Saturday, December 14, 2019

Unst, Shetland - Autumn 2019 (part one)


There were plenty of warblers to enjoy (and ponder over) during our week on Unst at the end of September, and Yellow-browed Warblers were happily a common occurrence, present in almost every suitable patch of shrubbery. The one above frequented a garden in the village... but can you find it?
 
The classic east-coast-curled-sycamore-leaf-and-sibe-sprite shot
 
And of course they weren't confined to bushes and trees - new arrivals in particular were routinely found in along fence lines, in tall grass... 
 
...and feeding on the sunny side of walls
 
Of the five or more Lesser Whitethroats we had, all morphologically fitted blythi (Siberian)...
 


.... while the Willow Warblers were a fascinating mix of plumages - from the clasic trochilus (above), to much less colourful birds, to those with pale greenish-grey and yellow, Hippolais-like colour schemes (below). 
 

And then there were Chiffchaffs. A few were regular collybita-types, but many were on a dull, brownish-grey spectrum including many like the one above.....
 
.... and several tristis-types which, while not precisely fitting the traditional Siberian template, surely were (and doubtless would be if DNA'ed)....  
 
.... as well as several 'classic' tristis, pheeping away like timid Bullfinches. The Phylloscs up there were endlessly interesting and would make for a seriously fascinating project if there was the possbility of a co-ordinated pan-island ringing and DNA effort.  
 
A classic commoner-acting-rare - a Garden Warbler among the pine needles of a local garden....
 
... and finally, a legit rare acting, looking and feeling the part. This Blyth's Reed Warbler was a joint find in the Health Centre garden in Baltasound, which we found in a flurry of new arrivals in this fantasy walled garden that I'd happily spend all autumn birding in....