It’s always a pleasure to compile these weekly summaries of the comings and goings of the scarce and rare birds that have been seen all around Britain and Ireland. A significant part of my moving to Shetland was the chance to see, and to find for myself, unusual birds – Shetland is one of the prime locations in Europe in which to see displaced birds from as far afield as Asia and North America. Having said that, there are typically many months of the year when those birds aren’t turning up here in the northern isles – and it’s fun to vicariously enjoy what’s on offer elsewhere.
Mind you, Shetland’s been blessed with unseasonal goodies in the form of Rufous Turtle Dove and Mourning Dove while I’ve been covering the news; and then in the past week JLI discovered a strikingly different gull just outside his house here on Whalsay.
Quite what species this bird actually is isn’t easy to say. It could be an American Herring Gull, the North American counterpart of our local Herring Gulls – and if it was, that would be the first time one of these has been seen anywhere in Shetland. Alternatively, it could just be a very dark argentatus Herring Gull; or indeed, it could be a Herring Gull with some hybrid ancestry – maybe a Glaucous Gull features in this bird’s family tree?
Birding – and gull identification – isn’t always as cut and dried as anyone would like it to be!