A much more settled day on Saturday. We started making ourselves known to the locals in Levenwick, everyone seems pretty kind and generally interested in what we are doing and so far everyone has been great and given us access to their gradens. A good selection of common migrants around the village with a Redstart being pick of the bunch.
Down by the beach Dave and I found an interesting acro and we were soon joined by Andy Lawson. A game of cat and mouse ensued with a bird that refused to give us prolonged views or pose for photos. Once again we are grateful to the home owners for allowing us access to their gardens. We finally got photos and felt the bird to be a Marsh Warbler, the white tips to the primaries, pale yellowish feet with obviously pale claws clinched the deal. Autumn acros are notoriously difficult to ID and this one took up most of the afternoon.
Feeling pretty pleased with ourselves we decided to do another circuit of the quarry, this morning it had held one bird… a Dunnock. As we walked into the quarry Andy jokingly said ‘get your Birding World article written.’ As I moved into the quarry I flushed a small thrush into a Fushcia. Andy immediately called it as having white/brown/white underwing pattern. Shit! We knew we had a Catharus Thrush sp but knew we couldn’t fuck this up. The bird had flown into a large Fushcia but was frustratingly at the wrong side. Andy and Dave moved carefully round but an aggressive Blackbird flushed it onto the rock face. I got the camera on it and just fired off a load of images before having a look at it. It lacked a reddish tail ruling out Hermit and Veery and had a buffy/yellow face with a smart buff eyering. A Swainson’s Thrush! We rang news out ASAP knowing it was a big bird for Mainland Shetland but the bird flew out of the quarry…
We had the photos and weren’t too worried about the ID but we really wanted other birders to see it. Thankfully it was relocated in a well vegetated garden. This proved something of a double-edged sword as this skulker played hide and seek with the crowds. Eventually everyone enjoyed views and we went home to get ready for Chris Gooddie’s Pitta talk to the Shetland Bird Club. A celebratory meal of fish and chips followed and the Jura was well and truly earned.
Why instant Karma? Well as we’d driven to the beach we had to stop and move an exhausted Goldcrest out of the road.