Of the birds that were around on Mainland, we decided to go and try for a Citrine Wagtail at Sandwick on South Mainland. It was to be a bit of a wild goose chase (or rather a wild wagtail chase!) as we didn't really know where abouts it was and the landscape there was largely wet, boggy fields and lots of it. We soon decided that it was not going to be a useful way to spend the time and headed off over towards Loch of Spiggie.
Driving south down the road from Bigton towards Spiggie, Tim suddenly yelled 'GREAT GREY SHRIKE !' Sure enough, there was one, flying along parallel and at eye level to the car - what a cracker . Parking up, we then spent 20 minutes trying to relocate the bird, but to no avail. Carrying on, Tim turned on his phone to check his bird alert texts. Seconds later, the messages came up , ' G G Shrike and Redflanked Bluetail at Geosetter south Mainland'. That was 5 minutes back up the road and we had just seen the shrike.
By the time we got back, there were a number of people there but the bird hadn't been seen for 20 minutes or so. Despite extensive searching of the gully, the bird seemed to have disappeared. While most of the folk had descended back down the hill/ditch/gully, Tim and I sat down and checked the place where it had last been seen. Thankfully, Tim saw it again below us and I quickly set up the camera on the tripod. Within minutes the rest of the birders had come back up, but fortunately for me, the bird came out in the gully just below me and sat on a bare branch for what seemed like minutes but was probably only 30 seconds or so. Due to the dull lighting below me, I used a high ISO (1600) but was too high really, but it did give me 800 sec shutter speed.
The angle of view could have been better - it was probably an 80 degree slope below me - and it would have been nice to have had the sun on it, but I was glad just to see it. Once the rest of the birders/twitchers/photographers had gathered around, the bird flew on up the gully to a spot about 70 or 80 yards away. Rather than follow them like sheep, I stayed put thinking that the bird would come back down as there was more cover here - and after 5 minutes away, this it did.
I was still in a fairly good position and managed a few more shots before deciding to 'call it a day' as also there were now more people arriving. After feeling a bit 'robbed' a couple of weeks back on Unst - having seen one of these very briefly and then it being re-found a few days later by visiting birders, I was pretty happy to get to see this bird very well indeed.
Our elation was soon to be deflated when we tried to leave in the car. I had parked on the grass to avoid parking in a passing place, bad move. The front wheels were not getting any traction and we were firmly stuck (how I wished I was in the Suby'), fortunately a number of the guys had also returned to their cars. Tongue firmly in cheek, I asked who'd been up to see the Unst Lanceolated Warbler ? When a number of them said yes, I said 'great stuff, we found it, can we have a push please ?' Even with 8 guys pushing, the car still didn't move and only when I attached a tow rope to a 4x4 did we get out - many thanks guys.
After that, we thought it would be a good idea to go straight to the airport, and this we did. I think I've mentioned it before, when ever I go off of Unst, something good turns up. This happened again today, this time it was a Dusky Warbler in Haligarth and a Pallas's Warbler at Skaw. The latter bird is one I've always wanted to see, lets hope it's around tomorrow.