Shetland Spring Birding Part 2

1/2 hour of Migrant Madness 

It was on Unst where the most favoured memory (amoung many) of the week’s holiday with Shetland Nature happened. So let’s fast forward:

Marsh Warbler at Skaw May 2013 RBMarsh Warbler at Skaw, Unst (Robbie Brookes). Part of a half hours of scarce/ rare migrant fun. below right- one of the 2 female Red-backed Shrikes that shared the same patch.

Team effort is a key element for Shetland Nature holidays, both in the group and working with Shetland residents. Tuesday afternoon, Unst resident Robbie Brookes contacted us to say he’d seen and acrocephalus Warbler at Skaw that looked interesting. Worth a check, red backed Shrike female skawwe arrived at Skaw to banks of mist rolling in on NE breeze. Woah, special conditions. We soon located a Garden Warbler, a Spotted Flycatcher and another bird ‘flew’ in’ to join them but remained obscured. With a little effort we were soon having great views of a spring Marsh Warbler and discussing the finer ID points. Up in the background popped  a female Red-backed Shrike. Fantastic! 2 minutes later another Red-backed Shrike, both on view at the same time. Hold on. Fog, nor’ east winds Now we’re cookin’. In the next half hour we found 6 Spotted Flycatchers and a Lesser Whitehroat. Then the icing on the cake: 2 of our guest returning from the beach said a couple of bird had been flitting about on the stream. Quick stroll down and BOOM! a Little Bunting; regular in autumn but very rare in spring. What a stunning bird and a life tick for most of the group.

Little Bunting Skaw 5

Little Bunting Skaw one

Little Bunting, Skaw, May 2013. This was like a little wee jewel feeding along the stream at Skaw. Having already seen Marsh Warbler, 2 Red-backed Shrikes and bunch of other migrants the previous half hour, this rare spring bunting (c 11 spring records ever in Shetland), brought adrenaline to a peak

Spotted Flycatcher  May 13Spotted Flycatcher– c 6 at Skaw in little rush of migrants

Garden Warbler Skaw unst May 13Garden Warbler, in same patch of Spearmint as the Marsh Warbler

Sanderling  May 13Sanderling– beautiful in fresh plumage and bound for the high arctic; one of the background birds on the beach at Skaw, Unst

Dunlin GutcherDunlin, on seaweed strewn beaches around Unst and Yell. Dunlin gave lovely breeding displays with wing-lifting and trilling calls. Both the Shetland breeding schinzii subspecies and more northerly bound ‘alpina’ were seen, the latter often with the Sanderling. This presumed shinzii was unusual in having such obviously white tips to the scapulars…

Against this peak birding moment in Unst we savoured the majestic Hermaness with oodles of  Bonxies, singing and displaying Dunlin and Golden Plover, another majestic  seabird cliff, stunning spring Snow Buntings on Hermaness and Lamba Ness, Arctic Skuas and Arctic Terns.

Here some off the Unst ‘regulars’ –  seen on most days:

Snow Bunting Sumburgh May 2013

Twite male Sumburgh June 13

Whimbrel Unst June 13

Snipe unst June 13

Arctic Skua Unst may 2013

and the Bonxie (Great Skua) show on Hermaness couldn’t fail to impress, beginning with superb views of Golden Plover:

Golden Plover Hermaness June 2013

Bonxie 2 Hermaness June 13

Bonxie 4 Hermaness June 13

Bonxie 5 Hermaness June 13

Bonxie 6 Hermaness June 13Tim Appleton get close and personal…

Bonxie Hermaness June 13

Bonxie7 Hermaness June 13

John and Bonxie hermaness


About Martin Garner

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

2 Responses to Shetland Spring Birding Part 2

  1. Pingback: Spotted flycatcher and roe deer | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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