A spring morning with Shetland Wrens

They say in Shetland you can enjoy four seasons in one day. Indeed, you can sometimes enjoy them in the space of one hour! Today I should be out on the wonderful Seabirds and Seals boat, Dunter III, showing guests Shetland’s seabirds on the magnificent cliffs of the island of Noss – but fresh south-easterly winds and frequent showers mean that the trips have been cancelled. That’s a shame, but there’ll be plenty more opportunities for that as the spring and summer unfold. Yesterday was a very different day, with dawn-to-dusk sunshine. I took the opportunity to wander along the coast beneath the house and spend some time watching the local Wrens.

Their silvery, sweet song was everywhere, drowning out the scratchier, tumbled song of newly-arrived migrant Wheatears. It seemed as if every lichen-covered drystone wall had a Wren atop the highest stone proclaiming his territory. These local Wrens are all of the zetlandicus subspecies, found throughout the Shetland archipelago. Elsewhere, there are distinct subspecies found on Fair Isle and St Kilda – all of which represent island isolation allowing the development of distinctive forms of the Wren we’re all familiar with in our woods and gardens. Such musings were far from my mind yesterday. It was a day for enjoying the moment, and those singing Wrens certainly seemed to be relishing the fine weather and lengthening days.

140503 Shetland Wren Song2

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