These Shetland trips don't half come around quick, it seems only 364 days since I last came here.
Picking the Llama up (because as everyone knows Llamas can't drive) ridiculously early at 4am we made our way excitedly to Birmingham Airport, got on a plane, got off at Aberdeen, got on another plane and arrived on Shetland just before 11am.
A quick cup of tea and we were out in the field - the field at the back of the house to be precise. A nice start with 4 Lapland Buntings and a Whinchat raising hopes that there were plenty of migrants around, though the former had probably been around for a while. In to Toab where the pie space in the shop was empty whilst another Whinchat lurked behind. News of a Radde's Warbler in the second quarry at Sumburgh was tempting but we resisted and headed for the Exnaboe area. Typically the Llama and I picked the wrong route and saw very little (actually nothing) whilst the Fray stumbled in to, Bluethroat, Black Redstart, Short-toed Lark and a Yellow-browed, all bar the latter we caught up with later.
Sumburgh Lighthouse would be a good bet and better still birder free. We were right about the lack of birders (they were all at the Radde's) but only managed a Brambling and a Sedge Warbler, which toyed with our tired minds and eyes before giving itself up.
Our plan to look at the Radde's was put on hold when a call from John Hague AKA The Drunkbirder, informed us that they had just found a Swainson's Thrush. What a jolly nice find, couldn't happen to a nicer bunch thought I or something similar. Reluctantly we left our solitary Sedge Warbler and headed for the thrush.
Arriving there to negative news we were greeted by the unusually sober Hague, who happily showed us photos of their prize find which had now vanished. Fortunately it was soon re-found in a nearby garden where it eventually gave itself up.
This is my 6th autumn trip to Shetland and every year there seems to be more and more birders visiting, presumably because Scilly is crap and massively expensive compared to Shetland. I couldn't help but feel that the Swainson's 'twitch' was a little overcrowded, though all birders I saw were well behaved - let's hope it stays that way.