27th – 30th September – Shetland update 3   Leave a comment

First, I have edited a few more photos taken on Unst on the 27th (see previous post)

Another photo of the Blyth’s Reed Warbler. The rufous wing panel is only visible from some angles.

The cliffs at Lamba Ness

Gannets passing Lamba Ness

A migrant Goldcrest

A juvenile Bonxie feeding on roadkill ….

…. and a Hooded Crow waiting its turn.

Smoke from a distant cottage.

On the 28th the weather was mainly cloudy with heavy showers. With Isabelline Shrike and Olive-backed Pipit (or OBP as it usually known)nearby and a Siberian Stonechat just a few miles up the road I didn’t intend to travel far today.

Another view from Paul and Liz’s towards Sumburgh airport and Sumburgh Head.

There was no sign of the OBP but the shrike had been seen, albeit briefly. It was relocated in a garden in Toab deep in a sycamore bush and by the time I arrived quite a group of birders had assembled, however just as it moved into view someone stood in front of me and my views were, shall we say, less than satisfactory. It then flew off and I didn’t see it again. A search around the playground produced a nice Hawfinch and a Spotted Flycatcher but no rare pipits.

My next plan was to head to Hoswick and search for a Siberian Stonechat that had been found the previous day. After several hours of searching I drew a blank so returned to Virkie for some lunch. There was rain off and on during the afternoon, so much of the time was spent at back at Paul and Liz’s but for the latter part of the day I headed for Quendale where an adult female Common Rosefinch was on show in the quarry.

I didn’t have my SLR camera with me but was pleased by this digiscoped shot of the Rosefinch. The vast majority of autumn Common Rosefinches are first years which have an obvious wing bar, so lacking both wing bars and red colouration this presumably is an adult female, although a second calendar year male cannot be ruled out.

Paul asked me to give a talk to the Shetland Bird Club and I chose Tibet as the subject. I felt nervous giving a talk to so many illustrious birders!

As the 29th was a Saturday I could go birding with Paul again, the wind had turned westerly and it seemed like the run of Siberian vagrants was due to end, however we hoped that the odd American bird might be discovered. Returning to Toab we found the Olive-backed Pipit with ease but still failed to connect with the wide-ranging Isabelline Shrike.

The white spot (with a black mark below it) situated behind and below the whitish supercillium is diagnostic of Olive-backed Pipit.

A lengthy thrash around a number of wet meadows produced lots of Snipe and two boot fulls of water, but little else. A report of a Richard’s Pipit at Quendale drew a blank (although it was seen again in the evening) but we had another look at the Common Rosefinch, this time I had my SLR with me.

Much of Shetland birding involves finding migrants in narrow burns and wet ditches.

An old stone bridge over an overgrown ditch.

Disused and abandoned farm buildings dot the Shetland landscape.

The adult Rosefinch again sunning itself on the side of the quarry.

Finally a trip up to Tingwall gave us good views of an American Golden Plover in a flock of 80 or so European Golden Plovers.

Smaller and greyer than its European cousin, this adult American Golden Plover still showed some remnants of summer plumage.

On the 30th Paul and I headed to Hoswick, a short drive to the north where the Siberian Stonechat I had searched for a few days before had been relocated. After a short wait we had good views. There was a new influx of birders to Shetland yesterday and about 50 had gathered at Hoswick. Shetland is gaining in popularity as an autumn birding destination and many locals fear it will become as packed as Scilly used to be in its heyday. A nearby hedge held both Yellow-browed and Wood Warblers showing that almost any area of cover in Shetland can turn up good birds.

Some of the birders that gathered at Hoswick.

Siberian Stonechat has only recently been treated as a full species by the BOU and this is my first sighting since the ‘split’.

The taxonomy of Stonechats has still to be finally resolved, with races from eastern Asia, the Caspian/Caucasus and Ethiopia possibly deserving full species status.

We had arranged to meet Roger Riddington and he greeted us with the news that he had just found a Buff-bellied Pipit, the American version of our Water Pipit and Rock Pipits. It took a scramble down a cliff to get to the beach at Rerwick and the pipit performed albeit distantly. This was only the second time I have seen this species in the UK. As we left Paul informed the Shetland grapevine, whilst I contacted Birdguides. Unfortunately using their upload page, I entered Rerwick in Orkney not Rerwick in Shetland. Apologies to any Orcadian birders who may have had their hopes raised, only to be dashed minutes later.

Rerwick beach.

The distant Buff-bellied Pipit.

The local Rock Pipits were more obliging.

Posted October 1, 2012 by gryllosblog in Uncategorized

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