Siberian Chiffchaff. Yellow-billed Loon. Blyth’s Reed Warbler.

Awesome Day Three

Haligarth, Unst. 1-2 Lesser Whitethroat, Garden Warbler, funny  Meadow Pipit which gave me the run-around (looked like it had plain, rich orangey-buff  flanks with streaking confined to breast), Common Chiffchaff and (seemingly early) 2-3 Siberian Chiffchaffs (tristis).

Siberian Chiffchaff

We had already located  one calling Siberian Chiff. Then we heard a  calling bird up in the air- flying in. It sounded very loud. Clearly a Chiffchaff, looking a bit Siberian at distance- but call so loud! I think, like the Little Bunting at Norwick, we witnessed a fresh-in arrival, literally at the moment of its making landfall. It settled down, call got quieter and more ‘normal-sounding’ and I got the above photos as well as a recording of the call.

New birds-in are often agitated callers, perhaps looking for congeners.

Pretty classic plumage with macintosh-brown coloured uppers. No yellow or olive except on wings and tail feather fringes. Supercilium more prominent than pale eye ring, buffy wash on flank sides, very obvious wing bar. Most importantly call, see sonagram below:

Sonagram of Siberian Chiffchaff calls, Halligarth, Unst. 3rd October 2010 (same bird in photo above)

Click >>here<< to listen to Mp3 recording of the Siberian Chiffchaff

Siberian Chiffchaff, Aith Fetlar. There seems to have been a little ‘arrival’ of Siberian Chiffs in North Shetland today with up to 3 birds on Unst and 2 birds on Fetlar.

White-billed Diver

Wow. This one was not on the radar for today!!

The bird was  the water. It was close enough to the  Unst-Fetlar ferry as to attract attention on naked eye views.  Within a couple of seconds, its proximity meant all got onto the bird on the water,  just to as it began to take off. “WHITE-BILLED DIVER” -multiple shouts went up.  It then flew at wonderfully close range right past the boat- a stonker! One of our folk was so delighted – being only mid-morning – he said it couldn’t get much better than this and was happy to call it a day. He didn’t, and we did see lots more.Unfortunately not expecting to see such at close range my camera was in the minibus. Must try to remember to keep camera close – you never know!

Turns out it was a fantastic bird finding day.

Blyth’s Reed Warbler

Arrived at Aith on Fetlar having already seen Yellow-browed Warbler and Reed Warbler at Tresta.  Over the past 2 days we had pursued 4 elusive acrocephalus warblers to confident identifications as Reed Warblers. So when Paul and I flushed a pallid acrocephalus Warbler we knew we were into something different.  Quickly got the rest of the team onto it.  It looked good.  Clearly not a Reed Warbler.  Brydon (who has found Blyth’s Reed before) was impressed with flight.  But, and it’s a big but, we got involved in a jigsaw identification.  A classic Shetland situation.  The bird remained hidden for most of the time.  When it appeared it was for a split second and only partially on view.  So brief were the views it remained essentially impossible to photograph.  For over two hours we chased it around.  We left it as an unidentified acrocephalus.  Maybe a Marsh Warbler? Blyth’s Reed was mentioned a number of times  One thing it clearly wasn’t – was a Reed Warbler. My notes:

“frustrating! clearly pallid  acro- lacking rusty rump and flanks of Reed. Flight looked shortish-winged and long-tailed and ‘pallid’. one point, brief good heads views – cracking supercilium! (confirmed by Graham at point black range without bins) – Blyth’s Reed got talked up.. Wings seen very briefly- not especially long looking (though hard to e sure) and no obvious pale tips. Tertials just couldn’t see properly. Unders quite whitish looking. Views incredibly frustrating mostly small bits of the bird, a split second at a time.. Left unidentified – perhaps the commoner species- Marsh? but wing didn’t look right. Blyth’s Reed possible but not seen well enough to call it.”

Naked eye views of interesting warblers can often vanish once binoculars are raised (see photo below)

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About Martin Garner

I am a Free Spirit
This entry was posted in Seabirds, Warblers. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Siberian Chiffchaff. Yellow-billed Loon. Blyth’s Reed Warbler.

  1. Pingback: Siberian Chiffchaff and Common Chiffchaff: Part 2 | Birding Frontiers

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