Missed a lot of good birds this year for one reason or another. So when John Holtham rang suggesting a Charter flight to the Orkney Isles, after a moments hesitation I went for it. It was a routine I'd experienced before: Drive to Yorkshire first thing and wait for news that the bird in question, a Chestnut Bunting was still on Papa Westray. It wasn't till I saw the size of the plane, a four seater Piper Cherokee I think, and discussed the deteriorating weather conditions up north that I and my fellow passengers began to have doubts. Serious doubts. A weather front was moving in and both visability and wind speed would be marginal in the afternoon. The pilot gathered as much info as could on the weather and explained the difficulty would be landing the plane on Papa Westray with strong crosswinds. To say we were concerned was an understatement. Having put in the effort to get to North Yorkshire and for many it was now or never to see the bird it was a tricky decision. We knew we couldn't compromise on safety but the pilot was prepared to give it a go. As we pondered, news that the Chestnut Bunting was still there came through. It was then that someone said 'Who Dares Wins'. We went for it on news that the visability was ok and the wind was within limits but it would be bumpy. I do not like bumpy.
With a strong tail wind we made good progress and eventually made a text book landing in the field that was the airport.
Papa Westray 'airport'
The bird - 1w Chestnut Bunting
1w Chestnut Bunting
After getting excellent views of the smart little bird and even a couple of snaps it was soon time to retreat, conscious that the weather would soon be worsening.
A bit fresh