Pechora Pipit, Blyth’s Reed Warbler, emotions and friends

Difficult is not Impossible

Known for- well since I started birding as A 'Shetland Speciality. The moniker still sticks. Away from the Northern Isles, Pechora Pipits remains extremely difficult to see in Britain. We saw one on our first day on Shetland.. of course ;)

Known for- well since I started birding as A ‘Shetland Speciality. The moniker still sticks. Away from the Northern Isles, Pechora Pipits remains extremely difficult to see in Britain. We saw one on our first day on Shetland.. of course 😉

30th September 2015. Waking up in the early hours at R and A’s was special. Always is, but especially today. After yesterday journey north form Flamborough, I passed through something. I pass through the moment two ears ago at York Station where unbeknownst to me the sharp pain in my back at the time on lifting a suitcase awkwardly was a vertebrae collapsing.  A cancerous tumor had eroded my bone tissue. Obviously my life changed forever at that point. but it didn’t need to define me. It took several months to diagnose but I spoke to that situation yesterday. I stared back at myself and spoke to the cancer of two years earlier and very emphatically declared. ” You will not define me!”

Coming back to Shetland has many times seemed impossible and impractical. Thankfully difficult is not the same as impossible. I genuinely could not have had a more special journey with Sharon. Felt like a was living in high-definition all the way. Now I wish for her an extra special holiday while remembering that she is not a birder!

Yoav’s enthusiasm has been infectious and his humility at wanting to join us for this trip and being so patient around my annoying and frustrating unpredictability has been so gracious. R and A and B and V have paved the way, without them…

Keep and eye on Yoav’s blog, Nubian Nightjar for better pics and story line.

So here we begin. Roger’s garden stumped up  three Yellow -browed Warblers and Chiffchaff. As we ringed the Yellow-broweds, they called that lovely less familiar monosyllabic call. 60 PInk-feet Geese flew over south. We were here! Now to thoroughly engage and enjoy 🙂

Yellow-browed Warblers at Virkie by Martin Garner

Yellow-browed Warblers at Virkie by Martin Garner

With a supposed relaxed morning planned to rest little and sort some details I was chuffed to bits for Yoav when, in taking the walk from Paul’s to Roger’s he found this Blyth’s Reed Warbler. BOOM! Welcome to Shetland 🙂

Blyth's Reed Warbler, Toab by Yoav Perlman

Blyth’s Reed Warbler, Toab by Yoav Perlman

The day was already changing. Will, Sharon and I drove to see Yoav’s bird.  A really smart clean Blyth’s Reed Warbler together with more Yellow-browed acolytles. We then headed north to Lerwick to ‘get organised’. That was until Timmy Jones of Spurn picked up a pod of Killer Wales heading north. Headless chicken mode ensued but to no avail. A couple of Otter were lovely though.

The main afternoon slot had to go to the Pechora out west at Norby. With some serendipity we did see it well and I managed  some OK shots.

Here it’s wet, may just have ben washing in the burn:

Pechora Pipit 3 (1 of 1)

a little drier on the edge of some Canary Reed Grass.

Shetland Stormer!Pechora Pipit 4 (1 of 1)Pechora Pipit 6 (1 of 1)

A drake Scaup on Loch Norby invited a quick check for the Nearctic taxon… unrecorded in Europe. However the vermiculation pattern looked very Palearctic. Whooped Swans flew over and life was good!

scaup (1 of 1) whoopers (1 of 1)

Yellow-browed Warblers remained inescapable:

Yellow browed warbler 1 (1 of 1)


We called by a place named Cot and Ian and Yoav managed v brief views of the Arctic Warbler. Me? just pinching myself as we head back to the loveliest lady in the world.

and err… can’t resist another

Pechora 7 (1 of 1)




4 thoughts on “Pechora Pipit, Blyth’s Reed Warbler, emotions and friends

  1. Richard Klim

    Martin, you’ve definitely got the right attitude – don’t let it get you down. I think the latest stats say that one in two of us will be diagnosed with cancer at some time. I’ve succumbed to oesophageal cancer (bad news for a one-time foodie), and have been through the ritual courses of chemo/radiotherapy and various exploratory surgery, culminating in an oesophagectomy over the New Year. Now effectively deskbound (but trying to say engaged via the internet), I’m very envious that you’re still able to continue birding in the field. Enjoy!

    1. Martin Garner Post author

      Richard- a precious comment- thank you so much. It’s been ‘in my head’ to reply to you since you wrote. So first I apolgise for such tardiness. 2 weeks distracted in Shetland and now back undergoing (unexpected) treatment in hospital make for a roller coaster as I am sure you know. I had no idea of your condition. I am sorry of course to hear it. My mobility os currently severely limited so in that bizarre way you have given me a regular drip feed of inspiration, given your ongoing informative and productive input I see on the ‘net.

      I was also not aware of the cancer figures. Wow! So right now- again inspired by your message I will get on with the next book. 🙂

      very gratefully


  2. Tony Parsons

    Thank you for your uplifting comments re cancer – i remember when my grandfather was thus diagnosed, and the family was dreading his reaction. His words : I do not have cancer – cancer has me, and if I die first I’ll bloody well take it with me ! He outlived doctor’s predictions by over three years, and this was around fifty years ago, since when treatment has improved tremendously. As Richard says (almost) – Carry On Birding.


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