Sunday 18 September 2016

Lanceolated and other warblers in Shetland

The weather yesterday was superb, short sleeve birding for a change. Friday had brought a number of rarer migrants such as Little Bunting, Red Breasted Flycatcher , Rosefinch and Red backed Shrike along with a number of common migrants.

                                     Wood Warbler earlier in the week

With the fog clearing many birds left Shetland leaving just a few but replaced by others. At Sumburgh quarry no Little Bunting only a Willow Warbler and a few Blackbirds but on the way out I saw a Hobby moving fast chasing Swallows, it briefly settle on a pole before leaving south. This was also spotted by a couple of birders coming down the road. This is a rare visitor to Shetland and the third Hobby i have seen in the isles.

                                                              Lesser Whitethroat

At Grutness garden two birds showed, a Garden Warbler briefly before it disappeared over the wall, returning before flying west. The other was one of my favourite warblers, a Yellow Browed, which fluttered through the bushes in search of insects- it seemed fairly settled.

                                                                                          Yellow Browed Warbler

News came in of a Lanceolated Warbler at Sumburgh between the gardens and the farm, as i was only 5 mins away I made my way over to the spot where 4 other birder searched for this small brownish bird. This species is well known for its sulking nature, keeping low in vegetation and this was no exception seen first in a ditch then beside a wall.

It briefly popped up onto the wall and posed for a few photos before heading back into the iris bed.  It was my first Lancy and by all accounts this was a very showy bird. Later a group of ringers caught the bird, why they have to do this I cannot hazard a guess.

                                                                                                  Lanceolated warbler

What benefit would there be ? It seems that every rare bird must be ringed with a Booted Warbler a few weeks early getting caught in nearly the same place as this Lancy. Seems as though a lot of people are not happy with the amount of trapping that is going on in Shetland, especially when it is pointless with a number of people tweeting about it.

                                                                                                         Willow Warbler

Not long ago the Green Warbler on Unst was caught and DNA taken just to be on the safe side, despite several birders confirming the ID from field observations.

We are now in the grip of Autumn migration where we see a large number of birders descend on Shetland. The number of observations increase with more eyes searching out birds so hopefully more interesting birds detected. A few birders came across a Pallid Harrier over at Hillwell which moved off west.

                                                             Kestrel at Sumburgh Head

Other birds such as Pied Wagtail, Skylark, Meadow Pipit, Wheatear, Twite, Wren, Mallard, Shag, GTBB, Herring Gull, Common Gull, Gannet, Curlew, Redshank, Lapwing, Gt Skua, Fulmar, Rock Dove and Eider all seen on the day

More photos at

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