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!)
Here’s a retreat house at Norwick, Unst. It’s called Millfield. There is only the North Pole after this… see here
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 🙂
The next morning more migrants. Blackcaps, also strange to watch as they fed, not in trees but on the lawn… And looked pretty beautiful.
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!
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:
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.
So up the Geostter Burn we went, our motley crew, chasing a ‘grey’ ficedula Flycatcher, some Goldcrest and one or two Yellow-browed Warblers.
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.