Goldcrests- the Undiscovered World

Really?- well hell yes.

YES really. Shetland was mint. Sharon and I even got two goes at Aurora borealis. One night we ‘found’ it for ourselves from our Shetland Nature sorted cottage- one of the most northerly houses in Britain (much further north than that old bus shelter of Unst!)

I have not aurora photo skills much. Garry has. This is taken on that very night from nearby looking north. We saw some nice aurora ‘searchlights’ and a few different colours. Most of all we saw it together (and Sharon found it!)

Aurora borealis from Shetland, October 2015. Garry Taylor

Aurora borealis from Shetland, October 2015. Garry Taylor

Here’s a retreat house at Norwick, Unst. It’s called Millfield. There is only the North Pole after this… see here

The last house in Britain- near enough!

The last house in Britain- near enough!

and when we arrived as dusk came in, one tiny bird was present avidly looking for insects in the grass in front of the cottage. A tiny Goldcrest.  It’s a blurry dark pic but I LOVE this spirit if nature. and he was our Goldcrest 🙂

Goldcrest, Norwick, Unst. October 2015 MG

Goldcrest, Norwick, Unst. October 2015 MG

The next morning more migrants. Blackcaps, also strange to watch as they fed, not in trees but on the lawn… And looked pretty beautiful.

blackcaps n (1 of 1)blackcaps 2 (1 of 1)blackcaps (1 of 1)

 

Goldcrest Revelations

Our Goldcrest was of course part of huge movement/arrival/fall of Goldcrests in Western Europe. They were the main companion very often to Yellow-browed Warblers.

The Yellow-browed Warblers come a very long way. YET we don’t very often ask where the Goldcrests come from. I am now. Because Peter Colston stirred the pot!

'Continental Goldcrest', Flamborough, October 2015 by Andy Hood.

‘Continental Goldcrest’, Flamborough, October 2015 by Andy Hood.

Above: This is just a stunning image by Andy Hood of Flamborough. It fits what I have always referred to/looked for as ‘Continental Goldcrests’ (Old Witherby Handbook). Well the identifiable ones with nice grey head contrasting wth olive upperparts (compared to insular, indigenous British birds). Varaition in the birds from Scandinavia, means some stand out and others, the grey on the head is obscured by olive and the  features is less obvious; they look no different to British birds.  See Yoav’s pics below of a migrant in Shetland:

goldcrest4

So I got to go birding with these guys. How cool is that! The biggest fun was being joined by Peter and Tony. Peter Colston was THE bird skin man at the biggest collection of bird skins in the world- TRING, for many many years. He is rightly famed in many papers etc. He was the man who granted access to me to the museum back in the 1980’s.

WOW! Left to right: Peter Colston, MG, Yoav Perlman, Paul Harvey and Roger Riddington. Toab, Shetland, October 2015

WOW! Left to right: Peter Colston, MG, Yoav Perlman, Paul Harvey and Roger Riddington. Toab, Shetland, October 2015

So up the Geostter Burn we went, our motley crew, chasing a ‘grey’ ficedula Flycatcher, some Goldcrest and one or two Yellow-browed Warblers.

Geosetter Burn, Mainland Shetland, October 2015

Geosetter Burn, Mainland Shetland, October 2015

and Peter points out to me THIS Goldcrest below and his photos of.

I am IN straight away! I do know a little but he immediately waxes lyrical about more easterly taxa coming to Britain.

I  NEVER thought about that. What a dude! So there will be a another post on this later this week. I think and hope you might be a little surprised.

For now notice how the grey is MORE extensive – sort of almost reaching into the middle of the mantle.

extrs grey Goldcrest, Geosetter Burn, Shetland. October 2015. Peter Colston

extra grey Goldcrest, Geosetter Burn, Shetland. October 2015. Peter Colston

 

Another Goldcrest post to follow soon…

2 thoughts on “Goldcrests- the Undiscovered World

  1. richard

    This from lynx page; like the words “taxonomy .. clearly in need of revision”:
    Taxonomy: Motacilla Regulus Linnaeus, 1758, Europe = Sweden.
    Canary Is race teneriffae (with, by implication, newly described race ellenthalerae) has been treated variously as a race of R. ignicapilla or as a separate species, but acoustic and molecular markers indicate that Canarian populations belong with W Palearctic complex of races of present species that also includes nominate and the three Azores races (inermis, azoricus, sanctaemarie). These W races are opposed to an E complex of Asian races, and acoustic and genetic divergence between these two groups is evidently high. Further, on Azores, race azoricus (from São Miguel) apparently does not represent a monophyletic taxon but is evidently separated into an E group, with affiliation to sanctaemariae (from Santa Maria), and a W population which genetically belongs to inermis (W islands of Azores). In addition, geographical variation partly clinal, birds becoming darker and slightly larger from W to E in Palearctic; buturlini and hyrcanus possibly not properly separable. Another morphological cline in S Asia, from dark greyish plumage in Himalayan himalayensis towards more brightly coloured plumage in Chinese sikkimensis and yunnanensis; these three taxa not vocally or genetically differentiated, either, and subspecific separation possibly unreliable. Taxonomy of this species clearly in need of revision, but this should be based on thorough revision of genus. Otherwise, proposed races anglorum (from Britain) and interni (from Corsica) synonymized with nominate, although latter, at least, exhibits slight acoustic differentiation from neighbouring continental populations. Fourteen subspecies recognized.

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  2. Pingback: Goldcrests from further east… coatsi and beyond? | Birding Frontiers

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