Friday, 9 October 2009

Don't you know I'm Loco...

Flat calm conditions overnight so a pre-dawn start was in order to sound record birds leaving the roost at Quarff. As the sun warmed up the insects, one of the two Arctic Warblers showed well and became very vocal:









I managed to dip the juv American Golden Plover that Dave and the Shetland Wildlife group found and as I was searching for it I got a call from Mark Ponsford and Jack Willmott about a Locustella they'd seen in Toab. The bird was soon relocated and after several flight views the bird perched on a wall under a fuschia bush. The bird looked diminutive to say the least and others thought it short-tailed. With naked eye views as it perched a few feet away in the dull light, the tertials looked very contrasty - almost black - and there appeared to be a good gorget of streaks around the breast. Surely a Lanceolated Warbler and I for one was in that camp. But I wanted better views. Others left, but Brian, one of our Shetland Wildlife clients and Lee Mott stayed to hopefully get clinching views and photographs. Easier said than done as we had now lost the bird completely, but after working the area over and over again, we found it before it dived in to another garden. Up it popped on to the wall for a nano-second and in good light, it appeared a completely different beast: no major contrast to the tertials after all, no real major streaks on the breast or flanks and undertail coverts (impossible to see in the field 99.9% of the time anyway) showing nice dark bases looking like little arrowheads: Grasshopper Warbler.

No shame on anybody here and nobody can claim to have any nagging doubts. For obvious reasons, we all wanted it to be a Lancey, but some things are just not to be. I've seen exactly the same thing happen on Fair Isle and knew one day it would happen to me - and in a bizarre sense. I'm glad it did. I'm just happy to have stuck with the bird and identified it correctly as there is nothing worse than some bright spark coming along after the event and correcting the errors of your ways. Hindsight is a wonderful thing: as those of us involved with Britain's first-ever Olive tree Warbler know all too well...



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