With the wind in the east and the excitement mounting we all headed out to various parts of the Exnaboe, Virkie and Toab areas relatively earlier than the previous days - well actually about 8:30. Very little in an hour or so search so we returned to Sunny Dell for some mechanically recovered pork products. Belly full of hog fat we discussed the burning issues of the day namely where to go. Rob and Andy Mc fancied Quendale and Andy L wanted to twitch the 'rares' on Whalsay with John, Dave and Simon. I was torn between the two and chose the former even though it stinks of cow s--t and never comes up with the goods. So with all the enthusiasm of a convict on his way to the 'chair' we began to work the upper valley of Quendale. Rob and I checked round the crop field whilst Andy disappeared. Well after around forty five minutes and just two Goldcrests it became clear that the Whalsay option would have been better, particularly as the others had seen the Arctic Warbler. Bizarrely we continued right up the valley to the large stretch of iris beds. A Yellow-browed Warbler obliged us at the start of the beds but almost to the end we had seen nothing else when a very pale brown warbler flicked up and dropped right back in. The expletives followed, we knew that this was something good and tried to push it out into the open. Almost immediately it flew up and slightly back down the valley, I boldy offered Paddyfield Warbler but knew of the Booted Warbler pitfall. Neither of us had seen the head pattern but felt it was too big for Booted and too pale, slight and long-tailed for Marsh/Reed Warbler. Several flushes later we managed to see the dark eyestripe, large white supercilium with the contrasting cap appearance and also noted the slightly warmer tone to the rump. Happy with our I.D Rob rang Andy with the news of this splendid find. And in a scene reminiscent of Broke Back Mountain congratulated ourselves on our first joint rarity find during twenty one years of birding together.
Paddyfield Warbler (Dougie Preston)
Convinced that this was the start of the big one we headed for the Sumburgh area and on arrival realised that we were talking crap. The next hour or so was spent seeing very little but still content with our haul we headed back to Sunny Dell for light refreshments. Anticipating the low listers of Nordegerdi needing the warbler we were in for a haul of free beer - how wrong we were, all three claimed to have seen one before so we had to buy our own. Three pints later I was falling asleep in the bar and feeling the pain of walking around a boggy iris bed for 3 hours. The only option was back for some much needed sleep.
After a while the crowds started (well about 20 this is Shetland remember) to arrive including some of the local luminaries. Full of self satisfaction and enthusiasm we started back down the valley where we found a further two yellow broweds and a couple of Chiffchaffs. A celebratory Chicken and White Sauce Pie was purchased from Mainland Stores, where the pie shelf was full to busting. As ever this pie was both succulent and filling though due to the lack of reheating facilities only managed a 10 on the Pie Scale.A fine pie (M N Reeder)