Thursday, 7 October 2010

A Red Letter Day

  As I mentioned in my previous post, I have had a good friend on mine staying with us this week who is also a very keep birder. All week we have been going out throughout the island looking for migrants with a varying amount of success. Apart from looking for any rare migrants, we were looking for the commoner birds which aren't so easy to find down south such as pure bred Rock Doves (very common here), several races of Redpoll and also birds like Longtailed Duck and divers etc. There were a number of birds we found - and then lost - including brief views of a probable Richard's Pipit, Bluethroat and frustratingly short views of several unidentified warblers. We have also had cracking views of a flock of around 100 Snow Buntings, large flocks of Lapland Buntings to name just a few.

  Yesterday morning, we headed over to Skaw at around 9.30am. Firstly we checked the beach and only found a Wheatear and this was then followed by a couple of Blackcaps and a Whinchat. Heading around the back of the croft, I then noticed a small dark warbler at the side of one of the sheep pens behind some foliage. The bird certainly looked different and when it ran like a mouse, I though it was certainly something special. The bird flew up and then landed again in one of the pens but when we looked over in to it the bird was nowhere to be seen. We then spent almost an hour trying to relocate the bird but to no avail. Because of the behavior and the colour, my gut feeling was that it was maybe of the Grasshopper Warbler type but maybe we would never know. Later that day, I mentioned it to Brydon and thought that was that, how wrong was I ! Later that evening, he phoned me to say that he'd told one of his tour leaders (Martin Garner) about it and he'd been over to try and find it and he succeeded ! Basically after much deliberation they concluded that the bird was a Lanceolated Warbler. You can read about Martin's identification here .

  This morning we were going to head off over to Skaw to try and catch up with the bird again. The problem today however was that we didn't have any transport as my car was off the road. A quick text early this morning to Dougie got us a lift over at 9am. As we arrived, it was clear that it was still there due to a small number of cars and several mini buses. Within minutes of arriving we were watching this rare bird from northeast Asia feeding at he back of one of the barns. Unfortunately the light wasn't particularly good for photography but just seeing the bird was enough. This species has become a bit of a Fair Isle specialty with the vast majority of British records occurring there, so, to get one away from there is also pretty special. The first one below was in the shade of the barn/wall and the second was in better light but is obscured by foliage.

Lanceolated Warbler

The rest of the day was spent walking back from Skaw (about 7 miles or so) birdwatching on the way and generally enjoying the beautiful sunny October day - which was warm at time ! As well as lots of the regular birds, we saw another Little Bunting, 8 Pinkfooted Geese and I had brief view of a Bluethroat in Haroldswick. My friend Tim goes home tomorrow and I hope, he goes home happy having seen a number of good birds.



Jason said...

Nice one Robbie. Another top find.

Dougie Preston said...

Fantastic bird mate, keep up the good work! Still time for more 'goodies' yet!

robbieb said...

Cheers guys, if it's not asking too much, I'd like it to stay till Monday!