We knew we had a weather window today so we were out into the field early to make the most of the bright and calmer conditions.
We started in Valyie valley and straight away there were birds active in the first garden. OK, they were probably birds that had been about for a while but the improvement in conditions meant they were actually showing. 2 male blackcap, lesser whitethroat, 2 redpoll and a couple of redstart were flitting about before we got to the garden. Tree pipit and reed warbler were in the little burn running up to the house but the garden itself was relatively quiet. Possibly due to the fact most of the birds didn't need the shelter from the bad weather. 2 yellow browed warblers were active around the area and it was evident that song thrushes were dropping in for the north, settling briefly then carrying on south.
The little bunting showed well at the bottom of the hill and we walked back to the car.
Dave Cooper and a tour group had already done the croft at Skaw so we headed to the north cliffs again. Song thrushes were again in evident with 11 seen along with a single fieldfare, 2 wheatear, 2 redstart, snow bunting, 2 siskin, Lapland bunting, grey wag, lesser whitethroat and 4 robins. Not much but enough to keep us interested.
Back at the croft we added garden warbler and a late house martin to the list.
Then the trip improved dramatically.
I will admit to slacking a bit at this point chatting to another birder and drinking coffee while Nick was working the croft. I didn't even have my bins around my neck when a bird dropped into the grass on edge of the croft in front of us. For some reason it looked like a bunting so I with the other birder to check it out. To my disappointment (at the the time) a pipit flushed out of the grass and landed a short distance away. I managed to get a few pics of the bird before Nick came round the corner. I suspect that we were both thinking it was something different but it wasn't until it flew again and called that we knew we had just found a RED THROATED PIPIT, our first quality find of the trip. The bird flew onto the beach then to the edge of the burn before dropping back into the croft and showed well on some fencing before dropping back into the grass.
We haven't had any signal on the island away from our digs so getting news out but thankfully the other guy had signal so we were able to call Paul French back on south mainland and get him to put the new out for us.
We left the bird in peace and waited for the first birders to arrive. A local birder followed by the tour group soon arrived and we relocated the bird in grass just outside the croft before moving to the beach were we left it showing well for the small group.
We couldn't match the excitement on the cliffs at Lamba Ness but did have another 2 redstart (8 for the day), fieldfare and another 8 song thrush.
We finished off the day doing 'our patch' adding sedge warbler to the trip list, a further redstart, yellow browed warbler and reed bunting.
A fantastic day and reward for all our hard work in the crappy weather over the last few days.