Meanwhile… I took the rest of the Shetland Nature team back to Unst – and north to Skaw- the last house in Britain. Robbie Brookes (star man!) had tipped us off to a ‘funny warbler’ he had seen early – rather dark looking couldn’t see any markings in very brief views, but the one thing that sounded interesting? At one stage he saw it run…
We arrived just around 4 pm at Skaw and within 20 minutes had one flight view of ‘interesting bird’. Shortly after Paul and I got one very brief perched look. A locustella for sure. A dark, locustella with heavy looking streaking above in tramlines and dark centred tertials – that kind of looked crisply trimmed but the bird was rain-soaked – and it was hard to be sure. In flight too- small, dark bird with short-looking tightly held tail lacking the floppy-tailed look of the ‘Levenwick Grasshopper Warbler’ we had seen 2 days earlier.
For the next 90 minutes we waited, gently flushed (only couple of times) and sought our quarry. In pouring rain. Finally it gave views. It looked very wet and the tertial pattern – well I just couldn’t make out the fringes clearly. So we concentrated on other features. Slowly but surely we confirmed heavily streaked tramlines on upperparts. Short – really short looking primary projection – like 1/3 or a bit more of the tertials. And the underparts streaking- neat rows of black streaks emanating from the throat and spreading down towards the upper belly Clearly seen on the flanks sides too – surely it had to be a Lancy! (Lanceolated Warbler). Did a bit of ‘phone a friend’ to Rob Fray and Chris Batty for some advice and moral support.
As the sun began to set a massive double rainbow appeared over Skaw. Photos taken of ‘Team Lancy’; we decided to head back and just take time to review notes and photos (my poor shots of the bird) and confer before finally releasing news.
Spoke to Brydon on the phone.Told him about the Lancy, and he had good news too. He and James had seen the Aith acro perched out , full views, photos and video. a Blyth’s Reed Warbler! Team delighted.
Whats a day – one of those you dream of. One great team working really well together. Brydon and James. Paul, Graham, Andrew and Chris. Oh – and me! Birding at its best.
These will get nice photos and more comments/ ID stuff when I eventually get back home. News of the Lancy is out – we wait with some inevitable trepidation and self-doubt -hoping others enjoy good views this morning wth no dissention!