Too Much to Blog About!

Shetland. Wildness everywhere.

I enjoy. Well pretty much everything with Birds and Nature 🙂

Some wind in the west has cut down numbers of migrant birds. I hope Yoav is still enjoying himself- off today with PAC to explore another island. Being a little less mobile I just go a little slower and stay more local.

I am not short of things to look at. Indeed I have had lovely couple of days both with birds and wildlife and with great people company.  I have too many subjects I would like to explore further. But can’t do them justice!

So here’s what I am wrestling with about whether to ‘blog’ about and will try to look into more…

Yellow-browed Warblers – call variation

Yellow browed W (1 of 1)

Mono-syllabic in hand call:

Two birds calling to each other- normal di-syllabic calls

They are everywhere. I can see 2-3 Yellow-broweds outside the windows most days. They also have both a well known disyllabic call and less well know other calls. Roger and I recorded the trapped bird giving alternate calls (which trapped birds do anyway). I have however heard and recorded Yellow-broweds giving mono calls in the field and seen them fool folk into thinking , maybe it’s a Hume’s Warbler. More on that maybe..

Pink-footed Geese – grumbling!

Each morning flocks fly over. Every time I smile. Straight in the Iceland/ Greenland/Svalbard?. Wow! Most continue south. Some land. This flock of 6 flew south close. It’s sounded as if one or more were grumbling. The flock flew over Sumburgh, turned around and back over my head presumably to land in fields north of me. The grumbling had stooped.

Teenage Pink-feet. Have a listen on the first pass after 30 seconds the grumbling kicks in…

Then on return a few minutes later when the long trip is cancelled- for now.

Lapland Buntings – from where?

I raised this a few years ago now. The assumption that Lapland Buntings all arrived in Britain from Scandinavia– tosh-me gosh! This one yesterday could have easily come from Arctic Canada. Now there’s a thought! Lapland Buntings join Northern Wheatears in being one of the only songbirds which routinely crosses an ocean as part of their migration. Bonkers!

Lapland Bunting 4th Sumburgh Headf (1 of 1)


Redpolls and the Redpoll Code

Always want to wade in to this. A scattering of redpolls in Shetland and all so far have proven to be identifiable Lessers – and that is unusual for Shetland, where Lesser is generally the less common taxon. This adult male shows off some easy ID features. Red in the breast- already becoming visible here means only 2 one of two taxa could be involved. but then you would know that. #redpollcode

Lesser Redpoll- adult male by Yoav Perlman

Lesser Redpoll- adult male by Yoav Perlman

Already the Lesser Redpoll, photographed by Yoav near Sumburgh Airport- above shows pinkish- red over the breast and flanks- adult male signs, in a deep rich buffy plumage. Cracking photo!


Yoav and I came across this perplexing individual which did have us initially a little foxed. Like a miniature Common Goldeneye. Head shape wrong. Little bill. Vague whitish patch over lower cheek (not visible in pics). What the heck??. A very small, perhaps late hatched juvenile Common Goldeneye. Tim Jones and those nice chaps form the NGB followed up my waffle and got some pics the next day:

Goldeneye juv 4 (1 of 1)Goldeneye juv 3 (1 of 1)

goldeneye 4 (1 of 1) Goldeneye juv 2 (1 of 1)

bird on far left (top)

and I have not even started on (see what I mean)…

Snow Buntings, Redwing, Wader calls, vagrant Canada Geese…




5 thoughts on “Too Much to Blog About!

  1. Chris Balchin

    Thanks for posting the yellow-browed call, I wonder if it is an alarm call. I induced it in a bird I disturbed at roost in 2013. I found a similar call on xeno-canto, a bird in the hand but did not make the possible explanation until I saw your mention of it.
    Good birding

    1. Martin Garner Post author

      Thanks Chris- sorry for being slow in getting back. yes I think there are several ‘alarm calls’ and a fuller repertoire than generally refereed to…

  2. Terry Townshend

    I have sometimes heard Yellow-broweds in Beijing utter a similar call and I, too, wonder if it’s some form of alarm. I have heard the monosyllabic call when I am close to a bird or when a predator (e.g. a sparrowhawk) is passing but I have also heard it on occasion when no apparent threat is visible. More research required! 🙂

    1. Martin Garner Post author

      Agreed Terry- as always probably more notes and noises going on than we appreciate or ay attention to! I have even more ‘noises’ made by yellow-broweds which I hope to process some time. Meanwhile hope you are doing well- you are a wonderful ambassador

  3. Pingback: Lapland Bunting origins, ageing and sexing | Birding Frontiers

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