Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Shetland perking up

I am happy to report a much easier and thus better day today. In common with other parts of the country, it is unseasonally warm, and so I have been birding the Northern Isles in shirt sleeves for most of the day. Although there is a distinct lack of cream tea action, it almost felt like Scilly at times today. Apart from the Northern Waterthrush of course. But we did see some birds, and see them well.

I won't go into an in-depth review of where we went and what we saw, but a Little Bunting on Whalsay was extremely nice, and the Arctic-type Redpoll performed beautifully. Note that I'm calling it "type" - upon consultation with Duivenduiuvijkjdjk there were several features which didn't quite stack up with classic exilipes. Now I'm no expert, but happily one was on hand in the form of Martin Garner. He too (and he didn't need a book!) thought that it wasn't quite a Coue's, but conceded that it was definitely a Redpoll more consistent with what is generally known as "Arctic" than anything else, possibly an Icelandic version. My own personal view is that it was very nice, and frankly, what else matters?

There is nothing wrong with being an ID guru of course. The world needs ID gurus, especially when it comes to Redpolls, it is just that I am not one (a guru or a Redpoll). I just like birds, and this one was brilliant. It got the old grey matter working, which is always nice, but the bottom line is that it was very round, very white, and very fluffy - much like a sheep - and it posed extremely nicely for photographs. Which when you've lugged 4kg of camera round all day is always appreciated.

Moving away from birds and onto Sheep-fanciers, here is a photo of the team. The comedy-pose was unintended - the movement of the Whalsay ferry caused the camera to slip mid-timer, so a quick adjustment was needed to ensure we all got in, and much merriment ensued. Little things.... 

From left to right: Bradders jnr, Bradders snr, moi, and then Howard.

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