White's Thrush - The highlight of a tough autumn

I'm now back from 3 weeks very tough birding weeks on Fair Isle, it should have been 4 but I left early in the hope of using that week for another extended visit next year in hopefully better birding conditions.

This autumn has been dominated by westerly airflow which for most part has done very little for the UK and resulted in by far and away the worst autumn I've yet had on Fair Isle, both birding wise and weather wise.

The highlights for 3 weeks had been a very elusive Ortolan Bunting around the dykes and Ringing Hut Marsh area and a Corncrake that was added to my Fair Isle list at the Quoy Croft.

there was a short glimmer of hope as the wind finally moved to the east mid October but it was to be short lived before more prolonged westerlies would return. This two days of easterlies was what all my hopes were being pinned.

Lots migrants did arrived but they were predominantly Redwing and Brambling and the strong winds made birding hard at times.

However the day was saved when David Roche found a White's Thrush at Wester Lother, in fact in the very same gully that I had visited the day before.

As birders gathered we initially saw it just okayish at the top of the gully before a short while later it disappeared. Once it disappeared most birders gave up looking leaving just four of us searching.

After giving the immediate area another sweep I decided to head up to the Peat Cuttings and then along the track to the Mast via the eroded area just down the hill.

It was probably about an hour and half to two hours after the bird went missing that I relocated it not far from the Mast and got the news out.

I followed the bird as it moved towards Lower Station and saw it fly towards the Mast but we soon relocated by the disused buildings. This time the bird went on to perform extremely well being watched at length performing its bobbing feeding action, alabeit in rapidly deteriorating weather conditions.

I was able to creep a little closer when it was in a tiny 'quarry', not much more than a shallow cut into the hill, where I obtained these the best images images though due to the rain and the low light I had to up the ISO to 1600, far higher than I would usually go to, and then still struggle with low shutter speeds. As a result the images I got were not pin sharp cropped right in but look the business set at a wider angle, which I think look better anyway.

All in all this was the best individual bird I've seen the whole year, by far and now represents the fourth White's Thrush I've seen in the UK and the third now on Fair Isle with this the second in as many years.

If there's another one on here next year will I run like a headless chicken for it, damn straight I will.

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