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Saunders’s and Little Terns ID pitfalls


Yoav Perlman

This is a topic I talked about briefly in my 2015 Spurn Migfest talk. Saunders’s Tern is one of the rarest and least-known breeding birds in the WP. Despite having a large range around the Indian Ocean, including Red Sea, coastal East Africa, Arabia and Indian Subcontinent, it is still a poorly-known species worldwide. ID of adults in summer is better described. Compared to its sister Sternula species, Little Tern, it is smaller and slimmer. Seeing them side by side (I have seen two in Israel alongside Little Terns), you get a similar comparison to Common versus Arctic Tern in differences in size, structure and derived flight pattern – about 10% smaller and more delicate, and flight more light and bouncy. Calls are also different – check the Xeno Canto page with lots of variation in call but the mainstream seems to be softer and less coarse than Little Tern. Some plumage features seem to be rather robust – first of all, contrary to what some birders may think, adult summer Saunders’s are paler above than adult little, very pale silvery-white. They have a larger dark primary patch, usually 4-5 dark primaries, compared to the normal 2-3 dark primaries in adult Littles. Also, Littles have a contrasting white rump and tail, at least the outer tail feathers (apprently greyer central tail feathers are quite normal in Little Terns). Saunders’s has concolorous (pale) grey mantle, rump and entire tail. And that’s it more or less. All the other features mentioned in literature are of unknown validity, mainly becuase the limits of variation within Saunders’s Tern, even adults in summer plumage, are little known.

But that’s not the only reason why separating these two species is challenging. Interestingly, the amount of variation shown by adult summer Little Tern, which is such a familiar and popular European bird, a photographer’s favourite, is not well described. More on this below.

My interest in them increased a few months ago. I noticed this Saunders’s-type tern in a blogpost of my good friend from Kuwait, Mike Pope from late April 2015:

Tern sp. with little Tern in background, Sea City, Kuwait, 25/4/15 by Mike Pope

Tern sp. with little Tern in background, Sea City, Kuwait, 25/4/15 by Mike Pope

This bird made some alarm bells go off – look at this broad wing patch (4 primaries), concolorous rump and complete grey tail – this must be a Saunders’s Tern, no? I flagged it up to Mike, he circulated among some experts, and the views were leaning towards Saunder’s tern – that would have been a long overdue first for Kuwait.

But then the plot thickened. I circulated Mike’s report among my fellow IRDC members. Yosef Kiat has been ringing Common and Little Terns for several years now in a breeding colony at Atlit, south of Haifa, on the Med Coast. He sent me some images of Little Terns from the breeding colony this late summer that knocked me off my chair. I was aware of the variation they show there, I did join him several times on his nocturnal adventures there, but have never seen extreme birds like these. First, a 2cy bird – this bird hatched in the colony to ‘normal’ looking Little Tern parents in 2014, and was retrapped this year:

2cy Little Tern, Atlit, israel, 25 August 2015 by Yosef Kiat

2cy Little Tern, Atlit, israel, 25 August 2015 by Yosef Kiat

Look at the grey rump and tail: perhaps outer tail feathers are slightly paler than the heavily abraded and dirty central tail feathers, but I am sure in the field this would look like a solid grey tail.

And take a look at this 1cy bird, hatched 2015, again to’normal’ Little Tern parents, wow!

1cy Little Tern, Atlit, 1/9/15 by Yosef Kiat

1cy Little Tern, Atlit, 1/9/15 by Yosef Kiat

Hmmm…. Grey rump, grey tail… And the wing looks like this – in the field it would look like a huge dark wedge:

1cy Little Tern, Atlit, Israel, 1/9/15 by Yosef Kiat

1cy Little Tern, Atlit, Israel, 1/9/15 by Yosef Kiat

Also this summer, in June, Yuda Siliki, an Israeli birder sent me this nice comparison of Little Terns from Ma’agan Michael – these birds are from the same colony in Atlit. Check out the variation in supposed features for Saunders’s Tern – shape of forehead patch and extent of dark bill tip. Saunders’s has much more limited white foreahead, not unlike the lower individual, but the white patch needs to more squared off in Saunders’s, less of a supercilium above and behind the eye, but still check the amount of variation among the two. Also, what about the amount of dark on the bill tip? Saunders’s should have more extensive dark than little, so what’s going on here?

Adult Little Terns, ma'agan Michael, Israel, 7/6/15 by Yuda Siliki

Adult Little Terns, ma’agan Michael, Israel, 7/6/15 by Yuda Siliki

I think it is very interesting to explore this species pair now. They were found breeding only recently in southwest Sinai, just 150 km away from the Mediterranean. For a long-distance migrant to hop into the Med is no big deal, and then it could practically turn up anywhere around the Mediterranean. An adult in summer plumage should be possible to pick out among Little Terns, but what about a young bird? and a non-breeding bird? Headache. If you read carefully Klaus Malling Olsen’s tern book he does state that in non-breeding and juvenile plumages it would not be safe to separate the species. With the circumstancial evidence provided here I tend to agree, but it is hard for me to accept that they cannot be separated. There must be something out there to teach us.

This is how some Saunders’s Tern breeding in Sinai look like – many thanks to Rich Bonser for allowing me to use his brilliant pics. Adults have a nice prominent wing patch, but only three dark primaries here. Is it moulting? Unclear. It has a small forehead patch, that doesn’t extend above and behind the eye:

Adult Saunders's Tern, Ras Sudr, Sinai, Egypt, July 2013 by Richard Bonser

Adult Saunders’s Tern, Ras Sudr, Sinai, Egypt, July 2013 by Richard Bonser

Difficult light conditions here. Rump is grey – however in this image tail looks paler?

Adult Saunders's Tern, Ras Sudr, Sinai, Egypt, July 2013 by Richard Bonser

Adult Saunders’s Tern, Ras Sudr, Sinai, Egypt, July 2013 by Richard Bonser

This bird in better light conditions does show the rump and tail pattern nicely. It is in active primary moult, so wing patch much reduced here:

Adult Saunders's Tern, Ras Sudr, Sinai, Egypt, July 2013 by Richard Bonser

Adult Saunders’s Tern, Ras Sudr, Sinai, Egypt, July 2013 by Richard Bonser

More extensive white forehead patch here, but again does not extend back above eye:

Adult Saunders's Tern, Ras Sudr, Sinai, Egypt, July 2013 by Richard Bonser

Adult Saunders’s Tern, Ras Sudr, Sinai, Egypt, July 2013 by Richard Bonser

Very pale silvery white above. Solid dark bill tip as in all photos. There is some talk about Saunder’s having duller leg colour but I think this feature is not worth much. This is so dependent on the hormonal condition the bird is in during breeding. Also bill tip must change according to breeding condition?

Adult Saunders's Tern, Ras Sudr, Siani, Egypt, July 2013 by Richard Bonser

Adult Saunders’s Tern, Ras Sudr, Siani, Egypt, July 2013 by Richard Bonser

This one below is a 1cy. I do not know if the colony at Ras Sudr is mixed with Little Terns or not, but in Rich’s blog this is a 1cy Saunders’s Tern – I will go with the flow. Not dissimilar to the Atlit 1cy Little Tern above? Pretty pallid bird but extensive wing patch. Greater and lesser primary coverts very dark here, but is it different to how the Atlit 1cy would look like in the field? I am not sure.

1cy Saunders's Tern, Ras Sudr, Sinai, Egypt, July 2013 by Richard Bonser

1cy Saunders’s Tern, Ras Sudr, Sinai, Egypt, July 2013 by Richard Bonser

1cy Saunders's Tern, Ras Sudr, Sinai, Egypt, July 2013 by Richard Bonser

1cy Saunders’s Tern, Ras Sudr, Sinai, Egypt, July 2013 by Richard Bonser

It would be great to study the amount of variation the Sinai Saunders’s Terns show in key features like forehead patch, bill tip and tail pattern. Also how many dark primaries do they have before moult?

One incredible place to study Saunders’s Tern in non-breeding would be Kenya. I visited Sabaki river mouth, north of Malindi in December 2010. There is a roost of hundreds of thousands of Saunders’s Terns (!) there during the northern winter. I was there at daytime so there were only few thousands… But they were all distant, and scoping them into the sun didn’t provide me with much insight on their ID. I wonder if anyone rings them there, or at least photograhps them.

But one very important piece missing in the jigsaw is how much variation ‘our’ Little Terns show, in adult summer plumage and also in other plumages. Does this variation that I have shown here in Israeli birds occur in northern populations as well? The Little Terns I have seen here in the UK looked all bog standard, but I didn’t study any juveniles. I guess that few 2cy Little Terns return in summer to N Europe? Would be great to get some feedback from ringers and birders with field experience.



Anders Faugstad Mæ

Desert Warbler AM 3 (1 of 1)


“On the afternoon of 12 november my focus was on…

…the Pipits. I choice to go to Rakke, on the Brunlanes peninsula in Larvik, Vestfold. Having seen Water– and Richard`s Pipits in the old military area before, I had a good feeling. November has offered me quite a few surprises during the years..

Just before sunset I was approaching a small beach, when I got aware of a small bird sitting on the ground, right towards the sun. In a split second I was thinking what the Treecreeper did there…Thru the bins I saw a small, fluffy and pale warbler, with a long tail. When it turned the head and showed me it`s yellow eye…..Desert Warbler!! I got a few record shots, and my eyes was not lying, a dream was about to be real! I Sneaked towards an old rock wall that it had jumped behind. There it appeared just three meters from me, actively feeding in the roadside and on naked rocks. It was very tame and come within 2 meters range. It was surreal to study this fantastic bird, in the last light of day, at my local patch!

Desert Warbler  AM 2 (1 of 1)

After enjoying it for 20 minutes, it flew behind a svaberg (smooth rock). Now the sun was almost down and I got home to alarm the tribe (yes, I did forgot my phone back home)

The Desert Warbler has been a long-awaited bird for the Norwegian list, and on top of the wishlist for many birders. The birders in Norway is not many, but very persistant. Several cars left the West-coast and drove the whole night, others flew early Friday morning. About 50+ persons was early at Rakke and the “Nana” was soon relocated, at the same spot. After a while it disappeared before it was found again, at a small peninsula near by. During the weekend lots of people arrived and the star was stable in the same area, often showing very well. On Saturday the wind was hard and the water very high, making the peninsula into an island. Some late arriving birders were unable to cross, while others fall into the cold water on the return! Most of the birders saw it good and there were many happy familiar faces!

I was surprised how small it was and how fast it moved, almost like a Wren. It often leaned forwards with the belly close to the ground and the tail in the air. It seems to preferred open rocky areas as long as it was little wind. It preferred a little reed bed when the wind got stronger. There it was very skulky, but still tame.

Desert Warbler  AM 5 (1 of 1)

It gave a very pale impression. The dark alula was obvious and so was the starry eye.

The legs was bright yellow and the scales made a banded impression .The white eyering was broken behind and in front of the eye, on an otherwise pale buff – grey head. It sometimes looked very big headed. The bill yellow and rather long. The lower mandible was all bright yellow, while the upper was grey with yellow sides.

The outer tail feathers was strikingly white in flight, but harder to see on the ground. The tale was very worn and it often looked clearly forked, with pointed tips.

The red tale and rump contrasting with the pale grey back and the rufus toned wings, made me comfortable that it was an Asian Desert Warbler.

Desert Warbler  AM 4 (1 of 1)

Asian or African?

The Asian (Sylvia nana) – and African Desert Warbler (S. deserti) are rather similar and was previously considered as one species.

Some distinctive plumage differences can tell them apart:

1) The Asian is generally more contrasting rufus / grey while the African is more evenly colored light warm brown. The Asian has rufus GC and PC and rufus edges to dark PP and SS. The tertials are dark brown with contrasting rufus edges.

2)This gives the wings a rufus impression contrasting to the pale gray back.

3) Under not-ideal light can the Asian look very evenly colored, both live and on pictures. This is the case for the Rakke bird (still present 15.11.15). The tertials pattern might be the best to look for then. (Contrasting = Nana, evenly = Deserti)

4) The Asian has a red/rufus tale and rump wish stand in contrast to the greyish back and off-white belly. The African has an evenly colored back and a whiter belly.

5) The Asian also have dark shaft on the middle tail feathers. This character can be hard to see and are not visible on all the pictures of the Rakke bird.

6) The leg color can also give an idea. The Asian has bright yellow legs while the African has more yellowish pink legs.

The Asian Desert Warbler breeds in a large area ,from the north and east side of the Caspian sea and C Iran, east to S Mongolia and NW China. The wintering area are from the west coast of the Red sea, and Arabia, east to NW India.

It is a very rare vagrant to Europe. Most records are from Sweden (15), while Great Britain has 12 and Finland 11 records (According to The Netherlands third record occurred in the same period as the Rakke bird. Late October and November is the best time, but there are also a few spring records, mainly in May.

The African Desert warbler breeds in NW Africa. It is considered to be a short distance migrator. A record from The Netherlands in November 2014, shows that it can also be a candidate in northern Europe.

The coastline outside Larvik in SE Norway is a great birding area. Here lies Mølen Ornithological Station, one of the oldest bird observatories in Norway. The passerine migration here, can be compared to Falsterbo. During the years several “megas” and “new for Norway” has showed up here. Among them are the famous wintering Willet (prob. Eastern!) in 1992-93.

Desert Warbler  AM 6 (1 of 1)

Birdwatching Norway offers birding tours to Norway and Sweden.

Varanger in the arctic Norway, is a fantastic area and a “must see destination”for all birders. Here the arctic and high alpine species meet the eastern. You will enjoy taiga forests, tundra, spectacular fjords and birdcliffs.

Falsterbo, in southern Sweden is one of the best migration points in the World! On a good day hundreds of thousands of birds pass you on close range. Standing at the most narrow tip you feel like standing in a stream of birds!

Southern Norway has an impressive biodiversity. High mountains, deep forests and costal migration points are all within close range from the capital Oslo.

The tours can be costume made.

For more information see:

Desert Warbler  AM 3 (1 of 1)


Turkestan Shrikes – phoenicuroides


MG. Not to be missed! Most of the flurry of first winter ‘isabelline Shrikes’ in Britain/ NW Europe this autumn have been stand-out 1cy Daurian Shrikes. – isabellinus. So when you see stunning images of the other taxa – which is likely to get more ID debate – don’t miss it! I hope these images taken by Mike help illustrate the differences between 1cy Daurian and Turkestan (and how easy peasy some of the latter can be).

Mike Watson

“Dear Martin

Here are a couple of Turkestan Shrikes from October/November 2015 in Oman. We usually see more phoenicuroides than isabellinus (using current id thinking that is). I have seen isabellinus more often in the north of Oman and in Bahrain (maybe wintering birds?) but phoenicuroides (on its way further south in east Africa) is usually seen throughout Oman in late October/early November.

Take care, Mike”

Turkestan Shrike Mike Watson 3 phoenicuroides (1 of 1)

Above: 1cy Turkestan Shrike (phoenicuroides type?), Oct/ Nov 2015. Mike Watson


Turkestan Shrike Mike Watson 2 phoenicuroides (1 of 1)

Above: 1cy Turkestan Shrike (karelini type?), Nov 2014, Mike Watson


Check out the two photos above. Do they represent examples of full-on young phoenicuroides (loads rufous above, fantastic barring btw) and then the bird which is very greyish above and white below- nice karelini features Lots of ID bullet points to wrestle with in Challenge Series: AUTUMN. Thanks Mike!


Turkestan Shrike Mike Watson 1 phoenicuroides (1 of 1)

Above: 1cy Turkestan Shrike Oct/Nov 2014. Mike Watson


Turkestan Shrike Mike Watson 4 phoenicuroides (1 of 1)

Above: 1cy Turkestan Shrike. Oct /Nov 2015. Mike Watson


Daurian Shrike

Daurian Shrike Mike Watson 1 (1 of 1)

Above.  Daurian Shrike prob 2cy+ female (thanks to Nils van Duivendijk), Nov 2014. Mike Watson


More on taivana Wagtails in Middle East

and ‘xanthophrys’  –  feldegg (Black-headed Wagtail) intergrade/hybrids 

Following Mike Watson’s images, Ian Boustead has flagged up another…  so revisiting these stunning yellow and black Wagtails has had the very helpful input of Oscar Campbell. Grahame Walbridge and others have v helpfully chipped in (see comments box on the recent post).

I have added a bit on calls at the end  (MG).


“Here are some images of a flava wagtail, photographed at the pivot fields in Dubai in December 2009.” Ian Boustead

Oscar Campbell replies The bird Ian refers in the comment box is featured at in the UAE photo galleries ; one or more such individuals wintered at Dubai Pivot Fields from 2008 to 2012 at least. None of the images featured there are as good as the ones Ian has just emailed…

Anyway, consensus at the time amongst UAE birders was that the Pivots bird(s) fitted best as ‘xanthophrys’, which Alstrom & Mild in Pipits and Wagtails regard as an intergrade between feldegg and lutea…   cont’d below


image002 image006

all photos above by Ian Boustead, Pivot fields, Dubai, Dec. 2009

Same place, one year earlier.

Several examples seen in the Dubai Pivot fields in other years. This one photographed on 14th November 2008 – same area

feldegg hybird nick moran (1 of 1)

Photo above poached- take by sage-like BTO staff member Nick Moran :), Dubai Pivot Fields, 14th Nov 2008.

For more images of these bird(s)in Dubai Pivot Fields click HERE


… response cont’d from Oscar Campbell

The blackish blotches on crown and nape (also evident in Ian’s images) seem to indicate feldegg and the yellowish blotches on the cheek patches (more obvious in the UAE images than in the Oman bird) could be taken as indicative of lutea. Obviously, here in the UAE we would welcome any futher comment on this bird with regard to its identity.

One issue worth considering, and something I’d like to be enlightened on, is just how dark the ear coverts on taivana can get. HBW-Alive indicates that they can be pretty dark (darker then the image linked to by Jan). The only taivana I have seen (part of an enchanting flock of migrant Eastern Yellow Wagtails, mainly tschutschensis but also two taivana) in coastal fields in eastern Tawian, April 2012) went down in my notebook as having ‘thick, plain olive mask from lore through ear coverts to nape’. I also noted that the supercilium was ‘very broad, deep yellow; ending deeply and bluntly behind eye’. The supercilium on the UAE bird(s) is long and obviously curves downwards behind the ear coverts, in a manner rather similar to the pronounced effect on the Oman bird. This has the effect of cutting the mask off from the nape to some extent and giving a somewhat Citrine-like effect; again I am not sure this is a good feature for a true taivana. Finally, the rather obvious grey cast on the back of the bird(s) from the UAE (and especially evident in Ian’s images) is presumably at odds with taivana (?) – although I not sure it is compatible with either feldegg or lutea parentage either!



As ever Hanne and Jens Eriksen have some lovely summer time images of taivana HERE and for Oriental Bird Club images pages provides a very useful collection of ‘taivana’ photos to compare and contrast. Well worth  a visit here and remember to scroll through- lots more than just one photo! Click HERE

Calls and Sonagrams

MG – the bird below photographed in Turkey in August is going to have nice black mask and be classifiable a feldegg variant. The sonagram below is from call recorded same location. It’s clearly the ‘feldegg sonagram’ shape and not eastern taxa/ Citrine. Hopefully recordings  of birds in Dubai will be as revealing and why I am so keen on call recording :)

Turkey August 2009 466 ad male feldegg variant


feldegg wagtail turkey 19th Aug 2009 MGarner

Above photo and recording from Black-headed Wagtail variant. (Martin Garner)

Great Grey Shrike – melanopterus

Dark and Scaly

We included the latin name ‘melanopterus in the Challenge series: WINTER. Doing any chapter on the sweep of Great Grey Shrikes across in the ‘northern’ zone seemed impossible. Even looking through specimens at Tring was more perplexing than revealing. Thankfully a little light emerged as I kept looking into it – much aided by Andy Stoddart and others. This paper was very helpful from the equally helpful Martin Brandsma’s .

There is variation with the use of melanopterus as a description of Great Grey Shrike plumage. Generally it references (north) western end, no white at base of secondaries etc. The darkest birds, like this one- well you can see the characters – are similar to Ray’s illustration and do stand out. It was in Suffolk and is well worth analysing as we continue to learn the grey shrikes.

Thanks very much to  Robert Wilton and fellow Suffolk birders, Rene Baptiste (finder), Justin Lansdell (research), Andrew  Easton (most of photos) and Tim Oakes who bring this one to BF.



“Hi Martin,

I thought you may be interested in some pictures of a Great Grey Shrike that we had in Lowestoft, Suffolk in October. Whilst I didn’t see it in the field (other than in flight!) we believe that it could be ‘melanopterus’. Out of the 8 or 9 GGS that we have had this Autumn this is the only one that was atypical from the usual brighter individuals we get.

After speaking with Justin Landsdell and Andrew Easton the following features seem to present in all the photographs:

1. Matt slate grey upperparts that never look pale or shining silvery (this was the same in the field in different light)
2. Lack of obvious supercilium above the mask
3. Well scalloped underparts set against a grubby off white background
4. Lack of anything other than trace of a white secondary patch

Sadly the outer tail feather in the first photo is not spread to show extent of black like the penultimate tail feather is,

Best wishes

Rob Wilton, Lowestoft”


Photo above by Tim Oakes


Photo above by Rene Baptiste


image3 image4

IMG_0003Photos above by Andrew Easton


Black Scoter and Common Scoter ID

and check out  the eye-ring!

Christian Wegst kindly sent his paper though earlier this spring and its taken me ages to put it up. Given the winter cometh and wildfowl watching will go up- it’s not bad timing, even though I feel I owe Christian an apology. A great resource and could inspire some getting out and looking :)

Meanwhile chatting with top N. American birder Ned Brinkley, he has righly emphaised that the coloured eye-ring is VERY different between the two taxa. ID should be simples then!

Read the paper by clicking HERE:


Separation of Black Scoter from Common Scoter


The Orbital Ring

Hi Martin – I’ve received a manuscript from some California birders on the first North American record of Common Scoter, and they note that the bird’s eye-ring was bright yellowish orange, typical of Common Scoter, whereas Black Scoter tends to have a duller or dusky eye-ring. I don’t have a copy of your Frontiers book as yet. In a search of images of breeding adult males of each online, I’m seeing about 95% of adult male Common with vivid/distinct yellowish eye rings, whereas Blacks appear to have no detectable eye-ring (or in a few cases, a very thin dull yellowish eye-ring). What do you think of this? A Google and Flickr search of images took me just five minutes, but the contrast between these taxa in this respect was surprising.

Ned Brinkley

Hi Ned- I get nil points for speed. Sorry for being so slow. This sounds a great record in California. The text in ‘Frontiers’ in Birding’ refers to americana and says ! ‘Eye-ring tends to be bluish-grey not yellow’  in nutshell yellow eye-ring for Common Scoter – nigra, blue-grey for Black Scoter- americana’. My stuff is about 15-20 years old and may well need sharpening- sounds like your observations are doing just that. So we agree though your precise details are probably more accurate.  


Common and Black Scoters (1 of 1)

Separation of Black Scoter from Common Scoter


The Shetland Little Buntings

Celebration of the Bird that topped and tailed

Finally got my photos off the camera. Just celebrating. It’s the Little Bunting you see. So I am having a short reminisce on how the Little Bunting really has topped and tailed my Shetland experience. The beginning and the end and in-bewteen too! You’ll see what I mean. I’ll explain this rusty faced guy further down.

Little Bunting 2 (1 of 1)

First Group. First Find

The first group I guided in a storming week on Shetland in autumn 2010. Guess the first good ‘find’. Yep of course, not one but two Little Buntings dropped out of the sky at Valie, Norwick on Unst. These two got the adrenaline pumping from the off. You can read about the full amazing week HERE. It’s worth a read- still grips me! TWO! Syke’s Warbler and Lancy find topped the billing. I quite liked picking out the Black Duck hybrid in flight. but I am a bit of a nutter!

rustic bunting one lk (1 of 1)

Robbie Brookes photoed one of the two. I have pics of both but need to dig them out.

These bad boys spiced up the week:

rustic bunting one lkmm (1 of 1)

Lancy by Mike Penno!

rustic bunting one lkmm m (1 of 1)

Sykes’s Warbler – one of two

rustic bunting one lkmm mmm (1 of 1)

Black Duck- almost

Screen Shot 2015-11-14 at 05.54.36

find on the last day or so


Spring Time Singer

Spring time guiding produced this one. Delighted as it was a new world bird for some of our group. And they loved it! Much rarer than in the autumn, this fella took to singing at Skaw on Unst. Rather stunning scenery as it fed in the stream that ran into the sea.
Little Bunting Skaw one

Little Bunting Skaw 3

A cheeky Rustic Bunting

OK not a little. But it was find up the Feal Burn at Houbie. While leading on the best island ever. Fetlar. Photo by Andy Cook. A great friend whenever we visit. And of course Rustic Bunting really is a proper rarity :)


 rustic bunting one kj (1 of 1)

Rustic Bunting on Fetlar by Andy Cook-  a favourite island and top find spot for our groups. This one gave us a little runaround before we finally nailed the ID of a flying ‘ticking’ Bunting.

Brown Shrike friend

This one set us up to see the Brown Shrike – good ol’ Jim Nicholson got a great photosof the Brown Shrike. I got a rubbish one of the nearby Little Bunting.




Tame Autumn Beauty

This one – again at Skaw was an autumn scoop. Just the tamest bunting I think I have ever seen and great opporutnity for close up views of the nuances of plumage tones and the like. Spent a fair bit of time with this one. Beautiful.


Millfield Early Morning Joy – October 2015

This year. Wondered out the house on first proper morning of birding. And there on the road, only a few yards from the entrance to our amazing holiday house at Norwick- a Little Bunting. Never managed really close photo views but picked him or his mate up every day for the next few. And he loved the road! I say he, this was particularly richly brownish red over the head. Might not mean anything- just musing.

Little Bunting 4 (1 of 1)Little Bunting 3 (1 of 1)

Little Bunting 2 (1 of 1)Little Bunting 6 (1 of 1)

Thank you to the Little Bunting. Made Shetland extra special many times over.