Blast From The Past – Swainson’s Thrush, Levenwick 2 October 2010

Rob Fray had contacted to ask about photos of the Levenwick, Swainson’s Thrush twitch from October 2010 for part of a talk on rarities on Shetland. What with my mates all heading to Shetland today I thought I’d relive some old memories… memories of my greatest ever birding find.

After a day working Levenwick, including working the quarry twice and spending hours trying to get good views of an unstreaked Acro near the beach – this lovely Marsh Warbler, finally ID’d from my photos…

Marsh Warbler, Levenwick

Marsh Warbler, Levenwick

We decided late afternoon to give the quarry one more push. Splitting up as we entered I flushed up a bird from under my feet that flew to a nearby Fuschia… I knew as soon as it flew it was a Catharus thrush due to size and the black and white underwing pattern. I shouted at Andy and Dave to get to the bush and as they did the bird flew again onto the lip of the quarry. It posed for probably seconds (it seemed like hours) and I fired off a series of shots. A Swainson’s Thrush! Yes! Not a lifer but what a find. As I rang the news out to RBA and Jono Lethbridge, Mark Reeder, Rob Fray et al the bird disappeared over the edge of the quarry.

With birders on their way we were struggling to refind it… at least we had the photos! Thankfully it was relocated in a garden opposite the quarry and showed well on and off. It was still present next day… we went home elated!

Swainson's Thrush, Levenwick

Swainson’s Thrush, Levenwick

Swainson's Twitch,© Andy Mackay

Swainson’s Twitch © Andy Mackay


Swainson's Twitch © Dave Gray

Swainson’s Twitch © Dave Gray

This year I will be mostly vismigging with a Scilly trip 12th to 19th. Blackburnian Warbler would be a nice find.


2 responses to “Blast From The Past – Swainson’s Thrush, Levenwick 2 October 2010

  1. I remember that day well John! We took your call in the car, and were wondering “where’s Levenwick?” Just then we passed a sign saying Levenwick, and The Blowmonkey executed a neat handbrake turn from 60mph! 20 mins later we all had a lifer, quality, and well done that man! Jono

  2. thedrunkbirder

    Are you going this year Jono?

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