Saturday was a great day! It started with an MDS from the Shetland Grapevine - the dynamic duo (RR & PVH) reporting a Rough-legged Buzzard over Toab, South Mainland Shetland. Twenty minutes later Mark Newell reported a Buzzard sp over Sheep Rock that drifted west. As I was going out the door I got call from Phil Harris "We've just ringed 57 Redpolls, mostly Mealies with a few Lessers!!!" Blimey - what a total! Birds in! I hurried out! I was on SE so ventured first to Haa and confirmed that the Blyth's Reed was still on the South Harbour beach, along with ten Chiffchaffs and three Blackcaps, a couple of hundred Starlings and a few common waders. I continued on census but there appeared to be nothing new in - apart from a few small parties of Redpoll flying over. I bumped into PAH at Schoolton and he told me the King Eider had been seen again off Buness and they had trapped a female Northern Bullfinch this morning. He was regaling his Redpoll-trapping exploits when Mark Newell rang again at 1000 hrs "I've got the Buzzard again! Its a Rough-leg! Over Burrashield!" Phil and I ran up to Aesterhoull and scanned the north but couldn't see it! Alan Bull then rang to say it was over him at the School, heading east....but we still couldn't see it!! We were then told it had drifted back to Hill Dyke and we eventually got on it, circling very high in the sky over Burrashield.....and climbing higher. I scoped it from the Kirk and clocked its shape and white tail base, before it disappeared into the cloud! At last! After 12 years and three dips, I can finally add Rough-legged Buzzard to my Fair Isle list!!! I thought that was the last we'd see of it, but half an hour later Mark Breaks had it over Meoness, heading north and I picked it up over Sheep Rock and watched as it drifted west again, dropping in height all the time. I had excellent views as it passed Setter, it even hovered a few times as it headed towards Hoini. It was last seen heading out to sea until it was a tiny speck at 1145. However at 1230 it was seen again over the shop.On census I saw two female Northern Bullfinches (one with a ring) at Klingers Geo. After lunch I went over to Buness to look at the King Eider - a nice, if slightly grotty, bird. As I arrived back at the Obs PAH had the Redpoll tape playing and a couple of birds flew in. One was large and white - a Hornemann's Arctic Redpoll! The Rough-leg was seen departing for North Ron (once more) at 1420, however at 1440 it was seen arriving there - impossible for it to be this bird! We deduced that there must have been two birds!!! Awesome! (Our second bird was reported at North Ron that evening). I spent half an hour that afternoon on the South Harbour beach watching and photographing the assortment of birds there, including the Blyths Reed. A really nice time.
With a Barred Warbler and seven Yellow-browed Warblers plus Little Bunting and an estimated 100+ Mealy and 15 Lesser Redpolls also on the isle it was turning out to be a great day! At 1630, Simon phoned to say there was a Red-flanked Bluetail at Vatnagaard!!!! For a few seconds I contemplated not going for it - it was our third this autumn! But I did. It was a nice bird, though not as obliging as the previous two. On the way up the burn I flushed a grey warbler which disappeared into the marsh and I couldn't refind it. Oh well!
Today was totally different - a strengthening SW'ly wind with few birding highlights to speak of although most people caught up with yesterday's Arctic Redpoll and the Blyths Reed was still faithful to a somewhat breezy beach and the Little Bunting to Haa. The cracking adult male Black Redstart at Busta was well-visited. Three Yellow-broweds were still around.
Its really nice to spend some time with my parents and Dad is enjoying seeing birds he doesn't normally see at home. The kids are already working through all the board games in the house with them and Lubo is quickly learning to accept my Mum!