Today for the last posting from Shetland it is time for Michael to have a say…
Well, I was promised a paragraph on our Shetland blog before it finally finished. What was I doing while all the textile stuff happened? Well I was involved in a lot of the eating, driving, sight seeing etc. However, Shetland during the Autumn migration period is a wonderful place to be for anyone interested in birds. I have to admit I somehow missed the Siberian Rubythroat that was just down the road but did do a good deal of pottering around keeping my eyes on what was about. It did culminate in a couple of wonderful days on Unst when there had just been a big landfall of birds. On the beach were redshank, turnstone, common sandpiper, a possible curlew sandpiper and a red breasted merganser at sea. Walking down the road away from the beach at Norwick it was great to see lots of pied wagtail, brambling, twite, wheatear and meadow pipit. There was also a blackcap, a lesser whitethroat and a few swallows as well as the expected robin, wren and starling, house sparrow, chaffinch and wood pigeon.
This is Norwick beach - one of our favourite beaches.
Following a tip off I continued down the road and up the hill and there sitting looking out of a large bush was the most wonderful long eared owl. Now I am a novice in many ways when it comes to birding and it was my first long eared owl but to have such a close, clear view of such a magnificent bird was amazing. I eventually tore myself away to go and pick up Janet but there it was. It is this sort of experience that keeps me birding! (This is not a picture of the owl I saw!)
The following day I grabbed a bit of time to myself again on Unst and headed back to Norwick. Was the owl still there? Well no, but a bit of exploration through the passage to the back of the farm and out onto the fellside and I was rewarded with a good sight of the owl roosting in one of the fir trees behind the buildings. Not as good a view as the previous day but clear enough for another great view of a long eared owl! What a way to end the holiday as we were soon back to Mainland and onto the ferry for Aberdeen.
Our previous two visits to Shetland were both early summer when you are guaranteed fantastic views of all the sea birds. Trips round Noss for the gannets and to Mousa to see the storm petrels are not to be missed but nothing quite as impressive as standing a few yards from a full front on view of a long eared owl!