Little egret gets all active

THERE were some exciting birds in the North Isles last week.

A medium-sized white bird with black legs, spotted last Sunday near Haroldswick by Brian and Beth Edwardson, turned out to be Unst’s third little egret. It was quite an active individual, moving around the area, and was seen several times to catch prey.

The little egret is an interesting bird. Until comparatively recently it was a bird of southern Europe and Africa but, presumably due to climate warming, started moving north, with a major influx into southern England in 1989, where it began breeding in 1996. Gradually moving further north, we may well see more of these birds gracing the North Isles in future. An osprey and a common buzzard were both around Burrafirth last Sunday, the osprey having been in Unst for the previous week, during which time it delighted several folk as it fished close by – such an exciting sight. Also on Unst, on the evening of the 23rd, a European nightjar was encountered sitting on the road outside Baltasound Leisure Centre. Then last Monday, this time from the west, an adult American golden plover was located at Baltasound. With several sizeable flocks of European golden plovers around, it is always a prize to locate a stranger in their midst. Once on to an individual, American golden plovers tend to look greyer with slightly longer legs with a grey underwing.

A tantalising view by a visiting birder of a large warbler at Skerries on the 25th could well have been Shetland’s – and Britain’s – fifth record of a thick-billed warbler, a much sought-after vagrant from the far east.

Unfortunately, however, it could not be relocated after the initial all-too-brief view and seems destined not to get into the record books. A possible Blyth’s reed warbler was also found there along with an Arctic warbler . . . what a trio they would have been all together.

Wendy Dickson


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