After our recent success with twitching the Hermit Thrush, David and myself decided to take a gamble and try for the Cape May Warbler on Unst, as the weather forecast was promising for the Shetland Islands and the Warbler was still showing on and off. We left overnight stopping a couple of times for a sleep and arrived at Cove near Aberdeen around 9.00 am. on the 1st., after seeing at least 500 Pink-footed Geese. After an enjoyable full English breakfast, we decided to visit the nearby Cove Community Woodland which is situated right on the coast. As we made our way along the edge of the woodland a bunting flew out of the nearby field and landed briefly above us. Much to our surprise, it was a male Rustic Bunting. Unfortunately, several Chaffinches flew past and it quickly left with them. We then made a thorough search of the area and re-located the Rustic which flushed from a patch of nettles and landed low down in a tree close to me. It was directly into the sun, but I was able to run off a number of pictures before it again flicked off with more Chaffinches. We spent the next 90 minutes or so in the area and had some fairly brief views of it feeding around some rocks and in trees before losing it altogether. There has only been 3 previous records of Rustic Buntings in Aberdeenshire with the last being in 1993. Also the first November record.
It was now time for us to catch the overnight ferry from Aberdeen to Lerwick.
A tristis type Chiffchaff was also briefly seen, and a Red-throated Diver was seen in Stonehaven Harbour
Male Rustic Bunting at Cove Community Woodland.
Left Aberdeen on the over-night ferry to Lerwick meeting up with a number of other birders on board the ferry. Arrived at Lerwick at 07.00 on the 2nd where we picked up our hired car and were soon heading north towards the ferry to Yell. A quick drive across Yell to board the ferry to Unst meeting up with Paul Harvey on board this ferry.
Paul received a phone call to say the Cape May Warbler was showing in the churchyard in Baltasound and within 20 minutes or so we were watching it hopping around on the grass in the churchyard.
1stW Cape May Warbler in the Baltasound church-yard in overcast conditions.
After about 20 minutes, it flew strongly out of the churchyard and headed towards the Manse property and was soon located feeding along a dry-stone wall and in a grassy field. The sun had now come out, and it performed well for us for the next 3 hours although a lot of the time it kept across the field but it did from time to time fly into a small patch of sycamores. It gave exceptional views in the sunshine through the telescope and when in the sycamores it was just a few yards away from us. All the time it was feeding very actively both fly-catching and foraging in the grass. It was extremely active.
1stW Cape May Warbler at Baltasound in sunny conditions.
A number of other migrants were present in the area including 3 Black Redstarts, 4+ Blackcaps several abietinus type Chiffchaffs and a party of 20 Snow Buntings flew over.
We now drove back to the ferry terminal and travelled back to Yell. We stopped off at Mid-Yell and en-route saw 3 Whooper Swans. On the pier at Mid Yell, the Bearded Seal was resting on the lower part of the pier, and whilst we were there, it decided to jump into the harbour where we were able to watch it fishing. At the ferry terminal 20 Long-tailed Ducks flew through Bluebell Sound.
Bearded Seal at Mid-Yell
We drove onto the ferry terminal on Yell and as we arrived an Otter was seen swimming across the harbour before it dived and was lost to view. Two Black Guillemots were also seen from the ferry.
During our visit we saw many Hooded Crows, and Ravens.
On our return journey home up to 500 Pink-footed Geese were seen in flight. We finally arrived home to Burgess Hill at around 8.00 pm on the 3rd, after an exciting and stunning week-end.