Saturday, 22 April 2017

22nd April 2017 Unst NW4

The 3 Brambling in our garden remain and were joined by a Chiffchaff today probably feeling out of place in the cold wind and frequent snow showers. A female-type Merlin zipped across the road near Baltasound and whilst driving near Buness House we chanced upon the first small flock of Eider we've seen off Baltasound this year. Whilst I am aware that the subspecies formerly known as 'Northern' Eider is now considered invalid by the BOU I've been looking for any individuals showing formerly published characters since I moved up here a year ago and today's small flock included a fine drake.

Drake Common Eider at Baltasound

Drake 'Northern' Eider at Baltasound
Showing the combination of hooked white scapular sails and both orangey-coloured frontal lobes and bill-base has previously been considered typical of S.m. borealis (e.g. see BW23 No.2 and here) albeit the recent rearrangement of  recognised North Atlantic forms is detailed here. The 2014 Dutch Birding identification paper places much emphasis on differences of nostril position.