Are you sure this is Aberdeen Neill?

The best laid plans of mice and men and all that, but when you’re presented by a peep sporting straw-coloured legs there’s only three ways things can go.

With bags packed at 10pm for a holiday the next morning, fate will always dictate the peep will become a Long-toed Stint, and the most flexibility you can get out of elastic old Father Time is 90 mins on a site the size of a small continent but mercifully only 2 hours away.

So I picked up Neill and Duncan at 2.30am on Saturday, and headed east around wayward Ferrari’s and the never to be forgotten sight of a black Merc screaming past with its bonnet up in the fast lane, illuminated only by its hazards and the luck of a thousand stars.

By 4.45am we were the first car pulling up in St Aidan’s RSPB car park at Swillington Ings on Saturday. Time for a doze then a big yomp into the big country.

Stomping into the mist at 7am we had little time at our disposal as Snipe squelched overhead and the ferals, Water Rails and Cetti’s woke up.

Mercifully with five minutes left of a self-imposed 0840 deadline the Long-toed Stint was relocated and along with a hyperventilating crowd we enjoyed great views of the wee mega.

Thank you yet again Sweet Baby J and all the saints.

A midget gem, dark cap, split super, remarkably ordered scallops on the mantle, stupid feet and bags of charisma.

Loved it when the mega decided to compare splitty-splatteys with a passing Moorhen, king of the geeks.


Still can’t believe we managed to see it, and certainly can’t work out how to upload the video of this wonderful wader on an island set in northern seas, where sea frets are stronger than WiFi.

Will post it later if anyone shows an interest.

Zero interest as usual, but here’s the shaky video on YouTube anyway.

Route marched back to the wheels by 9.10am.

Then all I had to do was deliver us to Aberdeen by 3.30pm to catch the ferry to Lerwick, aided only by the odd Red Kite, Fox’s glacier mint and the encouragement of my companions…..

Seems the loonball Merc driver wasn’t the only one relying on the luck of a thousand stars…

Buckle up.