Digging in

Finding scarce migrants

The next 3 days were less about mega rarities and just really enjoyable birding. We found more Yellow-browed Warbler and Barred Warblers. Saw a very flighty Bluethroat and got into the Shetland birding groove, including a yomping long walk out in to the wilds of the west side of Unst. Rugged and simply beautiful.

Yellow-browed Warbler by Dougie.

Bluethoat by David Bradnum. Not the same bird as the one we saw at Northdale, Unst, but the very same kind of view! Thought it captured the Bluethroat moments our group had very well. This bird was at Quendale.

A 1st winter  Spotted Flycatcher at Cullivoe, Yell, while not rare brought us great delight in that it just performed so well , giving superb views. We just sat and watched it for ages.

1st winter Spotted Flycatcher (nominate form!), Cullivoe, Yell, 26th Sept. 2011

Wacky Races

We did muse about the Siberian form of Spotted Flycatcher, ‘neumanni’ which could reach Britain, and which I think I have seen in East Africa. BWP says:

“Slight, clinal, and with isolated island races; involves colour and size. In general, birds become paler, greyer, and less streaked towards east. M. s. neumanni from Siberia and south-west Asia has upperparts paler grey, forehead paler and whiter, underparts whiter than nominate striata”

In East Africa, most wintering birds and about two-thirds of passage migrants are neumanni (D J Pearson). In West Africa, most are nominate striata, presumably from west of breeding range, perhaps including North African birds. M. s. neumanni occurs on passage at least as far west as Egypt and Sudan, nominate striata east to Arabia.


There you go. This 1st winter bird with rich chamois coloured orbital ring and lores must be a western one. Still good learning. Other birds like faeroeensis Snipe and Icelandic Redwings (ssp. coburni) were appearing in numbers and brought discussion about their identification, both here and perhaps back in our local patches at home.

A walk on the wild side of Unst searching windswept short cropped turf, looking for any bird species beginning with ‘Buff’.

and careful checking of the ‘burns’

4 thoughts on “Digging in

  1. Sam Bosanquet

    Spotted Flycatcher neumanni is an interesting prospect, reminding me of a bird I saw at St Elvis, Pembrokeshire on 30/10/2004. My notebook says: “typical upright Muscicapa with well-streaked breast, dark lores, prominently off-white fringed wing coverts & tertials and dark primaries. The degree of contrast between remiges & rest of bird was very striking, suggesting overall paleness & therefore neumanni”. Nobody else saw the bird, but the extremely late date is interesting, whilst the striking appearance certainly looked very different to any Spotted Fly I’ve seen in Britain. Sadly this was largely pre-internet, digital cameras etc. Sam B

  2. Pingback: Balearic Spotted Flycatcher – new species | Birding Frontiers

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