On Wednesday the 24th of September I made my annual pilgrimage to the Shetland Isles (an archipelago about 100 miles off the NE coast of Scotland), so at 4.30 am, the taxi arrived, and, with my birding buddies Steve James, Dave Gray and John Waters, we headed for Birmingham Airport. After two uneventful flights, we picked up the hire car - a Kia Picanto - which had not got enough power to pull the skin off a rice pudding! We headed for our home for the next 10 days, the Beach House at Hoswick, and after dropping off our luggage, we started to check out the local avifauna. We found Chiffchaff in our garden, and lots of Blackbird were about, along with Hooded Crow and a fly-over Bonxie (Great Skua). I won't bore you with a day-by-day list of birds, these are just a few highlights of our trip.....
Thursday, whilst out trying to see more migrants, a report of a Red-Eyed Vireo came in at The Sumburgh Hotel gardens, so off we went! Sadly, by the time we arrived, the bird had disappeared but we did note Snipe, Gold Crest, and at Sumburgh Head, Fulmar, Gannet and Raven were noted. We headed for Hestingott, to try and find the Red-Backed Shrike that had been there for a few days - and were successful following a good 'spot' by Steve. Other birds of note were Redstart, Wheatear, Merlin and Pied Flycatcher.
Friday, as we were coming back from Scalaway and the Tingwall area, where a Pallid Harrier had been seen (Steve and John needed it for their lists), Steve, who was sitting in the back of the car suddenly blurted out those immortal words.....'Rubythroat'!!! 'Where?' we all shouted! Remember earlier in this tale I told you that the car was grossly underpowered??........well, to be fair to the Picanto, it managed to get four burly blokes to Levenwick - a distance of about five miles - in a speed you wouldn't believe! The bird was doing a circuit between a fuchsia and Hebe bush in a ladies garden, and, with patience, we all managed to see this enigmatic little jewel of a bird, along with about 60 other birders. I did manage to get one record image, but the bird was constantly moving, and as there was a restricted viewings in order to allow everybody to see it, I wasn't able to linger. Unfortunately, we were leaving the next morning, so weren't able to return for any more images.
Below are a few images of some of the other birds we saw on our visit to Shetland.