Saturday, 26 October 2019

Cuckmere (26 October) & travel to and from Shetland

Saturday 26 October. Megan, Nessa and I took Cookie up to Mill Hill which was very quiet in a strong SW wind, a Kestrel being the only species noted. Megan and I then had our flu jabs before I took Cookie to the Cuckmere to look for the Grey Phalarope which had been found a week earlier. This wasn't quite my first opportunity to look for it but I'd only returned from visiting Dave Cooper and Brenda Kay the previous morning and after 48 hours of travelling (overnight ferry, a day in Aberdeen and overnight bus) didn't feel up to it. We walked from Chyngton Farm and dropped into the Cuckmere to see it extensively flooded. Nothing was obvious amongst the roosting gulls but 11 Rock Pipits along the river bank seemed a decent count. I wondered how many were Scandinavians hiding in winter plumage. The Grey Phalarope was on the pools near the entrance to Foxhole Farm but was very flighty, probably not helped by the Beachy Head Marathon going on right next to it. We watched its quick circuit a couple of times and I took some photos although it didn't stay still for a moment and the light wasn't great. A Swallow flew over and in a field by the car two adult Mediterranean Gulls were present in a small roost.
Grey Phalarope in the Cuckmere




  


Mediterranean Gulls in the Cuckmere


Wednesday 23 October-Friday 25 October. Dave dropped me at Belmont where I just caught an early ferry to Gutcher. I had over an hour wait for the bus across Yell and it was raining so I tried hitching when the next ferry came and a couple from Unst were kind enough to pick me up and take me all the way to Lerwick on their shopping run. I checked into the ferry terminal, left my bag and wandered around Lerwick. So much cover in the gardens, especially compared to Unst. There were a few gulls in the harbour and I saw 19 Eider and 2 Black Guillemots in the sound. The MV Hjaltland departed on time at 17:30 and arrived in Aberdeen at 07:00 on Thursday morning. As it turned out I could have caught the 07:35 bus to London but I'd not wanted to risk the ferry being late had booked the next, at 18:20. Unfortunately Northlink wouldn't allow me to leave my bag in their left luggage, there was none at the Bus Station and the railway's had closed 10 days earlier. The Tourist Office didn't know of anywhere, and weren't offering so I was stuck with my bag all day which ruled out revisiting Girdle Ness. I slowly walked around a sculpture trail, with plenty of stops, and had lunch and read a book in a churchyard. I bought a paperback in an Oxfam bookshop and when asked if I wanted a bag replied I'd far to many as it was and recounted the unleft luggage tail. The guy there offered to keep my bag until they closed which gave me the opportunity to visit the Maritime Museum. My bus left on time, was changed at Hamilton (for some unspecified problem) and I arrived at Victoria a few minutes late. There was an early Brighton bus which I was allowed on and I was back home two hours earlier than expected at 11:00. The journey home from Unst had taken 49 hours and cost £38.

Viking influence on Lerwick street names
argentatus Herring Gulls in Lerwick
MV Hjaltland in Lerwick
Trumpet Leaf on the roof garden at St Nicholas Centre, part of the Aberdeen Sculpture & CuriosTrail  

Moon Table on the roof garden at St Nicholas Centre, part of the Aberdeen Sculpture & CuriosTrail
Poised, Marischal Square, one of the stars of the Aberdeen Sculpture & CuriosTrail
Robert the Bruce outside Marischal College, still on the Aberdeen Sculpture & CuriosTrail
The Well of Spa, gifted to the City in 1635 according to the Aberdeen Sculpture & CuriosTrail guide
Aberdeen street art that surprisingly didn't feature on the trail
my favourite, another that didn't make the cut
Aberdeen Harbour from the Maritime Museum

MV Hjaltland
model of MV St Clair III in the Maritime Museum, the Shetland ferry in the 1970s when I first visited
Saturday 05 October-Wednesday 23 October. Birding with Dave Cooper on Unst (and two unsuccessful trips to Feltar). Will be blogged when photos sorted although they are probably not worth waiting for. Full accounts for this period with much better photos are already on Dave's Birding North Unst blog http://eastsussexbirding.blogspot.com/2019/10/23rd-october-2019-unst-sw4-light-rain.html and earlier.

Thursday 03 October-Saturday 05 October. Buses to Brighton, Victoria Coach Station and overnight to Aberdeen arriving at noon. Checked onto Northlink Ferry terminal and left my bag (not an option on the return). Walked to Girdle Ness seeing a male Pheasant cross the road in Baxter Street on the way. Offshore at least 400 Kittiwakes and 40 Gannets flew north and a few Razorbills and Guillemots were seen on the sea. There I flushed a Common Snipe, saw a Blue Tit and 4 Rock Pipits on the walk back and an Eider in the harbour. After a comfortable overnight crossing n MV Hjaltland I arrived in Lerwick and caught the bus to Toft, ferry to Ulsta, minibus across Yell to Gutcher (I was the only passenger, often there weren't any) and ferry to Belmont where I was met by Dave Cooper. Transport from Shoreham to Unst had cost me £45 but taken 42 hours. 
Aberdeen Harbour
MV Hjaltland rear left


Aberdeen from the Torry Battery
Rock Pipit
Shags
Cormorants
repairs to Toft Pier



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