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Lanceolated Warbler Sumburgh Head (1 Viewer)

Farnboro John

Well-known member
A few days late, but I thought an account might not go amiss.

Roy and I had done the quarries on Sumburgh Head and they were hopping with migrants fresh in. It felt like there must be a rarity somewhere.... so we drove up to the Head car park and set off to walk the walls of the fields just below. The drystone walls were also dripping with birds, mostly Goldcrests and Blackcaps with a leavening of Robins.

Suddenly a Wren and a small warbler broke from just in front of my feet. Both headed away from me along the wall but while the Wren dived into a hole, the other bird, a small dark-looking warbler (but it was damp), curved round and out into the middle of the large grass field, coming to rest on the near side of a sort of quiff of grass. Bins up and we clearly had a Locustella, and the scales seemed heavily weighted towards Lanceolated Warbler.

Roy was on the other side of the wall and got a good deal of exercise running round to the stile and then toiling back up the hill to me. I took a few hurried snaps at the extreme range and then concentrated on not blinking so I didn't miss any movement. As Roy reached me, it flew to the far wall and I made careful note of where it dropped in.

We walked across the field being careful to arrive at the cliff-edge wall well away from where the bird had taken refuge and then walked cautiously down towards it, whereupon it leapt up on top of the wall to give us a grandstand view for a couple of minutes. Grilled and photographed, it then dived over the wall and ducked in - on the cliff-side. No way were we following!

We could see birders just doing the wall we'd already checked, and hailed them. Paul Harvey and Roger Riddington arrived and soon relocated the bird, which then began to show on top of the wall again. News was put out and as the crowds (well, about 20 people, Shetland is not crowded this year) arrived, we slipped away to continue birding.

Having ticked Lancey a few years earlier but failed to photograph it in close conditions with only a 500 f4 to hand, this had been unfinished business: to close the case by finding a Lancey at Sumburgh Head in the middle of a fall was extremely satisfying! :king:



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