The day started in brilliant fashion with 2 Glaucous Gulls from the living room window. (And I’ll spare you the appalling digi-scoped photo I took this time!) We checked the bay every morning from the comfort of the sofa and today was certainly the best sighting yet! As always the usual 30 or so Shags were about, and also Great Skua, Fulmar, Kittiwake, Great Black-backed Gulls to name but a few. We’ve also had several Snipe and a Woodcock in the garden itself over the past few days. Definitely won’t be finding them back in Suburbia!
A trip to Fetlar was the plan for today’s birding. On the ferry from Unst we had great close up views of Black Guillemots, which was lovely, and Fetlar itself gave us great views of other birds too.
We started by a beach where we checked a small wooded area and then a field. A Barred Warbler was the result of that – lovely bird. There was also a Wren, doing its impression of a locustellas warbler but we weren’t fooled so we headed towards the beach and loch nearby. There were 2 Barnacle Geese on the other side of the loch which was a new species for the week!
The day got even better when Brydon picked out a diver in the sea. It was a Black-throated Diver which is a locally rare bird in Shetland and a lifer for me. We set up the scope and watched it for a while, feeling pleased. A few minutes later it was joined by a Red-throated Diver so it was great to compare the two species.
What happened next was even better! Two Otters – a mum and its pup – appeared in the sea and were swimming towards the beach. We carefully and quickly headed into the beach making sure the Otters were unaware of our presence. We could see they were playing with each other as they got closer and closer, not bothered by the fact that we were crouched on the beach behind some rocks and seaweed. As they came out onto the beach, we watched, feeling extremely privileged as they walked past us into a stream which led to the loch. Wow! Seeing wild Otters definitely beats watching captive ones!
It was hard to believe how good our morning had been but we carried on for a bit to see what else was about. There were lots of Golden Plovers, Greylag Geese and Snipe in the fields with the sheep. We’d also heard about a Siberian Stonechat which had been found a few days ago in Fetlar so went to refind it. We searched the fields where it was last seen for a while but had no luck so were just leaving when it hopped onto a fence post. Perfect!
It was raining rather persistently now so we were starting to head back towards the ferry port when we heard an Olive-backed Pipit fly over the car so stopped to find it. It was by the cafe and post office, in a field with sheep and was showing well.
Back on Unst, we were taken to a new location to see our next species: Long-tailed Ducks. David and I had been hoping to see some, so watching a group of them flying around and then settling on the water was fantastic!
Finally, we checked a garden belonging to a good friend of Brydon’s. There were lots of Goldcrests and also a Lesser Whitethroat which was lovely. I look forward to what our final day brings!