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Friday 13 October 2023

Escape From The Crowds – Peace and Tranquility!

Maywick Beach

It was a typical October day in Shetland, heavy showers one minute, sun the next and so on. I needed a day's birding by myself, so I escaped! I headed south and resisted seeing the Yellow Warbler again, to try and find my own birds. Started off at the Geosetter Burn. Not a single birder here! I had the place to myself. The excitement that you might find something, keeps you in good spirits, even in the rain.

I decided to copy Eddie M., who is often seen taking a large umbrella when out birding at Cley and he always has the last laugh when others are dripping wet, as he bluntly declares, "I'm nice and dry". My stormproof, large brolly that I have had for years, gave me a much more enjoyable time here, than without it. Crossing the Geosetter Bridge, I spotted a Goldcrest in the willows. Climbed over the stile and followed the burn up the hill, to where the Blackburnian Warbler was recently and stood and watched the willows for ages. The best I could find were 4 more Goldcrests in a feeding frenzie in the willows, which were beautiful to watch, although I would have preferred something a little more exciting! I spent so long here, I don't think I could have missed anything. I scanned every trunk and branch in hope of finding something black and white creeping around, no luck today.

Went to the Bigton Shop to buy sweet oatcakes, I particularly love these and you can't seem to buy them in Lerwick anywhere. Drove along the road to Ireland and scanned the belt of pine trees in the middle of the field, where Graham Etherington (think I'm right in saying) found a Myrtle Warbler last October. I then headed along the road to Maywick Beach.

Maywick Beach

Northern Wheatear at Maywick Beach

On route, there were several Redwings and the odd Blackbird amongst the sheep and the usual big numbers of Starlings and House Sparrows, but nothing else of particular note. Parked up by the farm and walked to the beach. It was exhilarating! Huge waves rolling in, that's more like it – a calm sea doesn't quite have the same excitement! Rain one minute and sun the next, made for stunning light and skies. I got quite excited when I found a very orangy Wheatear, but it was simply a very smart Northern Wheatear with a Pied Wagtail on the beach. I spent ages watching the Wheatear feeding in the sunshine, on a white beach and with no other footprints other than mine. Took lots of seascape pictures and also of Turnstones on the rocks, being battered by the waves.

Turnstones at Maywick Beach

Drove back along the Maywick Road, lots of Greylag Geese around. Stopped by the Maywick, Bigton junction and photographed Redwings in the fields with a few Blackbirds. Lots of sheep here and picture postcard views – see below. Then drove south to Grutness.

View of Ireland (far right) and St Ninian's Isle (far left)
Redwing at Bigton

A pair of Mallards and a Curlew on the Grutness pool looked rather lonely. At least 8+ Rock Pipits feeding in the area. Parked the car by the toilets and then walked to the Grutness Garden. Spent a long time peering over the stone wall into this fabulous garden, still lots of flowers in bloom, including a sedum ice plant. House Sparrows and Starlings were the only birds in here. The field next to the garden held good numbers of Redwings and Blackbirds amongst the Shetland ponies and hens. Jacquie and Dave B. paused to chat in their car, as I was standing here, which was lovely.

House Sparrows in the Grutness Garden

The light was starting to go, so I decided to cruise home slowly at a sensible time. 58mph North west winds, rain and sun tomorrow. Sunday looks far more appropriate for photography and birding! Wednesday 18th brings easterlies for the remaining five days of my holiday! 🙌 It also continues when I return to work on Monday 23rd October!

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