck speed, just over the top of my car! I couldn't believe it! It flew behind me, as if it was heading to Boddam Voe. I stopped the car and reversed up quickly, but realised I was making a very bad job of reversing quickly and knew I couldn't abandon my car here, as this is a very dodgy area, because of a very odd character, who seems to detest birders. So I turned around and parked my car up by a barn in a small car parking area, where I knew cars parked regularly. Phoned Hugh Harrop (who I had seen a bit earlier) and let him know I had just found it and then put the news out on the WhatsApp group for others.

 Eye to eye!


Hugh then joined me and it wasn't long before we picked it up again. As the minutes ticked by, it was obvious the Pacific Swift particularly loved this spot and we and others who started to join us, had totally insane views of this mega bird, flying low over our heads, twisting and turning at a massive speed, so much so, we almost had to duck!!! What views! The Pacific Swift skimmed over sheep in the iris filled fields and burns and repeatedly flew over our heads. We all just stood there in awe of this incredible bird, which seemed to be deliberately showing off – I couldn't stop smiling, it was unreal! The person who seems to try and make birders lives a misery (I've heard lots of stories) rushed out of her house and drove her car (a taxi) and sat close by us all watching – I don't quite know why, I really don't! Nobody was doing anything they shouldn't be. Everyone was standing on the edge of the road watching and photographing the Pacific Swift and having a fabulous time. She must have got incredibly bored sitting there for what was several hours, very strange behaviour indeed!

Pacific Swift catching a fly!

I eventually tore myself away and returned to my car. I scanned the voe and found some young Shelduck, some Dunlin, Oystercatchers, two Curlew and a Seal basking on a rock. As I left, the lady in her taxi headed towards me and stopped as I passed her – she looked at me angrily and shook her head from side to side?! I don't think she should be in charge of a taxi to be honest! Anyway, back to far more important things – little did I know, that shortly after I left, someone had refound the Broad-billed Sandpiper here too!!! Wow, what an evening for everyone!

Just need a Roller to turn up in Shetland now! Read my POST about my first Pacific Swift at Trimley in Suffolk, 16th June 2013 and then rushing back to Norfolk for my first Roller!!!

Update: after I left last night, I heard that the Boddam 'lady' decided to block some birder's cars in last night and she refused to move, so nobody could leave, how insane is that!!! Anyway, some crafty and clever moves had to be taken, in order for people to be able to return home! What ever is wrong with her?! Totally crazy!

Four days off on Friday! Public holiday here on Monday! Very much looking forward to finding something else at Boddam, maybe a first for Shetland?!!! 😂😆😉🤞

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