Tag Archives: Red-backed Shrike

Shetland – days 7 & 8

The is the half-time tea interval during Martin’s two-week trip to Shetland, so he is back staying with us for a couple of nights before setting off with Shetland Nature group no. 2 first thing tomorrow, Sunday. The first week went well, the group saw a truckload of birds and I guess you can expect updates and photos from himself at some point. Lerwick hospital is reporting no emergency admissions with eardrum damage so I am guessing that the first batch of clients either had good earplugs or were deaf. Martin was surprisingly subdued on Friday, when we had a day birding some of the northern bits of Shetland, so maybe he had tired himself out with all that bouncing around. The birding was pretty subdued as well, highlights of a full day out being a couple of Yellow-broweds, a few Northwestern Redpolls and a BOOMpieper (Tree Pipit) at Kergord – sadly not a Siberian Boompieper (thanks to Mark W for reminding us of the Dutch names). See, the streets of Shetland aren’t always paved with rares.

Today, Martin was back on full volume, it was as if he has a ‘loud’ button that had been knocked off accidentally. The birds were better too. An initially elusive Red-backed Shrike at Grutness was an instructive bird as we riffled through the features confirming that it wasn’t a Brown or a phenicuroides Isabelline…

The long-staying and confiding 1WM Siberian Stonechat at Hoswick…

And, bird of the moment, Northwestern Redpoll, this one on the drive at our house…

And finally, the answer to the mystery wings quiz set last week is… A first-year Common Guillemot. The mottley underwings rule out Razorbill, which is also ruled out by the pale shafts to the outer primaries. What’s more – and this is the neat bit – those pale outer primary shafts on the upperwing also rule out Brunnich’s, which has dark shafts like a Razorbill! Here’s one I found earlier…

The clear white tips to the grey underwing greater coverts are what marks it as one of this year’s birds. So, next time you find a pair of auk wings on a beach in northern Britain, remember to have a proper look. Booomm!