SHETLAND BIRD NEWS, PHOTOS, BIRDING, LIFE AND MORE! MY 14th YEAR ANNIVERSARY 2024!


Ring RARE BIRD ALERT with your sightings to: 01603 456789 or Hotline: 0207 0382820 or Text: 07520 634324
All Bird News & Megas via The Rare Bird Alert Website – Subscribe To RBA For Detailed News & Much More!

OVER TEN MILLION VIEWS! If you would like to advertise here, please contact me at [pennyclarke@talktalk.net]

Monday 15 April 2024

SHETLAND BIRD NEWS & MORE!

Rare  Bird  Alert  News 
Iceland Gull at Loch of Hillwell. Tundra Bean Goose, Little Gull on Isle of Bressay. Hawfinch at South Nesting. Hen Harrier between Aywick & Gossabrough, Yell. Ring Ouzel, Black Redstart, Snow Bunting, Blue Fulmar on Fair Isle.

2 Goldfinches, 5 Siskins in my garden this evening.

Sunday 14 April 2024

SHETLAND BIRD NEWS & MORE!

Rare  Bird  Alert  News 
Green-winged Teal on Isle of Foula. Great White Egret at Baltasound, Unst. Tundra Bean Goose on Isle of Bressay. White-tailed Eagle, Snow Buntings x 2 on Fair Isle. Hawfinch at South Nesting. Hen Harrier at Bakkasetter. Little Gull at Shetland Catch, Gremista.
 

The Roamwild PestOff Squirrel Proof Bird Feeder is going to save me a fortune! House Sparrows, Siskins, Chaffinches and Goldfinches took a while to venture through the caged area, but they are now in and very happy! Its mostly been used by the Siskins and Goldfinches. The Starlings are extremely disgruntled indeed and trying to find a hole above the green metal area and obviously failing. The sunflower hearts have hardly gone down in the tube since I filled it up a few days ago! In the garden today: 2 Goldfinches, 5 Siskins, 6 Chaffinches, 1 robin, 1 blackbird, 4 Collared Doves, Starlings and good numbers of House Sparrows. I still haven't recovered from my trip to Aberdeen and didn't get anything much done today.

Saturday 13 April 2024

SHETLAND BIRD NEWS & MORE!

Rare  Bird  Alert  News 
None.
 

My Phenergan travel sickness tablets prevented me from being sick last night. The ferry was rocking in the early hours of the morning and even though I was laying on the floor, I had to hold onto the floor a few times to stop myself being rolled over! Later on I heard a huge crashing noise – which sounded like loads of crockery smashing to the floor! Eventually it calmed enough for me to get up. I didn't bother with breakfast this morning. The ferry arrived at 7.30am and I walked to the bus stop and caught the 7.50am bus back to Scalloway. A beautiful sunny and crisp morning, cooler than Aberdeen and much more tolerable.

When I reached home, I put my bags indoors and immediately fell asleep. I have been extremely sleepy all day and done nothing at all. The Phenergan tablets always do this too me, you can't drive after taking these or do anything to be honest. Two Goldfinches and a Great Spotted Woodpecker on my feeders this morning.

Friday 12 April 2024

New Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo Estate!

Skoda Fabia 1.0 TSI Monte Carlo Estate

 

Woke up at 5am after a night of tossing and turning, wasn't ill, so all good. Had a full breakfast. Arrived in Aberdeen at 7am. Stayed on the ferry for a while until 7.45am. Caught a bus to Trust Ford.

At last I have found a new car and an estate, which is what I wanted for several reasons including being able to sleep in it if I wanted to and getting wood for the fire etc etc. I nearly didn't buy this, as I thought it would remind me of my written off car, but changed my mind, as its the best car I've seen for the money I had to spend. Can't afford to buy new again, this car is a 2020 model, one previous owner, 16,338 miles. Salesman Donnelly Wilson at Trust Ford in Aberdeen has been extremely helpful indeed. Service being done and 12 months MOT (was 6 months). Three months warranty and covered by any Ford Garage, so this includes the Ford garage in Shetland. Car being delivered to Lerwick next week!

I had no idea what a huge city Aberdeen was until I had a walk round later! Also 19 degrees here and I am boiling hot, roll on Shetland to cool down! Had lunch in Pizza Express.

Aberdeen

Celebrated in Pizza Express!
 

Now on the ferry waiting to leave at 7pm to return to Lerwick. I have been given a warning card that its going to be rough tonight – so exciting, not!  Managed to get my favourite place mid ship with camp bed and sleeping bag.

SHETLAND BIRD NEWS & MORE!

Rare  Bird  Alert  News 
Hawfinch at South Nesting. Orcas x 2 at Isle of Mousa. Snow Bunting, Blue Fulmar on Fair Isle.
 

Thursday 11 April 2024

SHETLAND BIRD NEWS & MORE!

Rare  Bird  Alert  News 
Little Gull at Lerwick. Ring Ouzel, Blue Fulmar on Fair Isle.
 

After work I walked to the ferry terminal and caught the 7pm ferry to Aberdeen. No cabins, but I didn't want one anyway, as simply going over to look at a new car. Brought my roll up camp bed, pillow and sleeping bag and slept mid ship.

Wednesday 10 April 2024

SHETLAND BIRD NEWS & MORE!

Rare  Bird  Alert  News 

Hawfinch at Sandwick. Rough-legged Buzzard flew over Lerwick. Tundra Bean Goose on Isle of Bressay. Blue Fulmar, 2 Snow Buntings on Fair Isle. Snow Buntings x 4 at Ordaal, Unst.
 
 
My new bird feeder looks untouched at the moment, maybe they need to get used to the cage around the bottom or it may be due to the fact the rest of the general bird seed in other feeder and on bird table has not run out yet. I might try it without the cage at the weekend to see if the Starlings are able to balance on the weighted perch. 2 Chaffinches in the garden before work. Raining all day.

Tuesday 9 April 2024

SHETLAND BIRD NEWS & MORE!

Rare  Bird  Alert  News 

Hawfinch at North Staney Hill, Lerwick. Hawfinch at Sandwick. 2 Snow Buntings on Fair Isle. Glaucous Gull at Norwick, Unst.
 
 
Goldfinch in my garden before and after work along with 2 fem and 1 male Chaffinch.
 
Today I received a new bird feeder I sent off from the company Roamwild. I have put it together and will report back another day. I also bought the add on cage which is supposed to stop Starlings (won't believe it until I see it) and other bigger birds from accessing the seed. Its a very large feeder and I have filled this with sunflower hearts. On first impressions it looks far superior to my RSPB feeders. See the product video here. The test will be on how empty it is after work tomorrow! There are no squirrels in Shetland, so that won't be an issue for me!
 

RBA Weekly Round-Up 2nd to 8th April!

By Jon Dunn

Monday 8 April 2024

SHETLAND BIRD NEWS & MORE!

Rare  Bird  Alert  News 
Ring Ouzel, Snow Buntings x 2 on Fair Isle.
 
 
A lovely sunny day here. This evening I had 2 male and 2 fem Chaffinches, 2 Bramblings, Starlings, a good number of House Sparrows, 1 Blackbird and one Robin in the garden. Several Swallows and House Martins were skimming over my house! There is only one issue with all these birds in the garden – its nearly impossible to photograph anything, as the only window that opens wide enough (living room) is far too close to the birds and so its a case of trying to photograph through the glass stable door. This door is divided up into 6 panes of glass – I have tried to open the top half section, but the birds are very wary of me standing there and most will fly off. I tried to photograph birds outside by sitting at the extreme opposite end of the front garden, but the birds were not happy with that, however still I sat. This will be insanely frustating WHEN I get a mega in the garden!!! 😉

Sunday 7 April 2024

SHETLAND BIRD NEWS & MORE!

Rare  Bird  Alert  News 
Glaucous Gull on Isle of Foula. Bittern still at Loch of Hillwell. Glaucous Gull at Mair's Quay, Lerwick. Arctic Terns x 2 or "Tirriks" (earliest record ever, last earliest record was 18th April) at Grutness. Ring Ouzel, Twite x 4 on Fair Isle. Snow Buntings x 2 at Baltasound, Hawfinch at Valyie, Norwick, Unst.
 
 
Very strong winds but fabulous sunshine and blue skies. The Hawfinch has not returned, but I had a fabulous selection of birds in the garden today! 2 male and 2 fem Chaffinches, 1 male Goldfinch, 4 Bramblings, 3 Siskins, 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker, Robin, Blackbirds, 35+ House Sparrows, Starlings+++. Then later in the afternoon I had my first hirundines of the Spring – such a welcome and magical sight to watch 4 Swallows and 3 House Martins skimming and twisting low over my garden! What a day!

After doing lots of housekeeping with paperwork and filing etc, I finally got out and walked around Scalloway to find some birds. More Swallows and House Martins skimming over my road as I headed down to the harbour. Other than that, very little found, they were all in my garden! Found a Curlew and the usual Hooded Crows were around. Took some nice pictures of houses and gardens with Spring flowers and Daffodils on show. The wind was still very strong and it was raining lightly. On returning to my house, I walked part way up Gallows Hill to see my house from a different aspect – Scalloway looks amazing from even half way up the hill. Sheep and Shetland ponies on the hill make an idyllic scene.

I completely changed my mind about the car I put a deposit on yesterday and emailed Skoda to say I'm not interested. Instead I put a deposit on another car, which I am very happy about – just need to clarify a few things, which I have emailed to the sale room where its for sale in Aberdeen. Hopefully will have another car soon and before May with fingers crossed!

SHETLAND BIRD NEWS & MORE!

Saturday 6th April
Rare  Bird  Alert  News 
Hawfinch on Isle of Foula. Ring Ouzel male on Fair Isle.
 
 
Very strong winds and rain for most of the day. 4 Bramblings in my garden again with the usual birds and 7 Collared Doves at one time. 2 Siskins in next door's garden. No sign of yesterday's Hawfinch. Spent most of the day looking for another car on-line, which I'm getting very fed up with, as I don't trust any garage I phone up, especially when you are told different things about a car from two different members of staff within the same company! My insurance is now going to be tons more too after my accident, which I expected. I put a deposit on a car, but the very cheap make of tyre, which would not have been put on when it was new and the low mileage, don't add up – waiting for answer by email. Wish I could afford to buy a new Skoda on finance, but I can't, so will have to accept that. Mixed weather tomorrow!

Friday 5 April 2024

SHETLAND BIRD NEWS & MORE!

Rare  Bird  Alert  News 
Bittern at Loch of Hillwell. Hawfinch at Scalloway. Waxwing at South Nesting. Hawfinch at Out Skerries. Long-eared Owl, Snow Buntings x 3 on Fair Isle.
 
 
Something very strange occured this morning, when I first got up and looked out into the front garden, two of my feeders were on the ground – there has been very little wind and they are heavy feeders. Seeking advice from Hugh H., he said it may have been Hooded Crows who work in the night! Cleaned all the now empty feeders properly and scrubbed down the hanging bird table and bird baths. Topped everything up again and it didn't take too long for all my usual birds to return.
 
New garden bird today – a Male HAWFINCH at 3pm!!! Its very handy that I can view all of my neighbour's Jimmy's long standing bird feeders and bird baths in his garden from my living room, without even leaving the house! I was scanning with bins and was suddenly aware of a large chunky bird that had flown to drink from a pedestal bird bath and was very excited to see it was a stonking male Hawfinch! It then flew up to perch in the tallest trees. I grabbed my camera and went outside and of course it had vanished! I went back indoors and walked to my front door to view my feeders and there it was sitting in my tree, peering down at the bird feeders and the boisterous Starlings scrabbling over the fat balls! WOW! By the time I had got my camera, it had disappeared again, so sadly no pictures at all, but what a bird to have in my garden!
 
Supporting cast of Bramblings x 4, Siskins x 2, House Sparrows, Starlings, Blackbirds, Robin, Collared Doves and Rock Doves. A sunny day here, but light rain and cloud later on. Heavy rain and strong south, south easterlies all day tomorrow. A mixture of strong and light south west winds on Sunday, with rain and sunshine!

Searching on line for a second hand Skoda Fabia Estate SE L or Monte Carlo in blue!!! I dithered about one the other day and regretted it – the next day someone reserved it and beat me to it and now sold – this was on Cinch who deliver free to Shetland. I have changed my mind about buying another rallyee green Skoda, it would bring back too many bad memories of my accident.

Thursday 4 April 2024

SHETLAND BIRD NEWS & MORE!

Rare  Bird  Alert  News 
Bittern at Loch of Hillwell. Glaucous Gull, Little Gull at Lerwick. Long-eared Owl, Snow Buntings x 2 on Fair Isle.
 
 
Bramblings x 3 in my garden this evening, along with the usual birds in the garden.

Wednesday 3 April 2024

SHETLAND BIRD NEWS & MORE!

Rare  Bird  Alert  News 

Bittern at Loch of Hillwell. Glaucous Gull at Mair's Quay, Lerwick. Northern Bullfinch at Kergord.
 
 
My builder came round at 6pm to check on the concrete floor of the second bedroom and said it is now dry enough to insulate and put a new floor in etc. I had decided a few days ago, that being as this room is now in a serious state, with skirting board taken up and holes in the bottom of the walls, that it would be the best and only time to get this room insulated properly, so I discussed this with 'Alex' who said he would price up the job and get a quote to me. I only need the two outside walls doing and so I am hoping it won't be insanely expensive?! When Alex explained the process to me, it sounds like a big job. The existing plasterboard has to be knocked out and removed and then 75mm insulating board placed against the inside of outside wall, wood struture around, then another 25mm of insulating board, then plaster board. This will then mean that the window frames will have be replaced and all the skirting board and then a decorator in to skim and paint the two new walls and all the skirting. It think its going to be a long time before this office gets completed and then a long time for me to finish the rest of the house. I really hope its all going to get done in the next few months.

Tuesday 2 April 2024

SHETLAND BIRD NEWS & MORE!

Rare  Bird  Alert  News 

Hawfinch near Fjara Cafe, Black Redstart in garden at Lerwick. Hawfinch at Marrister, Whalsay.
 
 
The weather has switched to strong and chilly north easterlies – no rain, no sun. 4 male Bramblings, 2 Lesser Redpolls, 6 Siskins, 1 Robin, 2 Blackbirds, 7 Collared Doves, 15+ House Sparrows, Starlings+++ feeding in my garden. So lovely to have the lighter evenings now the clocks have changed. Sunrise is now 6.24am and sunset is 19.52.

RBA Weekly Round-Up 16th March to 1st April!

By Jon Dunn

Monday 1 April 2024

SHETLAND BIRD NEWS & MORE!

Rare  Bird  Alert  News 

Red-flanked Bluetail, Snow Buntings x 2 on Fair Isle. Great Grey Shrike at Scousburgh. Bittern at Loch of Hillwell.
 
 
4 male Bramblings, 1 Common Redpoll, 2 Siskins, Great Spotted Woodpecker, 1 Robin, 2 Blackbirds, 6 Collared Doves,  15+ House Sparrows, Starlings+++ feeding in my garden on another lovely day here with south winds this morning, but the weather switched to north east, drizzle and wind later on.
 
I have spent a lot of time researching and looking for cars to buy this weekend. I hate buying second hand cars more than houses. My last two cars were bought from new, I can't afford to do that anymore. I'm thinking about buying another Skoda, but an estate model rather than hatchback, a Skoda Fabia Estate 1.0 TSI SE L 5dr. Its impossible to find one at the right price anywhere and I can't find any Rallyee Green ones! 😞

Update: I had my first Hedgehog ever seen here in my garden last night! It was probably rummaging around for any left over dried meal worms, which are not good for them (apparently), but they love them.

SHETLAND BIRD NEWS & MORE!

Sunday 31st March

Rare  Bird  Alert  News 
Red-flanked Bluetail, Hawfinch, Ring Ouzel, Mealy Redpoll on Fair Isle. Hawfinch on Out Skerries. Bittern at Loch of Hillwell.
 
 
Four smart male Bramblings, 1 female Chaffinch, 2 Robins feeding in my garden again, along with the usual Starlings, House Sparrows, Blackbirds and Collared Doves. In next door's garden there were 2 male Siskins, male and female Chaffinch and very briefly a Common Redpoll. Another lovely day here.

Sunday 31 March 2024

Birding "Sooth" – A Glorious Spring Day!

Saturday 30th March

Rob and Jill very kindly said they would take me out birding today, which I was very excited about since I still don't have a car. I got up to look out of my stable door at the front of the house to see what birds were by the feeders and I was so excited to see three new birds for my garden list! A stonking male Brambling was feeding on the ground along with the House Sparrows and Starlings and then 2 male Siskins flew in to feed from the hanging bird table! A female Chaffinch was feeding almost camouflaged, under a shrub in the corner and the Great Spotted Woodpecker flew in to feed on the peanuts! Also Robins x 2, Collared Doves and 2 Blackbirds. Best selection of birds in my garden so far!

Rob and Jill arrived around 9am and from my driveway we watched 2 Goldfinches, 4 Siskins and Chaffinches along with Starlings and House Sparrows in Jimmy's garden next door.

We then drove to the harbours at Lerwick look for gulls, but nothing of particular note seen. Went to Helendale where we saw a Great Spotted Woodpecker and a Sparrowhawk appeared above some trees and was then mobbed by a Hooded Crow. Also saw two Goldcrest. Jill could hear a Blue Tit, but we couldn't see it.

We headed south to Grutness and saw a Pied Wagtail, Ringed Plover and some Mallards. Headed up to Sumburgh Head, which was jam-packed with cars and people as the Lighthouse had an Open Day event going on. Jill and I walked down to the 'Roses' and saw around 6+ Robins and 1 female Blackbird flew out. The weather was glorious today with wall to wall sunshine and virtually no wind at all. A message of 'Wheatear' here came up on the WhatsApp group, but we didn't see this. Lots of Guillemots on the sea, Fulmars cruising round and the entire scene looked amazing and felt good to be back at this iconic spot. We then stopped off at West Voe beach briefly, where the light was particularly stunning with cloud formations and blue skies.

Went to The Loch of Hillwell where we had the most distant views of the Bittern that Hugh Harrop had found I've ever seen, but at least we saw it! Also saw a Heron here. We had second better views through Hugh's scope from a higher up area of the road, which was far better, thanks Hugh! Also, Hugh very kindly showed us around his garden, which has matured considerably since I last saw it and very kindly gave us some cuttings of "New Zealand Holly" and a cutting of "Icelandic Willow" for me – so excited about these (planted later at home).

Had a look at Setters Marsh near Spiggie Loch to look for Pintail x 2 seen earlier, no Pintail on show, but  Moorhen, Curlews and several Golden Eye seen. On Spiggie Loch we watched 2 Shelduck and some Golden Eye, but mostly was devoid of birds, which was unexpected.

We then headed to Maywick Beach. Jill and I walked down to the beach – very disappointedly there were several piles of dog crap along the very short path,  it was far worse than my last visit here that had one pile – as Jill said, going by the size..... it was a large dog, not a Chihuahua! The same large dog as my last encounter maybe?! The beach as always here was stunning and nobody else here. 2 Pied Wagtails on the beach.

On route, Rob counted 48 seals below the cliff on Rerwick Beach. We returned to Lerwick to look for gulls and eventually had fabulous views of the Little Gull along with lots of Herring Gulls and Black-headed Gulls, but no sign of the Glaucous or Iceland Gull seen here today by others. A raft of Eider were seen, backed by the first and very large cruise ship of the season called "Ambition". Lovely views of 2 Long-tailed Ducks fairly close in too.

We then went to Veensgarth to look for a Long-eared Owl that was seen earlier on, but after much searching in the exact area it had been seen, we gave up. Headed back to Scalloway via Tingwall Loch where we saw a couple of Golden Eye. Jill and Rob dropped me at home at around 6pm. Still light and a beautiful evening with a night sky full of stars later on. A magical and brilliant day all round and huge thanks to Jill and Rob for taking me out.

Clocks go forward one hour tonight – lighter evenings after work!

SHETLAND BIRD NEWS & MORE!

Saturday 30th March
 
Rare  Bird  Alert  News 
Red-flanked Bluetail, Hawfinches x 2, Woodlark, Snow Buntings x 2, Blue Fulmar, Twite x 10, Mealy Redpoll at Fair Isle. Bittern, Iceland Gull at Loch of Hillwell. Long-eared Owl at Veensgarth. Glaucous Gull, Iceland Gull, Little Gull at Shetland Catch, Hawfinch at Lerwick. Black Redstart at Grutness. Black Redstart, Hawfinches x 2 at Norwick, Unst.
 

Friday 29 March 2024

SHETLAND BIRD NEWS & MORE!

Rare  Bird  Alert  News 
Red-flanked Bluetail, Long-eared Owls x 3, Snow Bunting, Mealy Redpoll, Hawfinch, Black Redstart at Fair Isle. Long-eared Owl at Norwick, Unst. Glaucous Gull, Iceland Gull at Mair's Quay, Waxwing at Lerwick. Bittern at Loch of Hillwell. Hawfinch in garden at Mid Yell.
 
 
After filling my bird feeders up, it didn't take long for all my birds to return: Rock Dove, Collared Doves, Blackbirds, Robin, House Sparrows 20+ and Starlings 20+. The feeders had been empty since 15th March when I went to Norfolk. I'm hoping for a Hawfinch in the next few days! Beautiful sunny day here and some of my daffodils are out. Planted four Buddleia cuttings that I took from a established Buddleia in Norfolk, that my late mother planted many years ago – fingers crossed that they survive!

Yesterday I received another home warming present from the lovely Lin P. from Norfolk – Lin had made me some beautifully created bunting with a bird themed design and a lovely card – thank you so much Lin, that was a totally unexpected and unique gift, wow!
 
Today an electrician/plumber came and installed my new shower and a local builder started work on my mouldy floor last night and this morning. The mouldy chipboard floor in the second bedroom has been removed and underneath is what apparently could have been bitumin roofing felt on concrete – this was hoovered with an industrial machine and was then bleached to kill all the mould spores on the concrete base with the windows left open. Tomorrow I have to get my humidifier in the room, close the windows and wait for how ever long it takes for the concrete to dry out.

Thursday 28 March 2024

SHETLAND BIRD NEWS & MORE!

Rare  Bird  Alert  News 
 
Bittern at Loch of Hillwell. Hawfinch at Cunningsburgh. Green-winged Teal at Loch of Trondavoe. Glaucous Gull at Isle of Bressay. Hawfinch at Bakkasetter. Blue Fulmars x 4, Blaxk Redstart, Mealy Redpoll, Snow Bunting at Fair Isle. Hawfinch in garden at Yell.
 

Wednesday 27 March 2024

SHETLAND BIRD NEWS & MORE!

Rare  Bird  Alert  News 
Woodlark at South Light, Twite x 6 on Fair Isle. Hawfinch at Bakkasetter. Bittern at Loch of Hillwell. Glaucous Gull, Iceland Gull at Mairs Quay and Shetland Catch, Gremista. Hawfinch at Uyeasound, Unst. Hawfinch at Marrister, Whalsay.
 

NORFOLK TRIP – 15th to 26th March!

The last time I saw my sisters was the 30th April 2023, its been far too long. As soon as I knew my new house was finalised, I booked this trip up and managed to get reasonably priced flights. It was a good job I had booked to fly, as I wouldn't have been taking the Northlink ferry and driving south with no car! I had NHS annual leave that had to be used up by the 31st March, so it was a good time to book and before Spring migration hits Shetland. Mind you, if I don't get a car sorted out soon, I will only be seeing birds in Scalloway!


Friday 15th March

When I booked the trip up, I was planning to drive to Sumburgh Airport, but with no car and taxis being insanely expensive, Jill and Rob very kindly said they would take me to the airport, which I obviously paid them some petrol money for. Jill and Rob arrived at 6.45am to take me to Sumburgh Airport – we arrived at 7.20am.

Flight left Sumburgh at 8.20am and arrived at Aberdeen at 10.25am. I had several hours to kill where I bought some lunch in one of the restaurants and then the next flight left at 14.10 and arrived at Norwich Airport at 15.30. Walked a few yards to catch the park and ride bus to the main bus station in Norwich which cost £3. Then caught the Excel 16.00 bus to King’s Lynn which only cost £2, which was insanely cheap and a very comfortable journey, which is unusual for a bus, in fact I was able to sleep for most of the journey. I arrived in King’s Lynn at around 18.00.

Walked with all my luggage to the Bishop Lynn House Apartments in the market place. A man walking into the building described it as a 'strange place' and tipped me off that he had been told not to use the lifts out of 'office hours' in case they got stuck. So I had to walk up several flights of stairs to Room 8 where I had to put a 4 digit code into the keysafe box. There was a large pool of water on the carpet next to the lift close to my door. Inside the apartment, it was all white and looked modern, but this is all it was. I was horrified to find that the only radiator was set at 14 degrees and didn't work anyway - it was colder in that apartment than in an uninsulated house in Shetland with no heating! It was icy cold. I texted Orcacle Property (they don't answer the phone if you ring) and they assured me the heating was working and was serviced two days ago – this was a load of bo**ocks! I was exhausted and feeling very angry and fed up. I laid down on one of the two single beds to decide what to do. The linen was cold and damp. I investigated and to my horror discovered the mattresses were brown, filthy and stained with what looked like bed bugs!! I felt sick. There was also food stuck to the unstable table and one of the two bar stools. There was mould on the wall in the bathroom and the toilet roll holder was rusty. The fridge freezer smelt and had not been defrosted for ages. Lots of long texts back and forth to ‘owners’, awful and negative replies back from them, which I'm not even going to go into they were so awful. I texted the owners to say I was leaving and I wanted a full return on my money and my deposit – their reply was that they would have to speak to the manager in the morning. All the replies from Oracle Property were badly written, very poor English and some of them didn't make sense. I left.

Very stressed, I ended up going to the Globe Hotel to ask if they had any accommodation. I was too exhausted to make any decisions about anything and Vivien and Ray very kindly said I could come and stay with them on the narrow boat for a couple of nights. I then had to walk very quickly through the dodgy streets of King’s Lynn and catch the 10.42pm train to Littleport, where Vivien and Ray met me on the platform – I was almost in tears at this point and we instantly had a group hug, which was very much needed. So lovely to see them both and I couldn’t stop giving Vivien several hugs.

Vivien and Ray have a brilliantly designed table with two bench seats either side that fold into a double bed that is firm and super comfortable and this is where I slept for the night and the following night.


Saturday 16th March

Ray made me a cup of tea whilst I was still in bed, not used to this service, what a treat! After breakfast we caught the 11.06 train to King’s Lynn. On route I saw a Common Buzzard, Great White Egret and 2 Robins. It was boiling hot, well that’s how it felt to me, I could really feel the difference from being in Shetland – double the temperature I'm used to, far too hot! Ray went on ahead to save us a table in the Wetherspoons pub and Vivien and I walked to Lucy’s. Lucy was already outside where she lived and I rushed to hug her – it felt very emotional to see her and she looked really well. So lovely to see both my sisters again. We walked to The Globe/Wetherspoons pub and there were so many people around, which I am not used to, it almost felt claustrophobic. The pub was packed out with people. As soon as we had booked our lunch I nipped out to go to the awful accommodation to see if anyone was in reception – nobody there to speak too. Lots of post on the reception desk all addressed to lots of different people. This place is not what is seems I feel. Anyway, I returned to the pub, just in time for our meals to be served – a very nice lunch at a reasonable price. Very busy, hot day!!! After lunch we returned to the accommodation – I didn’t want Lucy or Vivien going in there, so Ray went in with me and again no-one at reception. I seriously don’t believe there is anyone ever on reception, its just made to look like that. Ray noted bare wiring in the reception area. A lady appeared in reception who spoke no English and spoke with us via a translating app on her phone. Long story short, she said she was a cleaner (she was wearing very high heels and without saying any more, did not look like a cleaner. As we left the building she got into a black car with a man and drove off.

We then went into the Globe Hotel reception to ask advice about my situation and both Sheyanne and Chris were extremely helpful with finding a number for Booking.com (impossible to find on the net) which is 02035 646725, so I could speak to a manager about my awful accommodation I had booked through them. I managed to speak to a Manager and he was very helpful indeed and said he would contact the company to request a full refund, but he had to wait for 24 hours for them to reply. I also sent lots of pictures to booking.com so they could see the dire accommodation that guests were expected to sleep in.

This was extremely stressful to sort out and because of poor signal was cut off several times and had to keep phoning back. Lucy, Vivien and Ray really didn’t need to be hearing all this. Lucy was very supportive actually, but then she decided to walk home.

Ray, Vivien and I went into a coffee shop to decide what to do about everything. Then we went to Lucy’s where we enjoyed some Shetland cakes I had bought with me for them, which everyone very much enjoyed. Ray and Vivien then went to the train station. Vivien was stressed to hear that I wanted to walk back to the The Globe to book there for the rest of my stay and said ‘there is no way you will catch the 7.42 train with us.

I returned to the Globe and booked Room 104, which was a large room shown to me earlier and paid the entire fee. I then sped back through the town and got on the train at 7.42pm to join Vivien and Ray. Vivien could not believe I had managed to catch the train – amazing what you can achieve when you are angry!

Had my second night on the boat and slept much better than the previous night.


Sunday 17th March

Woke up to a cup of tea from Ray and then a second one later from Vivien! Not used to this, excellent service. Packed up the bed and returned it to the table and bench seats and then had marmalade and toast for breakfast with Vivien, whilst Ray had to go to Ely to pick up his son’s car (long story). I spent the morning replying to booking.com and sent a ton of pictures of the atrocious accommodation. I was very pleased to have an email from them, confirming I would get a full refund, but this did not include my £100 deposit for any damage caused to the accommodation, which was listed as being returned after you leave. The company had texted to me to say they would not being returning this as I had stayed and it was needed for the cleaning fee!!!!! I texted back saying I didn't stay (had already told them this) and they wanted me to pay the cleaning fee for the disgusting mattresses?! I can assure you they will be paying my deposit back!!!

After having lunch with Vivien and Ray on their boat, I eventually got going and caught the 3.32pm train to King’s Lynn. As I walked with all my luggage through the bus station I spotted Alison and Terry – I worked with Alison in the Stroke Community Team at the QEH, it was so lovely to see her and we hugged a few times. Alison was horrified when I showed her the pictures of the accommodation that I had booked, she couldn’t believe what she was seeing.

Arrived at The Globe Hotel and checked in. I had booked and paid for Room 104 yesterday and this is where I will be staying until Tuesday 29th March. I had already been shown this room yesterday and it looked like a room at The Ritz, compared with the hovel I was supposed to be staying in. This room was very very nice. Huge dressing table, which I have turned into a desk for my laptop. A stunning and large bathroom. A double bed with a very firm mattress, massive TV on wall that I can watch from my bed if I want to. Open design wardrobe, ironing board and iron (won’t be using that!) and an armchair by the window overlooking the market place. Tea, coffee, hot chocolate, kettle and bottled water also in the room. Free Wifi and it all looks immaculate. Very handy being part of the Wetherspoons pub too!

After unpacking all may gear on the third day of my trip, I finally started to feel settled. Had some food I bought from Greggs and then walked to Lucy’s to spend some time with her this evening. Brought her a cake and we sat and chatted in her room for quite some time. Left and walked back to the hotel and started typing up the last three blogs posts.


Monday 18th March

Vivien came over on the train as we had some important stuff to sort out which took an hour and a half. We then had a lovely lunch in the Wimpy and then after doing odd things around town, we caught the 13.28 bus to Heacham to visit our dear family friend Malcolm, whom I have not seen since his wife Eileen passed away on 25th August last year. He met us at the bus stop in his new sporty electric orange car and took us back to his house, where we had a really lovely time chatting about everything from photography, nature, the ‘good old days’, happy memories of days at HBO, putting the world to rights etc. Malcolm was the perfect host and made us coffees and gave us some naughty cakes. Malcolm’s garden is absolutely stunning, he has a huge nature pond and water feature in the garden with established planting to encourage nature. His Forsythia was out in in full bloom and there was quite a bit of Spring colour in the garden.

Later on Malcolm very kindly drove me to Dersingham and dropped me off at my lovely neighbours from King’s Lynn and then he took Vivien to the train station where she headed home to Littleport.

I spent about two and a half hours chatting with Anne and Lewis, who both looked really well and also their dog Molly and a visiting dog who growled a few times and didn’t seem to like me at all?! I caught the 9.28pm bus back to King’s Lynn and then walked back to my hotel via McDonalds!


Tuesday 19th March

Ray and Vivien arrived to pick me up at 9.45am in a borrowed family car, Lucy declined to join us. Went to Holme and parked on the NOA car park. Walked across to the dunes and then ambled along the path through the pines and then across to the observatory. Unruly dogs off leads, nothing changed. Gary Elton, Assistant Warden said “I didn’t expect to see that face today”. I bought the 2022 NOA report to add to my collection. Gary told us that it was his last day as Assistant Warden here.

Little Egret, Tufted Ducks, Teal, Mallard, Little Grebe, Black-headed Gulls, Long-tailed Tits, Great Tit, Robins, Marsh Harriers seen around the reserve. We had our lunch at Holme NWT. Very warm, too warm for me. We then went to Holme Marsh NWT (village hides), which was a very interesting muddy walk down the initial track to the first kissing gate. This was our mothers favourite place in her latter years, so it felt very special to Vivien and I as we walked around. Sadly, very little seen from the hides, but there were some Egyptian Geese, a Canada Goose, Cetti's Warbler and Chiffchaffs singing. We left and Vivien and Ray dropped me off at  my hotel.


Wednesday 20th March

Got up late and had a veggie breakfast in Wetherspoons. Bought some tops and trousers (to cope with the hot weather), new earrings and then went to visit Lucy for an hour and a half in her room and bought us some chocolate eclairs to eat, which she enjoyed very much.

I had arranged a meet up with my work colleagues in The Dukes Head Hotel at 5pm as soon as I had booked the trip. This gave people plenty of notice if they wanted to catch up with me. I had no idea how many would turn up, but it was so lovely to see Lauren, Rhiannon, Hilary, Sarah B., Suzy, Bev, Ellie and Poppy! Later on Bev, Hilary, Suzy and I went to Wetherspoons to have a meal together which was very nice. We all departed and I returned to my room and fell asleep.


Thursday 21st March

Went on the train with Lucy to visit Vivien and Ray on their narrow boat. Lucy, was not in the best of moods initially, but switched to happy Lucy when she spotted lots of animals and birds on route. We had a delicious lunch made by Ray, including his best ever coleslaw on the boat. After eating and chatting, Lucy and I returned to King's Lynn and Lucy headed home. I popped into M&S and bought some earrings and then spent the evening in my hotel room.


Friday 22nd March

Vivien came over on the train and along with Lucy we went on the 11am bus to Castle Rising and had a lovely lunch at the Castle Rising Tearooms. We had a room upstairs all to ourselves which was nice. The place was packed out. Left at 2.45pm and got off at the train station. Lucy walked home and Vivien and I went into town, Vivien then went back to Littleport on the train and I went back to my hotel.

Spent the evening at Hilary’s having pizza and a catch-up, which included having 😉😂 to watch the 1975’s in concert and Hilary singing along!  Nice to see her son Elliot and meet his lovely girlfriend Molly. Later on Hilary took me back to my hotel.


Saturday 23rd March

Lovely sunny, but very cold day, which felt fabulous and more like Shetland! Caught the 7.30am Coastliner bus to Wells arriving at 9.22am. Then caught the 9.45am Coasthopper bus to Salthouse arriving at 10.16am. Walked north along Beach Road and saw Chaffinches, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Little Egret and a Wheatear. Met up with John F, who very kindly gave me two very kind late birthday presents, a pair of blue glass earrings and an hanging Ivory Gull made by Emma Buck. We had a lovely amble to Gramborough Hill, where we saw nothing of particular note, but it was great to be back here. Meadow Pipit seen and on the pool were 2 Ringed Plovers and 2 Dunlin, which was nice to see. Returned to Beach Road and John left.

Pete S. picked me up in his car and we, along with Eddie a short while later had a lovely catch up over lunch at The Kelling Tea Rooms. Then went to Cley NWT and chatted with Bob at CleySpy and then scanned the marshes from the viewing platform and saw 2 Spoonbills and Eddie and Pete saw the Long-billed Dowitcher very distantly and briefly through their scopes. Pete then left and Eddie walked me to the bus stop. I then caught the 15.01 bus to Wells arriving at 15.24 (saw a Great White Egret at Stiffkey Flood on route) and then caught the 15.33 bus to Titchwell RSPB arriving at 16.10.

Said hello to Trevor G in the VC and then walked around the Fen Trail. Cetti’s Warbler, Chiffchaff, Blue Tit, Robin, Med Gulls, Mute Swans, Tufted Ducks, Teal, Coot, 2 Little Grebes. Freshmarsh: Garganey pair, Pochard, Avocets, Black-tailed Godwits, Black-headed Gulls, Redshanks, Ruff, Little Egret, Great White Egret, several Marsh Harriers, Cormorants, Curlews. Caught the 18.10 bus back to King’s Lynn bus station arriving back at 19.18.

Text message from Oracle Property saying they would be paying my £100 deposit back, I’ll wait until its in the bank before I believe that!

Sunday 24th March

Had a lovely sleep in after a long night of noisy Saturday festivities went on in the market place below my window!

You wouldn’t believe what I had heard today from a receptionist in my hotel! They have had three other groups of people who had booked into Bishop Lynn House Apartments, who had also walked out as I did and walked into The Globe Hotel looking for rooms!

Met up with Lucy, Vivien and Ray at Grants Restaurant in Norfolk Street to have a top draw Sunday roast. Ray and Vivien had Beef, Lucy had a Vegetable and Cheese Crumble and I had a Nut Roast with all the usual trimmings. Ray had Apple and Blackberry Crumble, Lucy had Bread & Butter Pudding and Vivien and I had Mandarin and Cointreau Trifle. Excellent food and service, couldn’t fault it in any way.

Lucy felt sleepy and didn’t want to do anything else, so walked back to her house. Vivien and Ray joined me for a cup of tea at my hotel and we had a lovely chat before they left and caught the train back to Littleport.

Although I can’t wait to get back to Shetland, I can’t believe I only have one day left with my sisters. 
 

Monday 25th March

Lucy and Vivien met me outside M&S and we bought ourselves some lunch and then went back to my hotel room to relax and spend our last day together, before I depart early tomorrow morning. I became very emotional when they left the hotel – very difficult to leave them and to say goodbye again. Had a meal by myself in Wetherspoons adjacent to the hotel and then started packing to leave in the morning. The £100 deposit was paid back into my account today from Oracle Property. I also had a big apology message from Booking.com "I have thoroughly reviewed every detail of your complain, and it saddens me that they took that long to refund you the deposit, and I assure you that the complaint that we have raised will be a reference for our specialist team, who will investigate further. If it is found that this is a repetitive behaviour, this property will be terminated from the Booking.com website forever." So I replied back to this with the information I was given via the Globe Hotel about the three lots of other people who had walked out of the apartments this week!


Tuesday 26th March

Hotel reception very kindly phoned me at 4am to make sure I was up, it would have been far too risky to hope that I heard my mobile phone alarm. After an M&S porridge and coffee in my room, I left the hotel at 5am and walked through the streets of King’s Lynn to catch the 5.35am Excel bus (only costs £2!) to Norwich Bus Station arriving at 7.20am. Then took a pre-booked A2B Taxi (£17) to Airport to check in – I had the most bizarre conversation I have ever had in my life – the taxi driver had lots of interesting ideas and apparent 'facts' about what is going to happen the world – apparently next year will be a new beginning and that is an extremely long story short! I had to pay £20 for being overweight with my luggage, which I expected, it was 14.7kg on the way out and 16kg this morning, this due to the fact I had some clothes whilst here. I wasn't expecting it to be so hot in Norfolk in March! I could have posted a kg back to Shetland, but after postage, brown tape and packing stuff I would have spent £20 anyway! The flight left before the scheduled flight time of 8.35am and arrived at Aberdeen 25 minutes early at 9.30am (instead of 9.55am).
 
I then had to wait ALL day for the 17.20 flight to Sumburgh, so had a lot of time to fill. Spent some of it typing and fine tuning my trip to Norfolk up, some researching for another Skoda Fabia and some of it asleep on a long couch in a very quiet lounge I discovered!

My flight left Aberdeen at 18.20, exactly an hour late, which resulted in lots of very unhappy travellers. We landed in Orkney where some travellers got off and others got on. Hand luggage in the lockers had to be checked etc and eventually we arrived at Sumburgh, Shetland at 20.15, which resulted in me missing the last bus at 8pm to Lerwick bus station. Whilst waiting for my luggage to appear on the converyor belt I turned to ask a lady if she was travelling to Lerwick and luckily she was and very kindly offered me a lift – I am guessing it was her son with her too – huge thanks to Laura for so kindly taking me directly to Lerwick Bus station, which meant I was back on schedule to catch the 9.20am and the last bus to Scalloway, arriving at 21.50. It was hard work walking up the hill to my house with all my luggage and walked into the house at 10pm!
 
PICTURES TO BE ADDED