As we ventured out on our last full day on Fair Isle, I was on a trip list of 96. Could I reach the ton?
It was a rocket of a start, as we were told of a great bird on the road right by the Obs.
It wasn't long before we were watching an Olive-backed Pipit.
It was a great little bird, with a distinctive 'wag-tail' walking action.
We carried on along the road, but the rest of the morning was fairly quiet, with just the long-staying Hen Harrier, another Woodcock which flew to the entrance of one of the traps (it was indeed later trapped, but we weren't around to see it sadly!) and a flock of varyingly-sized Redpoll, again probably mostly Mealy Redpoll.
We again found ourselves looking at an area that we later learnt held a Little Bunting! Maybe this afternoon?
Again, lunchtime was punctuated by the viewing of a Yellow-browed Warbler just outside the window!
We wanted to head for the far south once again, with one or two things reported. We had to fit into two vehicles, as we got a lift. On arrival, I was told that the vehicle I hadn't been in had seen the Little Bunting, right by the road!
We rushed back, and after an anxious wait, the Little Bunting appeared, associating with Skylark. Finally!
Not a lifer, but I hopefully will now never forget that 'ticking' flight-call.
We carried on walking south, this time coming across a single Stonechat. No. 99!
In an adjacent field, I was able to pick out a single Tundra Bean Goose, probably a different bird to the three we had seen previously.
We were then told of a Slavonian Grebe in the south harbour. Surely this would be the 100th?
It was a relief when on arrival, the rather lethargic-looking Slavonian Grebe showed immediately.
Walking round to the front of the South Light where we hoped to find Purple Sandpiper, one of our group spotted something on the rocks. Imagine my surprise when I put my bins up to see a Treecreeper! This is a Fair Isle mega, so while Dave put the news out, we kept tabs on it. It was being surprisingly successful, catching a couple of large prey items whilst we watched. It had startlingly white underparts, and therefore was of the Northern subspecies familiaris. A very smart bird!
Whilst we tried to keep an eye on the Treecreeper, a number of us were (understandably) distracted by the news of another top bird nearby.
We were soon eye-to-eye with a superb Long-eared Owl, roosting on a cliff-face. My first for 5 years!
The twitch, which included the warden, soon made it, and I think everyone got onto the Treecreeper - the 9th Fair Isle record!
Our walk back included a newly-arrived Shoveler on Da Water, plus we were finally all able to see another Fair Isle mega that had been about a few days - Blue Tit (more records of Lanceolated Warbler)!
Gosh, we really had been spoilt with these (Fair Isle) megas on this trip. Gadwall, Pochard, Barn Owl, Buzzard, Treecreeper, AND Blue Tit!
I did the early trap round on the last morning, but apart from the last sunrise...
...and another view of the Olive-backed Pipit, nothing of note was discovered.
We all said goodbye to Fair Isle, and made the 15 min plane journey back to mainland Shetland.
Once at Sumburgh, all the members of the group parted, and I was left with 8 hours to kill.
There was no-where at the airport I could leave my luggage (!), so I had to walk the short distance to the nearby Hotel to dump my bag, so I could go out and do some birding at the Head.
Some more typical Shetland scenery, looking over Grutness. In this bay was a Red-throated Diver.
And a view up to the lighthouse of Sumburgh Head itself.
It was a long way, but at the top was a great view to the north.
Plus, there were a lot of confiding Fulmar.
Other birds of note were fairly thin on the ground, though a Song Thrush with a lot of white in its mantle, and this mutant Blackbird both caused me initial confusion.
Back at the Hotel, and it turned out the best birds were here, as a Black Redstart was in the garden, and in the bay next door was a Great Northern Diver and a flock of Long-tailed Duck.
Still with a load of spare time, I thought about walking north to the Pool of Virkie, but some newly arrived rain put paid to that.
The flight was fine, and I went on to make the 10 hour drive home all the next day, only broken by an unsuccessful look for a Surf Scoter near Edinburgh.
But, what a trip!
I live on Portland, so am used to seeing migration in action, as well as birds in odd places. But, even that didn't prepare me for Fair Isle, where everything is multiplied 10 times. It is the uber-Portland!
I will definitely return at some point!
Bird List (FI only):
1. Great Northern Diver - 1 summer-plumaged bird in North Haven 6/10
2. Slavonian Grebe - 1 in South Harbour 9/10
3. Fulmar - Every day
4. Gannet - Every day
5. Cormorant - 1 juvenile in South Harbour 7/10
6. Shag - Every day
7. Grey Heron - Seen on 5 days
8. Whooper Swan - Seen on 5 days
9. Greylag Goose - Seen on 6 days
10. Pink-footed Goose - Every day
11. Bean Goose - 3 'Tundra' birds over Pund 8/10, + a single 'Tundra' bird at Shirva 9/10
12. Barnacle Goose - Seen on 5 days
13. Mallard - Seen on 6 days
14. Gadwall - 1 male over Obs then on Da Water 8/10
15. Shoveler - 1 male on Da Water 9/10
16. Wigeon - Seen on 6 days
17. Teal - Seen on 3 days
18. Pochard - 2 males over Chalet on 6/10, + on Da Water 9/10
19. Scaup - 1 male in North Haven 6/10, + off Hjukni Geo 7/10
20. Tufted Duck - 1 female in South Harbour 7/10, + 2 female in South Harbour 8/10
21. Eider - Every day
22. Long-tailed Duck - 1 male on Da Water 8/10, + 1 female off Mavers Geo 8/10
23. Red-breasted Merganser - Seen on 6 days
24. Hen Harrier - 1 juvenile behind Pund 5/10 + 9/10
25. Buzzard - 1 over Ward Hill, then around south of island 8/10
26. Sparrowhawk - Seen on 3 days
27. Kestrel - Seen on 5 days
28. Peregrine - Seen on 4 days
29. Merlin - Various sightings on 5/10 and 8/10
30. Quail - 1 flushed from roadside between Shirva and Upper Leogh 7/10
31. Oystercatcher - Seen on 4 days
32. Ringed Plover - 1 in the Havens 7/10, + 1 by Barkland 8/10
33. Grey Plover - 1 past South Light 7/10
34. Golden Plover - Seen on 6 days
35. Dotterel - 1 over Hjukni Geo 7/10, + 1 over Chalet 8/10
36. Lapwing - Seen on 3 days
37. Knot - 1 in South Harbour 9/10
38. Purple Sandpiper - 1 by South Light 7/10
39. Turnstone - Seen on 6 days
40. Dunlin - Seen on 5 days
41. Redshank - Seen on 6 days
42. Curlew - Seen on 4 days
43. Woodcock - Seen on 3 days
44. Snipe - Seen on 6 days
45. Jack Snipe - Seen on 5 days
46. Great Skua - Every day
47. Black-headed Gull - Seen on 5 days
48. Common Gull - Seen on 5 days
49. Herring Gull - Seen on 6 days (including 'Scandanavian' birds)
50. Great Black-backed Gull - Every day
51. Kittiwake - 2 in South Haven 7/10, + 2 past Malcolms Head 8/10
52. Black Guillemot - Seen on 6 days
53. Guillemot - 1 in North Haven 6/10
54. Razorbill - 1 in North Haven 6/10
55. Rock Dove - Seen on 6 days (including pure birds)
56. Woodpigeon - Seen on 3 days
57. Long-eared Owl - 1 by South Light 9/10
58. Short-eared Owl - 1 over Walli Burn 8/10, and 1 behind Pund 8/10
59. Barn Owl - 1 in Steensi Geo 7/10
60. Skylark - Seen on 6 days
61. Swallow - 2 past Pund 5/10, 2 by Midway 8/10, + 2 around Obs 8/10
62. Rock Pipit - Every day
63. Meadow Pipit - Every day
64. Olive-backed Pipit - 1 at Ditfield 9/10 + 10/10
65. Pied/White Wagtail - Seen on 4 days (of both subspecies)
66. Grey Wagtail - 1 over Gilsetter 6/10
67. Wren - Seen on 6 days (Fair Isle subspecies)
68. Dunnock - Seen on 4 days
69. Robin - Seen on 4 days
70. Bluethroat - 1 at Pund 5/10
71. Redstart - 1 at the Obs 8/10
72. Black Redstart - 1 by ringing hut 8/10
73. Wheatear - Every day
74. Whinchat - Seen on 5 days
75. Stonechat - 1 by Midway 9/10
76. Song Thrush - Every day
77. White's Thrush - 1 at Wester Lother 4/10
78. Blackbird - Seen on 5 days
79. Redwing - Seen on 6 days
80. Fieldfare - 1 by Plantation 8/10, + 1 at Bulls Park 9/10
81. Ring Ouzel - At least 12 across island 8/10, + 1 at Gilsetter 10/10
82. Garden Warbler - 1 ringed at Plantation 8/10
83. Blackcap - Seen on 5 days
84. Chiffchaff - Seen on 4 days
85. Willow Warbler - 1 by Hill Dyke 8/10
86. Yellow-browed Warbler - Seen on 3 days
87. Goldcrest - Seen on 4 days
88. Blue Tit - 1 at Midway 9/10
89. Treecreeper - 1 of the Northern subspecies at South Light 9/10
90. Great Grey Shrike - 1 at Shirva, then behind Pund 8/10
91. Jackdaw - 1 by Walli Burn 8/10, + 1 at Utra 9/10
92. Hooded Crow - Seen on 5 days
93. Raven - Seen on 6 days
94. Starling - Every day
95. House Sparrow - Every day
96. Chaffinch - Seen on 6 days
97. Brambling - Seen on 6 days
98. Linnet - 1 by North Light 5/10, + 1 by Setter 7/10
99. Twite - Every day
100. Mealy Redpoll - Seen on 3 days
101. Siskin - 2 in Muckle Geo 7/10, + several across island 8/10
102. Reed Bunting - Seen on 5 days
103. Little Bunting - 1 at Chalet 9/10
104. Lapland Bunting - 1 over Gilsetter 8/10
105. Snow Bunting 8 at North Light 5/10
Also, on mainland Shetland:
Red-throated Diver - 1 off Grutness 10/10
Sanderling - 10 by Grutness 10/10