So to Fetlar once more, and another attempt to get that monkey off my back; the red-necked phalarope. Last time I was in Shetland, not only did I manage to fail to connect with any red-necked phalaropes, but in the pursuit of them, also failed by literally minutes to see a pod of killer whales, that Ian and Kate enjoyed watching for several hours.
An early start to head out across the islands to reach Fetlar, driving through some pretty miserable weather along the way, though the ferry crossings were made in bright sunshine, giving us all hope for the day. Well aware of my desire to see the 'ropes, Paula drove straight over towards Loch Funzie where we bumped into Hugh Harrop's tour and the Urban Birder, David Lindo. Whilst chatting to them, I heard the news I had wanted to hear, phalaropes were around and we'd just missed them on the loch.
Or had we? Because eagle-eyed Lyndsey had spotted them on a small pool near the main loch, and without delay I found myself almost sprinting (a fast walk is my idea of that these days) towards the area, and suddenly I could see one, pottering around in amongst the long grasses of the pool, picking off insects.
Red-throated divers were again nesting on the main loch, though this time towards the back, so I could lie down beside the road at the lochside, and try for shots of them. At times there were four adults on the loch, though never really very close. One drifted reasonably near when preening, and I was ready to grab some shots as it stretched its wings.
Last time we were on Fetlar, Paula tricked Kate into taking a walk along a track near nesting bonxies, and poor Kate had had to take cover as one of the massive birds dive-bombed her. It was very amusing for us, at Kate's expense. This time we chose to drive along the track, and the bonxies (great skuas) seemed a lot more at ease with that decision, barely even bothering to look at us, let alone move.
By now the sun had started to find a way through the clouds, and this gave us problems. One could be solved by walking right around the area to get the light behind me, but the other, the haze from the warming ground was not so easy to solve. However with no need to worry about the time, or fading light, it was a case of waiting and being persistent.
Then, without warning it started to flap and run across the water. The diver, not Lyndsey...
I stayed put near the loch, and hoped one of the other divers might come close. It did, eventually, but by then the clouds had returned, and I just couldn't get that rich redness of the neck to be captured that well on the shot.