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Saturday 19 August 2023

South Easterly Winds, Heavy Rain – Autumn Migration Kicks Off!

Red-backed Shrike at Channerwick


Raining – after nipping into town to get a few things, I decided to go birding in Lerwick. Started off at The Jubilee Gardens in St Olaf's Street, which was looking stunning, but no birds at all. The array of flowers and plants here is another level – every time I visit, there is something different to see.

Headed to Pullar's Loch at Ness of Sound, much heavier rain now. Grey Heron fishing, 5 Redshanks, 2 Oystercatchers, several Turnstones and Starlings feeding along the edge of the shoreline, 3 Snipe flew over and the usual Fulmars cruising over the waves. Very heavy rain and 50mph SE winds here from around 10.30am, gave up and went home.

As forecast, the rain stopped around 7pm. Suddenly, messages were popping up on the WhatsApp groups: Pied Flys, Icterine Warbler, Wood Warbler, Redstarts, Whinchat, Red-backed Shrikes, Great Spotted Woodpecker etc etc. Promptly left my house and decided to try and find my own birds. Went to Clickimin Loch in Lerwick and walked as far as the Anderson High School – disappointedly, I didn't find any migrants, only the usual Ravens, Hooded Crows, 2 Linnets, 2 Meadow Pipits, 2 Blackbirds, a few LBJ's diving in thick scrub and a Mute Swan on the loch.

Headed to The Burn of Sound and didn't find a single bird here, just a very loud, jumping, barking dog in a garden next to the footpath – it looked like it could have easily jumped over its fence had it wanted to – the owner came out of the house and apologised for his dogs aggressive barking, which was nice of him to do, but I won't be rushing back there again soon!

Headed south to Channerwick and parked my car VERY carefully in the pull-in area, just under the main road. Last time I was here in October 2021, I got my car stuck in a drain and had to be pulled out by a tractor! Walked down the steep decline to the large house with garden, just above the beach and immediately jammed in on Rob Fray's Red-backed Shrike that he had found earlier! Perched up on the fence of the garden, adjacent to a sheep field – too far away for a prize winning shot, but managed to get something on the camera. This is such a beautiful spot, so decided to walk further down the hill to the beach. I retraced my steps, when someone found a Greenish Warbler in the Rosa scrub at Sumburgh Head!

As I got in my car, I realised it would be dire light and probably dark by the time I got to Sumburgh Head, so changed my mind and headed to Maywick and Ireland. Lovely drive and sunset from Maywick beach, but no migrants seen, but then it was pretty late in the day now. Headed home, arriving back in complete darkness. The nights are pulling in now! Sunny all day tomorrow and no rain, so birds that dropped in today, will be showing beautifully, fingers crossed!

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