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Paddyfield warbler – a ‘jammy’ start to the autumn!

Posted by Brydon Thomason on Tuesday 10th August 2010 | Birding in Shetland

A jammy start indeed! I simply couldn’t believe my eyes as I stood at the kitchen window of my mother-in-laws, enjoying my early morning caffeine hit (and toasted muffin of course) at 06:30 in the morning. Flitting through the tops of the willow tree’s I saw a warbler- rubbing the sleep out of my eyes I thought to myself something was immediately interesting about it and scarpered across the room for my bins. To my astonishment, head on to me it showed an aggressive looking facial pattern, with dark black eye stripe, cracking white supercilium with a dark border above (a sub-coronal mark) and also a distinctly dark tipped bill…this all added up to equal Paddyfield to me! With the adrenalin surging (helped by the coffee no doubt!) I began to think, what else- leg colour- check, pale, almost fleshy coloured. Primary projection- check, short and stubby…. Blimey, it is one!

All this excitement took place over about a minute and a half. Part of the mayhem was that I knew I had only a few minutes before I had to leave the house for the 0705 ferry to meet clients to take Otter watching. I ran out to the car and grabbed my camera, straight back into the garden, where luckily it still showed and managed half a dozen record shots. I had another minute or two and I was off for the ferry, my day and indeed autumn had gotten off to a fine start! The most incredible thing was that it was the first migrant passerine of the autumn I had seen.

Paddyfield is still very much a national rarity. It is the second one in Shetland this year, the other being in June.

Just in time, I caught the ferry. After meeting our clients I went on to find them five otters, a mother and two cubs, a dog and a sub adult female. The mother and cubs performed a treat!