Monday, 4 June 2012

It was nippy up north!

Atlantic Puffin (David Fettes)
It has taken me two days to sufficiently warm up after a stupendous week on The Shetlands. I never really appreciated just how far north these islands were - literally just 200 miles east of Norway. Nor did I fully comprehend just how big the main island was - some 100 miles long by 30 miles wide, or something like that. But what I didn't account for in any way was how cold it would be. Despite the sun shining on some of the days a merciless wind sometimes blew to duly freeze me. I had to resort to wearing two pairs of trousers, three t-shirts, a jumper, jean jacket and raincoat plus two pairs of hats and some gloves!!

During my week I visited Fetlar, Yell, Unst as well as circumnavigating the main island. I picked up all the usual suspects that you would expect to uncover on these magical isles including a single female Red-necked Phalarope, Puffins, Black & Common Guillemots, Razorbills, Kittiwakes, Great Black-backs, Common Gulls, Arctic Terns, one pair of Common Terns, Arctic Skuas, Bonxies, Greylags, Eiders, orgies of Shags, Great Northern & Red-throated Divers, Lapwings, Curlews, Whimbrels, Dunlins, Sanderlings, Ringed Plovers, Twites, Starlings, Hooded Crows and plenty of House Sparrows amongst other species.

Of course, The Shetlands are famed for the number of hot rarities that it attracts. Well, I managed to dip on a Yellow-billed Diver, Black-headed Bunting (which would have been my first in 25 years) and was turned the other way speaking on my mobile when an adult Long-tailed Skua flew past. But did manage to see a lingering Icterine Warbler and discover a Short-toed Lark along the road outside my hotel on Unst plus find and co-find two seperate female Golden Orioles above and around my wooded adopted local patch on Unst. Coupled with those discoveries I also enjoyed watching Shetland scarcities like Wood Pigeon, Hobby, Sparrowhawk, Carrion Crow and a Dunnock.

Every birder in the UK and beyond must come and visit these islands at least once in their birding lives. It's like being a football fan and going to a big game at Wembley or going to Buck Palace and meeting the Queen. They are things that we just have to do.

My gratitute goes out to Shetland Wildlife for facilitating my visit and making me feel so welcome.


BirderRon said...

Here's clue about being cold David - from my wife too! Jan claims that the further you get from the Equater the colder it gets. That's why she won't move to Scotland when do finally move ;-)))

Jon Dunn said...

It was terrific meeting you too, David. Looking forward to seeing you back up here one day for some more rarity-hunting - and if it helps, we'll have Teresa making old-skool bread-and-butter pudding and custard!

Eagleseagles said...

David - I am so glad you enjoyed your trip to the Shetlands - just got to go now in October for the migration - but do take some really windproof gear! One of my favourite places for birding in the UK.