Wednesday, 5 November 2014


22nd August, 1997.

In 1997, Doreen and myself started an extended stay on Out Skerries, Shetland Isles. We arrived on the afternoon ferry from Lerwick and were soon seeing migrants as we made our way from the small port to our caravan where we were staying for the next few weeks.

We therefore quickly dumped our bags, said a quick hello to Kathleen, Davy and Charlie, who we had stayed with previously, and then quickly made our way around the croft plots close to our caravan. Almost the first bird we found was a superb Arctic Warbler showing very well in the small walled croft patch owned by Kathleen, (if only digital cameras were available then), and this patch was just a few metres from our caravan. Stunning bird, showing two good wing-bars on its wing-coverts, a striking head pattern with a long white supercillium. It was flitting around in the cabbages and looked well settled and therefore I dashed off to find Edwin, the Island birder and ringer who lived in a bungalow near the port. Unfortunately, Edwin had chosen that day to visit Lerwick for supplies and wasn't due back until the following morning. This meant that we had to hope the Arctic would stay overnight before we could attempt to trap it for ringing. I quickly returned to the cabbage patch and we both enjoyed prolonged close views, but as the light was now beginning to go we quickly visited some other local patches and recorded good numbers of Garden Warblers some flying around the local shop, Willow Warblers and a single Barred Warbler in the cabbages of George's croft. It was obvious that there had been a good fall of migrants on the Island.

The 23rd was a calm clear day and unfortunately there were far fewer migrants on the Island and no sign of the Arctic Warbler in the walled cabbage patch.

The record was accepted by BBRC and published in their annual report. There was just three Arctic Warblers recorded in 1997 bringing the total accepted in Great Britain to 231. It was also the earliest record since 1981.

22nd September, 2009.

Doreen and myself spent two months on the Shetland Island, the first month in Spring and the second month in September, and during September, we stayed 3 weeks near Sumburgh and 1 week on Unst.

On the 22nd September, we had covered our usual sites around Sumburgh area and we were making our way towards Lerwick when David telephoned to inform us that an Arctic Warbler had been found by S.Mitchell in the small wood at Scalloway, an area we had been visiting regularly during our stay.

We quickly drove to Scalloway where the finder with three friends were still present, but unfortunately they had lost sight of the Arctic Warbler. After 10 minutes searching with them, I suggested that I should play my i-pod with a recording of Arctic Warbler and the four birders all agreed with this. The recording immediately brought the Arctic Warbler into the nearest sycamore and I quickly turned off the i-pod and all of us obtained some excellent views for several minutes allowing me to obtain some excellent photographs.

It remained in the small wood at Scalloway until the 27th although a lot of the time it was very elusive and the record was accepted by BBRC and published in their annual report. There were nine accepted records in 2009, bringing the total accepted in Great Britain to 296.

As their name suggests, Arctic Warblers breeds locally N. Scandinavia becoming widespread across N. Russia to extreme NE Siberia and NE China and winters in SE Asia.

Arctic Warbler, Scalloway wood, 22nd September, 2009.

26th - 29th August, 1997.

During August 1997, Doreen and myself were staying on Out Skerries when a good influx of Greenish Warblers occurred in the Shetlands and on Out Skerries we found three different individuals all first winter birds with the first one on the 26th August which was first seen in a Geo on Eastern Isle and was calling frequently and we later re-located it in a plot of rape seed plants.

With local ringer Edwin Tait we trapped one on the 28th August and another one on the 29th.
All three were accepted by BBRC and published in their annual report, and during 1997 a total of 17 were accepted, of which 7 (including ours) were seen in the Shetlands during the August influx, bringing the Great Britain total to 324 as at the end of 1997.

The Western subspecies of Greenish Warbler breeds NE Europe its range extending E to Yenisey, and SE to Kashmir. Further E it is replaced by different subspecies. Since the 1970's, a western range extension has been recorded. It winters in SE India and Sri Lanka. (Per Hagemeijer and Blair).

Greenish Warbler on Out Skerries on the 26th August, 1997, first
found on a Geo on the Eastern Isle was later re-located on a plot.

Greenish Warbler trapped and ringed on Out Skerries 
on the 29th August, 1997.