Tuesday 29 October 2013

Cape May twitch

I returned last night from a fantastic twitch to Shetland with Pete Hayman, Dave Johnson and John Benham. I set off and picked people up early on Saturday morning before catching the ferry from Aberdeen to Lerwick in the evening. We faced something of a logistical problem with the boat arriving at 7.30am, leaving us only 45 minutes to get the hire car sorted and drive 30 miles to Toft and get on the roll-on ferry to Yell (followed by another to Unst). We did it, though, and fears of an epic dip were blown away when Mike Pennington greeted us with positive news on our arrival. In moments we were watching the CAPE MAY WARBLER flitting around the small sycamores in the garden of the ruined house and feeding on the ground briefly at one point.

After soaking the bird in through the scope and bins for a good hour-and-a-half, it went missing. We started checking other gardens as a bunch of birders off a charter arrived in a panic and we continued the search after lunch at the farmer's market, with John saving the day by relocating the warbler in the graveyard. Smiles all round! Mid-afternoon the slow return journey to southern England began as we drove back to get the ferry to Yell; bar the car not starting at this point (a problem we quickly resolved), everything ran smoothly. I realised that a change of route on the drive back would mean a chance of stopping off at St. Abb's Head and even though I was the only one who needed it, everybody else was keen and agreeable so that's what we did and Pete swiftly located the male SARDINIAN WARBLER which showed fairly well on and off but the habitat it was using made for challenging photography. It was a real blinder through the binoculars though and made for a top-class bonus for the trip. Thanks very much to Dave, Pete and John for the company as well as John Lees who teamed up with us in the hire car.

The Cape May Warbler showed brilliantly in one or two small sycamores in the ruined garden before becoming more difficult later on
The Sardinian afforded brilliant views through the bins but was trickier to photograph than the Cape May...