Hume’s warbler a rare visitor to isles

CONSIDERING the time of year, last week was a busy one for birds in the North Isles.

At least two Hume’s warblers were located, one at Baltasound, the other at Symbister.

This warbler became a species in its own right in 1997, having previously been regarded as a subspecies of yellow-browed warbler, from which it differs in being a rather more grey-toned colour while still retaining the features of the yellow-browed.

They breed across central Asia and normally winter in northern India, but sightings here seem to be getting a little more regular, although still in small numbers. Other warblers seen include a scattering of blackcaps and chiffchaffs. A rustic bunting at Baltasound on the 9th was a good find. This migrant is a very scarce visitor to the North Isles, but there have been a few this autumn.

A black redstart is always a nice bird to see – one was at Brough, Whalsay, on the 9th.

Great grey shrikes have become scarcer visitors to the north isles in recent years, so one at Skaw, Whalsay, on the 9th was a welcome sight.

A grey phalarope, part of the earlier arrival across Shetland, remained at Norwick. However, another wading bird, the woodcock, was widespread last week, with up to 11 at Skaw, Whalsay, on the 9th.

Woodcocks are amazing birds with quite a lot of folklore attached to them. Resembling a bulky snipe when first seen, they also have longer bills and, when viewed well, the barring on the crown goes across the head as opposed to that of the snipe.

Wendy Dickson


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