Next day a gale was blowing and the rain was falling rather heavily at times too – ‘proper’ Shetland weather. The downside to that was searching for passerines wouldn’t be easy, so Brydon took us sea watching instead. Foam from the waves was being blown up onto the cliff and over the car. It looked like snow falling at a first glance! The sea wasn’t calm enough for dolphins or whales, but we watched large numbers of Gannets flying around and also a Fulmar and several Great Skuas, as well as numerous Gulls.
We also birded mostly from the comfort of a car which kept us warm and dry. The upside to the storm is they its likely to bring rarities and migrants with it so once it improves (Wednesday hopefully) there’ll be lots to find!
Despite the weather we still saw plenty of birds. From the car we picked out Greylag and Pink-footed Geese and Golden Plovers, Redshanks, Curlew and Turnstones in the fields we passed. Then Snipe – Common & Jack – in a tiny ditch just off the road, quickly followed by spotting a Woodcock.
Passerines flew out around the car too, including many Wheatear, Rock and Meadow Pipits and a Snow Bunting!
We also stopped off at Brydon house before the rain started and wandered around the nearby wood (if you can call it that!). It was too windy for most passerines though but we did hear another Yellow-browed Warbler.
While driving around the island we checked the lochs. One thing I’ve noticed is that there are lochs everywhere. Most of them are small but it makes the landscape so very different from the south of England. It’s also typical of a once glaciated landscape which is fascinating especially as I was learning about that in lectures last year.
After lunch we decided to stretch our legs. We were taken to a slightly sheltered bay where we walked around in case anything was about. There wasn’t much so we then wandered by the house near by, but again there wasn’t much. Finally we wandered through a valley (also next to the house) and followed the stream along for a few miles.
The stream would’ve been perfect for Dippers but alas there were none. Dippers are rarities on Shetland and the only ones that are found are a Black-bellied Dippers (very rare race in the UK)! Other than Robins and Song Thrush there were very few birds about. Not surprising given the weather! Some Great Skuas did fly close above our heads which was great though!
I wonder what tomorrow will bring…