During the 21st – 28th September 2019 I made my annual birding trip north to the Shetland Isles, staying on the remote island of Unst. Our party of three had a reasonable week searching for migrants and hoping for the odd rarity to turn up.
We managed to see a total of 86 species on Unst which included highlights of 13 Barnacle Geese; 6 Whooper Swan; 1 Grey Plover; 1 American Golden Plover; 1 2ndw Iceland Gull; 1 Short-toed Lark; 9 Yellow-browed Warbler; 1 Blyth’s Reed Warbler; 6 Siberian Lesser Whitethroat; 2 Red-breasted Flycatcher; 7 Lapland Bunting; 2 Snow Bunting; 1 Little Bunting.
We found a Rush Veneer (a migrant moth from southern Europe) at Skaw and had several Red Admiral butterflies were on the wing.
On our way back to the ferry terminal at Lerwick on 28th September, we stopped off at Levenwick on mainland to see an Isabelline Shrike which looked good for the sub-species Turkestan Shrike, showing all the features that are described in numerous publications, including Birding Frontiers – Challenge Series – Autumn and The Helm Guide to Bird Identification.
Currently this bird has been muted to be a Daurian Shrike based on a few features shown in photographs. The two species can be notoriously difficult to identify as there seems to be lots of overlaps in their identification features. If I had to stick my neck out, I would go for Turkestan Shrike as it shows far more features than Daurian, according to what I have read so far.
It will be interesting to see what happens with this bird when submitted to the British Birds Rarities Committee.
As I left Lerwick on the ferry in the early evening of 28th I managed to see a small pod of 4 Orca, my first British Orca and a most fitting and exciting way to end the trip.