Friday, 13 May 2016

13th May 2016 Unst NW2 Overcast

There were two contrasting weather forecasts for today with one suggesting it might be good for sea-watching and the other suggesting it would be flat calm. I was up at 4am anticipating going sea-watching but it was flat calm. Over 30 minutes it remained calm and the sea was as flat as a millpond in Norwick bay. I decided against sea-watching and first headed for Skaw where just 2 Willow Warblers were present. The wind had picked-up a bit so I was beginning to think I had made the wrong decision! I tried looking off Lamba Ness but it proved uneventful. I then received a text from Mike to say he had taken a look for the Red-backed Shrike at Setters Hill and had obtained brief views of a Phyllosc showing characters of Green Warbler!! I joined Mike, Brydon and Robbie at 7am and Brydon quickly located and photographed the Phyllosc in a small square of stunted trees near the children's playground. Despite staying in the small area of trees for 20 minutes or so it proved incredibly elusive and frustratingly I only obtained views amounting to 30 seconds or so! It then left the trees and disappeared into another small area but we couldn't locate it. Brydon's images showed what appeared to be its supercilium bridging across the base of its upper mandible that seemed at odds with the Collin's Guide depiction of Green Warbler. However, it is fair to say that we all remained perplexed/excited by how bright it looked with Mike very aptly describing it as appearing at times as a Wood Warbler with a wingbar. Our interest was renewed when both Brydon & Mike independently realised the Finnish Green Warbler was showing a pale bridge across the base of its upper mandible! With Brydon I then spent the next 6 or 7 hours  trying to relocate it with us eventually splitting up to look further afield when Robbie very kindly suddenly appeared to let me know that Brydon had refound it in Halligarth - I was out of phone signal. We watched it alongside Al, Brydon, Josh, Mike and Robbie often showing well in evening light when it looked startlingly bright against a dark background but far less so when viewed against the light - a real chameleon! It certainly reminded me of Green Warblers seen on passage in May in Nepal.

Calm seas off Lamba Ness
but he who dares wins... Mark C scored an extremely close White-billed Diver passing Esha Ness

Pied Wagtail 1
Willow Warbler 2

Setters Hill & Halligarth
Blackcap 2
Chiffchaff 6
Red-backed Shrike 1 male
Spotted Flycatcher 2
Siskin 2

Male Red-backed Shrike at Setters Hill
I'm not sure if Mike ever did see this bird as understandably he got distracted...

Green Warbler at Halligarth
No denying its primrose yellow suffused suercilium, throat, upper breast and undertail-coverts. Its bill appeared rather stout, rather upturned and often orange especially when viewed from below. Upperparts bright green and secondaries even more so. Greater covert bar rather broad and white. Sometimes the hint of a median covert bar. Belly clean often appearing white adding to the 'look' of a Wood Warbler. Primary projection looked longer than would be expected for Greenish Warbler. But just to illustrate how colourless it could appear at certain angles in some lighting and thus far more similar to the appearance of a Greenish Warbler...

Green Warbler at Halligarth