Tufted Nothin’

As if a Blue-cheeked Bee-eater back down in Kent earlier this summer wasn’t gripping enough, my old adopted home county really pulled one out of the bag yesterday – a summer-plumaged Tufted Puffin. Ouch. To make matters that little bit worse, this was at Oare – a mere mile or so away from one of my homes down there. Woe.

Having said that, this morning started well with the Buff-breasted Sandpipers considerably closer than a mile to my current home – now officially on the house yearlist. A Tufted Puffin they ain’t though…

More Buff-breasts, and a dead dragonfly

A funny old day today – went to have my car looked at, and ended up being shown a dead dragonfly – MG had initially seen it zipping around outside his window yesterday, and then found it dead on the floor later in the evening. Not something you see every day up here, as the large dragonflies are entirely absent from Shetland. There’s some sort of damselfly here I think – a small blue one sp. No idea what species, which goes to show how much I know about odonata. So, am hazarding a guess only that the dead dragonfly below is a Common Hawker. It could so easily not be.

dragonfly doing dead

dead dragonfly doing 3/4 view

On much safer ground this evening – walking the golf course, I briefly stumbled across the Buff-breasted Sandpipers again – just enough time to snatch a few more photos, and then they were off. Still not calling when they fly, strangely I think. JA now back on the island, and missed them by a matter of just a few minutes.

getting buff

A lovely pair of Buff-breasts

The best and worst of news this morning – the visiting birders who’d found the vanishing Buff-breasted Sandpiper last Saturday had relocated it, now teamed up with a second bird. This time they had some photos, but… the birds had vanished by the time JLI got to the golf course. So when I eventually got out there this evening, I wasn’t feeling too optimistic – it’d been a fine, still sunny day, so the golf course would have had its fair share of disturbance from golfers and the groundsmen.

Sure enough, there was no sign of them where they’d last been reported. I walked along the coast, and was delighted to relocate them at the very furthest tip of the isle feeding busily on the short turf beside a cairn. I sent a text to BM and JLI (JA still away for the time being), looked back up, and they’d vanished. Nightmare. By the time BM made it down the golf course to join me, I’d scoured the immediate area to no avail. Spreading the search a little further along the coast, I refound them at considerable distance, went closer to confirm they were what I thought they were, turned to see where BM was, turned back – and they’d gone again.

No sooner had I sworn aloud than my phone rang – JLI had picked them up flying overhead back up the golf course. We all re-traced our steps, and started working our way north again. I relocated them a final time, and this time we managed to get within photographing distance. Needless to say, my battery failed at the critical juncture – and I am going straight to Amazon to buy a back-up when this post is finished! Will go for another look in the morning, albeit they’ve presumably been feeding up all day and tonight is clear and still… do Buff-breasted Sandpipers migrate at night?


vampire slayer

Buff-breasted Sandpiper in the rough

An excellent start to the day – awoke at first light, felt the wrath of snorty north-westerlies battering the house, turned over and went back to sleep. Made another, more spirited attempt at getting up at 9.30am, and was mid-coffee when JLI called to let me know some visiting birders had found a Buff-breasted Sandpiper on the golfcourse. Perfect timing, as I could slurp the rest of my coffee, feed the hens, and then be collected by JLI to go and relocate said sandpiper, which had seemingly flown off shortly after being found. And which was, when we called as we walked onto the golfcourse, relocated by the finders, and still showing. Splendid.

And then not so splendid. It flew off with some Dunlin just before we reached the 2 birders who’d found it. And thus began my day on the golfcourse. I must have covered some 10+ miles trekking back and forth on the fairways. And the rough, of course. Much of this accompanied by JLI, and initially BM too. And you know what? Not a sniff of the bird did we get. A maximum count of 3 Ringed Plovers, and 2 Dunlin, and sod all else.

Still, having seen Buff-breasted Sandpiper before here (and from the bedroom window) I’m not over-bothered. It’d have been nice, but at least the visiting birders have something to show for their time on the island. One of them told me they’d come here as it was underwatched! It’s maybe not overwatched, but underwatched it certainly ain’t. (Apart from when I wake up, hear the sound of north-westerlies, and decide to have a lie-in).