So my second tick of the year was also, like the Pechora, a bird earned. This year was seeing a flood of Siberian Accentor records across northern Europe and it was only a matter of time before one reached the UK. This was a bird that was long been predicted and one that, possibly for that reason, was high on my most wanted birds to see: anywhere. I was at North Light when I got a text from Lee Gregory saying the was a SibeAcc on Shetland and both elation and annoyance followed. Elation that one was so close, I could actually see pretty much the site from north Fair Isle across the water in South Shetland. The annoyance was that it should have been on Fair Isle and I would have to wait till the next day to get off island to see it.
With that bird still present next day I got myself on the first flight off to go and get it but that's when it all started to go wrong. We arrived at the airstrip only to learn the plane was broken and there was not likely to be any flights till mid afternoon the next day. This is why I hate twitching, you get all worked up to go and then something happens to break it.
The rest of the day was spent deflated back at the Obs. With news that the flight could be going at 2.45pm I started to feel optimistic again but as 2.45 came and went with updates being 'in an hour' time was ticking by. The plane had been fixed but needed sign off my a second engineer to be able to fly and he was delayed in Inverness by fog there !!!.
Eventually news came the plane was on its way but with an expected time of leaving Fair Isle at around 5.20pm this would mean it would be extremely difficult to get to the site before the bird went to roost so I bailed on the flight. I wanted to see SibeAcc but not in near darkness for a few minutes, and that's what it would be if I was lucky. Those that went managed to get the bird about 10minutes before it went to roost. Good on them for going but in a way I was glad I didn't get a most wanted bird like that. I was on the flight for next day so if it was there I would get it anyway. Suffice to say it was NOT there the next day. It took a few days to get back into the birding again on the isle and this was only to be deflated by another bird turning up at Spurn which seemed to stay an age, this was followed by another at Holy Island and then another in Sunderland.
I had well and truly thrown my toys out of the pram by this time as it seemed now unlikely, despite the continuing hope, that one would grace Shetland again. And that Direct Flight had cost me a once in a lifetime experience of that World Tick experience.
So to the 20th October. I had come across a very late Icterine Warbler at Chalet, a very pale grey bird that had only a faint wash on the throat, which for a time could have been an Eastern Olivaceous, until I got better views that is. This bird meant that Lee came to see it, coming off Census. He resumed his census the wrong way around and as it turned out the Icterine Warbler provided a helping hand to what came next; if hadn't been for that bird Lee wouldn't have come off census to then go the wrong way around to complete it.
I was at the Shirva Thistles looking for an Olive-backed Pipit for someone who had just arrived the day before when I got a call from Lee "I've got a SibeAcc at Troila....". Oh F*cking Shit. I abandoned the search for the pipit and legged to the west cliffs. From Shirva it is a long way but as with such a bird as this it was going to be everyone for themselves and didn't really expect a van run around to pick people up.
By the time I got past the airfield and up the steep embankment I was absolutely shagged, all on news that the bird was seen to fly out of Troila Geo and head towards Navisgill. It had gone in there it would never get seen again. I approached the small group of birders gathered at the top of the Geo, around 3 people, sweeting and breathing heavily with not life in my legs when Ceiran appeared over the top and announced, "Its back in there now". F8ck again, life returned to my struggling legs and I rushed the last few metres and then a minutes later I could see the bird at the bottom of the geo. Not great views but done and done.
Over the next couple of hours the bird made its way further up the Geo cliffs until, at one point, it appeared on the top on the grass. This was great but it was directly into the sun so my photos of it at that time were a little hazy. Still some of the shots of it down the geo, whilst distant and on a high ISO, were not to bad and I was vidicated in staying on the isle and not going off to try for the Spurn bird.
I guess all trouble with the plane and the anguish that and the other birds turn up caused made this bird event the more sweet, Lee got a big kiss for this one.
So what follows are the best pics I could get; pretty pleased with some of the results.